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Title: Ten Thousand a-Year. Volume 3.
Author: Warren, Samuel, 1807-1877
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ten Thousand a-Year. Volume 3." ***

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            THOUSAND A-YEAR.


          SAMUEL WARREN, F.R.S.

                VOL. III.


            University Press:


   CHAP.                                                          PAGE

      I. The great game at chess, between Mr. Gammon and Mr.
           Crafty, which typifies an English election, and how
           it is lost and won.--The day of battle arrives            1

     II. The fight waxes hot; and after surprising fluctuation,
           a glorious victory is gained.--Serious incidents for
           the consideration of the victors, who have also to
           fight another battle on new ground.--Mr. Titmouse
           acquires sudden distinction in the House of
           Commons.--Mr. Titmouse becomes a Fellow of the
           Credulous Society, under the auspices of Dr. Diabolus
           Gander, performs scientific experiments in the
           streets at night, and saves the Ministry                 43

    III. Lady Cecilia is married to Mr. Titmouse; and the Earl
           enters, under Mr. Gammon's auspices, on an adventurous
           career.--An affecting letter of Lady
           Cecilia Titmouse.--A deadly struggle between a
           snake and an ape                                        124

     IV. Mr. Gammon offers his hand and heart to Miss Aubrey.
           An exciting love scene in which Kate behaves
           with great propriety.--Mr. Gammon's skilful
           manœuvres to crush Mr. Aubrey; and they seem
           seconded by fate                                        173

      V. Mr. Aubrey disregards Gammon's advice, and becomes
           the guest of Mr. Grab.--Mr. Gammon's profound
           strategies                                              218

     VI. Kate communicates a secret told her by Mr. Gammon,
           who secures her brother a night with Mr.
           Vice.--Kate's diamond necklace; Mr. Runnington's
           munificence; Lady Stratton's £15,000 policy, which
           Gammon angles for                                       260

    VII. The descent of the Vulture; and other matters of moment
           to Gammon.--The Artificial-Rain Company
           evaporates; and a remarkable scene between Mr.
           Gammon and the Earl of Dreddlington                     295

   VIII. The Earl of Dreddlington's bed-side; and Gammon's
           interview with the Duke of Tantallan.--Lord De la
           Zouch comes on the scene again; an Attorney-General's
           suggestion; and Gammon frightened by his
           own proctor.--Lord De la Zouch with the Aubreys         338

     IX. Mr. Gammon with the Earl of Dreddlington, whose
           intellect melts away before him. Mr. Gammon
           getting into deep waters and dragging his great
           friends after him.--What moles in the ecclesiastical
           court can do under ground                               378

      X. Glances of daylight into a glen of fraud, and reptiles
           seen wriggling about in alarm.--What is Gammon
           to do?--Mr. Titmouse makes an equitable proposal
           to Kate Aubrey.--The scorpion in the fiery circle.
           Mr. Gammon's skilful exit                               412

     XI. The Earl of Dreddlington's bankruptcy and death;
           and Lord Drelincourt appears on the scene.--Mudflint,
           Woodlouse, and Bloodsuck in a bad way; and
           Sir Harkaway's awkward position                         455

    XII. Mr. Titmouse on his last legs.--Mr. Tag-rag's final
           adventures; a sudden glimpse of Gammon again;
           and the last of Mr. Quirk.--True nobility; Yatton
           itself again; and Kate Aubrey's disappearance           488

    NOTES                                                          537



There had not been a contested election at Yatton, till the present one
between Mr. Delamere and Mr. Titmouse, for a long series of years; its
two members having been, till then, owing to the smallness of the
constituency, their comparative unanimity of political sentiment, and
the dominant influence of the Yatton family, returned, pretty nearly, as
a matter of course. When, therefore, quiet little Yatton (for such it
was, albeit politically enlarged by the new Act) became the scene of so
sudden and hot a contest as that which I am going to describe, and under
such novel and exciting circumstances, it seemed in a manner quite
beside itself. The walls were everywhere covered with glaring
placards--red, blue, green, yellow, white, purple--judiciously designed
to stimulate the electors into a calm and intelligent exercise of their
important functions. Here are the inscriptions upon a few of them:--

    "VOTE for TITMOUSE, the MAN of the PEOPLE!"

['Twas thus that the name of my little friend, like that of many others
of his species, was attached to great public questions, somewhat after
the manner of a kettle tied to a dog's tail!]

But others were to be met with of a more elaborate and impressive

    "Electors of Yatton!! Be not deceived!!! The enemy is among you!
    Do you wish to reap the full fruits of the glorious boon lately
    conferred on you? Rush to the poll, and VOTE for TITMOUSE. Do you
    wish to see them torn from your grasp by a selfish and arrogant
    aristocracy? _Get a pair of handcuffs_, and go and vote for--MR.

    "QUÆRE. If a _certain Boroughmongering Peer_ should command his son
    to vote for the REPEAL of the Great Bill which enfranchised the
    inhabitants of Grilston, Succombe, and Warkleigh--would not that
    son obey him? _How would this be_, MR. DELAMERE?"

'Twas not, to give the devil his due, Mr. Titmouse's fault that his
placards did not contain many vulgar personalities against his opponent;
but owing entirely to Mr. Gammon's want of the requisite wit and spirit.
That gentleman felt, in fact, that such a candidate as Mr. Delamere
afforded but few salient points of attack, in respect either of his
person, his position in society, or his conduct. He also, by the way,
had his placards:--

    "VOTE for DELAMERE!"

Both the candidates established their headquarters at Grilston; Mr.
Delamere at the "_Hare and Hounds_" Inn, Mr. Titmouse at the
"_Woodlouse_." Over the bow-window of the former streamed a noble blue
banner, with an emblazonment of the Bible and Crown, and the words,
hung an immense yellow banner, with three stars, thus:--

    |                               |
    | PEACE!        RETRENCHMENT!!  |
    |     *            *            |
    |              *                |
    |           REFORM!!!           |
    |                               |

(being the, "Three Polar Stars" spoken of in Mr. Titmouse's Address,)
and the words--"PEACE! RETRENCHMENT!! REFORM!!!" in immense gilt
letters. The walls and windows of each were, moreover, covered with
varicolored placards--but I shall not weary the reader by attempting to
describe in detail the humors of a country election, which have
employed, already, thousands of able and graphic pens and pencils.
Surely, what else are they than the sticks and straws which float along
the eddying and roughened surface? The whole mass of water is moving
along; and our object should be rather to discover its depth, force, and
direction. Principles are in conflict; the fate of the nation is, in a
measure, involved in a popular election. Such matters as I have alluded
to, are but the laughable devices resorted to, in order to delude the
grinning vulgar, and disguise the movements of those calm and
calculating persons who are playing the deep game of politics. Under
cover of a ludicrous hubbub, might be observed, for instance, in this
little borough--subject to certain petty local disturbing forces--a
deadly struggle for ascendency between the monarchical and the
democratical principle; between rampant innovation and obstinate
immobility; between the wealthy few and the many poor; between property
and ability. If anything like this _were_ the case, how many of the
electors--new or old--of Yatton--(who may perhaps be compared to
chessmen in the hands of long-headed players)--knew any more about the
matter than a private soldier at Waterloo thought of, comprehended, or
appreciated, the complicated and mighty schemes of a Wellington or
Napoleon, whose bidding he was doing, or of the prodigious consequences
attached to the success or failure of either? Some people talk
vehemently about the "paramount necessity for educating the lower
classes." It is, indeed, of incalculable importance that they should be
instructed; but is it not of still greater importance that the UPPER
CLASSES should be instructed, if only on account of their being the
holders of that PROPERTY, in greater or less proportions, with its
inseparable power and influence, which, directly or indirectly,
determines all the movements of the state? Could universal suffrage be
supposed to exist consistently with the preservation of social order--of
society--it would still be impossible to extirpate or effectually to
counteract the influence of property, in whose hands soever it might be
placed. Pluck out of the vilest of the bellowing bullies surrounding the
hustings, him (of course a non-elector) most conspicuous for his
insolence and brutality; imagine him suddenly or gradually become the
owner of a great, or a small property, with the influence it gives him
over customers, tenants, dependents: do you suppose that he will not at
once, either gently or roughly, according to his temper, begin to
exercise his power, (that which is so dear to the heart of man,) by
dictating the exercise of the elective franchise on behalf of those
political opinions which he may happen to favor? Is not THIS the man to
instruct, and the better in proportion to the extent of his real
influence? Except in those brief and horrid intervals of social
convulsion, in which [Greek: dika kai panta palin strepetai], however
popularized and extended may apparently be the system of electing
parliamentary representatives, those who really return members to
Parliament will--whether themselves actually electors or not, and
whether directly or indirectly--be the holders of property, in villages,
in towns, in cities, in boroughs and counties. The influence of property
is, in truth, inevitable as that of gravitation: and losing sight of
this, people may split their heads in vain, and chatter till the arrival
of the Greek kalends, about extending farther and farther the elective
franchise, shortening Parliaments, and voting by ballot. Whether it
_ought_ to be so, signifies little, when we know that it is, and _will_
be so:--but now it is time to return to the Yatton election; and if I be
but this once forgiven, I will not diverge again in a hurry from the
main course of events.

Lord De la Zouch, who resided some eight or ten miles from Yatton, soon
discovered, as also did sundry other able and experienced electioneering
friends, taking an interest in his son's success, that the movements of
the enemy were directed by a strong and skilful hand; and which never
could be that of--_Mr. Titmouse_. However slight and faint may be the
hopes of success with which a man enters into an interesting and
important undertaking, they very soon begin to increase and brighten
with eager action; and it was so with Lord De la Zouch. He was not long
in tracing the powerful, but cautiously concealed agency of our friend
Mr. Gammon. One or two such dangerous and artful snares were detected by
the watchful and practised eyes of his Lordship and his friends, just in
time to prevent Delamere from being seriously compromised, as satisfied
them that good Mr. Parkinson, with all his bustle, energy, and
heartiness, was dreadfully overmatched by his astute opponent, Mr.
Gammon; and that in the hands of Mr. Parkinson, the contest would
become, so far as Delamere was concerned, a painful and ridiculous
farce. A council of war, therefore, was called at Fotheringham Castle;
the result of which was an express being sent off to London, to bring
down immediately a first-rate electioneering agent--MR. CRAFTY--and
place in his hands the entire management of Mr. Delamere's cause. Mr.
Crafty was between forty and forty-five years old. His figure, of middle
height, was very spare. He was always dressed in a plain suit of black,
with white neckerchief, and no shirt-collar; yet no one that knew the
world could mistake him for a dissenting minister!--He was very calm and
phlegmatic in his manner and movements--there was not a particle of
passion or feeling in his composition. He was a mere _thinking machine_,
in exquisite order. He was of marvellous few words. His face was thin
and angular. His chin and temples formed an isosceles triangle; his chin
being very peaked, and his forehead broad. His hair was dark, and cut
almost as close as that of a foot-soldier--and this it was which helped
to give his countenance that expression, both quaint and unaffected,
which, once observed, was not likely to be soon forgotten. His eye was
blue, and intensely cold and bright--his complexion fresh; he had no
whiskers; there was a touch of sarcasm about the corners of his mouth.
Everything about him bespoke a man cold, cautious, acute,
matter-of-fact. "_Business_" was written all over his face. He had
devoted himself to electioneering tactics; and he might be said to have
reduced them, indeed, to a science. No one could say whether he was of
Whig or Tory politics; my impression is, that he cared not a straw for
either.--This, then, was the man who was to be pitted against Gammon:
and these two gentlemen may perhaps be looked upon as the real
_players_, whose _backers_ were--Delamere and Titmouse.

Mr. Crafty soon made his appearance at Yatton; and seemed, in a manner,
to have dropped into Mr. Delamere's committee-room from the clouds. His
presence did not appear _quite_ unexpected; yet no one seemed to know
why, whence, or at whose instance he had come. He never went near
Fotheringham, nor ever mentioned the name of its noble owner, who
(between ourselves) contemplated the accession of Crafty with feelings
of calm exultation and confidence. Mr. Delamere's "_committee_" was
instantly disbanded, and no new one named. In fact, _there was to be
none at all_; and Mr. Titmouse's friends were, for a while, led to
believe that the enemy were already beginning to beat a retreat. A quiet
banker at Grilston, and a hard-headed land-surveyor and agent of the
same place, were alone apparently taken into Mr. Crafty's confidence.
Mr. Parkinson, even, was sent to the right about; and his rising pique
and anger were suddenly quelled by the steadfast and significant look
with which Mr. Crafty observed, in dismissing him--"_It won't do_."
Adjoining, and opening into the large room in which, till Mr. Crafty's
arrival, Mr. Delamere's committee had been sitting, was a very small
one; and in it Mr. Crafty established his headquarters. He came,
accompanied--though no one for a while knew it--by three of his
familiars; right trusty persons, in sooth! One of them always sat on a
chair, at the outside of the door leading into Mr. Crafty's room, over
which he kept guard as a sentinel. The other two disposed themselves
according to orders. Mr. Gammon soon _felt_ the presence of his secret
and formidable opponent, in the total change--the quiet system--that
became all of a sudden apparent in the enemy's tactics: his watchful eye
and quick perception detected, here and there, the faint vanishing
traces of a sly and stealthy foot--the evidences of experienced skill;
and one morning early he caught a glimpse of Mr. Crafty, (with whose
name and fame he was familiar,) and returned home with a grave
consciousness that the contest had become one exceedingly serious;
that--so to speak--he must instantly spread out every stitch of canvas
to overtake the enemy. In short, he made up his mind for mischief, as
soon as he gave Lord De la Zouch credit for being _resolved to win_; and
felt the necessity for acting with equal caution and decision. During
that day he obtained an advance from a neighboring banker of two
thousand pounds, on the security of a deposit of a portion of the
title-deeds of the Yatton property. He had, indeed, occasion for great
resources, personal as well as pecuniary; for instance--he had reason to
believe that the enemy had already penetrated to his stronghold, the
QUAINT CLUB at Grilston, (for that was the name of the club into which
the one hundred and nine new voters at Grilston had formed themselves.)
Though Gammon had agreed, after much negotiation, to buy them at the
very liberal sum of ten pounds a-head, he had reason, shortly after the
arrival of Mr. Crafty, to believe that they had been tampered with; for,
as he was late one evening moodily walking up to the Hall, he overtook,
in the park, a man whose person he did not at first recognize in the
darkness, but whose fearfully significant motions soon insured him
recognition. It was, in fact, the man who had hitherto treated with him
on behalf of the Quaint Club; one Benjamin Bran, (commonly called _Ben
Bran_,) a squat, bow-legged baker of Grilston. He uttered not a word,
nor did Mr. Gammon; but, on being recognized, simply held up to that
gentleman his two outstretched hands, _twice_, with a significant and
inquiring look. Gammon gazed at him for a moment with fury; and
muttering--"to-morrow--here--same hour!" hurried on to the Hall in a
state of the utmost perplexity and alarm. The dilemma in which he felt
himself, kept him awake half the night! When once, indeed, you come to
_this sort of work_, you are apt to give your opponent credit for deeper
manœuvring than you can at the time fully appreciate; and the fate
of the battle may soon be rendered really doubtful. Then,
everything--inclusive of serious consequences, extending far beyond the
mere result of the election--depends upon the skill, temper, and
experience of the real and responsible directors of the election. Was
Ben Bran's appearance a move on the part of Crafty? Had that gentleman
bought him over and converted him into a spy--was he now playing the
traitor? Or was the purse of Titmouse to be _bonâ fide_ measured against
that of Lord De la Zouch? _That would be dreadful!_ Gammon felt (to
compare him for a moment to an animal with which he had some kindred
qualities) much like a cat on a very high wall, topped with broken
glass, afraid to stir in any direction, and yet unable to continue where
he was. While the two candidates, attended by their sounding bands, and
civil and smiling friends, were making their public demonstrations and
canvassing the electors, as if thereby they exercised the slightest
possible influence over one single voter on either side; as I have
already intimated, the battle was being fought by two calm and crafty
heads, in two snug and quiet little rooms in Grilston--one at the Hare
and Hounds, the other at the Woodlouse Inn; of course, I mean Mr.
Crafty, and Mr. Gammon. The former within a very few hours saw that the
issue of the struggle lay with the Quaint Club; and from one of his
trusty emissaries--a man whom no one ever saw in communication with him,
who was a mere stranger in Grilston, indifferent as to the result of the
election, but delighting in its frolics; who was peculiarly apt to get
sooner drunk than any one he drank with--Mr. Crafty ascertained, that
though the enlightened members of the Quaint Club had certainly formed a
predilection for the principles of Mr. Titmouse, yet they possessed a
candor which disposed them to hear all that might be advanced in favor
of the principles of his opponent.

Mr. Crafty's first step was to ascertain what had been already done or
attempted on behalf of Mr. Delamere, and also of Mr. Titmouse; then the
exact number of the voters, whom he carefully classified. He found that
there were exactly four hundred who might be expected to poll; the new
electors amounting in number to one hundred and sixty, the old ones to
two hundred and forty, and principally scot-and-lot voters. In due time
he ascertained, that of the former class only _thirty-six_ could be
relied upon for Mr. Delamere. The tenants of the Yatton property within
the borough amounted to one hundred and fifteen. They had been canvassed
by Mr. Delamere and his friends with great delicacy; and twenty-three of
them had voluntarily pledged themselves to vote for him, and risk all
consequences; intimating that they hated and despised their new landlord
as much as they had loved their old one, whose principles they
understood to be those of Mr. Delamere. Then there remained a class of
"_accessibles_," (to adopt the significant language of Mr. Crafty,) in
number one hundred and twenty-five. These were persons principally
resident in and near Yatton, subject undoubtedly to strong and direct
influence on the part of Mr. Titmouse, but still not absolutely at his
command. Of these no fewer than seventy had pledged themselves in favor
of Mr. Delamere; and, in short, thus stood Mr. Crafty's calculations as
to the probable force on both sides:--

      DELAMERE.                   TITMOUSE.

    New Voters           36     New Voters--
    Yatton Tenants       23         _Quaint Club_     109
    Accessibles          70         Others             21
                        ---                           --- 130
                                    Tenants                92
                                    Accessibles            35

Now, of the class of _accessibles_, twenty remained yet unpledged, and
open to conviction; and, moreover, both parties had good ground for
believing that they would _all_ be convinced _one way_--_i. e._ towards
either Mr. Titmouse or Mr. Delamere. Now, if the Quaint Club could be in
any way detached from Mr. Titmouse, it would leave him with a majority
of _seventeen_, only, over Mr. Delamere; and then, if by any means the
twenty accessibles could be secured for Mr. Delamere, he would be placed
in a majority of three over his opponent. Whichever way _they_ went,
however, it was plain that the Quaint Club held the election in their
own hands, and intended to keep it so. Gammon's calculations differed
but slightly from those of Crafty; and thenceforth both directed their
best energies towards the same point, the Quaint Club--going on all the
while with undiminished vigor and assiduity with their canvass, as the
best mode of diverting attention from their important movements, and
satisfying the public that the only weapons with which the fight was to
be won were--bows, smiles, civil speeches, placards, squibs, banners,
and bands of music. Mr. Crafty had received a splendid sum for his
services from Lord De la Zouch; but on the first distinct and peremptory
intimation from his Lordship, being conveyed to him through Mr.
Delamere, that there was to be, _bonâ fide_, no bribery--and that the
only funds placed at his disposal were those sufficient for the
_legitimate_ expenses of the election--he smiled rather bitterly, and
sent off a secret express to Fotheringham, to ascertain _for what_ his
services had been engaged--since what was the use of going to Waterloo
_without powder_?--The answer he received was laconic enough, and
verbatim as follows:--

     "No intimidation; no treating; no bribery; _manœuvre_ as skilfully
     as you can; _and watch the enemy night and day_, so that the close
     of the poll may not be the close of the election, nor the victor
     there, the sitting member."

To the novel, arduous, and cheerless duty, defined by this despatch from
headquarters, Mr. Crafty immediately addressed all his energies; and,
after carefully reconnoitring his position, unpromising as it was, he
did not _despair_ of success. All his own voters had been gained, upon
the whole, fairly. The thirty-six new ones had been undoubtedly under
considerable _influence_, of an almost inevitable kind indeed--inasmuch
as they consisted of persons principally employed in the way of business
by Lord De la Zouch, and by many of his friends and neighbors, all of
whom were of his Lordship's way of political thinking. Every one of the
twenty-three tenants had given a spontaneous and cordial promise; and
the seventy "accessibles" had been gained, after a very earnest and
persevering canvass, by Mr. Delamere, in company with others who had a
pretty decisive, but still a legitimate influence over them. The
remaining twenty might, possibly, though not probably, be secured by
equally unobjectionable means. That being the state of things with
Delamere, how stood matters with Mr. Titmouse? First and foremost, the
Quaint Club had been bought at ten pounds a-head, by Gammon--that was
all certain. Crafty would also have bought them like a flock of sheep,
had he been allowed, and would have managed matters most effectually and
secretly; yet not more so than he found Mr. Gammon had succeeded in
doing; at all events, as far as that gentleman himself, personally, was
concerned. In fact, he had foiled Mr. Crafty, when that astute person
looked about in search of legal evidence of what had been done. Still,
however, he did not despair of being able to perform a series
manœuvres which should secure one of the ends he most wished, in
respect even of the Quaint Club. With equal good intentions, but
actuated by a _zeal that was not according to knowledge_, some of Mr.
Gammon's coadjutors had not imitated his circumspection. Quite unknown
to him, one or two of them had most fearfully committed him, themselves,
and Mr. Titmouse; giving Mr. Gammon such accounts of their doings as
should serve only to secure his applause for their tact and success.
Before Mr. Crafty, however, they stood detected as blundering novices in
the art of electioneering. A small tinker and brazier at Warkleigh had
received, with a wink, ten pounds from _a member of Mr. Titmouse's
committee!_ in payment of an old outstanding account--Heaven save the
mark!--delivered in by him, three years before, for mending pots,
kettles, and sauce-pans, in the time of--the Aubreys! The wife of a
tailor at Grilston received the same sum for a fine tomcat, which was a
natural curiosity, since it could wink each eye separately and
successively. A third worthy and independent voter was reminded that he
had lent the applicant for his vote ten pounds several years before, and
which that gentleman now took shame to himself, as he paid the amount,
for having so long allowed to remain unpaid. Mr. Barnabas Bloodsuck,
with superior astuteness, gave three pounds a-piece to three little
boys, sons of a voter, whose workshop overlooked Messrs. Bloodsucks'
back offices, on condition that they would desist from their trick of
standing and putting their thumbs to their noses and extending their
fingers towards him, as he sat in his office, and which had really
become an insupportable nuisance. Here was, therefore, a _valuable
consideration_ for the payment, and bribery was out of the question!
Such are samples of the ingenious devices which had been resorted to, in
order to secure some thirty or forty votes! In short, Mr. Crafty caught
them tripping in at least eleven clear, unquestionable cases of bribery,
each supported by unimpeachable evidence, and each sufficing to avoid
the election, to disqualify Mr. Titmouse from sitting in that Parliament
for Yatton, and to subject both him and his agents to a ruinous amount
of penalties. Then, again, there were clear indications either of a
disposition to set at defiance the stringent provisions of the law
against TREATING, or of an ignorance of their existence. And as for
_freedom_ of election, scarcely ten of his tenants gave him a willing
vote, or otherwise than upon compulsion, and after threats of raised
rents or expulsion from farms. Tied as were Mr. Crafty's hands, the
Quaint Club became a perfect eyesore to him. He found means, however, to
open a secret and confidential communication with them, and resolved to
hold out to them dazzling but indistinct hopes of pecuniary advantage
from the regions of Fotheringham. His emissary soon got hold of the
redoubtable Ben Bran, who, truth to say, had long been on the look-out
for indications of the desired sort, from the other side. As Bran was
late one evening walking slowly alone along the high-road leading to
York, he was accosted by a genteel-looking person, who spoke in a low
tone, and whom Bran now recollected to have seen, or spoken to, before.
"Can you tell me where lies the gold mine?" said the stranger; "at
Fotheringham, or Yatton?"--and the speaker looked round, apprehensive of
being overheard. Ben pricked up his ears, and soon got into conversation
with the mysterious stranger; in the course of which the latter threw
out, in a very significant manner, that "a certain peer could never be
supposed to send a certain near relative into the field, in order that
that relative might be beaten, ... and especially for want of a few
pounds; and besides, my friend, when only ...--eh?--...--_the other

"Why, who are you? Where do you come from?" inquired Ben, with a violent

"Dropped out of the--_moon_," was the quiet and smiling answer.

"Then I must say they know a precious deal," replied Ben, after a
troubled pause, "up there, of what's going on down here."

"To be sure, everything; everything!"... Here the stranger told Ben the
precise sum which the club had received from Mr. Gammon.

"Are we both--gentlemen?" inquired the stranger, earnestly.

"Y--e--e--s, I hope so, sir," replied Ben Bran, hesitatingly.

"And men of business--men of our word?"

"Honor among thieves--ay, ay," answered Ben, in a still lower tone, and
very eagerly.

"Then let you and me meet _alone_, this time to-morrow, at Darkling
Edge; and by that time, do you see, turn this over in your mind," here
the stranger twice held up both his hands, with outstretched thumbs and
fingers. "_Sure_ we understand each other?" he added. Ben nodded, and
they were presently out of sight of each other. The stranger immediately
pulled off his green spectacles, and also a pair of gray whiskers, and
put both of them into his pocket. If any one attempted to _dog_ him, he
must have been led a pretty round! 'Twas in consequence of this
interview that Ben made the application to Gammon, which had so
disturbed him, and which has been already described. And to return to
our friend: what was he to do? On entering the library at the Hall, he
opened a secret drawer in his desk, and took out a thin slip of paper
which he had deposited there that morning, it having been then received
by him from town, marked "_Private and Confidential_," and franked
"BLOSSOM and BOX." 'Twas but a line, and written in a bold hand, but in
evident haste; for it had in fact been penned by Lord Blossom and Box
while he was sitting in the Court of Chancery. This is a copy of it:--

     "The election _must_ be won. You will hear from E---- by this post.
     Don't address any note to _me_.

                                                             "B. and B."

With this great man, Lord Chancellor Blossom and Box, when plain Mr.
Quicksilver, Mr. Gammon had had a pretty familiar acquaintance, as the
reader may easily suppose; and had a natural desire to acquit himself
creditably in the eyes of so distinguished and powerful a personage.
Gammon had volunteered an assurance to his Lordship, shortly before
leaving town, that the election was safe, and in his (Gammon's) hands;
guess, then, his chagrin and fury at finding the systematic and
determined opposition which had suddenly sprung up against him; and the
intensity of his desire to defeat it. And the more anxious he was on
this score, the more vividly he perceived the necessity of acting with a
caution which should insure real ultimate success, instead of a mere
noisy and temporary triumph, which should be afterwards converted into
most galling, disgraceful, and public defeat. The more that Gammon
reflected on the sudden but determined manner in which Lord De la Zouch
had entered into the contest, the more confident he became that his
Lordship had an important ultimate object to secure; and that he had at
command immense means of every description, Gammon but too well knew, in
common with all the world. Was, for instance, Mr. Crafty brought down,
at an enormous expense, for nothing? What the deuce were the Quaint Club
about? Was ever anything so monstrous heard of--ten pounds a man
actually received--the bargain finally struck--and now their original
demand suddenly and peremptorily doubled? Venal miscreants! Were his
opponents really outbidding him, or laying a deep plan for entrapping
him into an act of wholesale bribery? In short, were the Quaint Club now
actuated by avarice, or by treachery? Again and again did he go over his
list of promises; having marked the _favorable_, _hostile_, _neutral_,
_doubtful_, from a table as accurately compiled and classified as that
of Mr. Crafty. Like his wily and practised opponent, also, Gammon
intrusted his principal movements to scarce a soul of those who were
engaged with him; fearing, indeed, though _then_ with no definite
grounds, that Messrs. Mudflint, Woodlouse, Centipede, Bloodsuck, and
Going Gone, were already too deep in the secrets of the election.
According to _his_ calculations, supposing all his promises to stand,
Titmouse was, independently of the Quaint Club, and some eighteen or
twenty others whom he had set down as "_to be had_"--only _twenty-five_
a-head of Delamere; thus making a difference of eight only between
Gammon's reckoning, and that of Crafty. Of course, therefore, that
cursed Quaint Club had it all their own way; and how to jockey them, was
a problem which well-nigh split his head. He gave Lord De la Zouch
credit for doing all that he--Gammon--would do, to win the election; and
believed him, therefore, capable of buying over any number of the club,
to turn king's evidence against their _original_ benefactor. The
Bloodsucks assured him that the club were all good men and
true--stanch--game to the backbone; but Gammon had obtained some
information as to the political sentiments of several of the members,
before they had acquired the new franchise, and become banded into so
sudden and formidable a confederacy, which led him to speculate rather
apprehensively on the effects which might follow any bold and skilful
scheme resorted to by his enemies. Now, as far as the club were
concerned, its members were all quiet respectable men, who made the
affair a dry matter of business. They justly looked on each of the
candidates as equally worthy of the honor they coveted of representing
the borough, and considered that things would always go on right, at
headquarters--_i. e._ that the country would be properly
governed--without the least reference to the quality or complexion of
the House of Commons. They saw the desperate and unceasing fight among
their betters for the loaves and fishes; and imitated their example,
with reference to the crumbs and fragments. First they divided
themselves, as near as their number would admit of, into tens, giving
one to the odd nine, equally with each body of ten, and thus produced a
body of eleven representatives. These eleven, again, in the presence of
the whole club, chose five of their number for the purpose of conducting
the negotiations between the club and the two candidates; and these five
again selected one of themselves--Ben Bran--to be the direct medium of
communication: the actual state of the market never went beyond the
first body of eleven; and in the exercise of an exquisite dexterity, Mr.
Crafty had contrived to inspire these eleven, through their deputy and
mouthpiece, Bran, with a determination to exact _fifteen_ pounds per
head more from Titmouse, before recording their votes in his favor: and
this untoward state of things was duly intimated to Gammon, by Ben Bran,
by silently outstretching both hands, and then one hand. That would make
a total of _two thousand seven hundred and twenty-five pounds_ disbursed
among that accursed Quaint Club alone!--thought Gammon with a shudder:
and suppose they should even then turn tail upon him, seduced by the
splendid temptations of Lord De la Zouch? Just to conceive the
possibility, for one moment, of Mr. Benjamin Bran having been bought
over to betray all his companions, and Gammon and his party also, into
the hands of Lord De la Zouch? Saith the immortal author of

    "Ah me, what perils do environ
    The man that meddles with cold iron!"

But Gammon was disposed to make an exclamation in a similar tone, though
of a different sort--

    What pen his troubles shall describe,
    Who voters once begins to bribe!

"Oh!" thought Mr. Gammon, a thousand times, "that cursed Quaint
Club!--That cursed Crafty!"

The very first person on whom Delamere waited, in order to solicit his
support, was little Dr. Tatham, who, I need hardly say, gave it promptly
and cordially; but he added, shaking his head, that he knew he was
giving huge offence to the people at the Hall, who had already been
several times very urgent indeed with him. "Well, rather, sir, than sow
dissension between you and Mr. Titmouse, your neighbor," said Delamere,
spiritedly, "I at once release you from your promise."

"Ah! indeed?" cried Dr. Tatham, briskly--"Do you? _Can_ you? Ought you
to do so? I look upon the exercise of my franchise to be a sacred duty,
and I shall discharge it as readily and as conscientiously as any other
duty, come what may." Delamere looked at him, and thought how often he
had heard Miss Aubrey talk of him with affectionate enthusiasm, and he
believed the little doctor to be every way worthy of it. "For myself,"
continued Dr. Tatham, "I care little; but I have reason greatly to
apprehend the effects of his displeasure upon those who are disposed--as
such I know there are--to go counter to his wishes. He'll make them rue
the day."

"Ay?--Let him!" exclaimed Mr. Delamere, with an eye of bright defiance;
but it kindled only a faint momentary spark of consolation in the
breast of Dr. Tatham.

The rivals, Mr. Delamere and Mr. Titmouse, encountered one another, as
it were in full state, on the second day of the former's canvass. 'T was
in the street. Mr. Delamere was attended by Mr. Parkinson, Sir Percival
Pickering, Mr. St. Aubyn, Mr. Aylward Elvet, Mr. Gold, and one or two
others. Mr. Delamere looked certainly very handsome. About his person,
countenance, and carriage, there was an air of manly frankness,
refinement, and simplicity; and a glance at his aristocratic cast of
features, told you that a certain latent tendency to _hauteur_ was kept
in check by sincere good-nature. He was tall and well-proportioned, and
his motions had a natural ease and grace; and as for his dress, it
combined a rigid simplicity with an undoubted fashion and elegance.
Though the air was very cold and frosty, he wore only a plain
dark-colored surtout, buttoned.

"Delamere! Delamere!" whispered, with a smile, Mr. St. Aubyn, (one of
the former members for the borough,) on first catching sight of the
enemy approaching them on the same side of the street, at about twenty
yards' distance--"Here comes your opponent; he's a little beauty, eh?"

Mr. Titmouse walked first, dressed in a fine drab-colored great-coat,
with velvet collar of the same hue, and sable near a foot deep at the
wrists. It was buttoned tightly round a pinched-in waist, and a white
cambric handkerchief peeped out of a pocket in the breast. He had a red
and green plaid waistcoat, and a full satin stock, glistening with
little pins and chains. His trousers were sky-blue, and very tight, and
covered almost the whole of his boot; so that it was a wonder to the
vulgar how he ever got into, or out of them. The little that was seen of
his boots shone wonderfully; and he wore spurs at his heels. His
span-new glossy hat was perched aslant on his bushy hair; he wore
lemon-colored kid gloves, and carried a delicate little ebony cane.
Following this pretty figure were--the sallow insolent-looking
"_Reverend_" Smirk Mudflint, (such was the title he assumed,) Mr.
Centipede, Mr. Grogram, Mr. Bloodsuck, junior, (who had approached as
near, in point of personal appearance, to his illustrious client, as he
knew how,) and--Mr. Gammon. As the hostile companies neared each other,
that of Delamere observed some one hastily whisper to Titmouse, who
instantly stuck his chased gold eyeglass into his eye, and stared very
vulgarly at Mr. Delamere--who, on passing him, with the courtesy which
he conceived due to an opponent, took off his hat, and bowed with
politeness and grace, his example being followed by all his party.
Titmouse, however, took not the least notice of the compliment; but,
without removing his glass from his eye, throwing an odious sneer into
his face, stared steadily at Mr. Delamere, and so passed on. Mr.
Barnabas Bloodsuck ably seconded him. Mudflint, with a bitter smirk,
touched his hat slightly; Centipede affected to look another way;
Grogram blushed, and bowed as to his very best customer. Mr. Gammon came
last; and filled with disgust at the reception given to Mr. Delamere,
colored all over, as he took off his hat, and with an expression of very
anxious and pointed politeness, endeavored to satisfy Mr. Delamere and
his party, that there was at all events _one_ in the train of Titmouse,
who had some pretensions to the character of a gentleman.

"Who _can_ that last man be? He's a gentleman," inquired Sir Percival,
with an air of much surprise.

"Mr. Gammon--a man who is lord-paramount at the Hall," replied one.

"Gammon!--Is _that_ Mr.----" echoed Delamere, with much interest; and as
he turned round to look at Gammon, observed that he was doing the same;
on which both hastily turned away.

As the important day approached, each party _professed_ complete
confidence as to the result. The _Yorkshire Stingo_ declared that it had
authority for stating that Mr. Titmouse's majority would be at least
three to one over Mr. Delamere--and that, too, in glorious defiance of
the most lavish bribery and corruption, and the most tyrannical
intimidation, which had ever disgraced the annals of electioneering. In
fact, it was presumptuous in Mr. Delamere to attempt to foist himself
upon a borough with which he had no connection; and was done with a
wanton and malicious determination to occasion expense and annoyance to
Mr. Titmouse. The _York True Blue_, on the contrary, assured its readers
that Mr. Delamere's prospects were of the brightest description--and
though by perhaps a small majority, yet he was sure of his election. He
had been everywhere hailed with the greatest enthusiasm. Many of even
Mr. Titmouse's tenantry had nobly volunteered their support to Mr.
Delamere; and at Grilston, so long regarded as the very focus and hotbed
of democracy, his success had surpassed the most sanguine expectations
of his friends, and so forth. Then there was a sly and mischievous
caution to the electors, not to be led away by the ingenious and
eloquent sophistries which might be expected from Mr. Titmouse at the
hustings, on the day of nomination!! All this might be very well for the
papers, and probably produce its impression upon those who, at a
distance, are in the habit of relying upon them. But as for the
actors--the parties concerned--Mr. Delamere was repeatedly assured by
Mr. Crafty that a decent minority was the very utmost that could be
expected; while Titmouse and his friends, on the other hand, were in a
very painful state of uncertainty as to the issue: only Gammon, however,
and perhaps one or two others, being acquainted with the true source of
uneasiness and difficulty--viz. the abominable rapacity of the Quaint

At length dawned the day which was to determine how far Yatton was
worthy or unworthy of the boon which had been conferred upon it by the
glorious Bill for giving Everybody Everything--which was to witness the
maiden contest between the two hopeful scions of the noble and ancient
houses of Dreddlington and De la Zouch--on which it was to be
ascertained whether Yatton was to be bought and sold, like any other
article of merchandise, by a bitter old boroughmonger; or to signalize
itself by its spirit and independence, in returning one who avowed, and
would support, the noble principles which secured the passing of the
Great Bill which has been so often alluded to. As for my hero, Mr.
Titmouse, it gives me pain to have to record--making even all due
allowance for the excitement occasioned by so exhilarating an
occasion--that during the canvass, there were scarcely two hours in the
day during which he could be considered as sober. He generally left his
bed about eleven o'clock in the morning--about two o'clock, reached his
committee-room--there he called for a bottle or two of soda-water, with
brandy; and, thus supported, set out on his canvass, and never refused
an invitation to take a glass of ale, at the houses which he visited.
About the real business of the election--about his own true position and
prospects--Gammon never once deigned to consult or instruct him; but had
confined himself to the preparation of a very short and simple speech,
to be delivered by Titmouse, if possible, from the hustings, and which
he had made that gentleman copy out many times, and _promise_ that he
would endeavor to learn off by heart. He might as well, however, have
attempted to walk up the outside of the Monument!

Merrily rang the bells of Grilston church on the election morning, by
order of the vicar, the Reverend Gideon Fleshpot, who was a stanch
Titmousite, and had long cast a sort of sheep's eye upon the living of
Yatton; for he was nearly twenty years younger than its present
possessor, Dr. Tatham. What a bustle was there in the town by eight
o'clock! All business was to be suspended for the day. Great numbers
from the places adjacent began to pour into the town about that hour. It
was soon seen who was the popular candidate--he whose colors were
_yellow_; for wherever you went, yellow cockades, rosettes, and
button-ties for the men, and yellow ribbons for the girls, yellow flags
and yellow placards with "TITMOUSE FOR YATTON!" met the eye. Mr.
Delamere's colors were a deep blue, but were worn, I am sorry to say, by
only one in four or five of those who were stirring about; and who,
moreover, however respectable, and in appearance superior to the
adherents of Titmouse, yet wore no such look of confidence and
cheerfulness as they. From the bow-window of the Hare and Hounds, Mr.
Delamere's headquarters, streamed an ample and very rich blue silk
banner, on which was worked, in white silk, the figure of a Bible,
Crown, and Sceptre, and the words, "Delamere for Yatton." This would
have probably secured some little favorable notice from his sullen and
bitter opponents, had they known that it had been the workmanship of
some fifteen of as sweet beautiful girls as could have been picked out
of the whole county of York; and, by the way, 'tis a singular and
melancholy sign of the times, that beauty, innocence, and
accomplishment, are in England to be found uniformly arrayed on the side
of tyranny and corruption, against the people. Then Mr. Delamere's
_band_ was equal to three such as that of his opponent--playing with
equal precision and power: and, what was more, they played very bold,
enlivening tunes as they paraded the town. There was one feature of the
early proceedings of the day, that was rather singular and significant:
viz. that though all the members of the formidable QUAINT CLUB were
stirring about, _not one of them wore the colors of either party_,
though (between ourselves) each man had the colors of both parties in
his pocket. They appeared studiously to abstain from a display of party
feeling--though several of them _could_ not resist a leering wink of the
eye when the yellow band went clashing past them. They also had a band,
which went about the town, preceded by their own standard--a very broad
sheet of sky-blue, stretched between two poles, supported by two men;
and the droll device it bore, was--an enormous man's face, with an
intense squint, and two hands, with the thumbs of each resting on the
nose, and the fingers spread out towards the beholder. It produced--as
it seemed designed to produce--shouts of laughter wherever it made its
appearance. Every member of the Quaint Club, however, wore a grave face;
as if they were the only persons who appreciated the nature of the
exalted functions which they were entitled, and about to exercise. No
one could tell which way they intended to vote, though all expected that
they were to come in at the last, and place the yellows in a triumphant
majority of a hundred, at least. Though it had been a matter of
notoriety that they were Mr. Titmouse's men, before Mr. Delamere
appeared in the field; yet, _since_ then, they had suddenly exhibited a
politic and persevering silence and reserve, even among their personal
friends and acquaintance. The yellow band performed one feat which was
greatly applauded by the yellow crowd which attended them, and evidenced
the delicacy by which those who guided their movements were actuated:
viz. they frequently passed and repassed Mr. Delamere's committee-room,
playing that truly inspiriting air, "The Rogue's March." Then the
yellows dressed up a poor old donkey in Mr. Delamere's colors, which
were plentifully attached to the animal's ears and tail, and paraded
him, with great cheering, before the doors of the Hare and Hounds, and
Mr. Delamere's principal friends and adherents. Nay--one of the more
vivacious of the crowd threw a stone at a little corner window of the
blue committee-room, through which it went smashing on its way, till it
hit and overturned the inkstand of calm Mr. Crafty, who sat alone in the
little room, busy at work with pen, ink, and paper. He looked up for a
moment, called for a fresh inkstand, and presently resumed his pen, as
if nothing had happened.

The hustings were erected upon a very convenient and commodious green,
at the southern extremity of the town; and thither might be seen, first
on its way, a little after eleven o'clock, the procession of the popular
candidate--Mr. Titmouse. Here and there might be heard, as he passed,
the startling sounds of mimic ordnance, fired by little boys from
house-tops. As they passed the church, its bells rang their merriest
peal; and, at a little distance farther on, the little boys of Mr. Hic
Hæc Hoc, each with a small rosette tied to his jacket, struck up a
squeaking and enthusiastic "hurrah!" while from the upper windows, the
young ladies (three in number) of Mrs. Hic Hæc Hoc's "establishment,"
waved their little white pocket-handkerchiefs. Next on their way, they
passed the "_Reverend_" Smirk Mudflint's chapel, which was in very queer
contiguity to an establishment of a very queer character--in fact,
adjoining it. Against the upper part of the chapel hung a device
calculated to arrest, as it _did_ arrest, universal attention--viz. an
_inverted_ copy of the New Testament; over it, the figure of a church
turned upside down, with the point of its steeple resting on the word
"Revelation;" and upon the aforesaid church stood proudly erect an
exact representation of Mr. Smirk Mudflint's chapel, over which were the
words--"FREEDOM OF OPINION! and TRUTH TRIUMPHANT!" But I do not know
whether another device, worked by Miss Mudflint--a skinny, tallow-faced,
and flinty-hearted young lady of nine-and-twenty--was not still more
striking and original; viz. a Triangle and an Eye with rays, and the
words--"_Titmouse_! _Truth_! _Peace_!" Three cheers for Mr. Mudflint
were given here; and Mr. Mudflint bowed all round with an air of proud
excitement--feeling, moreover, an intense desire to stop the procession
and make a speech, while opposite to his own little dunghill.

First in the procession marched a big fellow with one eye, bearing a
flag, with a red cap on a pike, and the words, in large black

                         "TITMOUSE or DEATH!!!

                       "LET TYRANTS TREMBLE!!!!"

Then came the band, and next to them walked--TITTLEBAT TITMOUSE, Esq.,
dressed exactly as he was when he encountered, in their canvass, the
party of his opponent, as I have already described--only that he wore a
yellow rosette, attached to a button-hole on the left side of his drab
great-coat. His protuberant light blue eyes danced with delight, and his
face was flushed with excitement. His hat was off and on every moment,
in acknowledgment of the universal salutations which greeted him, and
which so occupied him that he even forgot to use his eyeglass. On his
left hand walked, wrapped up in a plain dark-hued great-coat, a somewhat
different person--Mr. Gammon. The expression which his features wore was
one of intense anxiety; and any tolerably close observer might have
detected the mortification and disgust with which his eye occasionally
glanced at, and was as suddenly withdrawn from, the figure of the
grinning idiot beside him. Who do you think, reader, walked on Mr.
Titmouse's right-hand side? Sir Harkaway Rotgut Wildfire, Baronet; whose
keen political feelings, added to a sincere desire to secure a chance of
his daughter's becoming the mistress of Yatton, had long ago obliterated
all unkindly recollection of Mr. Titmouse's gross conduct on a former
occasion, after having received, through the medium of Mr. Bloodsuck,
senior, as a common friend, a satisfactory apology. Next walked Mr.
Titmouse's mover and seconder, the "_Reverend_" Mr. Mudflint, and Going
Gone, "_Esquire_." Then came Mr. Centipede and Mr. Woodlouse, Mr.
Grogram and Mr. Ginblossom; Mr. Gargle Glister, Mr. Barnabas Bloodsuck,
and Mr. Hic Hæc Hoc; and others of the leading friends of Mr. Titmouse,
followed by some two hundred of others, two and two. Thus passed along
the main street of Grilston, in splendid array, what might too truly
have been called the _triumphal_ procession of the popular candidate;
his progress being accompanied by the enlivening music of his band, the
repeated acclamations of the excited and intelligent crowd, the waving
of banners and flags below, and handkerchiefs and scarfs from the ladies
at the windows, and desperate strugglings from time to time, on the part
of the crowd, to catch a glimpse of Mr. Titmouse. Mr. Gammon had the day
before judiciously hired ten pounds' worth of mob--a device alone
sufficient to have made Mr. Titmouse the popular candidate, and it now
told excellently; for the aforesaid ten pounds' worth disposed itself in
truly admirable order, in front of the hustings--and, on Mr. Titmouse's
making his appearance there, set up a sudden and enthusiastic shout,
which rent the air, and was calculated to strike dismay into the heart
of the enemy. Mr. Titmouse, on gaining the hustings, changed color
visibly, and, coming in front, took off his glossy hat, and bowed
repeatedly in all directions. Mr. Delamere's procession was of a vastly
superior description, yet too palpably that of the unpopular
candidate--every member of it from first to last, having made up his
mind to encounter incivility, and even insult, however really anxious to
avoid the slightest occasion for it. The band was numerous, and played
admirably. There was a profusion of gay and handsome flags and banners.
Mr. Delamere walked next to the musicians, with a gallant bearing, a gay
and cheerful smile, yet oft darkened by anxiety as he perceived
indubitable symptoms of a disposition to rough treatment on the part of
the crowd. On his right-hand side walked Mr. St. Aubyn; on his left, Sir
Percival Pickering, the late member for the borough. Following them came
Mr. Gold, the banker, and Mr. Milnthorpe, an extensive and
highly-respectable flour factor--these being Mr. Delamere's mover and
seconder: and they were followed by at least three hundred others, two
and two, all of a substantial and respectable appearance, and most
resolute air, to boot. No amount of mob, that day, in Grilston, would
have ventured an attack, in passing, upon that stout-hearted body of
yeomen. A great many white handkerchiefs were waved from the windows, as
Delamere passed along--waved by the hands of hundreds of fair creatures,
whose hearts throbbed with fond fears lest an unoffending gentleman
should be maltreated by the reckless mob. When Mr. Delamere approached a
certain prominent window, opposite to the town hall, his heart began to
beat quickly. _There_ were four as beautiful and high-born young women
as England could have produced, all gazing down upon him with eager and
anxious looks. It was not they, however, who occasioned Mr. Delamere's
emotion. He knew that in that room was Lady De la Zouch--_his mother_;
and he grew silent and excited as he approached it. One of the loveliest
of the four, as he stopped and with respectful bow looked up for an
instant--Lady Alethea Lorymer--suddenly and quite unexpectedly
stepped aside; and there stood revealed the figure of Lady De la Zouch.
She would have waved her handkerchief, but that she required it to
conceal her emotion. The lips of neither mother nor son moved; but their
_hearts_ uttered reciprocal benedictions--and Delamere passed on. As he
neared the church, I regret to have it to put on record, but at the
bidding of the Reverend Gideon Fleshpot, the bells _tolled as for a

Could anything have been more lamentable and disgusting? If the sudden
and unexpected sight of his mother had been calculated in any degree to
subdue, for a moment, his feelings, what ensued within a minute or two
afterwards was sufficient to excite his sternest mood; for as soon as
ever the head of his procession became visible to the crowd on the
green, there arose a tremendous storm of yelling, hooting, hissing, and
groaning: and when Mr. Delamere made his appearance in front of the
hustings, you might have imagined that you were witnessing the reception
given to some loathsome miscreant mounting the gallows to expiate with
his life a hideous and revolting crime. He advanced, nevertheless, with
a smile of cheerful resolution and good-humor, though he changed color a
little; and, taking off his hat, bowed in all directions. Gracious
Heaven! what a contrast he presented to his popular rival, Mr. Titmouse,
who stood grinning and winking to the wretches immediately underneath,
evidently with a spiteful gratification at the treatment which his
opponent was experiencing. Any one on the hustings or in the crowd had
but to call out "Three cheers for Mr. Titmouse!" to be instantly obeyed;
then "Three _groans_ for the young boroughmonger!" were responded to
with amazing vehemence and effect. Viewed from a distance sufficient to
prevent your observing the furious faces of the dense mob, and hearing
the opprobrious epithets which were levelled against the unpopular
candidate, the scene appeared both interesting and exciting. On the
outskirts of the crowd were to be seen a great number of carriages, both
close and open, principally occupied by ladies--and I need hardly say
who was the favorite in _those_ quarters. Then the rival bands moved
continually about, playing well-known national airs; while the banners
and flags, blue and yellow, heightened the exhilarating and picturesque
effect of the whole. The hustings were strong and commodious; Mr.
Titmouse and his friends stood on the right, Mr. Delamere and his
friends on the left side. He was dressed in a simple dark blue surtout
and plain black stock. He was tall, elegant, and easy in his person,
appearance, and gestures; his countenance was prepossessing, and bespoke
a little excitement, which did not, however, obscure its good-nature.
And beside him stood his mover and seconder, Mr. Gold and Mr.
Milnthorpe: the two late members; and about twenty or thirty other
gentlemen--the whole party forming such a strong contrast to their
opponents, as must have challenged any one's observation in an instant.
Titmouse stood in the centre, leaning (as he supposed) gracefully,
against the front bar; on his right stood the burly, slovenly figure of
Sir Harkaway Rotgut Wildfire, with his big, bloated, blotchy face: on
Mr. Titmouse's left stood his proposer, the "Reverend" Smirk Mudflint.
His lean, sallow face wore a very disagreeable and bitter expression,
which was aggravated by a sinister cast of one of his eyes. He was
dressed in black, with a white neckerchief and no shirt-collar. Next to
him stood Going Gone, Esq., Mr. Titmouse's seconder, with a ruddy
complexion, light hair, a droll eye, and an expression of coarse but by
no means ill-natured energy. Gammon stood immediately behind Titmouse,
into whose ear he whispered frequently and anxiously. There were also
the Reverend Gideon Fleshpot, (though he evidently did not wish to make
himself conspicuous,) Mr. Glister, Mr. Grogram, Mr. Woodlouse, Mr.
Centipede, Mr. Ginblossom, Mr. Hic Hæc Hoc, the Messrs. Bloodsuck,
father and son--and other "leading Liberals." The business of the day
having been opened, with the ordinary formalities, by the returning
officer, he earnestly besought the assembled multitude to remember that
they were Englishmen, and to give both parties fair play, allowing every
one who might address them from the hustings, to be heard without
serious interruption. It had been arranged between the two committees
that Mr. Titmouse should be first proposed; and the moment, therefore,
that the returning officer ceased speaking, the "Reverend" Mr. Mudflint
took off his hat and prepared to address the "electors;" but he had to
wait for at least three minutes, in order that the applause with which
he had been greeted might subside; during which little anxious interval,
he could not help directing towards his opponents a look of bitter
exultation. He spoke with the self-possession, fluency, and precision of
a practised public speaker. If the day's proceedings were to take their
tone from that of the opening speech, 't was a thousand pities that it
had fallen to the lot of the "Reverend" Mr. Mudflint to deliver it. He
had so clear a voice, spoke with such distinctness and deliberation, and
amid such silence, that every word he uttered was audible all over the
crowd; and anything more unchristian, uncourteous, unfair, towards his
opponents, and calculated to excite towards them the hatred of the
crowd, could hardly have been conceived. In what offensive and indecent
terms he spoke of the Established Church and its ministers! of the
aristocracy, ("those natural tyrants," he said,) and indeed of all the
best and time-hallowed institutions of dear glorious old England--which
might, by the way, well blush to own such a creature as he, as one
entitled by birth to call himself one of her sons! How he hailed the
approaching downfall of "_priest-craft_" and "_king-craft_!"--"A new
light," he said, "was diffusing itself over benighted mankind--'t was
the pure and steady light of REASON, and all filthy things were flying
from before it," (immense cheers followed the announcement of this
important and interesting fact.) "The Bible," he said, "was a book of
excellent common sense; and nothing but villanous priestcraft had
attempted to torture and dislocate it into all sorts of fantastic
mysteries, which led to rank idolatry and blasphemy, equally revolting
to God and man." (Perceiving, from the coolness with which it was
received, that this was going a _little_ too rapidly a-head, he dropped
that subject altogether, and soon regained the ear of his audience, by
descanting in very declamatory and inflammatory terms upon the
resplendent victory which the people had recently gained in the glorious
Bill for giving Everybody Everything.) "They had burst their bonds with
a noble effort; but their chains would be quickly re-riveted, unless
they followed up their advantage, and never stopped short of crushing a
heartless, tyrannical, and insolent oligarchy; unless the people were
now true to themselves, and returned to the House of Commons men
resolved to watch over the energies of reviving liberty, lest they
should be strangled in their way--(the remainder of the sentence was
inaudible in the storm of applause which it excited.) Under these
circumstances, Providence itself had pointed out an individual whom he
was proud and happy to propose to their notice--(here he turned and
bowed to Mr. Titmouse, who, plucking off his hat, bobbed in return, amid
the deafening cheers of all before them, to whom also he bowed
repeatedly.) A gentleman who seemed, as it were, made for them; who, in
his own person, might be said to afford a lively illustration of the
regeneration of society--who, to borrow for a moment an absurd word
from his opponents, had by a sort of _miracle_ (with what an infernal
emphasis he pronounced this word!) been placed where he was, in his
present proud position; who had totally and happily changed the whole
aspect of affairs in the neighborhood, which had already become the
scene of his profuse and yet discriminating generosity and hospitality;
who stood in bright and bold relief from out a long gloomy line of
ancestors, all of whom, he lamented to say, had lived and died in enmity
to the people, and had distinguished themselves by nothing except their
bigotry, and hatred of civil and religious liberty. Mr. Titmouse was the
first of his ancient family to claim the proud title of the--Man of the
People. (Here a voice called out, 'three cheers for Mr.
Titmouse!'--which were given spontaneously, and most effectively.) His
'_Address_' was worthy of him--it did equal honor to his head and his
heart, (it is impossible to describe the smile which here just glanced
over the countenance of Mr. Gammon,) touching nothing that it did not
adorn--at once bold, explicit, comprehensive, and uncompromising!--He
had had the felicity of enjoying the acquaintance, he might venture
perhaps to say, the friendship, of Mr. Titmouse, since he had taken up
his abode at the home of his ancestors, and very proud was he--Mr.
Mudflint--to be able to say so. He could assure the electors, from his
own personal knowledge of Mr. Titmouse, that they would have cause to be
proud of their future representative--of the choice which they were
about to make. (Here the worthy speaker had some sudden misgivings as to
the display likely to be made by Titmouse, when it came to his turn to
address the electors:--so he added in _rather_ a subdued tone)--It was
true that they might not have, in Mr. Titmouse, a magpie in the House,
(_laughter_,) a mere chatterer--much cry and little wool; they had had
enough of mere speechifiers at St. Stephen's--but they would have a good
working member, (_cheers;_) one always at his post in the hour of
danger, (_cheers;_) a good committee-man, and one whose princely fortune
rendered him independent of party and of the blandishments of power. In
the language of the ancient _poet_ (_!_) Mr. Mudflint would exclaim on
such an occasion; '_Facta, non verba quæro_,' (_great cheering._) And
now a word for his opponent, (_groans._) He was a mere puppet, held in
the hands of some one out of sight, (_laughter,_)--it _might_ be of a
base old boroughmonger, (_groans_)--who sought to make Yatton a rotton
borough, (_hisses,_) a stepping-stone to ascendency in the county,
(Cries of 'Will he though, lad, eh?') who would buy and sell them like
slaves, (_hisses,_) and would never rest satisfied till he had restored
the intolerable old vassalage of feudalism, (groans and hisses here
burst forth from that enlightened assemblage, at the bare idea of
anything so frightful.) He meant nothing personally offensive to the
honorable candidate--but _was_ he worthy of a moment's serious notice?
(_great laughter._) Had he an opinion of his own? (_loud laughter._) Had
he not better, to use the language of a book that was much
misunderstood, _tarry at Jerusalem_ (_!!!_) _till his beard was grown_?
Was he not, in fact, a nonentity unworthy of a reasonable man's
attention? Was he not reeking from Oxford, (_groans,_) that hotbed of
pedantic ignorance and venerable bigotry, (_hootings,_) surrounded by a
dismal and lurid halo of superstition?" (_groaning and hooting._)

Finer and finer was Mr. Mudflint becoming every moment as he warmed with
his subject--but unfortunately his audience was beginning very
unequivocally to intimate that they were quite satisfied with what they
had already heard. A cry, for instance, issued from the crowd--"the rest
of my _discoorse_ next Sunday!"--for they knew that they were being
kept all this while from one of their greatest favorites, Mr. Going
Gone, who had also himself been latterly rather frequently and
significantly winking his eye at those before him, and shrugging his
shoulders. Mr. Mudflint, therefore, with feelings of vivid vexation,
pique, and envy, concluded rather abruptly by proposing TITTLEBAT
TITMOUSE, ESQUIRE, of YATTON, as a fit and proper person to represent
them in Parliament. Up went hats into the air, and shouts of the most
joyous and enthusiastic description rent the air for several minutes.
Then took off his hat the jolly Mr. Going Gone--a signal for roars of
laughter, and cries of coarse and droll welcome, in expectancy of fun.
Nor were they disappointed. He kept them in good-humor and fits of
laughter during the whole of his "Address;" and though destitute of any
pretence to refinement, I must at the same time say, that there were to
be detected in it no traces of ill-nature. He concluded by seconding the
nomination of Mr. Titmouse, amid tumultuous cheers; and after waiting
for some few minutes, in order that they might subside, Mr. Gold took
off his hat, and essayed to address the crowd. Now he really was, what
he looked, an old man of unaffected and very great good-humor, and a
benevolence which was extensive, and systematic. He had only the week
before distributed soup, blankets, coals, and potatoes to two hundred
poor families in the borough, even as he had done at that period of the
year, for the preceding quarter of a century. No tale of distress,
indeed, was ever told him in vain, unless palpably fictitious and
fraudulent. The moment that his bare head, scantily covered with gray
hairs, was visible, there arose, at a given signal from Mr. Barnabas
Bloodsuck, a dreadful hissing, hooting, and groaning from all parts of
the crowd. If he appeared disposed to persevere in addressing the two or
three persons immediately around him, that only infuriated the mob
against the poor old man, who bore it all, however, with great
good-humor and fortitude. But it was in vain. After some twenty minutes
spent in useless efforts to make himself audible, he concluded in mere
dumb show, by proposing THE HONORABLE GEOFFREY LOVEL DELAMERE, at the
mention of whose name there again arose a perfect tempest of howling,
hissing, groaning, and hooting. Then Mr. Milnthorpe came forward,
determined not to be "_put down_." He was a very tall and powerfully
built man; bold and determined, with a prodigious power of voice, and
the heart of a lion. "Now, lads, I'm ready to try which can tire the
other out first!" he shouted in a truly stentorian voice, heard over all
their uproar, which it _redoubled_. How vain the attempt! How ridiculous
the challenge! Confident of his lungs, he smiled good-humoredly at the
hissing and bellowing mass before him, and for nearly half an hour
persevered in his attempts to make himself heard. At length, however,
without his having in the slightest degree succeeded, his pertinacity
began to irritate the crowd who, in fact, felt themselves being
_bullied_; and _that_ no crowd, that ever I saw, or heard of, can bear
for one instant; and _what is one against so many_? Hundreds of fists
were held up and shaken at him. A missile of some sort or another was
flung at him, though it missed him; and then the returning officer
advised him to desist from his attempts, lest mischief should ensue; on
which he shouted at the top of his voice, "I second Mr. Delamere!" and,
amid immense groaning and hissing, replaced his hat on his head, thereby
owning himself vanquished; which the mob also perceiving, they burst
into loud and long-continued laughter.

"Now, Mr. Titmouse!" said the returning officer, addressing that
gentleman: who on hearing the words, turned as white as a sheet, and
felt very much disposed to be sick. He pulled out of his coat-pocket a
well-worn little roll of paper, on which was the speech which Mr.
Gammon had prepared for him, as I have already intimated; and with a
shaking hand he unrolled it, casting at its contents a glance--momentary
and despairing. What then would that little fool have given for memory,
voice, and manner enough to "speak the speech that had been set down for
him!" He cast a dismal look over his shoulder at Mr. Gammon, and took
off his hat--Sir Harkaway clapping him on the back, exclaiming, "Now
for't, lad--have at 'em, and away--never fear!" The moment that he stood
bareheaded, and prepared to address the writhing mass of faces before
him, he was greeted with a prodigious shout, while hats were some of
them waved, and others flung into the air. It was, indeed, several
minutes before the uproar abated in the least. With fearful rapidity,
however, every species of noise and interruption ceased--and a deadly
silence prevailed. The sea of eager excited faces--all turned towards
_him_--was a spectacle which might for a moment have shaken the nerves
of even a _man_--had he been "unaccustomed to public speaking." The
speech, which--brief and simple though it was--he had never been able to
make his own, even after copying it out half-a-dozen times, and trying
to learn it off for an hour or two daily during the preceding fortnight,
he had now utterly forgotten; and he would have given a hundred pounds
to retire at once from the contest, or sink unperceived under the floor
of the hustings.

"Begin! begin!" whispered Gammon, earnestly.

"Ya--a--s--but--what shall I say?" stammered Titmouse.

"Your speech"--answered Gammon, impatiently.

"I--I--'pon my--soul--I've--forgot every word of it!"

"Then _read_ it," said Gammon, in a furious whisper--

"Good God, you'll be hissed off the hustings!--Read from the paper, do
you hear!" he added, almost gnashing his teeth.

Matters having come to this fearful issue, "Gentlemen," commenced Mr.
Titmouse, faintly----

"Hear him! Hear, hear!--Hush!--Sh! sh!" cried the impatient and
expectant crowd.

Now, I happen to have a short-hand writer's notes of every word uttered
by Mr. Titmouse, together with an account of the reception it met with:
and I shall here give the reader, first, Mr. Titmouse's _real_, and
secondly, Mr. Titmouse's _supposed_ speech, as it appeared two days
afterwards in the columns of the _Yorkshire Stingo_.

    "Look on _this_ picture----and on THIS!"

    Mr. Titmouse's ACTUAL Speech.

    "GENTLEMEN,--Most uncommon, unaccustomed as I am,
    (_cheers_)--happy--memorable,--proudest--high honor--unworthy,
    (_cheering_)--day of my life--important crisis, (_cheers_)--day gone
    by, and arrived--too late, (_cheering_)--civil and religions liberty
    all over the world, (_immense cheering, led off by Mr. Mudflint._)
    Yes, gentlemen,--I would observe--it is unnecessary to say--passing
    of that truly glorious Bill--charter--no mistake--Britons never
    shall be slaves, (_enthusiastic cheers._)--Gentlemen, would be ruin
    to go back, while to stand still was impossible, (_cheers;_) and,
    therefore, there was nothing for it but to go forward, (_great
    cheering_). He looked upon the passing of the Bill for giving
    Everybody Everything, as establishing an entirely new order of
    things, (_cheers._) in which the people had been roused to a sense
    of their being the only legitimate source of power, (_cheering._)
    They had, like Samson, though weakened by the cruelty and torture of
    his tyrants, bowed down and broken into pieces the gloomy fabric of
    aristocracy. The words 'Civil and Religious Liberty' were now no
    longer a by-word and a reproach, (_cheers;_) but, as had been finely
    observed by the gentleman who had so eloquently proposed him to
    their notice, the glorious truth had gone forth to the ends of the
    earth, that no man was under any responsibility for his opinions or
    his belief, any more than for the shape of his nose, (_universal
    cheering._) A spirit of tolerance, amelioration, and renovation, was
    now abroad, actively engaged in repairing our defective and
    dilapidated constitution, the relic of a barbarous age--with some
    traces of modern duty, but more of Church Establishment to
    a--difference between me and my honorable opponent, (_loud cheers
    and groans,_) I live among you, (_cheers_)--spend my money in the
    borough, (_cheers_)--no business to come here, ('_No, no!_')--right
    about, close borough, (_hisses!_)--patient attention, which I will
    not further trespass upon, (_'hear! hear!' and loud
    cheering,_)--full explanation--rush early to the--base, bloody, and
    brutal (_cheers_)--poll triumphant--extinguish forever,
    (_cheers._)--Gentlemen, these are my sentiments--wish, you many
    happy--re--hem! a-hem--and by early displaying a determination
    to--(_cries of 'we will! we will!'_)--eyes of the whole country upon
    you--crisis of our national representation--patient
    attention--latest day of my life.--Gentlemen, yours truly."

    Mr. Titmouse's REPORTED Speech.

    "Silence having been restored, Mr. Titmouse said, that he feared it
    was but too evident that he was unaccustomed to scenes so exciting
    as the present one--that was one source of his embarrassment; but
    the greatest was, the enthusiastic reception with which he had been
    honored, and of which he owned himself quite unworthy, (_cheers._)
    He agreed with the gentleman who had proposed him in so very able
    and powerful a speech, (_cheers,_) that we had arrived at a crisis
    in our national history, (_cheering_)--a point at which it
    unaccustomed as I am to address an assembly of this--ahem! (_'hear!
    hear! hear!' and cheers_)--civil and religious liberty all over the
    world, (_cheers_)--yet the tongue can feel where the heart cannot
    express the (_cheers_)--so help me----! universal suffrage and cheap
    and enlightened equality, (_cries of 'that's it, lad!'_)--which can
    never fear to see established in this country--(_cheers_)--if only
    true to--industrious classes and corn-laws--yes, gentlemen, I say
    corn-laws--for I am of op--(_hush! cries of 'ay, lad, what dost say
    about_ THEM?') working out the principles which conduce to the
    establishment a--a--a--civil and religious liberty of the press!
    (_cheers!_) and the working classes, (_hush!_)--Gentlemen,
    unaccustomed as I am--well--at any rate--will you--I say--_will_
    you? (_vehement cries of 'No! No! Never!'_) unless you are true to
    yourselves! Gentlemen, without going into--vote by Ballot (_cheers_)
    and quarterly Parliaments, (_loud cheering,_) three polar stars of
    my public conduct--(here the great central banner was waved to and
    fro, amid enthusiastic cheering)--and reducing the over-grown
    ancient ignorance and unsightliness, (_cheers._) The great Bill he
    alluded to, had roused the masses into political being, (_immense
    cheering,_) and made them sensible of the necessity of keeping down
    a rapacious and domineering oligarchy, (_groans._) Was not the
    liberty of the press placed now upon an intelligible and
    imperishable basis?--Already were its purifying and invigorating
    influences perceptible, (_cheering_)--and he trusted that it would
    never cease to direct its powerful energies to the demolition of the
    many remaining barriers to the improvement of mankind, (_cheers._)
    The corn-laws must be repealed, the taxes must be lowered, the army
    and navy reduced; vote by ballot and universal suffrage conceded,
    the quarterly meeting of Parliament secured, and the revenues of the
    church be made applicable to civil purposes. Marriage must be no
    longer fenced about by religious ceremonials, (_cheers._) He found
    that there were three words on his banner, which were worth a
    thousand speeches--_Peace, Retrenchment, Reform_.--which, as had
    been happily observed by the gentleman who had so ably proposed

[And so on for a column more; in the course of which there were really
so many flattering allusions to the opening speech of the proposer of
Titmouse, that it has often occurred to me as probable, that the
"Reverend" Mr. Mudflint had supplied the above report of Mr. Titmouse's


Mr. Titmouse, on concluding, made a great number of very profound bows,
and replaced his hat upon his head, amid prolonged and enthusiastic
cheering, which, on Mr. Delamere's essaying to address the crowd, was
suddenly converted into a perfect hurricane of hissing; like as we now
and then find a shower of rain suddenly change into hail. Mr. Delamere
stood the pitiless pelting of the storm with calmness, resolution, and
good-humor. Ten minutes had elapsed, and he had not been allowed to
utter one syllable audible to any one beyond four or five feet from him.
Every fresh effort he made to speak caused a renewal of the uproar, and
many very offensive and opprobrious epithets were applied to him. Surely
this was disgraceful, disgusting! What had he done to deserve such
treatment? Had he been guilty of offering some gross indignity and
outrage to every person present, individually, could he have fared worse
than he did? He had conducted his canvass with scrupulous and exemplary
honor and integrity--with the utmost courtesy to all parties, whether
adverse or favorable. He was surely not deficient in those qualities of
head and of heart--of personal appearance, even, which usually secure
man favor with his fellows. _Who_ could lay _anything_ to his
charge--except that he had ventured to solicit the suffrages of the
electors of Yatton, in competition with Mr. Titmouse? If men of a
determined character and of princely means have to calculate upon such
brutal usage as this, can those who sanction or perpetrate it wonder at
bribery and other undue means being resorted to, in absolute
self-defence? Is it meant to deter any one from coming forward that has
not a forehead of brass, leathern lungs, and heart of marble? After
upwards of a quarter of an hour had been thus consumed, without Mr.
Delamere's having been permitted to utter two consecutive sentences,
though he stood up against it patiently and gallantly, the returning
officer, who had often appealed to them in vain, earnestly besought Mr.
Titmouse to use his influence with the crowd, in order to secure Mr.
Delamere a moment's hearing.

"'Pon my life--I--eh?" quoth Titmouse. "A likely thing! He'd do it for
_me_, wouldn't he? Every man for himself--all fair at an election, eh,

"Do it, sir!" whispered Gammon, indignantly--"do it, and instantly--or
you deserve to be kicked off the hustings!" Titmouse, on this,
took off his hat with a very bad grace, and addressing the crowd,
said--"I--I--suppose you'll hear what he's got to say for
himself, gents"----But all was in vain; "Off! off! No!--Go
home!--ah!--ah!--a--a--a--h!----St!--St!--Get away home with you, you
young boroughmonger!--a--a--h!" came in louder and fiercer tones from
the mob. Yet Mr. Delamere did not like to give up without another and a
desperate effort to catch the ear of the mob; but while he was in the
act of raising his right hand, and exclaiming--"Gentlemen, only a word
or two--I pledge my honor that I will not keep you three minutes"--some
miscreant from the body of the crowd aimed at him a stone, not a very
large one to be sure, yet flung with very considerable force, and
hitting him just about the centre of the upper lip, which it cut open.
He instantly turned pale, and applied to the wound his white
pocket-handkerchief, which was speedily saturated with blood. Still the
gallant young fellow stood his ground with firmness, and the smile
which he endeavored to assume, it was enough to have brought tears into
one's eyes to witness. The instant that Gammon had seen the stone take
effect, he rushed over towards where Mr. Delamere stood amid his
agitated friends, who were dissuading him from persevering in his
attempt to address the crowd?--

"You are severely hurt, sir!" exclaimed Gammon, with much agitation,
taking off his hat with an air of earnest and respectful sympathy. Then
he turned with an air of excitement towards the mob, who seemed shocked
into silence by the incident which had taken place, and were uttering
increasing cries of "Shame! shame!"

"Shame?--shame, _shame_, indeed, gentlemen"--he exclaimed
vehemently--"Where is that atrocious miscreant? In the name of Mr.
Titmouse, who is too much agitated to address you himself, I conjure you
to secure that abominable ruffian, and let him be brought to justice! If
not, Mr. Titmouse protests solemnly that he will withdraw from the

"Bravo, Titmouse! bravo! Spoke like a man!" exclaimed several voices. A
desperate struggle was soon perceived about that quarter where the man
who flung the stone must have been standing; he had been seized, and
being in a trice most severely handled, a couple of men almost throttled
him with the tightness of their grasp round his neck--these too the very
men who had encouraged him to perpetrate the outrage!--and, amid a
shower of kicks and blows, he was hauled off, and deposited, half dead,
in the cage.

"Three cheers for Delamere!" cried a voice from the crowd; and never had
a more vehement shout issued from them, than in response to that

"Delamere! Delamere!--Hear him!--Speak out!--Delamere! Delamere!" cried
a great number of voices, of people growing more and more excited as
they beheld his handkerchief becoming suffused with blood. But he was
not in a condition then to respond to their call. He was suffering
really not a little pain; and, moreover, his feelings had for a
moment--just for a moment--given way, when he adverted to the
possibility that Lady De la Zouch might have witnessed the outrage, or
received exaggerated accounts of it. Mr. St. Aubyn, however, stood
forward in Mr. Delamere's stead--and in a very touching and judicious
but brief address, roused the feelings of the crowd to a high pitch of
sympathy for Mr. Delamere, who stood beside him, hat in
hand--vehemently, and at length successfully, struggling to repress his
rising emotions. If only one out of a hundred of those present had had a
vote, this stone's throw might have changed the fate of the
election!--No other candidate having been proposed, the returning
officer then proceeded to call for a show of hands; on which a very
great number were held up in favor of Mr. Titmouse; but when Mr.
Delamere's name was called, it really seemed as if every one present had
extended both his hands!--there could be no mistake, no room for doubt.
Titmouse turned as pale as a sheet, and gazed with an expression of
ludicrous consternation at Gammon, who also looked, in common indeed
with his whole party, not a little disconcerted. The returning officer,
having procured silence, declared that the choice of the electors had
fallen upon Mr. Delamere; on which a tremendous cheering followed, which
lasted for several minutes; and, luckily recollecting the utter nullity
of a show of hands as a test or evidence, either way, of the result of
the election,[1] Mr. Gammon directed Mudflint formally to demand a poll
on behalf of Mr. Titmouse; on which the returning officer announced that
the poll would take place at eight o'clock the next morning; and
thereupon the day's proceedings closed. Mr. Delamere, in a very few
words, returned thanks to the electors for the honor which they had
conferred upon him, and entreated them to go early to the poll. He and
his friends then left the hustings. His procession quickly formed; his
band struck up with extraordinary energy and spirit--"_See the
Conquering Hero comes!_" but the rolling of the drums, the clashing of
cymbals, the rich deep tones of the bassoons, trombones, and French
horns, and clear and lively notes of flute and clarionet, were quite
overpowered by the acclamations of the crowd which attended them to his
committee-room. Sir Percival Pickering, throwing open the window,
addressed a word or two to the dense crowd; and then, having given three
lusty cheers, they withdrew. A glass of wine and water quickly refreshed
the spirits of Mr. Delamere, and a surgeon having arrived, found it
necessary to dress the wound with much care, for the cut was severe; in
fact, the upper lip was partially laid open; and he declared it highly
imprudent for Mr. Delamere to attempt to make his appearance out of
doors on the morrow. As for Mr. Crafty, as soon as he heard what had
taken place, he uttered, as he felt bound to do, a few casual
expressions of sympathy; but what passed through his mind, as he resumed
his seat before his papers, was--"What a pity that all those fellows had
not had votes, and that the poll had not commenced _instanter_!" The
truly unexpected issue of the day's proceedings, while it elevated the
spirits of all Mr. Delamere's friends, produced only one effect upon the
imperturbable Mr. Crafty; he strongly suspected that the other side
would probably be resorting during the night to measures of a desperate
and unscrupulous description, in order to counteract the unfavorable
impression calculated to be effected by the defeat of Mr. Titmouse at
the show of hands. As for that gentleman, by the way, he became very
insolent towards Gammon on reaching the committee-room, and protested,
with fury in his face, that it had all been brought about by Mr.
Gammon's "cursed officious meddling with Mr. Titmouse's name before the
mob after the stone had been thrown;" on hearing which, "Go on to the
Hall, sir, dine, and get drunk if you choose," said Gammon, bitterly and
peremptorily; "I shall remain here all night. Powerful as are your
energies, they require relaxation after the fatigues of the day!" and
with a very _decisive_, but not violent degree of force, Titmouse was
urged, in a twinkling, into the outer committee-room. Mr. Gammon had,
indeed, as much serious work before him that night as Mr. Crafty, and
prepared for secret and decisive action every whit as calmly and
effectively as he. Mr. Crafty's arrangements were admirable. During the
day he had parcelled out the borough into a number of small departments,
each of which he committed to some steady and resolute friend of Mr.
Delamere, who was to look after every elector in his division about whom
there was any ground for fear, in respect either of apprehended
abduction, or of treachery. These gentlemen were to be relieved at
intervals; and from one to the other of them, perpetually, were the
personal agents of Crafty to go their rounds, in order to see that all
was right, and carry intelligence to headquarters. Then others were
intrusted with the ticklish and tiresome duty of watching the movements
of the enemy in quarters where Crafty had sure information of intended
operations during the night. Complete arrangements had been made, also,
for bringing up voters to the poll at the exact times, and in the
numbers, and in the manner, which might on the morrow be determined on
by Mr. Crafty. Names were noted down of those to whom the bribery oath
was to be administered. Prudent as were these precautions, they did not
entirely prevent the mischief against which they had been levelled. As
the night wore on, evidence was, from time to time, brought in to Mr.
Crafty that the enemy were at work at, their expected tricks; _e.g._--

    "Jacob Joliffe is missing. Wife _says_ she knows nothing about him.

    "Send _at least a couple_ of men to watch Peter Jiggins, or he'll
    be out of the way when he's wanted."

    "Haste--haste. G. Atkins and Adam Hutton, both safe ten minutes
    ago, are off; enticed out into a postchaise--gone towards
    York--(Half-past eleven.")

    "Send some one to the Jolly Snobs to watch the treating going on.
    _Most important._ Mr. Titmouse has been there, and drunk a glass of
    rum with them."

Then more mysterious missives made their appearance from Mr. Crafty's
own familiars.

    "Q.C.S.H.O.--12."--(_i.e._ "The Quaint Club still holds
    out.--Twelve o'clock.")

    "Q.C.G._W._--1/2 past 1."--(_i.e._ "The Quaint Club are _going
    wrong_.--Half-past one o'clock.")

    "S.B.; G.O. => => + => => H. 1/4 to 2."--(_i.e._ "I have seen Bran.
    Gammon offers ten pounds, in addition to the ten pounds already
    given.--They hesitate.--A quarter to two o'clock.")

    "3/heard & S. B. & M. w. B. O. Q. C.--12--3."--(_i.e._ "Three of
    our people have just overheard _and seen_ Bloodsuck and Mudflint,
    with Bran, offering the Quaint Club _twelve_ pounds.--Three

    "Q. C. G. R. w. Y. & C. T. T. Y. M.S. I.--4."--(_i.e._ "The Quaint
    Club are getting restive with _you_, and coming to terms with
    Titmouse. You must stir instantly.--Four o'clock.")

    "[Greek: Delta Delta] => 10 m. 4."--These last mysterious symbols
    caused Mr. Crafty instantly to bestir himself, He changed color a
    _little_, and went into the adjoining room. The meaning of the
    communication was--"_Great danger to both parties_."

In the adjoining room, where two candles were burning down in their very
sockets, and the fire nearly out, were some four or five trusty friends
of Mr. Delamere--gentlemen who had placed themselves entirely at Mr.
Crafty's disposal throughout the night. When he entered, they were all
nearly asleep, or at least dozing. Beckoning two of them into his own
room, he instructed one to go and plant himself openly--nay, as
conspicuously as possible--near the door of Mr. Titmouse's
committee-room, so as not to fail of being recognized, by any one
leaving or entering it, as a well-known friend of Mr. Delamere's; in
fact, Mr. Titmouse's friends were to discover that their motions were
watched. The other he instructed to act similarly opposite the door of a
small house in a narrow court--the residence, in fact, of Ben Bran,
where all the night's negotiations with the Quaint Club had been carried
on. Immediately afterwards, Mr. Crafty felt it his duty, as between man
and man, to warn his opponent of the mortal peril in which he was
placed; and, in his anxiety for fair play, found means to convey the
following note into the committee-room where Mr. Gammon and one or two
others were sitting:--

  "Take care!! You are deceived! betrayed! Q. C. is sold
  out and out to the _Blues_!! And part of the bargain, that B. B.
  shall betray you into bribery in the presence of witnesses--_not
  one man_ of the club safe; this have _just learned_ from the wife of
  one of them. From a well-wishing friend, but _obligated_ to vote
  (against his conscience) for the Blues.

  "P.S.--Lord D. in the town (quite private) with lots of _the
  needful_, and doing business sharply."

While Mr. Gammon and his companions were canvassing this letter, in came
the two gentlemen who had been watched, in the way I have stated, from
Ben Bran's house to Mr. Titmouse's committee-room, pale and agitated,
with intelligence of that fact. Though hereat Gammon's color deserted
his cheek, he affected to treat the matter very lightly, and laughed at
the idea of being deluded by such boy's play. If Lord De la Zouch--said
he--had hired Crafty only to play tricks like _these_, he might as well
have saved the trouble and expense. Here a slight bustle was heard at
the door; and the hostler made his appearance, saying that a man had
just given him a document which he produced to Mr. Gammon; who, taking
from the hostler a dirty and ill-folded paper, read as follows:--

  "To Squire Titmous. you Are All Wrong. the Blues is _wide_
  Awake All Night and nos all, Lord Dillysoush about with One
  hundred Spies; And look Out for traiters in the Camp. A
  friend or Enemy as you Will, but loving Fair Play."

"Poh!" exclaimed Gammon, flinging it on the table contemptuously.

Now, I may as well mention here, that about nine o'clock in the evening,
Mr. Parkinson had brought to Crafty _sure_ intelligence that a very
zealous and influential person, who was entirely in the confidence of
the enemy, had come to him a little while before, and candidly
disclosed the very melancholy position of his--the aforesaid
communicant's--financial affairs; and Mr. Parkinson happened to be in a
condition to verify the truth of the man's statement, that there was a
writ out against him for £250; and that, unless he could meet it, he
would have to quit the county before daybreak, and his very promising
prospects in business would be utterly ruined. Mr. Parkinson knew these
matters professionally; and, in short, Crafty was given to understand,
that so disgusted was Mr. M'Do'em--the gentleman in question--with Whig
principles (his inexorable creditor being a Whig) and practices, such as
the bribery, treating, and corruption at that moment going on, that--his
conscience pricked him--and--ahem!--the poor penitent was ready to make
all the amends in his power by discovering villany to its intended
victims. Crafty, having felt the ground pretty safe underneath him, took
upon himself to say, that Mr. M'Do'em need be under no further
apprehension as to his pecuniary liabilities; but, in the mean while, he
would certainly wish for a little _evidence_ of the _bona fides_ of his
present conduct.

"Come," quoth M'Do'em, after receiving a pregnant wink from Mr.
Crafty--"send some one whom you can rely upon with me _immediately_, to
do as I bid him--and let him report to you what he shall actually see."

No sooner said than done. A trusty managing clerk of Mr. Parkinson's
forthwith accompanied M'Do'em on a secret expedition....

They stood at a window with a broken pane. 'T was a small ill-furnished
kitchen, and in the corner, close to the fire, sat smoking a middle-aged
man, wearing a dirty brown paper cap. Opposite to him sat two persons,
in very earnest conversation with him. They were Mr. Mudflint and Mr.
Bloodsuck, junior.

"Come, come, _that's_ decidedly unreasonable," quoth the former.

"No, sir, it _a'n't_. I'm an independent man!--It quite cut me to the
heart, I 'sure you, sir, to see Mr. Delamere so dreadfully used--my good
missus, that's in bed, says to me--says she"----

"But what had Mr. Titmouse to do with it, you know?" said Mudflint,
taking out of his pocket a bit of crumpled paper, at which the man he
addressed gazed listlessly, shook his head, and exclaimed, "_No, it
won't do_----He didn't desarve such treatment, poor young gentleman."
(Here Bloodsuck and Mudflint whispered--and the latter, with a very bad
grace, produced a second bit of crumpled paper.)

"_That's_ something like"--said the man, rather more good-humoredly.
"Is't _sartain_ Mr. Titmouse had nothing to do with it?"

"To be sure not!--Now, mind, by a quarter past eight--eh?" inquired
Mudflint, very anxiously, and somewhat sullenly.

"I'm a man of my word--no one can say I ever broke it in earnest; and as
for a straightforward bit o' business like this, I say, I'm your man--so
here's my hand."...

"Don't _that_ look rather like business?" inquired M'Do'em, in a
whisper, after they had lightly stepped away.--"But come along!"...

After another similar scene, the two returned to the Hare and Hounds,
and the matter was satisfactorily settled between Crafty and
M'Do'em--one hundred down, and the rest on the morning after the
election. He was to _poll for Titmouse_, and that, too, early in the
day; and be as conspicuous and active as possible in his exertions in
behalf of that gentleman--to appear, in short, one of his most stanch
and confidential supporters. Whether Lord De la Zouch or his son would
have sanctioned such conduct as this, had they had an inkling of it, I
leave to the reader to conjecture: but Crafty was easy about the
matter--'t was only, in _his_ opinion, "manœuvring;" and all weapons
are fair against a burglar or highwayman; all devices against a
swindler. M'Do'em gave Crafty a list of nine voters at Grilston who had
received five pounds a-piece; and enabled him to discover a case of
wholesale _treating_, brought home to one of the leading members of Mr.
Titmouse's committee. Well, this worthy capped all his honorable
services by hurrying in to Gammon, some quarter of an hour after he had
received the second anonymous letter, and with a perfect appearance of
consternation, after carefully shutting the door and eying the window,
faltered that all was going wrong--that traitors were in the camp; that
Lord De la Zouch had _bought every man of the Quaint Club two days
before at thirty pounds a-head_! half already paid down, the rest to be
paid on the morning of the _fifteenth day after Parliament should have
met_--(M'Do'em said he did not know what that meant, but Gammon was more
influenced and alarmed by it than by anything else that had happened;)
that _Ben Bran was playing false_, having received a large sum--though
how much M'Do'em had not yet learned--as head-money from Lord De la
Zouch; and that, if one single farthing were after that moment paid or
promised to any single member of the club, either by Mr. Titmouse, or
any one on his behalf, they were all delivered, bound hand and foot,
into the power of Lord De la Zouch, and at his mercy. That so daring and
yet artful was Lord De la Zouch, that his agents had attempted to tamper
with even HIM, M'Do'em! but so as to afford him not the least hold of
them. Moreover, he knew a fellow-townsman who would, despite all his
promises to the Liberal candidate, poll for Delamere; but nothing should
induce him, M'Do'em, to disclose the name of that person, on account of
the peculiar way in which he, M'Do'em, had come to know the fact. On
hearing all this, Gammon calmly made up his mind for the worst; and
immediately resolved to close all further negotiations with the Quaint
Club. To have acted otherwise would have been mere madness, and courting
destruction. The more he reflected on the exorbitant demand of the
Quaint Club--and so _suddenly_ exorbitant, and enforced by such an
impudent sort of quiet pertinacity--the more he saw to corroborate--had
that occurred to him as necessary--the alarming intelligence of M'Do'em.
Mr. Gammon concealed much of his emotion; but he ground his teeth
together with the effort. Towards six o'clock, there was a room full of
the friends and agents of Titmouse; to whom Gammon, despite all that had
happened, and which was known only to four or five of those present,
gave a highly encouraging account of the day's prospects, but impressed
upon them all, with infinite energy, the necessity for caution and
activity. A great effort was to be made to head the poll from the first,
in order at once to do away with the _prestige_ of the show of hands;
"and the friends of Mr. Titmouse" (_i. e._ the ten pounds' worth of mob)
were to be in attendance round the polling-booth at seven o'clock, and
remain there the rest of the day, in order, by their presence; to
encourage and protect (!) the voters of Mr. Titmouse. This and one or
two other matters having been thus arranged, Mr. Gammon, who was
completely exhausted with his long labor, retired to a bedroom, and
directed that he should without fail be called in one hour's time. As he
threw himself on the bed, with his clothes on, and extinguished his
candle, he had at least the consolation of reflecting, that nine of the
enemy's stanchest voters were safely stowed away, (as he imagined,) and
that seven or eight of the _accessibles_, pledged to Mr. Delamere, had
promised to reconsider the matter.

If Gammon had taken the precaution of packing the front of the
polling-booth in the way I have mentioned, Mr. Crafty had not overlooked
the necessity of securing efficient protection for his voters; and
between seven and eight o'clock no fewer than between four and five
hundred stout yeomen, tenants of Lord De la Zouch and others of the
surrounding nobility and gentry, made their appearance in the town, and
insinuated themselves into the rapidly accumulating crowd: many of them,
however, remaining at large, at the command of Mr. Delamere's committee,
in order, when necessary, to secure safe access to the poll for those
who might require such assistance. It was strongly urged upon Mr. Crafty
to bring up a strong body of voters at the commencement, in order to
head the polling at the end of the first hour. "Not the least occasion
for it," said Crafty, quietly--"I don't care a straw for it: in a small
borough no end can be gained, where the voters are so few in number that
every man's vote is secured long beforehand to a dead certainty. There's
no _prestige_ to be gained or supported. No. Bring up _first_ all the
distant and most uncertain voters--the timid, the feeble, the wavering;
secure _them_ early while you have time and opportunity. Again, for the
first few hours poll languidly; it _may_ render the enemy over-easy. You
may perhaps make a sham _rush_ of about twenty or thirty between twelve
and one o'clock, to give them the idea that you are doing your very
best. Then fall off, poll a man now and then only, and see what _they_
will do, how _they_ are playing off their men. If you can hang back till
late in the day, then direct, very secretly and cautiously, the bribery
oath and the questions to be put to each of the enemy's men as they come
up; and, while you are thus picking them off, pour in your own voters
before the opposite party is aware of your game, and the hour for
closing the poll _may_ perhaps arrive while some dozen or so of their
men are unpolled. But above all, gentlemen," said Crafty, "every one to
his own work only. One thing, at a time, throughout the day; which is
quite long enough for all you have to do. Don't hang back in order to
bring up several voters at once; if you have _one_ ready, take him up
instanter, and have done with him. Don't give yourselves the least
concern about ascertaining the numbers that _have_ polled, but only
those that have _yet to be_ polled; the returns I will look after. Let
those stand behind the check-clerks, who are best acquainted with the
names, persons, and circumstances of the voters who come up, and can
detect imposture of any sort before the vote is recorded, _and the
mischief done_. The scoundrel may be thus easily _kept off_ the
poll-books, whom it may cost you a thousand pounds hereafter to attempt
to remove, in vain."

The day was bright and frosty; and long before eight o'clock the little
town was all alive with music, flags, cheering, and crowds passing to
and fro. The polling-booth was exceedingly commodious and well
constructed, with a view to the most rapid access and departure of the
voters. By eight o'clock there were more than a couple of thousand
persons collected before the booth; and--significant evidence of the
transient nature of yesterday's excitement!--the yellow colors appeared
as five to one. Just before eight o'clock, up drove Mr. Titmouse, in a
dog-cart, from which he jumped out amid the cheers of almost all
present, and skipped on to the bench behind his own check-clerk, with
the intention of remaining there all day to acknowledge the votes given
for him! But Mr. Delamere, with a just delicacy and pride, avoided
making his appearance either at or near the booth, at all events till
the voting was over. The first vote given was that of Obadiah Holt, the
gigantic landlord of the Hare and Hounds, and for Mr. Delamere; the
event being announced by a tremendous groan; but no one ventured any
personal incivility to the laughing giant that passed through them. A
loud cheer, as well as a sudden bobbing of the head on the part of
Titmouse, announced that the second vote had been recorded for him; and,
indeed, during the next twenty minutes he polled fifteen for Delamere's
eight. At _nine_ o'clock the poll stood thus--

        Titmouse       31
        Delamere       18
            Majority   13

Steadily adhering to Mr. Crafty's system, at _ten_ o'clock the poll

        Titmouse       53
        Delamere       29
            Majority   24

At _eleven_ o'clock--

        Titmouse       89
        Delamere       41
            Majority   48

At _twelve_ o'clock--

        Titmouse       94
        Delamere       60
            Majority   34

At _one_ o'clock--

        Titmouse      129
        Delamere       84
            Majority   45

At this point they remained stationary for some time; but Delamere had
polled all his _worst votes_, Titmouse almost all his _best_. The latter
had, indeed, only _seventeen_ more in reserve, independently of the
Quaint Club, and the still neutral _twenty_ accessibles; while Delamere
had yet, provided his promises stood firm, and none of his men were
hocussed or kidnapped, forty-five good men and true--and some faint
hopes, also, of the aforesaid twenty accessibles. For a quarter of an
hour not one man came up for either party; but at length two of
Delamere's leading friends came up, with faces full of anxiety, and
recorded their votes for Delamere, amid loud laughter. About half-past
one o'clock a prodigious--and I protest that it was both to Lord De la
Zouch and his son a totally unexpected--rush was made on behalf of
Delamere, consisting of _the twenty accessibles_; who in the midst of
yelling, and hissing, and violent abuse, voted, one after another, for
Delamere. Whether or not a strong pressure had been resorted to by some
zealous and powerful gentlemen in the neighborhood, but entirely
independent of Mr. Delamere, I know not; but the fact was as I have
stated. At _two_ o'clock the poll stood thus--

        Titmouse      145
        Delamere      134
            Majority   11

Thus Titmouse had then polled within one of his positive reserve, and
yet was only eleven above Delamere, who had still _fifteen_ men to come

"Where is the Quaint Club?" began to be more and more frequently and
earnestly asked among the crowd: but no one could give a satisfactory
answer; and more than one conjecture was hazarded, as to the possibility
of their coming up under _blue_ colors. But--_where were they_? Were
they watching the state of the poll, and under marching orders for the
moment when the enemy should be at his extremity? 'T was indeed a matter
of exquisite anxiety!--Between two o'clock and a quarter past, not one
voter was polled on either side; and the crowd, wearied with their long
labors of hissing and shouting, looked dispirited, listless, and
exhausted. By-and-by Mr. Gammon, and Messrs. Bloodsuck, (senior and
junior,) Mudflint, Woodlouse, Centipede, Ginblossom, Going Gone, Hic Hæc
Hoc, and others, made their appearance in the booth, around Titmouse.
They all looked sour, depressed, and fatigued. Their faces were indeed
enough to sadden and silence the crowd. Were Mr. Titmouse's forces
exhausted?--"Where's the Quaint Club?" roared out a man in the crowd,
addressing Mr. Gammon, who smiled wretchedly in silence. The reason of
his then appearing at the polling-booth was certainly to ascertain the
fate of the Quaint Club; but he had also another; for he had received
information that within a short time Dr. Tatham, and also fourteen of
the Yatton tenantry, were coming up to the poll. Mr. Gammon,
accordingly, had not stood there more than five minutes, before a sudden
hissing and groaning announced the approach of a Blue--in fact, it
proved to be little Dr. Tatham, who had been prevented from earlier
coming up, through attendance on one or two sick parishioners, in
different parts of the neighborhood, to whom he had been summoned
unexpectedly. It cost the quiet stout-hearted old man no little effort,
and occasioned him a little discomposure, elbowed, and jolted, and
insulted as he was; but at length there he stood before the
poll-clerks--who did not require to ask him his name or residence.
Gammon gazed at him with folded arms, and a stern and sad countenance.
Presently, inclining slightly towards Mudflint, he seemed to whisper in
that gentleman's ear; and--"Administer the bribery oath," said the
latter to the returning officer, eagerly.

"Sir," exclaimed that functionary, in a low tone, with amazement--"the
bribery oath--! To Dr. Tatham? Are you in earnest?"

"Do your duty, sir!" replied Mudflint, in a bitter, insulting tone.

"I regret to inform you, sir, that I am required to administer the
bribery oath to you," said the returning officer to Dr. Tatham, bowing
very low.

"What? What? The bribery oath? To _me_?" inquired Dr. Tatham, giving a
sudden start, and flushing violently: at which stringent evidence of his

"Aha!" cried those of the crowd nearest to him--"Come, old gentleman!
Thou mun bolt it now!"

"Is it pretended to be believed," faltered Dr. Tatham, with visible
emotion--"that _I am bribed_?" But at that moment his eye happened to
light upon the exulting countenance of "the Reverend" Mr. Mudflint. It
calmed him. Removing his hat, he took the Testament into his hand, while
the crowd ceased hooting for a moment, in order to hear the oath read;
and with dignity he endured the indignity. He then recorded his vote for
Mr. Delamere; and after fixing a sorrowful and surprised eye on Mr.
Gammon, who stood with his hat slouched a good deal over his face, and
looking in another direction, withdrew; and as he turned his mild and
venerable face towards the crowd, the hissing subsided. Shortly
afterwards made their appearance amid great uproar, several of the
tenantry of Mr. Titmouse--all of them looking as if they had come up,
poor souls! rather to receive punishment for a crime, than to exercise
their elective franchise in a free country!--Gammon colored a little;
took out his pocket-book and pencil; and fixing on the first of the
tenantry, Mark Hackett, the eye, as it were, of a suddenly revived
serpent, wrote down his name in silence--but what an expression was on
his face! Thus he acted towards every one of those unhappy and doomed
persons; replacing his pocket-book whence he had taken it, as soon as
the last of the little body had polled. It was now a quarter to three
o'clock, (the poll closing finally at _four_,) and thus stood the

        Delamere         149
        Titmouse         146
            Majority       3

On these figures being exhibited by an eager member of Mr. Delamere's
committee, there arose a tremendous uproar among the crowd, and cries of
"Tear it down! Tear it down! Ah! Bribery and corruption! Three groans
for Delamere! O--h! o----h! o----h!" Matters seemed, indeed, getting
desperate with the crowd; yet they seemed to feel a sort of comfort in
gazing at the stern, determined, but chagrined countenance of the ruling
spirit of the day, Mr. Gammon. He was a "deep hand,"--thought they--he
knew his game; and, depend upon it, he was only waiting till the enemy
was clean done, and then he would pour in the Quaint Club and crush them
forever. Thus thought hundreds before the hustings. Not a vote was
offered for a quarter of an hour; and the poll-clerks, with their pens
behind their ears, employed the interval in munching sandwiches, and
drinking sherry out of a black bottle--the onlookers cutting many jokes
upon them while thus pleasantly engaged. Symptoms were soon visible, in
the increasing proportion of blue rosettes becoming visible in and about
the crowd, that this promising state of things was reviving the hopes of
Mr. Delamere's party, while it as plainly depressed those in the yellow
interest. Not for one moment, during the whole of that close and
exciting contest, had Mr. Crafty quitted his little inner apartment,
where he had planned the battle, and conducted it to its present point
of success. Nor had his phlegmatic temperament suffered the least
excitement or disturbance: cold as ice though his heart might be, his
head was ever clear as crystal. Certainly his strategy had been
admirable. Vigilant, circumspect, equal to every emergency, he had
brought up his forces in perfect order throughout the day; the enemy had
not caught the least inkling of his real game. By his incessant,
ingenious, and _safe_ manœuvring, he had kept that dreaded body, the
Quaint Club, in play up to this advanced period of the day--in a state
of exquisite embarrassment and irresolution, balancing between hopes and
fears; and he had, moreover, rendered a temporary reverse on the field
upon which he then fought, of little real importance, by reason of the
measures he had taken to cut off the enemy entirely in their very next
move. He was now left entirely alone in his little room, standing
quietly before the fire with his hands behind him, with real composure,
feeling that he had done his duty, and awaiting the issue patiently. The
hustings, all this while, exhibited an exciting spectacle. Nearly
another quarter of an hour had elapsed, without a single vote being
added to the poll. The crowd was very great, and evidently sharing no
little of the agitation and suspense experienced by those within the
booth--(except Mr. Titmouse, whose frequent potations of brandy and
water during the day had composed him at length to sleep; and he
leaned--absolutely snoring!--against the corner of the booth, out of
sight of the crowd). The poll-clerks were laughing and talking
unconcernedly together. The leading Blues mustered strongly on their
part of the booth; elated undoubtedly, but with the feelings of men who
have desperately fought their way, inch by inch, sword to sword, bayonet
to bayonet, up to a point where they expect, nevertheless, momentarily
to be blown into the air. What _could_ have become of the Quaint Club?
thought _they_ also, with inward astonishment and apprehension. Gammon
continued standing, motionless and silent, with folded arms--his dark
surtout buttoned carelessly at the top, and his hat slouched over his
eyes, as if he sought to conceal their restlessness and agitation.
Excitement, intense anxiety, and physical exhaustion, were visible in
his countenance. He seemed indisposed to speak, even in answer to any
one who addressed him.

"O cursed Quaint Club!"--said he to himself--"O cursed Crafty! I am
beaten--beaten hollow--ridiculously! How the miscreants have bubbled me!
Crafty can now do without them, and won't endanger the election by
polling them! We are ruined! And what will be said at headquarters,
after what I have led them to believe--bah!" He almost stamped with the
vehemence of his emotions. "There's certainly yet a resource; nay, but
that also is too late--_a riot_--a nod, a breath of mine--those fine
fellows there--would _down_ with hustings, and all the poll-books be
destroyed!--No, no; it is not to be thought of--the time's gone by."

It was now nearly a quarter past three o'clock. "It's passing strange!"
thought Gammon, as he looked at his watch; "what can be in the wind? Not
a single man of them been up for either party! Perhaps, after all, Lord
De la Zouch may not have come up to their mark, and may now be merely
standing on the chance of _our_ being unable to come to terms with them.
But what can I do, without certain destruction, after what I have heard?
It will be simply jumping down into the pit."--A thought suddenly struck
him; and with forced calmness he slipped away from the polling-booth,
and, with an affectation of indifference, made his way to a house where
a trusty emissary awaited his orders. 'T was a Grilston man, a Yellow
voter, as much at Gammon's beck and call as Ben Bran was represented to
be at the command of Lord De la Zouch. Gammon despatched him on the
following enterprise--viz. to rush alarmedly among the club, who knew
_him_, but _not_ his _devotion to Gammon_--to tell them that he had just
discovered, by mere accident, the frightful danger in which they were
placed, owing to Mr. Gammon's being enraged against them on account of
their last proposal--that he had now made up his mind to the loss of the
election, and also to commence prosecutions for bribery against every
single member of the club; for that, having early suspected foul play,
he was in a position "to _nail_ every man of them," without fixing
himself on Mr. Titmouse. If he succeeded thus far--viz. in alarming
them--then, after apparently dire perplexity, he was suddenly to suggest
one mode of at once securing themselves, and foiling their bitter enemy,
Mr. Gammon; viz. hastening up to the polling-booth, without a word to
any one, and, by placing Titmouse at the top of the poll, _destroy
Gammon's motive for commencing his vindictive proceedings_, and so take
him in his own trap. Gammon then returned to the polling-booth, (having
named the signal by which he was to be apprised of success,) and resumed
his former position, without giving to any one near him the slightest
intimation of what he had been doing. If he imagined, however, that any
movement of _his_, at so critical a moment, had not been watched, he was
grievously mistaken. There were three persons whose sole business it had
been, during the whole of that day, to keep a lynx eye upon his every
motion, especially as connected with the Quaint Club. But his cunning
emissary was equal to the exigency; and having (unseen) reconnoitred the
streets for a few moments, he imagined that he detected one, if not two
spies, lurking about. He therefore slipped out of a low back window, got
down four or five back yards, and so across a small hidden alley, which
enabled him to enter, unperceivedly, into the back room of the house he

"Ben! Ben!" he gasped with an air of consternation.

"Hallo, man! what is 't?" quoth Ben.

"Done! every man of you sold! Mr. Gammon turned tail on you!--Just
happened to overhear him swear a solemn oath to Mr. Mudflint, that
before four-and-twenty hours"....

"Lord!--you did!--did you really?"

"So help me----!" exclaimed the man, aghast.

"What's to be done?" quoth Ben, the perspiration bursting out all over
his forehead. "We've been made the cursedest fools of by _some_
one!--Hang me if I think the old beast at Fotheringham, or the young cub
either, has ever meant"----

"What signifies it? It's all too late now."

"Isn't there _any_ way--eh? To be sure, I own I thought we were pitched
a _leetle_ too high with Mr. Gam"----

"But he has you _now_, though; and you'll find he's a devil
incarnate!--But stop, I see"--he seemed, as if a thought had suddenly
glanced across his puzzled and alarmed mind--"I'll tell you how to do
him, and save yourselves yet."

"O Lord!--eh?" exclaimed Ben, breathlessly.

"But are your men all together?"

"Oh ay! in five minutes' time we could all be on our way to the booth."

"Then don't lose a minute--or all's up forever!--Don't explain to them
the fix they're in till it's all over--and if _ever_ you tell 'em, or
any one, the bit o' service I've"----

"Never, Thomas, so help me----!" quoth Ben, grasping his companion's
hand, as in a vice.

"Off all of you to the booth, and poll for life and death, for

"What? Come--come, Master Thomas!"

"Ay, ay--you fool! Don't you see? Make him win the election, and then,
_in course_, Gammon's no cause to be at you--he'll have got all he

"My eyes!" exclaimed Ben, as he suddenly perceived the stroke of policy.
He snapped his finger, buttoned his coat, popped out of the
house--within a few moments he was in the midst of the club, who were
all in a back yard, behind a small tavern which they frequented. "Now,
lads!" he exclaimed with a wink of his eye. He took the yellow and the
blue colors out of his bosom: returned the blue, and mounted the yellow:
so in a trice did every one present, not one single question having been
asked at Ben, in whom they had perfect confidence.

But, to return to Mr. Gammon. It was now a moment or two past the half
hour--there was scarcely half an hour more before the election must
close. The mob were getting sullen. The Quaint Club were being asked
for--now with hisses, then with cheers. All eyes were on Gammon, who
felt that they were. His face bore witness to the intensity of his
emotions; he did not any longer even attempt to disguise his desperate
disappointment. His nerves were strung to their highest pitch of
tension; and his eye glanced incessantly, but half-closed, towards a
corner house at a little distance; ah! that eye was suddenly lit up, as
it were, with fire--never had been such an instantaneous change seen in
a man's face before. He had at length caught the appointed signal; a man
appeared at a window, and appeared accidentally to drop a little stick
into the street. A mighty sigh escaped from the pent-up bosom of Gammon,
and relieved him from a sense of suffocation. His feelings might have
been compared to those excited in our great commander, when the
Prussians made their appearance at Waterloo. The battle was won; defeat
converted into triumph; but suddenly recollecting himself--aware that
every muscle of his face was watched--he relapsed into his former gloom.
Presently were heard the approaching sounds of music--nearer and nearer
came the clash of cymbals, the clangor of trombone and trumpet, the roll
of the drum;--all the crowd turned their faces towards the quarter
whence the sounds came, and within a few seconds' time was seen turning
the corner, full on its way to the booth, the banner of the Quaint
Club, with yellow rosettes streaming from the top of each pole--yellow
ribbons on every one's breast. THE PEOPLE'S CAUSE HAD TRIUMPHED! Their
oppressors were prostrate! A wild and deafening shout of triumph burst
from the crowd, as if they had been one man; and continued for several
minutes intermingled with the inspiriting sounds of the noble air--"Rule
Britannia!" played by the two bands, (that of Mr. Titmouse having
instantly joined them.) On marched the club, two and two, arm in arm,
with rapid step; their faces flushed with excitement and
exultation--their hands vehemently shaken by the shouting crowd, who
opened a broad lane for them up to the polling-booth. Oh, the contrast
exhibited in the faces of those standing _there_! What gloom, what
vexation, what despair, on the one hand--what signs of frantic
excitement, joy, and triumph, on the other! "Titmouse!" cried the first
member of the club, as he gave his vote; "Titmouse!" cried the second;
"Titmouse!" cried the third; "Titmouse!" cried the fourth. The battle
was won. Mr. Titmouse was in a majority, which went on increasing every
minute, amid tremendous cheering. Mr. Gammon's face and figure would at
that moment have afforded a study for a picture; the strongly repressed
feeling of triumph yet indicating its swelling influence upon his marked
and expressive countenance, where an accurate eye might have detected
also the presence of deep anxiety. Again and again were his hands shaken
by those near him--Mudflint, Bloodsuck, Woodlouse, Centipede, Going
Gone, Ginblossom--as they enthusiastically gave him credit for the
transcendent skill he had exhibited, and the glorious result it had
secured. As the church clock struck four, the books were closed, and the
election was declared at an end, with eighteen of Mr. Titmouse's voters
yet unpolled! Within a few minutes afterwards, Mr. Going Gone hastily
chalked upon the board, and held it up exultingly to the crowd,--

        Titmouse               237
        Delamere               149
                  Majority      88!

"Hurrah!--hurrah!--hip, hip, hip, hurrah!" burst from the crowd,
while hands were upraised and whirled round, hats flung into
the air, and every other mark of popular excitement exhibited.
"Titmouse!--Titmouse!--NINE TIMES NINE FOR MR. TITMOUSE!" was called
for, and responded to with thrilling and overpowering effect. The newly
elected member, however, could not be pinched, or shaken, or roused, out
of the drunken stupor into which, from the combined influence of liquor
and excitement, he had sunk. To enable him to go through the responsible
duties of the day--viz. bobbing his head every now and then to the
worthy and independent electors who came to invest him with the proud
character of their representative in the House of Commons--he had
brought in his pocket a flask of brandy, which had been thrice
replenished: in a word, the popular idol was decidedly not presentable:
and under the impulse of strong emotion, Mr. Gammon, infinitely to the
disgust of the Reverend Smirk Mudflint, who was charged up to his throat
with combustible matter, and ready to go off at an instant's notice,
stepped forward, and on removing his hat, was received with several
distinct and long-continued rounds of applause. Silence having been at
length partially restored--

"Yes, gentlemen," he commenced in an energetic tone, and with an excited
and determined air and manner, "well may you utter those shouts of joy,
for you have fought a noble fight, and won a glorious victory, (_great
cheering._) Your cause, the cause of freedom and good government, is
triumphant over all opposition, (_immense cheering._) The hideous forms
of bigotry and tyranny are at this moment lying crushed and writhing,
(vehement cheering rendered the rest of the sentence inaudible.)
Gentlemen, truth and independence have this day met and overthrown
falsehood and slavery, (_cheers,_) in spite of the monstrous weapons
with which they came into the field, (_groans_)--bribery, (_groans,_)
corruption, (_groans,_) intimidation, (_hisses,_) coercion, and
treachery, (_mingled groans and hisses._) But, gentlemen, thank God, all
was in vain! (_enthusiastic cheering._) I will not say that a defeated
despot is at this moment sitting with sullen scowl in a neighboring
castle, (_tremendous shouts of applause;_) all his schemes frustrated,
all his gold scattered in vain, and trampled under foot by the virtuous
electors whom he sought first to corrupt, and then degrade into slaves,
(_great cheering._) Gentlemen, let us laugh at his despair, (_loud and
prolonged laughter;_) but let us rejoice like men, like freemen, that
the degraded and execrable _faction_ to which he belongs, is defeated,
(_cheering._) Gentlemen, if ever there was a contest in which public
spirit and principle triumphed over public and private profligacy, this
has been it; and by this time to-morrow, hundreds of constituencies will
be told, as their own struggles are approaching, to--_look at
Yatton_--to emulate her proud and noble example; and England will soon
be enabled to throw off the hateful incubus that has so long oppressed
her, (_immense cheering._) But, gentlemen, you are all exhausted, (_No!
no! and vehement cheers;_) Mr. Titmouse's friends are _all_ exhausted
after the great labor and excitement of this glorious day, and need
repose, in order that on the morrow we may meet refreshed, to enjoy the
full measure of our triumph, (_cheering._) In particular, your
distinguished representative, Mr. Titmouse, worn out with the excitement
of the day, long depressed by the adverse aspect of the poll, was so
overpowered with the sudden and glorious change effected by that band
of patriots who----(the rest of the sentence was drowned in cheering.)
Gentlemen, he is young, and unaccustomed to such extraordinary and
exciting scenes, (_hear, hear, hear!_) but by the morrow he will have
recovered sufficiently to present himself before you, and thank you with
enthusiasm and gratitude, (_cheers._) In his name, gentlemen, I do, from
my soul, thank you for the honor which you have conferred upon him, and
assure you that he considers any past success with which Providence may
have blessed him, (_hear, hear, hear!_) as nothing, when compared with
the issue of this day's struggle, (_cheering._) Rely upon it, that his
conduct in Parliament will not disgrace you, (_no, no, no!_) And now,
gentlemen, I must conclude, trusting that with victory will cease
animosity, and that there will be an immediate declaration of those
feelings of frank and manly cordiality, and good feeling, which ought to
distinguish free fellow-citizens, and which, above all, are signally
characteristic of Englishmen, (_cheering._) Shake hands, gentlemen, with
a fallen enemy, (_we will, we will!_) and forget, having conquered, that
you ever fought."

With these words, uttered with the fervor and eloquence which had indeed
distinguished the whole of his brief address, he resumed his hat, amid
tremendous shouts of "three times three for Mr. Titmouse!"--"three times
three for Mr. Gammon!"--"nine times nine groans for Mr. Delamere!"--all
of which were given with tumultuous energy. The two bands approached;
the procession formed; the nearly insensible Titmouse, his face deadly
pale, and his hat awry, was partly supported and partly dragged along
between Mr. Gammon and Mr. Going Gone; and to the inspiring air of "See
the Conquering Hero comes," and accompanied by the cheering crowd, they
all marched in procession to Mr. Titmouse's committee-room. He was
hurried up-stairs; then led into a bedroom; and there soon, alas!
experienced the overmastering power of sickness; which instantly
obliterated all recollection of his triumph, and made him utterly
unconscious of the brilliant position to which he had just been
elevated--equally to the honor of himself and his constituency, who
justly and proudly regarded


as the glorious first-fruits to them of the glorious "_Bill for giving
Everybody Everything_."

At a late hour, that night, an interview took place between Ben Bran and
Mr. Gammon, of which all that I shall say at present is, that it was
equally confidential and satisfactory. There can be no harm, however, in
intimating that Mr. Gammon made no allusion to the arrival of the Greek
kalends; but he _did_ to----the fifteenth day after the meeting of
Parliament.[2] He satisfied Ben--and through him the Quaint Club--that
Lord De la Zouch's agents had been only deluding them, and had laid a
deep plan for ensnaring the club--which Gammon had early seen through,
and endeavored to defeat. A little circumstance which happened some two
or three days afterwards, seemed to corroborate the truth of at least a
portion of his statements--viz. eight prosecutions for bribery were
brought against so many members of the Quaint Club: and on their hastily
assembling to consult upon so startling an incident, one still more so
came to light;--_five leading members were not to be found_!! Writs in
actions for penalties of £500 each, were on the same day served
upon--Barnabas Bloodsuck, Smirk Mudflint, (otherwise called _the
Reverend_ Smirk Mudflint,) Cephas Woodlouse, and--woe is me that I
should have it to record!--"OILY GAMMON, gentleman, one of the attorneys
of our lord the king, before the king himself, at Westminster." The
amount claimed from him was £4,000; from Bloodsuck £3,000; and from
Mudflint £2,500, which would, alas! have alone absorbed all the
pew-rents of his little establishment for one hundred years to come, if
his system of moral teaching should so long live. What was the
consternation of these gentlemen to discover, when in their turn they
called a private meeting of their leading friends, that one of them also
was missing--viz. _Judas M'Do'em_! Moreover, it was palpable that amid
an ominous silence and calmness on the other side--even on the part of
the _True Blue_--the most guarded and systematic and persevering search
for evidence was going on; and with all Gammon's self-possession, the
sudden sight of Mr. Crafty stealthily quitting the house of an humble
Yellow voter, a week after the election, occasioned him somewhat
sickening sensations. Gammon was not unaccustomed to wade in deep
waters; but these were _very_ deep! However, a great point had been
gained. Mr. Titmouse was M. P. for Yatton; and Mr. Gammon had maintained
his credit in high quarters, where he had stood pledged as to the result
of the election; having been long before assured that every member
returned into the new Parliament was worth his weight in gold. Such were
the thoughts passing through the acute and powerful mind of Gammon, as
he sat late one night, shortly afterwards, alone at Yatton, Mr. Titmouse
having retired to his bedroom half stupefied with liquor, and anxious to
complete matters by smoking himself to sleep. The wind whistled
cheerlessly round the angle of the Hall in which was situated the room
where he sat, his feet resting on the fender, his arms folded, and his
eyes fixed on the fire. Then he took up the newspaper recently arrived
from town, which contained a report of his speech to the electors at the
close of the poll; it was the organ of the Whig party--the _Morning
Growl_; and its leading article commented in very encomiastic terms
upon his address, "given in another part of the paper." His soul heaved
with disgust at the thoughts of his own dissimulation;--"Independence!"
"Purity of Election!" "Public Principle!" "_Triumph of Principle!_"
"Popular enthusiasm!" "Man of the people!"--"_Look_," thought
he--"eugh--_at Titmouse_! Is _representation_ an utter farce--a mere
_imaginary_ privilege of the people? If not, what but public swindlers
are we who procure the return of such idiots as--faugh! Would I had been
on the other"----He rose, sighed, lit his chamber candle, and retired to
bed, but not to rest; for he spent several hours in endeavoring to
retrace every step which he had taken in the election--with a view to
ascertain how far it could be proved that he had legally implicated
himself. The position in which, indeed, he and those associated with him
in the proceedings, were placed, was one which required his most anxious
consideration, with a view, not merely to the retention of Mr.
Titmouse's seat, so hardly won, but to the tremendous personal
liabilities with which it was sought to fix himself, Gammon. The
inquiries which he instituted into the practices which he had been led
to believe prevailed openly upon the other side, led to no satisfactory
results. If the enemy had bribed, they had done so with consummate skill
and caution. Yet he chose to assume the _air_ of one who thought
otherwise; and gave directions for writs for penalties to be forthwith
served upon Mr. Parkinson, Mr. Gold, Mr. St. Aubyn, and Mr.
Milnthorpe--all of whom, as indeed he had expected, only laughed at him.
But it was wofully different as regarded himself and his friends; for,
before Mr. Crafty took his departure from Yatton, he had collected a
body of evidence, against all of them, of the most fearful stringency
and completeness. In fact, Lord De la Zouch had determined that, if it
cost him ten thousand pounds more, he would spare no effort, as well to
secure the seat for his son, as to punish those who had been guilty of
the atrocious practices which had been revealed to him.

Need I say with what intense interest, with what absorbing anxiety, the
progress of this contest had been watched by the Aubreys? From Lady De
la Zouch and other friends, but more especially from Dr. Tatham, who had
regularly forwarded the _True Blue_, and also written frequent and full
letters, they had learned, from time to time, all that was going on. Mr.
Aubrey had prepared them for the adverse issue of the affair; he had
never looked for anything else; but could he or any of them feel
otherwise than a painful and indignant sympathy with the little doctor,
on reading his account of the gross insult which had been offered to him
at the hustings? Kate, before she had read half of it, sprang from her
chair, threw down the letter, cried bitterly, then kissed the venerable
doctor's handwriting, and walked to and fro, flashing lightning from her
eyes, as her vivid fancy painted to her with painful distinctness that
scene of wanton and brutal outrage on one of the most gentle,
benevolent, and spotless of God's creatures, whose name was associated
in all their minds with everything that was pious, pure, and
good--indeed they were all powerfully affected. As for _the Reverend_
Smirk Mudflint--"Presumptuous wretch!" quoth Kate, as her flashing eye
met that of her brother: and he felt that his feelings, like her own,
could not be expressed. The first account she received of the outrage
perpetrated on Delamere was in the columns of the _True Blue_, which,
being published on the evening of the nomination, had been instantly
forwarded to town by Dr. Tatham. It blanched her cheek; she then felt a
mist coming over her eyes--a numbness--a faintness ensued, and she sank
upon the sofa, and swooned. It was a long while, after she had
recovered, before a flood of tears relieved her excitement. 'T was no
use disguising matters, even had she felt so disposed, before those who
felt so exquisite and vivid a sympathy with her; and who did not
restrain their ardent and enthusiastic expressions of admiration at the
spirited and noble manner in which Delamere had commenced and carried on
his adventure. At whose instance, and to please whom, had it been really
undertaken? Kate's heart fluttered intensely at the bare notion of
seeing him again in Vivian Street. He would come--she felt--with a sort
of _claim_ upon her!--And he made his at once desired and dreaded
appearance some days afterwards, quite unexpectedly. Kate was playing on
the piano, and had not heard his knock; so that he was actually in the
drawing-room before she was aware of his being in London, or had formed
the slightest expectation of such an event.

"Heavens, Mr. Delamere!--Is it you?" she stammered, rising from the
piano, her face having suddenly become pale.

"Ay, sweet Kate--unless I am become some one else, as--_the rejected of
Yatton_"--he replied fondly, as he grasped her hands fervently in his
own, and led her to the sofa.

"Don't--don't--Mr. Delamere"--said she, faintly, striving to disengage
one of her hands, which she instantly placed before her eyes to conceal
her rising emotion. Her brother and Mrs. Aubrey considerately came to
her relief, by engaging Delamere in conversation. He saw their object;
and releasing Miss Aubrey, for the present, from his attentions, soon
had entered into a long and very animated account of all his Yatton
doings. In spite of herself, as it were, Kate drew near the table, and,
engrossed with interest, listened, and joined in the conversation, as if
it had not been actually DELAMERE who was sitting beside her. He made
very light of the little accident of the wounded lip--but as he went on,
Kate looked another way, her eyes obstructed with tears, and her very
heart yearning towards him. "Oh, Mr. Delamere!"--she suddenly and
vehemently exclaimed--"what _wretches_ they were to use you so!" and
then blushed scarlet.

"Well--see if I'm not M.P. for Yatton, yet"--said Delamere, with a
confident air, just before he rose to go--"and that within a few weeks,
too, and _then_"----

"Don't be too sure of _that_," said Aubrey, gravely.

"Sure? I've no more doubt of it," replied Delamere, briskly, "than I
have of our now being in Vivian Street--if there be the slightest
pretence to fairness in a committee of the House of Commons. Why, upon
my honor, we've got no fewer than eleven distinct, unequivocal,

"If election committees are to be framed of such people as appear to
have been returned"----....

Did, however, the gaudy flower of Titmouse's victory at Yatton contain
the seeds of inevitable defeat at St. Stephen's? 'T was surely a grave
question; and had to be decided by a tribunal, the constitution of
which, however, the legislature hath since, in its wisdom, seen fit
altogether to alter. With matters, therefore, as they then were--but now
are not--I deal freely, as with history.

The first glance which John Bull caught of his new House of Commons,
under the _Bill for giving Everybody Everything_, almost turned his
stomach, strong as it was, inside out; and he stood for some time
staring with feelings of alternate disgust and dismay. Really, as far at
least as outward appearance and behavior went, there seemed scarcely
fifty gentlemen among them; and those appeared ashamed and afraid of
their position. 'T was, indeed, as though the scum that had risen to
the simmering surface of the caldron placed over the fierce fires of
revolutionary ardor, had been ladled off and flung upon the floor of the
House of Commons. The shock and mortification produced such an effect
upon John, that he took for some time to his bed, and required a good
deal of severe treatment, before he in any degree recovered himself. It
was, indeed, a long while before he got quite right in his head!--As the
new House anticipated a good deal of embarrassment from the presidency
of the experienced and dignified person who had for many years filled
the office of Speaker, they chose a new one; and then, breathing freely,
started fair for the session.

Some fifty seats were contested; and one of the very earliest duties of
the new Speaker, was to announce the receipt of "a petition from certain
electors of the borough of Yatton, complaining of an undue return; and
praying the House to appoint a time for taking the same into its
consideration." Mr. Titmouse, at that moment, was modestly sitting
immediately behind the Treasury bench, next to a respectable
pork-butcher, who had been returned for an Irish county, and with whom
Mr. Titmouse had been dining at a neighboring tavern; where he had drunk
whiskey and water enough to elevate him to the point of rising to
present several petitions from his constituents--_first_, from Smirk
Mudflint, and others, for opening the universities of Oxford and
Cambridge to Dissenters of every denomination, and abolishing the
subscription to the Thirty-Nine Articles; _secondly_, from Mr. Hic Hæc
Hoc, praying for a commission to inquire into the propriety of
translating the Eton Latin and Greek grammars into English; _thirdly_,
from several electors, praying the House to pass an act for exempting
members of that House from the operation of the Bankruptcy and
Insolvency Laws, as well as from arrest on mesne and final process; and
_lastly_, from certain other electors, praying the House to issue a
commission to inquire into the cause of the _Tick_ in sheep. I say this
was the auspicious commencement of his senatorial career, meditated by
Mr. Titmouse, when his ear caught the above startling words uttered by
the Speaker; which so disconcerted him--prepared though he was for some
such move on the part of his enemies, that he resolved to postpone the
presentation of the petitions of his enlightened constituents, till the
ensuing day. After sitting in a dreadful fright for some twenty minutes
or so, he felt it necessary to go out and calm his flurried spirits with
a glass of brandy and soda-water. As he was leaving the House, a little
incident happened to him, which was attended with very memorable

"A word with you, sir," whispered a commanding voice, in his ear, as he
felt himself caught hold of by some one sitting at the corner of the
Treasury Bench--"I'll follow you out--_quietly_, mind."

The speaker was a Mr. SWINDLE O'GIBBET, a tall, elderly, and somewhat
corpulent person, with a broad-brimmed hat, a slovenly surtout, and
vulgar swaggering carriage; a ruddy shining face, that constantly wore a
sort of greasy smile; and an unctuous eye, with a combined expression of
cunning, cowardice, and ferocity. He spoke in a rich brogue, and with a
sort of confidential and cringing familiarity; yet, withal, 't was with
the air and the tone of a man conscious of possessing great direct
influence out of doors, and indirect influence within doors. 'T was, in
a word, at once insinuating and peremptory--submissive and truculent.
Several things had concurred to give Titmouse a very exalted notion of
Mr. O'Gibbet. First, a noble speech of his, in which he showed infinite
"_pluck_" in persevering against shouts of "order" from all parts of the
House for an hour together; secondly, his sitting on the front bench,
often close beside little LORD BULFINCH, the leader of the House. His
Lordship was a Whig; and though, as surely I need hardly say, there are
thousands of Whigs every whit as pure and high-minded as their Tory
rivals, his Lordship was a very _bitter_ Whig. The bloom of original
Whiggism, however, ripening fast into the rottenness of Radicalism, gave
out at length an odor which was so offensive to many of his own early
friends, that they were forced to withdraw from him. Personally,
however, he was of respectable character, and a man of considerable
literary pretensions, and enjoyed that Parliamentary influence generally
secured to the possessor of talent, tact, experience, and temper. Now,
it certainly argued some resolution in Mr. O'Gibbet to preserve an air
of swaggering assurance and familiarity beside his aristocratic little
neighbor, whose freezing demeanor towards him--for his Lordship evinced
even a sort of shudder of disgust when addressed by him--Mr. O'Gibbet
felt to be visible to all around. Misery makes strange bed-fellows, but
surely politics stranger still; and there could not have been a more
striking instance of it, than in Lord Bulfinch and Mr. O'Gibbet sitting
side by side--as great a contrast in their persons as in their
characters. But the third and chief ground of Titmouse's admiration of
Mr. O'Gibbet, was a conversation--private and unheard the parties had
imagined it, in the lobby of the House; but every word whereof had our
inquisitive, but not excessively scrupulous, little friend contrived to
overhear--between Mr. O'Gibbet and Mr. FLUMMERY, a smiling supple Lord
of the Treasury, and whipper-in of the Ministry. Though generally
confident enough, on this occasion he trembled, frowned, and looked
infinitely distressed. Mr. O'Gibbet chucked him under the chin,
familiarly and good-humoredly, and said--"Oh, murther and Irish! what's
easier?--But it lies in a nut-shell. If you won't do it, I can't swim;
and if I can't swim, you sink--every mother's son of you. Oh, come,
come--give me a bit of a push at this pinch."

"That's what you've said so often"----

"Fait, an' what if I have? And look at the _shoves_ that I've given
_you_," said Mr. O'Gibbet, with sufficient sternness.

"But a--a--really we shall be found out! The House suspects already that
you and we"----

"Bah! bother! hubbabo! Propose you it; I get up and oppose
it--_vehemently_, do you mind--an' the blackguards opposite will carry
it for you, out of love for me, ah, ha!--Aisy, aisy--softly say I! Isn't
that the way to get along?" and Mr. O'Gibbet winked his eye.

Mr. Flummery, however, looked unhappy, and remained silent and

"Oh, my dear sir--_exporrige frontem_! Get along wid you, you know it's
for your own good," said Mr. O'Gibbet; and shoving him on
good-humoredly, left the lobby, while Mr. Flummery passed on, with a
forced smile, to his seat. He continued comparatively silent, and very
wretched, the whole night.

Two hours before the House broke up, but not till after Lord Bulfinch
had withdrawn, Mr. Flummery, seizing his opportunity, got up to do the
bidding, and eventually fulfilled the prophecy, of Mr. O'Gibbet, amid
bitter and incessant jeers and laughter from the opposition.

"Another such victory and we're undone," said Mr. Flummery, with a
furious whisper, soon afterwards to Mr. O'Gibbet.

"Och, go to the ould divil wid ye!" replied Mr. O'Gibbet, thrusting his
tongue into his cheek, and moving off.

Now Titmouse had contrived to overhear almost every word of the above
curious colloquy, and had naturally formed a prodigious estimate of Mr.
O'Gibbet, and his influence in the highest quarters.--But to
proceed.--Within a few minutes' time might have been seen Titmouse and
O'Gibbet earnestly conversing together, remote from observation, in one
of the passages leading from the lobby. Mr. O'Gibbet spoke all the while
in a tone which at once solicited and commanded attention. "Sir, of
course you know you've not a ghost of a chance of keeping your seat?
I've heard all about it. You'll be beat, sir,--dead beat; will never be
able to sit in this _Parlimint_, sir, for your own borough, and be
liable to no end o' penalties for bribery, besides. Oh, _my dear sir_,
how I wish I had been at your elbow! This would never have happened!"

"Oh, sir! 'pon my soul--I--I"--stammered Titmouse, quite thunderstruck
at Mr. O'Gibbet's words.

"Hush--st--_hush_, wid your chattering tongue, sir, or we'll be
overheard, and you'll be ruined," interrupted Mr. O'Gibbet, looking
suspiciously around.

"I--I--beg your pardon, sir, but I'll give up my seat. I'm most uncommon
sorry that ever--curse me if I care about being a mem"----

"Oh! and is _that_ the way you spake of being a mimber o' Parlimint? For
shame, for shame, not to feel the glory of your position, sir! There's
_millions_ o' gintlemen envying you, just now!--Sir, I see that you're
likely to cut a figure in the House."

"But, begging your pardon, sir, if it _costs_ such a precious long
figure--why, I've come down some four or five thousand pounds already,"
quoth Titmouse, twisting his hand into his hair.

"An' what if ye have? What's that to a gintleman o' your consequence in
the country? It's, moreover, only once and for all; only stick in
_now_--and you stay in for seven years, and come in for nothing next
general election; and now--d'ye hear me, sir? for time presses--retire,
and give the seat to a Tory if you will--(what's the name o' the
blackguard? Oh, it's young Delamere)--and have your own borough stink
under your nose all your days! But can you keep a secret like a
gintleman? Judging from your appearance, I should say yes--sir--is it
so?" Titmouse placed his hand over his beating heart, and with a great
oath solemnly declared that he would be "mum as death;" on which Mr.
O'Gibbet lowered his tone to a faint whisper--"You'll distinctly
understand I've nothing to do with it personally, but it's impossible,
sir--d'ye hear?--to fight the divil except with his own weapons--and
there are too many o' the enemies o' the people in the House--a little
_money_, sir--eh? Aisy, aisy--softly say I! Isn't that the way to get
along?" added Mr. O'Gibbet, with a rich leer, and poking Titmouse in the

"'Pon my life that'll do--and--and--what's the figure, sir?"

"Sir, as you're a young mimber, and of Liberal principles," continued
Mr. O'Gibbet, dropping his tone still lower, "_three_ thousand
pounds"----Titmouse started as if he had been shot. "Mind, that
_clears_ you, sir, d'ye understand? Everything! Out and out, no
reservation at all at all--divil a bit!"

"'Pon my precious soul, I shall be ruined between you all!" gasped
Titmouse, faintly.

"Sir, you're not the man I took you for," replied Mr. O'Gibbet,
impatiently and contemptuously. "Don't you see a barleycorn before your
nose? You'll be _beat_ after spending three times the money I name, and
be liable to ten thousand pounds' penalties besides for bribery"----

"Oh, 'pon my life, sir, as for _that_," said Titmouse, briskly, but
feeling sick at heart, "I've no more to do with it than--my tiger"----

"Bah! you're a babby, I see!" quoth O'Gibbet, testily. "What's the name
o' your man o' business?--there's not a minute to lose--it's your
greatest friend I mane to be, I assure ye--tut, what's his name?"

"Mr. Gammon," replied Titmouse, anxiously.

"Let him, sir, be with me at my house in Ruffian Row by nine to-morrow
morning to a minute--and alone," said Mr. O'Gibbet, with his lip close
to Titmouse's ear--"and once more, d'ye hear, sir?--a breath about this
to any one, an' you're a ruined man--you're in my power most
complately!"--With this Mr. O'Gibbet and Mr. Titmouse parted--the former
having much other similar business on hand, and the latter determined to
hurry off to Mr. Gammon forthwith: and in fact he was within the next
five minutes in his cab, on his way to Thavies' Inn.

Mr. Gammon was at Mr. O'Gibbet's (of whom he spoke to Titmouse in the
most earnest and unqualified terms of admiration) at the appointed time:
and after an hour's private conference with him, they both went off to
Mr. Flummery's official residence in Pillory Place; but what passed
there I never have been able to ascertain with sufficient accuracy to
warrant me in laying it before the reader.

When the day for taking into consideration the YATTON PETITION had
arrived--on a voice calling out at the door of the House, "Counsel in
the Yatton petition!" in walked forthwith eight learned gentlemen, four
being of counsel for the petitioner, and four for the sitting
member--attended by their respective agents, who stood behind, while the
counsel took their seats at the bar of a very crowded and excited House;
for there were several election committees to be balloted for on that
day. The door was then locked; and the order of the day was read.
Titmouse might have been seen popping up and down about the back
ministerial benches, like a parched pea. On the front Treasury bench sat
Mr. O'Gibbet, his hat slouched over his fat face, his arms folded. On
the table stood several glasses, containing little rolls of paper, each
about two or three inches long, and with the name of every member of the
House severally inscribed on them. These glasses being placed before the
Speaker, the clerk rose, and taking out one or two of the rolls of paper
at a time, presented them to the Speaker; who, opening each, read out
aloud the name inscribed, to the House. Now, the object was, on such
occasions, to draw out the names of _thirty-three_ members then present;
which were afterwards to be reduced, by each party alternately striking
off eleven names, to ELEVEN--who constituted the committee charged with
the trial of the petition. Now the astute reader will see that,
imagining the House to be divided into two great classes, viz. those
_favorable_ and those _opposed_ to the petitioner--according to whose
success or failure a vote was retained, lost, or gained to the
_party_--and as the number of thirty-three cannot be more nearly divided
than into seventeen and sixteen, 't is said by those experienced in such
matters, that in cases where it ran so close--that side invariably and
necessarily won who drew the _seventeenth_ name; seeing that each party
having eleven names of those in his opponent's interest, to expunge out
of the thirty-three, he who luckily drew this prize of the SEVENTEENTH
MAN, was sure to have SIX good men and true on the committee against the
other's FIVE. And thus of course it was, in the case of a greater or
less proportion of favorable or adverse persons answering to their
names. So keenly was all this felt and appreciated by the whole House on
these interesting--these _solemn_, these _deliberative_, and JUDICIAL
occasions--that on every name being called, there were sounds heard,
and symptoms witnessed, indicative of eager delight or intense vexation.
Now, on the present occasion, it would at first have appeared as if some
unfair advantage had been secured by the opposition; since five of
_their_ names were called, to two of those of their opponents; but then
only one of the five _answered_, (it so happening that the other four
were absent, disqualified as being petitioned against, or exempt,) while
both of the _two_ answered!--You should have seen the chagrined faces,
and heard the loud acclamations of "Ts!--ts!--ts!" on either side of the
House, when their own men's names were thus abortively called over!--the
delight visible on the other side!--The issue long hung in suspense; and
at length the scales were evenly poised, and the House was in a state of
exquisite anxiety; for the next eligible name answered to, would really
determine which side was to gain or lose a seat.

"_Sir Ezekiel Tuddington_"--cried the Speaker, amid profound and
agitated silence. He was one of the opposition--but answered not; he was
absent. "Ts! ts! ts!" cried the opposition.

"_Gabriel Grubb_"--This was a ministerial man, who rose, and said he was
serving on another committee. "Ts! ts! ts!" cried the ministerial side.

"_Bennet Barleycorn_"--(opposition)--petitioned against. "Ts! ts! ts!"
vehemently cried out the opposition.


"Here!" exclaimed that honorable member, spreading triumph over the
ministerial, and dismay over the opposition side of the House; and the
thirty-three names having been thus called and answered to, a loud buzz
arose on all sides--of congratulation or despondency.

The fate of the petition, it was said, was already as good as
decided.--The parties having retired to "strike"[3] the committee,
returned in about an hour's time, and the following members were then
sworn in, and ordered to meet the next morning at eleven o'clock:--

         _Ministerial._          _Opposition._

    (1.) Sir Simper Silly.  (1.) Castleton Plume.

    (2.) Noah No-land.      (2.) Charles D'Eresby.

    (3.) Phelim O'Doodle.   (3.) Merton Mortimer.

    (4.) Micah M'Squash.    (4.) Sir Simon Alkmond, Bart.

    (5.) Sir Caleb Calf.    (5.) Lord Frederick Brackenbury.

    (6.) Och Hubbaboo.

And the six, of course, on their meeting, chose the _chairman_, who was
a sure card--to wit, SIR CALEB CALF, Bart.[4]

Mr. Delamere's counsel and agents, together with Mr. Delamere himself,
met at consultation that evening, all with the depressed air of men who
are proceeding with any undertaking _contra spem_. "Well, what think you
of our committee?" inquired, with a significant smile, Mr. Berrington,
the eloquent, acute, and experienced leading counsel. All present
shrugged their shoulders, but at length agreed that even with _such_ a
committee, their case was an overpowering one; that _no_ committee could
dare to shut their eyes to such an array of facts as were here
collected; the clearest case of _agency_ made out--Mr. Berrington
declared--that he had ever known in all his practice; and eleven
distinct cases of BRIBERY, supported each by at least three
unexceptionable witnesses; together with half-a-dozen cases of TREATING;
in fact, the whole affair, it was admitted, had been most admirably got
up, under the management of Mr. Crafty, (who was present,) and they
_must_ succeed.

"Of course, they'll call for proof of AGENCY first," quoth Mr.
Berrington, carelessly glancing over his enormous brief; "and we'll at
once fix this--what's his name--the Unitarian parson, Muff--Muffin--eh?"

"Mudflint--Smirk Mudflint"----

"Aha!--Well!--we'll begin with him, and----then trot out Bloodsuck and
Centipede. Fix _them_--the rest all follow, and they'll strike, in spite
of their committee--or--egad--we'll have a shot at the sitting member

By eleven o'clock the next morning the committee and the parties were in
attendance--the room quite crowded--such a quantity of Yatton
faces!--There, near the chairman, with his hat perched as usual on his
bushy hair, and dressed in his ordinarily extravagant and absurd
style--his glass screwed into his eye, and his hands stuck into his
hinder coat-pockets, and resting on his hips, stood Mr. Titmouse; and
after the usual preliminaries had been gone through, up rose Mr.
Berrington with the calm confident air of a man going to open a winning
case--and an overwhelming one he _did_ open--the chairman glancing
gloomily at the five ministerials on his right, and then inquisitively
at the five opposition members on his left. The statement of Mr.
Berrington was luminous and powerful. As he went on, he disclosed almost
as minute and accurate a knowledge of the movements of the Yellows at
Yatton, as Mr. Gammon himself could have supplied him with. That
gentleman shared in the dismay felt around him. 'T was clear that there
had been infernal treachery; that they were all ruined. "By Jove!
there's no standing up against _this_--in spite of our committee--unless
we break them down at the agency--for Berrington don't overstate his
cases," whispered Mr. Granville, the leading counsel for the sitting
member, to one of his juniors, and to Gammon; who sighed and said
nothing. With all his experience in the general business of his
profession, he knew, when he said this, little or nothing of what might
be expected from a _favorable election committee_. Stronger and
stronger, blacker and blacker, closer and closer, came out the
petitioner's case. The five opposition members paid profound attention
to Mr. Berrington, and took notes; while, as for the ministerials, one
was engaged with his betting book, another writing out franks, (in which
he dealt,) a third conning over an attorney's letter, and two were
quietly playing together at "_Tit-tat-to_." As was expected, the
committee called peremptorily for proof of AGENCY; and I will say only,
that if _Smirk Mudflint_, _Barnabas Bloodsuck_, and _Seth Centipede_,
were not fixed as the "AGENTS" of the sitting member--then there is no
such relation as that of principal and agent _in rerum naturâ_; there
never was in this world an agent who had a principal, or a principal who
had an agent.--Take only, for instance, the case of Mudflint. He was
proved to have been from first to last an active member of Mr.
Titmouse's committee; attending daily, hourly, and on hundreds of
occasions, in the presence of Mr. Titmouse--canvassing with
him--consulting him--making appointments with him for calling on voters,
which appointments he invariably kept; letters in his handwriting
relating to the election, signed some by Mr. Titmouse, some by Mr.
Gammon; circulars similarly signed, and distributed by Mudflint, and the
addresses in his handwriting; several election bills paid by him on
account of Mr. Titmouse; directions given by him and observed, as to the
bringing up voters to the poll; publicans' bills paid at the
committee-room, in the presence of Mr. Titmouse--and, in short, many
other such acts as these were established against all three of the above
persons. Such a dreadful effect did all this have upon Mr. Bloodsuck and
Mr. Centipede, that they were obliged to go out, in order to get a
little gin and water; for they were indeed in a sort of death-sweat. As
for Mudflint, he seemed to get sallower and sallower every minute; and
felt almost disposed to utter an inward prayer, had he thought it would
have been of the slightest use. Mr. Berrington's witnesses were fiercely
cross-examined, but no material impression was produced upon them; and
when Mr. Granville, on behalf of the sitting member, confident and
voluble, rose to prove to the committee that his learned friend's case
was one of the most trumpery that had ever come before a committee--a
mere bottle of smoke;--that the three gentlemen in question had been no
more the agents of the sitting member than was he--the counsel then on
his legs--the agent of the Speaker of the House of Commons, and that
every one of the petitioner's witnesses was unworthy of belief--in fact
_perjured_--how suddenly awake to the importance of the investigation
became the ministerialist members! They never removed their eyes from
Mr. Granville, except to take notes of his pointed, cogent, unanswerable
observations! _He called no witnesses._ At length he sat down; and
strangers were ordered to withdraw--and 'twas well they did: for such an
amazing uproar ensued among the committee, as soon as the five
opposition members discovered, to their astonishment and disgust, that
there was the least doubt among their opponents as to the establishment
of agency, as would not, possibly, have tended to raise that committee,
as a judicial body, in public estimation. After an hour and a half's
absence, strangers were readmitted. Great was the rush--for the fate of
the petition hung on the decision to be immediately pronounced. As soon
as the counsel had taken their seats, and the eager, excited crowd been
subdued into something like silence, the chairman, Sir Caleb Calf, with
a flushed face, and a very uneasy expression, read from a sheet of
foolscap paper, which he held in his hand, as follows:--

"Resolved--That the Petitioner's Counsel be directed to _proceed_ with
evidence of AGENCY," [_i. e._ the committee were of opinion that no
sufficient evidence had yet been given, to establish Messrs. Mudflint,
Bloodsuck, and Centipede, as the agents of Mr. Titmouse, in the election
for Yatton!!!] The five opposition members sat with stern indignant
faces, all with their backs turned towards the chairman; and nothing but
a very high tone of feeling, and chivalrous sense of their position, as
members of a public committee of the House of Commons, prevented their
repeating in public their fierce protest against the monstrous decision
at which the committee, through the casting voice of the redoubtable
chairman, had arrived.

Their decision was not immediately understood or appreciated by the
majority of those present. After a pause of some moments, and amid
profound silence--

"Have I rightly understood the resolution of the committee, sir,"
inquired Mr. Berrington, with an amazed air, "that the evidence already
adduced _is not sufficient_ to satisfy them as to the _agency_ of
Messrs. Mudflint, Bloodsuck, and Centipede?"

"The committee _meant_, sir, to express as much," replied the chairman,
dryly, and he sealed a letter with affected indifference: _affected_,
indeed! the letter being one addressed to a friend, to desire him
forthwith to take a hostile message on his--the chairman's--behalf to
Colonel D'Eresby, one of the committee, who had, during the discussion
with closed doors, spoken his mind pretty freely concerning the conduct
of the aforesaid chairman!

"Good God!" exclaimed Mr. Berrington, (on receiving the chairman's
answer to his inquiry,) in a tone of voice loud enough to be heard all
over the room, "_neither would they believe though one rose from the

"We'd better strike," said his juniors.

"I think so, too," said Mr. Berrington; adding, as he turned towards
the committee with an air of undisguised disgust, "I protest, sir, that
never in the whole course of my experience have I been so astounded as I
am at the decision to which the committee has just come. Probably, under
these circumstances, the committee will be pleased to adjourn till the
morning, to give us an opportunity of considering the course we shall
pursue." (This produced a great sensation.)

"Certainly, let it be so," replied the chairman, blandly, yet anxiously;
and the committee broke up. Before they met again, three shots a-piece
had been exchanged between the chairman and Colonel D'Eresby--"happily
without effect," and the parties left the ground in as hostile a spirit
as they had reached it. I will say for the colonel, that he was a plain,
straightforward soldier, who did not understand nonsense, nor could
tolerate coquetting with an oath.

"Of course the petition is dropped?" said Mr. Berrington, bitterly, as
soon as all were assembled in the evening, in consultation at his

"Of course," was the answer, in a sufficiently melancholy tone.

"So help me heaven!" said Mr. Berrington, "I feel disposed to say I will
never again appear before a committee. This sort of thing cannot go on
much longer! To think that every man of that committee is sworn before
God to do his duty! I'll take care to strike every one of those six men
off from any future list that _I_ may have to do with!"

"I can say only," remarked the second counsel, a calm and experienced
lawyer, "that, in my opinion, had all of us sat down to frame,
beforehand, a perfect case of agency--with facts at will--we could never
have framed one stronger than the one to-day declared insufficient."

"I have been in seven other petitions," said Mr. Berrington, "this very
week; but there the sitting members were Tories: Gracious Heaven! what
facts have been _there_ held sufficient proof of agency!--The _Barnard
Castle_ committee yesterday held that to have been seen once shaking
hands in a pastry-cook's shop with the sitting member, was sufficient
evidence of _agency_--and we've lost the seat! In the _Cucumber_
committee, a man who by chance stood once under a doorway with the
sitting member, in a sudden shower of rain--was held thereby to have
become his agent; and we _there_ also lost the seat!--Faugh! what would
foreigners say if they heard such things?"

"It's perhaps hardly worth mentioning," said Mr. Parkinson; "but this
afternoon I happened to see Mr. O'Gibbet dining with Mr. O'Doodle, Mr.
Hubbaboo, and Mr. M'Squash, off pork and greens, at the Jolly Thieves'
Tavern, in Dodge Street----I--I--they were talking together very

"The less we say about _that_ the better," replied Mr. Berrington; "I
have not had my eyes shut, I can tell you! It's a hard case, Mr. Crafty;
but after all your pains, and the dreadful expense incurred, it's
nevertheless quite farcical to think of going on with a committee like

"Of course the petition is abandoned," replied Crafty.

The next morning they again appeared before the committee.

"I have to inform the committee," commenced Mr. Berrington, with
sufficient sternness, "that my learned friends and I, who had, in our
ignorance and inexperience, imagined, till yesterday, that the evidence
we then opened was ten times more than sufficient to establish agency
before any _legal_ tribunal"----

"Counsel will be pleased to moderate their excitement, and to treat the
committee with due respect," interrupted the chairman, warmly, and
reddening as he spoke; while the ministerial members looked very
fiercely at Mr. Berrington, and one or two placed their arms a-kimbo.

--"Have come to the determination to withdraw the petitioner's case from
before the committee; as, under existing circumstances, it would be
utterly absurd to attempt"----

"Fait, sir, an' you're mighty indacent--ye are--an' you'd better keep a
civil tongue in your head," said Mr. O'Doodle, fiercely, and with an
insolent look at Mr. Berrington.

"Sir," said the latter, addressing Mr. O'Doodle with a bitter smile--"as
it is possible to stand where I do without ceasing to be a gentleman, so
it is possible to sit _there_--without becoming one."

"Sir--Misther Chairman--I'll only just ask you, sir--isn't _that_ a
brache of privelige"----

"Oh, be aisy--aisy wid ye--and isn't he _hired_ to say all this?"
whispered Mr. Hubbaboo; and the indignant senator sat down.

"The petition is withdrawn, sir," said Mr. Berrington, calmly.

"Then," subjoined his opponent, as quietly rising as his learned friend
had sat down, "I respectfully apply to the committee to vote it
_Frivolous and vexatious_."

"Possibly the committee will pause before going _that_ length," said Mr.
Berrington, very gravely; but he was mistaken. Strangers were ordered to
withdraw; and, on their readmission, the chairman read the resolution of
the committee, that "Tittlebat Titmouse, Esq., had been and was duly
elected to serve for the borough of Yatton; and that the petition
against his return was FRIVOLOUS and VEXATIOUS:" by which decision, all
the costs and expenses incurred by Mr. Titmouse were thrown upon his
opponent, Mr. Delamere--a just penalty for his wanton and presumptuous
attempt. This decision was welcomed by the crowd in the committee-room
with clapping of hands, stamping of feet, and cheering.--Such was the
fate of the YATTON PETITION. Mr. Titmouse, on entering the House that
evening, was received with loud cheers from the ministerial benches: and
within a few minutes afterwards, Lord Frederick Brackenbury, to give the
House and the public an idea of the important service performed by the
committee, rose and moved that the _evidence should be printed_--which
was ordered.

The next day a very distinguished patriot gathered some of the blooming
fruit of the _Bill for giving Everybody Everything_--(not for himself
personally, however, but _as a trustee for the public_;) so, at least, I
should infer from the following fact, that whereas in the morning his
balance at the banker's was exactly £3, 10s. 7-1/2d.--by the afternoon,
it was suddenly augmented to £3,003, 10s. 7-1/2d.--shortly expressed

    "£3: 10: 7-1/2 + £3,000 = £3,003: 10: 7-1/2."

Thus might my friend Titmouse exclaim, "Out of this nettle _danger_ I
have plucked the flower _safety_!" 'T was, indeed, fortunate for the
country, that such, and so early, had been the termination of the
contest for the representation of Yatton; for it enabled Mr. Titmouse at
once to enter, with all the energy belonging to his character, upon the
discharge of his legislatorial functions. The very next day after his
own seat had been secured to him by the decision of the committee, he
was balloted for, and chosen one of the members of a committee of which
_Swindle O'Gibbet, Esquire_, was chairman, for trying the validity of
the return of two Tory impostors for an Irish county. So marvellously
quick an insight into the merits of the case did he and his brethren in
the committee obtain, that they intimated, on the conclusion of the
petitioner's counsel's opening address, that it would be quite
superfluous for him to call witnesses in support of a statement of
facts, which it was presumed the sitting members could not think of
seriously contesting. Against this, the sitting members' counsel
remonstrated with indignant energy; on which the committee thought it
best to let him take his own course, which would entail its own
consequences; viz. that the opposition to the petition would be voted
frivolous and vexatious. A vast deal of evidence was then adduced, after
which, as might have been expected, the committee reported to the House,
that Lord Beverly de Wynston (who owned half the county for which he had
presumed to stand) and Sir Harry Eddington, (who owned pretty near the
other half,) both being resident in the county, had been unduly
returned; that two most respectable gentlemen, Mr. O'Shirtless and Mr.
O'Toddy (the one a discarded attorney's clerk, and the other an
insolvent publican, neither of whom had ever been in the county till the
time of the election) ought to have been returned; and the clerk of the
House was to amend the return accordingly; and that the opposition to
the petition had been frivolous and vexatious: which last was an
ingenious and happy device for making the peer and baronet pay the
expense of Messrs. O'Shirtless and O'Toddy's election! Mr. Titmouse
after this formed an intimate acquaintance with the two gentlemen, whom,
infinitely to their own astonishment, he had helped to seat for the
county, and who had many qualities kindred to his own, principally in
the matter of dress and drink. Very shortly afterwards he was elected
one of a committee to inquire into the operation of the Usury Laws, and
another of a still more important character--viz. to inquire into the
state of our relations with foreign powers, with reference to free trade
and the permanent preservation of peace. They continued sitting for a
month, and the latter thus stated the luminous result of their inquiry
and deliberation, in their report to the House: "That the only effectual
mode of securing permanently the good-will of foreign powers, was by
removing all restrictions upon their imports into this country, and
imposing prohibitory duties upon our exports into theirs; at the same
time reducing our naval and military establishments to a point which
should never thereafter occasion uneasiness to any foreign power. And
that any loss of revenue occasioned by the adoption of the former
suggestion, would be compensated for by the saving of expenditure
effected by carrying into effect the latter." He also served on one or
two private committees, attended by counsel. In the course of their
inquiries many very difficult and complicated questions arose, which
called forth great ability on the part of counsel. On one occasion, in
particular, I recollect that Mr. DEPTH, one of the most dexterous and
subtile reasoners to be found at the English bar, having started the
great question really at issue between the parties, addressed a long and
most masterly argument to the committee. He found himself, after some
time, making rapid way with them; and in particular, there were
indications that he had at length powerfully arrested the attention of
Mr. Titmouse, who, with his chin resting on his open hand, and his elbow
on the table, leaned forward towards Mr. Depth, on whom he fixed his eye
apparently with deep attention. How mistaken, however, was Depth!
Titmouse was thinking all the while of two very different matters; viz.
whether he could possibly sit it out without a bottle of soda-water,
laboring as he was, under the sickening effects of excessive potations
over-night; and also whether his favorite little terrier, Titty, would
win or lose in her encounter on the morrow with fifty rats--that being
the number which Mr. Titmouse had betted three to one she would kill in
three minutes' time. The decision to which that committee might come,
would affect interests to the amount of nearly a million sterling, and
might or might not occasion a monstrous invasion of vested rights!

He still continued to occupy his very handsome apartments at the Albany.
You might generally have seen him, about ten o'clock in the morning, (or
say _twelve_, when his attendance was not required upon committees,)
reclining on his sofa, enveloped in a yellow figured satin
dressing-gown, smoking an enormous hookah; with a little table before
him, with a decanter of gin, cold water, and a tumbler or two upon it.
On a large round table near him lay a great number of dinner and evening
cards, notes, letters, public and private, vote-papers, and
Parliamentary reports. Beside him, on the sofa, lay the last number of
the _Sunday Flash_--to which, and to the _Newgate Calendar_, his reading
was, in fact, almost entirely confined. Over his mantelpiece was a large
hideous oil-painting of two brawny and half-naked ruffians, in boxing
attitude; opposite was a very large picture (for which he had given
seventy guineas) of Lord Scaramouch's dog Nestor, in his famous
encounter with two hundred rats, which he killed in the astonishingly
short space of seven minutes and fifteen seconds. Opposite to the door,
however, was the great point of attraction; viz. a full-length portrait
of Titmouse himself. His neck was bare, his ample shirt-collar being
thrown down over his shoulders, and his face looking upwards. The artist
had labored hard to give it that fine indignant expression with which,
in pictures of men of genius, they are generally represented as looking
up towards the moon; but nature was too strong for him--his eye too
accurate, and his brush too obedient to his eye; so that the only
expression he could bring out was one of sensuality and stupid wonder. A
rich green mantle enveloped Titmouse's figure; and amid its picturesque
folds, was visible his left hand, holding them together, and with a
glittering ring on the first and last fingers. In one corner of the
room, on a table, were a pair of foils; and on the ground near them,
three or four pairs of boxing-gloves. On another table lay a guitar--on
another a violin; on both of which delightful instruments he was taking
almost daily lessons. Though the room was both elegantly and expensively
furnished, (according to the taste of its former occupant,) it was now
redolent--as were Mr. Titmouse's clothes--of the odors of tobacco-smoke
and gin and water. Here it was that Mr. Titmouse would often spend hour
after hour boxing with Billy Bully, the celebrated prize-fighter and
pickpocket; or, when somewhat far gone in liquor, playing cribbage or
put with his valet--an artful, impudent fellow, who had gained great
influence over him.

As for the House--Modesty (the twin-sister of Merit) kept Mr. Titmouse
for a long time very quiet there. He saw the necessity of attentively
watching everything which passed around him, in order to become
practically familiar with the routine of business, before he ventured to
step forward into action, and distinguish himself. He had not been long,
however, thus prudently occupied, when an occasion presented itself, of
which he availed himself with all the bold felicitous promptitude of
genius--whose prime distinguishing characteristic is the successful
seizure of opportunity. He suddenly saw that he should be able to bring
into play an early accomplishment of his--one of which, when acquiring
it, how little he dreamed of the signal uses to which it might be
afterwards turned! The great Coke hath somewhere said to the legal
student, that there is no kind or degree of knowledge whatsoever, so
apparently vain and useless that it shall not, if remembered, at one
time or other serve his purpose. Thus it seemed about to be with Mr.
Titmouse, to whom it chanced in this wise. In early life, while
following the humble calling in which he was occupied when first
presented to the reader, he used to amuse himself, in his long journeys
about the streets, with bundle and yard-measure under his arm, by
imitating the cries of cats, the crowing of cocks, the squeaking of
pigs, the braying of donkeys, and the yelping of curs; in which matters
he became at length so great a proficient, as to attract the admiring
attention of passers-by, and to afford great entertainment to the
circles in which he visited. There is probably no man living, though
ever so great a fool, who cannot do _something_ or other well; and
Titmouse became a surprising proficient in the arts I have alluded to.
He could imitate a _bluebottle fly_ buzzing about the window, and,
lighting upon it, abruptly cease its little noise, and anon flying off
again, as suddenly resume it;--a _chicken_, peering and picking its way
cautiously among the growing cabbages;--a _cat_, at midnight on the
moonlit tiles, pouring forth the sorrows of her heart on account of the
absence of her inconstant mate;--a _cock_, suddenly waking out of some
horrid dream--it might be the nightmare--and in the ecstasy of its
fright, crowing as though it would split at once its throat and heart,
alarming all mankind;--a little _cur_, yelping with mingled fear and
rage, at the same time, as it were, advancing backwards, in view of a
fiendish tomcat, with high-curved back, flaming eyes, and spitting
fury. I only wish you had heard Mr. Titmouse on these occasions; it
might, perhaps, even have reminded you of the observation of Dr.
Johnson, that genius, is, "great natural powers accidentally directed."

Now there was, on a certain night, about three months after Titmouse had
been in the House, a kind of pitched battle between the ministry and
their formidable opponents; in which the speakers on each side did their
best to prove (and in the opinion of many, _successfully_) that their
opponents were apostates; utterly worthless; destitute alike of public
and private virtue; unfit to govern; and unworthy of the confidence of
the country, which aforesaid country was indeed in happy plight in
possessing a Parliament unanimous in one thing at least--viz. its own
worthlessness. My Lord Bulfinch rose late on the third evening of the
debate--never had been seen so full a House during the session--and in a
long and able speech contended, (first,) that the opposite side were
selfish, ignorant, and dishonest; and (secondly,) that Ministers had
only imitated their example. He was vehemently cheered from time to
time, and sat down amid a tempest of applause. Up then rose the
ex-minister and leaders of the opposition, and in a very few moments
there was scarce a sound to be heard except that of the delicious
voice--at once clear, harmonious, distinct in utterance, and varied in
intonation--of incomparably the finest Parliamentary orator of the day,
Mr. VIVID. The hearts of those around him, who centred all their hopes
in him, beat with anxious pride. He had a noble cast of countenance--a
brilliant eye--strongly marked and most expressive features--a
commanding figure--a graceful and winning address. His language,
accurate, refined, copious, and vigorous, every word he uttered, _told_.
His illustrations were as rich and apt as his reasonings were close and
cogent; and his powers of ridicule were unrivalled. On the present
occasion he was thoroughly roused, and put forth all his powers: he and
Lord Bulfinch had been waiting for each other during the whole debate;
but Mr. Vivid had at length secured the reply, and truly regarded
himself as the mouthpiece of a great and grievously slandered party in
the state, whom he had risen to vindicate from the elaborate and
envenomed aspersions of Lord Bulfinch, who sat, speedily pierced
through and through with the arrows of poignant sarcasm, amid the loud
laughter of even his own side, so irresistible was the humor of the
speaker. Even Mr. O'Gibbet, who had been from time to time exclaiming
half aloud to those around--"Och, the pitiful fellow! The stupid
baste!--Nivir mind him--Divil a word, my Lord!"--was at length subdued
into silence. In fact, the whole House was rushing along with the rapid,
brilliant, and impassioned speaker. Every now and then, vehement and
tumultuous cheering would burst forth from the opposition, as from one
man, answered by as vehement and determined cheering from the
ministerial benches; but you could not fail to observe an anxious and
alarmed expression stealing over the faces of Lord Bulfinch's
supporters. His Lordship sat immovably, with his arms folded, and eyes
fixed on his opponent, and a bitter smile on his face, glancing
frequently, however, with increasing anxiety towards Mr. O'SQUEAL, the
only "great gun" he had left--that gentleman having undertaken (_infelix
puer, atque impar congressus Achilli!_) to reply to Mr. Vivid. Poor Mr.
O'Squeal himself looked pale and dispirited, and would probably have
given up all his little prospects to be able to sneak away from the post
he had so eagerly occupied, and devolve upon others the responsibility
of replying to a speech looming more and more dreadfully upon his
trembling faculties every moment, as infinitely more formidable in all
points of view than anything he had anticipated. The speech must
electrify the public, even as it was then electrifying the House. He
held a sheet of paper in one hand resting on his knee, and a pen in the
other, with which he incessantly took notes--only to disguise his
fright; for his mind went not with his pen--all he heard was above and
beyond him; he might as well have thought of whistling down a whirlwind;
yet there was no escape for him. Was the uneasy eye of Lord Bulfinch,
more and more frequently directed towards him, calculated to calm or
encourage him? or the sight of the adroit, sarcastic, and brilliant
debater sitting opposite, who had his eye on Mr. O'Squeal, and was
evidently to rise and reply to him? Mr. O'Squeal began to feel cold as
death, and at length burst into a chilly perspiration. After a two
hours' speech, of uncommon power and brilliance, Mr. Vivid wound up with
a rapid and striking recapitulation of the leading points of his policy
when in power, which, he contended, were in triumphant contrast with
those of his successors, which were wavering, inconsistent, perilous to
every national interest, and in despicable subservience to the vilest
and lowest impulses. "And now, sir," said Mr. Vivid, turning to the
Speaker, and then directing a bold and indignant glance of defiance at
Lord Bulfinch--"does the noble Lord opposite talk of _impeachment_! I
ask him in the face of this House, and of the whole country, whose eyes
are fixed upon it with anxiety and agitation--will he presume to repeat
his threat? or will any one on his behalf?"--(turning a glance of
withering scorn towards Mr. O'Squeal)--"Sir, I pause for a reply!"--And
he _did_ pause--several seconds elapsing in dead silence, which was
presently, however, broken in a manner that was perfectly unprecedented,
and most astounding. 'T was a reply to his question; but such as, had he
anticipated it, he would never have put that question, or paused for its

"_Cock-a-doodle-do-o-o-o!_" issued, with inimitable fidelity of tone and
manner, from immediately behind Lord Bulfinch, who sprang from his seat
as if he had been shot. Every one started; Mr. Vivid recoiled a pace or
two from the table--and then a universal peal of laughter echoed from
all quarters of the House, not excepting even the strangers' gallery.
The Speaker was convulsed, and could not rise to call "order." Lord
Bulfinch laughed himself almost into fits; even those immediately behind
Mr. Vivid were giving way to uncontrollable laughter, at so comical and
monstrous an issue. He himself tried for a moment to join in the laugh,
but in vain; he was terribly disconcerted and confounded. This frightful
and disgusting incident had done away with the effect of his whole
speech; and in twenty-four hours' time, the occurrence would be exciting
merriment and derision in every corner of the kingdom!

"Order! order! order!" cried the Speaker, his face red and swollen with
scarce subdued laughter. Several times Mr. Vivid attempted to resume,
only, however, occasioning renewed peals of laughter. Still he
persevered; and, with much presence of mind, made a pointed and witty
allusion to Rome, saved by the cackling of a goose, in which manner he
said the ministers hoped that night to be saved! 'T was, however,
plainly useless; and after a moment or two's pause of irresolution, he
yielded to his miserable fate, with visible vexation abruptly concluded
his observations, gathered hastily together his papers, and resumed his
seat and his hat--a signal for renewed laughter and triumphant cheering
from the ministerial side of the House. Up _then_ started Mr.
O'Squeal--(as it were under cover of the cock)--and dashed boldly off at
one or two of the weakest points which had been made by his discomfited
adversary, which he dealt with very dexterously; and then threw up a
vast number of rhetorical fireworks, amid the glitter and blaze of which
he sat down, and was enthusiastically cheered. 'T was my friend Mr.
Titmouse that had worked this wonder, and entirely changed the fate of
the day! Up rose Mr. O'Squeal's dreaded opponent--but in vain; he was
quite crestfallen; evidently in momentary apprehension of receiving an
interruption similar to that which Mr. Vivid had experienced. He was
nervous and fidgety--as well he might be; and would most assuredly have
shared the fate of Mr. Vivid, but that Titmouse was (not without very
great difficulty) restrained by Lord Bulfinch, on the ground that the
desired effect had been produced, and would be only impaired by a
repetition. The debate came somewhat abruptly to a close; and the
opposition were beaten by a majority of a _hundred and thirty_--which
really looked something like a working majority.

This happy occurrence at once brought Mr. Titmouse into notice, and very
great favor with his party;--well, indeed, it might, for he had become a
most powerful auxiliary, and need it be added how dreaded and detested
he was by their opponents? How could it be otherwise, with even their
leading speakers, who could scarcely ever afterwards venture on anything
a little out of the common way--a little higher flight than usual--being
in momentary apprehension of being suddenly brought down by some such
disgusting and ludicrous interruption as the one I have mentioned,
indicating the effect which the ambitious speaker was producing upon--a
cat, a donkey, a cock, or a puppy? Ah, me! what a sheep's eye each of
them cast, as he went on, towards Titmouse! And if ever he was observed
to be absent, there was a sensible improvement in the tone and spirit
of the opposition speakers. The ministerial journals all over the
country worked the joke well; and in their leading articles against
any of Mr. Vivid's speeches, would "sum up all, in one memorable

As is generally the case, the signal success of Mr. Titmouse brought
into the field a host of imitators in the House; and their performances,
inferior though they were, becoming more and more frequent, gave quite a
new character to the proceedings of that dignified deliberative
assembly. At length, however, it was found necessary to pass a
resolution of the House against such practices; and it was entered on
the journals, that thenceforth no honorable member should interrupt
business by whistling, singing, or imitating the sounds of animals, or
making any other disgusting noise whatsoever.

The political importance thus acquired by Mr. Titmouse--and which he
enjoyed till the passing of the above resolution, by which it was cut up
root and branch--had naturally a very elevating effect upon him; as you
might have perceived, had you only once seen him swaggering along the
House to his seat behind the front Treasury bench, dressed in his usual
style of fashion, and with his quizzing-glass stuck into his eye. Mr.
O'Gibbet invariably greeted him with the utmost cordiality, and would
often, at a pinching part of an opposition speech, turn round and invoke
his powers, by the exclamation--"Now, now, Titty!" He dined, in due
course, with the Speaker--as usual, in full court-dress; and, having got
a little champagne in his head, insisted on going through his leading
"imitations," infinitely to the amusement of some half dozen of the
guests, and _all_ the servants. His circle of acquaintance was extending
every day; he became a very welcome guest, as an object of real
curiosity. He was not a man, however, to be always enjoying the
hospitality of others, without at least offering a return; and, at the
suggestion of an experienced friend in the House, he commenced a series
of "Parliamentary dinners," (presumptuous little puppy!) at the
Gliddington Hotel. They went off with much _éclat_, and were duly
chronicled in the daily journals, as thus:--

     "On Saturday, Mr. Titmouse, M. P., entertained (his third dinner
     given this session) at the Gliddington Hotel, the following (among
     others) distinguished members of the House of Commons: Lord Nothing
     Nowhere, Sir Simper Silly, Mr. Flummery, Mr. O'Gibbet, Mr. Outlaw,
     Lord Beetle, Colonel Quod, and several others."

Mr. Titmouse, at length, thought himself warranted in inviting Lord
Bulfinch!--and the SPEAKER!!--and LORD FIREBRAND, (the Foreign
Secretary;) all of whom, however, very politely declined, pleading
previous engagements. I can hardly, in fairness, give Mr. Titmouse the
credit of these latter proceedings; which were, in fact, suggested to
him, in the first instance, by two or three young wags in the House;
who, barring a little difference in the way of bringing up, were every
whit as great fools and coxcombs as himself, and equally entitled to the
confidence of their favored constituencies, and of the country, as so
calculated for the purpose of practical legislation, and that
remodelling of the national institutions of the country, upon which the
new House of Commons seemed bent.

Have YOU, reader, ever given your vote and interest to return a TITMOUSE
to Parliament?

'T was truly delightful to see the tables of these young gentlemen
groaning under daily accumulations of Parliamentary documents,
containing all sorts of political and statistical information, collected
and published with vast labor and expense, for the purpose of informing
their powerful intellects upon the business of the country, so that they
might come duly prepared to the important discussions in the House, on
all questions of domestic and foreign policy. As for Mr. Titmouse, he
never relished the idea of perusing and studying these troublesome and
repulsive documents--page after page, filled with long rows of figures,
tables of prices, of exchanges, &c., reports of the evidence, _verbatim
et literatim_, taken in question and answer before every committee that
sat; all sorts of expensive and troublesome "returns," moved for by any
one that chose; he rather contented himself with attending to what went
on in the House; and at the close of the session, all the documents in
question became the perquisite of his valet, who got a good round sum
for them (uncut) as waste paper.

It is not difficult to understand the pleasure which my little friend
experienced, in dispensing such favors and courtesies, as those of
orders for the gallery, and franks, to applicants for them; for all his
show of feeling it a "_bore_" to be asked. 'T was these small matters
which, as it were, brought home to him a sense of his dignity, and made
him _feel_ the possession of station and authority. I know not but that
the following application was more gratifying to him than any which he

     "T. Tag-rag's best respects to T. Titmouse, Esq. M. P., and
     begs to say how _greatly_ he will account y^e favor of obtaining
     an order to be Admitted to the Gallery of the House of Commons
     for to-morrow night, to hear the debate on the Bill for
     Doing away with the _Nuisance_ of Dustmen's cries of a morning.

     "With Mrs. T.'s and daughter's respectful comp^{ts}.

     "T. TITMOUSE, ESQ. M. P."

On receiving this, Titmouse looked out for the finest sheet of glossy
extra-superfine gilt Bath post, scented, and in a fine flourishing hand
wrote as follows:--

     Please To Admit y^e Barer To The Galery of The House of
     Commons.--T. TITMOUSE.    Wednesday, March 6^{th}. 18--."

But the reader, who must have been highly gratified by the unexpectedly
rapid progress of Mr. Titmouse in Parliamentary life, will be,
doubtless, as much interested by hearing that corresponding distinction
awaited him in the regions of science and literature; his pioneer
thither being one who had long enjoyed a very distinguishing eminence;
successfully combining the character and pursuits of scholar and
philosopher with those of a man of fashion--I mean a DOCTOR DIABOLUS
GANDER. Though upwards of sixty, he found means so effectually to
disguise his age, that he would have passed for barely forty. He had
himself so strong a predilection for dress, that the moment he saw
Titmouse he conceived a certain secret respect for that gentleman; and,
in fact, the two dressed pretty nearly in the same style. The doctor
passed for a philosopher in society. He had spent most of his days in
drilling youth in the elements of the mathematics; of which he had the
same kind and degree of knowledge that is possessed of English
literature by an old governess who has spent her life in going over the
first part of Lindley Murray's English Grammar with children. Just so
much did the doctor know of the scope, the object, the application of
the mathematics. His great distinguishing talent was, that of rendering
the most abstruse science, "_popular_;"--_i.e._ utterly unintelligible
to those who did understand science, and very exciting and entertaining
to those who did _not_. He had a knack of getting hold of obscure and
starving men of genius and science, and secretly availing himself of
their labors. He would pay them with comparative liberality to write, in
an elegant style, on subjects of pure and mixed science; but when
published, the name of _Diabolus Gander_ would appear upon the
title-page; and, to enable the doctor to do this with _some_ comfort to
his conscience, he would actually copy out the whole of the manuscript,
and make a few alterations in it. But, alas! _omne quod tetìgit
fædavit_; and it invariably happened that these were the very _maculæ_
pitched upon, exposed, and ridiculed by reviewers. No man could spread
his small stock over a larger surface than Dr. Gander; no man be more
successful in ingratiating himself with those persons so useful to an
enterprising empiric--viz. wealthy fools. He paid constant court to
Titmouse, from the first moment he saw him; and took the liberty of
calling--unasked--the very next day, at his rooms in the Albany. He soon
satisfied Titmouse that his glib visitor was a great philosopher, whom
it was an advantage and a distinction to be acquainted with. He took my
little admiring friend, for instance, to hear him deliver a lecture at
the Hanover Square Rooms, to a crowd of fine ladies and old gentlemen,
who greatly applauded all he said, upon a subject equally abstruse,
interesting, and instructive; viz. the occult qualities of _Triangles_.
In short, he was indefatigable in his attentions to Titmouse, and was a
very frequent guest at his dinner-table. He gave Titmouse, on one of
these occasions, an amazing account of the distinction accruing to a
member of any of the great learned societies; and, in fact, quite
inflamed his little imagination upon the subject--sounding him as to his
wish to become a member of some great society, in common with half the
dukes, marquises, earls, and barons in the kingdom--in particular his
own august kinsman, the Earl of Dreddlington himself.

"Why--a--'pon my soul--" quoth Titmouse, grinning, as he tossed
off his tenth glass of champagne with the bland and voluble
doctor--"I--I--shouldn't much dislike a thingumbob or two at the
end of my name--but what's the figure?"

"Certainly, I myself, as a zealous lover of science, my dear sir,
consider her honors always well bestowed on those eminent in rank and
station; though they may not have gone through the drudgery of
scientific details, sir, their countenance _irradiates_ the pale cheek
of unobtrusive science"----

"Ya--a--s, 'pon honor, it certainly does," quoth Titmouse, not exactly,
however, comprehending the doctor's fine figure of speech.

"Now, look you, Mr. Titmouse," continued the doctor, "the greatest
society in all England, out and out, is the CREDULOUS SOCIETY. I happen
to have some _leetle_ influence there, through which I have been able, I
am happy to say, to introduce several noblemen."

"Have you, by Jove?" cried Titmouse; "but what the devil do they _do_

"Do, my dear sir! They meet for the purpose of--consider the
distinguished men that are Fellows of that society! It was only the
other day that the Duke of Tadcaster told me, (the very day after I had
succeeded in getting his Grace elected,) that he was as proud of the
letters 'F. C. S,' added to his name, as he was of his dukedom!"

"By Jove!--No--but--'pon honor bright--did he? Can you get _me_ into
it?" inquired Titmouse, eagerly.

"I--oh--why--you see, my very dear sir, you're certainly rather young,"
quoth the doctor, gravely, pausing and rubbing his chin; "_if_ it could
be managed, it would be a splendid thing for you--eh?"

"By jingo, I should think so!" replied Titmouse.

"I think I've been asked by at least a dozen noblemen for my influence,
but I've not felt myself warranted"----

"Oh, well! then _in course_ there's an end of it," interrupted Titmouse,
with an air of disappointment; "and cuss me if ever I cared a pin about
it--I see I've not the ghost of a chance."

"I don't know _that_ either," replied the doctor, musingly. His design
had been all along to confer sufficient obligation on Titmouse, to
induce him to lend the doctor a sum of four or five hundred pounds to
embark in some wild scheme or other, and also to make Titmouse useful to
him for other purposes, from time to time.--"As you are so young,"
continued the doctor, "I am afraid it will be necessary in some sort of
way to give you a kind of scientific pretension--ah, by Archimedes! but
I have it!--I have it!--You see, I've a treatise in the press, and
nearly ready for publication, upon a particularly profound subject--but,
you'll understand me, explained in a perfectly popular manner--in fact,
my dear sir, it is a grand discovery of my own, which will in future
ages be placed side by side of that of Sir Isaac Newton"----

"Is _he_ a member of it too?" inquired Titmouse.

"No, my dear sir!" quoth the doctor, slightly staggered: "not bodily;
but his _spirit_ is with us! We feel it influencing all our
deliberations; though he died a quarter of a century before we were
established! But to return to the _discovery_ I was mentioning; as Sir
Isaac discovered the principle of GRAVITATION, (otherwise weight, or
heaviness,) so, Mr. Titmouse, I have discovered the principle of

"You don't say so! 'Pon my life, amazing!" exclaimed Mr. Titmouse.

"And equally true, as amazing. As soon as I shall have indicated its
tendencies and results, my discovery will effect a revolution in the
existing system of physical science."

"Ah! that's what they talked about in the House last
night--_Revolution_. 'Pon my soul, I don't like revolutions
though--Folks _fight_ then--eh?" exclaimed Titmouse, uneasily.

"I am speaking of something quite different, my dear Titmouse," said Dr.
Gander, with a slight appearance of pique; "but to proceed with what I
had intended. Since I have been sitting here, my dear sir, it has
occurred to me that I have an excellent opportunity of evincing my sense
of your kindness towards me, and my appreciation of your distinguished
position--Sir, I intend to DEDICATE my work to you!"

"Sir, you're amazing kind--most uncommon polite!" quoth Titmouse, who
had not the slightest notion of what a "dedication" meant.--Within a
week or two's time, sure enough, appeared a handsome octavo volume,
beautifully printed and splendidly bound, entitled,

     "RESEARCHES into _Physical Science_, with a view to the
     Establishment of a NEW PRINCIPLE--

                      DIABOLUS GANDER, ESQUIRE,

    LL.D.; F. C. S.; Q. U. A. K.; G. Ö. S.; Secretary of the
    _Empirical Society_; Corresponding Member of the _Leipzic Longitude
    Society_; Vice-President of the _Peripatetic Gastronomic
    Association_; and Member of Seventeen Philosophical and Literary
    Societies in Kamschatka, Madagascar, Tartary, and Little
    Britain; &c. &c. &c."

      And it bore the following "Dedication"--

                        &c. &c. &c.,
              This volume is respectfully inscribed,
                    by his obedient, obliged,
                          faithful, humble servant,
                                                   DIABOLUS GANDER."

The work being vigorously pushed, and systematically puffed in all
directions, of course brought the honored name of Mr. Titmouse a good
deal before the scientific public; and about three weeks afterwards
might have been seen the following "Testimonial," suspended against the
screen of the public room of the Credulous Society, in support of Mr.
Titmouse's pretensions to be elected into it:--

     "TESTIMONIAL.--We, the undersigned, Fellows of the CREDULOUS
     SOCIETY, hereby certify that, from our personal knowledge of
     TITTLEBAT TITMOUSE, ESQUIRE, M. P., we believe him to be a
     gentleman greatly attached to credulous science, and equally
     capable and desirous of promoting its interests; and, as such,
     deserving of being elected Fellow of the Credulous Society.

               DREDDLINGTON.        FLIMSY CROTCHET.
               TANTALLAN.           DIABOLUS GANDER.
                           PLACID NOODLE."

The above distinguished names were procured by Dr. Gander, and
thereupon the election of Mr. Titmouse became almost a matter of
certainty--especially as, on the appointed day, Dr. Gander procured the
attendance of some amiable old gentlemen, Fellows of the Society, who
believed the doctor to be all he pretended to be. The above testimonial
having been read from the chair, Mr. Titmouse was balloted for, and
declared elected unanimously a Fellow of the Credulous Society. He was
prevented from attending on the ensuing meeting by a great debate, and
an expected early division: then, (I regret to say,) by sheer
intoxication; and again by his being unable to return in time from
Croydon, where he had been attending a grand prize-fight, being the
backer of one of the principal ruffians, Billy Bully, his boxing-master.
On the fourth evening, however, having dined with the Earl of
Dreddlington, he drove with his Lordship to the Society's apartments,
was formally introduced, and solemnly admitted; from which time--the
proudest moment of his life--he was entitled to have his name stand

        "TITTLEBAT TITMOUSE, ESQ., M. P., F. C. S."

--And Heaven knows how much higher he might not have immediately
mounted, in the scale of social distinction, but that he came to a very
sudden rupture with his "guide, philosopher, and friend," Dr. Gander;
who, on at length venturing to make his long-meditated application to
Titmouse for a temporary loan, to enable him, Dr. Gander, to prosecute
some extensive philosophical experiments--[_i. e._, _inter nos_, on
public credulity]--was unhesitatingly refused by Titmouse; who, on being
pressed by the doctor, abused him in no very choice terms--and finally
ordered him out of the room! He quitted the presence of his ungrateful
_protégé_ with disgust, and in despair--nor without reason; for that
very night he received a propulsion towards the Fleet Prison, which
suggested to his philosophical mind several ingenious reflections
concerning the _attraction of repulsion_. There he lay for three months,
till he sent for the tyrant who had deposited him there, and who had
been his bookseller and publisher; and the doctor so dazzled him by the
outline of a certain literary speculation--to be called THE GANDER
GALLERY--that his credulous creditor relented, and set his ingenious and
enterprising debtor once more at large.

But to return to Mr. Titmouse. It was not long after his election into
the Credulous Society, that a deputation from the committee of the
Society for the _Promotion of Civil and Religious Discord_ waited upon
him at his apartments in the Albany, to solicit him, in terms the most
flattering and complimentary, to preside at their next annual meeting at
the Stonemasons' Hall: and, after some modest expressions of distrust as
to his fitness for so distinguished a post, he yielded to their anxious
entreaties. He ordered in, while they were with him, a very substantial
lunch, of which they partook with infinite relish; and having done ample
justice to his wines and spirits, the worthy gentlemen withdrew, charmed
with the intelligence and affability of their distinguished host, and
anticipating that they should have in Mr. Titmouse, "one of the most
rising young men in the Liberal line," a very effective chairman, and
who would make their meeting go off with great _éclat_. How Titmouse
would have got through the task he had undertaken, the reader must be
left to conjecture; seeing that, in point of fact, "circumstances, over
which he had no control," prevented him from fulfilling his promise. The
meeting waited for him at least three-quarters of an hour; when, finding
that neither he nor any tidings of him came, they elected some one else
into the chair, and got on as well as they could. I dare say the reader
is rather curious to know how all this came to pass; and I feel it my
duty to state the reason frankly. On the evening of the day before that
on which he had promised to preside at Stonemasons' Hall, he dined out
with one or two choice spirits; and, about two o'clock in the morning,
they all sallied forth, not a bit the _better_ for wine, in quest of
adventures. Mr. Titmouse gave some excellent imitations of donkeys,
cats, and pigs, as they walked along arm in arm; and very nearly
succeeded in tripping up an old watchman, who had crawled out to
announce the hour. Then they rang every bell they passed; and,
encouraged by impunity, proceeded to sport of a still more interesting
and exciting description--viz. twisting knockers off doors. Titmouse was
by far the most drunk of the party, and wrenched off several knockers in
a very resolute and reckless manner, placing them successively in his
pocket--where, also, his companions contrived, unknown to him, to
deposit _their_ spoils--till the weight was such as seriously to
increase the difficulty of keeping his balance. When tired of this
sport, it was agreed that they should extinguish every lamp they passed.
No sooner said than done; and Titmouse volunteered to commence. Assisted
by his companions, he clambered up a lamp-post at the corner of St.
James's Street; and holding with one hand by the bar, while his legs
clung round the iron post, with the other hand he opened the window of
the lamp; and while in the act of blowing it out, "Watch! watch!" cried
the voices of several people rushing round the corner; a rattle was
sprung; away scampered his companions in different directions; and after
holding on where he was for a moment or two, in confusion and alarm,
down slid poor Titmouse, and dropped into the arms of three accursed
watchmen, around whom was gathered a little crowd of persons, all of
whom had been roused from sleep by the pulling of their bells, and the
noise made in wrenching off their knockers. A pretty passion they all
were in, shaking their fists in the face of the captured delinquent, and
accompanying him, with menacing gestures, to the watch-house. There
having been safely lodged, he was put into a dark cell, where he
presently fell asleep; nor did he wake till he was summoned to go off to
the police-office. There he found a host of victims of his over-night's
exploits. He stoutly denied having been concerned in despoiling a single
door of its knocker--on which a breeches-maker near him furiously lifted
up the prisoner's heavy coat-tails, and exclaimed eagerly--"Your
Worship, your Worship! see, he's got his knocket full of pockers! he's
got his knocket full of pockers--see here, your Worship"----"What _do_
you mean, sir, by such gibberish?" inquired the magistrate, in so stern
a tone as drew the speaker's attention to the little transposition of
letters which he had made in his headlong haste to detect the falsehood
of the delinquent; who, finding the dismal strait to which he was
driven, and feeling really very ill, begged for mercy--which, after a
very severe rebuke, the pallid culprit being confronted by seven
knockers lying before him in a row, all of them having been taken out of
his own pockets, he obtained, on condition of his making compensation to
the injured parties, who compounded with him for twelve pounds.[5] After
paying a couple of pounds to the poor-box, he was discharged; crawled
into a coach, and, in a very sad condition, reached his rooms about one
o'clock, and got into bed in a truly deplorable state--never once
recollecting that, at that precise hour, he ought to have been taking
the chair of the meeting of the Society for the Promotion of Civil and
Religious Discord. As, however, his misfortunes were, in the newspapers,
assigned, not to "Tittlebat Titmouse," but to one "_John Smith_," the
exact state of the case never transpired to the worthy gentlemen who had
been so unaccountably deprived of his services; and who, on inquiry,
were told by his fluent valet, that Mr. Titmouse's late hours at the
House had brought on a slight and sudden attack of--jaundice; on hearing
which, they begged he might be assured of their respectful sympathy, and
hearty wishes for his restoration; and tried very hard to sound the
valet on the subject of his master's compensating for his absence by
some donation or subscription; but the fellow was very obtuse, and they
were compelled to depart disappointed.

I should have thought that the foregoing would have proved a lesson to
Mr. Titmouse, and restrained him for some time from yielding to his
cursed propensity to drink. Yet was it otherwise--and I shall tell the
matter exactly as it happened. Within a fortnight after the mischance
which I have above described, Titmouse dined with the members of a sort
of pugilistic club, which met every fortnight, for the purpose of
settling matters connected with the "ring." On the present occasion
there had been a full muster, for they had to settle the preliminaries
for a grand contest for the championship of England--to which Titmouse's
master, Mr. Billy Bully, aspired. Titmouse had scarcely ever enjoyed
himself more than on that exciting occasion; and, confident of his man,
had backed his favorite pretty freely. Towards eleven o'clock, he found
the room very close--and it was not to be wondered at, when you
considered the dreadful quantity of hard ale, harder port-wine, and
poisonous gin and water, which the little wretch had swallowed since
sitting down to dinner. About the hour I have named, however, he, Sir
Pumpkin Puppy, and one or two others, all with cigars in their mouths,
sallied forth to walk about town, in search of sport. I have hardly
patience to write it--but positively they had not proceeded half-way
down the Haymarket when they got into a downright "_row_;" and, egged on
by his companions, and especially inwardly impelled by the devil
himself, the miserable Titmouse, after grossly insulting a little
one-eyed, one-legged, bald-headed old waterman attached to the
coach-stand there, challenged him to fight, and forthwith flung away his
cigar, and threw himself into boxing attitude, amid the jeers and
laughter of the spectators--who, however, formed a sort of ring in a
trice. At it they went, _instanter_. Titmouse squared about with a sort
of disdainful showiness--in the midst of which he suddenly received a
nasty teaser on his nose and shoulder, from his active, hardy, and
experienced antagonist, which brought him to the ground, the blood
gushing from his nose in a copious stream. Sir Pumpkin quickly picked
him up, shook him, and set him fairly at his man again. Nearer and
nearer stumped the old fellow to the devoted "swell," who, evidently
groggy, squared in the most absurd way imaginable for a moment or two,
when he received his enemy's _one two_ in his eye, and on his mouth, and
again dropped down.

"He's drunk--he can't fight no more than a baby; I won't stand against
him any more," quoth the fair and stout-hearted old waterman. "It warn't
any o' my seeking; but if he thought to come it over an old cripple like

"Bravo! bravo!" cried his companions. "Come along, old chap--come
along," said one; "if I don't give you a jolly quartern, may I stick
here without a fare all this blessed night;" and the speaker led off the
victor to the public-house opposite, while Titmouse's friends led him
away, nearly insensible, to a tavern a few doors off. Having given
directions that he should be forthwith taken to a bedroom and washed,
they ordered broiled bones and mulled claret for themselves. After about
an hour and a half's nap, Titmouse, who probably had benefited rather
than suffered from his blood-letting, rejoined his friends, and called
for a cigar and a glass of cold brandy and water; having had which, they
set off homeward: he reaching his rooms about one o'clock, with a very
black eye, a swollen nose and mouth, a very thick and indistinct speech,
and unsteady step; in fact, in a much worse pickle than he had as yet
exhibited to his valet, who told him, while preparing for him a glass of
brandy and soda-water, that no fewer than five messengers had been at
his rooms. While he was yet speaking, a thundering knock was heard at
the outer-door, and on its being opened, in rushed, breathlessly, Mr.
Phelim O'Doodle.

"Titmouse!--Titmouse! Och, murther and thunder, where are ye? Where have
ye been, wid ye?" he gasped--


drowsily sung Titmouse--it being part of a song he had heard thrice
encored that evening after dinner--at the same time staggering towards

"Och, botheration take your too-ra-lady! Come, fait--by Jasus! clap your
hat on, and button your coat, and off to the House--immediately--or it's
all up with us, an' out we go every mother's son of us--an' the bastely
Tories'll be in. Come! come!--off wid ye, I say! I've a coach at the

"I--(hiccup)--I sha'n't--can't--'pon my life"--

"Och, off wid ye!--isn't it mad that Mr. O'Gibbet is wid ye?"----

"He's one eye--aha! and one leg--Too-ra-laddy," hiccuped the young

"Devil burn me if I don't tie ye hand an' foot together!" cried
O'Doodle, impetuously. "What the devil have ye been about wid that black
eye o' yours, and--but I'll spake about it in the coach. Off wid ye!
Isn't time worth a hundred pounds a minute?"----

Within a minute or two's time O'Doodle had got him safely into the
coach, and down to St. Stephen's they rattled at top speed. _There_ was
going on, indeed, a desperate fight--a final trial of strength between
Ministers and the Opposition, on a vote of want of confidence; and a
division expected every minute. Prodigious had been the efforts of both
parties--the whip unprecedented. Lord Bulfinch had, early in the
evening, explicitly stated that Ministers would resign unless they
gained a _majority_: and, to their infinite vexation and astonishment,
three of their stanch adherents--Titmouse being one--were missing just
at the critical moment. The Opposition had been more fortunate; every
man of theirs had come up--and they were shouting tremendously, "Divide!
divide! divide!"--while, on the other hand, Ministers were putting up
men, one after another, to speak against time, (though not one syllable
they said could be heard,) in order to get a chance of their three
missing men coming up. If none of them came, Ministers would be exactly
even with their opponents; in which case they were very much afraid that
they ought to resign. Up the stairs and into the lobby came O'Doodle,
breathlessly, with his prize.

"Och, my _dear_ O'Doodle!--Titmouse, ye little drunken divil, where have
ye been?" commenced Mr. O'Gibbet, on whom O'Doodle stumbled suddenly.

"Thank Heaven! Good God, how fortunate!" exclaimed Mr. Flummery, both he
and O'Gibbet being in a state of intense anxiety and great excitement.

"In with him!--in with him!--by Jove, they're clearing the gallery!"
gasped Mr. Flummery, while he rushed into the House, to make the way
clear for O'Doodle and O'Gibbet, who were literally carrying in Titmouse
between them.

"Sir!--Mr. Flummery!" gasped O'Doodle--"ye won't forget what I have done
to-night, will ye?"

"No, no--honor! In with you! In with you! A moment and all's lost."

They reached, however, the House in safety, Mr. O'Gibbet waving his hand
in triumph.

"Oh, ye droll little divil! where have you been hiding?" he hastily
whispered, as he deposited the insensible Titmouse on the nearest bench,
and sat beside him. Mr. O'Gibbet took off his hat, and wiped his reeking
head and face. Merciful powers! what a triumph!--and in the very nick of
time.--Titmouse had saved the Ministry! Tremendous was now the uproar in
the House, almost every one present shouting, "Divide!--divide!"

"Strangers, withdraw," cried the Speaker.

Then, _at it_ they went, with an air of tumultuous and irrepressible
excitement; but, through Titmouse, the Ministers triumphed. The numbers
were announced--

          Ayes               301
          Noes               300
      Majority for Ministers   1

On which glorious and decisive result, there burst forth immense
cheering on the ministerial side of the House, and vehement
counter-cheering on the opposition side, which lasted for several
minutes. The noise, indeed, was so prodigious, that it almost roused
Titmouse from the sort of stupor into which he had sunk. Mr. O'Doodle
accompanied him home; and, after drinking a couple of tumblers of
whiskey and water with him, took his departure--caring nothing that he
had left Titmouse on the floor, in a state of dangerous insensibility;
from which, however, in due time he recovered, but was confined to his
bed, by a violent bilious attack, for nearly a week. Mr. O'Doodle's
services to the Government were not forgotten. A few days afterwards he
vacated his seat, having received the appointment of sub-inspector of
political caricatures in Ireland, with a salary of six hundred pounds
a-year for life. His place in the House was immediately filled up by his
brother, Mr. Trigger O'Doodle, who kept a shooting-gallery in Dublin.
Profuse were Phelim's thanks to Mr. O'Gibbet, when that gentleman
announced to him his good fortune, exclaiming, at the same time, with a
sly wink and smile--"Ye see what it is to rinder service to the
state--aha! Aisy, aisy!--softly, say I. Isn't _that_ the way to get


The injuries which Titmouse had received in his encounter with the
waterman--I mean principally his black eye--prevented him from making
his appearance in public, or at Lord Dreddlington's, or in the House,
for several days after he had recovered from the bilious attack of which
I have spoken. His non-attendance at the House, however, signified
little, since both parties had been so thoroughly exhausted by their
late trial of strength, as to require for some time rest and quietness,
to enable them to resume the public business of the country. As soon as
his eye was fairly convalescent, the first place to which he ventured
out was his new residence in Park Lane, which having been taken for him,
under the superintendence of the Earl of Dreddlington and Mr. Gammon,
some month or two before, was now rapidly being furnished, in order to
be in readiness to receive his lady and himself, immediately after his
marriage--his Parliamentary duties not admitting of a prolonged absence
from town. The former event had, as usual, been already prematurely
announced in the newspapers several times as on the eve of taking place.
The courtship went on very easily and smoothly. Neither of them seemed
_anxious_ for the other's society, though they contrived to evince, in
the presence of others, a decent degree of gratification at meeting each
other. He did all which he was instructed it was necessary for a man of
fashion to do. He attended her and the earl to the opera repeatedly, as
also to other places of fashionable resort: he had danced with her
occasionally; but, to tell the truth, it was only at the vehement
instance of the earl her father, that she ever consented to stand up
with one whose person, whose carriage, whose motions were so unutterably
vulgar and ridiculous as those of Mr. Titmouse, who was yet her
affianced husband. He had made her several times rather expensive
presents of jewelry, and would have purchased for her a great stock of
clothing, (of which he justly considered himself an excellent judge,) if
she would have permitted it. He had, moreover, been a constant guest at
the earl's table, where he was under greater restraint than anywhere
else. Of such indiscretions and eccentricities as I have just been
recording, they knew, or were properly _supposed_ to know, nothing. 'T
was not for them to have their eyes upon him while sowing his wild
oats--so thought the earl; who, however, had frequent occasion for
congratulating himself in respect of Mr. Titmouse's political celebrity,
and also of the marks of distinction conferred upon him in the literary
and scientific world, of which the earl was himself so distinguished an
ornament. Titmouse had presented copies, gorgeously bound, of Dr.
Gander's Treatise on Lightness, both to the earl and the Lady Cecilia;
and the very flattering _dedication_ to Titmouse, by Dr. Gander, really
operated not a little in his favor with his future lady. What effect
might have been produced upon her Ladyship, had she been apprised of the
fact, that the aforesaid dedication had appeared in only a hundred
copies, having been cancelled directly Dr. Gander had ascertained the
futility of his expectations from Titmouse, I do not know; but I believe
she never was informed of that circumstance. As far as his dress went,
she had contrived, through the interference of the earl and of Mr.
Gammon, (for whom she had conceived a singular respect,) to abate a
_little_ of its fantastic absurdity, its execrable vulgarity. Nothing,
however, seemed capable of effecting any material change in _the man_,
although his continued intercourse with refined society could hardly
fail to produce _some_ advantageous alteration in his _manners_. As for
anything further, Tittlebat Titmouse remained the same vulgar,
heartless, presumptuous, ignorant creature he had ever been. Though I
perceive in the Lady Cecilia no qualities to excite our respect or
affection, I pity her from my very soul when I contemplate her coming
union with Titmouse. One thing I know, that as soon as ever she had
bound herself irrevocably to him, she began to think of at least fifty
men whom she had ever spurned, but whom _now_ she would have welcomed
with all the ardor and affection of which her cold nature was
susceptible. As she had never been _conspicuous_ for animation,
vivacity, or energy, the gloom which more and more frequently
overshadowed her, whenever her thoughts turned towards Titmouse,
attracted scarce any one's attention. There _were_ those, however, who
could have spoken of her mental disquietude at the approach of her
cheerless nuptials--I mean her maid Annette and Miss Macspleuchan. To
say that she _loathed_ the bare idea of her union with Titmouse--of his
person, manners, and character--would not perhaps be exactly correct,
since she had not the requisite strength of character; but she
contemplated her future lord with mingled feelings of apprehension,
dislike, and disgust. She generally fled for support to the comfortable
notion of "_fate_," which had assigned her such a husband. Heaven had
denied poor Lady Cecilia all power of contemplating the future; of
anticipating consequences; of _reflecting_ upon the step she was about
to take. Miss Macspleuchan, however, did so for her; but, being placed
in a situation of great delicacy and difficulty, acted with cautious
reserve whenever the subject was mentioned. Lady Cecilia had not
vouchsafed to consult her before her Ladyship had finally committed
herself to Titmouse; and, after that, interference was useless and

Lady Cecilia late one afternoon entered her dressing-room pale and
dispirited, as had been latterly her wont; and, with a deep sigh, sank
into her easy-chair. Annette, on her Ladyship's entrance, was leaning
against the window frame, reading a book, which she immediately closed
and laid down. "What are you reading there?" inquired Lady Cecilia,

"Oh, nothing particular, my Lady!" replied Annette, coloring a little;
"it was only the prayer-book. I was looking at the marriage-service, my
Lady. I wanted to see what it was that your Ladyship has to say"----

"It's not very amusing, Annette. _I_ think it very dull and stupid--and
you might have been better employed!"

"La, my Lady--now _I_ should have thought it quite interesting, if _I_
had been in your La'ship's situation!"

"Well, what is it that they expect me to repeat?"

"Oh! I'll read it, my Lady--here it is," replied Annette, and read as

     "_Then shall the priest say unto the woman_, 'N, wilt thou have
     this man to be thy wedded husband, to live together, after God's
     ordinance, in the holy state of matrimony? Wilt thou obey
     him, serve him, love, honor, and keep him, in sickness and in
     health, and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so
     long as ye both shall live?'

     "_The woman shall answer_, 'I will.'"

"Well--it's only a form, you know, Annette--and I dare say no one ever
gives it a thought," said Lady Cecilia, struggling to suppress a sigh.

"Then," continued Annette, "your La'ship will have to say a good deal
after the parson--but I beg your La'ship's pardon--it's (in your case)
the bishop. Here it is:

     "'I, N, take thee, M, to be my wedded husband, to have and
     to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer
     for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish'"----

"Yes, yes--I hear," interrupted Lady Cecilia, faintly, turning pale; "I
know it all; that will do, Annette"--

"There's only a word more, my Lady:--

     "'And obey, till death us do part, according to God's holy
     ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.'

"All this your La'ship says, with your right hand holding Mr.

Here a visible tremor passed through Lady Cecilia. "You may leave me
alone, Annette, a little while," said she; "I don't feel quite well."

"La, my Lady, a'n't your La'ship _late_, already? Your La'ship knows how
early her Grace dines ever since her illness."

"There's plenty of time; I'll ring for you when I want you.
And--stay--you may as well leave your prayer-book with me for a
moment--it will amuse me to look in it." Annette did as she was bid; and
the next moment her melancholy mistress was alone. She did not, however,
open the book she had asked for, but fell into a revery, which was
disturbed some time afterwards, only by her maid tapping at the door;
and who, on entering, told her that she had not one moment to lose; that
his Lordship had been dressed for some time. On this her Ladyship rose,
and commenced her toilet with a very deep sigh.

"Your La'ship, I suppose, wears your gold-colored satin? it matches so
well with the pearls," said Annette, going to the jewel-case.

"I sha'n't wear any pearls to-day."

"Oh! my Lady! not that beautiful spray of Mr. Titmouse's? Your La'ship
does look so well in it!"

"I sha'n't wear anything of Mr. Tit--I mean," she added, coloring, "I
sha'n't wear _anything_ in my hair to-day!"

Many and anxious, it may be easily believed, had been the conferences
and negotiations between the earl, Mr. Gammon, and Mr. Titmouse, with
reference to the state of his property, and the settlement to be made on
Lady Cecilia. It appeared that the extent of the encumbrances on the
Yatton property was £35,000, and which Gammon had many ways of
accounting for, without disclosing the amount of plunder which had
fallen to the share of the firm--or rather to the senior partner. The
interest on this sum (viz. £1,750) would reduce Mr. Titmouse's present
income to £8,250 per annum; but Gammon pledged himself that the rental
of the estates could, with the greatest ease, be raised to £12,000, and
that measures, in fact, were already in progress to effect so desirable
a result. Then there was a sum of £20,000 due to Mr. Titmouse from Mr.
Aubrey, on account of the mesne profits, £10,000 of which was guaranteed
by Lord De la Zouch, and would very shortly become payable with
interest; and the remaining £10,000 could be at any time called in. The
sum finally determined upon, as a settlement upon Lady Cecilia, was
£3,000 a-year--surely a very substantial "_consideration_" for the
"faithful _promise_" to be, by-and-by, made by her at the altar--and
which, moreover, she conceived she had a prospect of having entirely to
herself--really "for her _separate_ use, exempt from the control, debts,
and engagements of her said intended husband." I am sorry to say that
Lady Cecilia clung to the prospect of an almost immediate _separation_;
which, she learned from several confidential friends, some of whom were
qualified, by personal experience, to offer an opinion, was a very easy
matter, becoming daily more frequent on the ground of incompatibility of
temper. A faint hint of the kind which she had once dropped to Miss
Macspleuchan, was received in such a manner as prevented Lady Cecilia
from ever repeating it. As for the earl, her father, I cannot say that
he did not observe a depression of spirits in his daughter, increasing
with the increasing proximity of her marriage. Since, however, _he_ had
entirely reconciled _himself_ to it--and was delighted at the
approaching long-coveted reunion of the family interests--he did not
think of _her_ having any real objection to the arrangements. As for her
lowness of spirits, and nervousness, doubtless--his Lordship
considered--every woman on the point of being married, experienced
similar feelings. She herself, indeed, seldom if ever named the matter
to her father in such a way as to occasion him uneasiness. In short, the
affair seemed to be going on just as it ought to do; and even had it
assumed an untoward aspect, circumstances had arisen which would have
prevented the earl from giving his wonted attention to what in any
degree concerned his daughter. In the first place, on his Lordship's
party coming into power, to his infinite amazement his old post of Lord
High Steward was filled up by some one else! So also was the office of
Lord President of the Council; and so, moreover, was every other
official post; and that, too, without any apology to the offended peer,
or explanation of such a phenomenon as his entire exclusion from office.
The Premier had, in fact, never once thought of his Lordship while
forming his administration; and on being subsequently remonstrated with
by a venerable peer, a common friend of the Premier and Lord
Dreddlington, the Premier very calmly and blandly expressed his regret
that Lord Dreddlington had not given him notice of his being
still--"even in his advanced years"--disposed to hold office; and
trusted that he should yet be able, and before any long time should have
elapsed, to avail himself of the very valuable services "of my Lord
Dreddlington." This was all that he could get from the courteous but
marble-hearted Premier; and, for a long while, the earl could think of
only one mode of soothing his wounded feelings--viz. going about to his
friends, and demonstrating that the new Lord Steward and the new Lord
President were every day displaying their unfitness for office; and that
the only error committed by the Premier, in the difficult and
responsible task of forming a government, was that of selecting two such
individuals as he had appointed to those distinguished posts. He was
also greatly comforted and supported, at this period of vexation and
disappointment, by the manly and indignant sympathy of--Mr. Gammon, who
had succeeded in gaining a prodigious ascendency over the earl, who, on
the sudden death of his own solicitor, old Mr. Pounce, adopted Gammon in
his stead; and infinitely rejoiced his Lordship was, to have thus
secured the services of one who possessed an intellect at once so
practical, masterly, and energetic; who had formed so high an estimate
of his Lordship's powers; and whom his Lordship's condescending
familiarity never for one moment caused to lose sight of the vast
distance and difference between them. He appeared, moreover, to act
between Titmouse and the earl with the scrupulous candor and fidelity of
a high-minded person, consciously placed in a situation of peculiar
delicacy and responsibility. At the least, he seemed exceedingly anxious
to secure Lady Cecilia's interests; and varied--or _appeared_ to
vary--the arrangements, according to every suggestion of his Lordship.
The earl was satisfied that Gammon was disposed to make Titmouse go much
farther than of his own accord he would have felt disposed to go,
towards meeting the earl's wishes in the matter of the settlements;--in
fact, Gammon evinced, in the earl's opinion, great anxiety to place her
Ladyship in that position to which her high pretensions so justly
entitled her.

But this was not the only mode by which he augmented and secured his
influence over the weak old peer. Not only had Gammon, in the manner
pointed out in a previous portion of this history, diminished the drain
upon his Lordship's income, which had so long existed in the shape of
interest upon money lent him on mortgage, (and which embarrassments, by
the way, had all arisen from his foolish state and extravagance when
Lord High Steward;) not only, I say, had Gammon done all this, but
infinitely more;--he had enabled his Lordship, as it were, "to strike a
blow in a new hemisphere," and at once evince his fitness for the
conduct of important and complicated affairs of business, acquire an
indefinite augmentation of fortune, and also great influence and

England, about the time I am speaking of, was smitten with a sort of
mercantile madness--which showed itself in the shape of a monstrous
passion for JOINT-STOCK COMPANIES. John Bull all of a sudden took it
into his head, that no commercial undertaking of the least importance
could any longer be carried on by means of _individual_ energy, capital,
and enterprise. A glimmering of this great truth he discovered that he
had had, from the first moment that a private _partnership_ had been
adopted; and it was only to follow out the principle--to convert a
private into a public partnership, and call it a "Joint-stock Company."
This bright idea of John's produced prompt and prodigious results--a
hundred _joint stock companies_

        "Rose like an exhalation,"

in the metropolis alone, within one twelvemonth's time. But then came
the question, _upon what_ were these grand combined forces to operate?
Undertakings of commensurate magnitude must be projected--and so it was.
It really mattered not a straw how wild and ludicrously impracticable
was a project--it had but to be started, and announced, to call forth
moneyed people among all classes, all _making haste to be rich_--and
ready to back the speculation, even to the last penny they had in the
world; pouring out their capital with a recklessness, of which the
lamentable _results_ may prevent their recurrence. Any voluble visionary
who was unluckily able to reach the ear of one or two persons in the
city, could expand his crotchet into a "company" with as little effort
as an idiot could blow out a soap-bubble. For instance: one wiseacre
(who surely ought never to have been at large) conceived a plan for
creating ARTIFICIAL RAIN at an hour's notice, over any extent of country
short of a circle of three miles in diameter; a second, for conveying
MILK to every house in the metropolis in the same way as water is at
present conveyed--viz. by pipes, supplied by an immense reservoir of
milk to be established at Islington, and into which a million of cows
were to be milked night and morning; a third, for converting _saw-dust
into solid wood_; and a fourth, for surrounding the metropolis with a
wall twenty feet in thickness, and fifty in height. Within three days of
each of these hopeful speculations being announced, there were as many
completely organized joint-stock companies established to carry them
into effect. Superb offices were engaged in the city; Patrons,
Presidents, Vice-Presidents; Trustees, Chairmen, Directors; Secretaries,
Actuaries, Architects, Auditors; Bankers, Standing Counsel, Engineers,
Surveyors, and Solicitors, appointed: and the names of all these
functionaries forthwith blazed in dazzling array at the head of a
"Prospectus," which set forth the advantages of the undertaking with
such seductive eloquence as no man could resist; and within a week's
time there was not a share to be had in the market. Into affairs of this
description, Mr. Gammon, who soon saw the profit to be made out of them,
if skilfully worked, plunged with the energy and excitement of a
gamester. He drew in Mr. Quirk after him; and, as they could together
command the ears of several enterprising capitalists in the city, they
soon had their hands full of business, and launched two or three very
brilliant speculations. Mr. Gammon himself drew up their
"_Prospectuses_," and in a style which must have tempted the very devil
himself (had he seen them) into venturing half his capital in the
undertaking!--One was a scheme for providing the metropolis with a
constant supply of salt water by means of a canal cut from the vicinity
of the Nore, and carried nearly all round London, so as to afford the
citizens throughout the year the luxury of sea-bathing. Another was of a
still more extraordinary and interesting description--for carrying into
effect a discovery, by means of which, ships of all kinds and sizes
could be furnished with the means, by one and the same process--and that
remarkably simple, cheap, and convenient--of obtaining _pure fresh
water_ from the SEA, and converting the salt or brine thrown off in the
operation, _instanter_ into _gunpowder_! The reality of this amazing
discovery was decisively ascertained by three of the greatest chemists
in England; a patent was taken out, and a company formed for immediately
working the patent. This undertaking was the first that Gammon brought
under the notice of the Earl of Dreddlington, whom he so completely
dazzled by his description, both of the signal service to be conferred
upon the country, and the princely revenue to be derived from it to
those early entering into the speculation, that his Lordship intimated
rather an anxious wish to be connected with it.

"Good gracious, sir!" said his Lordship, with an air of wonder--"to what
a pitch is science advancing! When will human ingenuity end? Sir, I
doubt not that one of these days _everything_ will be found out!"

"Certainly--I feel the full force of your Lordship's very striking
observation," replied Gammon, who had listened to him with an air of
delighted deference.

"Sir, this is a truly astonishing discovery! Yet, I give you my honor,
sir, I have often thought that something of the kind was very desirable,
as far as the obtaining fresh water from salt water was concerned, and
have wondered whether it could ever be practicable: but I protest the
latter part of the discovery--the conversion of the brine into
gunpowder--is--is--sir, I say it is--astounding; it is more; it is very
interesting, in a picturesque, and important in a patriotic point of
view. Only think, sir, of our vessels gathering gunpowder and fresh
water from the sea they are sailing over. Sir, the discoverer deserves a
subsidy! This must in due time be brought before Parliament." His
Lordship got quite excited; and Gammon, watching his opportunity,
intimated the pride and pleasure it would give him to make his Lordship
the patron of the gigantic undertaking in question.

"Sir--sir--you do me--infinite honor," quoth the earl, quite flustered
by the suddenness of the proposal.

"As there will be, of course, your Lordship sees, several great
capitalists concerned, I must, for form's sake, consult them before any
step is taken; but I flatter myself, my Lord, that there can be but one
opinion, when I name to them the possibility of our being honored with
your Lordship's name and influence."

The earl listened to this with a stately bow and a gratified smile; and
on the ensuing day received a formal communication from Messrs. Quirk,
Gammon, and Snap, soliciting his Lordship to become the patron of the
undertaking--which he most graciously acceded to; and was easily
prevailed upon to secure several other highly distinguished names among
his friends, who were profoundly ignorant of _business_, in all its
departments, but delighted to figure before the public, as the patrons
of so great and laudable an enterprise. Out went forthwith, all over the
country, the advertisements and prospectuses of the new company, and
which could boast such commanding names as cast most of its sister
companies into the shade--_e. g._ "The Right Honorable the EARL of
DREDDLINGTON, G.C.B., F.C.S., F.P.S., &c. &c."--"The Most Noble the DUKE
of TANTALLAN, K.T., &c. &c."--"The Most Honorable the MARQUIS of
MARMALADE, &c. &c. &c." The capital to be one million, in ten thousand
shares of one hundred pounds each. Lord Dreddlington was presented with
a hundred shares, as a mark of respect and gratitude from the leading
shareholders; moreover, his Lordship took two hundred shares besides,
and prevailed on various of his friends to do the same. In less than
three weeks' time the shares had risen to £40 premium--[_i.e._ my lady
readers will understand, each share for which his Lordship was supposed
to have given, or to be liable to be called upon for £100, he could at
any moment dispose of for £140]--and then Mr. Gammon so represented
matters to his Lordship, as to induce him to part with his shares, which
he found no difficulty in doing--and thereby realized a clear profit of
£12,000. This seemed to the earl rather the effect of magic than of an
everyday mercantile adventure. His respect for Gammon rose with
everything he heard of that gentleman, or saw him do; and his Lordship
allowed himself to be implicitly guided by him in all things. Under his
advice, accordingly, the earl became interested in several other similar
speculations, which so occupied his thoughts as almost to obliterate his
sense of ministerial injustice. Several of his friends cautioned him,
now and then, against committing himself to such novel and extensive
speculations, in which he might incur, he was reminded, dangerous
liabilities; but his magnificent reception of such interference, soon
caused their discontinuance. The earl felt himself safe in the hands of
Mr. Gammon, forming an equal and a very high estimate of his ability and

His Lordship's attention having been thus directed to such matters--to
the mercantile interests of this great country--he soon began to take a
vast interest in the discussion of such subjects in the House, greatly
to the surprise and edification of many of his brother peers. Absorbing,
however, as were these and similar occupations, they were almost
altogether suspended as soon as a day--and that not a distant one--had
been fixed upon for the marriage of the Lady Cecilia with Mr. Titmouse.
From that moment, the old man could scarcely bear her out of his
presence; following and watching all her movements with a peculiar,
though still a stately, solicitude and tenderness. Frequent, earnest,
and dignified, were his interviews with Titmouse--his representations as
to the invaluable treasure that was about to be intrusted to him in the
Lady Cecilia--the last direct representative of the most ancient noble
family in the kingdom. Innumerable were his Lordship's directions to him
concerning his future conduct, both in public and private life;
intimating, in a manner at once impressive and affectionate, that the
eyes of the country would be thenceforward fixed upon him, as son-in-law
of the Earl of Dreddlington. His Lordship, moreover--pocketing the
affront he had received at the hands of the Ministry--made a very
strenuous and nearly a successful effort to procure for his destined
son-in-law a vacant lordship of the Treasury. The Premier was really
beginning to consider the subject, when Mr. O'Gibbet extinguished all
the aspiring hopes of poor Lord Dreddlington, by applying for the vacant
office for Mr. Och Hubbaboo, an early friend of Mr. O'Gibbet; and who
having failed in business, and been unable to re-establish himself, had
come into the House of Commons to repair his shattered fortunes. I need
hardly say, that within a day or two, Mr. Hubbaboo was made a lord of
the Treasury; and thereby were very nearly alienated from Ministers two
stanch and enlightened supporters--to wit, the Earl of Dreddlington and
Mr. Titmouse.

Early in the forenoon of Tuesday the 1st of April 18--, there were
indications in the neighborhood of Lord Dreddlington's house in
Grosvenor Square, that an aristocratic wedding was about to be
celebrated. Lady Cecilia's bridemaids, and one or two other ladies, the
Duke and Duchess of Tantallan, and a few other persons of distinction,
who were to accompany the party to church, made their appearance about
eleven o'clock; and shortly afterwards dashed up Mr. Titmouse's cab, in
which sat that gentleman, enveloped in a magnificent green cloak,
designed to conceal from vulgar observation the full splendor of his
personal appearance. He had been engaged at his toilet since five
o'clock that morning; and the results were not unworthy of the pains
which had been taken to secure them. He wore a light-blue body coat,
with velvet collar; tight black pantaloons tying round his ankles;
gossamer white silk stockings, and dress-shoes, with small gold buckles.
His shirt was of snowy whiteness, and there glittered in the centre of
it a very superb diamond brooch. He had two waistcoats, the under one a
sky-blue satin, (only the roll visible,) the outer one of white satin,
richly embroidered. A burnished gold guard-chain was disposed very
gracefully over the exterior of his outer waistcoat. His hair was parted
down the middle, and curled forward towards each temple, giving his
countenance a very bold and striking expression. He wore white kid
gloves, a glossy new hat, and held in his hand his agate-headed ebony
cane. Though he tried to look at his ease, his face was rather pale, and
his manner a little flurried. As for the bride--she had slept scarcely a
quarter of an hour the whole night; and a glimpse at her countenance, in
the glass, convinced her of the necessity of yielding to Annette's
suggestions, and rouging a little. Her eyes told of the sleepless and
agitated night she had passed; and while dressing, she was twice forced
to drink a little sal volatile and water. She was cold, and trembled.
When at length she had completed her toilet, what a figure did her glass
present to her! The dress--rich white satin--a long and beautiful blonde
lace veil--and a delicate wreath of orange blossoms, was that of a
bride, certainly; but was the haggard countenance that of a bride? Miss
Macspleuchan burst into tears at the sight. When, attended by her
bridemaids and Miss Macspleuchan, she made her appearance in the
drawing-room, the Earl of Dreddlington approached her, and saluted her
with silent tenderness. Then Titmouse came up, very pale, but with a
would-be familiar air--"Hope you're quite well, dearest, this happy
day," said he, and kissed her gloved hand. She made him no reply;
stepped back, and sank upon the sofa; and presently the carriages were
announced to be in readiness. The earl led her down, followed by her two
bridemaids, and entered the first carriage, which then drove off to St.
George's Church; Titmouse and the rest of the party immediately
following. The ceremony was to be performed by the Bishop of Barnard
Castle, an old friend, and indeed a distant relation of Lord
Dreddlington's. Methinks I now see his portly and commanding figure,
standing at the altar, with the little distinguished party before him;
and hear his clear, sonorous voice reading the marriage-service.
Titmouse was pale and flushed by turns, and looked frightened--behaving,
however, with more sedateness than I should have expected. Lady Cecilia
leaned, when she could, against the rails; and repeated her few allotted
words in a voice scarcely audible. When Titmouse fixed the ring upon her
finger, she trembled and shed tears--averting her face from him, and at
length concealing it entirely in her pocket-handkerchief. She looked,
indeed, the image of misery. The Earl of Dreddlington maintained a
countenance of rigid solemnity. At length the all-important ceremony
came to a close; the necessary entries and signatures were made in the
vestry, to which the wedding party followed the bishop; and then Mr.
Titmouse, taking HIS WIFE'S arm within his own, led her out to the
private door, where stood waiting for them the earl's chariot. He handed
her into it, and popped in after her--a little crowd standing round to
catch a glimpse of the distinguished bride and bridegroom; and they
drove rapidly homeward. He sat in one corner, and she in the other; each
so occupied with their own thoughts, that they uttered scarcely two
words all the way.

A splendid _déjeuner à la fourchette_ was prepared, and a very brilliant
party attended to pay their respects to the bride and bridegroom, and
the Earl of Dreddlington; and about two o'clock the Lady Cecilia
withdrew to prepare for her journey, which was to Poppleton Hall, her
father's residence in Hertfordshire, where they were to spend their
honeymoon. She had never shown so much emotion in her life as when she
parted with Miss Macspleuchan and her bridemaids--being several times on
the verge of hysterics. Mr. Titmouse's travelling-chariot--a dashing
chocolate-colored one, with four horses--stood at the door, her
Ladyship's maid and his valet seated in the rumble. Some hundred people
stood round to see the

          "Happy, happy, happy pair,"

set off on their journey of happiness. The earl led down Lady Cecilia,
followed by Titmouse, who had exchanged his hat for a gaudy
travelling-cap, with a gold band round it! Lady Cecilia, with drooping
head and feeble step, suffered the earl, whom she kissed fervently, to
place her in the chariot, when she burst into a flood of tears.
Then Mr. Titmouse shook hands cordially with his distinguished
father-in-law--popped into the chariot--the steps were doubled
up--the door closed--the side-blinds were drawn down by Mr. Titmouse;
"All's right!" cried one of the servants, and away rolled the
carriage-and-four, which, quickening its speed, was soon out of sight.
Lady Cecilia remained in a sort of stupor for some time, and sat silent
and motionless in the corner of the chariot; but Titmouse had now become
lively enough, having had the benefit of some dozen glasses of

"Ah, my lovely gal--dearest gal of my heart!" he exclaimed fondly, at
the same time kissing her cold cheeks, and putting his arm round her
waist--"Now you're all my own! 'pon my soul, isn't it funny, though?
We're man and wife! By Jove, I never loved you so much as now, ducky!
eh?" Again he pressed his lips to her cold cheek.

"Don't, don't, I beg," said she, faintly, "I'm not well;" and she feebly
tried to disengage herself from his rude and boisterous embrace: while
her drooping head and ashy cheek fully corroborated the truth of her
statement. In this state she continued for the whole of the first stage.
When they stopped to change horses, says Titmouse, starting up--having
very nearly dropped asleep--"Cicely, as you're so uncommon ill, hadn't
you better have your maid in, and I'll sit on the box?--it would be a
devilish deal more comfortable for you--eh?"

"Oh, I should feel _so_ obliged if you would, Mr. Titmouse!" she replied
faintly. It was done as she wished. Titmouse enveloped himself in his
cloak; and, having lit a cigar, mounted the box, and smoked all the way
till they reached the Hall!

Gammon was one of those who had seen them set off on their auspicious
journey. He contemplated them with deep interest and anxiety.

"Well," he exclaimed, walking away, with a deep sigh, when the carriage
had got out of sight--"So far, _so good_: Heavens! the plot thickens,
and the game is bold!"

Were you, oh unhappy Lady Cecilia! in entering into this ill-omened
union, to be more pitied or despised? 'T was, alas! most _deliberately_
done; in fact, we have already had laid before us ample means of
determining the question--but 't is a delicate and painful one, and had
perhaps be better left alone.

They spent about a fortnight at Poppleton Hall, and then went on to
Yatton; and if the reader be at all curious to know how MR. AND LADY
CECILIA TITMOUSE commenced their matrimonial career, I am able, in some
measure, to gratify him, by the sight of a letter addressed by the Lady
Cecilia, some time afterwards, to one of her confidential friends. 'T is
melancholy enough, with, in addition, all the feebleness and dulness
which might have been expected from one of her Ladyship's temperament
and capacity; yet, methinks, may it suggest topics of instructive

                                            "YATTON, _28th April 18--_.


     ... "Fate should have something pleasant in store for me, since it
     has made me most unhappy now, but it is some consolation that I
     took this step purely to please my papa, who seemed to think that
     it was a thing that _ought_ to be done: You know he always fretted
     himself greatly about the division of the family interests, and so
     on; and when he proposed to me this truly unhappy alliance, _I_
     supposed it was my duty to comply, as indeed he said it was. I am
     sure but for this I should never have dreamed of such a thing as
     doing what I did, for if, by the way, fate chose us to come
     together, it ought surely to have fitted us to each other; but
     really, dear Blanche, (_entre nous_) you cannot _think_ what a
     _creature it is_. He is always smoking cigars, &c., and he by that
     means not only carries the nasty odor of the smoke about him
     everywhere, but also in spite of all I can do, when we come
     together in the carriage (which is not often) and at meals, he
     communicates the odious smell to my clothes--and Annette wastes a
     fortune in eau-de-cologne to scatter over my dresses and her own
     too, and he has very nasty habits besides, namely, picking his
     teeth, (often at dinner,) eating with his knife, &c. &c., and he is
     continually running his fingers through his horrid hair, to curl
     it, and carries a comb with him, and several times has combed his
     hair in the carriage just before we got out at the door of the
     place we were to dine at, and he always takes too much wine, and
     comes up the very last to the drawing-room, and sometimes in _such
     a state_. I am resolved I will never come home with him from dinner
     again, even if I ever go out together with him. I do believe the
     wretch has been guilty of some impudence to Annette, for the girl
     always colors when I mention his name, and looks confused and
     angry, but of course I cannot ask her. And he is such a horrid
     _liar_ there is no believing a word he says, he is always saying
     that he might if he had chosen marry Lady This and Lady That, and
     says Miss Aubrey was dying to have him (I wish, dear B., she _had_,
     instead of myself, she would have been welcome for me, to return
     and become mistress of Yatton again)--by the way, it certainly is a
     truly delightful spot, quite old-fashioned and all that and
     delightful grounds about it, but it seems like a nunnery to me, I
     am so unhappy and no one seems anxious to come to see me, though
     there are the ----'s, and the ----'s, and ----'s within an hour or
     two's drive of us, but how can you wonder? for if you only saw the
     sort of people that come here, such horrid wretches, a Unitarian
     parson and his vulgar wife and daughter and a low apothecary and
     auctioneer and so on, which he says is necessary (forsooth) to keep
     up his interest in the borough. Then he goes on in such a shameful
     and unfeeling and disrespectful way before the vicar (Dr. Tatham, a
     very nice person, who I am sure, by his looks, _feels for me_) that
     Dr. T. will scarcely ever come near us under one pretence or
     another. I am sorry to tell you Mr. Titmouse has no more _sense of
     religion_ than a cat or a dog, and I understand he has left a great
     many of his election bills unpaid (so that he is very unpopular)
     and positively, dear Blanche! the diamond spray the creature bought
     me turns out to be only _paste_!! He never goes to church, and has
     got up one or two dog-fights in the village, and he is hated by the
     tenants, for he is always raising their rents. I forgot to mention
     by the way he had the monstrous assurance one morning to _open my
     letters_!--and said he had a right to do so, with his own wife, for
     we were one (I hate to write it) so I have had a letter-bag of my
     own which is always delivered into my own room. Oh Heavens! the
     idea of his succeeding to the barony! but to be sure you have no
     notion how hard he lives; (and _entre nous_ the other day the
     doctor was called in to him and had to put leeches on his head, and
     certainly (_entre nous, dearest_ B.,) I understand such things
     sometimes do often lead to very _sad results_, but however he
     certainly does seem better now.) My papa knows nothing of all this
     yet, but he soon must, and I am confident a _separation_ must
     ensue, or I shall die, or go mad. Oh how thankful I should be!...
     But I could fill two or three sheets more in this way, and yet I
     have not told you a hundredth part of his _gaucheries_, but really
     you must be quite sick of hearing of them. If he will but leave me
     here when he goes up to town, you will surely pay me your promised
     visit--and I will tell you many more miserable things. In the mean
     while, oh dearest B., how I envy you being single, and wish I were
     so again!--_Be sure_ you burn this when you have read it--and
     believe me, your unhappy,


     "P. S. Of course I shall not ask him for one of his ridiculous
     franks, I never do; and as your brother is not with you, you must
     not grumble at paying the postage of this long letter.


A dull and phlegmatic disposition, like that of Lady Cecilia, must have
been roused and stung indeed, before she could have attained to such
bitterness of expression as is occasionally to be met with in the above
communication. Though it shadows forth, with painful distinctness,
several of the more disadvantageous features of Mr. Titmouse's character
and conduct, there were far darker ones, with which its miserable writer
had not then become acquainted. I shall but hastily glance at one of
them; viz. that he was at that moment keeping a mistress in town, and
commencing the seduction of a farmer's daughter in the neighborhood of
Yatton! Execrable little miscreant!--why should I defile my paper by
further specifying his gross misdeeds, or dwelling upon their sickening
effects on the mind and feelings of the weak woman, who could suffer
herself to be betrayed into such a monstrous union?--But is she the only
one that has done so?

Whatever may be the accidental and ultimate advantages, in respect of
fortune or social station, expected to be realized by woman in forming a
union with one who would be otherwise regarded with indifference, or
dislike, or disgust, she may rely upon it that she is committing an act
of deliberate _wickedness_, which will be attended, probably, for the
rest of her life, with consequences of unutterable and inevitable
misery, which even the obtaining of her proposed objects will not
compensate, but only enhance. It is equally a principle of our law, and
of common sense, that people must be understood to have _contemplated_
the natural and necessary consequences of their own acts, even if
hastily--but by so much the more if deliberately done. When, therefore,
they come to experience those consequences, _let them not complain_. A
marriage of this description, is, so to speak, utter dislocation and
destruction to the delicate and beautiful fabric of a woman's character.
It perverts, it _deflects_ the noblest tendencies of her lovely nature;
it utterly degrades and corrupts her; she sinks irretrievably into an
inferior being: instead of her native simplicity and purity, are to be
seen thenceforth only heartlessness and hypocrisy. Her affections and
passions, denied their legitimate objects and outlets, according to
their original weakness or strength of development, either disappear and
wither--and she is no longer WOMAN--or impel her headlong into coarse
sensuality, perhaps at length open criminality; and then she is expelled
indignantly and forever from the community of her sex. 'T is then,
indeed, an angel turned into a FIEND!--Remember, remember, oh woman!
that it is not the mere ring, and the orange blossom, which constitute
the difference between VIRTUE--and VICE!----

Had Lady Cecilia been a woman of acute perceptions or lively
sensibilities, she must have fled from her sufferings--she must have
gone mad, or committed suicide. As it was, dull as was her temperament,
when the more odious points of Titmouse's character and habits were
forced upon her notice by the close and constant contiguity of daily
intercourse, the reflection that such must be the case _for the
remainder of their lives_, became hourly more intolerable, and roused
into existence feelings of active hatred and disgust; she became every
moment even more alive to the real horrors of her position. The slender
stay she had sought for in the reflection that she had incurred all by a
dutiful submission to her father's wishes, quickly gave way; _she knew
that it was false_! As for Titmouse, he had never cared one straw about
anything beyond becoming the husband of the future Baroness of
Drelincourt--and that on account not merely of the dignity and splendor
conferred upon him by such an alliance with the last remaining member of
the elder branch of his ancient family, but also because of the grave
and repeated assurances of Mr. Gammon, that it was in some mysterious
way essential to the tenure of his own position. Had, however, Lady
Cecilia, instead of being cold and inanimate, haughty even to repulsion
in her manner, and of person lean and uninviting--been of fascinating
manners, affectionate disposition, of brilliant accomplishments, and of
ripe loveliness of person, it would, I am persuaded, have made little or
no difference to Mr. Titmouse; since such a radiant being would, as it
were, stand always surrounded by the invisible but impassable barrier of
_refinement_--forever forbidding communion and sympathy. As for Lady
Cecilia, Titmouse could scarcely avoid perceiving how she despised him,
and shunned his company on every possible occasion. No person, from
merely seeing them, could have dreamed of their being husband and wife.
He made no secret at all (at least in his own peculiar visiting circles)
of his wishes that the earl's increasing age and infirmities might
quicken, and Lady Cecilia's apparently delicate health decline
apace--and thus accelerate the accession of Mr. Titmouse to the barony
of Drelincourt.

"Ha, ha!" would exclaim his choice boon companions, "won't it be
comical, Tit, to see you take your seat in the Upper House?"

"'Pon my soul, jolly, ah, ah!--Demme, I'll show the old stagers a funny
trick or two!"

"Capital!--ah, ah, ha!--Do the _donkey_? eh?--You'd make the
chancellor's wig jump off!"

"Ha, ha, ha!--I'll tickle 'em, or my name isn't Tittlebat Titmouse!"--By
all which was meant, that he purposed introducing into the House of
Lords that peculiar mode of debating which had earned him such quick
distinction in the House of Commons!

After they had spent about a month at Yatton, his urgent Parliamentary
duties required Mr. Titmouse to tear himself from that lovely
seclusion--that "bower of bliss"--and resume his arduous post in the
House. Though Lady Cecilia would have vastly preferred being left behind
at Yatton, decency seemed to require that the bride and bridegroom
should make their reappearance in the world jointly, and she was
therefore compelled to accompany him to town; and they were very soon
duly established in his new residence in Park Lane. It was spacious and
elegant--indeed it was furnished with great splendor, inasmuch as _carte
blanche_ had been given to a fashionable upholsterer. In a moment they
were both in the great whirling world of fashion. Lord Dreddlington gave
a series of dinner-parties on their account, as did several of their
distinguished kinsfolk and friends; and in due time their hospitalities
were returned by Mr. Titmouse. His first dinner-party went off with
great _éclat_, no fewer than four peers of the realm, with their ladies,
being among his guests. Mr. Titmouse led down to dinner the gigantic
Duchess of Tantallan, blazing in diamonds, his Grace the Duke bringing
up the rear with the Lady Cecilia--and the splendid affair was duly
announced, the ensuing morning, in the obsequious columns of the
_Aurora_. For some little time Mr. Titmouse occupied his novel and
dazzling position with an approach towards decorum and self-denial; but
as he became familiar with it, his old tastes revived, and Lady Cecilia
and her friends were gratified, for instance, while in the drawing-room
after dinner, by catching occasional sounds of Mr. Titmouse's celebrated
imitations of animals, which, once or twice, when considerably elevated,
he insisted upon giving on his re-entering the drawing-room! Indeed, he
spared no pains to acquire the power of pleasing society by the display
of rare accomplishments; for which purpose he took lessons every other
day in the _art diabolic_--_i. e._ in conjuring; in which he soon became
an expert proficient, and could play marvellous tricks upon cards and
with dice, eat pocket-handkerchiefs, cause wine-glasses visibly to sink
through solid tables, and perform sundry other astounding feats. Nor was
he long in collecting round him guests, who not only tolerated, but
professed infinite delight in, such entertainments--"fit audience,
_nor_ few"--consisting principally of those adventurous gentlemen who
have entered Parliament in a devout reliance on Providence to find them
dinners. 'T was only in such society as this that Titmouse could feel
the least sense of enjoyment, and from which Lady Cecilia altogether
absented herself, often without deigning the slightest reason, excuse,
or apology. In fact, the intemperate habits and irregular hours of
Titmouse, soon rendered it necessary that he and the Lady Cecilia should
occupy separate sleeping apartments; for either his club, the House, or
his other engagements, kept him out till a very late--or rather
early--hour every morning.

It was about half-past eleven o'clock one day towards the latter end of
June, that Mr. Titmouse, having finished breakfast, (which was surely
very early, since he had not gone to bed till four o'clock that
morning,) a meal to which he invariably sat down alone, often not
catching a glimpse of Lady Cecilia during the day, except on a chance
encounter in the hall, or on the stairs, or when they were forced to go
out to dinner together--had entered his library, to enjoy undisturbed
the luxury of his hookah. The apartment was spacious and handsome. All
the sides of it were occupied by very curious antique carved oak
bookcases, which had belonged to the former tasteful occupant of the
house, and from whom they had been purchased by Titmouse, who then
bethought himself of procuring books to fill them. For this purpose, it
luckily occurred to him, on seeing an advertisement of a library for
sale by auction one day, that it would be a good speculation to be
beforehand with the expected audience, and purchase the aforesaid
library in a lump by private contract. He did so--and at a remarkably
low price; giving directions that they should forthwith be carried to a
bookbinder, named by the obsequious auctioneer--with orders to bind
them all in elegant but as varied bindings as possible. Certainly the
works were of a somewhat miscellaneous character;--old Directories;
Poems by Young Ladies and Gentlemen; Ready-Reckoners; Doddridge's
Expositor; Hints on Etiquette; two hundred Minerva press novels;
triplicate copies of some twenty books on cookery; the art of war;
charades; Cudworth's Intellectual System; books of travels; Bibles,
dictionaries, prayer-books, plays; Treatises on Political Economy, and
Dancing; adventures of noted highwaymen; the classics: moral essays;
Enfield's Speaker; and Burn's Ecclesiastical Law. If these respectable
works had had the least sense of the distinction which had been so
unexpectedly bestowed upon them, they ought not to have murmured at
never afterwards receiving the slightest personal attention from their
spirited and gifted proprietor!--The room was lit by a large bow-window,
which, being partially open, admitted the pleasant breeze stirring
without; while the strong light was mitigated by the half-drawn blinds,
and the ample chintz window-draperies. On the mantelpiece stood one or
two small alabaster statues and vases, and a very splendid and
elaborately ornamented French timepiece. The only unpleasantness
perceptible, was the sort of disagreeable odor prevalent in rooms which,
as in the present instance, are devoted to smoking. To this apartment
had been also transferred many of the articles that I have described as
having been visible in his rooms at the Albany. Over the mantelpiece was
placed the picture of the boxers,--that of Mr. Titmouse being similarly
situated in the dining-room. On the present occasion, he wore a full
crimson dressing-gown, with yellow slippers; his shirt-collar was open,
and thrown down over his shoulders,--leaving exposed to view a quantity
of sand-colored hair under his throat. In fact, he looked the image of
some impudent scamp of a valet, who has, in his master's absence,
chosen to dress himself in that master's clothes, and affect his
luxurious airs. He lay on the sofa with his hookah in his left hand;
near him was the table, on which stood the _Morning Growl_, and some
eight or ten letters, only one or two of which had as yet been opened.
He had just leaned back his head, and with an air of tranquil enjoyment
very slowly expelled a mouthful of smoke, when a servant submissively
entered, and announced the arrival of a visitor--Mr. Gammon.

"How d' ye do, Gammon!--early, eh?" commenced Titmouse, without
stirring, and with infinite composure and nonchalance. Mr. Gammon made
the usual reply, and presently sat down in the chair placed for him by
the servant, nearly opposite to Mr. Titmouse--who, had he been
accustomed to observation, or capable of it, might have detected
something rather unusual in the flushed face, the anxious and restless
eye, and the _forced_ manner of his visitor.

"Likely to be a devilish hot day--'pon my soul!".--exclaimed Titmouse,
after again emptying his mouth--adding in a tolerably conceited
manner--"By the way--here's a letter from Snap--just opened it!--Rather
cool, after what's passed--eh? Dem him, asks me for a place under
government;--Ah--a--what's he fit for?"

"For what he _is_, and nothing else," replied Gammon, with a bitter
smile, glancing over poor Snap's letter, which Titmouse handed to him,
though marked "strictly confidential"--Gammon being undoubtedly the very
last man upon earth whom Snap would have wished to know of his

"Were you at the House last night?" inquired Gammon--"They sat very
late! Lord Bulfinch made, I think, a very powerful speech"----

"Yes--devilish good--rather long though; and too many of those cursed
_figures_ that--by Jove--no one cares about!" replied Titmouse,

He had by this time turned himself towards Mr. Gammon,--his right arm
and leg hanging carelessly over the further side of the sofa.

"Lady Cecilia is well, I hope?"

"Can't say--not seen her this week," drawled Titmouse. "I'll ring and
ask if you wish," he added, with an affected smile.

"Ah, my dear Titmouse," quoth Gammon, blandly, and with a smile of
delicious flattery, "I hope you don't give her Ladyship just cause for
_jealousy_?--eh? You must not avail yourself of your--your acknowledged
power over the sex--ahem!"

Mr. Titmouse, half closing his eyes, silently expelled a mouthful of
smoke, while an ineffable smile stole over his features.

"You must not neglect her Ladyship, Titmouse," quoth Gammon, gently
shaking his head, and with an anxiously deferential air.

"'Pon my life, I don't neglect her!--Public life, you know--eh?" replied
Titmouse, slowly, with his eyes closed, and speaking with the air of one
suffering from _ennui_. Here a pause of some moments ensued.

"Can we have about half an hour to ourselves, uninterruptedly?" at
length inquired Mr. Gammon.

"Ah--a--why--my singing-master is coming here a little after twelve,"
quoth Titmouse, turning himself round, so as to be able to look at the
clock on the mantelpiece.

"Oh, probably less than that period will suffice, if we shall not be
interrupted--may I ring the bell, and will you give orders to that
effect?" With this, Gammon rang the bell; and on the servant's

"I say, sir--do you hear, demme?" said Titmouse, "not at home--till
this gentleman's gone." The man bowed, and withdrew; and on his closing
the door, Gammon softly stepped after him and bolted it; by which time
Titmouse, somewhat startled, withdrew his hookah, for an instant, from
his mouth, and gazed rather anxiously at Gammon, about whose appearance
he then, for the first time, fancied he saw something unusual.

"Aha!--My stars, Mr. Gammon, we're going to be _devilish_ secret--aren't
we!" exclaimed Titmouse, with a faint smile, having watched Mr. Gammon's
movement with great surprise; and he began to smoke rather more
energetically than before, with his eye fixed on the grave countenance
of Mr. Gammon.

"My dear Titmouse," commenced his visitor, drawing his chair near to
him, and speaking in a very earnest but kindly manner, "does it never
astonish you, when you reflect on the stroke of fortune which has
elevated you to your present point of splendor and distinction?"

"Most amazing!--uncommon!" replied Titmouse, apprehensively.

"It _is_!--marvellous! unprecedented! You are the envy of hundreds upon
hundreds of thousands! Such an affair as yours does not happen above
once or twice in a couple of centuries--if so often! You cannot imagine
the feelings of delight with which _I_ regard all this--this brilliant
result of my long labors, and untiring devotion to your service."--He

"Oh, 'pon my life, yes; it's all very true," replied Titmouse, with a
little trepidation, replenishing the bowl of his hookah with tobacco.

"May I venture to hope, my dear Titmouse, that I have established my
claim to be considered, in some measure, as the sole architect of your
extraordinary fortunes--your earliest--your most constant friend?"

"You see, as I've often said, Mr. Gammon--I'm most uncommon obliged to
you for all favors--so help me----! and no mistake," said Titmouse,
exhibiting a countenance of increasing seriousness; and he rose from his
recumbent posture, and, still smoking, sat with his face turned full
towards Mr. Gammon, who resumed--

"As I am not in the habit, my dear Titmouse, of beating about the bush,
let me express a hope that you consider the services I have rendered you
not unworthy of requital"----

"Oh yes--to be sure--certainly," quoth Titmouse, slightly changing
color--"anything, by Jove, that's in my power--but it is most particular
unfortunate that--ahem!--so deuced hard up just now--but--ah, 'pon my
soul, I'll speak to Lord Bulfinch, or some of those people, and get you
something--though I sha'n't do anything of the kind for _Snap_--dem him!
You've no idea," continued Titmouse, anxiously, "how devilish thick Lord
Bulfinch and I are--he shakes hands with me when we meet alone in the
lobby--he does, 'pon my life."

"I am very much obliged, my dear Titmouse, for your kind offer--but I
have a _little_ political influence myself, when I think fit to exert
it," replied Gammon, gravely.

"Well, then," interrupted Titmouse, eagerly--"as for money, if that's
what--by jingo! but if _you_ don't know how _precious_ hard up one is
just now"--

"My dear sir," replied Gammon, his countenance sensibly darkening as he
went on, "the subject on which we are now engaged is one of
inexpressible interest and importance, in my opinion, to each of us; and
let us discuss it calmly. I am prepared to make a communication to you
immediately, which you will never forget to the day of your death. Are
you prepared to receive it?"

"Oh yes!--Never so wide awake in my life! O Lord! fire away!"--replied
Titmouse; and taking the tip of his hookah from his lips, and holding
it in the fingers of his left hand, he leaned forward, staring
open-mouthed at Gammon.

"Well, my dear Titmouse, then I will proceed. I will not enjoin you to
secrecy;--and that not merely because I have full confidence in your
honor--but because you cannot disclose it to any mortal man but at the
peril of immediate and utter ruin."

"'Pon my soul, most amazing! Demme, Mr. Gammon, you frighten me out of
my wits!" said Titmouse, turning paler and paler, as his recollection
became more and more distinct of certain mysterious hints of Mr.
Gammon's, many months before, at Yatton, as to his power over Titmouse.

"Consider for a moment. You are now a member of Parliament; the
unquestioned owner of a fine estate; the husband of a lady of very high
rank--the last direct representative of one of the proudest and most
ancient of the noble families of Great Britain; you yourself are next
but one in succession to almost the oldest barony in the kingdom; in
fact, in all human probability, you are the next LORD DRELINCOURT; and
all this through ME." He paused.

"Well--excuse me, Mr. Gammon--but I hear;--though--ahem! you're (meaning
no offence)--I can't for the life and soul of me tell what the devil it
is you're driving at"--said Titmouse, twisting his finger into his hair,
and gazing at Gammon with intense anxiety. For some moments Mr. Gammon
remained looking very solemnly and in silence at Titmouse; and then

"Yet you are _really_ no more entitled to _be_ what you seem--what you
are thought--or to possess what you at present possess--than--the little
wretch that last swept your chimneys here!"

The hookah dropped out of Titmouse's hand upon the floor, and he made
no effort to pick it up, but sat staring at Gammon, with cheeks almost
as white as his shirt-collar, and in blank dismay.

"I perceive you are agitated, Mr. Titmouse," said Gammon, kindly.

"By Jove--I should think so!" replied Titmouse, faintly; but he tried to
assume an incredulous smile--in vain, however; and to such a pitch had
his agitation reached, that he rose, opened a cabinet near him, and
taking out from it a brandy-flask and a wine-glass, poured it out full,
and drank it off. "You a'n't _joking_, Mr. Gammon, eh?" Again he
attempted a sickly smile.

"God forbid, Mr. Titmouse!"

"Well--but," faltered Titmouse, "_why_ a'n't I entitled to it all?
Hasn't the law given it to me? And can't the law do as it likes?"

"No one on earth knows the _what_ and the _why_ of this matter but
myself; and, if you choose, no one ever shall; nay, I will take care, if
you come this morning to my terms, to deprive even myself of all means
of proving what I can _now_ prove, at any moment I choose"----

"Lord, Mr. Gammon!" ejaculated Titmouse, passing his hand hastily over
his damp forehead--his agitation visibly increasing. "What's to be the
figure?" he faltered presently, and looked as if he dreaded to hear the

"If you mean, what are my _terms_--I will at once tell you:--they are
terms on which I shall peremptorily insist; they have been long fixed in
my own mind; I am quite inflexible; so help me Heaven, I will not vary
from them a hair's breadth! I require first, to sit in Parliament for
Yatton at the next election; and afterwards alternately with yourself;
and secondly, that you immediately grant me an annuity for my life of
two thousand pounds a-year on your"----

Titmouse sprang from the sofa, dashing his fist on the table, and
uttering a frightful imprecation. He stood for a moment, and then threw
himself desperately at full length on the sofa, muttering the same
execration which had first issued from his lips. Gammon moved not a
muscle, but fixed a steadfast eye on Titmouse; the two might have been
compared to the affrighted rabbit, and the deadly boa-constrictor.

"It's all a swindle!--a d----d swindle!" at length he exclaimed,
starting up into a sitting posture, and almost grinning defiance at

"You're a swindler!"--he exclaimed vehemently.

"Possibly--but _you_, sir, are a BASTARD," replied Gammon, calmly.
Titmouse looked the picture of horror, and trembled in every limb.

"It's a lie!--It's all a lie!"--he gasped.

"Sir, you are a _bastard_"--repeated Gammon, bitterly, and extending his
forefinger threateningly towards Titmouse. Then he added with sudden
vehemence--"Wretched miscreant--do you presume to tell me I lie? You
base-born cur!"--a lightning glance shot from his eye; but he restrained
himself. Titmouse sat at length as if petrified, while Gammon, in a low
tone, and with fearful bitterness of manner, proceeded--"_You_ the owner
of Yatton? _You_ the next Lord Drelincourt? No more than the helper in
your stables! One breath of mine blights you forever--as an impostor--a
mere audacious swindler--to be spit upon! to be kicked out of
society--perhaps to be transported for life. Gracious Heavens! what will
the Earl of Dreddlington say when he hears that his sole daughter and
heiress is married to a----It will kill _him_, or he will kill _you_!"

"Two can play at that," whispered Titmouse, faintly--indeed almost
inarticulately. There was nearly a minute's pause.

"No--but _is_ it all true?--honor!" inquired Titmouse, in a very subdued

"As God is my witness!" replied Gammon.

"Well," exclaimed Titmouse, after a prodigious sigh, "then at any rate,
you're in for it with me; you said just now you'd done it all. Aha! I
recollect, Mr. Gammon! I should no more have thought of it
_myself_--Lord! than--what d'ye say to _that_, Mr. Gammon?"

"Alas, sir! it will not avail you," replied Gammon, with a fearful
smile; "for I never made the dreadful discovery of your illegitimacy
till it was too late--till at least two months after I had put you (whom
I believed the true heir) into possession of Yatton!"

"Ah--I don't know--but--why didn't you tell Lord Dreddlington? Why did
you let me marry Lady Cicely? By Jove, but it's _you_ he'll kill," quoth
Titmouse, eagerly.

"Yes!--Alas! I ought to have done so," replied Mr. Gammon, with a
profound sigh--adding, abstractedly, "It may not be too late to make his
Lordship _some_ amends. I may save his _title_ from degradation. Lord

"O Lord!" ejaculated Titmouse, involuntarily, and almost unconsciously,
staring stupidly at Gammon, who continued with a renewed sigh--"Yes, I
_ought_ to have told his Lordship--but I own--I was led away by feelings
of pity--of affection for YOU--and, alas! is this the return?" He spoke
this with a look and in a tone of sorrowful reproach.

"Well, you shouldn't have come down on one so suddenly--all at once--how
can a man--eh? Such _horrid_ news!"

"It has cost me, sir, infinitely greater pain to tell you, than it has
cost you to hear it!"

"By the living Jove!" exclaimed Titmouse, starting up with a sort of
recklessness, and pouring out and tossing off a second glassful of
brandy--"it _can't_ be true--it's all a dream! I--I a'n't--I _can't_ be
a bas---- perhaps _you're_ all this while the true heir, Mr. Gammon?"
he added briskly, and snapped his fingers at his companion.

"No, sir, I am not," replied Gammon, calmly; "but let me tell you, _I
know where he is to be found_, Mr. Titmouse! Do you commission me to go
in search of him?" he inquired, suddenly fixing his bright penetrating
eye upon Titmouse, who instantly stammered out--"O Lord! By Jove! no,

Gammon could scarcely suppress a bitter smile, so ludicrous were the
look and tone of Titmouse.

"You shouldn't have let me spend such a lot of money, if it wasn't mine
all the while"----

"The estate was, in a manner, Mr. Titmouse, in my _gift_; and in
pitching upon you, sir, out of several, I had imagined that I had chosen
a gentleman--a man grateful and honorable"----

"'Pon my solemn soul, so I _am_!" interrupted Titmouse, eagerly.

"I had but to scrawl a line or two with my pen, the very first day that
I saw you at the shop of Mr. Tag-rag--and there, sir--or in some similar
hole--you would have been at this moment!" replied Gammon, with a sudden
sternness which quite overawed Titmouse; totally losing sight, however,
of the very different account of the matter which he had given Titmouse
five minutes before; but the very best and most experienced liars have
short memories. Here it was, however, _Liar_ v. _Fool_; and the latter
did not perceive the slip made by his adversary--who, however, suddenly
became aware of his little inconsistency, and colored.

"You'll excuse me, sir," quoth Titmouse, presently; and with an air
which was becoming momentarily more timid and doubtful--"but _will_ you,
if all this isn't a bottle of smoke, tell me how you can _prove_ it all?
Because, you know, it isn't only _saying_ the thing that will do--you
know, Mr. Gammon?"

"Certainly--certainly! You are quite right, Mr. Titmouse! Nothing can be
more reasonable! Your curiosity shall be gratified. Aware that your
natural acuteness, my dear sir, would in all probability prompt you to
make the very observation you have now made, I have provided myself with
the two principal documents, and you shall see them; though I doubt
whether you will at first sight understand them, or appreciate their
importance; but, if you desire it, I will fully explain them to you."

With this he produced his pocket-book, and took out carefully two small
pieces of paper, folded up, which, after a very brief preliminary
explanation which made Titmouse tremble from head to foot, and no longer
disbelieve the representations of Gammon, he unfolded and read--Titmouse
looking affrightedly over his shoulder.

"Do I know the hand-writing?" he inquired faintly.

"Probably not," replied Gammon.

"It's a devilish queer sort of writing, and precious little of it"----

"It _is_, and when you consider"----

"Are both in the same handwriting?" inquired Titmouse, taking them into
his tremulous hand; while Gammon observed that his countenance indicated
the despair which had taken possession of him.

"That cursed curtain is so much in the light," said Titmouse, looking
up; and going towards it, as if to draw it aside, he started suddenly
away from Gammon, and with frenzied gestures tore the little papers to
pieces with inconceivable rapidity, and flung them out of the window,
where a brisk breeze instantly took them up, and scattered them
abroad--the glistening fragments--never to be again reunited.

Having performed this astounding feat, he instantly turned round, and
leaning his back against the window, gazed at Gammon with a desperate
air of mingled apprehension and triumph, but spoke not a word. Nor did
Gammon; but--oh the dreadful look with which he regarded Titmouse while
slowly approaching towards him! who, stepping aside, as Gammon advanced,
reached the cabinet, and with desperate rapidity threw open the door,
and, as if the devil had been waiting his bidding, in a moment turned
round upon Gammon with a pistol.

"So help me God, I'll fire!" gasped Titmouse, cocking and presenting
it--"I will--I WILL--_One!_--_Two!_--For God's sake! be off!--It's
loaded, and no mistake!--If I say _Th_--I'll fire, if I'm hanged for

"Booby! You may put your pistol down, sir!" said Gammon, calmly and
resolutely, a contemptuous smile passing over his whitened features.

"Demme!--distance!--Keep your distance!" cried Titmouse, his voice
quivering with agitation.

"Ridiculous simpleton!--You poor rogue!" said Gammon, laughingly. There
was, however, _murder_ in his smile; and Titmouse instinctively
perceived it. He kept his deadly weapon pointed full at Gammon's breast,
but his hand trembled violently. 'T was wonderful that some chance
motion of the shaking finger of Titmouse, did not send a bullet through
Mr. Gammon's heart.

He stood, for a minute or two, gazing steadfastly, and without moving,
at Titmouse; and then, shrugging his shoulders, with a bitter smile
returned to his chair, and resumed his seat. Titmouse, however, refused
to follow his example.

"So help me God, sir! I will not hurt a hair of your head," said
Gammon, earnestly. Still Titmouse remained at the window, pistol in
hand. "Why should I hurt you? What have you _now_ to fear, you little
idiot?" inquired Gammon, impatiently. "Do you, then, really think you
have injured me? Do you positively think me so great a fool, my friend,
as really to have trusted you with the precious originals, of which
those were only the copies?--Copies which I can replace in a minute or
two's time! The originals, believe me, are far away, and safe enough
under lock and key!"

"I--I--I don't believe you," gasped Titmouse, dropping the hand that
held the pistol, and speaking in a truly dismal tone.

"That does not signify, my excellent little rogue," said Gammon, with an
infernal smile, "if the _fact_ be so. That you are a fool, you must by
this time even yourself begin to suspect; and you surely _can't_ doubt
that you are something like an arrant villain after what has just taken
place? Eh? 'T was a bright idea truly--well conceived and boldly
executed. I give you all the credit for it; and it is only your
misfortune that it was not successful. So let us now return to business.
Uncock your pistol--replace it in your cabinet, and resume your seat; or
in one minute's time I leave you, and go direct to Lord Dreddlington;
and if so, you had better use that pistol in blowing out your _own_
brains--if you have any."

Titmouse, after a moment or two's pause of irresolution, passively
obeyed--very nearly on the point of crying aloud with disappointment and
impotent rage; and he and Gammon were presently again sitting opposite
to one another.

Gammon was cold and collected--yet must it not have cost him a
prodigious effort? Though he had told Titmouse that they were _copies_
only which he had destroyed, they were, nevertheless, the ORIGINALS,
which, with such an incredible indiscretion, he had trusted into the
hands of Titmouse; they were the ORIGINALS which Titmouse had just
scattered to the winds; and who, in so doing, had suddenly--but
unknowingly--broken to pieces the wand of the enchanter who had long
exercised over him so mysterious and despotic an authority!--How comes
it, that we not unfrequently find men of the profoundest craft, just at
the very crisis of their fortunes, thus unexpectedly, irretrievably, and
incredibly committing themselves? In the present instance, the only
satisfactory way of accounting for Mr. Gammon's indiscretion, would seem
to be by referring it to a sense of security engendered by his utter
contempt for Titmouse.

"Are you _now_ satisfied, Mr. Titmouse, that you are completely at my
mercy, and at the same time totally undeserving of it?" said Gammon,
speaking in a low and earnest tone, and with much of his former kindness
of manner. To an observant eye, however, what was at that moment the
real expression in that of Gammon? Soothing and gentle as was his voice,
he felt as if he could instantly have destroyed the audacious little
miscreant before him. But he proceeded with wonderful self-command--"Do
not, my dear Titmouse, madly make me your enemy--your enemy for
life--but rather your friend--your watchful and powerful friend and
protector, whose every interest is identified with your own. Remember
all that I have done and sacrificed for you--how I have racked my brain
for you day and night--always relying upon your ultimate gratitude. Oh,
the endless scheming I have had to practise, to conceal your fatal
secret--and of which you shall ere long know more! During these last two
years have I not ruinously neglected my own interests, to look after

Gammon paused, and abruptly added--"I have but to lift my finger, and
this splendid dressing-gown of yours, my poor Titmouse, is exchanged
for a prison-jacket"----

"Oh Lord! oh Lord! oh Lord!" suddenly exclaimed Titmouse, with a
shudder--"I wish I were dead and forgotten! oh Lord! what shall I do?
'Pon my _soul_"--he struck his forehead with some violence--"I'm going

"Consider, Mr. Titmouse, calmly, how reasonable and moderate is my
offer"--proceeded Gammon; who now and then, however, experienced changes
of color, on the sudden recurrence of a sense of his last misfortune.

"Here's Lady Cicely to have £3,000 a-year," passionately interposed

"Not till after your death, my dear sir"----

"Then she shall have it directly; for curse me if I don't kill

"Then she would never have a farthing--for I should instantly produce
the real heir"----

"Yah!" exclaimed Titmouse, uttering a sound like the sharp, furious bark
of a cur, foiled at all points. He threw himself on the sofa, and folded
his arms on his breast, compressing them, as it were, with convulsive

"Do not excite yourself, Mr. Titmouse--you are still one of the most
fortunate men upon earth, to have fallen into hands like mine, I can
assure you! You will still enjoy a truly splendid income--little short
of nine thousand a-year--for I will undertake to raise the Yatton
rental, within a few short months, to twelve or thirteen thousand
a-year, as I have often told you--I have explained to you over and over
again, how absurdly under their value they were let in the time of"----

"And you've perhaps forgotten that I've borrowed nearly fifty thousand
pounds--that costs nothing, I suppose!"

"Well, certainly, you must be a little careful for a year or two, that's

"Demme, sir!--I must give up my _yacht_!" exclaimed Titmouse,
desperately, snapping his thumb and finger vehemently at Gammon.

"Yes--or Yatton," replied Gammon, sternly. "After all--what more shall I
be than a sort of steward of yours?"

"I don't want one," interrupted Titmouse; and, starting from the sofa,
walked to the window, where he stood with his back turned towards
Gammon, and crying! Gammon eyed him for several minutes in silence; and
then slowly approaching him, tapped him briskly on the shoulder.
Titmouse started. "Come, sir--you have now, I hope, relieved your small
feelings, and must attend to me--and be prompt, too, sir! The time for
trifling, and playing the baby, or the girl, is gone. Hark you,
sir!--yield me my terms, or this very day I spring a mine under your
feet, you little villain! that shall blow you into ten thousand atoms,
and scatter them wider than ever you scattered just now those bits of
worthless paper! Do you hear that?" As he said this, he took hold of the
collar of Titmouse's dressing-gown, which Titmouse felt to be grasped by
a hand, tightening momentarily. Titmouse made no reply; but gazed at
Gammon with a countenance full of distress and terror.

"Pause," continued Gammon, in a low vehement tone and manner, "and you
are lost--stripped of this gaudy dress--turned out of this splendid
house into the streets, or a prison!--If I quit this room--and I will
not wait much longer--without your plain and written consent to my
terms, I shall go direct to my Lord Dreddlington, and tell him the
obscure and base-born impostor that has crept"----

"Oh, Mr. Gammon--Mr. Gammon! have mercy on me!" exclaimed Titmouse,
shaking like an aspen-leaf--at length realizing the terrible extent of
danger impending over him.

"Have mercy on yourself!" rejoined Gammon, sternly.

"I will!--I'll do all you ask--I will, so help me----!"

"I'm glad to hear it!" said Gammon, relaxing his hold of Titmouse; and,
in a voice of returning kindness, adding--"Oh, Titmouse, Titmouse! how
fearful would be the scene--when your noble father-in-law--alas! you
must have quitted the country! His Lordship would have instantly
divorced you from the Lady Cecilia!"

"You can't think how I love Lady Cicely!" exclaimed Titmouse, in a
broken voice.

"Ay--but would she love _you_, if she knew who and what you were?"

"Oh Lord! oh Lord! I love Lady Cicely! I love Lady Cicely!"

"Then get pen, ink, and paper, if you would not lose her forever!"

"Here they are, Mr. Gammon!" exclaimed Titmouse, hastily stepping to his
desk which lay on the table; and with tremulous eagerness he got out a
quire of writing-paper and took a pen. "Suppose _you_ write, Mr.
Gammon," said he, suddenly--"my hand trembles so! Lord! I feel so sick,
I'll sign anything you like!"

"Perhaps it would be better," replied Gammon, sitting down, and dipping
his pen into the inkstand; "it may save time." He commenced writing;
and, as he went on, said at intervals--"Yes, Titmouse! Thank God, all is
now over! It shall no longer be in Lord Dreddlington's power--no, nor
any one's--to beggar you--to transport you--to take your noble wife from

"Oh, no, no! You know Lady Cicely's taken me for better for worse, for
richer for poorer!" interrupted Titmouse, in a sort of agony of

"Ah, Titmouse! But she did not know, when she said that, that she was
speaking to a"----

"What! wouldn't it have held good?" exclaimed Titmouse, perfectly

"We need not speculate on a case that cannot arise, my dear Titmouse,"
replied Gammon, eying him steadfastly, and then resuming his
writing.--"This paper becomes, as they say at sea, your
sheet-anchor!--Here you shall remain--the owner of Yatton--of this
splendid house--husband of Lady Cecilia--a member of Parliament--and in
due time, as 'my Lord Drelincourt,' take your place permanently in the
Upper House of Parliament, among the hereditary legislators of your
country. Now, Mr. Titmouse, sign your name, and there's an end forever
of all your unhappiness!"

Titmouse eagerly took the pen, and, with a very trembling hand affixed
his signature to what Gammon had written.

"You'll sign it too, eh?" he inquired timidly.

"Certainly, my dear Titmouse."--Gammon affixed his signature, after a
moment's consideration.--"Now we are both bound--we are friends for
life! Let us shake hands, my dear, dear Titmouse, to bind the bargain!"

They did so, Gammon cordially taking into his hands those of Titmouse,
who, in his anxiety and excitement, never once thought of asking Mr.
Gammon to allow him to read over what had been just signed.

"Oh Lord!" he exclaimed, heaving a very deep sigh, "It seems as if we'd
been only in a dream! I begin to feel _something like_ again!--it's
really all right?"

"On my sacred word of honor," replied Gammon, laying his hand on his
heart, "provided you perform the engagement into which you have this day

"Never fear! honor bright!" said Titmouse, placing _his_ on his heart,
with as solemn a look as he could assume.

Mr. Gammon, having folded up the paper, put it into his pocket-book.

"I was a trifle too deep for you, Titmouse, eh?" said he,
good-humoredly. "How could you suppose me green enough to bring you the
_real_ documents?" he added with perfect command of voice and feature.

"Where are they?" inquired Titmouse, timidly.

"At a banker's, in a double-iron strong box, with three different

"Lord!--But, _in course_, you'll put them into the fire when I've
performed my agreement, eh?"

Gammon looked at him for a moment, doubtful what answer to make to this
unexpected question.

"My dear Titmouse," said he at length, "I will be candid--I must
preserve them--but no human eye shall ever see them except my own."

"My stars!--Excuse me"--stammered Titmouse, uneasily.

"Never fear _my_ honor, Titmouse! Have you ever had reason to do so?"

"No--never! It's quite true! And why don't you trust _me_?"

"Have you forgotten!--_Did_ I not trust you--_as you supposed_"--quickly
subjoined Gammon, positively on the point of again committing
himself--"and when you fancied you really had in your power the precious
original documents?"

"Oh! well"--said Titmouse, his face flushing all over--"but that's all
past and gone."

"You _must_ rely on my honor--and I'll tell you why. What would be
easier than for me to pretend to you that the papers which you might see
me burn, were really the originals--and yet be no such thing?"

"In course--yes; I see!" replied Titmouse--who, however, had really not
comprehended the case which Gammon had put to him. "Well--but--I
say--excuse me, Mr. Gammon"--said Titmouse, hesitatingly returning, as
Gammon imagined, to the charge--"but--you said something about the
_real_ heir."

"Certainly. There _is_ such a person, I assure you!"

"Well--but since you and I, you know, have made it up, and are friends
for life--eh? What's to be done with the fellow? (betwixt ourselves!)"

"That is at present no concern--nay, it never will be any concern of
yours or mine. Surely it is enough for you, that you are enjoying the
rank and fortune belonging to some one else? Good gracious! I can't help
reminding you--fancy the natural son of a cobbler--figuring away as the
Right Honorable Lord Drelincourt--while all the while, the real Lord
Drelincourt is--nay, at this moment, pining, poor soul! in poverty and

"Well--I dare say he's used to it, so it can't hurt him much! But I've
been thinking, Mr. Gammon, couldn't we get him--pressed? or enlisted
into the army?--He's a deuced deal better out of the way, you know, for
both of us!"

"Sir!" interrupted Gammon, speaking very seriously, and even with a
melancholy and apprehensive air--"leave the future to _me_. I have made
all requisite arrangements, and am myself implicated already to a
fearful extent on your behalf. The only person on earth, besides myself,
who can disturb my arrangements, is yourself."

Here a gentle tapping was heard at the door.

"Be off!" shouted Titmouse, with angry impatience; but Mr. Gammon, who
was anxious himself to be gone, stepped to the door, and opening it, a
servant entered--a tall graceful footman, with powdered hair,
shoulder-knot, and blue and yellow livery--and who obsequiously
intimated to Mr. Titmouse, that Signor Sol-fa had been in attendance for
at least half-an-hour.

"A--a--I don't sing to-day--let him come to-morrow," said Titmouse, with
attempted ease, and the servant withdrew.

"Farewell, Mr. Titmouse--I have a most important engagement awaiting me
at the office--so I must take my leave. Will you execute the necessary
documents so soon as they are ready? I will cause them to be prepared

"Oh, yes!"--and he added in a lower tone--"take care, Mr. Gammon, that
no one knows _why_!--eh, you know?"

"Leave that to _me_!--Good-morning, Mr. Titmouse," replied Gammon,
buttoning his surtout, and taking up his gloves and hat; and having
shaken Titmouse by the hand, he was the next moment in the street--where
he heaved a prodigious sigh--which, however, only momentarily relieved
his pent-up bosom from the long-suppressed rage, the mortification, the
wounded pride, and the wild apprehension with which it was nearly
bursting. Why, what a sudden and dismaying disaster had befallen him!
And what but his own inconceivable folly had occasioned it? His own
puppet had beaten him; had laid him prostrate; 't was as though Prospero
had permitted Caliban to wheedle him out of his wand!--What could Gammon
possibly have been thinking about, when he trusted the originals into
the hands of Titmouse? As Gammon recognized no overruling Providence, he
was completely at a loss to account for an act of such surpassing
thoughtlessness and weakness as he had committed--at the mere
recollection of which, as he walked along he ground his teeth together
with the vehemence of his emotions. After a while, he reflected that
regrets were idle--the future, not the past, was to be considered; and
how he had to deal with the new state of things which had so suddenly
been brought about. All he had thenceforth to trust to, was his mastery
over the fears of a fool. But was he _really_, on consideration, in a
worse position than before? Had Titmouse turned restive at any time
while Gammon possessed the documents in question, could Gammon have had
more effectual control over him than he still had, while he had
succeeded in persuading Titmouse that such documents were still in
existence? Could the legality of the transaction which Gammon sought to
effect, be upheld one whit the more in the one case than in the other,
if Titmouse took it into his head resolutely to resist? Again, could a
transaction of such magnitude, could so serious a diminution of
Titmouse's income, remain long concealed from his father-in-law, Lord
Dreddlington, who, Gammon knew, was every now and then indicating much
anxiety on the subject of his son-in-law's finances? Was it possible to
suppose the earl disposed to acquiesce, in any event, in such an
arrangement? Suppose again Titmouse, in some moment of caprice, or under
the influence of wine, should disclose to the earl the charge on the
estate given to Gammon; and that, either sinking, or revealing, the true
ground on which Gammon rested a claim of such magnitude? Gracious
Heavens! thought Gammon--fancy the earl really made acquainted with the
true state of the case! What effect would so terrible a disclosure
produce upon him?

Here a bold stroke occurred to Mr. Gammon: what if he were himself, as
it were, to take the bull by the horns--to be beforehand with Titmouse,
and apprise the earl of the frightful calamity which had befallen him
and his daughter? Gammon's whole frame vibrated with the bare imagining
of the scene which would probably ensue. But what would be the practical
use to be made of it? The first shock over, if, indeed, the old man
survived it--would not the possession of such a secret give Gammon a
complete hold upon the earl, and render him, in effect, obedient to his


The object which Gammon had originally proposed to himself, and
unwaveringly fixed his eye upon amid all the mazy tortuosities of his
course, since taking up the cause of Tittlebat Titmouse, was his own
permanent establishment in the upper sphere of society; conscious that,
above all, could he but once emerge into political life, his energies
would insure him speedy distinction. With an independent income of
£2,000 a-year, he felt that he should be standing on sure ground. But
even above and beyond this, there was one dazzling object of his hopes
and wishes, which, unattained, would, on several accounts, render all
others comparatively valueless--a union with Miss Aubrey. His heart
fluttered within him at the bare notion of such an event. What effect
would be produced upon that beautiful, that pure, high-minded, but
haughty creature--for haughty to _him_ had Kate Aubrey ever
appeared--by a knowledge that he, Gammon, possessed the means--Bah!
accursed Titmouse!--thought Gammon, his cheek suddenly blanching
as he recollected that through him _those means_ no longer
existed.--Stay!--Unless, indeed--...--which would, however, be all but
impossible--perilous in the extreme! Absorbed with these reflections, he
started on being accosted by the footman of the Earl of Dreddlington;
who, observing Gammon, had ordered his carriage to draw up, to enable
his Lordship to speak to him. It was the end of Oxford Street nearest to
the City.

"Sir--Mr. Gammon--good-day, sir!"--commenced the earl, with a slight
appearance of disappointment, and even displeasure, "pray, has anything
unfortunate happened"----

"Unfortunate! I beg your Lordship's pardon"----interrupted Gammon,
coloring visibly, and gazing with surprise at the earl.

"You do not _generally_, Mr. Gammon, forget your appointments. The
marquis, I, and the gentlemen of the Direction, have been waiting for
you in vain at the office for a whole hour."

"Good Heavens! my Lord--I am confounded!" said Gammon, suddenly
recollecting the engagement he had made with the earl: "I have forgotten
everything in a sudden fit of indisposition, with which I have been
seized at the house of a client at Bayswater. I can but apologize, my

"Sir, say no more; your looks are more than sufficient; and I beg that
you will do me the honor to accept a seat in my carriage, and tell me
whither you will be driven. I'm at your service, Mr. Gammon, for at
least an hour; longer than that I cannot say, as I have to be at the
House; you remember our two bills have to be forwarded a stage"----

Since his Lordship was as peremptory as politeness would permit him to
Offices, in Lothbury, in the hopes of finding yet some of the gentlemen
whom he had so sadly disappointed; and thither, having turned his
horses' heads, drove the coachman.

"Sir," said the earl, after much inquiry into the nature of Gammon's
recent indisposition, "by the way, what can be the meaning of my Lord
Tadpole's opposition to the second reading of our bill, No. 2?"

"We offered his Lordship no shares, my Lord--that is the secret. I saw
him a few days ago, and he sounded me upon the subject; but--I'm sure
your Lordship will understand--in a company such as ours, my Lord"----

"Sir, I quite comprehend you, and I applaud your vigilant
discrimination. Sir, in affairs of this description, in order to
_secure_ the confidence of the public, it is a matter of the last
importance that none but men of the highest--by the way, Mr. Gammon, how
are the GOLDEN EGG shares? Would you advise me to sell"----

"Hold, my Lord, a little longer. We are going, in a few days' time, to
publish some important information concerning the prospects of the
undertaking, of the most brilliant character, and which cannot fail to
raise the value of the shares, and _then_ will be the time to sell! Has
your Lordship signed the deed yet?"

"Sir, I signed it last Saturday, in company with my Lord Marmalade. I
should not like to part with my interest in the company, you see--Mr.
Gammon--hastily; but I am in your hands"----

"My Lord, I am ever watchful of your Lordship's interests."

"By the way, will you dine with me to-morrow? We shall be quite alone,
and I am very anxious to obtain an accurate account of the present state
of Mr. Titmouse's property; for, to tell you the truth, I have heard of
one or two little matters that occasion me some uneasiness."

"Can anything be more unfortunate, my Lord? I am engaged out to dinner
for the next three days--if indeed I shall be well enough to go to any
of them," said Gammon, with an agitation which could have escaped the
observation of few persons except the Earl of Dreddlington.

"Sir--I exceedingly regret to hear it; let me trust that some day next
week I shall be more fortunate. There are several matters on which I am
desirous of consulting you. When did you last see Mr. Titmouse?"

"Let me see, my Lord--I--don't think I've seen him since Monday last,
when I casually met him in one of the committee-rooms of the House of
Commons, where, by the way, he seems a pretty frequent attendant."

"I'm glad to hear it," replied the earl, somewhat gravely; and, as
Gammon imagined, with a slight expression of surprise, or even distrust.
Gammon therefore fancied that the earl had received recent intelligence
of some of the wild pranks of his hopeful son-in-law, and wished to make
inquiries concerning them of Gammon

"Will you, sir,--by the way--have the goodness to write at your earliest
convenience to General Epaulette's solicitors, and tell them I wish to
pay off immediately £12,000 of his mortgage? Oblige me, sir, by
attending to this matter without delay; for I met the general the other
day at dinner--and--I might possibly have been mistaken, sir--but I
fancied he looked at me as if he wished me to feel myself his debtor. Do
you understand me, sir? It annoyed me; and I wish to get out of his
hands as soon as possible."

"Rely upon it, my Lord, it shall be attended to this very day," replied
Gammon, scarcely able--troubled though he was--to suppress a smile at
the increasing symptoms of purse-pride in the earl, whose long-empty
coffers were being so rapidly and unexpectedly replenished by the
various enterprises into which, under Gammon's auspices, his Lordship
had entered with equal energy and sagacity. While the earl was speaking,
the carriage drew up at the door of the company's office, and Gammon
alighted. The earl, however, finding that all the gentlemen whom he had
left there, had quitted, drove off westward, at a smart pace, and
reached the House in time for the matters which he had mentioned to Mr.
Gammon. That gentleman soon dropped the languid demeanor he had worn in
Lord Dreddlington's presence, and addressed himself with energy and
decision to a great number of important and difficult matters demanding
his attention--principally connected with several of the public
companies in which he was interested--and one of which, in particular,
required the greatest possible care and tact, in order to prevent its
bursting--prematurely. He had also to get through a considerable arrear
of professional affairs, and to write several letters on the private
business of Lord Dreddlington, and of Mr. Titmouse--respectively. Nay,
he had one or two still more urgent calls upon his attention. First came
the action against himself for £4,000 penalties, for bribery, arising
out of the Yatton election, and as to which he had received, that
afternoon, a very gloomy "_opinion_" from Mr. Lynx, who was "advising"
him on his defence. Much in the same plight, also, were Messrs.
Bloodsuck, Mudflint, and Woodlouse, for whom Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and
Snap were defending similar actions; and who were worried out of their
lives by daily letters from their terror-stricken clients, as to the
state, progress, and prospects of the several causes in which they were
so deeply interested. All these actions were being pressed forward by
the plaintiffs with a view to trial at the ensuing York assizes; had
been made, by the plaintiffs, special juries; and, infinitely to
Gammon's vexation and alarm, he had found, on hurrying to retain Mr.
Subtle, that he, Mr. Sterling, and Mr. Crystal, had been already
retained for the plaintiffs! Lastly, he was dreadfully teased by an
action of seduction, which had, a few days before, been brought against
Mr. Titmouse; and which Gammon, finding it to be a very bad case, was
making great efforts to compromise. To each and every of these matters,
he gave the attention that was due--and, about seven o'clock, having
finished his labors for the day, repaired, a good deal exhausted, to his
chambers at Thavies' Inn. After a slight repast, he proceeded to draw up
confidential "_instructions_" for Mr. Frankpledge, to frame the deeds
necessary to carry into effect his contemplated arrangement with
Titmouse. That did not take him long; and having sealed up his packet,
and addressed it, he threw himself down on the sofa, and gave himself up
to anxious meditation, for he was aware that he was now, as it were,
touching the very crisis of his fortunes. Again, again, and again he
recurred to the incident of the day--the destruction of his documents by
Titmouse; and cursed his own inconceivable stupidity, even aloud. Yet he
could not avoid indulging at the same time in secret pride and
exultation at the presence of mind which he had displayed--the
successful skill with which he had encountered so sudden, singular, and
serious an emergency. But what would be the effect of the destruction of
those documents, upon _certain secret arrangements_ of his connected
with Titmouse's recovery of the Yatton property? This was a question
which occasioned Gammon great perplexity and apprehension. Then, as to
Gammon's rent-charge of £2,000 per annum on the Yatton estates--he
bethought himself, with no little uneasiness, of some expressions
concerning Titmouse's property, let fall by the earl that day: and if
his Lordship should persevere in his determination to become minutely
acquainted with the state of Titmouse's property, how could the new and
heavy encumbrance about to be laid upon it, possibly escape discovery?
and if it did, how was it to be accounted for, or supported? Confound
it! It seemed as if fate were bent upon urging on a catastrophe!

"Shall I," thought Gammon, "wait till I am challenged on the subject,
and then fire my shot, and bring his Lordship down from the tight-rope?
Then, however, I cannot but appear to have known the thing from the
very beginning; and who knows what liabilities, civil or criminal--of
fraud or conspiracy--may be attached to what I have done! Shall I wait
for a convenient, though early opportunity, and rush, with dismay and
confusion, into the earl's presence, as with a discovery only just made?
By Heaven! but the thing wears already a very ugly appearance. If it
come out, what an uproar will be in the world! The lightning will fall
on my head first, unless I take care. The discovery will doubtless kill
Lord Dreddlington; and as for his daughter, it may overturn the little
reason she has!"

Passing from this subject, Gammon surveyed his other relations with the
earl, which were becoming daily more involved and critical. He had
seduced his Lordship into various mercantile speculations, such as had
already placed him in a very questionable point of view, as taking
deliberate, systematic advantage of the raging mania for bubble
companies. In fact, Gammon had, by his skilful but not very scrupulous
manœuvring, already put into Lord Dreddlington's pocket some forty
thousand pounds, and at the same time involved his Lordship in
liabilities which he never dreamed of, and even Gammon himself had not
contemplated. Then he warmed with his apparent proximity to Parliament,
(to that part of Titmouse's bargain Gammon resolved to hold him to the
very letter,) which he was sure of entering on the very next election.
By that time he would have realized a sum, through his connection with
the various companies, which, even independently of the income to be
derived thereafter from the Yatton property, would render him so far
independent as to warrant him in dissolving partnership with Messrs.
Quirk and Snap, and quitting at least the _practice_ of the profession.

Mr. Gammon was a man of very powerful mind, possessing energies of the
highest order, and for the development and display of which he felt, and
fretted when he felt, his present position in society afforded him no
scope whatever, till at least he had entered upon that series of bold
but well-conceived plans and purposes with which he has been represented
as occupied, since the time when he first became the secret master of
the fortunes of Titmouse. His ambition was boundless, and he felt within
himself a capacity for the management of political affairs of no
ordinary magnitude, could he but force himself into the regions where
his energies and qualifications could be discovered and appreciated.
Indeed, I will undertake to say, that, had Gammon only been a GOOD man,
he would, in all probability, have become a great one. But, to proceed
with the matters which were then occupying his busy brain. There was yet
one upon which all his thoughts settled with a sort of agitating
interest--his connection with the Aubreys; and whenever that name
occurred to his thoughts, one beauteous image rose before him like that
of an angel--I mean Miss Aubrey. She was the first object that had ever
excited in him any, the faintest, semblance of the passion of
_love_--that love, I mean, which is in a manner purified and sublimated
from all grossness or sensuality by a due appreciation of intellectual
and moral excellence. When he dwelt upon the character of Miss Aubrey,
and for a moment realized the possibility of a union with her, he felt,
as it were, elevated above himself. Then her person was very beautiful;
and there was a certain bewitching _something_ about her manners, which
Gammon could only _feel_, not describe; in short, his passion for her
had risen to a most extraordinary pitch of intensity, and became a sort
of infatuation. In spite of all that had happened at Yatton, he had
contrived to continue, and was at that moment, on terms of considerable
intimacy with the Aubreys; and had, moreover, been all the while so
watchful over himself as to have given none of them any reason to
suspect the state of his feelings towards Miss Aubrey; and, on the other
hand, nothing had ever transpired to give him the slightest inkling of
the state of matters between Miss Aubrey and Delamere--with the
exception of one solitary circumstance which had at the moment excited
his suspicions--Mr. Delamere's contesting the borough of Yatton. Though
he had watched for it, however, nothing had afterwards occurred
calculated to confirm his apprehensions. He had taken infinite pains to
keep a good name in Vivian Street, with great art representing, from
time to time, his disgust for the conduct and character of Titmouse, and
the reluctance with which he discharged his professional duty towards
that gentleman. He made a point of alluding to the "gross and malignant
insult" which had been offered at the hustings to the venerable Vicar of
Yatton, and which, he said, was a sudden suggestion of Mr. Titmouse's,
and carried into effect by "that vile Unitarian parson, Mudflint," in
defiance of Mr. Gammon's wishes to the contrary. He represented himself
as still haunted by the mild, reproachful look with which Dr. Tatham had
regarded him, as though he had been the author of the insult. The
account which appeared in the _True Blue_ of his indignant interference
on the occasion of Mr. Delamere's being struck on the hustings, was
calculated, as Mr. Gammon conceived, to corroborate his representations,
and aid the impression he was so anxious to produce. For the same
reason, Mr. Gammon, whenever he had been at Yatton, had acted with great
caution and secrecy, so as to give no cause of offence to Dr. Tatham; to
whom he from time to time complained, in confidence, of those very acts
of Mr. Titmouse which had been dictated to him by Mr. Gammon. Thus
_reasoned_ Mr. Gammon; but it would indeed have been singular had he
_succeeded_ as he desired and expected. He lost sight of the proverbial
influence of one's wishes over one's belief. In imagining that he had
concealed from the Aubreys all the unfavorable features of his conduct,
was he not, in some degree, exhibiting the folly of the bird, which,
thrusting its _head_ only into the bush, imagines that it has thereby
concealed its whole body?

The Aubreys knew amply sufficient to warrant a general dislike and
distrust of Mr. Gammon; but there existed grave reasons for avoiding any
line of conduct which Gammon might choose to consider offensive. Mr.
Aubrey justly regarded him as standing, at present, alone between him
and some of his most serious liabilities. If Gammon, to accomplish
objects to them undiscoverable, wore a mask--why challenge his enmity by
attempting to tear off that mask? Mr. Aubrey governed his movements,
therefore, with a prudent caution; and though, after the election, and
the infamous decision of the election committee, Gammon was received at
Vivian Street--whither he went with no little anxiety and
trepidation--it was with a visibly increased coolness and reserve, but
still with studious _courtesy_; and beyond that distinct but delicate
line, none of them ever advanced a hair's-breadth, which Gammon observed
with frequent and heavy misgivings. But he felt that something must at
length be _done_, or attempted, to carry into effect his fond wishes
with reference to Miss Aubrey. Months had elapsed, and their relative
position seemed totally unchanged since the first evening that his
manœuvre had procured him a brief introduction to Mrs. Aubrey's
drawing-room. In fact, he considered that the time had arrived for
making known, in some way or another, the state of his feelings to Miss
Aubrey; and after long deliberation, he resolved to do so without loss
of time, and, moreover, personally. He had a fearful suspicion that he
should be--at all events at first--unsuccessful; and now that, having
taken his determination, he passed in rapid review all their
intercourse, he perceived less and less ground for being sanguine;
for he felt that Miss Aubrey's manner towards him had been throughout
more cold and guarded than that of either Mr. or Mrs. Aubrey. Like
a prudent general contemplating the contingencies of an important
expedition, and calculating his means of encountering them, Gammon
considered--_persuasion_ failing--what means of _compulsion_ had he? He
came, at length, finally to the conclusion, that his resources were most
available at that moment; and, moreover, that his circumstances
_required_ an immediate move.

The very next day, about ten o'clock, he sallied forth from his
chambers, and bent his steps towards Vivian Street, intending to keep
watch for at least a couple of hours, with a view to ascertaining
whether Mrs. Aubrey's going out unaccompanied by Miss Aubrey would
afford him an opportunity of seeing Miss Aubrey, alone and undisturbed;
reasonably reckoning on the absence of Mr. Aubrey at the Temple, whither
he knew he always went about half-past nine o'clock. That day, however,
Mr. Gammon watched in vain; during the time that he stayed, only the
servants and the children quitted the door. The next day he walked
deliberately close past the house; was that brilliant and tasteful
performance of the piano, _hers_? Again, however, he was unsuccessful.
On the third day, from a safe distance, he beheld both Mrs. and Miss
Aubrey, accompanied by a female servant and the children, quit the
house, and walk in the direction of the Park, whither--but at a great
distance--he followed their movements with a beating heart. On a
subsequent occasion, he saw Miss Aubrey leave the house, accompanied
only by little Charles, and he instantly turned his steps despondingly
eastward. How little did either of those fair beings dream of the
strict watch thus kept upon their every movement! Two days afterwards,
however, Gammon's perseverance was rewarded; for shortly after eleven
o'clock, he beheld Mrs. Aubrey, accompanied by the two children, quit
the house, and turn towards the Park. Gammon's heart began to beat hard.
Though he never cared much for dress, his appearance on the present
occasion afforded indications of some little _attention_ to it; and he
appeared simply a well-dressed gentleman, in a dark-blue buttoned
surtout, with velvet collar, and plain black stock, as, after a moment's
somewhat flurried pause, he knocked and rang at Mr. Aubrey's door.

"Is Mr. Aubrey within?" he inquired of the very pretty and
respectable-looking maid-servant, who presently answered his summons.

"No, sir; he is never here after"----

"Perhaps _Mrs._ Aubrey"----

"No, sir; there is only Miss Aubrey at home; my mistress and the
children are gone out into the Park, and Miss Aubrey is writing letters,
or she would have gone with my mistress."

"Perhaps--I could see Miss Aubrey for a moment?" inquired Gammon, with
as matter-of-fact an air as he could assume.

"Certainly, sir--she is in the drawing-room. Will you walk up-stairs?"
said the girl, who of course knew him well, as not an infrequent visitor
at the house. So she led the way up-stairs, he following, and with
somewhat fading color.

"_Mr. Gammon!_" he presently heard, as he stood on the landing, echoed
in the rich and soft voice of Miss Aubrey, who seemed to speak in a tone
of great surprise, in answer to the servant's announcement. "Why, Fanny,
did you not say that neither your master nor mistress was at home?"
Gammon next heard hastily asked in a lower tone by Miss Aubrey, and his
countenance fell a little; for there was a tone of displeasure, or
chagrin, in her voice, especially as she added, "You should have said
that I was _engaged_! However, show him in, Fanny;" and the next moment
Mr. Gammon found himself bowing his way towards Miss Aubrey, with whom,
for the first time in his life, he found himself alone.

She was sitting writing at her desk, before which stood, in a small
flower-glass, a beautiful moss-rose. There was a little air of
negligence in the arrangement of her hair, and her light morning costume
displayed her figure to infinite advantage. There was really something
inexpressibly lovely in her whole appearance, seen, though she was, at
that moment, by Gammon, through the faint mist of displeasure which she
had thrown around herself.

"Good-morning, Mr. Gammon," she commenced, rising a little from her
chair; and sinking again into it, slightly turned it towards him, gazing
at him with some curiosity.

"May I venture to hope, madam, that I am not intruding upon you?" said
he, seating himself in the chair nearest to him.

"My brother always leaves at half-past nine; is he not at the Temple
to-day, Mr. Gammon?" she added a little eagerly--for the first time
observing something unusual in the expression of his countenance.

"I really don't know--madam,--in fact, I have not been there to-day; I
thought it better, perhaps"----He paused for a second.

"I sincerely trust, Mr. Gammon," interrupted Miss Aubrey, slightly
changing color, and looking with great anxiety at her visitor--"that
nothing unpleasant--nothing unfortunate--has happened: do, pray, Mr.
Gammon!" she continued earnestly, turning her chair full towards
him--"for Heaven's sake, tell me!"

"I assure you, madam, upon my honor, that nothing whatever unpleasant
has happened, that I know of, since last we met."

"Oh dear--I was getting so alarmed!" said she, with a faint sigh, her
white hand hastily putting back the curls which were clustering rather
more luxuriantly than usual over her cheek.

"Certainly, madam, you have no occasion to be alarmed; I have, however,
an errand--one to _me_, at least, of inexpressible importance," he
commenced, and in a lower key than that in which he had previously
spoken; and there was a peculiarity in his manner which quite riveted
Miss Aubrey's eye upon his expressive--and now, she saw plainly,
agitated countenance. What can possibly be the matter? thought she, as
she made a courteous but somewhat formal inclination towards him, and
said something about "begging him to proceed."

"I hope, madam, that, comparatively few as have been my opportunities of
becoming acquainted with it, I may venture to express, without offence,
my profound appreciation of your superior character."

"Really, sir," interrupted Miss Aubrey, very anxiously--"you are not
candid with me. I am now certain that you have some unpleasant
communication to make! Do, I entreat of you, Mr. Gammon, give me credit
for a _little_ presence of mind and firmness; let me know the worst, and
be prepared to break it to my brother and sister." Gammon seemed unable
to bear her bright blue eyes fixed upon his own, which he directed to
the floor, while his cheek flushed. Then he looked again at her; and
with an eye which explained all, and drove away the bloom from her
cheek, while it also suspended, for a moment, her breathing.

"Oh, forgive me for an instant--for one moment bear with me, Miss
Aubrey!" continued Gammon, in a voice of low and thrilling pathos--"this
interview agitates me almost to death; it is that which for a thousand
hours of intense--absorbing--agonizing doubts and fears, I have been
looking forward to!" Miss Aubrey sat perfectly silent and motionless,
gazing intently at him, with blanched cheek: he might have been
addressing a Grecian statue. "And now--now that it has at last
arrived--when I feel as if I were breathing a new--a maddening
atmosphere, occasioned by your presence--by the sight of your surpassing

"Gracious Heaven, sir! what can you mean!" at length interrupted Miss
Aubrey, with a slight start--at the same time slipping her chair a
little farther from Mr. Gammon. "I declare, sir, I do not in the least
understand you," she continued with much energy; but her increasing
paleness showed the effect which his extraordinary conduct had produced
upon her. She made a strong and successful effort, however, to recover
her self-possession.

"I perceive, madam, that you are agitated"----

"I am, sir! Astonished!--Shocked!--I could not have imagined"----

"Madam! madam! at the risk of being deemed unkind--cruel--if I _die_ for
it, I cannot resist telling you that I reverence--I love you to a

"Oh, Heavens!" murmured Miss Aubrey, still gazing with an air of
amazement at him. Several times she thought of rising to ring the bell,
and at once get rid of so astounding an interruption and intrusion; but
for several reasons she abstained from doing so, as long as possible.

"It would be ridiculous, sir," said she, at length, with sudden spirit
and dignity, "to affect ignorance of your meaning and intentions; but
may I venture to ask what conduct of mine--what single act of mine--or
word--or look--has ever induced you to imagine--for one moment to
indulge so insane"----

"Alas, madam, that which you could not conceal or control--your
incomparable excellence--your beauty--loveliness--Madam! madam! the mere
sight of your transcendent charms--my soul sank prostrate before you the
first moment that I ever saw you"----

All this was uttered by Gammon in a very low tone, and with passionate
fervor of manner. Miss Aubrey trembled visibly, and had grown very cold.
A little vinaigrette stood beside her--and its stinging stimulating
powers were infinitely serviceable, and at length aided her in making
head against her rebellious feelings.

"I certainly ought to feel flattered, sir," said she, rapidly recovering
herself--"by the high terms in which you are pleased to speak of me--of
one who has not the slightest claim upon your good opinion. I really
cannot conceive what conduct of mine can have led you to imagine that
such an--an--_application_--as this could be successful--or received
otherwise than with astonishment--and, if persisted in--_displeasure_,
Mr. Gammon." This she said in her natural manner, and very pointedly.

"Miss Aubrey--permit me"----said Mr. Gammon, passionately.

"I cannot, sir--I have heard already too much; and I am sure, that when
a lady requests a _gentleman_ to desist from conduct which pains and
shocks her--sir," she added hastily and peremptorily--"I beg you will at
once desist from addressing me in so very improper a strain and manner!"

"Indulge my agonized feelings for one moment, Miss Aubrey," said Gammon,
with desperate energy--"alas! I had suspected--I had feared--that our
respective positions in society would lead you to despise so
comparatively humble and obscure a person in point of station and

"_Sir!_" exclaimed Kate, magnificently, drawing up her figure to its
utmost height--her manner almost petrifying Gammon, whose last words she
had most unaccountably imagined, at the moment, to amount to a bitter
sarcastic allusion to their fallen fortunes, and diminished personal
consequence in society; but she was quickly undeceived, as he proceeded
fervently--"Yes, madam--your birth--your family connections--your
transcendent mental and personal qualities, shining all the brighter in
the gloom of adversity"----

"I--I--I beg your pardon, sir--I misunderstood you," said Kate,
discovering her error, and coloring violently--"but it is even more
painful to me to listen to the language you are addressing to me. Since
you urge me to it, I beg you to understand, sir, that if by what you
have been saying to me, I am to gather that you are making me an offer
of your addresses--I decline them at once, most peremptorily, as a thing
quite out of the question." The tone and manner in which this was
said--the determination and hauteur perceptible in her striking and
expressive features--blighted all the nascent hopes of Gammon; who
turned perfectly pale, and looked the very image of misery and despair.
The workings of his strongly marked features told of the agony of his
feelings. Neither he nor Miss Aubrey spoke for a few moments. "Alas!
madam," at length he inquired in a tremulous voice, "am I presumptuous,
if I intimate a fear--which I dare hardly own to myself even--that I am
too late--that there _is some more fortunate_"----Miss Aubrey blushed

"Sir," said she, with quick indignant energy, "_I should_ certainly
consider such inquiries--most--_presumptuous_--most offensive--most
unwarrantable!"--and indeed her eye quite shone with indignation. Gammon
gazed at her with piercing intensity, and spoke not.

"You cannot but be aware, sir, that you are greatly taxing my
forbearance--nay, sir, I feel that you are taking a very great liberty
in making any such inquiries or suggestions," continued Miss Aubrey,
proudly, but more calmly; "but, as your manner is unobjectionable and
respectful, I have no difficulty in saying, sir, most unhesitatingly,
that the reason you hint at, is not in the least concerned in the answer
I have given. I have declined your proposals, sir, simply because I
_choose_ to decline them--because I have not, nor ever could have, the
least disposition to entertain them."

Gammon could not, at the moment, determine whether she really had or had
not a pre-engagement.

"Madam, you would bear with me did you but know the exquisite suffering
your words occasion me! Your hopeless tone and manner appear to my soul
to consign it to perdition--to render me perfectly careless about life,"
said Gammon, with irresistible pathos; and Miss Aubrey, as she looked
and listened, in spite of herself pitied him. "I might, perhaps,
establish _some_ claim to your favor, were I at liberty to recount to
you my long unwearied exertions to shield your noble-spirited
brother--nay, all of you--from impending trouble and danger--to avert it
from you."

"We are indeed deeply sensible of your kindness towards us, Mr. Gammon,"
replied Miss Aubrey, with her usual sweetness and fascinating frankness
of manner which _now_ he could not bear to behold.

"Suffer me, Miss Aubrey, but one word more," he continued eagerly,
apprehensive that she was about to check him. "Were you but aware of the
circumstances under which I come to throw myself at your feet--myself,
and all I have--nor is that little, for I am independent of the world
as far as fortune is concerned--I shall soon be in the House of
Commons"--Miss Aubrey exhibited still more unequivocal symptoms of
impatience--"and forever have abandoned the hateful walk in life to
which for the last few years"----

"I suppose I _must_ listen to you, sir, however uselessly to yourself
and disagreeable and painful to me. If, after all I have said, you
choose to persevere," said Miss Aubrey, with calm displeasure----

But Gammon proceeded--"I say, Miss Aubrey, that could you but catch a
glimpse--one momentary glimpse--of the troubles--the dangers which lurk
around you all--infinitely greater than any which you have even yet
experienced, severe and terrible though these have been--which are every
day coming nearer and nearer to you"----

"What _do_ you mean, Mr. Gammon?" interrupted Miss Aubrey, alarmedly.

"--And which, eager and anxious as may, and shall be, my efforts, I may
be unable any longer to avert from you--you would at least appreciate
the pure and disinterested motives with which I set out upon my truly
disastrous mission."

"Once more, Mr. Gammon, I assure you that I feel--that we all of us
feel--a lively gratitude towards you for the great services you have
rendered us; but how _can_ that possibly vary my resolution? Surely, Mr.
Gammon, you will not require me to enter again upon a most
unpleasant"----Gammon heaved a profound sigh--"With regard to your
intimation of the danger which menaces us--alas! we have seen much
trouble--and Providence may design us to see much more--I own, Mr.
Gammon, that I am disturbed by what you have said to me on that

"I have but one word more to say, madam," said Gammon, in a low
impassioned tone, evidently preparing to sink upon one knee, and to
assume an imploring attitude; on which Miss Aubrey rose from her chair,
and, stepping back a pace or two, said with great resolution, and in an
indignant manner--"If you do not instantly resume your seat, sir, I
shall ring the bell; for you are beginning to take advantage of my
present defenceless position--you are _persecuting_ me, and I will not
suffer it.--Sir, resume your seat, or I summon the servant into the
room--a humiliation I could have wished to spare you."

Her voice was not half so imperative as was her eye. He felt that his
cause was hopeless--he bowed profoundly, and said in a low tone--"I obey
you, madam."

Neither of them spoke for some moments. At length--"I am sure, sir,"
said Miss Aubrey, looking at her watch, "you will forgive me for
reminding you that when you entered I was engaged writing letters"--and
she glanced at her desk--"for which purpose alone it is that I am not
now accompanying my sister and the children."

"I feel too painfully, madam, that I am intruding; but I shall soon
cease to trouble you. Every one has some great bitterness to pass
through at some time or other of his life--and I have this instant
passed through mine," replied Gammon, gloomily. "I will not say that
_the bitterness of death is past_; but I feel that life has henceforth,
as far as I am concerned, nothing worth pursuing."--Miss Aubrey remained
silent while he spoke.--"Before we part, Miss Aubrey, and close, as far
as I--nay, as far, it may be, as both of us are concerned--a very
memorable interview, I have yet one communication to make, to which you
will listen with absorbing interest. It will be made to you in such
confidence as, having heard it, you may consider yourself at liberty
conscientiously to keep from every person upon earth; and I shall leave
it to produce such effect upon you as it may."

"I shall not disguise from you, sir, that your demeanor and your
language alarm me terribly," said Miss Aubrey, peculiarly struck by the
sinister expression of his eye--one quite inconsistent with the sad,
subdued, gentle tone and manner of his address. "I am not _anxious_ to
receive so dark and mysterious a communication as you hint at; and, if
you think proper to make it, I shall use my own discretion as to keeping
it to myself, or mentioning it to any one whom I may choose--of _that_ I
distinctly apprise you, sir. You see that I am agitated; I own it," she
added, dropping her voice, and pressing her left hand against her side;
"but I am prepared to hear anything you may choose to tell me--that I
_ought_ to hear.--Have mercy, sir," she added in a melting voice, "on a
woman whose nerves you have already sufficiently shaken!"

Gammon gazed at her with a bright and passionate eye that would have
drunk her very soul. After a moment's pause--"Madam, it is this," said
he, in a very low tone: "I have the means--I declare in the presence of
Heaven, and on the word and honor of a man"--[Oh, Gammon! Gammon!
Gammon! have you forgotten what occurred between you and your friend
Titmouse one short week ago? Strange, infatuated man! what can you mean?
What if she should take you at your word?]--"_of restoring to your
brother all that he has lost_--THE YATTON PROPERTY, Miss
Aubrey--immediately--permanently--without fear of future disturbance--by
due process of law--openly and most honorably."

"You are trifling with me, sir," gasped Miss Aubrey, faintly, very
faintly--her cheek blanched, and her eye riveted upon that of Gammon.

"Before God, madam, I speak the truth," replied Gammon, solemnly.

Miss Aubrey seemed struggling ineffectually to heave a deep sigh, and
pressed both hands upon her left side, over her heart.

"You are ill, very ill, Miss Aubrey," said Gammon, with alarm, rising
from his chair. She also arose, rather hastily; turned towards the
window, and with feeble trembling hands tried to open it, as if to
relieve her faintness by the fresh air. But it was too late; poor Kate
had been at length overpowered, and Gammon reached her just in time to
receive her inanimate figure, which sank into his arms. Never in his
life had he been conscious of the feelings he that moment experienced,
as he felt her pressure against his arm and knee, and gazed upon her
beautiful but death-like features. He felt as though he had been brought
into momentary contact with an angel. Every fibre within him thrilled.
She moved not; she breathed not. He dared not kiss her lip, her cheek,
her forehead, but raised her soft white hand to his lips, and kissed it
with indescribable tenderness and reverence. Then, after a moment's
pause of irresolution, he gently drew her to the sofa, and laid her
down, supporting her head and applying her vinaigrette, till a
deep-drawn sigh evidenced returning consciousness. Before she had opened
her eyes, or could have become aware of the assistance he had rendered
her, he had withdrawn to a respectful distance, and was gazing at her
with deep anxiety. It was several minutes before her complete
restoration--which, however, the fresh air entering through the windows,
which Gammon hastily threw open, added to the incessant use of her
vinaigrette, greatly accelerated.

"I hardly know, sir," she commenced in a very low and faint tone of
voice, and looking languidly at him, "whether I really heard you say, or
only dreamed that I heard you say, something most extraordinary about

"I pray you, madam, to wait till you are completely restored; but it was
indeed no dream--it was my voice which you heard utter the words you
allude to; and when you can bear it, I am ready to repeat them as the
words, indeed, of truth and soberness."

"I am ready now, sir--I beg you will say quickly what you have to say,"
replied Miss Aubrey, with returning firmness of tone and calmness of
manner; at the same time passing her snowy handkerchief feebly over her

He repeated what he had said before. She listened with increasing
excitement of manner; her emotions at length overmastered her, and she
burst into tears, and wept for some moments unrestrainedly.

Gammon gazed at her in silence; and then, unable to bear the sight of
her sufferings, turned aside his head, and gazed towards the opposite
corner of the room. How little he thought, that the object on which his
eyes accidentally settled, a most splendid harp, had been, only a few
days before, presented to Miss Aubrey by Mr. Delamere!

"What misery, Miss Aubrey, has the sight of your distress occasioned
me!" said Gammon, at length; "and yet why should my communication have
distressed you?"

"I cannot doubt, Mr. Gammon, the truth of what you have so solemnly told
me," she replied in a tremulous voice; "but will you not tell my
unfortunate, my high-minded, my almost broken-hearted brother?" Again
she burst into a fit of weeping.

"Must I--_dare_ I--say it, Miss Aubrey," presently inquired Gammon, in a
broken voice; "can I say it without occasioning what I dread more than I
can express--your displeasure? The use to be made of my power _rests
with you alone_."

She shook her head bitterly and despairingly, and hid her face in her
handkerchief while he proceeded.

"One word--one blessed word from your lips--and before this very day
shall have passed away, I strike down the wretched puppet that at
present defiles Yatton--replace your noble-minded brother there--restore
you all to its delicious shades--Oh, Miss Aubrey, how you will love
them! A thousand times dearer than ever! Every trace of the wretched
idiot now there shall vanish; and let all this come to pass _before_ I
presume to claim"----

"It is impossible, sir," replied Miss Aubrey, with the calmness of
despair, "even were you to place my brother on the throne of England. Is
it not cruel--shocking--that if you know my brother is really
entitled--nay, it is monstrous injustice!--What maybe the means at your
command I know not--I shall not inquire; if to be purchased only on the
terms you mention"--she involuntarily shuddered--"be it so--I cannot
help it; and if my brother and his family must perish because I reject
your addresses"----

"Say not that word, Miss Aubrey! Do not shut out _all_ hope--Recall it!
For God's sake consider the consequences to your brother--to his family!
I tell you that malice and rapacity are at this moment gleaming like
wild wolves within a few paces of you--ready to rush upon you. Did you
but see them as distinctly as I do, you would indeed shudder and

"I do, sir; but we trust in a merciful Providence," replied Miss Aubrey,
clasping together her hands, "and resign ourselves to the will of

"May not Heaven have brought about _this meeting_ between us as a mode

"Monstrous!" exclaimed Miss Aubrey, in a voice and with a look which for
a moment silenced him.

"It is high time that you should leave me, sir," presently said Miss
Aubrey, determinedly. "I have suffered surely sufficiently already; and
my first answer is also my last. I beg now, sir, that you will retire."

"Madam, you are obeyed," replied Gammon, rising, and speaking in a tone
of sorrowful deference. He felt that his fate was sealed. "I now seem
fully aware, to myself even, of the unwarrantable liberty I have taken,
and solicit your forgiveness--" Miss Aubrey bowed to him loftily.--"I
will not presume to solicit your silence to Mr. and Mrs. Aubrey
concerning the visit I have paid you?" he continued very anxiously.

"I am not in the habit, sir, of concealing _anything_ from my brother
and sister; but I shall freely exercise my own discretion in the

"Well, madam," said he, preparing to move towards the door, while Miss
Aubrey raised her hand to the bell--"in taking leave of you," he
paused--"let me hope, not forever--receive my solemn assurance, given
before Heaven! that, haughtily as you have repelled my advances this
day, I will yet continue to do all that is in my power to avert the
troubles now threatening your brother--which I fear, however, will be
but of little avail! Farewell, farewell, Miss Aubrey!" he exclaimed; and
was the next moment rapidly descending the stairs. Miss Aubrey, bursting
afresh into tears, threw herself again upon the sofa, and continued long
in a state of excessive agitation. Mr. Gammon walked eastward at a rapid
pace, and in a state of mind which cannot be described. How he loathed
the sight of Saffron Hill, and its disgusting approaches! He merely
looked into the office for a moment, saying that he felt too much
indisposed to attend to business that day; and then betook himself to
his solitary chambers--a thousand times more solitary and cheerless than
ever they had appeared before--where he remained in a sort of revery
for hours. About eleven o'clock that night, he was guilty of a strange
piece of extravagance; for his fevered soul being unable to find rest
anywhere, he set off for Vivian Street, and paced up and down it, with
his eye constantly fixed upon Mr. Aubrey's house; he saw the lights
disappear from the drawing-room, and reappear in the bedrooms: them also
he watched out--still he lingered in the neighborhood, which seemed to
have a sort of fatal fascination about it; and it was past three o'clock
before, exhausted in mind and body, he regained his chamber, and
throwing himself upon the bed, slept from mere weariness.

Let us now turn to a man of a very different description--Mr. Aubrey.
He had spent nearly a year in the real study of the law; during
which time I have not the least hesitation in saying that he had
made--notwithstanding all his dreadful drawbacks--at least five times
the progress that is generally made by even the most successful of those
who devote themselves to the legal profession. He had, moreover, during
the same period, produced five or six exceedingly able political
dissertations, and several important contributions to historical
literature; and the reader will not be surprised to learn, that such
exertions as these, and such anxieties as were his, had told visibly on
the appearance of Mr. Aubrey. He was very thin; his cheek had lost its
color; his eye was oppressed; his spirits had lost their buoyancy,
except in the few intervals which he was permitted, by his harassing
labors, of domestic enjoyment. He still bore up, however, against his
troubles with an unyielding resolution; feeling that Providence had
called upon him to do his uttermost, and await the result with patience
and faith. Nothing had occurred during this long interval to brighten
his prospects--to diminish his crushing load of liability by a hair's
weight. But his well-disciplined mind now stood him in noble stead, and
enabled him to realize a daily consciousness of advancement in the
pursuits to which he had devoted himself. Well indeed may it be said,
that there is no grander spectacle for angels or men, than a great mind
struggling with adversity. To us, indeed, it is consolatory,
encouraging, ennobling. Therefore, O Aubrey! do we now continue to
contemplate you with profound interest, nor the less, because we
perceive the constant presence with thee of _One_ whose mighty
assistance is dependent _upon thy confidence in it_. Hope ever,
therefore, and struggle on!

The reader may imagine the alarm occasioned Mr. Aubrey on his return
from the Temple on the evening of the day on which Gammon had paid his
remarkable visit to Miss Aubrey, which I have been describing, by the
sight of the troubled countenances of his wife and sister. Mrs. Aubrey
had returned home within about half an hour after Gammon's leaving
Vivian Street, and to her Miss Aubrey instantly communicated the
extraordinary proposal which he had made to her, all, in fact, that had
passed between them--with the exception of the astounding information
concerning the alleged possibility of their restoration to Yatton. The
two ladies had, indeed, determined on concealing the whole affair from
Mr. Aubrey--at all events for the present; but their perceptible
agitation increasing as he questioned them concerning the cause of it,
rendered suppression impossible, and they told him frankly (excepting
only the matter above mentioned) the singular and most embarrassing
incident which had happened in his absence. Blank amazement was
succeeded by vivid indignation in Mr. Aubrey, as soon as he had heard of
this attempt to take advantage of their circumstances; and for several
hours he was excessively agitated. In vain they tried to soothe him; in
vain did Kate throw her arms fondly round him, and implore him, for all
their sakes, to take no notice to Mr. Gammon of what had happened; in
vain did she protest that she would give him instant intelligence of any
future attempt by that person to renew his absurd and presumptuous
offer; in vain did they both remind him, with great emotion, of the
fearful power over all of them which was in Mr. Gammon's hands. Aubrey
was peremptory and inflexible, and, moreover, frank and explicit; and
told them, on quitting home the next morning, that, though they might
rely on his discretion and temper, he had resolved to communicate that
day, either personally or by letter, with Mr. Gammon; not only
peremptorily forbidding any renewal of his proposals, but also
requesting him to discontinue his visits in Vivian Street.

"Oh, Charles! Charles! be punctually home by six!" exclaimed they, as he
embraced them both at parting, and added, bursting afresh into tears,
"do consider the agony--the dreadful suspense we shall be in all day!"

"I will return by six, to a minute! Don't fear for _me_!" he replied
with a smile--which, however, instantly disappeared, as soon as he had
quitted their presence.

Old Mr. Quirk was the next morning, about ten o'clock, over head and
ears in business of all kinds--and sadly missed the clear-headed and
energetic Gammon; so, fearing that that gentleman's indisposition must
still continue, inasmuch as there were no symptoms of his coming to the
office as usual, he took off his spectacles, locked his room door, in
order to prevent any one by any possibility looking on any of the
numerous letters and papers lying on his table; and set off to make a
call upon Mr. Gammon--whose countenance, flushed and harassed, strongly
corroborated his representations concerning the state of his health.
Still, he said, he could attend to any business which Mr. Quirk was
prepared then to mention; whereupon Mr. Quirk took from his pocket a
piece of paper, drew on his glasses, and put questions to him from a
number of memoranda which he had made for the purpose. Gammon's answers
were brief, pointed, and explicit, on all matters mentioned, as might
have been expected from one of his great ability and energy--but his
muddle-headed companion could not carry away a single clear idea of what
had been so clearly told him; and without avowing the fact, of which he
felt, however, a painful consciousness, simply determined to do nothing
that he could possibly avoid doing, till Mr. Gammon should have made his
reappearance at the office, and reduced the little chaos there into
something like form and order.

Before he quitted Mr. Gammon, that gentleman quietly and easily led the
conversation towards the subject of the various outstanding debts due to
the firm.

"Ah, drat it!" quoth the old gentleman, briskly--"the heaviest, you
know, is--eh?--I suppose, however," he added apprehensively, and
scratching his head, "I mustn't name _that_--I mean that fellow Aubrey's
account--without our coming to words."

"Why--stay! stay," said Mr. Gammon, with a gravely thoughtful air--"I
don't see _that_, either, Mr. Quirk. Forbearance has its limits. It may
be abused, Mr. Quirk."

"Ecod! I should think so!" quoth Mr. Quirk, eagerly--"and I know who's
abused _somebody's_ forbearance--eh, Gammon?"

"I understand you, my dear sir," replied Gammon, with a sigh--"I fear I
must plead no longer for him--I have gone already, perhaps, much farther
than my duty to the firm warranted."

"It's a heavy balance, Gammon--a very heavy balance, £1,446 odd, to be
outstanding so long--he agreed to pay interest on't--didn't he, eh?--But
really something ought to be done in it; and--come, Gammon, as you have
had _your_ turn so long, now comes mine!--Tip him over to _me_."

"I should be very sorry to distress him, poor devil!"

"Distress him? Our bill must be paid. D--n him! why don't he pay his
debts? I pay mine--you pay yours--he must pay his."

"Certainly. By the way," said Gammon, suddenly, "if you were to take
bold and decided steps, his friends would undoubtedly come forward and
relieve him."

"Ay! ay!--What think you of three days--give him three days to turn
about in?--There he's living all the while in a d--d fine house at the
West End, like a gentleman--looks down, I'll be sworn, on us poor
attorneys already, beggar as he is, because he's coming to the bar. Now
mind, Gammon, no nonsense! I won't stand your coming in again as you did
before--if I write--honor between thieves! eh?"

"I pledge my honor to you, my dear sir, that I will interfere no more;
the law must take its course."

"That's it!" said Mr. Quirk, rubbing his hands gleefully; "I'll tip him
a tickler before he's a day older that shall wake him up--ah, ha!"

"You will do me one favor, Mr. Quirk, I am sure," said Mr. Gammon, with
that civil but peremptory manner of his, which invariably commanded
Quirk's assent to his suggestions--"you will insert a disclaimer in the
letter of its emanating from _me_--or being with my consent."

"Oh lud, yes! yes! anything."

"Nay--rather _against my wish_, you know--eh? Just for appearance's
sake--as I have always appeared so infernally civil to the man, till

"Will you draw it up yourself? And then, so as the _other_ matter's all
right--no flinching--stick in as much palaver, Gammon!--aha!--as you
like!" replied Quirk; who, as the proposal involved only a greater
measure of discourtesy on _his_ part, without any sacrifice of his
_interest_, regarded it with perfect indifference. He took his leave of
Gammon in better spirits than those which he had carried with him. It
having been thus determined on by the partners, that within a day or
two's time, Mr. Aubrey should be required to pay the whole balance,
under penalty of an arrest--Gammon, on being left alone, folded his arms
as he sat beside his breakfast-table--and meditated on the probable
results of this his first hostile move against Mr. Aubrey. "I wonder
whether she's told him," thought he, with a slight palpitation--which
was somewhat increased by a pretty sharp knock at his outer door. The
color suddenly deserted his cheek as he started from his seat,
scattering on the floor nearly a dozen unopened letters which had been
lying at his elbow, on the table: and he stood still for a moment to
subdue a little of his agitation, so as to enable him to present himself
with some show of calmness before the visitor whom he felt perfectly
certain that he should see on opening the door. He was right. The next
minute beheld him ushering into his room, with a surprising degree of
self-possession, Mr. Aubrey, whose countenance showed embarrassment and

"I have called upon you, Mr. Gammon," commenced Aubrey, taking the seat
to which Mr. Gammon, with great courtesy, motioned him, and then resumed
his own, "in consequence of your visit yesterday in Vivian Street--of
your surprising interview with my sister--your most unexpected,
extraordinary proposal to her."

Mr. Gammon listened respectfully, with an air of earnest attention,
evidently not intending to make any reply.

"It cannot surprise you, sir, that I should have been made acquainted
with it immediately on my return home yesterday evening. It was
undoubtedly my sister's _duty_ to do so; but she did it, I am bound to
acknowledge to you, sir, with great reluctance, as a matter of
exquisitely painful delicacy. Sir, she has told me all that passed
between you."

"I cannot presume, Mr. Aubrey, to find fault with anything Miss Aubrey
may have thought proper to do; she _cannot_ do wrong," replied Gammon,
calmly, though Mr. Aubrey's last words had occasioned him lively anxiety
as to the extent of Miss Aubrey's communications to her brother. He
observed Mr. Aubrey's eyes fixed upon him steadfastly, and saw that he
was laboring under much excitement. "If I have done anything calculated
to inflict the slightest pain upon a lady for whom I have so
profound"--he saw the color mounting into Mr. Aubrey's cheek, and a
sterner expression appearing in his eye--"a respect, or upon _you_, or
any of your family, I am distressed beyond measure."

"I perfectly appreciate, Mr. Gammon, the position in which we stand with
regard to each other," said Mr. Aubrey, with forced calmness. "Though I
am fearfully changed in respect of fortune, I am not a whit changed--_we
are none of us changed_," he continued proudly, "in respect of personal
feelings and character."

He paused: Gammon spoke not. Presently Mr. Aubrey resumed--"I am, as we
are all, very deeply sensible of the obligation which you have conferred
upon us, and at the same time feel, that we are, to a great extent,
placed at your mercy."

"Pray--I beg, Mr. Aubrey, that you will not speak in a strain which
really hurts my feelings," interrupted Gammon, earnestly; "and which
nothing on, my part has justified, nor can justify."

"Sir," continued Mr. Aubrey, firmly, "I meant nothing in the least
calculated to wound your feelings, but merely to express my own; and
let me, Mr. Gammon, without the least reserve or circumlocution, inform
you that both my sister and I have felt vivid dissatisfaction at your
conduct of yesterday; and I have deemed it expedient to lose no time in
informing you that your proposals are utterly out of the question, and
can never be entertained, under any circumstances, for one moment."

Had Aubrey been, instead of the mere pauper he really was, and in the
presence of one whom he knew to be able to cast him instantly into
prison, at that moment in the position he had formerly occupied, of
wealth and greatness, he could not have spoken with an air of more
dignified determination, and even _hauteur_: which Gammon perceived, and
fully appreciated.

"I am undoubtedly aware, sir, of the disparity between Miss Aubrey and
myself in point of position," said he, coldly.

"I have said nothing of the kind that I am aware of, nor would I, on any
account, say anything offensive to you, Mr. Gammon; but it is my duty to
speak explicitly and decisively. I therefore now beg you to understand
that your overtures must not, in any shape, or at any time, be renewed;
and this I must insist upon without assigning or suggesting any reason

Gammon listened attentively and silently.

"I presume, Mr. Gammon, that I cannot be misunderstood?" added Mr.
Aubrey, with a very perceptibly increased peremptoriness of manner.

"It would be difficult to misunderstand what you say, sir," replied
Gammon, in whose dark bosom Mr. Aubrey's words had, as it were, stung
and roused the serpent PRIDE--which might have been seen with crest
erect, and glaring eyes. But Mr. Gammon's external manner was calm and

"It gives me pain to be forced to add, Mr. Gammon," continued Mr.
Aubrey, "that after what has taken place, we all of us feel--that--it
will be better for you to discontinue your visits at my house. I am sure
your own sense of delicacy will appreciate the necessity which exists
for such a suggestion on my part?"

"I perfectly understand you, Mr. Aubrey," replied Gammon, in the same
grave and guarded manner which he had preserved throughout their
interview. "I shall offer no apology, sir, for conduct which I do not
feel to require one. I conceive that I had a perfect right to make, with
all due deference and respect, the offer which it appears has given you
so much offence; for reasons, it may be, which justify you, but which I
cannot speculate upon, nor do I wish to do so. It is impossible ever to
see Miss Aubrey without becoming sensible of her loveliness, both of
person and character. I have paid them homage: for the rest, the issue
is simply--unfortunate. While I may not feel disposed, even if inclined,
to disregard your strict and solemn injunctions, I take leave to say
that my feelings towards Miss Aubrey cannot alter; and if in no _other_
way they can be gratified, there is yet _one_ which"--here he looked
greatly moved, and changed color--"yet remains open to me, to exhibit my
regard for her in a tenfold anxiety to preserve her--to preserve all of
you, Mr. Aubrey, from the approach of difficulty and danger. That much
Miss Aubrey may have also told to you, of what passed between us
yesterday." He paused--from emotion apparently; but he was only
considering intently whether he should endeavor to _ascertain_ if Mr.
Aubrey had been put by his sister in possession of his--Gammon's, last
communication to her; and then, however that might be, whether he should
himself break the matter to Mr. Aubrey. But he decided both questions in
the negative, and proceeded, with a little excitement of manner--"There
_are_ dangers menacing you, I grieve to say, Mr. Aubrey, of the most
serious description, which I may possibly be unable to avert from you! I
fear I am losing that hold _upon others_ which has enabled me hitherto
to save you from rapacity and oppression! I regret to say that I can
_answer_ for others no longer; but all that man can do, still will I do.
I have been most bitterly--most fearfully disappointed; but you shall
ever find me a man of my word--of as high and rigid honor, perhaps,
even, Mr. Aubrey, as yourself"--he paused, and felt that he had made an
impression on his silent auditor--"and I hereby pledge myself, in the
presence of God, that so far as in _me_ lies, there shall not a hair of
any of your heads be touched." Again he paused. "I wish, Mr. Aubrey, you
knew the pressure which has been for some time upon me--nay, even this
very morning"----he cast a melancholy and reluctant eye towards the
letters which he had gathered up, and which he had placed beside him on
the breakfast-table--"I have received a letter--here it is--I know the
handwriting; I almost dread to open it." Mr. Aubrey changed color.

"I am at a loss to know to what, _in particular_, you are alluding, Mr.
Gammon?" he interrupted anxiously.

"I will not at present say more on the subject; I devoutly hope my
negotiations may be successful, and that the affair may not for many
months, or even years, be _forced_ upon your attention! Still, _were_ I
to do so, one effect, at least, it would have--to satisfy you of my
honorable and _disinterested_ motives in the offer which I presumed to
make Miss Aubrey."

"Well, sir," replied Mr. Aubrey, with a melancholy air, and sighing
deeply, "I can only place my trust in Providence--and I _do_. I have
suffered much already; and if it be the will of Heaven that I should
suffer more, I hope it will be proved that I have not suffered
already--_in vain_!"

"Mr. Aubrey," said Gammon, gazing at him with a brightening eye, "my
very soul owns the sublime presence of VIRTUE, in your person! It is
exalting--it is ennobling--merely to be permitted to witness so heroic
an example of constancy as you exhibit!"--He paused, and for some
moments there was silence--"You do not distrust me, Mr. Aubrey?" said
Gammon, at length, with a confident air.

"No, Mr. Gammon!" replied Mr. Aubrey, eying him steadfastly. "I'm not
aware that I ever had any reason for doing so."

Shortly afterwards he took his departure; and as he bent his steps
slowly, and with thoughtful air, towards the Temple, he saw one or two
things, on his own part, during his interview with Gammon, to
regret--namely, his sternness and pride; but nothing on the part of
Gammon, that had not been admirable. Could Mr. Aubrey, however, but have
seen the satanic smile which settled upon Mr. Gammon's features, as soon
as, after cordially shaking his hand, he calmly shut the door upon Mr.
Aubrey, it might have occasioned some few misgivings as to Mr. Gammon's
sincerity. He resumed his seat, and meditated upon their recent
interview. Almost the first glance which he had caught of Mr. Aubrey's
countenance, and the very first tones of his voice which had fallen on
Gammon's ear, had inspired him with a deadly animosity against poor
Aubrey, whose pride Gammon resolved to trample upon and crush into the
dust. He was acquainted with the state of Aubrey's little finances,
almost to a pound; for Aubrey had, under the circumstances, felt it even
a duty to be frank with him upon that subject. He turned over in his
mind, with great anxiety, the matter of the two promissory notes for
five thousand pounds each, which he held in his hands, and which would
be the best mode of setting into motion, _but with_ _the hands of
another_, those two dreadful instruments of torture and
oppression--which, judiciously applied, might have the effect of
humbling the pride and breaking the determination of Aubrey and of his
sister. Long he considered the subject, in every point of view; and at
length--"Ay, that will do!" said he to himself aloud; sighed, smiled,
and gently tapped his fingers upon his ample forehead. Shortly
afterwards, having ordered his laundress to take away the breakfast
things, he took pen, ink, and paper, and sketched off the following
draft of a letter, to be copied by Mr. Quirk, and signed in the name of
the firm, and sent, Gammon finally determined, early in the ensuing

                                         _"Saffron Hill, 9th July 18--._

     "DEAR SIR,--Owing to a most serious and unexpected pecuniary outlay
     which we are called upon to make, we feel ourselves compelled to
     avail ourselves of whatever resources lie within our reach. Having
     been disappointed in several quarters, we are obliged to remind you
     of the heavy balance we have against you of £1,446, 14s. 6d. You
     must be aware of the length of time during which it has been
     standing; and trust you will forgive us if we at length apprise you
     that it is absolutely impossible for us to allow of any more delay.
     Unless, therefore, the whole of the above balance, or at least
     £1,000 of it, be paid within three days of the date hereof, we
     regret to inform you we have finally made up our minds to let the
     law take its usual course. We feel the less hesitation in saying
     thus much, because we are persuaded that, with a little exertion,
     you might long ago have liquidated this heavy balance, or the
     greater part thereof." (Mr. Gammon wrote as nearly in the peculiar
     style of Mr. Quirk as he could.)

     "In writing thus, Messrs. Quirk and Snap feel it only due to their
     partner, Mr. Gammon, to add that he is no party to this
     application. Messrs. Q. and S. have felt, however, in making it,
     that the interests of the firm have already suffered long enough,
     through their deference to the personal wishes and feelings of
     _one_ of the members of the firm; and but for whom, their heavy
     balance would have been called for long ago, and, no doubt, in due
     course discharged.

     "We regret being unable to vary or depart from the determination
     above expressed; and most sincerely hope your resources are of that
     nature that we shall be spared the unpleasantness of commencing
     legal proceedings.

                                    "And we remain, dear sir,
                                          "Yours most respectfully,
                                                "QUIRK, GAMMON, & SNAP.

     "CHARLES AUBREY, Esquire,
          "Vivian Street."

Exactly on the seventh day from that on which Mr. Gammon had made his
ill-omened advances towards Miss Aubrey, did the above dreadful and
heartless letter reach its destination--being delivered into Mr.
Aubrey's hands while he was intently perusing a very heavy set of
papers, which, at his request, Mr. Weasel had allowed him to take home.
The painful scene which ensued I shall spare the reader--only mentioning
that poor Miss Aubrey became almost frantic, treating herself as the
sole occasion of this disaster. That very morning, at breakfast, had he
been talking of selling out, of their precious remnant in the funds, the
sum of £105, to enable him to become a pupil with Mr. Crystal, at the
suggestion of the Attorney-General.

What was to be done in this fearful emergency none of them knew--except
consenting to an immediate sale of all their plate, books, and
furniture. Their affliction, indeed, knew no bounds. Even Mr. Aubrey,
though for a long time he bore up heroically, was at length overcome by
the agonies of the dear beings whose ruin was involved in his own.

Had not Gammon been prompt in his vengeance? So thought they all.

What _was_ to be done? A word will suffice to explain Mr. Aubrey's
position fully. It will be recollected, that about a twelvemonth
before, he had been left in possession of a balance of £1,063, after
paying the sum of £4,000 to Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, Messrs.
Runnington, and Mr. Parkinson, in the way which has been already
mentioned. Since then, by his incessant exertions, he had realized the
sum of £150 by his contributions to literary journals; and, by means of
a severe and systematic economy, this sum, together with about £200
taken from his store of £1,063, had sufficed to cover their whole year's
expenditure. 'Twas impossible to carry economy farther than they did,
without, poor souls, positive injury to their health, and stinting the
little children, as Mr. and Mrs. Aubrey often said to each other when
alone, with tears and sighs of anguish.

Alas! misfortune followed him like a bloodhound, let him turn his steps
whithersoever he might! Naturally anxious to make the most of his little
store of £1,063, so long as any considerable portion of it could be
spared from their immediate personal necessities, he looked about in all
directions for some safe and profitable investment, which might produce
him a little more income than could be derived from the funds. He
cautiously avoided having the slightest, connection with any of the
innumerable joint-stock speculations then afloat, and of which he saw
distinctly the mischievous and ruinous tendency; and this, moreover, in
spite of the artful occasional representations of Mr. Gammon. Having
consulted his banker, and also a member of the House of Commons--one of
the city members--a man of immense wealth, and great mercantile
experience and sagacity, and with whom he had been intimate while in the
House--confirmed by their approval, and also that of Mr. Weasel and
Messrs. Runnington, all of whom poor Aubrey anxiously consulted
concerning the disposal of this his little ALL; about six weeks after
the period of his settlement with Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, he
invested five hundred pounds in the purchase of a particular foreign
stock. Safe and promising as it appeared, however, at the very moment
when it was in the highest repute, with capitalists of all descriptions
both at home and abroad--from scarce any assignable reason, but forming
one of the many unaccountable instances of fluctuation to which property
of that kind is proverbially liable--Aubrey had hardly held his scrip
for a month, when--alas!--to his dismay, he found the stock
falling--falling--falling; down, down, down, it went, till his scrip was
so much waste paper! His loss was irretrievable. The wealthy member whom
he had consulted, lost nearly one hundred and twenty thousand pounds,
and was driven to the very verge of ruin. Mr. Weasel even--caution
personified, in dealing with the little accumulation of his hard
earnings--lost upwards of a thousand pounds; and Mr. Runnington, about
double that sum. It required a great stretch of fortitude on the part of
Mr. Aubrey to sustain this severe and sudden blow with anything like
equanimity.--You should have seen and heard Mrs. Aubrey and Miss Aubrey,
on that occasion, in order fully to appreciate the rich and melting
tenderness of woman's love, sympathy, and fortitude.

This catastrophe--for surely such it was--had left him about £350 only
in the funds, and in his banker's hands a little balance of some fifty
or sixty pounds to meet his current expenses. The above amount, at the
time when Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap's letter reached him, had been
necessarily diminished to about £290; which was positively all the money
he had in the world, to save himself, and those dependent on him, from
absolute destitution. Yet he was now peremptorily called upon, within
three days' time, to pay the sum of £1,446, 14s. 6d.

He hurried off, early the next morning, in consternation, to Messrs.
Runnington. Mr. Runnington, with a heavy heart and a gloomy countenance,
set off instantly, alone, to the office of Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and
Snap. He saw Mr. Gammon, who told him, with a well-dissembled air of
disgust, to go in to Mr. Quirk, or Mr. Snap. He did so, and found them
inexorable. Mr. Quirk doggedly told Mr. Runnington that he had been out
of pocket long enough, and would not be fooled by one of his own
partners any longer. Mr. Runnington quitted them, fairly at his wits'
end; and, on his return, told Mr. Aubrey, whom he had left at his office,
that he had done, and could do, "nothing with the vultures of Saffron
Hill." Mr. Runnington felt that his unhappy client, Mr. Aubrey, was far
too critically situated with respect to Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap,
to admit of his threatening, on Mr. Aubrey's behalf, to refer their
exorbitant and monstrous bill to taxation. He knew not, in fact, what
suggestion to offer--what scheme to devise--to extricate Mr. Aubrey from
his present dreadful dilemma. As for applying for pecuniary assistance
from friends, Mr. Aubrey's soul revolted at the bare thought.
What--borrow! Overwhelmed as he already was, it would be indeed grossly
unprincipled! Was not one alone of his generous friends at that moment
under a liability on his behalf of more than ten thousand pounds! No;
with gloomy composure he felt that, at last, _his hour was come_; that a
prison wall must soon intervene between him--poor broken-hearted
soul!--and the dear beloved beings from whom, as yet, he had never been
once separated--no! not for one moment deprived of blessed intercourse
and communion with them--his wife--Kate--his unconscious little

Kate, however, got desperate; and, unknown to her brother, though with
the full privity of his weeping wife, wrote off a long--a heart-rending
letter to good old Lady Stratton, whose god-daughter she was, telling
her everything. Kate sat up half the night writing that letter, and it
was blistered with her tears. She took it very early in the morning,
herself, to the post-office, and she and Mrs. Aubrey awaited the issue
with the most trembling and fearful solicitude.

I have hardly heart to recount the events which followed upon poor
Kate's adventure; but they form a striking exemplification of the
mysterious manner in which frequently Providence, for its own awful and
wise purposes, sees fit to accumulate troubles and sorrows upon the

Old Lady Stratton had been for some months in very feeble health, and
the receipt of Kate's letter occasioned her infinite distress. It will
be remembered that she had long before effected a policy of insurance
upon her life for £15,000, always intending to bequeath it as a little
portion to poor Kate. She had many months--in fact, nearly a year and a
half before--given the necessary instructions to her solicitor, good Mr.
Parkinson of Grilston, for making her will, so as to carry into effect
her kind intentions towards Kate; bequeathing also legacies of £500
a-piece to each of Mr. Aubrey's little children. How it came to pass,
however, I scarcely know--except by referring it to that sad
superstitious weakness which makes people often procrastinate the
execution of so all-important an instrument as a will; but at the time
when Kate's letter arrived, that will had not been executed, but still
lay at Mr. Parkinson's office. Feeling greatly indisposed, however,
shortly after she had received Miss Aubrey's letter, she sent off an
express for Mr. Parkinson to attend with her will; and a few minutes
afterwards her attendants found it necessary to send off another express
for her physician, Dr. Goddart. Before drawing a check for the sum of
£700, or £800, which she intended instantly to place at Mr. Aubrey's
disposal, she awaited Mr. Parkinson's return, that he--who managed all
her affairs--might inform her of the exact balance then at her banker's.
He was absent from Grilston when the express arrived; but he was
followed, and about seven o'clock that evening entered Lady Stratton's
residence, carrying with him her will, ready prepared for execution. His
chief clerk also accompanied him, lest, by any possibility, a _witness_
should be wanting. The countenances of the domestics warned him that
there was not one moment to be lost; and he hastened at once into Lady
Stratton's bedchamber. There she lay, venerable old lady, propped up by
pillows--her long white hair partially visible from under her cap. A
hasty whisper from Dr. Goddart apprised him of the very critical
situation of Lady Stratton. Writing materials stood ready prepared in
the room against Mr. Parkinson's arrival. She recognized him on his
passing the foot of the bed, and in a feeble voice whispered--_"My
will!--my will!"_

[Oh, hasten! delay not an instant, Mr. Parkinson! If you did but know
what depends on your movements--could you but at this moment--oh
me!--could you but catch a glimpse of the scene passing in Vivian
Street!--Give her the pen, Mr. Parkinson--guide her hand--place it upon
the paper.]

_But it was too late._ Before the pen could be placed within her
fingers, those fingers had become incapable of holding it--for Lady
Stratton at that moment experienced the paralytic seizure which Dr.
Goddart had been dreading for three or four hours before. Alas, alas! 't
was all useless: pen, ink, and paper were removed. She lingered till
about nine o'clock the next morning, when, in the presence of Mr.
Parkinson, who had not quitted the room for one instant, death released
the venerable sufferer. She had thus died _intestate_; and her next of
kin became entitled to her property--which consisted of personalty only.
Had this event happened but two years before, Mr. Aubrey and Kate would
have been Lady Stratton's only next of kin: but now--alas!--Mr. Titmouse
was also one of her next of kin, and entitled, as such, to a THIRD of
all that which had been destined to the Aubreys alone!--In what a
position were the Aubreys now placed? Titmouse would directly insist on
his right to administer, in preference to Aubrey--and would succeed in
establishing his right; for was he not equally near of kin, and moreover
the creditor, to a very large extent, of Mr. Aubrey--who was, besides,
utterly insolvent? What, then, would be the consequences of this move on
the part of Titmouse? He would get into his possession all the property
of Lady Stratton--and though not entitled to withhold payment to Mr.
Aubrey and his sister of the shares due to them, he might interpose many
obstacles in the way of their recovering, and avail himself of their
insisting upon _their_ rights, as a pretext for his insisting on _his_
rights against Mr. Aubrey, even to the uttermost extremity!--All these,
and many other similar considerations, passed quickly in review before
the troubled mind of Mr. Parkinson. His fears were soon realized by
events. Before the venerable deceased had been laid in Yatton
churchyard, not far from her, beloved friend, Mrs. Aubrey, who had
preceded her by a few months only, Mr. Parkinson received a letter from
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, as the solicitors of Mr. Titmouse,
giving him formal notice of the title of their client, and requesting
Mr. Parkinson to lose no time in making an inventory of the effects of
her Ladyship, to whom Mr. Titmouse intended to administer immediately.
Mr. Gammon himself went down, and arrived the day after the funeral.
Guess his delighted astonishment on discovering the windfall which had
come to his client, Mr. Titmouse, in the policy of £15,000, the
existence of which they had, of course, never dreamed of!

But there was another discovery, which occasioned him not a little
excitement, as his flushed cheek and suspended breath testified--alas!
poor Aubrey's BOND for £2,000, _with interest at five per cent_!--an
instrument which poor Lady Stratton, having always intended to destroy,
latterly imagined that she had actually done so. It had, however, got
accidentally mingled with other papers, which had found their way, in
the ordinary course, to Mr. Parkinson, and who was himself ignorant of
its existence, since it lay folded in a letter addressed to Lady
Stratton, till it turned up while he was sorting the papers, in
obedience to the request of Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap. He turned
pale and red by turns as he held the accursed document in his fingers;
probably, thought he, no one on earth but himself knew of its existence;
_and_--_and_--he knew what the _deceased_ would have done--but his sense
of duty prevailed! Of course the party entitled to sue for the principal
money secured by it, together with all arrears of interest which might
be due upon it, was now Mr. TITTLEBAT TITMOUSE!

--Surely it is hard to imagine a more dismal and wanton freak of fortune
than this--as far, at least, as concerned poor Kate Aubrey.


     "Fly! Fly!--For God's sake fly! Lose not one moment of the precious
     respite which, by incredible efforts, I have contrived to secure
     you--a respite of but a few hours--and wrung from heartlessness and
     rapacity. In justice, much injured man! to yourself--to all you
     hold dear upon earth--to the precious interests intrusted to your
     keeping, and involved in your destruction--again I say _Fly_! Quit
     the country, if it be but for never so short a time, till you or
     your friends shall have succeeded in arranging your disordered
     affairs. Regard this hasty and perhaps incoherent note, in what
     light you please--but I tell you it comes, _in sacred confidence_,
     from a firm and inalienable friend, whose present desperate
     exertions in your behalf you will one day perhaps be able to
     appreciate. Once more I conjure you to fly!--From other and greater
     dangers than you at present apprehend. _I see the rack preparing
     for you!_--Will you stay to be tortured?--and in the presence of
     the incomparable beings who--but my feelings overpower me! Indeed,
     Mr. Aubrey, if you disregard this intimation through weak fears as
     to its writer's sincerity, or a far weaker, and a wild, notion of
     Quixotic honor and heroism--remember, in the moment of being
     overwhelmed, _this note_--and then do justice to its writer.--Your
     faithful, unhappy, _distrusted_ friend,

                                                                 "O. G.

     "P.S.--For God's sake burn, or otherwise destroy, this letter, as
     soon as you shall have read it."

Such was the letter which got into Mr. Aubrey's hands just as the time
which had been fixed by Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, for payment of
their bill, was expiring, and which occasioned him, as may be easily
imagined, dreadful disquietude. It had found him in a state of the
deepest depression--but yet vigorously striving to preserve, in the
presence of his wife and sister, a semblance of composure and
cheerfulness. More to pacify them than to satisfy himself, he had walked
about town during the two preceding days till nearly dropping with
exhaustion, in fruitless quest of those who might be disposed to advance
him a thousand pounds on his own personal security, and on terms he
scarce cared how exorbitant, to free him, at all events for a while,
from his present exigency. All had been, however, in vain--indeed he had
had no hopes from the first. And what was then to be done? His soul
seemed dying away within him. At times he almost lost all consciousness
of his situation, and of what was passing around him. It appeared to be
the will of Heaven that his misfortunes should press him down, as it
were, by inches into the dust, and crush him. Those there were, he well
knew, who needed but to be apprised of his circumstances, to step
forward and generously relieve him from his difficulties. But where was
all that to end? What real good could it serve? Awfully involved as he
was already--one, alone, of his friends being at that moment under a
liability which must be discharged within a few months, of nearly
_eleven thousand pounds_--was he to place others in a similar situation?
What earthly prospect had he of ever repaying them? Lamentable as was
his position, his soul recoiled from the bare thought. But then came
before his anguished eye, his wife--his sister--his children; and he
flung himself, in an ecstasy, on his knees, remaining long
prostrate--and, for a while, _the heaven that was over his head seemed
to be brass, and the earth that was under him, iron_. His heart might be
wrung, however, and his spirit heavy and darkened; but no extent or
depth of misery could cause him to forget those principles of honor and
integrity by which all his life had been regulated. He resolved,
therefore, to submit to the stroke apparently impending over him, with
calmness, as to inevitable ruin; nor would he hear of any further
applications to his friends, which, indeed, he felt would be only
encouragement to those who held him in thraldom, to renew their
exactions, when they found each succeeding pressure successful. Poor
Kate had told him, as soon as her letter had been put into the post,
with trembling apprehension as to the consequences, of her application
to Lady Stratton; but did she think her fond broken-hearted brother
could chide her? He looked at her for a moment, with quivering lip and
eyes blinded with tears--and then wrung her hand, simply expressing a
hope, that, since the step _had_ been taken, it might be, in some
measure at least, successful.

Mr. Gammon's letter, as I have already intimated, filled Mr. Aubrey with
inexpressible alarm. Again and again he read it over with increasing
agitation, and at the same time uncertain as to its true character and
import--as to the real motive and object of its writer. Was he guilty of
the duplicity which Mrs. Aubrey and Kate so vehemently imputed to him?
Was he actuated by revenge? Or was he, as represented by Mr. Quirk's
letter, overpowered by his partners, and still sincere in his wishes to
shield Mr. Aubrey from their rapacity? Or was Mr. Gammon suggesting
_flight_ only as a snare? Was Mr. Aubrey to be seduced into an act
warranting them in proceeding to instant extremities against him? What
could be the other matters so darkly alluded to in the letter? Were they
the two promissory notes of five thousand pounds each, which he had
deposited with Mr. Gammon, who at length was peremptorily required by
Mr. Titmouse to surrender them up, and permit them to be put in suit?
They were payable _on demand_--he shuddered! Might it be, that Titmouse
was desperately in want of money, and had therefore overpowered the
scruples of Gammon, and disregarded the sacred pledge under which he
assured Titmouse the notes had been given? Mr. Aubrey rejoiced that Mr.
Gammon's letter had been placed in his hands by the servant when alone
in his study, whither he had gone to write a note to Mr. Runnington; and
resolved not to apprise Mrs. Aubrey and Kate of its arrival. The
_fourth_ day after the receipt of Messrs. Quirk and Snap's letter had
now elapsed. Mr. Aubrey did not venture to quit the house. All of them
were, as may well be imagined, in a state of pitiable distress, and
agitation, and suspense. Thus also passed the _fifth_ day--still the
blow descended not. Was the arm extended to inflict it, held back,
still, by Mr. Gammon continuing thus the "_incredible efforts_" spoken
of in his note?

The _sixth_ morning dawned on the wretched family. They all rose at a
somewhat earlier hour than usual. They could scarce touch the spare and
simple breakfast spread before them, nor enjoy--nay, they could hardly
bear--the prattle and gambols of the lively little ones, Charles and
Agnes, whom at length they despatched back again to the nursery; for
they were, in the highest possible state of excitement and anxiety,
awaiting the arrival of the postman--this being the first morning on
which they could, in the ordinary course, receive a letter from Lady
Stratton in answer to that of Kate. 'T was now a little past ten. The
breakfast things had been removed; and on hearing the agitating though
long-expected _rat-tat_ of the postman a few doors down the street, Mrs.
Aubrey and Kate started to the window. Their hearts beat violently when
their eye at length caught sight of him, with his arm full of letters,
knocking at the door opposite. Oh, had he a letter for _them_? How long
were their opposite neighbors in answering his summons, and in paying
the postage! Then he stood for nearly a minute laughing with a servant
in the adjoining area--intolerable indeed was all this, to the agitated
beings who were thus panting for his arrival! Presently he glanced at
the packet in his hand, and taking one of the letters from it, crossed
the street, making for their door.

"Heavens! He _has_ a letter!" cried Miss Aubrey, excitedly--"I sha'n't
wait for Fanny!" and, flying to the front door, plucked it open the
instant after the postman had knocked. He touched his hat on seeing,
instead of a servant, the beautiful but agitated lady, who stretched
forth her hand and took the letter, exclaiming, "Fanny will pay
you"--but in an instant her cheek was blanched, and she nearly fell to
the floor, at sight of the black border, the black seal, and the
handwriting, which she did not at the instant recognize. For a moment or
two she seemed to have lost the power of speech or motion; but presently
her trembling limbs bore her into the parlor. "Oh! Charles--Agnes--I
feel as if I were going to _die_--look"--she faltered, sinking into the
nearest chair, while Mr. Aubrey, with much agitation, took the
ominous-looking letter which she extended towards him. 'T was from Mr.
Parkinson; and told the news of Lady Stratton's death, and the
lamentable circumstances attending it; that--as the reader has
heard--she had died intestate--and that Mr. Titmouse had, as next of
kin, become entitled to administration to her effects. All this
disastrous intelligence was conveyed in a very few hurried lines. "Oh,
my God!" exclaimed Mr. Aubrey, on having glanced over them. His color
fled, and he pressed his hand against his forehead. "She is dead!" said
he, in a low tone, at the same time giving Kate the letter, and
hastening to Mrs. Aubrey, who seemed nearly fainting. Each had uttered a
faint scream on hearing his words. Mrs. Aubrey swooned in his arms
--and Kate sat like a statue, without even glancing at the fatal letter
which she held in her hand, but gazing in a sort of stupor at her
brother. She was unable to rise to Mrs. Aubrey's assistance--of whose
state, indeed, she appeared, from her vacant eye, to be hardly aware. At
length a slight sigh announced the returning consciousness of Mrs.
Aubrey; and at the same time Miss Aubrey, with a manifestly desperate
effort, regained her consciousness, and with a cheek white as the paper
at which she was looking, read it over.

"This is very--very--dreadful--Heaven is forsaking us!" at length she
murmured, gazing wofully at her brother and sister.

"Say not so--but rather God's will be done," faltered Mr. Aubrey, his
voice and his countenance evincing the depth of his affliction. "God
help us!" he added in a tone which at length, thrilling through the
overcharged heart of his sister, caused her to weep bitterly; and if
ever there was a mournful scene, it was that which ensued, ere this
doomed family, slowly recovering from the first stunning effects of the
shock which they had just received, had become aware of the full extent
of their misery. They had ever felt towards Lady Stratton--who, as has
been already said, had been poor Kate's godmother--as towards a parent;
and their affection had been doubled after the death of Mrs. Aubrey. Now
she was _gone_; she who would have stood for a little while at least
between them and ruin, was gone! And by an inscrutable and awful
Providence, that which she had sacredly destined to them, and made great
sacrifices to secure to them--and which would have effectually shielded
them from the cruelty and rapacity of their enemies--had been diverted
from them, into the coffers of the most selfish and worthless of
mankind--who seemed, indeed, as if he had been called into existence
only to effect their ruin; even, as it were, _the messenger of Satan to
buffet them_! At length, however, the first natural transports of their
grief having subsided, their stricken hearts returned to their
allegiance towards Heaven; and Mr. Aubrey, whose constancy at once
strengthened and encouraged his partners in affliction, with many
expressions of sincere and confident piety and resignation reminded them
that they were in the hands of God, who intended all earthly
suffering--however unaccountable--however harsh and apparently
undeserved its infliction--to contribute infallibly to the ultimate
benefit of His children. And he reminded them, on that melancholy
occasion, of the example afforded by one whose griefs had far
transcended theirs--the patriarch Job; on whom were suddenly--and to him
apparently without any reason or motive, except the infliction of
evil--accumulated almost every species of misfortune which could befall
humanity. The sudden and total loss of his substance, and of all his
servants, he appears to have borne with fortitude. At length, however,
was announced to him the loss of all his sons and daughters----

     _"Then Job arose and rent his mantle, and shaved his head,
     and fell down upon the ground and worshipped,

     "And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked
     shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath
     taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord.

     "In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly."_

Out of respect to the memory of their dear, venerable, departed friend,
they drew down all the blinds of their little house, thereby spreading
around them a gloom similar to that within. A sad, a mournful little
group they looked! This last sorrow seemed for a while to divert their
thoughts from the peril which momentarily menaced them. They talked with
frequent emotion, and with many tears, of their late friend--recalling,
fondly, innumerable little traits of her gentle and benignant character.
Towards the close of the day their souls were subdued into resignation
to the will of the all-wise Disposer of events: they had, in some
measure, realized the consolations of an enlightened and scriptural

They met the next morning, at breakfast, with a melancholy composure.
The blinds being drawn down, prevented the bright sunshine out of doors
from entering into the little room where their frugal breakfast was
spread, and where prevailed a gloom more in unison with their saddened
feelings. To all who sat round the table, except little Charles, the
repast was slight indeed: he had shortly before begun to breakfast
down-stairs, instead of in the nursery; and, merry little thing!--all
unconscious of the destitution to which, in all human probability, he
was destined--and of the misery which oppressed and was crushing his
parents--he was rattling away cheerfully, as if nothing could disturb or
interrupt the light-heartedness of childhood. They all started on
hearing the unexpected knock of the general postman. He had brought them
a letter from Dr. Tatham; who, it seemed, was aware of that which had
been the day before despatched to them by Mr. Parkinson. The little
doctor's letter was exceedingly touching and beautiful; and it was a
good while before they could complete its perusal, owing to the emotion
which it occasioned them. 'T was indeed full of tender sympathy--of
instructive incentives to resignation to the will of God.

"Is not that indeed the language of a devout and venerable minister of
God?" said Mr. Aubrey--"whose figure is daily brightening with the glory
reflected from the heaven which he is so rapidly approaching? In the
order of nature, a few short years must see him, also, removed from

"Then we shall indeed be desolate!" said Miss Aubrey, weeping bitterly.

"Heaven," continued her brother, "is speaking to us through one of its
ministers in this letter! Let us listen in reverent humility!" They
remained silent for some moments, Mr. Aubrey re-perusing the long and
closely written letter of which he had been speaking. Presently he heard
a knock at the street door--an ordinary single knock--such as was by no
means unusual at that period of the morning; yet he scarce knew why--it
disconcerted him. He kept, however, his eye upon the letter, while he
heard Fanny opening the door--then a word or two whispered--after which
the parlor door was hastily opened, and Fanny stood there, pale as
death, and unable, evidently from fright, to speak--a heavy step was
heard in the passage--and then there stood behind the terror-stricken
girl a tall stout man in a drab great-coat, with a slouched hat, and a
thick walking-stick in his hand--looking over her shoulder into the
parlor, whose dismayed occupants soon shared the panic of poor Fanny.

"Beg your pardon, sir," said he, civilly advancing into the room, and
removing his hat--"is your name Charles Aubrey?"

"It is, sir," said Mr. Aubrey, rising from his chair--by which time a
second man was standing at the door.

"You're my prisoner, sir," said the man, stepping close up to the
wretched Aubrey, and touching him on the shoulder, at the same time
holding out a thin slip of paper--the warrant by virtue of which he was
then acting. The moment that he advanced towards Mr. Aubrey, a dreadful
shriek burst from Mrs. Aubrey and Kate, who sprang forward, and threw
their arms wildly round him. He implored them to restrain their
feelings--though evidently greatly agitated himself.

"Will you let me look at your warrant?" said he, mildly, to the man who
had arrested him, and remained standing close beside him. Mr. Aubrey,
glancing over the fatal slip of paper, saw that he was arrested for
fourteen hundred pounds and upwards at the suit of Messrs. Quirk,
Gammon, and Snap.[6]

"You see, sir, it's only my duty to do this here," said the officer,
respectfully, apparently touched by the agony of the two beautiful women
who still clung wildly round one about to be torn ruthlessly from their
arms;--"don't take on so, ladies--there 's no great harm done yet."

"For mercy's sake, Agnes! Kate! as you love me!--Be calm! You afflict me
beyond measure," said Mr. Aubrey, who, though he had grown very pale,
yet preserved under the circumstances a remarkable degree of
self-possession. 'T was, however, a scene which he had been endeavoring
to realize to himself, and prepare for daily, if not hourly, for the
last week.

"Oh, mercy! mercy!--for God's sake have mercy on him! On us!"--exclaimed
Mrs. Aubrey and Kate.

"Oh, good men! kind men!--have mercy!" cried Kate, desperately--"What
are you going to do with him?"

"No harm, miss, you may depend on 't--only he must go with us, seeing we
're _obligated_ to take him."

"For Heaven's sake, don't--don't, for mercy's sake!"--cried Kate,
turning her agonized face towards the man--her hair partially
dishevelled, and her arms still clasping her brother with frantic
energy. Mrs. Aubrey had swooned, and lay insensible in her husband's
arms, supported by his knee; while Fanny, herself half-distracted, was
striving to restore her by rubbing her cold hands.

"Lord, ladies! don't--don't take on in this here way--you're only
a-hurting of yourselves, and you don't do the gentleman any good, you
know--'cause, in course, he's all the sorrier for going," said the
second man, who had by this time entered the room, and stood looking on
concernedly. But Miss Aubrey repeated her inquiries with wild and
frantic impetuosity, for some time not aware that Mrs. Aubrey lay
insensible beside her.

"Jemmy--run and fetch the lady a sup of water from the kitchen--she's
gone into a dead faint--run, my man!" said the officer to his follower,
who immediately obeyed him, and presently returned with a glass of
water; by which time, both Kate, and her brother, and Fanny, were
endeavoring, with great agitation, to restore Mrs. Aubrey, whose
prolonged swoon greatly alarmed them, and in whose sufferings, the sense
of their own seemed for a while absorbed. The two men stood by, grasping
their huge walking-sticks, and their hats, in silence. At length Mrs.
Aubrey showed symptoms of recovery--uttering a long deep sigh.

"I say--master," at length whispered the follower, "I'll tell you what
it is--this here seems a bad business, don't it?"

"Jemmy, Jemmy!" replied his master, sternly, "You a'n't got half the
pluck of a _bum_!--There's nothing in all this when one's used to it, as
I am."

"P'r'aps the gemman don't rightly owe the money, after all."

"Don't he? And _they've_ sworn he _does_?--Come, come, Jem, no chaffing!
The sooner (I'm thinking) we have him off from all this here blubbering,
the better."

"Bless'd if ever I see'd two such beautiful women afore. I don't half
like it; I wish we'd nabbed him in the street--and" he lowered his
whisper--"if there's _much_ o' this here sort o' work to be done, I've
had enough of being a bum already, an' 'll go back to my business
again, bad as times is!"

"Kind--good men!" said Kate, approaching them, and speaking with forced
calmness--pushing aside her disordered hair from her pale cheeks, "Can't
you leave him here--only a day longer?"

"Can't, miss--it's quite _un_possible; it's not to be done for no money
short of debt and costs," said the officer, respectfully, but rather
doggedly--as if he were getting tired of the scene--"one would think we
were a-going to murder the gemman! Once for all, if so be as he will
only go as a gemman should, to my little place in Chancery-Lane--(my
name's Grab, miss, at your service, and there a'n't a better conducted
lock-up nor mine in London, I assure you, nor where debtors is more
comfortably looked arter)--he's no need to be there above a day or
two--it may be less--and of course his friends will come and bail him
out; so _don't_ be a-going on so when it's no manner o' use!"

"Charles! My love!" murmured Mrs. Aubrey, faintly--"they surely will not
separate us? Oh! let us go together; I don't care where we go to, so
long as I am with you."

"Do not ask it, my darling! my heart's love!" replied Mr. Aubrey,
tenderly, as he supported her in his arms, and against his knee--and a
tear fell from his eye upon her cheek--"I shall be exposed to but little
inconvenience, I am certain; there can be no violence or insult offered
me so long as I submit myself peaceably to the laws! And I shall soon,
please God, be back!"

"Oh, Charles! I shall die--I shall never survive seeing you carried
away!" she replied--and her manner was becoming increasingly vehement.

"Agnes, Agnes!" said her husband, reprovingly, "the mother must not
desert her children; my heart will ache every moment that I am absent,
if I think that my dear little ones have not a mother's protection."

"Kate will take care of them, love!" said Mrs. Aubrey, faintly; and her
husband tenderly kissed her forehead. While this hurried colloquy
between the wretched couple was proceeding, Kate was talking in low but
impassioned tones to the two officers, who listened to her respectfully,
but shook their heads.

"No, miss--it _can't_ be; it can't indeed."

"But you shall have _everything_ in the house for your security--I have
still a good many handsome dresses; jewels, all--all; surely they will
produce _something_; and then there's plate, and books, and
furniture--you can't think Mr. Aubrey's going basely to run away!"----

"If, as how, miss, (you see,) it was only ourselves that you had to do
with--(but, Lord love you, miss! we 're only officers, and has our duty
to do, and _must_ do it!)--why, we'd go a little out of our way for to
oblige a lady; but the people you must go to is the gemmen whose names
is here," pointing to the warrant; "they're the people as the money's
owing to--Quirk, Gamm"----

"Don't name them! They are fiends! They are villains! They are robbing,
and then ruining, my wretched brother!" exclaimed Miss Aubrey, with
dreadful vehemence.

"Kate, Kate!" cried Mr. Aubrey, kindly but peremptorily--"in mercy to
me, be silent! Restrain your feelings, or really I must hasten my

"Oh, Charles!" faltered Miss Aubrey, sinking down on a chair exhausted,
and burying her face in her handkerchief.

"Now, sir--if _you_ please," commenced Grab, turning to Mr. Aubrey, "we
must be thinking of going, seeing, I expect, I've another job on hand
to-day; would you prefer coaching, or walking it? Excuse me, sir--I've
seen many such things as this; and I know it's only a haggrawating of
your feelings to be stopping here--the longer the worse! What must be,
had better be done at once, and got over with. I've been a-telling this
here young lady a many times, that it's no use fretting--and that in
course you'll be soon back again, when you've done what's needful; so
hadn't my man here better go and get a coach?"

"It is so, indeed!" exclaimed Mr. Aubrey, with a profound sigh--and
endeavored for some time by all the means in his power to soothe and
pacify his wretched companions.

"Can I speak a word with you alone, before I go?" he presently inquired
of the officer.

"In course, sir," replied Grab; and promising to return within a minute
or two's time, Mr. Aubrey quitted the room with Grab close at his heels;
and presently they were both standing in his little study.

"Betwixt ourselves, sir," quoth Grab, in a confidential tone, "you've
_rather_ keen hands to deal with;" here he laid his finger along his
nose, and winked his eye--"and you'll lose no time in turning yourself
about. You understand, sir?"

"Perfectly," replied Mr. Aubrey, with a sigh. "Who gave you your
instructions in this matter?"

"Mr. Snap--the junior partner--it was him that brought this here warrant
to me"----

"Are you sure? Was it not Mr. Gammon?"

"No, sir--Snap--Snap; that little cockatoo of a chap. Mr. Gammon called
at my office half an hour afterwards, to be sure"----

"I thought so," interrupted Mr. Aubrey, quickly, his face flushing, and
feeling relieved from a vast pressure.

"Ay," continued Grab, phlegmatically, "_he'll_ see you don't come to
much harm in this matter"----

"What do you mean?" inquired Mr. Aubrey, with surprise.

"Lord! I could tell by his way. He called to say that, since they had
resolved to go agin you, he hoped, we 'd show you every attention, and
deal easy by you"----


"Ay--indeed! And I think he said it was a cruel business--nay, I'm
_sure_ he did; and that, as for him, he washed his hands on 't!" Mr.
Aubrey seemed confounded.

"I don't somehow think him and his partners are on the best of terms
together--but that's no business o' mine, you know, sir! And now, sir,
excuse me, but we must be jogging."

"But, my friend, is there really no way," inquired Mr. Aubrey, with
manifest perturbation, "by which I can delay accompanying you for a few

"Oh can't, sir--_un_possible!"

"You can remain in possession here--I will be in your custody--I have a
little plate, books, and furniture, which would surely stand sufficient

"It 's no use, sir; go you must--and that without much longer
shilly-shallying. It's no use!"

Aubrey seemed for a moment overpowered by his emotions.

"I fear, myself, that there is no alternative," said he; "but it will
almost break the hearts of those ladies--one of whom is my wife"----His
voice faltered.

"You take my advice, sir! Let my man start off for a coach--you have a
shirt or two put up, and an amusing book--or a bit of a cribbage-board,
or a pack of cards, if they're at hand--and give 'em the slip; if you'll
believe me, sir, it 's much the best way; and when you're once out o'
the house, they'll come to, and make up their minds to it--never fear

"Send, then, for a coach--delay, I see, is worse than useless," said he,
hastily, hearing steps approaching the study door, which was thrust
open, and Mrs. Aubrey and Miss Aubrey entered, unable any longer to
endure his absence--and as if fearful lest, in mercy to them, he should
be contriving to leave them secretly. Grab, having despatched his
follower for a coach, at Mr. Aubrey's earnest request to be left alone
for a few minutes, withdrew--but first cast a keen scrutinizing eye at
the window--and then the chimney--and then, having closed the door,
stood outside, in a position which commanded both door and window.

"Now, my own Agnes! my sweet Kate!" commenced Aubrey, in a low, earnest
tone, having bolted the door to secure themselves from interruption
during the few precious moments which remained to them before the
arrival of the coach--"I must, within a very few minutes, leave you!
Remember--remember, loves!--I am unfortunate, but, I am not
disgraced!--I look on this as a dispensation of Providence--an
infinitely wise, and good Providence; let us all learn submission, and
resignation! Whether or not we are really the victims of treachery and
hypocrisy, I am unable at present to tell; but let us learn to bear this
last crowning indignity with the fortitude of Christians!--relying on
it, that God will overrule the most trying and disastrous events for our
eventual good! Kneel down! Let us bow before the throne of Heaven, and
supplicate its blessing and support, in this our greatest extremity!" He
said this calmly; but his face was deadly pale, and his voice
faltered--while they clung round him and heaved convulsive sobs, as,
half unconsciously, they sank on their knees with him. Then they
rose--and certainly a gracious Providence had not listened in vain to
the earnest, heartfelt cries uttered by those persecuted and
heart-broken beings; for they felt a sense of composure stealing over
their troubled bosoms--as if they had seen for a moment a bright light
glancing through the gloom of their sorrows. Yet poor nature was
wrung--wrung indeed! Mr. Aubrey proceeded to make some little
preparations for his departure--putting a five-pound note into his
pocket--and leaving but little more behind him; and the servant being
summoned into the room, was despatched to put up a change of linen
for him. He then implored and conjured them, as they loved him, to
struggle against their feelings;--and to rely upon his pledge to
send them, within two hours at the furthest, intelligence of his
movements--assuring them of his confident belief, that in less than
twenty-four hours he should have returned to them. While he was speaking
in this strain, Mrs. Aubrey suddenly quitted the room, and after a
moment's absence returned, her pallid, agitated countenance overspread
with a wild smile of delight, as she exclaimed breathlessly--"There,
love! Dearest Charles! He says there is no harm in the world in my going
with you in the coach--and, indeed, we may have rooms to ourselves!"

"My sweet Agnes"----

"I will--I _will_ go with you, Charles! Nothing shall prevent me--even
if I leave you at the door of the place you are going to!" It was in
vain for Mr. Aubrey to protest--as he did, both earnestly and
vehemently;--her impassioned importunities were irresistible, and she
rushed breathlessly up-stairs to prepare her dress to accompany him on
his brief but melancholy journey. Within a very few minutes she had
returned, just as the sound of the coach-wheels approaching the door was
heard. Mr. Aubrey and Kate perceived the dangerous excitement under
which she was laboring, and dreaded its effects: yet what could be done?
He could not prolong his stay--and it would be infinitely more dangerous
to leave her behind, now that she had set her heart upon accompanying
him, than to permit her to do so. She carried down little Agnes in her
arms--and had been almost suffocating her and Charles, who walked after
her, with kisses and convulsive embraces. Both the children were crying
bitterly; and as soon as Mrs. Aubrey had reached the parlor door, and
heard the coach-steps letting down, she fell into violent hysterics.

"I'll tell you what, sir," whispered Grab, as he stood close beside Mr.
Aubrey, who was supporting Mrs. Aubrey--"it wouldn't be amiss if I was
to say you should come along with me at once, while this poor lady's
insensible--and then when she 'd have come to herself, and know'd you
was _gone_, and no mistake--why--she'd in course think no more of it

"Oh! for God's sake--for God's sake! Remember your promise!" cried
Aubrey, and in a voice which nearly reached the officer's heart: as it
was, he simply shrugged his shoulders, and awaited the issue with no
little impatience, but in silence. 'T was in the midst of this
heart-rending scene, which ensued during the next half-hour, that Kate
displayed the strength of character which so remarkably distinguished
her; and, completely mastering her own agitated feelings, she
essentially contributed towards Mrs. Aubrey's restoration to a state
which would admit of her at length setting off. The children had been
removed--Mr. Aubrey having bid them an agonizing adieu; for he knew not
what accident or contrivance might occur to prevent his return to
them--and after embracing his weeping sister, he supported Mrs. Aubrey,
Grab closely following them, into the coach. All three having got in,
"Jem," as he was called, shut up the door, jumped up on to the
coach-box, and then they drove away. Poor Mrs. Aubrey, on taking her
seat, drew from before her agitated yet beautiful countenance the long
dark veil which she had drawn down while passing from the house into the
coach, and gazed at Mr. Aubrey with such an expression of mingled
tenderness and agony, as was almost sufficient to have broken even the
stony heart of Grab. She also held her husband's hand convulsively
grasped within her own--as though fearful of their being even yet
violently separated from each other. As they went along, in answer to
Aubrey's anxious inquiries concerning the nature of the scenes which
awaited him, Mr. Grab told him that his--Grab's--lock-up was in
Chancery-Lane, and would be found as comfortable a place as need be. He
informed his prisoner, further, that he might have his choice,--whether
to occupy a private room, with a bedroom opening into it--or go into the
public room, where would be also some dozen other debtors,--and in which
case, of course, Mrs. Aubrey must return home alone. Mr. Aubrey inquired
what would be the expense of the private room, and was horrified on
hearing--two guineas and a half a-day, paid in advance!--exclusive of
board and attendance, which doubtless would be charged for on a
commensurate scale. The prisoner and his wife gazed at each other in
silence, and felt sick at heart.

"The smallest room--at the very top of the house--would suffice for both
a sitting-room and bedroom," said Aubrey--"and we do not care a straw
for furniture"----

"The room I told you of, or the public room, is all I've to offer you,"
replied Grab, somewhat doggedly--"and you needn't cry out before you're
hurt; for it may be your friends will bail you out before the
night--before much harm's done!" His wretched companions continued
silent for the remainder of the journey, till the coach drew up
opposite the door of the house of which they had been speaking. It was
about half-way up Chancery-Lane, on the right-hand side as you entered
from the Strand. 'T was a small, narrow, dingy-looking house, at the
corner of a miserable court. The solitary window, level with the door,
was strongly secured within by thick perpendicular iron bars. The outer
door, at the top of a flight of about a dozen well-worn steps, stood
open, leaving exposed to view an inner door, at about a couple of yards'
distance from the outer one; and on this inner door was a brass plate
bearing the terrifying name--

                             "G R A B."

The upper part of the door was of glass, and secured on the inside, like
the window, by strong iron bars. Aubrey's soul sank within him as his
eye took in these various points of the dismal building--the very first
which he had ever been _compelled to enter_. The follower, immediately
on the coach drawing up, jumped down, and running up the steps of the
house, knocked at the inner door, and hurrying back, opened the
coach-door, and let down the steps.

"Now, Jarvey--what's the damage?" inquired Grab, before any of them got

"Six shillings, your honor."

"You must tip, sir," quoth Grab to Mr. Aubrey--who thereupon counted out
all the silver he had except one solitary sixpence, and they descended,
followed up the steps of the house closely by Grab. Their hearts failed
them, as they heard the sound of heavy jingling keys from within opening
the door; and the next moment they stood within a short, narrow, and
dark passage--the sallow ill-looking man who had opened the door
instantly closing, barring, and locking it upon them.

"This here's the public room," quoth Grab, with the confident air of a
man who feels in his own house; and, half opening a door on his
left--they caught a glimpse of a number of men--some smoking; others
sitting with their feet on the table, reading the newspapers; others
playing at cards; and almost all of them drinking, and either laughing,
talking, or singing.

"Now, sir--does this _here_ suit your fancy?" inquired Grab, rather
sharply. Mr. Aubrey felt his wife leaning heavily on his arm. "Mercy! I
shall faint! I feel choked!"--she whispered.

"Show us instantly upstairs, to your private room--cost what it may,"
said Mr. Aubrey, hastily.

"It's only fair to tell you, sir, you pay in advance--and for the whole
day, though you should be out again in a quarter of an hour's time--it's
the rule of the house."

"Show us upstairs, sir, without delay," said Mr. Aubrey, peremptorily.

"Jemmy--show 'em up!" exclaimed Grab, briskly--on which Jem went
forward, followed by Mr. Aubrey, almost entirely supporting Mrs.
Aubrey--who appeared very faint--Grab bringing up the rear--up the
narrow and angular staircase. This led them into a tolerably
well-furnished room; and Mrs. Aubrey, on entering it, sank exhausted on
the sofa. Here, again, the two windows were strongly secured with iron
bars, which gave a peculiarly miserable appearance to the room. The
unhappy couple gazed around them for a moment, in silence.

"Beg your pardon, sir," said Grab, entering the room, "but must trouble
you for _two, twelve, six_; always pay in advance, as I told you

Aubrey involuntarily shuddering, took out his pocket-book--Mrs. Aubrey
bursting into tears--and handed to Grab the only money he had--his
five-pound note, requesting change.

"The lady would, perhaps, like a glass of negus?" inquired Grab.

"Certainly--bring up immediately a glass of cold sherry and water,"
replied Aubrey.

"That will be just _two, five, six_ to bring back--shall have it
directly, sir--change and all. Here's your bedroom, sir," he
added--opening a small door opposite the window--and then withdrew by
that through which they had entered. The moment that they were left
alone, Aubrey folded his arms tenderly around his wife, and kissed her
cold pale cheek; and then helped her to remove her bonnet, which, with
its heavy black veil, evidently oppressed her. Her rich dark hair fell
disordered over her tippet; and with her flushed cheek and restless eye,
would have given the beholder a vivid picture of beauty and virtue in

"Do promise me, Charles!" said she, looking fondly at him, "that I may
go with you wherever they will allow you to take me!"

"I trust, Agnes, that I shall be released before long. This is really a
comfortable room, considering!" he added, evading her question.

"If only Kate and the children were here," she replied tremulously.
"Poor things! I wonder what they are doing just now--Kate will break her
heart, poor girl, if we don't return soon!"

"Never fear, Agnes. But let us look what kind of a bedroom they have
given us. I hope we shall have no occasion, however, to occupy it. Come,
let us see!"

'T was very small and close, to be sure, and had but one narrow window,
secured, like all the others, by strong iron bars. It overlooked a
little flagged yard, about fourteen feet square, surrounded on all sides
by high walls, portions of adjoining houses. It was here that the
prisoners "_took the air_," and their escape was effectually prevented
by close and strong bars of iron passing from side to side, at about ten
feet distance from the ground. They looked down, and beheld two or three
men sitting and standing beneath, who looked more like animals caged in
a menagerie, than human beings. 'T was to Aubrey a sickening sight; and
turning from the window, they both re-entered the front room, as Grab
returned with the sherry and water, and the change, which he told down
on the table. He then asked what they would like to have for
dinner--cutlets, steaks, or chops--as he wished to know before Mrs. Grab
went out "to order the house dinner." They seemed, however, to loathe
the idea of eating, not a little to the annoyance of their truly
hospitable host; Aubrey earnestly begging him to send off a message
instantly, with his card, to Mr. Runnington.

"A couple of shillings for the man, sir," said Grab; and, having
received it, withdrew, leaving Mr. and Mrs. Aubrey to themselves for
nearly an hour and a half; at the end of which period, their hearts
leaped for joy to see Mr. Runnington enter the room, with a countenance
full of concern and sympathy.

"Well, but you shall not be much longer in this hateful hole, at any
rate," said he, after some half-hour's anxious conversation with them;
and ringing the bell, directed the man to send Grab up-stairs, and to
fetch pen, ink, and paper. In a few minutes Grab appeared. "You've no
objection, I suppose, Grab, to discharge Mr. Aubrey on my undertaking?"

"In course not, sir," replied Grab, readily; but he was not a little
disappointed at so abrupt a close to his exactions. Mr. Runnington sat
down and began to write. "You had better send off to the office, and see
if there's anything else there," he added, (meaning that Grab should
search, as he was bound to do, for any other writs against Mr. Aubrey
which might be lodged with the sheriff, before discharging his prisoner
out of custody.)

"You don't apprehend anything _there_, do you?" inquired Mr. Runnington,
rather seriously, without taking his eye from the paper on which he was

"Heaven only knows! But I _think_ not," replied Aubrey.

The following was the undertaking given by Mr. Runnington, and which
operated as an instant release of his oppressed and truly persecuted

     "Aubrey _ats_. Quirk and others.

     "We hereby undertake to procure the execution of a good
     and sufficient bail-bond herein, for the above-named defendant,
     in due time.

                                              "RUNNINGTON & CO.,
                                              Defendant's Attorneys.

                 "To MR. GRAB,
     Officer of the Sheriff of Middlesex."

With this document lying before them, and awaiting the messenger's
return from the sheriff's office, Mr. Runnington and Mr. Aubrey
conversed together anxiously on the subject of Messrs. Quirk, Gammon,
and Snap's bill. Mr. Aubrey was sufficiently acquainted with the general
course of practice to be aware, that beyond requiring him to put in bail
to the action, (special bail, as it was called,) no effectual step could
be taken against him for several months to come; _i.e._ till Michaelmas
term in the ensuing _November_,[7] however eager and active the
plaintiffs might be: so that he had an interval of at least four months,
in which, as the phrase is, "to turn himself about," and endeavor to
discover some mode of extricating himself from his present serious
dilemma. After reminding Mr. Aubrey that neither a peer of the realm,
nor a member of Parliament, nor an attorney,[8] could become bail for
him, Mr. Runnington requested the names of two or three confidential
friends to whom he might apply to become security for Mr. Aubrey; and as
he should be at any time able to exonerate them from liability, by
surrendering his person to his creditors, he felt no hesitation in
applying to them to perform for him this act of kindness. "By the way,"
said Mr. Runnington, in the course of their conversation, and with
apparent carelessness, "could I say a word or two to you on a little
matter of business? And will Mrs. Aubrey excuse us for a moment?"
turning towards her. She bowed, and they withdrew for a moment into the
adjoining bedroom.

"Put this into your pocket," said Mr. Runnington, taking out the day's
newspaper; "and when you have an opportunity, read the account of what
took place yesterday in the Court of King's Bench. It startled _me_ not
a little, I can tell you; and the reason of my not having been at the
office when your messenger arrived was, that I had not returned from
Vivian Street, whither, and to the Temple, I had gone in search of you.
For Heaven's sake, don't alarm Mrs. Aubrey, or Miss Aubrey; but, if
anything occurs to you, do not lose one moment in putting yourself into
communication with us. If possible, I will call at Vivian Street this
evening." With this they returned to the sitting-room, nothing in their
appearance calculated to alarm Mrs. Aubrey, or even attract her

Shortly afterwards Grab entered the room.

"All right, sir!" said he to Mr. Runnington; and added, turning to Mr.
Aubrey, "you're no longer in my custody, sir!"

"Oh, Charles! thank God!--Let us not stay another moment!" exclaimed
Mrs. Aubrey, joyously starting up, and putting on her bonnet. "Oh, let
us get once more into the open street!--the sweet fresh air!--Kate will
go wild with joy to see us again--Oh, dear Mr. Runnington! how can we
sufficiently thank you?" she added, turning towards him
enthusiastically. Within a few minutes' time they had quitted that
dismal scene; and were again apparently free. On first stepping into the
bright cheering sunlight, and bustling noisy street, it had a wondrous
sort of freshness and novelty--to them. _Now_ they were free to go
whithersoever they chose!--Oh, blessed LIBERTY!--let an Englishman lose
thee for but an hour, to become aware of thy value!--It seemed to Mr.
and Mrs. Aubrey, as if ten times the real interval had elapsed between
their entering and quitting the scene of his incarceration. With what
exhilarated spirits they hastened homeward! as if a millstone were no
longer suspended from their necks. But Mr. Aubrey suddenly bethought
himself of the newspaper given him by Mr. Runnington; and it cost him,
indeed, a great effort to assume a cheerfulness so foreign to his

While, however, they are thus walking homeward, intending, in the event
of Mrs. Aubrey becoming fatigued, to take a coach, let me, in order to
enable the reader to appreciate the paragraph to which Mr. Runnington
had called Aubrey's attention, turn for a while from this virtuous and
afflicted couple, to trace the leading movements of that master-spirit
of evil, Mr. Gammon; for which purpose, it will be necessary to take up
our history from the evening of the day in which Mr. Aubrey had called
at Mr. Gammon's chambers, to forbid him visiting any longer at Vivian
Street. By that time, Mr. Gammon had thoroughly thought _out_ his plan
of operations. What had passed between him and Miss Aubrey and her
brother, had satisfied him that the time for calling into action all his
forces had arrived; and the exact end he proposed to himself was, to
plunge Mr. Aubrey at once into apparently inextricable and hopeless
difficulty--into total ruin--so as to render them all more accessible to
Mr. Gammon's advances, and force Miss Aubrey into entertaining his
addresses, as the sole means of effecting her brother's liberation. For
this purpose, it would be necessary to make him debtor to so large an
amount as would preclude the interference of even the most liberally
disposed of his friends. Those might very probably go as far as fifteen
hundred pounds on his behalf, who could not be brought to think of
twelve thousand pounds--it being borne in mind, that one alone of Mr.
Aubrey's friends, Lord De la Zouch, was already liable, on his behalf,
to some eleven thousand pounds, which would become payable on the
ensuing 24th of January. But the mask was not yet to be thrown off;
Gammon resolved to appear the firm friend of Mr. Aubrey to the last;
deprecating vehemently, and striving to avert from him, the very
proceedings which he was all the while, with secret skill and vigor,
urging on against him. He determined, therefore, to recall Titmouse's
attention to the two promissory notes for £5,000 each; to pretend
reluctance to allow them to be put in suit, and yet give him clearly to
understand that _he_ might do so, without fear of giving mortal offence
to Mr. Gammon.

At the moment of the reader's being reintroduced to Mr. Gammon, that
gentleman was sitting, about nine o'clock in the evening, at his
chambers, beside a table, on which were placed a lamp, a number of
papers, and coffee. In one hand he held the rough draft of his
rent-charge, which had that day been sent to him by Mr. Frankpledge, and
he was occasionally making pencil memoranda on the margin as he went
along. He would sometimes pause in his task, as if his thoughts wandered
to other subjects; his countenance looked harassed, his ample brow
seemed laden with anxiety. Certainly, great as was his energy, clear as
was his head, and accustomed as he was to the despatch of business of
even the most difficult and varied description, all his powers were at
that moment taxed to their very uttermost stretch, as a hasty glance
round the room would have satisfied the reader. On the sofa lay several
piles of loose papers. First, there were the draft briefs--and
voluminous they were--which he was now preparing, or rather settling, in
the following actions for bribery penalties, coming on for trial at the
ensuing Yorkshire assizes:--

        "WIGLEY V. GAMMON, (_S. J._)"[9]
        "_Same_   v. MUDFLINT, (_S. J._)"
        "_Same_   v. BLOODSUCK, (_S. J._)"
        "_Same_   v. WOODLOUSE, (_S. J._)"

All these serious actions were being pushed forward with great vigor, at
the instance of Lord De la Zouch, who had, moreover, directed them all
to be made special jury causes.

Secondly, a monstrous mass of papers, also lying on the sofa, contained
the heterogeneous elements, out of which it required a head as clear as
Gammon's to draw up a brief for the defence in a very complicated case
of _conspiracy_--"The KING V. MIDDLETON SNAKE, and OTHERS,"--and which
was coming on for trial at the ensuing King's Bench sittings for London;
it having been removed, on account of its great difficulty and
importance, by _certiorari_[10] from the Old Bailey. It ought to have
been by this time prepared; yet Mr. Gammon had scarcely even looked at
the papers, though the credit of their office was at stake, as the case
had attracted a large share of public attention.

Thirdly, there were scattered about threatening masses of documents
connected with the various joint-stock companies in which Mr. Gammon was
concerned, either openly or secretly--either professionally or as a
shareholder; the management of many of them requiring infinite
vigilance and tact. These matters, however, and many others which had
accumulated, till the bare thoughts of them oppressed and distracted
him, he had altogether neglected, absorbed as he was by the pursuit of
Miss Aubrey, and the consummation of his schemes and purposes respecting
Titmouse and the Yatton property. As if all this had not been sufficient
occupation for him, there was yet another of a totally different
description. He was writing a series of very popular and powerful
attacks in the _Sunday Flash_, upon a certain Tory ex-Minister--in fact,
endeavors to write him down--and this with the privity, and even
occasional assistance, of one whom Gammon intended, in due time, to make
great use of, as soon as his Lordship should have sufficiently committed
himself thus, and otherwise; viz. my Lord Blossom and Box. Now, Gammon
had for three weeks running disappointed the numerous readers of the
_Sunday Flash_, during which period, also, he had been almost baited to
death upon the subject by old Quirk, the chief proprietor of the paper;
and that very evening, the odious VIPER, its editor, had been there, as
it were, writhing and hissing about him till he had given a positive
pledge to prepare an article against the ensuing Saturday. All these
things put together, were enough for one strong-headed man to bear up
against, and Gammon felt very nearly overwhelmed; and the reader will
think it very excusable in Mr. Gammon, that he felt such difficulty in
commanding his thoughts even to the interesting task of settling the
draft of his own rent-charge on the Yatton property. He was not quite
satisfied with the way in which Frankpledge had tinkered up the
"_consideration_" shadowed forth in Gammon's instructions, and was just
sketching off one compounded of a "certain sum of five thousand pounds
of good and lawful money of Great Britain, by the aforesaid Oily
Gammon, at or before the execution of these presents, paid to the said
Tittlebat Titmouse, and the receipt whereof the said Titmouse thereby
acknowledged, and from the same and every part thereof, released and
discharged the said Oily Gammon, his heirs, executors, administrators
and assigns" (!!!) and also "of the great skill, and exertion, and
sacrifices of the said Oily Gammon, for and on behalf of the said
Tittlebat Titmouse, in and in respect of the recovery of the Yatton
property," &c. &c.

I say he had just finished off this little matter, and was varying one
or two of the expressions, when a sharp knock at his door announced the
arrival of the intelligent grantor of the aforesaid annuity, Mr.
Titmouse himself, whose stylish cab was at that moment standing opposite
to the entrance to Thavies' Inn, in Holborn, having brought him direct
from the House of Commons, whither, however, he was to return by eleven
o'clock, till which time he had paired off, in order to enable him to
come and consult Mr. Gammon on one or two important matters. Poor
Titmouse had conceived, since his memorable interview with Gammon,
formerly related, a violent hatred of Mr. Gammon; but which was almost
absorbed in his dread of that gentleman, who had such unlimited power
over him. The sudden and serious diminution of his income by Gammon's
rent-charge, almost turned his head upside-down, and occasioned a pother
in his little bosom, which was all the greater for his being unable to
admit any sympathizing friend into his confidence. He had become fidgety
and irritable to a degree; his countenance and demeanor troubled and
depressed; from all which, the more intimate among his brother senators
naturally inferred that he had lost large sums at play, or was harassed
by his election expenses; or had quarrelled with his mistress, or been
found out by his wife; or been kicked, and dared not call out the
aggressor; or that some other such accident as frequently happens to
young gentlemen of fashion, had befallen him. Now, to be candid with the
reader, Titmouse certainly _was_ getting into rather deep water.
Formidable creditors were beginning to look somewhat sternly after him
from various quarters; his upholsterer was becoming troublesome; his
wine-merchant insisted on at least four hundred pounds on account;
Messrs. Jimcrack and Nicknack were surprised at having received no
payment for sundry expensive articles of jewelry and _vertu_. His
coach-maker, his tailor, a host of household creditors, were getting
very restless; he had a running account of some £600 or £800 at the
_Gliddington_, in respect of his Parliamentary and other dinners at that
fashionable establishment; his yacht was a dreadful drain upon him; he
had been unfortunate in his sporting speculations; in short, if Gammon
had his anxieties, so had Titmouse his. He felt himself getting terribly
out at elbows--so much so, that he could no longer give that calm and
undivided attention to his Parliamentary duties, which his enlightened
constituents had a right to expect at his hands: and in short, the sole
occasion of his calling on Gammon, was to see if that gentleman could
devise some mode of once more replenishing his empty coffers--a further
mortgage on the Yatton property being the exact mode of doing so, which
he was about to propose to Gammon. It required some tact, however, as he
felt, to broach that subject in the present position of affairs; so he
avowed that he had called to see if _Mr. Gammon's deeds were ready for
signing_--as he, Titmouse, was anxious to get it off his mind. Time was
very precious with Mr. Gammon; he therefore lost not a moment in
plucking aside the thin disguise of Titmouse, and discovering the real
object of his visit. Mr. Gammon looked very serious indeed, on hearing
the account of Titmouse's prodigal expenditure, and remonstrated with
him earnestly, and even authoritatively; but it instantly occurred to
him--could there possibly be a better opportunity for broaching the
subject of the two promissory notes?

"My dear Titmouse," said he, with great kindness of manner,
"notwithstanding all I have felt it my duty to say, I do sincerely wish
it were in my power to serve you in this emergency. But we really must
spare old Yatton for a little--you've sadly burdened her already;--we
shall be killing the goose to get at the golden egg, if we don't mind
what we're about!"

"----! But what the devil's to be _done_, Mr. Gammon? For, 'pon my soul,
I'm most _particular_ hard up, and _something_ must be done."

"We must bethink ourselves of our other resources, my dear
Titmouse!--let us see"--he paused, with his hand resting on his forehead
for a few moments--"Oh! by the way--certainly," he added suddenly--"but
no! it's a thousand pities; but my word is pledged."

"Eh? what? does anything strike you, Gammon?--'Pon my life, what is it?"
inquired Titmouse, pricking up his ears.

"Why, yes, certainly," replied Gammon, musingly--adding, as if he did
not intend Titmouse to hear him, "to be sure, it would put ten
thousand--nay, with the interest, nearly eleven"----

"The devil it would! _What_ would? My stars, Mr. Gammon!" exclaimed
Titmouse, eagerly--"Do let us know what it is!"

"Why, I was certainly thinking, at the moment," replied Gammon, with a
sigh, "of that poor devil Aubrey's two notes for £5,000 a-piece and

Titmouse's face suddenly fell. "Oh Lord! Is that all? Hang the
fellow--he's a beggar--squeezed dry--nothing more to be got out of him!"
he exclaimed with mingled chagrin and contempt. "A'n't worth powder and
shot! Blood from a stone!--won't have anything worth taking this ten
years to come!"

"Poor fellow!" quoth Gammon.

"'Pon my soul, Gammon, it's _me_ you may say that of, I rather think!"

"Why," said Gammon, glancing rather keenly at Titmouse, "my first and
greatest duty on earth, my dear Titmouse, is to _you_--to look after, to
secure your interests; and candor compels me to say, that, whatever may
be my feelings towards that unfortunate person, still, I think, you've
only to squeeze _him_ pretty hard, and blood would come from _other_
people. Eh! you understand?"

"By Jove!--Indeed!--No! But would it really? How?--Squeeze away, then,
and be----! Please bring an action against the fellow, the first thing
in the morning! Put him in jail, and he'll get the money, I'll warrant
him! Dem the fellow! why don't he pay his debts? It's devilish hard on
_me_, a'n't it? Didn't I forgive him forty thousand pounds? By the way,
I'd forgot there's the other ten thousand that Lord De la Zouch is
surety for--when do we touch that?"

"Oh! we've taken a bond for _that_, which will not fall due before--let
me see--the 24th of next January."

"'Pon my soul, what a cursed bore! But can't one do anything with it
before then?"

"What! Sue on it before it's due?"

"No--egad! I mean, raise the wind on it. Surely Lord De la Zouch's name

"Whew!" thought Gammon, "that stroke certainly had never occurred to
me!--Ay, he's right, the little fool! Old Fang will advance £8,000 or
£9,000, or more even--I'll see to it, by Jove!" Then he said aloud--"It
may be possible, certainly, my dear Titmouse; but I see very great
obstacles in the way."

"Some cussed law point--eh?"

"Yes--but I assure you I will turn my best attention to it," he added;
and proceeded to bring back Titmouse to the point at which he had
started off. "And speaking of poor Aubrey--it's certainly true that you
have been, I may say, extravagantly liberal to him--forbearing beyond
example; and I can't think that any one can be expected, when he knows a
wave of his hand will put some eleven thousand pounds into his pocket,
to stand by idle forever! It is not in human nature"----

"No; 'pon my life it isn't," quoth Titmouse, with a puzzled air, quite
unable to make out whether Gammon intended to favor or discourage the
notion of immediately proceeding against Aubrey; which Gammon observing,
he continued--"At all events I should say, that if you consider that
your own necessities"--

"Demme! I should think so!" interposed Titmouse.

"Required it--and, as you very properly observed, _you_ are the best
judge; certainly"----he paused; surely--thought he--Titmouse _now_ saw
his drift!

"Yes--'pon my soul!" exclaimed Titmouse.

"Why, in that case, it is only due to myself to say _I_ can be no party
to it: I have had to bear enough already that was due to others; and
since I have solemnly pledged my word of honor to Mr."----

"What the devil _do_ you mean, Gammon? Cuss me, if I can make you out a
bit!" interrupted Titmouse, snappishly.

"You misunderstand me, my dear Titmouse! Once for all, I say, if you
want the money, you must immediately sue on these notes; and my opinion
is, you'll succeed--only, I _must not appear in it_, you know! But if
you do choose to employ some other solicitor--there's that Mr. Spitfire,
for instance--to _compel_ me to give up the notes."

"Oh Lord! Honor! No, no!--So bless me Heaven! I didn't mean anything of
the kind," cried Titmouse, alarmedly, fearful of offending Gammon, who
could scarcely conceal his impatience and disgust at the stupidity of

"I cannot make you understand me, Titmouse! What I mean is, it
is my duty not to let my feelings interfere with your interests.
I now, therefore, recommend you--since you have suggested the
thing--immediately to put yourself into the hands--as far as this little
business is concerned--of some other solicitor, say Mr. Spitfire, in
Scorpion Court; and whatever he advises you to do--_do_ without
hesitation. You will probably tell him that, if he demands the two notes
on your behalf, I may, for form's sake, resist: but I know I shall be
ordered to give them up! Well--I can't help it!"

"Honor now, Gammon! May I do as I like?" inquired Titmouse, stupidly.


"And you won't be angry? Not a bit! eh?"

"On my sacred word of honor!" replied Gammon, solemnly, placing his hand
on his breast.

"Then fire away, Flannagan!" cried Titmouse, joyfully snapping his
fingers. "By Jove, here goes! Here's for a jolly squeeze! Aha! Ten
thousand drops of blood!--by Jove, he'll bleed to death! But, by the
way, what will Mr. Quirk say?"

"Curse Mr. Quirk!" cried Gammon, impatiently; "you know the course you
are to pursue--you are your own master, surely? What has Mr. Quirk to do
with you, when I allow you to act in this way?"

"To be sure! Well! here's a go! Wasn't it a lucky thought of mine to
come here to-night? But don't you forget the other ten thousand--the two
make twenty thousand, by Jove! I'm set up again--aha! And as soon as
ever the House is up, if I don't cut away in my span-new yacht, with a
lot of jolly chaps, to the East Indies, or some _other_ place that'll
take us a good six weeks, or so, to go and come back in. Hollo! Is that
eleven o'clock striking?" he inquired with a start, taking out his
watch; "It is, by Jove! and my pair's up; they'll be dividing--I'm off!

"You remember where Mr. Spitfire lives'!" said Gammon, anxiously. "In
Scorpion Court, Strand. I must say he's one of the most respectable men
in the profession; and _so_ quick!"

"Ah--I remember! I'll be with him the moment after breakfast!" replied
Titmouse: Gammon shook him by the hand--feeling, when he had shut both
his doors, as if he had been playing with an ape. "Oh, thou indefinable
and undiscoverable principle regulating human affairs!" thought he,
falling into a revery, a bitter scowl settling on his strongly-marked
features; "of what nature soever thou art, and if any such there really
be, what conceivable purpose canst thou have had in view in placing this
execrable idiot and ME, in our relative positions?" He pursued this line
of reflection for some time, till he had got into a far more melancholy
and misanthropical humor than he had ever before fallen into--till,
recollecting himself, and with a deep sigh, he rang for a fresh supply
of coffee from his drowsy laundress; and then exerted himself vigorously
till nearly five o'clock in the morning, at which hour he sank,
exhausted, into bed.

During the ensuing day, sure enough, he received a communication signed
"_Simeon Spitfire_," and dated from "_Scorpion Court_," informing him
that its respectable writer "was instructed to apply to him, on the part
of Mr. Titmouse, for the immediate delivery up of two promissory notes
for £5,000 each, given by one Charles Aubrey to the aforesaid
Titmouse," and "begging Mr. Gammon's immediate attention thereto."
Gammon instantly copied out and sent an answer which he had carefully
prepared beforehand--taking very high ground indeed, but slipping in,
with a careful inadvertence, an encouraging admission of the strict
_legal_ right of Mr. Spitfire's client. 'T was, in short, a charming
letter--showing its writer to be one of the most fastidiously
high-minded men living; but producing not the least favorable effect
upon the mind of Mr. Spitfire, who instantly forwarded a formal and
peremptory demand of the two documents in question. Gammon wrote a
second letter, alluding to an unguarded (!) admission made in his former
communication, which he most devoutly hoped would not be used against
him; and in terms of touching and energetic eloquence, reasserted that,
though the letter of the law might be against him, he conceived that, in
point of honor, and indeed of justice, he was warranted in adhering to
the solemn promise which he had made to a gentleman for whom he
entertained the most profound respect; and, in short, he flatly refused
to give up the instruments demanded! Irrepressible was the exultation of
Mr. Spitfire, on finding himself getting so much the better of so astute
a person as Mr. Gammon! and he took an opportunity of showing to every
one who came to his little office, how Mr. Gammon had laid himself open
to the superior tactics of him--the aforesaid Mr. Spitfire!--He then,
with profound astuteness, wrote a fine flourishing letter to wind up the
correspondence, and stick into an affidavit; in the course of which he
apprised Mr. Gammon that the Court of King's Bench would be immediately
applied to, for a rule calling upon him, forthwith, to deliver up the
documents in question. On this, Mr. Gammon drew up an imposing and
admirable affidavit, setting forth all the correspondence; and, as soon
as he had been served with the rule _nisi_, he instructed Sir Charles
Wolstenholme, (the late Attorney-General,) Mr. Sterling, and Mr.
Crystal, to "_show cause_" against it; knowing, of course, quite as well
as did counsel, with whom he did not think it necessary to hold a
consultation, (for fear they should press him to give up the promissory
notes without showing cause,) that there was no earthly chance of
successfully resisting the rule.--When he took his seat under Sir
Charles, just before that learned person rose to show cause, he touched
Mr. Gammon on the shoulder, and very warmly complimented him on the
highly honorable and friendly feeling which he had manifested towards
the unfortunate Mr. Aubrey; but "feared that the case, as far as the
legal merits went, was too plain for argument;--but he had looked with
unusual care over the affidavits on which the rule had been obtained,
and at the _form_ of the rule itself--and rejoiced to say he felt
confident that he should be able to discharge it with costs:"--at which
Mr. Gammon turned suddenly pale--with joyous surprise, as Sir Charles
imagined--he not knowing Gammon so well as we do!--The reader is now in
a position to appreciate the following report of what took place--and
(_inter nos_) which said report had been drawn up for the _Morning
Growl_, by Mr. Gammon himself.

                    COURT OF KING'S BENCH. Yesterday.

                         (_Sittings in Banco._)

                          _Ex parte_ TITMOUSE.

     "This was a rule, obtained by Mr. SUBTLE on a previous day of the
     term, calling upon Mr. Gammon, of the firm of Quirk, Gammon, and
     Snap, of Saffron Hill, Hatton Garden, to show cause why he should
     not forthwith deliver up to Mr. Titmouse, M. P. for Yatton, two
     promissory notes, each for the payment, on demand to that
     gentleman, of £5,000, with interest, by Charles Aubrey. Sir CHARLES
     WOLSTENHOLME, Mr. STERLING, and Mr. CRYSTAL, now appeared to show
     cause--and took a preliminary objection to the form of the rule.
     After a very long discussion, the Court decided that the rule might
     be moulded so as to meet the facts of the case, and directed cause
     to be shown on the merits.

     "From the affidavits filed in answer to the rule, it appeared that,
     shortly after the termination of the late important case of _Doe
     dem. Titmouse_ v. _Jolter_, (in which, it will be recollected, the
     lessor of the plaintiff succeeded in establishing his right to very
     large estates in Yorkshire,) Mr. Gammon had been very active in
     endeavoring to effect an amicable arrangement concerning the mesne
     profits; and, after great exertions, had persuaded his client Mr.
     Titmouse to enter into an arrangement highly advantageous to Mr.
     Aubrey--who was to be released, (as we understood,) from no less a
     sum than Sixty Thousand Pounds, due in respect of the mesne
     profits, on giving the two promissory notes which were the subject
     of the present application. It further appeared, that on obtaining
     Mr. Aubrey's signature to these promissory notes, Mr. Gammon had
     explicitly and repeatedly assured him that he need be under no
     apprehension of being called on for payment for several years; but
     that the notes should remain in the hands of Mr. Gammon, and should
     not be put in suit till after a twelvemonth's notice should have
     been given to Mr. Aubrey. It did not distinctly appear whether Mr.
     Titmouse was ever made aware of this understanding between Mr.
     Gammon and Mr. Aubrey--at all events, nothing had ever passed in
     writing upon the subject. Mr. Gammon, on the contrary, frankly
     admitted it to be _possible_ that Mr. Titmouse might have been
     under the impression, while surrendering so great a claim against
     Mr. Aubrey, that the sum secured by the two promissory notes was to
     have been before this time liquidated. There was no affidavit made
     on the subject by Mr. Aubrey. It also appeared that Mr. Titmouse
     had not hitherto received any portion of the large amount, £20,000,
     yet due in respect of the mesne profits. The affidavits read by
     the Attorny-General set forth a correspondence which had taken
     place between Mr. Titmouse's solicitor and Mr. Gammon, in which the
     latter insisted, in the most strenuous terms, upon the _honorable_
     engagement under which he conceived himself to be to Mr. Aubrey,
     and solemnly declared his belief that Mr. Aubrey was under a
     similar impression; at the same time, there were expressions in Mr.
     Gammon's letters, from which it was plain that he was aware of the
     right, in point of strict law, of Mr. Titmouse, to the documents in
     question. It also appeared from the affidavits of Mr. Titmouse, and
     was not denied by those of Mr. Gammon, that the former had
     repeatedly urged the latter to deliver up the notes, or commence
     proceedings against Mr. Aubrey--but that Mr. Gammon had, on all
     such occasions previous to the present one, succeeded in dissuading
     him from his purpose. It had, moreover, been alleged on behalf of
     Mr. Titmouse, that Mr. Gammon was acting in collusion with Mr.
     Aubrey to defeat the just claim of Mr. Titmouse; but this Sir
     Charles Wolstenholme indignantly disclaimed on the part of Mr.
     Gammon, whose conduct throughout showed the nicest sense of honor,
     and the utmost possible anxiety to interfere between an unfortunate
     gentleman and utter ruin. But,

     "The COURT, without calling on Mr. SUBTLE, (with whom were Mr.
     GOOSE and Mr. MUD,) said the rule must clearly be made absolute.
     The legal right of Mr. Titmouse to the notes was admitted by Mr.
     Gammon's own affidavit; and there was no pretence for holding that,
     as against Mr. Titmouse, Mr. Gammon, who was only _one_ of that
     gentleman's attorneys, had any right to withhold the documents in
     question. No authority from Mr. Titmouse to Mr. Gammon to make the
     alleged representations to Mr. Aubrey, had been shown, and
     consequently that gentleman could in no way be bound by them. He
     was not even shown to have been aware of them. It was not pretended
     that Mr. Gammon, or any of his partners, had any lien on the notes,
     which must be therefore given up to Mr. Titmouse. With respect to
     the imputation against Mr. Gammon, of being in collusion with Mr.
     Aubrey, Lord Widdrington added, that from what his Lordship himself
     knew of Mr. Aubrey, it was impossible for a moment to imagine him
     capable of anything inconsistent with the strictest honor; and that
     Mr. Gammon's conduct showed that, though mistaken as to the extent
     of his power over the notes intrusted to him, he had acted from the
     purest motives, and evinced an honorable anxiety to serve the
     interests of one whom he believed to be unfortunate.--The rule was
     then made absolute; but on Mr. Subtle applying for the costs, the
     remainder of the day was occupied in an elaborate discussion upon
     the question--which, however, was eventually referred to the

Nor was this all. The intelligent editor of the _Morning Growl_,
happening to cast his eye over the above, while lying in proofs, made it
the subject of an eloquent leading article, in which were contained many
just and striking reflections on the continual inconsistency between law
(as administered in England) and justice--of which the present--he
said--was a glaring instance. It was truly lamentable--it seemed--to
find truth and honor, generosity and justice, all sacrificed to the
wretched technicalities, the petty quirks and quibbles, of the
law--which required a radical reform. Indeed, the whole system of our
jurisprudence called for the most searching revision, which, he hoped,
would ere long take place. Then followed some powerful animadversions
upon the conduct of Lord Widdrington, in giving effect to such
pettifogging subterfuges as had that day served plainly to defeat the
ends of justice; and the article concluded by calling upon us Lordship
to resign his seat on the bench! and make way for a more liberal and
enlightened successor, who would decide every case that came before him,
according to the dictates of natural equity and common sense, without
being trammelled by such considerations as at present fettered and
impeded the due administration of justice. It did so happen, _inter
nos_, that this same incompetent Lord Widdrington had called down upon
himself and his court the foregoing philippic, by having imposed a smart
fine upon the publisher of the _Morning Growl_, and super-added a
twelvemonth's imprisonment, for an execrable libel upon an amiable and
dignified ecclesiastic; and this, too, his Lordship had done, after
overruling an almost interminable series of frivolous and vexatious
technical objections to the proceedings, urged by the defendant's
counsel, in conformity with the instructions which he had received, to
take every possible advantage.


At the earliest moment at which Mr. Aubrey could, without suspicion,
extricate himself from the embraces of his overjoyed wife, sister, and
children, on his return to Vivian Street, he withdrew to his study, in
order--professedly--to despatch some letters; but really to peruse the
paper which had been given to him by Mr. Runnington, with such ominous
significance. His eye soon caught the words "_Ex parte_ Titmouse"--and
he glanced over the above report of the proceedings, with exceeding
agitation. He read it over twice or thrice, and felt really sick at

"Oh, unfathomable Gammon!" he exclaimed at length, aloud, laying down
the paper, and sinking into his chair. "Surely I am the weakest, or you
the subtlest of mankind!" He turned over in his thoughts everything that
he could recollect of Gammon's conduct, from the first moment that they
had met. He felt completely baffled and bewildered. Again he perused the
report of the proceedings in the King's Bench--and would have again
relapsed into thought; but his eye happened to alight on two or three
notes lying on his table, where they had been placed by Fanny, having
come in his absence. He opened the first listlessly, not knowing the
handwriting; but, on unfolding it, he started violently on recognizing
that of Gammon, within; and with mingled wonder and fear, read as

                                                       _"Thavies' Inn._

     "DEAR SIR,--Heaven only knows when or where these hasty lines will
     find you. I am forced to address them to Vivian Street, being in
     total ignorance of your intended movements. If you have not taken
     my advice, and withdrawn from the kingdom, I know not what grievous
     indignity may not have befallen you. You may have been torn from
     your family, and now incarcerated in prison, the victim of a most
     cruel and inveterate rapacity. My conscience bears me witness that
     I can say--I can do--no more for you. I am grossly
     misrepresented--I am insulted, by having base and sinister motives
     attributed to me, for my conduct towards you--for my anxious and
     repeated interference on your behalf. In the _Morning Growl_ of
     to-day you will probably see--if you have not already seen--the
     report of some proceedings against me, yesterday, in the Court of
     King's Bench. It may apprise you of _the last_ desperate stand I
     have made for you. It is with bitter regret--it is with a feeling
     of deep indignation, that I tell you I am unable to fulfil my
     solemn, my deliberate, my repeated promise to you concerning the
     two promissory notes which you deposited with me, in implicit
     reliance on my honor. Alas! you must prepare for the worst! Mr.
     Titmouse and his new adviser can have, of course, but _one object_
     in requiring the surrender of the two promissory notes, which I
     have already been compelled to give up, under peril of an
     attachment for contempt of court. I have strained, God knows! every
     nerve on your behalf; have all but fatally quarrelled with Mr.
     Titmouse, and with my partners; and I stand in some measure
     compromised, by the recent proceedings, before the profession and
     the public--and _all in vain_! Yet, once more--if you are not
     blinded and infatuated beyond all example or belief--I implore you,
     in the name of Heaven--by every consideration that should influence
     a man of honor and of feeling--fly!--lose not a second after
     reading these lines, (which I entreat you to destroy when read,) or
     _that second_ may involve your ruin--and the ruin of all connected
     with you! Believe me, your distressed--your unalterable friend,

                                                                 "O. G."

Mr. Aubrey laid down this letter; and sinking back again into his chair,
yielded for some moments to an impulse very nearly akin to despair. "Oh
God!" he exclaimed, pressing his hand against his aching forehead--"to
what hast Thou destined us, Thy wretched creatures!--I am forbidden to
believe--I cannot--I will not believe--that Thou hast made us only to
torment us; yet, alas! my spirit is at length drooping under these
accumulated evils!--Oh God! oh God! I am blind. Give me sight, to
discern Thy will concerning me!--Oh give me not up to despair! _Break
not the bruised reed!_ _Quench not the smoking flax!_--What is to become
of me? Is this man Thy messenger of evil to me? Is he the subtle and
vindictive fiend I fear him to be? What can be his object--his
motive--for resorting to such tortuous and complicated scheming against
us as must be his _if_ he be playing the hypocrite?--or is he really
what he represents himself? And am I guilty of groundless distrust--of
gross ingratitude?--What shall I think, what can I do? Oh my God,
preserve my senses to me--my understanding! My brain seems reeling! My
perceptions are becoming disturbed!--Perhaps this very night the
frightful scene of the morning may be acted over again! again my
bleeding heart be torn from those it loves--to whom Thou hast united
it!"--A deep sigh, or rather groan, burst from him; and leaning over the
table, he buried his face in his hands, and remained for some time in
that posture.

"What am I to do?" he presently inquired, rising, and walking to and
fro. "_Fly_--he says! Were I weak and unprincipled enough to do so,
should I not, in all human probability, fall into the deepest pit he has
dug for me?--but be that as it may--_fly_ I will not! Never! Never!
Those dear--those precious beings in yonder room"--his heart thrilled
within him--"may weep for me, but shall never BLUSH for me!"

"Why--how horrid is my position!" he presently exclaimed to himself!
"Ten thousand pounds and upwards, must either I pay, or Lord De la
Zouch for me, within a few months;--here is a second ten thousand
pounds, with nearly five hundred pounds of interest; I have been to-day
arrested for nearly fifteen hundred pounds; and this man Titmouse holds
my bond for two thousand pounds more, and interest! Is it, then, Thy
will, O God! that I am to sink beneath my troubles? Am I to perish from
Thy sight? To be crushed beneath Thy displeasure?--Or merciful
Father!--wilt THOU save me, _when there is none other to help_?"

Calmness seemed stealing insensibly over his troubled spirits; his
agitated feelings sank gradually into an indescribable and wonderful
repose; in that dismal moment of extreme suffering, his soul became
blessedly sensible of its relationship to God;--that he was not the
miserable victim of _chance_--as the busy spirit of darkness incessantly
whispered in his ear--but in the hands of the _Father of the spirits of
all flesh_, who listened, in his behalf, to the pleading of One _touched
with the feeling of our infirmities_--_who was in all points tempted,
even as we are_. His fainting soul felt sustained by the grace for which
it had sought; the oil and balm of a sound scriptural consolation were
poured into his wounds. Before his quickened eye arose many bright
figures of those who had gloriously overcome the fiercest assaults of
the Evil One, resisting even unto death:--he felt for a moment
_compassed about by a great cloud of witnesses_ to the mercy and
goodness of God. Oh, in that moment, how, wonderfully little seemed the
sorrows which had before appeared so great! He felt, in a manner, at
once humbled and exalted. Invisible support clung to his confident
soul--as if he were surrounded by the arm of Him _who will not suffer us
to be tempted above what we are able; but will, with the temptation,
also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it_. He sank
silently upon his knees; and with clasped hands, and his face raised
towards heaven, with profound contrition of spirit, yet with firm faith,
besought the mercy which God has promised to those who thus will ask for
it. Thus occupied, he did not perceive the door gently opened, and by
Mrs. Aubrey--who, closing it hastily after her, flung her arm round his
neck, sinking down beside him, and in a low, fond voice, exclaimed--"Oh,
my own love! My own Charles! My poor, oppressed, persecuted,
heart-broken husband! Pray for me--me also!" He gently returned her
embrace, looking at her unutterable things; and after they had remained
thus for a few moments, they arose. He gazed at her with unspeakable
tenderness, and a countenance full of serenity and resignation. He
gently soothed her agitated feelings, and succeeded in communicating to
her a measure of the composure which he experienced himself. Before they
had quitted that little room, he had even apprised her faithfully of the
peril which momentarily menaced them; and again the cold waters gushed
over her soul. At length, however, she had recovered her self-possession
sufficiently to return to the room she had quitted, and instantly
blanched Miss Aubrey's cheek by communicating the new terrors which
threatened them.

Just as they were finishing dinner--a mere mockery, however, of a
meal--a double knock at the door occasioned them all not a little
agitation; but, as the event proved, needlessly, since it announced the
arrival of only their kind, experienced friend, Mr. Runnington--who
evidently felt infinitely relieved at finding that Mrs. Aubrey and Miss
Aubrey had been made acquainted by Mr. Aubrey with the additional source
of apprehension afforded by the report of the preceding day's doings in
the King's Bench. Mr. Runnington felt assured that within twenty-four
hours' time, proceedings would be taken against Mr. Aubrey; whom,
however, he reminded, that as in the former, so in the anticipated case,
the extent of his immediate anxiety would be the finding bail for so
very serious an amount; but that difficulty surmounted, he would be safe
from personal annoyance and apprehension till the ensuing November. Mr.
Aubrey then apprised Mr. Runnington of the death of Lady Stratton, and
the grievous events connected with it, amid the tears and sobs of Mrs.
Aubrey and Kate. Though he said but little, his countenance showed how
much he was shocked by the intelligence. "Never in my experience," at
length he observed, "a thirty-six years' experience in the profession,
have I heard of, or met with, such a case of complicated misfortune as
yours! 'But it is,' as the old proverb has it, 'a long lane that has no
turning.' We must trust, my dear sir, to the chapter of accidents."

"Oh, Mr. Runnington!" interrupted Aubrey, with animation, "there _is_ no
such thing!--It is the _order of Providence_!"

They then entered into a long conversation; in the course of which--"If
our fears--our worst fears--be confirmed," observed Runnington, "and
they venture to put in suit these two notes--then they will have thrown
down the gauntlet. I'll take it up--and there's no knowing what may
happen when we come to close quarters. First and foremost, I'll tax away
every farthing of the alleged 'balance' of their monstrous bill--ay,
I'll stake my reputation on it, that I leave them not a shilling; but,
on the contrary, prove that you have already greatly overpaid them."

"Alas! have I not, however, pledged myself to Mr. Gammon _not_ to do
so?" interrupted Aubrey.

"Pshaw!--Forgive me, but this is absurd. Indeed, Mr. Aubrey, it is
really out-heroding Herod! All is fair against adversaries such as
these! Besides, if you must be so scrupulous and fastidious--and I
honor you for it--there's another way of putting it, which I fancy
settles the matter. By Mr. Titmouse putting these bills in suit, Messrs.
Quirk, Gammon, and Snap's promise to you is not performed--it is broken;
and so there is an end of yours, which is dependent upon the performance
of theirs."

"That is only on the supposition that they are playing me false--whereas
the proceedings yesterday in court, especially when coupled with Mr.
Gammon's letters to me"----

"All hollow! hollow!" replied Mr. Runnington, shaking his head.--"False
and hypocritical! Who could trust to _Gammon_? This fellow Titmouse,
whom they are doubtless fleecing daily, is, in all probability,
desperately driven for ready money; and they have allowed him to get
hold of these two bills, after a sham resistance on the part of Gammon,
in order to call forward your friends to the rescue--that's their game,
depend upon it!" Mr. Aubrey fired at the bare thought. "Yet I must own I
am at a loss to discover what motive or object Mr. Gammon can have for
going so far out of his way to secure your good opinion, or for wrapping
himself in so impenetrable a disguise. He is a very, very deep devil,
that Gammon; and, depend upon it, has some sinister purpose to effect,
which you will by-and-by discover!" Mr. Aubrey then, for the first time,
acquainted Mr. Runnington with Gammon's recent proposals to Miss Aubrey,
at which Mr. Runnington seemed for some moments struck dumb with

"I presume," at length said he, turning with a brief and sad smile
towards Miss Aubrey, whose reddening cheek betokened the interest she
felt in the conversation--"I presume, Miss Aubrey, there is no chance of
our seeing you pass into--Mrs. Gammon?"

"I should rather think not, Mr. Runnington," she replied with sufficient
loftiness of manner; "and I am quite at a loss, to conceive what could
possibly have put such a thing into his head."

"Certainly, Mr. Runnington," said Aubrey, "I can undertake to say that
my sister never gave him any encouragement."

"Encouragement?--Horrid man!" exclaimed Miss Aubrey, with great
vivacity. "I could never bear him--you know it, Charles--so do you,
Agnes!" Mr. Runnington made no further observations on the subject,
though his thoughts were very busy; he was satisfied that he was
beginning to discover a clew to much of Gammon's conduct--for that that
gentleman was acting with profound duplicity, Mr. Runnington entertained
no doubt whatever; and he resolved to watch his every motion connected
with Mr. Aubrey closely.

"What will be the earliest period;" inquired Mr. Aubrey, "at which Mr.
Titmouse, if so disposed, can put in suit my bond given to the late Lady

"As soon as he has obtained the grant of letters of administration,
which cannot take place till the end of fourteen days from her
Ladyship's death--that being one difference, as you are aware, between
the powers of an executor and an administrator." Mr. Aubrey sighed; and
made no reply; while Mr. Runnington looked at him for some moments in
silence, as if doubting whether to mention something which had occurred
to him. At length--"Of course, Mr. Aubrey," he commenced, "one does not
like to raise groundless hopes or fears; but, do you know, I am by no
means free from doubts as to the reality of Lady Stratton's
intestacy--whether the draft of her proposed will, brought to her by Mr.
Parkinson, could not be admitted to probate. Very--very nice questions,
as you must be aware, often arise out of cases like these! Since seeing
you this morning, I have written off to Mr. Parkinson for full and
accurate information on the point; and if I get a satisfactory answer,
with your consent I will certainly lodge a _caveat_ against the grant of
titles of administration. That would indeed checkmate them! But I have
very slight hopes indeed of receiving such an answer as one could wish,"
added Mr. Runnington, fearful of exciting fruitless expectations.
Shortly afterwards, Miss Aubrey, who had appeared for some little time
laboring under considerable excitement, addressing her brother, said
with evident embarrassment--"Charles, I am very anxious to mention
something that has occurred to me of a very singular nature--if you
think I am at liberty to do so; and I shall first ask you and Mr.
Runnington, whether, under the circumstances, you consider me entitled
to disclose what I allude to."

"Kate, Kate!--what is this?--What do you mean? You quite alarm me!"
inquired her brother, with an amazed air.

"Suppose Mr. Gammon, on the occasion of his calling upon me, which has
been recently mentioned, volunteered a statement of a very, very
extraordinary description--one that has ever since quite _haunted_ me,
day and night. Mind, Charles--I say that, in the first instance, he
_volunteered_ it, only expressing an earnest wish that I should mention
it to no one; on which I said I should make no promise, but act as I
might think proper; and after my saying this, he made the communication
I allude to. _Should_ I be at liberty," continued Miss Aubrey, eagerly
and anxiously, "now to disclose what he told me? I am dying to do it, if
I may, honorably."

"My dear Kate, I really fear you are wandering--that you are overcome
with the sufferings you have gone through to-day," said her brother,
tenderly, and with infinite concern.

"Indeed, Charles, I am not," she answered with great earnestness.

"Then I am of opinion that you may most certainly mention anything so
communicated to you--I have no doubt, Kate."

"Nor I, Miss Aubrey," added Mr. Runnington, eagerly; "nay, I go
farther--with a man like him, I think it is your _duty_ to disclose
anything he may have said to you."

Miss Aubrey paused for a few moments, and then mentioned the singular
circumstance with which the reader is already acquainted; namely, Mr.
Gammon's distinct and solemn assurance to her, that he possessed the
power of restoring her brother to the possession of Yatton; and that,
too, by legal and honorable means; and that, if she would but promise to
receive him as her suitor, he would pledge himself to replace them all
at Yatton before claiming the performance of that promise.

Mr. Aubrey, Mrs. Aubrey, and Mr. Runnington, all listened to this
strange story in silence, and gazed in astonishment at the beautiful and
excited speaker.

"Forgive me, dear madam," said Mr. Runnington, at length, exchanging an
incredulous glance with her brother, "if I--I--express a doubt whether
you may not be laboring under a complete misconception"----

"'T is impossible, Kate!" added her brother; but he knew, at the same
time, his sister's strong sense; and all doubt vanished both from his
mind and that of Mr. Runnington on her calmly and distinctly repeating
what she had just said--giving even the very expressions made use of by
Mr. Gammon, and which, she said, they might easily believe had made a
very deep impression on her mind.

"It's inconceivable!" exclaimed her brother, after a long pause.

"It's an audacious and cruel falsehood, in my opinion," said Mr.
Runnington: and all again were silent. Then he hastily ran his mind's
eye over the main points in the late proceedings by which Mr. Aubrey had
been ejected from Yatton. "Either," he continued after a pause, "he is a
gross liar, or is laboring under insanity--or there has been shocking,
atrocious villany practised against you. If he be in his senses, and be
speaking the truth--gracious Heaven! he must have brought forward a
series of perjured witnesses at the trial."

"Did he drop any hint, Kate, as to the _means_ by which he could bring
about such a result?" inquired her brother, after a long pause, during
which he too had been, like Mr. Runnington, reflecting on the course of
proof by which the case of Titmouse had been supported.

"No--not the remotest; of that I am certain. I observed that
particularly; though shortly afterwards, I was so overcome by what he
had said, and also by the manner in which he said it, that I fainted.
Mr. Gammon must have carried me to the sofa; for when I revived, I was
lying there--though, when I felt myself losing my consciousness, I was
standing near the window, which I had risen to open."

"It's the most amazing thing I ever heard in my life, I protest!"
exclaimed Mr. Runnington, thoughtfully; while Mr. Aubrey rose from his
chair, and walked a few steps to and fro, obviously laboring under much

"Kate, Kate!" said he, rather vehemently, "you should have told me this
the instant that you next saw me!"

"For Heaven's sake, be calm, dearest Charles!" cried Mrs. Aubrey,
herself not a little agitated by the extraordinary intelligence just
communicated by Kate, for the first time, even to _her_. Poor Kate, on
seeing the way in which her communication had been received, heartily
regretted having mentioned the matter.

"This will require very great consideration, Mr. Aubrey, to know how to
deal with it, and with Gammon," said Mr. Runnington. "I am inclined to
think, at present, that he would hardly have ventured upon so outrageous
a piece of folly, as making such a representation as this, had there
been no foundation for it in fact; and yet, I am quite astonished that a
man so acute, so signally self-possessed, should have so committed
himself--he must have been under some great excitement at the moment."

"He certainly was, or at least seemed, a good deal agitated while he was
with me," quoth Kate, coloring a little.

"That is highly probable, Miss Aubrey," replied Mr. Runnington, with a
faint smile. "It must have appeared to him as one of the most likely
occurrences, that Miss Aubrey should mention to you, Mr. Aubrey, so
extraordinary a circumstance! It is very, very difficult to imagine Mr.
Gammon thrown off his guard on any occasion." Then ensued an anxious and
prolonged conversation on the subject, in which many conjectures were
made, but without leading to any satisfactory issue. Quite a new light,
however, seemed now thrown upon all his past acts, and the whole tenor
of his conduct. They read over his last two notes with new and deep
interest, on the supposition that while writing them, he was conscious
of possessing the power which he had represented. All was mystery. Then
was discussed the question, as to the propriety of either Mr. Runnington
or Mr. Aubrey applying to Mr. Gammon upon the subject--a step which was,
however, postponed for future and more mature consideration. Another
thing suggested itself to Mr. Aubrey, but he kept it to himself:--should
he forthwith apprise Mr. Gammon of the fact that Kate was absolutely
engaged to Mr. Delamere, and so at once and forever extinguish all hope
on the part of Mr. Gammon?

The evening, however, was now advancing, and Mr. Runnington pressed upon
Mr. Aubrey the object which he had chiefly had in view in calling--viz.
to prevail on Mrs. Aubrey and himself to accompany him immediately to
his country house, which lay in the direction of Richmond, at about six
miles' distance from town; and where, for a brief interval, they might
enjoy a respite from the frightful suspense and danger to which they
were at present exposed in Vivian Street. Mrs. Aubrey and Kate most
earnestly seconded the kind importunities of Mr. Runnington; and after
considerable hesitation Mr. Aubrey consented. It was accordingly
arranged that, Mr. Runnington's carriage not being in town, he should
return, within an hour, with a glass-coach; and that, during the ensuing
day, Mrs. Runnington should drive to town for the purpose of bringing
back with her Miss Aubrey, and little Charles and Agnes. This having
been determined upon, Mr. Runnington quitted them, promising to return
within an hour, when he hoped to find them ready to start, and equipped
for a several days' sojourn. As soon as he had left the house, Mr.
Aubrey's scruples began to revive; it appeared to him, that though it
might be for a short time only, still it was, in effect, an absconding
from his creditors: and there is no knowing but that his fastidious
misgivings, his delicate sense of rectitude, might have led him after
all to send off Mrs. Aubrey alone, when, poor soul! he was spared the
trial by an incident which occurred about half an hour after Mr.
Runnington's departure. Mrs. Aubrey was sitting in the parlor in
travelling dress, fondling little Agnes, and talking earnestly to Kate
about the management of the two children, and other matters; while Mr.
Aubrey, also ready to start, was in the study selecting a book or two
to take with him, when a heavy single knock at the door, unaccompanied
by the sound of coach-wheels, nearly paralyzed all three of them.
Suffice it to say, that within a few minutes' time the wretched and
almost heart-broken Aubrey was a second time in custody, and at the suit
of Tittlebat Titmouse, Esq., M. P., for the principal sum of ten
thousand pounds, and interest for twelve months, at the rate of five
pounds _per centum per annum_. The agonizing scene which ensued I shall
leave entirely to the reader's imagination--observing only, that the two
minions of the law into whose hands Aubrey had now fallen, seemed
totally indifferent to the anguish they witnessed. The chief was a
well-known sheriff's officer--one VICE; short, fat, bloated; deeply
pitted with the small-pox; close-cut black hair, almost as coarse as
that of a hog; while the expression of his features was at once callous
and insolent. Aubrey perceived at a glance that he had no consideration
or mercy to expect at the hands of such a man as this; and the follower
very much resembled his master.

"You're my prisoner, sir," said Vice, walking up to Aubrey, and with an
air of matter-of-fact brutality taking hold of his collar with one hand,
while in the other he held out his warrant. "If you like to clap a
great-coat on, as it's getting late, you may; but the sooner you're off
out of the way of all this here noise, the better--I should say."

"For God's sake wait for a few minutes--I have a friend coming," said
Aubrey, his wife clinging to his arm.

"D----d if I wait a moment, that's flat!" quoth Vice, glancing at the
two boxes in the passage, and guessing from them, and the travelling
dress of Mrs. Aubrey, that he had arrived just in the very nick of time
to prevent an escape.

"For the love of Heaven, stay only five minutes!" cried Kate,
passionately wringing her hands--but she might as well have addressed a
blacksmith's anvil as either of the men who were now masters of her
doomed brother's person.

"'Tis useless, Kate--'tis in vain, my love!" said he, with a melancholy
air; and turning to Vice, who, with his companion, stood at only a few
inches' distance from him--"perhaps you will allow me to write down the
address of the place you are taking me to?" he inquired somewhat

"Write away then, and make haste; for, write or not write, you're off in
two minutes' time!"

Mr. Aubrey hastily wrote down in pencil, for Mr. Runnington,
"Vice--Squeezum Court, Carey Street, Lincoln's-Inn Fields;" and then,
having hastily drawn on his great-coat, without taking with him even a
change of linen, (for Vice would seem to have got the idea of a rescue
into his head, and was, besides, anxious to run not the least risk with
a _ten thousand pounds' debtor_), tore himself from the frenzied embrace
of his wife and sister, and quitted the house. Vice had refused even to
let his man go in quest of a hackney-coach, or to wait while Fanny ran
for one; and the moment they had got into the street, the cries of Mrs.
Aubrey and Kate yet ringing in Mr. Aubrey's ears, Vice put his arm with
rough familiarity into that of Mr. Aubrey, directing his follower to do
the same; and in this style they hurried Mr. Aubrey along the whole of
the distance between Vivian Street and Squeezum Court; he uttering not
one single word--but his heart almost bursting. Vice had received his
instructions from Mr. Spitfire, who was a very dashing practitioner; and
perfectly well knowing the value of every day towards the close of term,
had got his affidavit of debt prepared and ready sworn, and everything
in readiness, even before the rule had been made absolute against Mr.
Gammon. As the two captors and their prize--a gentleman between two
ruffians--passed at a smart pace along the streets, they attracted
considerable attention; now and then, even a little crowd would follow
them for half the length of the street. Once Mr. Aubrey caught the
words--"Poor fellow! Forgery, no doubt--he's a dead man in a month!"[11]

Vice's lock-up was, though similar in its general appearance, yet of a
much inferior description to that of Grab. It was smaller and meaner.
They reached it a little after eight o'clock.

"Are you for the parlor, or the common room?" inquired Vice, as soon as
they had entered the house.

"Which you please," replied Aubrey, quickly and gloomily.

"P'r'aps you 'd better show the gemman up-stairs," said the follower,
hesitatingly, to his master.

"You pay extra up-stairs," quoth Vice; "which shall it be?"

"I have no money, sir, to spare--I know the extortionating practices
which "----

"Oh, come along then!" replied Vice, insolently; and in a minute or two
Mr. Aubrey found himself in a tolerably large, but low room, at the back
of the house, lit by three or four candles. There were some ten or
twelve persons in it, who were smoking, drinking, reading the
newspapers, playing at cards, dice, pitchfarthing, and so forth. All
seemed in good spirits, and suspended for a moment their various
occupations to scrutinize the newcomer--on whom the door was in a
twinkling closed and locked.

"Now, sir, just in time to cut in," said a thin pale man--his breath
redolent of the stench of gin--stepping briskly up to him from a table
at which he and two others had just begun to play a rubber. "Now, sir,"
he continued in a confident tone, running the edges of the cards rapidly
through his fingers with the air of an adept, and then proffering the
pack to Mr. Aubrey.

"I do not play," replied Aubrey, in a low tone.

"Better take a card--drive dull care away; you'll be devilish dull here
without play of some sort!"

"I do not play, sir--I certainly shall not," repeated Mr. Aubrey,
somewhat peremptorily.

"Only half-crown points--can't hurt you," he continued flippantly; till
Mr. Aubrey walked from him with an air of disgust towards another part
of the room.

"You're a liar!" said one of two men playing at drafts to the other, a
dispute having arisen about the game, as Mr. Aubrey passed them.

"You're a cheat!" was the answer; on which the man so addressed suddenly
and violently flung a half-empty tumbler of brandy and water at the
other; it took effect on the forehead of his companion, who fell stunned
from his chair, his forehead, which had been cut open, bleeding
profusely. On this there was a general rush towards the spot. In the
midst of this sickening scene the door was opened by Vice.

"Hollo--what's the matter?" said he, locking the door after him, and
coming up to the group round the fallen and miserable man who had been

"Who did it?" cried he, fiercely, on catching sight of the prostrate

"I did," answered the perpetrator of the outrage, "he called me a

"_You did!_" quoth Vice, suddenly grasping him by the collar, as with
the hand of a giant, and forcing him, despite his struggling, down to
the floor, when he put one knee on his breast, and then shook him till
he began to get black in the face.

"D--n it, Vice, don't _murder_ him!" cried one of the bystanders--all of
whom seemed disposed to interfere; but at this point, the man who had
been struck, and had been lying for some minutes motionless, suddenly
began to dash about his arms and legs convulsively--for he had fallen
into a fit of epilepsy. The attention of all present was now absorbed by
this one dreadful figure; and the man whom Vice had quitted, rose
flushed and breathless from the floor, and looked with a face of horror
upon the victim of his ungovernable passions.

"I must get a doctor," quoth Vice, "presently," approaching the door;
and in passing Mr. Aubrey, who sat down looking exceedingly
agitated--"Oh--here you are!" said he: "come along with me."

"I hope this poor man will be properly attended to"----interposed Mr.
Aubrey, very anxiously.

"That's _my_ look-out, not yours," replied Vice, rudely--"come you along
with me!" and, unlocking the door, he motioned out Mr. Aubrey, and after
sending off a man for a surgeon, led Mr. Aubrey into a kind of
office--where he was instantly clasped by the hands by Mr. Runnington,
who had been there some five minutes. He looked like an angel in the
eyes of Mr. Aubrey, who returned his cordial pressure with convulsive
energy, but in silence, for his shocked and overcharged feelings forbade
him utterance. Mr. Runnington looked both annoyed and distressed--for
Vice had refused to discharge his prisoner on Mr. Runnington's
undertaking, telling him the sum was a trifle too large for running any
risk; and, in short, he peremptorily refused to do it without a written
authority from the under-sheriff; and added, he knew it was useless for
Mr. Runnington to make the application--for they had only a few months
before been "let in" for eight hundred pounds in that same way--so that
Mr. Runnington had better, said Vice, be looking after a good
bail-bond. In a word, Vice was inexorable; and a hint of the possibility
of Mr. Aubrey's flight to the Continent, dropped by Mr. Spitfire to the
under-sheriff, had caused that functionary to advise Vice "to look sharp
after his bird."

"At all events let Mr. Aubrey be shown into your parlor, Vice," said Mr.
Runnington, "and I will settle with you when I return. I am just going
to the office, to see what I can do with Mr. Ridley."

"It's no manner of use; and besides, it's ten to one you don't catch
him--he's gone to Clapham by this time," said Vice, looking up at the
dusky Dutch clock over the fireplace. But Mr. Runnington was not to be
so easily discouraged, and started off on his friendly errand; on which
Vice led Mr. Aubrey up-stairs into his "parlor," telling him, as they
went along, that there were only two other "gentlemen" there, and so
"them three could make it comfortable to one another, if they liked."
Vice added, that as he had only one double-bedded room at liberty, they
must agree among themselves which should sleep on the sofa--or perhaps
take it by turns.

On entering the parlor two figures were visible; one that of a tall,
pale, emaciated, gentlemanly person of about forty, who lay on the sofa
languidly smoking a cigar, more apparently to assuage pain than for the
purpose of mere enjoyment. The other was a portly gray-haired man,
apparently about fifty, and also of gentlemanly appearance. He was
standing with his back to the fireplace--one hand thrust into his
waistcoat, and the other holding a tumbler, which he raised to his lips
as Vice entered, and having drained it, requested him to replenish it.
'T was the third tumbler of strong brandy and water which he had
despatched that evening; and his restless and excited eye, and voluble
utterance, testified to the influence of what he had been drinking. On
Vice's retiring, this gentleman began to address Mr. Aubrey in a rapid
and somewhat incoherent strain--telling him of the "accident" which had
that morning befallen him; for that Vice had laid his rough hand upon
him just as he was embarking in an Indiaman, off Blackwall, to bid
farewell to this "cursed country" forever. This man had been a great
merchant in the city; and, for a series of years, universally respected.
He had married a fashionable wife; and their ambition and absurd
extravagance, combined with losses unquestionably originating in a want
of confidence on the part of his mercantile connections, occasioned
solely by his ostentation, irregularities, and inattention to business,
drove him to gambling speculations. Unfortunate there, he took to
courses of downright dishonesty; availing himself of his character and
power as trustee, executor, and otherwise, to draw out of the funds,
from time to time, very large sums of money, to the utter ruin of some
twenty or thirty unfortunate families, whose deceased relatives had
quitted life with implicit confidence in his integrity. The guilty
splendor thus secured him lasted for some few years, when an accident
set him suddenly wrong;--a beautiful girl, for whom he was sole trustee,
and every farthing of whose fortune he had appropriated to his own
purposes, applied to him for the immediate settlement of her property.
The next morning he had stopped payment; Mincing Lane was in a
ferment--astonishment prevailed at the Exchange. Who could have thought
it! said everybody. He was nowhere to be seen or heard of--but at length
intelligence of his movements having been obtained by one of his
numerous distracted victims, led to his apprehension in the way which
has been already mentioned. Of all this, Mr. Aubrey, of course, could
know nothing--but, nevertheless, he was somewhat struck with the man's
countenance and manner; but with what awful interest would Mr. Aubrey
have regarded him, had he known that the miserable being before him had
determined upon self-destruction--and that within two days' time he
would actually accomplish his frightful purpose!--For he was found in
bed, a ghastly object, with his head almost severed from his body.

In the other--a ruined _roué_--Mr. Aubrey was infinitely shocked at
presently recognizing the features of one whom he had slightly known at
Oxford. This was a member of an ancient and honorable family, and born
to a princely fortune, which he had totally dissipated in every
conceivable mode of extravagance and profligacy, both at home and
abroad, and moreover, in doing so, had also ruined his constitution. He
had taken honors at Oxford, and was expected to have been very eminent
in Parliament. But at college his tendency to profligacy rapidly
developed itself. He became notorious for his debaucheries, and made
ostentation of his infidelity. He had returned from France only a few
days before, in an advanced stage of consumption; and having been
pounced upon by one of his numerous infuriate creditors, hither he had
been brought the evening before--and would be the next morning lodged in
the Fleet, as he could procure no bail; and there he might, possibly,
live till he could apply to take the benefit of the insolvent act. If he
should be successful in this last stroke, he could not possibly survive
it beyond a few weeks! And he had nothing then to look forward to, but a
pauper's burial.--He at length recognized Mr. Aubrey; and raising
himself up on the sofa, extended his wasted hand to his
fellow-collegian, who shook it kindly--much shocked at his appearance.
What a marvellous difference was there between the characters of these
two men!

After about half an hour's absence, Mr. Runnington returned, much
dispirited. Mr. Ridley was not to be found; and, consequently, Mr.
Aubrey must remain in his wretched quarters all night, and till probably
an advanced period of the ensuing day--till, in short, Mr. Runnington
should have obtained responsible sureties for his putting in bail to the
action. Having whispered a few words to Mr. Aubrey in the adjoining
room, and slipped a five-pound note into his hand, Mr. Runnington took
his leave, pledging himself to lose not one moment in procuring his
release; and charged with innumerable fond expressions to Mrs. Aubrey,
to Kate, and to his children--to whom Mr. Runnington promised to go that
night. "This is almost the bitterest moment of my life," faltered poor
Aubrey; "it is very hard to bear!" and he wrung Mr. Runnington's
hand--that gentleman being almost as much affected as his truly
unfortunate client; who, however, on being left by Mr. Runnington, felt
grateful indeed to the Almighty for so powerful and valuable a friend.

Neither Mr. Aubrey nor Mr. Somerville--that was the name of his early
acquaintance--quitted the sitting-room during the whole of the night;
but as their companion retired early to the adjoining apartment, and
immediately fell into heavy sleep, they at length entered into
conversation together--conversation of a melancholy, but deeply
interesting, and I may even add instructive character. Mr. Aubrey's
notes of it are by me; but I will not risk fatiguing the indulgent
reader's attention. When the chill gray morning broke, it found the two
prisoners still earnestly talking together; but, shortly afterwards,
nature yielded, and they both fell asleep--Mr. Aubrey with an humble and
fervent inward prayer, commending those dear beings who were absent to
the protection of Heaven, and imploring it also for himself.

Immediately on quitting Mr. Aubrey, Mr. Runnington, according to his
promise, went direct to Vivian Street, and the scene which he had
endeavored to prepare himself for encountering, on their finding him
return unaccompanied by Mr. Aubrey, was indeed most overpowering to his
feelings, and heart-rending. Alas! how confidently had they reckoned
upon an issue similar to that which had so happily occurred in the
morning!--'Twas the first time--the very first time--since their
troubles, that Mr. and Mrs. Aubrey had been separated for one single
night. And he was now the inmate of a prison! Mrs. Aubrey and Kate sat
up the livelong night--one memorable and miserable to them--counting
hour after hour, whose flight was announced by the neighboring church
clock. Their eyes were swollen with weeping, and their throbbing temples
ached, as, at the first glimpse of dull daybreak, they drew aside the
parlor curtain and threw open the window. They were, indeed, with some
of old, _weary of watching_.

About mid-day, thanks to the energetic friendship of Mr. Runnington, and
the promptitude of those whose names had been given to him by Mr.
Aubrey, he made his appearance in Vivian Street. He saw Mrs. Aubrey and
Kate as he passed, sitting at the window, anxiously on the look-out.
They also saw him--sprang to the door--and opening it while he was in
the act of knocking, they were instantly locked in each other's embrace.
He looked pale and harassed, certainly; but 'twas _he_, the beloved
husband and brother--Providence had permitted them once more to meet!
All their recent pangs were for a moment forgotten and drowned in the
overflowing joy of such a reunion. He was already sufficiently subdued;
but when he heard the footsteps of his children pattering rapidly
down-stairs--and heard their little voices continually, and in eager
accents, exclaiming, "Papa!--my papa!--where is papa?"--and when they
ran up to him, and he felt their little arms round his neck--then he was
overpowered--his lip quivered convulsively, and he could not refrain
from bursting into tears. Oh, 'twas HOME, poor oppressed soul!--after
all--to which Providence had permitted him to return, and where he saw
himself suddenly surrounded by those precious objects of his undivided
and unutterable love! Indeed, he was thankful; his heart--all their
hearts--overflowed with gratitude. Towards the evening, they received a
visit from Mr. and Mrs. Neville, who were infinitely shocked on hearing
of the events of the last few days, and of which they had not had the
slightest intimation, living, as they did, at so great a distance, and
not having seen their friends the Aubreys for several weeks. Poor souls!
they also had their troubles--'twas wonderful how they contrived to
exist upon the paltry pittance obtained by his ministerial duties; but
they came ever with cheerfulness--unaffected and refreshing
cheerfulness; they never uttered a murmur at the thorny desert which
life seemed destined to prove to them, but had always a comfortable word
for their weary fellow-pilgrims. What a happy evening they passed
together! Poor Neville was in high spirits; for an article of his, full
of profound research and delicate criticism, which had cost him a great
deal of labor to prepare, had at length been accepted by the editor of a
classical and ecclesiastical Review, who had forwarded to him a check
for ten guineas. Mr. Aubrey could scarce refrain from tears, when his
simple-minded and generous friend pressed upon him the acceptance of, at
least, the half of these, the unexpected proceeds of his severe and
ill-requited toil. While they were thus sitting together, in eager and
delightful conversation, there came a knock to the door, which, as may
be easily believed, a little disturbed them all; but it proved to be a
gentleman who asked for Miss Aubrey; and on her requesting him to come
forward, who should it be but the "gentleman" of my Lord De la Zouch;
and while the color mounted into her cheek, and her heart fluttered, he
placed in her hands a packet, which had just arrived from the Continent.

They all insisted on having it opened then and there; and in a few
minutes' time, behold! their eager admiring eyes were feasted by the
sight of a most superb diamond necklace--and at the bottom of the case
was a small card--which Kate, blushing violently, thrust into her bosom,
in spite of all Mrs. Aubrey's efforts. There was a long letter addressed
to Mr. Aubrey from Lord De la Zouch, who, with Lady De la Zouch, had
been for some weeks at Paris--and one from her Ladyship to Kate; and,
from its bulky appearance, 'twas evident either that Lady De la Zouch
must have written her a prodigiously long letter, or enclosed one to her
from _some one else_. They saw Kate's uneasiness about this same letter,
and considerately forbore to rally her upon it. Poor girl!--she burst
into tears when she looked at the glittering trinket which had been
presented to her--and reflected that its cost would probably be more
than would suffice to support her brother and his family for years! Her
heart yearned towards them, and she longed to convert her splendid
present into a form that should minister to their necessities. While
touching upon this part of my history--which I always approach with
diffident reluctance, as matter too delicate to be handled before the
public--I must nevertheless pause for a moment, and apprise the reader
of one or two little circumstances, before returning to the main course
of the narrative.

Mr. Delamere was at that moment at Rome, in the course of making the
usual tour of Europe, and was not expected to return to England for some
months--perhaps for a year. But before quitting England, he had laid
close siege to our beautiful Kate; and had, indeed, obtained from her a
promise, that if ever she became any one's wife, it should be his. That
their engagement was sanctioned most cordially by Lord and Lady De la
Zouch--two persons of as generous and noble a spirit as breathed in the
world--must have been long ago abundantly manifest to the reader; and
they did not the less appreciate the value of the prize secured by their
son, because of the proud and delicate sense which Miss Aubrey
manifested, of the peculiarly trying position in which she stood with
relation to them. Kate's own notion upon the subject was somewhat
indefinite; she having resolved not to listen to any proposal for a
union with Delamere, until her unfortunate brother's affairs had assumed
a more cheering and satisfactory aspect; and that might not be for some
years to come. If she replied to the letter from Delamere, enclosed by
Lady De la Zouch--and reply she must, to acknowledge his brilliant
present--it would be the first letter she had ever written to him, which
will account, in a measure, for her exquisite embarrassment. And
although all of them kept up a correspondence with Lord and Lady De la
Zouch, they never, from obvious considerations of honorable delicacy and
pride, gave the slightest intimation of the dreadful pressure which they
were beginning daily to experience. Lord De la Zouch remained under the
impression that Mr. Aubrey was struggling, it might be slowly, but still
successfully, with his difficulties; and had made up his mind, when
called upon, to pay, almost as a matter of course, the amount of the
bond into which he had entered in Aubrey's behalf. As Aubrey desired
evidently to maintain a reserve upon the subject of his private affairs,
Lord De la Zouch, whatever might be his fears and suspicions, forbore to
press his inquiries. How little, therefore, were either Lord and Lady De
la Zouch, or their son, aware of the position in which their packet
would find the Aubreys!

Within a few days, Mr. Runnington, by duly completing special bail in
the two actions of _Quirk and Others_ v. _Aubrey_, and _Titmouse_ v.
_Aubrey_, had relieved Mr. Aubrey from all grounds of immediate personal
apprehension for several months to come--in fact, for at least half a
year; and on quitting Vivian Street, one evening, after announcing this
satisfactory result of his labors, he slipped into Mr. Aubrey's hand, as
he took leave of him at the door, a letter, which he desired Mr. Aubrey
to read, and if he thought it worth while, to answer--at his leisure.
Guess the emotions of lively gratitude with which he perused the

                                                      "_Lincoln's Inn._

     "MY DEAR SIR,--You have once or twice, lately, been so kind as to
     express yourself obliged by the little professional services which
     I have recently rendered you in the ordinary course of practice.
     Permit me, in my turn, then, to ask a great favor of you; and,
     knowing your refined and exquisite sensibility, I make the request
     with some little apprehension, lest I should in any way wound it. I
     earnestly beg that you will accept a trifling loan of three hundred
     pounds, to be repaid as soon as you may be enabled to do so with
     perfect convenience to yourself. If, unhappily for _yourself_, that
     time should never arrive, believe me, you will not occasion me the
     slightest imaginable inconvenience; for a long and successful
     practice has made me, many years since, independent of my
     profession, and of the world; as will, I am confident, be the case
     with you, should Providence spare your life. I happen to have been
     aware that, but for recent occurrences, it was your intention,
     about this time, to have commenced a second year's study, with
     either Mr. Crystal, or Mr. Mansfield the conveyancer. You will
     now, I trust, carry your intention into effect, without delay. I
     should venture to suggest, that at this period of the year, when
     the gentlemen of the common-law bar quit town for the circuit, (as
     will be the case within a few weeks with Mr. Crystal,) it would
     hardly answer your purpose to enter the chambers of a gentleman in
     that department; but that, as _conveyancers_ remain very much
     longer in town, you will find it answer your purpose immediately to
     enter the chambers of Mr. Mansfield, and reoccupy your mind with
     those invigorating and invaluable studies in which you have already
     made, as I hear, so great a progress; and which will serve to
     divert your thoughts from those wretched objects on which otherwise
     they will be too apt to dwell.

     "You will find that I have this day paid in to your credit, at your
     bankers, the sum of £300. And believe me to remain, my dear
     sir--Ever your most sincere and faithful friend,

                                                         "C. RUNNINGTON.

     "P. S.--Do not give yourself one moment's concern about the expense
     of the recent proceedings, which is, I assure you, very trifling."

Mr. Aubrey read this letter with heartfelt gratitude; and permitted no
morbid fastidiousness to interfere with his determination to avail
himself of the generous and opportune assistance of Mr. Runnington;
resolving, moreover, to profit by his very judicious suggestions as to
the course of his study, and to commence, as soon as possible, his
attendance at the chambers of Mr. Mansfield. Thus suddenly relieved, for
a considerable and a definite interval, from the tremendous pressure to
which he had been latterly subject, he, and indeed Mrs. Aubrey and Kate,
experienced great buoyancy and exhilaration of spirits.

Could, however, their sense of tranquillity and security be otherwise
than short-lived? What sort of a prospect was that before them?
Terrifying and hopeless indeed. As daily melted away the precious
interval between the present time and the dreadful month of
November--midst whose gloomy haze was visible to his shuddering eyes the
dismal porch of a prison, where he must be either immured for his life,
or its greater portion, or avail himself of the bitter ignominious
immunity afforded by the insolvent laws--the hearts of all of them sank
to their former depth of oppression. Still, resolved to work while it
was day, he addressed himself to his studies with redoubled energy, and
of course made proportionate advances. But all this suffering--all this
exertion, mental and physical--began to leave visible traces in his worn
and emaciated appearance; and I grieve to add, that the same cause not a
little impaired the beauty and injured the spirits of the devoted and
incomparable women whom Heaven had given to him, like angels, for his

Such being the footing upon which matters stood between Mr. Delamere and
Kate Aubrey, what chance had Mr. Gammon of obtaining the bright object
upon which he had set his dark and baleful eye, and to secure which he
was racking his brain, and devising such intricate schemes of deliberate
and cruel villany? As well might he have sighed after the planet
Venus--sweet star of eve!--as sought to grasp Kate Aubrey within his
arms!--Yet full before his mind's eye stood ever her image--though one
would have thought that there was sufficient in his own circumstances to
occupy every spare thought and feeling. Suppose the action for the
bribery penalties should go against him, and he should be at once fixed
with a liability for some five thousand pounds, including debt and
costs? And more than that sum he had recently lost in a speculation in
foreign stock, besides standing in a very precarious position with
respect to certain of the many speculations in which he had launched
both himself and others. Under these circumstances, it became hourly of
greater importance to him to secure the annuity of £2,000 on the Yatton
property, which he had with such difficulty extorted from Titmouse. He
resolved, moreover, to try the experiment of raising money on the bond
of Lord De la Zouch; and it also occurred to him, as possible, that even
if he should fail in the main object which he had proposed to himself,
in his artful and oppressive proceedings against Aubrey, yet they might
be the means of bringing forward friends to extricate him from his
difficulties, by discharging the sums for which he was liable. It was,
therefore, not till he had set into train the various matters which have
been laid before the reader, that he set off on a hurried visit to
Yorkshire, in order to ascertain the state of Lady Stratton's affairs;
to make arrangements for collecting the evidence against the impending
trials for bribery; and carry into effect some preliminary measures for
augmenting the whole of the Yatton rent-roll, by nearly £2,000 a-year.
His first interview with Mr. Parkinson apprised him distinctly of the
exceedingly precarious nature of the alleged intestacy of Lady Stratton.
Good Mr. Parkinson was no match for Mr. Gammon, but would have been much
more nearly so if he could have done but one thing--_held his tongue_:
but he was a good-natured, easy-tempered chatterer, and Gammon always
extracted from him, in a few moments, whatever he knew upon any subject.
'T was thus that he succeeded in obtaining conclusive evidence of the
intestacy; for Gammon discovered that the unexecuted draft of the
intended will had never been seen by Lady Stratton, or read over to her;
but had been drawn up by Mr. Parkinson himself, a day or two after
receiving her Ladyship's instructions;--that those instructions,
moreover, had been merely oral.

"It is one of the most melancholy cases I ever met with!" exclaimed
Gammon, with a sigh. "I suppose the reverses of the Aubrey family
frequently formed a subject of her Ladyship's conversation?"

"Oh, she has talked with me for hours together--and even very shortly
before her last illness!"

"It is, methinks, enough to raise the poor old lady from her grave, to
find so much of her property diverted thus to one who does not want it,
and who was a total stranger!"

"Ay, it is indeed!"

"I am a little surprised, to tell you the truth, that, under the
circumstances, her Ladyship should not have thought of at least
_sharing_ the policy between Miss Aubrey and Mr."----

"I do assure you that that is the very thing I have heard her several
times talking about lately!"

"That will do," thought his wily companion; "thank God she's clearly
_intestate_, then, for Parkinson's draft does not contain her _last_
will and testament--that will do--thank you, my honest friend!" This was
what was passing through Gammon's mind, while a sympathizing expression
was upon his face, and he shook his head, and deplored the untoward
event which had happened, in very pathetic terms indeed. On quitting Mr.
Parkinson, Gammon thus pursued the train of his thoughts:--

"What if I should allow this paper to be admitted to probate? Let me
see--It will give Miss Aubrey some fifteen thousand pounds:--or one
might take out administration in favor of Titmouse, and then suggest to
her that I had the means of nullifying the proceedings, and carrying
into effect Lady Stratton's intentions--for the Letters may be
_repealed_ at any time.--Stay, however. It is by no means impossible,
that when Parkinson comes to communicate with Aubrey, or that deep old
fellow Runnington, they may think of lodging a _caveat_ against our
letters of administration: but they'll fail--for Parkinson must speak
conclusively on _that_ point. So, perhaps, the better way will be, to
take out administration in the usual way, and see what _they_ will
do.--Then, there's Aubrey's bond--poor devil!--is it not unfortunate
for him?--But that shall be reserved; let us see the effect of our other
movements, first."

When Mr. Gammon returned to Yatton from the late Lady Stratton's
residence, he found several letters awaiting his arrival. One was from
Mr. Quirk--poor muddle-headed old soul!--all went wrong with him, the
moment that he missed Gammon from beside him. He wrote letters every
day, which were a faithful type of the confusion prevailing in his
thoughts; for though he was "up to" the ordinary criminal business of
the office, in which he had had some forty years' experience, their
_general_ business had latterly become so extended, and, to Quirk,
complicated, that his head, as it were, spun round from morning to
night, and all he could do was to put himself, and everybody about him,
into a bustle and fever. So he told Gammon, in his last letter, that
everything was going wrong, and would do so till "good friend Gammon
returned:" and, moreover, the old gentleman complained that Snap was
getting very careless and irregular in his attendance--and, in fact,
he--Quirk--had something very particular to say to Gammon, when they
met, about the aforesaid Snap!---About this the reader shall hear in
due time. Then came a letter from the Earl of Dreddlington, marked
"_private and confidential_" containing a most important communication,
to the effect that his Lordship had that day granted an audience to a
scientific gentleman of great eminence, and particularly well skilled in
geology; and he had satisfied the earl of a fact which the aforesaid
scientific gentleman told his Lordship he had discovered after a very
close geological survey of the superficial strata of the Isle of
Dogs--viz. that at a very little depth from the surface, there ran, in
parallel strata, rich beds of copper, lead, and coal, alternately, such
as could not possibly fail of making a quick and enormous return. His
Lordship, therefore, suggested the immediate formation of a company to
purchase the Isle of Dogs, and work the mines!--and "begged to be
favored with" Mr. Gammon's views on this subject, by return of post. In
a postscript, his Lordship informed Gammon, that he had just parted with
all his Golden Egg shares, at a considerable profit; and that the
Gunpowder and Fresh Water Company's shares were rising daily, on account
of the increasing probability of a universal war. Gammon did not think
it worth while to send any answer to the communication of his senior
partner; but wrote off a very polite and confidential letter to the
earl, begging his Lordship would do him the honor of taking no steps in
the matter till Mr. Gammon could wait upon his Lordship in town. _This_
matter over, Gammon wrote off another to the secretary of the VULTURE
INSURANCE COMPANY, giving them notice of the death of Lady Stratton, who
was insured in their office in a policy to the amount of £15,000, to
which, her Ladyship having died intestate, the writer's client,
Tittlebat Titmouse, Esq., M.P. for Yatton, had become entitled as
administrator--being her Ladyship's nearest next of kin:--that he
intended to take out letters of administration forthwith; and formal
evidence would be furnished to the Company, in due time, of the
completion of his legal title to the policy.

But here--I am concerned to say--the skittish, frolicsome, and malicious
jade, Fortune, after petting and fondling Titmouse, and overwhelming him
with her favors, suddenly turned round and hit him a severe slap in the
face, without the least provocation on his part, or rhyme or reason on
hers. And it happened in this wise. DAPPER SMUG, Esq., the secretary of
the Vulture, wrote by return of post, saying that he had laid Mr.
Gammon's letter before the directors; and that as soon as he should have
learned their pleasure on the subject, he would write to Mr. Gammon
again. And so he did--but only to request that gentleman to communicate
with Messrs. Screw and Son, the Company's solicitors. This Mr. Gammon
did, and in due time received a letter to the astounding purport and
effect following--that is to say, that they had carefully considered the
case, and regretted sincerely that they could not feel it their duty to
recommend the directors to pay the policy!! The directors had a duty,
sometimes--they would have it appear--a very painful one, to perform to
the public; and in short--in plain English, they intended to _resist the
claim altogether_! Gammon wrote in astonishment to know the grounds of
their refusal; and at length discovered that that truly respectable
Company considered themselves in possession of decisive evidence to show
that the policy had been vitiated through the concealment, or rather the
_non-communication_, of a material fact on the part of the late Lady
Stratton--possibly unintentionally--viz. that she was, at the time of
executing the policy, _subject to the_ GOUT. Gammon made anxious
inquiries of the servants, of Dr. Goddart, Mr. Parkinson, and of others,
who expressed infinite astonishment, declaring that she had never once
exhibited the slightest symptoms of the complaint. Messrs. Screw,
however, were politely inflexible--they declared that they had the
positive testimony of several witnesses, one of them an eminent
physician, to the fact that, during the very week in which the policy
had been executed, she had experienced an attack of gout which had
confined her to the sofa for three days. [The simple fact was, that her
Ladyship had about that time certainly been confined to the sofa, but
merely from her heel having been galled a little by a tight shoe.] They,
moreover, sent to Mr. Gammon the full name of the officer in whose name
the Company was to be sued--the aforesaid Dapper Smug; and requested Mr.
Gammon to forward process to them in the usual way. Gammon, on inquiry,
learned the character of the Company, and almost gnashed his teeth in
rage and despair!--So at it they went--TITMOUSE (_Administrator_) v.
SMUG. Then came a _Declaration_ as long as my arm; _Pleas_ to match it;
then a _Commission_ to examine witnesses abroad, principally a Dr.
Podagra, who had settled in China; then a _Bill of Discovery_ filed on
behalf of the Company; a _Cross Bill_ filed by Mr. Titmouse against the
Company; a _Demurrer_ to the one, _Exceptions_ to the Answer, to the
other.--Here, in short, was in truth "a very pretty quarrel." The stake
was adequate; the Company rich; Mr. Titmouse eager; Gammon infuriate;
and there was not the least chance of the thing being decided at all for
three or four years to come; and poor Titmouse was thus not only kept
out of a comfortable round sum of money, but obliged to carry on, all
the while, an expensive and harassing litigation. So much for insuring
with a Company which looks so sharply after the interests of _its
shareholders_, in preference to those of the survivors of the dead
insurers!--But as far as Titmouse and Gammon were concerned, it seemed a
_dead lock_, and at a somewhat critical conjuncture too.


The sudden and unexpected rebuff encountered by Mr. Gammon, in the
Vulture Insurance Company's refusal to pay the policy on the late Lady
Stratton's life, was calculated seriously to embarrass his complicated
movements. He foresaw the protracted and harassing course of litigation
into which he should be driven, before he could compel them to liquidate
so heavy a claim; and a glimpse of which, by way of anticipation, has
been afforded to the reader; but, with all his long-headedness--his
habitual contemplation of the probable and possible effects and
consequences of whatever event happened to him--this refusal of the
directors to pay the policy was attended with results which defied his
calculations--results of such a description, and of such signal
importance, as will perhaps surprise the reader, and serve to
illustrate, in a striking manner, the controlling agency which is at
work in the conduct of human affairs--an agency to which the principles
of Mr. Gammon denied an existence. Nor was this the only trouble--the
only reverse--which about this period occurred to him; and not a little
perplexed was he to account for such a sudden confluence of adverse
circumstances as he by-and-by experienced, when he found the truth of
the King of Denmark's observation,--

    "When sorrows come--they come not single spies,
    But IN BATTALIONS."[12]

On applying at Doctor's Commons, in the ordinary way, for a grant, to
Mr. Titmouse, of Letters of Administration to Lady Stratton, Mr. Gammon
discovered the existence of a little document, for which he certainly
was not entirely unprepared, but which, nevertheless, somewhat
disconcerted him: principally on account of the additional plea it would
afford the Vulture Company for resisting payment of the policy. How,
indeed, could they be expected to pay a sum of such magnitude, to a
person whose title to receive it was disputed by another claimant? The
document alluded to was a CAVEAT, and ran thus:--

     "Let nothing be done in the goods of Dame Mary Stratton,
     late of Warkleigh, in the parish of Warkleigh, in the county of
     York, deceased, unknown to Obadiah Pounce, proctor for _John
     Thomas_, having interest."

Now, the reader will observe that this "_John Thomas_" is, like the
"_John Doe_" of the common lawyers, a mere man of straw; so that this
peremptory, but mysterious mandate, would afford an inquirer no
information as to either the name of the party intending to resist the
grant of administration, or the grounds of such resistance. Mr. Gammon,
however, very naturally concluded that the move was made on the behalf
of Mr. Aubrey, and that the ground of his opposition was the alleged
will of Lady Stratton. To be prepared for such an encounter when the
time arrived, he had noted down, very carefully, the important
admissions which had been made to him by Mr. Parkinson; and having, for
a while, disposed of this affair, he betook himself to the great
conspiracy case which I have already mentioned; and, in bringing which
to a successful issue, he unquestionably exhibited great ability, and
deserved the compliments paid him on the occasion by the counsel, whose
labors he had, by his lucid arrangement, materially abbreviated and
lightened. This matter also over, and fairly off his mind, he addressed
himself to an affair, then pending, of great importance to himself
personally--viz. a certain cause of _Wigley_ v. _Gammon_; which,
together with the three other special jury causes in which the same
person was plaintiff, was to come on for trial at York early in the
second week of the assizes, which were to commence within a few days'
time. As already intimated, Mr. Subtle had been retained for the
plaintiff in all the actions, together with Mr. Sterling and Mr.
Crystal; and, as Mr. Quicksilver had become Lord Blossom and Box, Mr.
Gammon was sorely perplexed for a leader--his junior, of course, being
Mr. Lynx. He had retained a Mr. Wilmington to lead for the other three
defendants--a man of undoubted ability, experienced, acute, dexterous,
witty, and eloquent, and exceedingly well qualified to conduct such a
case as Mr. Gammon's: but that gentleman got exceedingly nervous about
the matter as the day of battle drew near--and, at length, resolved on
taking down special Sir Charles Wolstenholme. Now, I do not see why he
should have thought it necessary to go to so enormous an expense when
such able assistance could have been had upon the circuit--but, however,
down went that eminent personage. Their consultation was gloomy; Sir
Charles acknowledging that he felt great apprehension as to the result,
from the witnesses who were likely to be produced on the other side.

"It's a pity that we haven't the Yatton election committee to deal with,
Mr. Gammon!" said Sir Charles, with a sly sarcastic smile. "We've rather
a different tribunal to go before now--eh?"

Mr. Gammon smiled--how miserably!--shook his head, and shrugged his
shoulders. "We manage these matters rather differently in a court of
law!" continued Sir Charles, with a fearful significance!

When the important morning of the trial arrived, there was a special
jury sworn, consisting of gentlemen of the county--of integrity and
independence--above all suspicion. Mr. Subtle opened a shockingly clear
and strong case, to be sure; and what was worse, he _proved_ it, and so
as to carry conviction to the minds of all in court. Sir Charles felt
his opponent's case to be impregnable; and, in spite of several acute
and severe cross-examinations, and a masterly speech, the stern and
upright judge who tried the cause, summed up dead against the defendant,
with many grave remarks on the profligate and systematic manner in which
it appeared that the offences had been committed. After a brief
consultation, the jury returned into court with a verdict for the
plaintiff, in the sum of £2,500; that is, for five penalties of
£500![13] A similar result ensued in each of the two following cases of
_Wigley_ v. _Mudflint_, and _Wigley_ v. _Bloodsuck_; both of whom seemed
completely stupefied at an issue so totally different from that which
they had been led to expect, by the very different view of things which
had been taken by the election committee. As for Mudflint, from what
quarter under heaven he was to get the means of satisfying that truly
diabolical verdict, he could not conjecture; and his face became several
shades sallower as soon as he had heard his doom pronounced; but
Bloodsuck, who had turned quite white, whispered in his ear, that _of
course_ Mr. Titmouse would see them harmless----

"Oh Lord!" however, muttered Mudflint, in a cold perspiration--"I should
like to hear Mr. Gammon recommending him to do so, _under

Poor Woodlouse was more fortunate--somehow or another he contrived to
creep and wriggle out of the danger! Whether from his utter
insignificance, or from the circumstance of the destructive verdicts
against Gammon, Mudflint, and Bloodsuck having satiated the avenger, I
know not; but the case was not pressed very strongly against him, and
the jury took a most merciful view of the evidence. But alas! what a
shock this gave to the Liberal cause in Yatton! How were the mighty
fallen! As soon after this melancholy result as Messrs. Mudflint and
Bloodsuck had recovered their presence of mind sufficiently to discuss
the matter together, they were clearly of opinion--were those brethren
in distress--that Mr. Titmouse was bound, both in law and honor, to
indemnify them against the consequences of acts done solely on his
behalf, and at his implied request. They made the thing very clear,
indeed, to Mr. Gammon, who listened to them with marked interest and
attention, and undertook "to endeavor to convince" Mr. Titmouse of the
justice of their claims; secretly resolving, also, not to lose sight of
his own: nay, in fact, he made sure of satisfying Mr. Titmouse on _that_
score. But the personal liability which, in the first instance, he had
thus incurred, to an extent of upwards of £3,000, supposing him, by any
accident, to fail in _recouping_ himself out of the assets of Mr.
Titmouse, was not the only unfortunate consequence of this serious
miscarriage. Such a verdict as had passed against Mr. Gammon places a
man in a very awkward and--if one may use the word--_nasty_ position
before the public, and renders it rather difficult for him to set
himself right again. 'T is really a serious thing to stand convicted of
the offence of bribery; it makes a man look very sheepish indeed, ever
after, especially in political life. 'T is such a beam in a man's own
eye, to be pulled out before he can see the mote in his neighbor's!--and
Mr. Gammon felt this. Then again, he had received a pledge from a very
eminent member of the government, to be performed in the event of his
being able to secure the seat for Yatton on a general election, (which
was considered not unlikely to happen within a few months;) but this
accursed verdict was likely to prove an insurmountable obstacle in the
way of his advancement; and his chagrin and vexation may be easily
imagined. He conceived a wonderful hatred of the supposed instigator of
these unprincipled and vindictive proceedings, Lord De la Zouch--who
seemed to have put them up like four birds to be shot at, and brought
down, one by one, as his Lordship chose! As soon as these four
melancholy causes above mentioned were over--Gammon considering himself
bound, on the score of bare decency, to remain till his fellow-sufferers
had been disposed of--he went off to Yatton, to see how matters were
going on there.

Alas! what a state of things existed there! Good old Yatton, and all
about it, seemed wofully changed for the worse, since the departure of
the excellent Aubreys and the accession of Mr. Titmouse. The local
superintendence of his interests had been intrusted by Gammon to the
Messrs. Bloodsuck; who had found their business, in consequence, so much
increasing, as to require the establishment of Mr. Barnabas Bloodsuck at
Yatton, while his father remained at Grilston; their partnership,
however, continuing. He had, accordingly, run up a thin slip of a place
at the end of the village farthest from the park gates, and within a few
yards of the house in which old Blind Bess had ended her days. He was
the first attorney that had ever lived in Yatton. There was a
particularly impudent and priggish air about his residence. The door was
painted a staring mahogany color, and bore a bright brass plate, with
which shot terror into the heart of many a passer-by, especially the
tenants of Mr. Titmouse. At the moment, for instance, of Mr. Gammon's
arrival at Yatton, on the present occasion, actions for rent, and other
matters, were actually pending against _fourteen_ of the poorer
tenants!! 'T was all up with them, as soon as the Messrs. Bloodsuck were
fairly fastened upon them. Let them be a day or two in arrear with their
rent, a _cognovit_, or _warrant of attorney_--for the sake of the costs
it produced--was instantly proposed; and, if the expensive security
were demurred to by the poor souls, by that night's post went up
instructions to town for writs to be sent down by return! If some of the
more resolute questioned the propriety of a distress made upon them with
cruel precipitancy, they found themselves immediately involved in a
replevin suit, from whose expensive intricacies they were at length glad
to escape, terrified, on any terms. Then actions of trespass, and so
forth, were commenced upon the most frivolous pretexts. Old and
convenient rights of way were suddenly disputed, and made the subjects
of expensive lawsuits. Many of the former quiet inhabitants of the
village had been forced out of it, their places being supplied by
persons of a very different description; and a bad state of feeling,
chiefly arising out of political rancor, had, for instance, just given
rise to three actions--two of _assault_ and one of _slander_--from that
once peaceful little village, and which had been tried at those very
assizes! Poor Miss Aubrey's village school, alas! had been
transmogrified into a chapel for Mr. Mudflint, where he rallied round
him every Sunday an excited throng of ignorant and disaffected people,
and regaled them with seditious and blasphemous harangues. 'T would have
made your hair stand on end to hear the language in which he spoke of
the sacred mysteries of the Christian religion--it would have filled you
with disgust and indignation to hear his attacks upon the Church of
England and its ministers, and in particular upon dear little exemplary
unoffending old Dr. Tatham, whom he described as "battening upon cant,
hypocrisy, and extortion." Strange and melancholy to relate, this novel
mode of procedure on the part of Mr. Mudflint for a while succeeded. In
vain did the white-haired and learned vicar preach his very best
sermons, and in his very best manner--he beheld his church thinning,
while the chapel of Mr. Mudflint was filled. And, as he went about the
village in the zealous, and vigilant, and affectionate discharge of his
pastoral duties, he perceived symptoms, now and then, of a grievously
altered manner towards him, on the part of those who had once hailed his
approach and his ministrations with a kind of joyful reverence and
cordiality. Mudflint had also, in furtherance of his purpose of bitter
hostility, in concert with his worthy coadjutors the Bloodsucks, stirred
up two or three persons in the parish to resist the doctor's claim to
tithe, and to offer harassing obstructions to the collecting of it. In
justice to the Church, and to his successors, he could not permit his
rights to be thus questioned and denied with impunity--and thus, to his
sore grief, the worthy old vicar found himself, for the first time in
his life, involved in a couple of lawsuits, which he feared, even if he
won them, would ruin him. It may be imagined that Mudflint's
discomfiture at the assizes was calculated to send him, like a scotched
snake, writhing, hissing, and snapping, through the village, at all that
came in his way. It is possible that Mr. Gammon was not so fully
apprised of all these doings, as is now the reader; yet he saw and heard
enough to lead him to suspect that things were going a little too far.
He took, however, no steps towards effecting an abatement or
discontinuance of them. Just at present, moreover, he was peculiarly
reluctant to interfere with any of the proceedings of the Messrs.
Bloodsuck, and confined himself to receiving their report as to some
arrangements which he had desired them to carry into effect. In the
first place, he did not disclose the existence of his heavy and newly
created rent-charge, but gave them to understand that Mr. Titmouse's
circumstances were such as to make it requisite to extract as much from
the property as could possibly be obtained, by raising the rents--by
effecting a further mortgage upon the property, and by a sale of all the
timber that was fit for felling. It was found necessary to look out for
new tenants to one or two of the largest farms on the estate, as the old
tenants declared themselves unable to sustain the exorbitant rents which
they were called upon to pay; so orders were given to advertise for
tenants, in the county, and other newspapers. Then Mr. Gammon went all
over the estate, to view the condition of the timber, attended by the
sullen and reluctant wood-bailiff, who, though he retained his
situation, mortally hated his new master, and all connected with him.
Very little timber was, according to _his_ account, fit for felling!
Having looked into these various matters, Mr. Gammon took his departure
for town, glad to escape, though for never so brief an interval, the
importunities of Messrs. Mudflint and Bloodsuck, on the subject of the
late verdicts against them, and which he pledged himself to represent in
a proper way to Mr. Titmouse. On arriving in town, he lost no time in
waiting upon the great man to whom he looked for the political
advancement after which his soul pined. He was received with manifest
coolness, evidently occasioned by the position in which he had been
placed by the verdict in the action for the bribery penalties. What the
great man objected to, be it understood, was not Mr. Gammon's having
bribed, but having done it in such a way as to admit of detection! On
solemnly assuring his patron, however, that the verdict was entirely
against evidence, and that Sir Charles Wolstenholme was, in the next
term, going to move for a rule to set aside the verdict on that ground,
and also on several other grounds, and that, by such means, the cause
could be, at the very least, "hung up" for heaven only knew how long to
come--till, in short, people had forgotten all about it--the clouds
slowly disappeared from the great man's brow, especially on his being
assured that Gammon's return for Yatton, on the next vacancy, was a
matter of absolute certainty. Then he gave Mr. Gammon certain
assurances which flushed his cheek with delight and triumph--delight and
triumph inspired by a conviction that his deeply-laid schemes, his
comprehensive plans, were, despite a few minor and temporary checks and
reverses, being crowned with success. It was true that his advances
towards Miss Aubrey appeared to have been hopelessly repelled; but he
resolved to wait till the time should have arrived for bringing other
reserved forces into the field--by the aid of which he yet hoped to make
an equally unexpected and decisive demonstration.

The more immediate object of his anxieties, was to conceal as far as
possible his connection with the various joint-stock speculations, into
which he had entered with a wild and feverish eagerness to realize a
rapid fortune. He had already withdrawn from one or two with which he
had been only for a brief time, and secretly, connected--not, however,
until he had realized no inconsiderable sum by his judicious but
somewhat unscrupulous operations. He was also anxious, if practicable,
to extricate Lord Dreddlington, at the proper conjuncture, with as
little damage as possible to his Lordship's fortune or character: for
his Lordship's countenance and good offices were becoming of greater
consequence to Mr. Gammon than ever. It was true that he possessed
information--I mean that concerning Titmouse's birth and true
position--which he considered would, whenever he thought fit to avail
himself of it, give him an absolute mastery over the unhappy peer for
the rest of his life; but he felt that it would be a critical and
dreadful experiment, and not to be attempted but in the very last
resort. He would sometimes gaze at the unconscious earl, and speculate
in a sort of revery upon the possible effects attending the dreaded
disclosure, till he would give a sort of inward start as he realized the
fearful and irretrievable extent to which he had committed himself. He
shuddered also to think that he was, moreover, in a measure, at the
mercy of Titmouse himself--who, in some mad moment of drunkenness or
desperation, or of pique or revenge, might disclose the fatal secret,
and precipitate upon him, when least prepared for them, all its
long-dreaded consequences. The slender faculties of Lord Dreddlington
had been for months in a state of novel and grateful excitement, through
the occupation afforded them by his connection with the fashionable
modes of commercial enterprise--joint-stock companies, the fortunate
members of which got rich they scarcely knew how. It seemed as though
certain persons had but to acquire a nominal interest in some great
transaction of this sort, to find it pouring wealth into their coffers,
as if by magic; and it was thus that Lord Dreddlington, among others,
found himself quietly realizing very considerable sums of money, without
apparent risk or exertion--his movements being skilfully guided by
Gammon, and one or two others, who, while they treated him as a mere
instrument to aid in effecting their own purposes in deluding the
public, yet contrived to impress him with the flattering notion that he
was, in a masterly manner, directing their course of procedure, and
richly entitled to their deference and gratitude. 'T was, indeed,
ecstasy to poor old Lord Dreddlington to behold his name, from time to
time, glittering in the van--himself figuring away as a chief patron--a
prime mover--in some vast and lucrative undertaking, which, almost from
the first moment of its projection, attracted the notice and confidence
of the moneyed classes, and became productive to its originators! Many
attempts were made by his brother peers, and those who once had
considerable influence over him, to open his eyes to the very
questionable nature of the concerns to which he was so freely lending
the sanction of his name and personal interference; but his pride and
obstinacy caused him to turn a deaf ear to their suggestions; and the
skilful and delicious flatteries of Mr. Gammon and others, seconded by
the substantial fruits of his fancied skill and energy, urged him on
from step to step, till he became one of the most active and constant in
his interference with the concerns of one or two great speculations,
such as have been mentioned in a former part of this history, and from
which he looked forward to realizing, at no very distant day, the most
resplendent results. Never, in fact, had one man obtained over another a
more complete mastery, than had Mr. Gammon over the Earl of
Dreddlington; at whose exclusive table he was a frequent guest, and
thereby obtained opportunities of acquiring the good-will of one or two
other persons of the earl's intellectual status and calibre.

His Lordship was sitting in his library (his table covered with letters
and papers) one morning, with a newspaper--the _Morning Growl_--lying in
his lap, and a certain portion of the aforesaid newspaper he had read
over several times with exquisite satisfaction. He had, late on the
preceding evening, returned from his seat in Hertfordshire, whither he
had been suddenly called on business, early in the morning; so that it
was not until the time at which he is now presented to the reader, that
his Lordship had had an opportunity of perusing what was now affording
him such gratification; viz. a brief, but highly flattering report of a
splendid whitebait dinner which had been given to him the day before at
Blackwall, by a party of some thirty gentlemen, who were, _inter nos_,
most adroit and successful traders upon that inexhaustible capital,
_public credulity_, as founders, managers, and directors, of various
popular joint-stock companies; and the progress of which, in public
estimation, had been materially accelerated by the countenance of so
distinguished a nobleman as the Right Hon. the Earl of Dreddlington, G.
C. B., &c. &c. &c.[14] When his Lordship's carriage--containing himself,
in evening dress, and wearing his red ribbon, and one or two foreign
orders, and also his son-in-law, the member for Yatton, who was dressed
in the highest style of fashionable elegance--drew up opposite the
doorway of the hotel, he was received, on alighting, by several of those
who had assembled to do him honor, in the same sort of flattering and
reverential manner which you may conceive would be exhibited by a party
of great East India directors, on the occasion of their giving a banquet
to a newly-appointed Governor-General of India! Covers had been laid for
thirty-five, and the entertainment was in all respects of the most
sumptuous description--every way worthy of the entertainers and their
distinguished guest. Not far from the earl sat Mr. Gammon. Methinks I
see now his gentlemanly figure--his dark-blue coat, white waistcoat, and
simple black stock--his calm smile, his keen watchful eye, his
well-developed forehead, suggesting to you a capability of the highest
kind of intellectual action. There was a subdued cheerfulness in his
manner, which was bland and fascinating as ever; and towards the great
man of the day, he exhibited such a marked air of deference as was,
indeed, to the object of it, most delicious and seductive. The earl soon
mounted into the seventh heaven of delight; he had never experienced
anything of this sort before; he felt GLORIFIED--for such qualities were
attributed to him in the after-dinner speeches, as even he had not
before imagined the existence of in himself; his ears were ravished with
the sound of his own praises. He was infinitely more intoxicated by the
magnificent compliments which he received, than by the very unusual, but
still not excessive, quantity of champagne which he had half
unconsciously taken during dinner; the combined effect of them being to
produce a state of delightful excitement which he had never known
before. Mr. Titmouse, M. P., also came in for his share of laudation,
and made--said the report in the _Morning Growl_--a brief but very
spirited speech, in return for the compliment of his health being
proposed. At length, it being time to think of returning to town, his
Lordship withdrew, Sir Sharper Bubble, (the chairman,) and others,
attending him bareheaded to his carriage, which, his Lordship and
Titmouse having entered, drove off amid the bows and courteous
inclinations of the gentlemen standing upon and around the steps.
Titmouse almost immediately fell asleep, overpowered by the prodigious
quantity of wine which he had swallowed; and thus left the earl, who was
himself in a much more buoyant humor than was usual with him, to revel
in the recollection of the homage which he had been receiving. Now, this
was the affair, of which a very flourishing though brief account
(privately paid for by the gentleman who sent it) appeared in the
_Morning Growl_, with a most magnificent speech of his Lordship's about
free trade, and the expansive principles of commercial enterprise, and
so forth: 't was true, that the earl had no recollection of having
either meditated the delivery of any such speech, or of having actually
delivered it--but he _might_ have done so for all that, and possibly
did. He read over the whole account several times, as I have already
said; and at the moment of his being presented to the reader, sitting in
his easy-chair, and with the newspaper in his lap, he was in a very
delightful state of feeling. He secretly owned to himself that he was
not entirely undeserving of the compliments which had been paid to him.
Considerably advanced though he was in life, he was consciously
developing energies commensurate with the exigencies which called for
their display--energies which had long lain dormant for want of such
opportunities. What practical tact and judgment he felt conscious of
exhibiting, while directing the experienced energies of mercantile men
and capitalists! How proud and delighted was he at the share he was
taking in steering the commercial enterprise of the country into proper
quarters, and to proper objects; and, moreover, while he was thus
benefiting his country, he was also sensibly augmenting his own private
revenue. In his place in the House of Lords, also, he displayed a
wonderful energy, and manifested surprising interest in all mercantile
questions started there. He was, consequently, nominated one of a
committee (into the appointment of which he and one or two others like
him had teased and worried their Lordships) to inquire into the best
mode of facilitating the formation, and extending the operations, of
Joint-Stock Companies; and asked at least four times as many questions
of the witnesses called before them, as any other member of the
committee. He also began to feel still loftier aspirations. His Lordship
was not without hopes that the declining health of Sir Miserable Muddle,
the president of the Board of Trade, would soon open a prospect for his
Lordship's accession to office, as the successor of that enlightened
statesman; feeling conscious that the mercantile part of the community
would look with great approbation upon so satisfactory an appointment,
and that thereby the king's government would be materially strengthened.
As for matter of a more directly business character, I may mention that
his Lordship was taking active measures towards organizing a company for
the purchase of the Isle of Dogs, and working the invaluable mines of
copper, lead, and coal which lay underneath. These and other matters
fully occupied his Lordship's attention, and kept him from morning to
night in a pleasurable state of excitement and activity. Still he had
his drawbacks. The inexorable premier continued to turn a deaf ear to
all his solicitations for a marquisate--till he began to entertain the
notion of transferring his support to the opposition; and, in fact, he
resolved upon doing so, if another session should have elapsed without
his receiving the legitimate reward of his steadfast adherence to the
Liberal cause. Then again he became more and more sensible that Lady
Cecilia was not happy in her union with Mr. Titmouse, and that his
conduct was not calculated to make her so; in fact, his Lordship began
to suspect that there was a total incompatibility of tempers and
dispositions, which would inevitably force on a separation--under
existing circumstances a painful step, and evidently unadvisable. His
Lordship's numerous inquiries of Mr. Gammon as to the state of Mr.
Titmouse's property, met occasionally with unsatisfactory, and (as any
one of clearer head than his Lordship would have seen) most inconsistent
answers. Mr. Titmouse's extravagant expenditure was a matter of
notoriety; the earl himself had been once or twice compelled to come
forward, in order to assist in relieving his son-in-law's house from
executions; and he repeatedly reasoned and remonstrated with Mr.
Titmouse on the impropriety of many parts of his conduct--Titmouse
generally acknowledging, with much appearance of compunction and
sincerity, that the earl had too much ground for complaint, and
protesting that he meant to change altogether one of these days. Indeed,
matters would soon have been brought to a crisis between the earl and
Titmouse, had not the former been so constantly immersed in business, as
to prevent his mind from dwelling upon the various instances of
Titmouse's misconduct which from time to time came under his notice. The
condition of Lady Cecilia was one which gave the earl anxiety and
interest. She was _enceinte_; and the prospect which this afforded the
earl, of the family honors continuing in a course of direct descent,
gave him unspeakable satisfaction. Thus is it, in short, that no one's
cup is destitute of some ingredients of bitterness or of happiness; that
the wheat and the tares--happiness and anxiety--grow up together. The
above will suffice to indicate the course taken by his Lordship's
thoughts on the present occasion. He sat back in his chair in a sort of
revery; having laid down his paper, and placed his gold spectacles on
the little stand beside him, where lay also his massive old gold
repeater. The _Morning Growl_ of that morning was very late, owing to
the arrival of foreign news; but it was brought in to his Lordship just
as he was beginning to open his letters. These his Lordship laid aside
for a moment, in order to skim over the contents of his paper; on which
he had not been long engaged, before his eye lit upon a paragraph which
gave him a dreadful shock, blanching his cheek, and throwing him into an
universal tremor. He read it over several times, almost doubting whether
he could be reading correctly. It is possible that the experienced
reader may not be taken as much by surprise as was the Earl of
Dreddlington; but the intelligence conveyed by the paragraph in question
was simply this--that the ARTIFICIAL RAIN COMPANY had, so to speak,
suddenly evaporated!--and that this result had been precipitated by the
astounding discovery in the City, in the preceding afternoon, that the
managing director of the Company had _bolted_ with all the available
funds of the society--and who should this be but the gentleman who had
presided so ably the evening but one before, over the Blackwall dinner
to his Lordship, viz. SIR SHARPER BUBBLE!!! The plain fact was, that
that worthy had at that very time completed all arrangements necessary
for taking the very decisive step on which he had determined; and within
an hour's time of handing the Earl of Dreddlington to his carriage, in
the way that has been described, had slipped into a boat moored by the
water side, and got safely on board a fine brig bound for America, just
as she was hauling up anchor, and spreading forth her canvas before a
strong steady west wind, which was at that moment bearing him, under the
name of Mr. Snooks, rapidly away from the artificial and unsatisfactory
state of things which prevailed in the Old World, to a new one, where he
hoped there would not exist such impediments in the way of extended
commercial enterprise. As soon as the earl had a little recovered from
the agitation into which this announcement had thrown him, he hastily
rang his bell, and ordered his carriage to be got instantly in
readiness. Having put the newspaper into his pocket, he was soon on his
way, at a great speed, towards the Poultry, in the City, where was the
office of the Company, with the faintest glimmer of a hope that there
might be some mistake about the matter. Ordering his servant to let him
out the instant that the carriage drew up, the earl, not allowing his
servant to anticipate him, got down and rang the bell, the outer door
being closed, although it was now twelve o'clock. The words "ARTIFICIAL
RAIN COMPANY" still shone in gilt letters half a foot long, on the green
blind of the window. But all was--still--deserted--dry as Gideon's
fleece! An old woman presently answered his summons. She said she
believed the business was given up; and there had been a good many
gentlemen inquiring about it--that he was welcome to go in--but there
was nobody in except her and a little child. With an air of
inconceivable agitation, his Lordship went into the lower offices. All
was silent; no clerks, no servants, no porters or messengers; no books,
or prospectuses, or writing materials. "I've just given everything a
good dusting, sir," said she to the earl, at the same wiping off a
little dust with the corner of her apron, which had escaped her. Then
the earl went up-stairs into the "Board Room." There, also, all was
silent and deserted, and very clean and in good order. _There_ was the
green baize-covered table, at which he had often sat, presiding over
the enlightened deliberations of the directors! The earl gazed in silent
stupor about him.

"They say it's a blow-up, sir," quoth the old woman. "But I should think
it's rather sudden! There's been several here has looked as much struck
as you, sir!" This recalled the earl to his senses, and, without
uttering a word, he descended the stairs. "Beg pardon, sir--but _could_
you tell me who I'm to look to for taking care of the place? I can't
find out the gentleman as sent for me"----

"My good woman," replied the earl, faintly, hastening from the horrid
scene, "I know nothing about it;" and, stepping into his carriage, he
ordered it to drive on to Lombard Street, to the late Company's bankers.
As soon as he had, with a little indistinctness arising from his
agitation, mentioned the words "Artificial Rain"----

"Account closed!" was the brief matter-of-fact answer, given in a
business-like and peremptory tone, the speaker immediately attending to
some one else. The earl was too much flustered to observe a knowing wink
interchanged among the clerks behind, as soon as they had caught the
words "Artificial Rain Company!"--The earl, with increasing trepidation,
re-entered his carriage, and ordered it to be driven to the office of
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap. There he arrived in a trice; but, being
informed that Mr. Gammon had not yet come, and would probably be found
at his chambers in Thavies' Inn, the horses' heads were forthwith
turned, and within a few minutes' time the carriage had drawn up
opposite to the entrance to Thavies' Inn--where the earl had never been
before. Without sending his servant on beforehand to inquire, his
Lordship immediately alighted, and soon found out the staircase where
were Mr. Gammon's private apartments, on the first floor. The words "MR.
GAMMON" were painted in white letters over the door, the outer one being
open. His Lordship's rather hasty summons was answered by Mr. Gammon's
laundress, a tidy middle-aged woman, who lived in the chambers, and
informed the earl, that if he wished to see Mr. Gammon, he had better
step in and wait for a minute or two--as Mr. Gammon had only just gone
to the stationer's, a little way off, and said he should be back in a
minute or two. In went the earl and sat down in Mr. Gammon's
sitting-room. It was a fair-sized room, neatly furnished, more for use
than show. A plain deal bookcase, stretching over the whole of one side
of the apartment, was filled with books, and beside it, and opposite to
the fireplace, was the door of Mr. Gammon's bedroom--which, being open,
appeared as though it had not been yet set to rights since Mr. Gammon
had slept in it. He had not, in fact, risen as early as usual that
morning. The earl sat down, having removed his hat; and in placing it
upon the table, his eye lit upon an object, which suggested to him a new
source of amazement and alarm. It was a freshly executed parchment
conveyance, folded up in the usual way, about a foot square in size; and
as the earl sat down, his eye could scarcely fail to read the
superscription, in large round hand, which was turned full towards him,
and, in short, ran thus:--

         TITTLEBAT TITMOUSE, Esq.,  }  Grant of RENT-CHARGE on
                  to                }  Estates at Yatton, of £2,000
           Oily Gammon, _Gent._     }  _per annum_.

This almost stopped the earl's breath. With trembling hands he put on
his spectacles, to assure himself that he read correctly; and with a
face overspread with dismay--almost unconscious of what he was
doing--was gazing intensely at the writing, holding the parchment in his
hands; and while thus absorbed, Mr. Gammon entered, having darted across
the inn, and sprung up-stairs with lightning speed, the instant that
his eye had caught Lord Dreddlington's equipage standing opposite to the
inn. He had instantly recollected having left on the table the deed in
question, which had been executed by Titmouse only the evening before;
and little anticipated that, of all persons upon earth, Lord
Dreddlington would be the first whose eye would light upon it. 'T was,
perhaps, somewhat indiscreet to leave it there; but it was in Gammon's
own private residence--where he had very few visitors, especially at
that time of the day--and he had intended only a momentary absence,
having gone out on the impulse of a sudden suggestion. See the result!

"My Lord Dreddlington!" exclaimed Gammon, breathless with haste and
agitation, the instant he saw his worst apprehensions fulfilled. The
earl looked up at him, as it were mechanically, over his glasses,
without moving, or attempting to speak.

"I--I--beg your Lordship's pardon!" he added quickly and sternly,
advancing towards Lord Dreddlington. "Pardon me, but surely your
Lordship cannot be aware of the liberty you are taking--in looking at my
private papers!"--and with an eager and not over-ceremonious hand, he
took the conveyance out of the unresisting grasp of his noble visitor.

"Sir--Mr. Gammon!"--at length exclaimed the earl, in a faltering
voice--"what is the meaning of that?" pointing with a tremulous finger
to the conveyance which Mr. Gammon held in his hand.

"_What is it?_ A private--a strictly private document of mine, my
Lord"--replied Gammon, with breathless impetuosity, his eye flashing
fury, and his face having become deadly pale--"one with which your
Lordship has no more concern than your footman--one which I surely might
have fancied safe from intrusive eyes in _my own_ _private
residence_--one which I am confounded--yes, confounded! my Lord, at
finding that you could for an instant allow yourself--consider yourself
warranted in even looking at--prying into--and much less presuming to
ask questions concerning it!" He held the parchment all this while
tightly grasped in his hands; his appearance and manner might have
overpowered a man of stronger nerves than the Earl of Dreddlington. On
him, however, it appeared to produce no impression--his faculties
seeming quite absorbed with the discovery he had just made, and he
simply inquired, without moving from his chair--

"Is it a fact, sir, that you have a rent-charge of two thousand a-year
upon my son-in-law's property at Yatton?"

"I deny peremptorily your Lordship's right to ask me a single question
arising out of information obtained in such a dis--I mean such an
unprecedented manner!" answered Gammon, vehemently.

"Two thousand a-year, sir!--out of my son-in-law's property?" repeated
the earl, with a kind of bewildered incredulity.

"I cannot comprehend your Lordship's conduct in attempting neither to
justify what you have done, nor apologize for it," said Gammon,
endeavoring to speak calmly; and at the same time depositing the
conveyance in a large iron safe, and then locking the door of it, Lord
Dreddlington, the while, eying his movements in silence.

"Mr. Gammon, I must and will have this matter explained; depend upon it,
I will have it looked into and thoroughly sifted," at length said Lord
Dreddlington, with returning self-possession, as Gammon observed--

"Can your Lordship derive any right to information from me, out of an
act of your Lordship's which no honorable mind--nay, if your Lordship
insists on my making myself understood--I will say, an act which no
gentleman would resort to"----The earl rose from his chair with
calmness and dignity.

"What _your_ notions of honorable or gentlemanly conduct may happen to
be, sir," said the old peer, drawing himself up to his full height, and
speaking with his usual deliberation, "it may not be worth my while to
inquire; but let me tell you, sir"----

"My Lord, I beg your Lordship's forgiveness--I have certainly been
hurried by my excitement into expressions which I would gladly

"Hear me, sir," replied the earl, with a composure which, under the
circumstances, was wonderful; "it is the first time in my life that any
one has presumed to speak to me in such a manner, and to use such
language; and I will neither forget it, sir, nor forgive it."

"Then, my Lord, I take the liberty of reasserting what I had withdrawn,"
said Gammon, his blood appearing to flow like liquid fire in all his
veins. He had never given Lord Dreddlington credit for being able to
exhibit the spirit and self-command which he was then displaying. The
earl bowed loftily as Gammon spoke; and on his concluding, said with
haughty composure--

"When I entered your room, sir, that document caught my eye
accidentally; and on seeing upon the outside of it--for no farther have
I looked--the name of my own son-in-law, it was but natural that I
should suppose there could be no objection to my continuing to examine
the outside. That _was_ my opinion, sir--that _is_ my opinion; your
presumptuous expressions, sir, cannot change that opinion, nor make me
forget our relative positions," he added loftily; "and I once more
demand, sir, what is the meaning of that extraordinary document?"

Mr. Gammon was taken quite by surprise by this calmness and resolution
on the part of the earl; and while his Lordship spoke, and for some
moments afterwards, gazed at him sternly, yet irresolutely, his
faculties strained to their utmost, to determine upon the course he
should take, in so totally unexpected an emergency. He was not long,
however, in deciding.

"Since your Lordship desires information from me, let me request you to
be seated," said he, in a tone and with an air of profound courtesy,
such as, in its turn, took his noble companion by surprise; and he
slowly resumed his seat, Gammon also sitting down nearly opposite to
him. "May I, in the first place, venture to inquire to what circumstance
I am indebted, my Lord, for the honor of this visit?" he inquired.

"Oh, sir--sir--by the way--indeed you may well ask--you must have
heard"--suddenly and vehemently interrupted the earl, whose mind could
hold but one important matter at a time.

"To what does your Lordship allude?" inquired Gammon, who knew perfectly
well all the while. Having had a hint that matters were going wrong with
the Artificial Rain Company, he had contrived to creep out of it, by
selling such shares as he held, at a little loss certainly--and he would
have done the same for the earl had it been practicable; but his
Lordship's sudden journey into Hertfordshire had prevented his
communicating with his Lordship, till the time for acting had passed.
Now, therefore, he resolved to be taken by surprise.

"To what do I allude, sir!" echoed the earl, with much agitation, taking
the newspaper from his pocket--"The Artificial Rain Company, sir"----

"Well, my Lord!"--exclaimed Gammon, impatiently.

"Sir, it is gone! Blown up! Entirely disappeared, sir!"

"Gone! Blown up! The Artificial Rain Company? Oh, my Lord, it's
impossible!" cried Gammon, with well-feigned amazement.

"Sir--it is clean gone. Sir Sharper Bubble has absconded!" His Lordship
handed the paper to Mr. Gammon, who read the paragraph (which he had
perused some hour or two before in bed, where his own copy of the
_Morning Growl_ was at that moment lying) with every appearance of
horror, and the newspaper quite shook in his trembling hands!

"It cannot--it _cannot_ be true, my Lord!" said he, his eyes glued to
the paper.

"Sir, it _is_. I have been myself to the Company's office--it is quite
closed--shut up; there is only an old woman there, sir! And, at the
bankers', the only answer is--'Account closed!'"

"Then I am nearly a couple of thousand pounds poorer--my God! what shall
I do? Do, my Lord, let us drive off instantly to Sir Sharper Bubble's
house, and see if he be really gone. It may be a villainous fabrication
altogether--I never will believe that such a man--How miserable that
both your Lordship and I should have been out of town yesterday!"

Thus Gammon went on, with great eagerness, hoping to occupy Lord
Dreddlington's thoughts exclusively with the matter; but he was
mistaken. The earl, after a little pause, reverted to the previous
subject, and repeated his inquiry as to the rent-charge, with an air of
such serious determination as soon satisfied Gammon that there was no
evading the crisis which had so suddenly arisen. With the topic, his
Lordship also unconsciously changed his manner, which was now one of
offended majesty.

"Sir," said he, with stately deliberation, "what you have said to myself
personally, cannot be unsaid; but I desire a plain answer, Mr. Gammon,
to a plain question. Is the document which I had in my hand, an
instrument giving you--gracious Heaven!--a charge of two thousand pounds
a-year upon my son-in-law's estate? Sir, once for all, I peremptorily
insist on an answer before I leave your chambers; and, if I do not
obtain it, I shall instantly cause a rigorous inquiry to be set on

["You drivelling obstinate old fool!" thought Gammon, _looking_, the
while with mild anxiety, at the earl, "if you were _to drop down dead at
my feet_, now, at this moment, what vexation you would save me! Did it
ever before fall to the lot of mortal man to have to deal with two such
idiots as you and Titmouse?"]

"Well, then, my Lord, since you are so pertinacious on the
point--retaining my strong opinion concerning the very unwarrantable
means which enable you to put the question to me--I disdain equivocation
or further concealment," he continued with forced composure, "and
distinctly admit that the document which was lately in your Lordship's
hands, _is_ an instrument completely executed with all due form, having
the effect which it professes to have. It gives me, my Lord, a
rent-charge for the term of my life, of two thousand pounds a-year upon
Mr. Titmouse's estate of Yatton."

"Good God, sir!" exclaimed the earl, gazing at Gammon, as if
thunderstruck with an answer which, nevertheless, he could not but have
calculated upon--and which was indeed inevitable.

"That is the fact, my Lord, undoubtedly," said Gammon, with the air of a
man who has made up his mind to encounter something very serious.

"There never was such a thing heard of, sir! Two thousand pounds a-year
given to his solicitor by my son-in-law! Why, he is a mere boy"----

"He was old enough to marry the Lady Cecilia, my Lord," interrupted
Gammon, calmly, but very bitterly.

"That may be, sir," replied the earl, his face faintly flushing--"but he
is ignorant of business, sir--of the world--or you must have taken
advantage of him when he was intoxicated."

"Nothing--nothing of the kind, my Lord. Never was Mr. Titmouse more
sober--never in fuller possession of his faculties--never less in
liquor--never did he do anything more deliberately, than when he signed
that conveyance."

"Why, have you purchased it, sir? Given consideration for it?" inquired
the earl, with a perplexed air.

"Why did not your Lordship make that inquiry before you felt yourself at
liberty to make the harsh and injurious comments which you have"----

"Sir, you evade my question."

"No, my Lord--I do not wish to do so. I _have_ given value for it--full
value; and Mr. Titmouse, if you ask him, will tell you so."

The earl paused.

"And is the consideration recorded in the deed, sir?"

"It is, my Lord--and truly."

"I must again ask you, sir--do you mean to tell me that you have given
full value for this rent-charge?"

"Full value, my Lord."

"Then, why all this mystery, Mr. Gammon?"

"Let me ask, in my turn, my Lord, why all these questions about a matter
with which you have nothing to do? Would it not be much better for your
Lordship to attend to _your own_ affairs, just now, after the very

"Sir--sir--I--I--that is--_my_ concern," stammered the earl, very nearly
thrust out of his course by this stroke of Gammon's; but he soon
recovered himself--for the topic they were discussing had taken a
thorough hold of his mind. "Did you give a pecuniary consideration, Mr.

"I gave a large sum in ready money; and the remainder is expressed to
be, my long and arduous services to Mr. Titmouse, in putting him into
possession of his property."

"Will you, then, favor me with a copy of this deed, that I may examine
it, and submit it to competent"----

"No, my Lord, I will do no such thing," replied Gammon, peremptorily.

"You will not, sir?" repeated the earl, after a pause, his cold blue eye
fixed upon that of Gammon, and his face full of stern and haughty

"No, my Lord, I will not. Probably _that_ answer is explicit enough!"
replied Gammon, returning Lord Dreddlington's look with unwavering
steadfastness. There was a pause.

"But one conclusion can be drawn, then, from your refusal, sir--one
highly disadvantageous to you, sir. No one can avoid the inference that
there has been foul play, and fraud of the grossest descrip"----

"You are a peer of the realm, Lord Dreddlington; try to be a
_gentleman_," said Gammon, who had turned deadly pale. The earl's eye
continued fixed on Gammon, and his lip slightly quivered. He seemed
amazed at Gammon's audacity.

"Let me recommend your Lordship to be more cautious and measured in your
language," said Gammon, visibly struggling to speak with
calmness--"especially concerning matters on which you are
utterly--profoundly ignorant"----

"I will not long remain so, Mr. Gammon; you may rely upon it," replied
the earl, with sustained firmness and hauteur.

["Shall I? shall I? _shall_ I prostrate you, insolent old fool! soul and
body?" thought Gammon.]

"I will instantly seek out Mr. Titmouse," continued the earl, "and will
soon get at the bottom of this--this--monstrous transaction."

"I cannot, of course, control your Lordship's motions. If you _do_ apply
to Mr. Titmouse, you will in all probability receive the information you
seek for--that is, if Mr. Titmouse _dare_, without first consulting

"If--Mr.--Titmouse--_dare_, sir?" echoed the earl, calmly and

"Yes--_dare_!" furiously retorted Gammon, his eye, as it were,
momentarily flashing fire.

"Sir, this is very highly amusing!" said Lord Dreddlington, trying to
smile; but it was impossible. His hands trembled so much that he could
not draw on his glove without great effort.

"To _me_, my Lord, it is very--very painful," replied Gammon, with an
agitation which he could not conceal--"not painful on my own account,
but your Lordship's"----

"Sir, I appreciate your presumptuous sympathy," interrupted Lord
Dreddlington. "In the mean while, you may depend upon my taking steps
forthwith of a somewhat decisive character. We shall see, sir, how long
transactions of this sort can be concealed."

At this point, Gammon had finally determined upon making his
long-dreaded disclosure to the Earl of Dreddlington--one which he knew
would instantly topple him down headlong over the battlements of his
lofty and unapproachable pride, as though he had been struck by
lightning. Gammon felt himself getting colder every minute--his
agitation driving the blood from his extremities back upon his heart.

"Your Lordship has spoken of _concealment_," he commenced with visible
emotion.--"Your Lordship's offensive and most uncalled-for observations
upon my motives and conduct, irritated me for the moment--but that is
gone by. They have, however, worked my feelings up to a point which will
enable me, now, perhaps, better than on any future occasion, to make a
disclosure to your Lordship of a secret, which ever since it unhappily
came to my knowledge, so help me Heaven! has made me the most miserable
of men." There was something in Gammon's countenance and manner which
compelled the earl to sit down again in the chair from which he had
risen, and where he remained gazing in wondering silence at Gammon, who
proceeded--"It is a communication which will require all your Lordship's
strength of mind to prevent its overpowering you"----

"Gracious God, sir, what do you mean? What do you mean, Mr. Gammon? Go
on, sir!" said the earl, turning very pale.

"I would even now, my Lord, shrink from the precipice which I have
approached, and leave your Lordship in ignorance of that which--alas,
alas!--no earthly power can remedy; but your Lordship's singular
discovery of the rent-charge, which we have talked about so long and
anxiously, and determination to become fully acquainted with the
circumstances out of which it has arisen, leave me no option."

"Sir, I desire that, without so much circumlocution, you will come to
the point. I cannot divine what you are talking about--what you meditate
telling me; but I beg of you, sir, to communicate to me what you know,
and leave me to bear it as best I can."

"Then your Lordship shall be obeyed.--I said, some little time ago, that
the instrument granting me the rent-charge upon the Yatton property,
recited, as a part of the consideration, my arduous, long-continued, and
successful exertions to place Mr. Titmouse in possession of that fine
estate. It was I, my Lord, who searched for him till I found him--the
rightful heir to the Yatton property--him, the possible successor to
your Lordship in your ancient barony. Night and day I have toiled for
him--have overcome all obstacles, and at length placed him in the
splendid position which he now occupies. He is not, my Lord, naturally
of a generous or grateful disposition, as perhaps your Lordship also may
be aware; and had I not insisted on an adequate return for my services,
he would have given me none. Therefore I required him, nay, I extorted
from him the instrument in question." Mr. Gammon paused for a moment.

"Well, sir. Go on! I hear you," said the earl, somewhat sternly; on
which Gammon resumed.

"How I first acquired a knowledge that Mr. Aubrey was wrongfully
enjoying the Yatton estates, is of no moment to your Lordship; but one
thing _does_ concern your Lordship to know, and me to be believed by
your Lordship in telling you--that, so help me Heaven! at the time that
I discovered Mr. Titmouse behind the counter of Mr. Tag-rag, in Oxford
Street, and up till within a couple of months ago, I had no more doubt
about his being entitled, as really the heir-at-law"----The earl gave a
sudden start. "My Lord, I would even now beg your Lordship to let me
take some other opportunity, when we are both calmer, of explaining"----

"Go on, sir," said the earl, firmly, but in a much lower tone of voice
than that in which he had before spoken, and sitting with his eyes
riveted on those of Mr. Gammon; who, notwithstanding his Lordship's
observation, was compelled by his own sickening agitation again to pause
for a moment or two. Then he resumed. "I was saying, my Lord, that, till
about two months ago, I had no more doubt than I have of your Lordship's
now sitting before me, that Mr. Titmouse was the legitimate descendant
of the person entitled to enjoy the Yatton estates in preference to Mr.
Aubrey. His pedigree was subjected to the severest scrutiny which the
law of England can devise, and was pronounced complete"----Gammon beheld
Lord Dreddlington quivering all over; "but to my horror--only _I_ know
it, except Mr. Titmouse, to whom I told it--I have recently discovered,
by a most extraordinary accident, that we were, and are, all mistaken."
Lord Dreddlington had grown deadly pale, and his lips, which had lost
their color, seemed to open unconsciously, while he inclined towards
Gammon; "and--I may as well tell your Lordship at once the worst--this
young man, Titmouse, is only a natural son, and what is worst, of a
woman who had a former husband living"----

Lord Dreddlington started up from his chair, and staggered away from it,
his arms moving to and fro--his face the very picture of horror. It had
gone of a ghastly whiteness. His lips moved, but he uttered no sound.

"Oh, my Lord! For God's sake be calm!" cried out Gammon, dreadfully
shocked, rushing towards the earl, who kept staggering back, his hands
stretched out as if to keep off some approaching object. "My Lord! Lord
Dreddlington, hear me. For Heaven's sake, let me bring you back to your
seat. It's only a little faintness!"--He put his arm round the earl,
endeavoring to draw him back towards the easy-chair; but felt him
slipping down on the floor, his legs yielding under him; then his head
suddenly sank on one side, and the next moment he lay, as it were,
collapsed, upon the floor, partly supported by Gammon, who, in a fearful
state of agitation, shouted out for the laundress.

"Untie his neck-handkerchief, sir; loose his shirt-collar!" cried the
woman; and stooping down, while Gammon supported his head, she removed
the pressure from his neck. He was breathing heavily. "For God's sake,
run off for a doctor--any one--the nearest you can find," gasped Gammon.
"The carriage standing before the inn is his Lordship's; you'll see his
footman--tell him his Lordship's in a fit, and send him off also for a

The laundress, nearly as much agitated as her master, instantly started
off as she had been directed. Gammon, finding no signs of returning
consciousness, with a great effort managed to get his Lordship into the
bedroom; and had just laid him down on the bed when the footman burst
into the chamber in a terrible fright. He almost jumped off the floor on
catching sight of the prostrate and inanimate figure of his master--and
was for a few moments so stupefied that he could not hear Gammon
ordering him to start off in quest of a doctor, which at length,
however, he did,--leaving Gammon alone with his victim. For a few
frightful moments, he felt as if he had murdered Lord Dreddlington, and
must fly for it. He pressed his hands to his forehead, as if to recall
his scattered faculties.

"What is to be done?" thought he. "Is this apoplexy? paralysis?
epilepsy? or what? Will he recover? Will it affect his reason?--_Will he
recover?_ If so--how deal with the damning discovery he has made? Will
he have sense enough to keep his own counsel? If he survive, and
preserve his reason--all is right--everything succeeds. I am his master
to the end of his days!--What a horrid while they are!--Curse those
doctors! The wretches! never to be found when they are wanted. He's
dying before my very eyes!--How shall I say this happened? A fit,
brought on by agitation occasioned--(ay, that will do)--by the failure
of the Company. Ah! there's the newspaper he brought with him, and put
into my hands," he thought, as his eye glanced at the newspaper lying on
the table in the adjoining room--"This will give color to my version of
the affair!" With this, he hastily seized the paper in question, and
thrust it into one of the coat-pockets of Lord Dreddlington; and the
moment after, in came the laundress, followed by the medical man whom
she had gone in quest of; the door hardly having been closed before a
thundering knock announced the arrival of the footman with another
doctor; to both of whom Gammon with haste and agitation gave the account
of his Lordship's seizure which he had previously determined upon giving
to all inquiries.--"A decided case of apoplexy," said the fat
bald-headed old gentleman brought in by the laundress, and who had been
forty years in practice; and he proceeded hastily to raise the earl into
a nearly sitting posture, directing the windows to be thrown open as
widely as possible. "Clearly paralysis," said the spectacled young
gentleman who had been fetched by the footman, and who had been
established in practice only a fortnight; was hot from the hospitals;
and had opened a little surgery nearly opposite to that of the old

"It _isn't_, sir--it's apoplexy."

"Sir, it's nearer epilepsy"----

"Listen to his _breathing_, sir," said the old gentleman, scornfully.

"For God's sake, gentlemen, DO something!" interposed Gammon,
furiously--"Good God! would you have his Lordship die before your eyes?"

"Put his feet into hot water instantly--get mustard plasters ready,"
commenced the old gentleman, in a mighty bustle, turning up his
coat-sleeves, and getting out his lancets; while the young gentleman,
with a very indignant air, still resolved to give the distinguished
patient the advantage of the newest improvements in medical science,
whipped out a stethoscope, and was screwing it together, when the old
gentleman in a rage cried "Pish!" and knocked it out of his hand:
whereupon the young gentleman seemed disposed to strike him!

"Oh my God!" cried Gammon--and added, addressing the footman--"set off
for Dr. Bailey instantly--these fools will let him die before their
eyes!" Off sprang the man, and was out of sight in a twinkling. 'T was
very _natural_ (though, I must own, somewhat inconvenient and unseemly)
for these worthy rivals to behave in this way, seeing it was the first
time in his life that either had been called in to a nobleman, and very
probably it would be the last--at least it ought to have been; and each
wished to cure or kill the distinguished patient in his own way. 'T was
also the conflict between the old and the new systems of medical
science; between old practice and young speculation--and between these
two stools was his Lordship falling to the ground, with a witness. One
felt the pulse, the other insisted on applying the stethoscope to his
heart; one remarked on the coldness of the extremities--the other said
the pupils were fixed and dilated. One was for bleeding at the arm, the
other for opening the jugular vein: one for cupping at the nape of the
neck--the other on the temple; one spoke of electricity--'t would
stimulate the nervous system to throw off the blood from the brain;--the
other said, "stimulate the whole surface---wrap him in a mustard blister
from head to foot, and shave and blister the head." One verily believed
his Lordship was dying; the other declared he was dead already, through
_his_ mode of treatment not having been adopted. Each would have given
twenty guineas to have been the only one called in. All this horrid
foolery occupied far less time than is requisite to describe
it--scarcely a minute indeed--and almost drove Gammon into frenzy.
Rushing to the window, he called to a porter in the inn to start off for
"any other medical man who could be found!"--which brought the two to
their senses, such as they were. Suffice it to say, that the jugular
vein was opened in a trice; mustard plasters and hot water applied as
quickly as they could be procured; and a cupping-case having been sent
for, blood was taken pretty freely from the nape of the neck--and these
two blood-lettings saved Lord Dreddlington's life--whether to Gammon's
delight or disappointment I shall not take upon me to decide. By the
time that the great man--the experienced and skilful king's physician,
Dr. Bailey--had arrived, the earl was beginning to exhibit slight
symptoms of returning consciousness, and was recovering from an attack
of partial apoplexy. Dr. Bailey remained with his Lordship for nearly
half an hour; and, on leaving, gave it as his opinion that, provided no
fresh seizure occurred during the ensuing two hours, it would be
practicable--as it was, of course, very desirable--to remove his
Lordship to his own house. The period named having passed without his
Lordship's having experienced any relapse, it was determined on removing
him. He was to be accompanied by one of the medical men--both would fain
have gone, had the chariot admitted of it; but Gammon soon settled the
matter by naming the elder practitioner, and dismissing the younger with
a couple of guineas. Then Gammon himself set off in a hackney-coach,
about an hour before the carriage started, in order to prepare the
household of the earl, and secure a safe communication of the alarming
event, to the Lady Cecilia. On reaching the earl's mansion, to Gammon's
surprise a hackney-coach was driving off from before the door; and, on
entering the house, guess his amazement at hearing, from the agitated
porter, that Lady Cecilia had just gone up to the drawing-room in
terrible trouble. Gammon darted up-stairs, unable to imagine by what
means Lady Cecilia could have been apprised of the event. He found her
in out-door costume, sitting sobbing on the sofa, attended anxiously by
Miss Macspleuchan. The plain fact was, that she had just been driven
out of her own house by a couple of executions, put in that morning by
two creditors of Titmouse, by whom they had been treated, the evening
before, very insolently! Mr. Gammon's agitated appearance alarmed Miss
Macspleuchan, but was not noticed by her more distressed companion; and,
as soon as Mr. Gammon found the means of doing it unobserved, he made a
sign to Miss Macspleuchan that he had something of great importance to
communicate to her. Leaving the Lady Cecilia, a short time afterwards,
in the care of her maid, Miss Macspleuchan followed Mr. Gammon
down-stairs into the library, and was in a few hurried words apprised of
the illness of the earl--of the cause of it--(viz. the sudden failure of
an important speculation in which the earl was interested)--and that his
Lordship would be brought home in about an hour's time or so, in company
with a medical man. Miss Macspleuchan was for a moment very nearly
overcome, even to fainting; but, being a woman of superior strength of
character, she soon rallied, and immediately addressed herself to the
necessity of warding off any sudden and violent shock from Lady Cecilia,
especially with reference to her delicate state of health. It was
absolutely necessary, however, that her Ladyship should be promptly
apprised of the painful occurrence, lest an infinitely greater shock
should be inflicted on her by the earl's arrival. Gently and gradually
as Miss Macspleuchan broke the intelligence to Lady Cecilia, it
occasioned her falling into a swoon--for it will be borne in mind that
her nerves had been before sufficiently shaken. On recovering, she
requested Mr. Gammon to be sent for, and with considerable agitation
inquired into the occasion and manner of the earl's illness. As soon as
he had mentioned that it was a paragraph in the day's paper that first
occasioned in the earl the agitation which had induced such serious

"What! in the papers already? Is it about that wretch Titmouse?" she
inquired with a languid air of disgust.

"No, indeed, Lady Cecilia, Mr. Titmouse has nothing to do with it,"
replied Gammon, with a slight inward spasm; and, just as he had
succeeded in giving her to understand the cause to which he chose to
refer the earl's illness, carriage-wheels were heard, followed in a
second or two by a tremendous thundering at the door, which made even
Gammon almost start from his chair, and threw Lady Cecilia into a second
swoon. It was providential, perhaps, that it had that effect; for had
she gone to the windows, and seen her insensible father, with care and
difficulty, lifted out of his carriage--his shirt-collar, and a white
neck-handkerchief, thrown round his shoulders, partially crimsoned; and
in that way, amid a little crowd which had suddenly gathered round,
carried into the house, and borne up-stairs to his bed-chamber--it might
have had a very serious effect, indeed, upon her Ladyship. Gammon
stepped for an instant to the window--he saw the poor old peer in the
state I have described, and the sight blanched his cheeks. Leaving her
Ladyship in the hands of Miss Macspleuchan, and her attendants, he
followed into the earl's bedroom; and was a little relieved, some
quarter of an hour afterwards, at finding, that, though the earl was
much exhausted with the fatigue of removal, he was in a much more
satisfactory state than could have been anticipated. As his Lordship's
own physician (who had been summoned instantly on the earl's arrival
home) intimated that a little repose was essential to his Lordship, and
that no one should remain in the room whose services were not
indispensable, Gammon took his departure, after an anxious inquiry as to
Lady Cecilia--intending to return before night, personally to ascertain
the state of the earl and her Ladyship.

A mighty sigh escaped from the oppressed bosom of Gammon, as soon as,
having quitted the house, he found himself in the street alone. He
walked for some minutes straight on, irresolute as to whether he should
direct his steps--to his own chambers, to the office in Hatton Garden,
or to Mr. Titmouse's residence in Park Lane. At length he determined on
returning, in the first instance, to his own chambers, and bent his
steps accordingly; his mind so absorbed in thought, that he scarcely saw
any one he met or passed. _Here_ was a state of things, thought he,
which he had brought about! And what must be his own course now? For a
moment or two he was in a state of feeling which we may compare to that
of a person who, with ignorant curiosity, has set into motion the
machinery of some prodigious engine, which it required but a touch to
effect--and then stands suddenly paralyzed--bewildered--confounded at
the complicated movements going on all around him, and perhaps the
alarming noises accompanying them--not daring to move a hair's-breadth
in any direction for fear of destruction. He soon, however, recovered
himself, and began very seriously to contemplate the perilous position
in which he now found himself placed.

Here was Lord Dreddlington, in the first place, involved to a most
alarming extent of liability in respect of his connection with one of
the bubble companies, into an alliance with which it was Gammon alone
who had seduced him. But he quickly lost sight of that, as a very light
matter compared with what had subsequently happened, and the prodigious
consequences to which it might possibly lead--and that, too,

This crisis had been precipitated by an accident--an occurrence which he
felt that no man could have foreseen or calculated upon. Certainly it
might all be traced to his own oversight in leaving the conveyance of
his rent-charge--so all-important a document--upon his table, though
for only a minute or two's absence; for he had not quitted his chambers
more than five minutes before he had re-entered them, finding the Earl
of Dreddlington there--of all persons in the world the very last whom
Gammon would have wished to be aware of the existence of such an
instrument. Who could have imagined--calculated on such an occurrence?
Never before had the earl visited him at his own private residence; and
to have come just precisely at the very moment--and yet, thought Gammon,
almost starting back a step or two--when one came to think of it--what
was more likely than that, on seeing the paragraph in the morning paper,
his Lordship should have done the very thing he had, and driven down to
Mr. Gammon for an explanation? Bah! thought Mr. Gammon, and stamped his
foot on the pavement.

[Ay, Satan, it _was_ a very slippery trick indeed, which you had played
this acute friend of yours.]

"But the thing is done; and what am I now to do? What can I do? First of
all, there's Titmouse--where is that little miscreant at this moment?
Will he follow his wife to Grosvenor Square? Will the earl have
recovered, before I can see Titmouse, sufficiently to recollect what has
happened? Will they allow him to be admitted into the sick-chamber?
Suppose his presence should remind the earl of what he has this day
heard? Suppose he should recover his senses--what course will he take?
Will he acquaint his daughter that she is married to a vulgar
bastard--oh, frightful!--she and he the two proudest persons, perhaps,
living! Will they spurn him from them with loathing and horror?--expose
the little impostor to the world?--and take God knows what steps
against _me_, for the share I have had in the matter?--Oh,
impossible!--inconceivable! They can never blazon their own degradation
to the world! Or will Lord Dreddlington have discretion and self-command
sufficient to keep the blighting secret to himself? Will he rest
satisfied with my statement, or insist on conclusive proof and
corroboration? Will he call for vouchers--ah!" here he ground his teeth
together, for he recollected the trick which Titmouse had played him in
destroying the precious documents already spoken of. "If the little
wretch do not hear of what has happened from any one else, shall I tell
him that I have communicated his secret to Lord Dreddlington? Fancy him
and his wife meeting after they know all!--or him and the earl! Suppose
the earl should _die_--and without having disclosed this secret to any
one? Oh, oh! what a godsend would that be! All straight then, to the end
of the chapter!--How near it was this morning!--If I had but suffered
those two boobies to wrangle together till it was too late!"--A _little_
color came into Mr. Gammon's cheek at this point--as if he felt that
perhaps he was then going a trifle too far in entertaining such
very--decisive--wishes and regrets: still he could not dismiss the
reflection; nay, what was more probable than that so desperate a shock,
suffered by a man of his advanced years, might be only the precursor of
a second and fatal fit of apoplexy?--Dr. Bailey had expressed some fears
of that sort to-day, recollected Gammon!

If Mr. Gammon had seen the watchful eyes at that moment settled upon
him, by two persons who were approaching him, and who passed him
unobserved; and could have dreamed of the errand which had brought those
two persons into that part of the town--it might have set his busy brain
upon quite a new track of harassing conjecture and apprehension. But he
was far too intently occupied with his thoughts to notice any one, as he
walked slowly down Holborn; and some five minutes afterwards, having
got to within a hundred yards of Saffron Hill, he was startled out of
his meditations by hearing a voice calling out his name--and looking
towards the middle of the street, whence the sound came, beheld Mr.
Titmouse, beckoning to him eagerly, out of a hackney-coach, which was
slowly driving up Holborn, and at Titmouse's bidding drew up to the

"Oh--I say! Mr. Gammon!--'pon my life--_here's_ a precious mess!--Such a
devil of a row!"--commenced Titmouse, alarmedly, speaking in a low voice
through the coach window.

"What, sir?" inquired Gammon, sternly.

"Why, eh? heard of it? Lady Cicely"----

"I _have_ heard of it, sir," replied Gammon, gloomily--"and I have, in
my turn, something of far greater consequence to tell you.--Let the
coachman turn back and drive you to my chambers, where I will meet you
in a quarter of an hour's time."

"Oh Lord! Won't you get in and tell me _now_?--Do, Mr. Gam"----

"No, sir!" replied Gammon, almost fiercely, and walked away, leaving
Titmouse in a pretty fright.

"Now, shall I tell him, or not?" thought Gammon: and after some minutes'
anxious consideration, determined upon doing so--and on threatening him,
that if he did not change his courses, so far as money went,
he--Gammon--would instantly blast him, by exposure of his real character
and circumstances to the whole world. What might be the actual extent of
his embarrassments, Gammon knew not, nor was he aware of the fact, that
Titmouse was at that moment getting into the hands of swindling
money-lenders. In point of dress and manners, he was the same that he
had ever been, since fortune had given him the means of dressing
according to his fancy, and the fashion; but any one looking at his
face, could see in the slightly bloodshot eye, its jaded expression,
and the puffy appearance of his face, the results of systematic excess
and debauchery. When Gammon joined him at his chambers, and told him the
events of the day, Titmouse exhibited affright, that to any other
beholder than one so troubled as Gammon, would have appeared ludicrous;
but as that gentleman's object was to subdue and terrify his companion
into an implicit submission to his will, he dismissed him for the day,
simply enjoining him to keep away from Grosvenor Square and Park Lane
till an early hour in the ensuing morning--by which time events, which
might have happened in the interval, might determine the course which
Gammon should dictate to Titmouse. At that time Gammon was strongly
inclined to insist on Titmouse's going to the Continent for a little
while, to be out of harm's way; but, in fact, he felt dreadfully
embarrassed to know how to dispose of Titmouse--regarding him with
feelings somewhat, perhaps, akin to those with which Frankenstein beheld
his monster.


But to return to Lord Dreddlington. The remedies resorted to so speedily
after his seizure at Mr. Gammon's chambers, had most materially
counteracted the effects of the terrible shock which he had sustained,
and which, but for such interference, would in all probability have
proved fatal in its consequences. Shortly after his removal to his own
house, he sank into tranquil and safe sleep, which continued, with a few
interruptions, for several hours--during which his brain recovered
itself, in a considerable measure, from the sudden and temporary
pressure which it had experienced. Towards seven o'clock in the evening,
there were sitting, on one side of the bed Miss Macspleuchan, and on the
other the Lady Cecilia--who also had rallied from the shock which she
had sustained, and now, occasionally shedding tears, sat gazing in
melancholy silence at the countenance of her father. She was certainly a
miserable young woman,--was Lady Cecilia,--ignorant though she might be
of the real extent of disaster consequent upon her alliance with
Titmouse, whom she had long hated and despised, on all occasions
avoiding his company. Their almost total estrangement was quite
notorious in society!

His Lordship's physician had quitted the chamber for a few minutes, to
make arrangements for continuing with him during the night; and neither
Miss Macspleuchan nor Lady Cecilia had spoken for some time. At length
the earl, who had become rather restless, faintly muttered at intervals
to himself the words--


"You see," whispered Miss Macspleuchan, "what he's thinking of. He dined
with those people, you know." Lady Cecilia nodded in silence. Presently
his Lordship resumed--

"_Account closed!_--Call on Mr. Gammon--Is Mr. Gammon at home?"----

The current of his recollections had now brought him to the point of
danger; and after pausing for a moment, a troubled expression came over
his face--he was evidently realizing the commencement of the terrible
scene in Mr. Gammon's room--then he seemed to have lost the train of his
thoughts for a while, as his features slowly resumed their previous
placidity; but the troubled aspect presently returned: his lips were
suddenly compressed, and his brow corrugated, as if with the emotion of
anger or indignation.

"Monstrous! _Two thousand pounds?_" He spoke these words in a much
stronger voice than those preceding.

"Oh, dear!--I should have thought his Lordship had lost much more than
_that_," whispered Miss Macspleuchan, in a low tone.

"Insist!--Titmouse--Titmouse"--his lips slightly quivered, and he paused
for a while. "Shocking! What _will_ she"----an expression of agony came
over his face.

"Poor papa! He's evidently heard it all!" whispered Lady Cecilia,

"Hush!" exclaimed Miss Macspleuchan, raising her finger to her
lips--adding presently, "if he goes on in this way, I shall go and bring
in Dr. Whittington."

"Cecilia!--Cecilia!"--continued the earl; and suddenly opening his eyes,
gazed forward, and then on each side, with a dull confused stare. Then
he closed them, muttering--"I certainly thought Mr. Gammon was here!"
Shortly afterwards he opened them again; and his head being inclined
towards the side where Lady Cecilia was sitting, they fell upon, and
seemed to be arrested by her countenance. After gazing at her for some
moments very, very sorrowfully, he again closed his eyes,
murmuring--"Poor Cecilia!"

"I really think, my dear, you 'd better leave the room," faltered Miss
Macspleuchan; imagining, from the state of her own feelings, that those
of Lady Cecilia would be overpowering her--for nothing could be more
soul-touching than the tone in which the earl had last spoken.

"No; he's asleep again," replied Lady Cecilia, calmly,--and for a
quarter of an hour all was again silent. Then the earl sighed; and
opening his eyes, looked full at Lady Cecilia, and with a more natural

"Kiss me, Cecilia," said he, gently; and raising both his arms a little,
while she leaned forward and kissed his forehead, he very feebly placed
them round her, but they almost immediately sank on the bed again, as if
he had not strength to keep them extended.

"We will live together, Cecilia, again," murmured the earl.

"Dear papa, don't distress yourself; if you do, I really must go away
from you."

"No, no; you must not, Cecilia," murmured the earl, sadly and faintly,
and shaking his head.

"Have you seen him to-day?" he presently asked with a little more
energy, as if he were becoming more and more thoroughly awake, and aware
of his position; and there was a marked difference in the expression of
his eye--partly perplexed, partly alarmed.

"No, papa--I left the moment it happened, and came here; and have been
here ever since. Do, dear papa, be calm!" added Lady Cecilia, with
perfect composure.

"There!--I am gone blind _again_," exclaimed the earl, suddenly, and
raised his trembling hands to his eyes.

"_So you knew it all?_" said he, presently, tremulously removing his
hands, and looking up, as if the momentary obscuration of his sight had

"Oh yes, papa, of course! How could I help it? Try to go to sleep again,
dear papa." There was a faint dash of petulance in her manner.

They were at terrible cross purposes.

His eye remained fixed steadily on that of his daughter. "Is it not
horrible, Cecilia?" said he, with a shudder.

"Dear papa, I don't know what you mean," replied Cecilia, quite startled
by the tone of his voice, and the look of his eye. There was nothing
wild or unnatural about it. The eye seemed that of a man in his full
senses, but horrified by some frightful recollection or other.

"I thought it would have killed her," he muttered, closing his eyes,
while a faint flush came over his face, but that of Lady Cecilia turned
deadly pale.

"Don't speak again, dear," whispered Miss Macspleuchan, herself a little
startled by the earl's manner--"he's wandering--he'll go to sleep

"Yes, in my grave, madam," replied the earl, solemnly, in a hollow
tone--at the same time turning towards Miss Macspleuchan an eye which
suddenly blanched her face--"but even there I shall not _forget_!" She
gazed at him in silence, and apprehensively, trembling from head to

There ensued a pause of a minute or two.

"Oh, Cecilia!" said the earl, presently, shaking his head, and looking
at her with the same terrible expression which had so startled her
before--"that I had first followed you to your grave!"

"My dear papa, you are only dreaming!"

"No, I am not. Oh! how can _you_, Cecilia, be so calm here, when you
know that you have married a"----

Lady Cecilia glanced hurriedly at Miss Macspleuchan, who, having risen a
little from her chair, was leaning forward in an agitated manner, and
straining her ear to catch every word--

"What are you talking about, papa?" gasped Lady Cecilia, while her face
became of a deadly whiteness.

"Why, I thought you knew it all," said the earl, sustained and
stimulated by the intensity of his feelings--"that this
Titmouse--is--Mr. Gammon has acknowledged all--an infamous impostor--an

Miss Macspleuchan, with a faint shriek, rang the bell at the bed-head
violently; but before she or any one else could reach her, Lady Cecilia
had fallen heavily on the floor, where she lay unconsciously, her maid
falling down over her as she rushed into the room, alarmed by the sudden
and violent ringing of the bell. All was confusion and horror. Lady
Cecilia was instantly carried out insensible; the earl was found to have
been seized with a second fit of apoplexy. Dr. Bailey was quickly in
attendance, followed soon after by an eminent accoucheur, whom it had
been found necessary to send for, Lady Cecilia's illness having assumed
the most alarming character conceivable. When Miss Macspleuchan had in
some measure recovered from her distraction, she despatched a servant to
implore the instant attendance of the Duke and Duchess of Tantallan,
unable to bear the overwhelming horror occasioned to her by the
statement of the Earl of Dreddlington; and which, whether so astounding
and frightful a statement was founded in fact or not, and only a
delusion of the earl's, was likely to have given the unfortunate Lady
Cecilia her death-blow.

Both the duke and duchess--the nearest relatives of the earl then in
London (the duke being his brother-in-law)--were, within half an hour,
at Lord Dreddlington's and made acquainted with the fearful occasion of
what had happened. The duke and duchess were quite as proud and haughty
people as Lord Dreddlington; but the duke was a _little_--and only a
little--the earl's superior in point of understanding. When first told
of the earl's disclosure, he was told as if it were an ascertained fact;
and his horror knew no bounds. But when he came to inquire into the
matter, and found that it rested on no other foundation than the
distempered wanderings of a man whose brain was at the time laboring
under the effects of an apoplectic seizure, he began to feel a great
relief; especially when Miss Macspleuchan could mention no single
circumstance corroboratory of so amazing and frightful a representation.
At her suggestion, the duke, unable to render any personal service to
the earl, who was in the hands of the physicians, hurried home again,
and sent off a special messenger to Mr. Gammon, whose address Miss
Macspleuchan had given him, with the following note:--

     "The Duke of Tantallan presents his compliments to Mr. Gammon, and
     most earnestly begs that he will, without a moment's delay, favor
     the duke with a call in Portman Square, on business of the last

              "Portman Square,
       Wednesday Evening, 9 o'clock."

A huge servant of the duke's--with powdered hair, silver epaulettes,
dark crimson coat, and white breeches, having altogether a most splendid
appearance--created something like a sensation in the immediate
neighborhood of Thavies' Inn, by inquiring, with a very impatient and
excited air, for "Thavies' Inn," and a "gentleman of the name of
_Gammon_" who was very naturally supposed to be honored by some special
and direct communication from the king, or at least some member of the
royal family. Gammon himself, who was in the act of opening his door to
go out and make his promised call of inquiry in Grosvenor Square--was
flustered for a moment, on finding himself stepping into the arms of
such an imposing personage; who said, as he gave him the letter, on
finding him to be Mr. Gammon--"From the Duke of Tantallan, sir. His
Grace, I believe, expects you immediately, sir."

Mr. Gammon hastily opened the letter, and having glanced at the
contents--"Give my compliments to his Grace, and say I will attend him
immediately," said he. The man withdrew, and Gammon returned into his
chamber, and sat for a few moments in the darkness--he having just
before put out his lamp. He burst into a cold sweat--"What's in the wind
now!" said he to himself. "Ah, why did I not ask the fellow?"--and
starting from his seat, he rushed down-stairs, and succeeded in calling
back the duke's servant just as he was turning out of the inn--"Do you
happen to have been into Grosvenor Square to-day?--And do you know how
the Earl of Dreddlington is?" inquired Gammon, anxiously.

"Yes, sir; his Lordship, and the Lady Cecilia Titmouse, are both
dangerously ill. I believe his Lordship, sir, has had a stroke--they say
it's the second he's had to-day--and her Ladyship is taken in labor, and
is in a shocking bad way, sir. The duke and duchess were sent for in a
dreadful hurry about an hour ago."

"Dear! I'm sorry to hear it! Thank you," replied Gammon, hastily turning
away a face which he felt must have gone of a ghastly paleness.

"It may be only to inquire about the Artificial Rain Company"--said
Gammon to himself, as, having procured a light, he poured himself out a
large glassful of brandy, and drank it off, to overcome a little sense
of faintness which he felt coming rapidly over him. "The duke is a
shareholder, I think. Not at all unlikely!--And as for Lady Cecilia's
illness--nothing so extraordinary about it--when one considers her
situation--and the shock occasioned by the earl's sudden and alarming
illness. But I must take a decided course, one way or another, with the
duke!--Suppose the earl has disclosed the affair to Lady Cecilia--and it
has got to the duke's ears?--Good heavens! how is one to deal with it?
Suppose I were to affect total ignorance about the matter--and swear
that it is altogether a delusion on the part of the earl?--That would be
rather a bold stroke, too!--Suppose the earl to _die_ of this bout--ah!
then there 's an end of the thing, and all's well, provided I can manage
Titmouse!--A second fit of apoplexy within twelve hours--that looks
well--humph!--If the earl _have_ mentioned the affair--and distinctly
and intelligibly--how far has he gone?--Did he name the
rent-charge?--Ah!--well, and suppose he did? What's easier than also to
deny _that_ altogether? But suppose Titmouse should be tampered with,
and pressed about the business? Perdition!--all is lost!--Yet they would
hardly like to defy me, and trumpet the thing abroad!--Then there's the
other course--to own that I am in possession of the fatal secret--that I
became so only recently; avow the reason of my taking the rent-charge;
and insist upon retaining it, as the condition of my secrecy? That also
is a bold stroke: both are bold!--Yet one of them I must choose!--Then,
suppose the earl to recover: he will never be the same man he was--that
I find is always the case--his mind, such as it is, will go nearly
altogether!--But if he recover only a glimmering even of sense--egad! 't
will require a little nerve, too, to deny the thing to his face, and
swear that the whole thing is the delusion of a brain disordered by
previous fright!--And suppose Lady Cecilia dies?--and leaves no
issue?--and then Lord Dreddlington follows her--by Heaven, this hideous
little devil _becomes Lord Drelincourt at once_!!"

This was the way in which Mr. Gammon turned the thing over in his
disturbed mind, as he walked rapidly towards Portman Square; and by the
time that he had reached the duke's house, he had finally determined on
the course he should pursue. Though his face was rather pale, he was
perfectly self-possessed and firm, at the moment of his being shown into
the library, where the duke was walking about, impatient for his

"Gracious God, sir!"--commenced the duke, in a low tone, with much
agitation of manner, the moment that the servant had closed the door
behind him--"what is all this horrible news we hear about Mr. Titmouse?"

"_Horrible_ news--about Mr. Titmouse?" echoed Gammon, amazedly--"pardon
me--I don't understand your Grace! If you allude to the two
_executions_, which I'm sorry to hear"----

"Pho, sir! you are trifling! Believe me, this is a very awful moment to
all persons involved in what has taken place!" replied the duke, his
voice quivering with emotion.

"Your Grace will excuse me, but I _really_ cannot comprehend you!"----

"You soon shall, sir! I tell you, it may be a matter of infinite moment
to yourself personally, Mr. Gammon!"

"What _does_ your Grace mean?" inquired Gammon, respectfully, but
firmly--and throwing an expression of still greater amazement into his

"Mean, sir? By----! that you have killed my Lord Dreddlington and the
Lady Cecilia," cried the duke, in a very violent manner.

"I wait to hear, as soon as your Grace may condescend to explain," said
Gammon, calmly.

"Explain, sir? Why, I have _already_ told and explained everything!"
replied the choleric duke, who imagined that he really _had_ done so.

"Your Grace has told--has explained nothing whatever," said Gammon.

"Why, sir--I mean, what 's this horrible story you've been telling my
Lord Dreddlington about Mr. Titmouse being--in plain English, sir--A

If the duke had struck at Gammon, the latter could not have started back
more suddenly and violently than he did on hearing his Grace utter the
last words; and he remained gazing at the duke with a face full of
horror and bewilderment. The spectacle which he presented arrested the
duke's increasing excitement. He stared open-mouthed at Gammon,
presently adding--"Why sir, are we both--are we all--mad? or dreaming?
or what has come to us?"

"I think," replied Gammon, a little recovering from the sort of stupor
into which the duke's words had apparently thrown him, "it is I who have
a better title than your Grace to ask the question!--I tell Lord
Dreddlington that Mr. Titmouse is a bastard! Why, I can hardly credit my
ears! Does my Lord Dreddlington say that I have told him so?"

"He does, sir!" replied the duke, fiercely.

"And what else may his Lordship have said concerning me?" inquired
Gammon, with a sort of hopeless smile.

"By Heaven, sir, you mustn't treat this matter lightly!" said the duke,
impetuously, approaching him suddenly.

"May I ask your Grace whether this is the matter mentioned in your
Grace's note, as of the"----

"It _is_, sir! it is!--and it's killed my Lord Dreddlington--and also
the Lady Cecilia!"

"What!" cried Gammon, starting and exhibiting increasing
amazement--"does _her Ladyship_, too, say that I have told her so?"

"Yes, sir; she does!"

"What, Lady Cecilia?" echoed Gammon, really confounded.

"Well, sir--I think she did"----

"_Think_, your Grace!" interrupted Gammon, bitterly and reproachfully.

"Well, sir--certainly the fact is, I may be mistaken as to _that_
matter. I was not present; but, at all events, my Lord Dreddlington
certainly says you told _him_--and he's told Lady Cecilia--and it's
killing her--it is, sir!--By heavens, sir, I expect hourly to hear of
both of their deaths!--and I beg to ask you, sir, once for all, have you
ever made any such statement to my Lord Dreddlington?"

"Not a syllable--never a breath of the sort in all my life!" replied
Gammon, boldly, and rather sharply, as if indignant at being pressed
about anything so absurd.

"What!--nothing of the sort? or to that effect?" exclaimed the duke,
with mingled amazement and incredulity.

"Certainly--certainly not!--But let me ask, in my turn, is the _fact_
so? Does your Grace mean to say that"----

"No, sir," interrupted the duke, but not speaking in his former
confident tone--"but my Lord Dreddlington does!"

"Oh, impossible! impossible!" cried Gammon, with an incredulous
air--"Only consider for one moment--how could the fact possibly be so
and I not know it! Why, I am familiar with every step of his pedigree!"
The duke drummed vehemently with his finger on the table, and stared at
Gammon with the air of a man suddenly and completely nonplussed.

"Why, Mr. Gammon, then my Lord Dreddlington must have completely lost
his senses! He declares that you told him that such was the fact!--When
and where, may I ask, did you first see him to-day?"

"About half-past eleven or twelve o'clock, when he called at my chambers
in a state of the greatest agitation and excitement, occasioned by the
announcement in this morning's paper of the sudden blow-up of the

"Good Heaven! why, is _that_ gone?" interrupted his Grace, eagerly and
alarmedly, starting up from his seat--"When? why? how?--By Heaven, it's
enough to turn any one's head!"

"Indeed it is, your Grace. My Lord Dreddlington was the first from whom
I heard anything on the subject."

"It's very odd I didn't see the paragraph! Where was it? In the
_Morning Growl_?" continued the duke, with much agitation.

"It was, your Grace--it stated that Sir Sharper Bubble had suddenly
absconded, with all the funds of"----

"Oh, the villain! oh, the villain!--But why do you make such scoundrels
chairmen, and treasurers, and so forth? How must the loss be made good?
You really don't look sharp enough after people whom you put into such
situations! Who the deuce is this fellow--this Sir Bubble Sharper, or
whatever he is called--eh?"

"He was greatly respected in the City, or would not have been in the
position he was. Who could have suspected it?"

"And is the thing quite blown up? _All_ gone?"

"Yes. I fear it is, indeed!" replied Gammon, shrugging his shoulders and

"Of course no one can be made liable--come the worst to the worst, eh?"
inquired the duke, very anxiously, "beyond the amount of his shares?
How's that, Mr. Gammon?"

"I devoutly trust not! Your Grace will observe that it depends a good
deal on the prominence which any one takes in the affair."

"Egad! is that the principle? Then, I assure you, Mr. Gammon, upon my
word of honor, that I have not taken the least public part in the

"I am very happy to hear it, your Grace. Nor have I--but I very much
fear that my Lord Dreddlington may have gone farther a good deal"----

"I've several times warned him on the subject, I assure you. By the way,
there's that other affair, Mr. Gammon, I hope--eh?--that the Gunpowder
and Fresh Water"----

"Good heavens, your Grace! I hope all is right _there_--or I, for one,
am a ruined man!" replied Gammon, quickly.

"I--I--hope so too, sir.--So Lord Dreddlington was a good deal shocked,
eh, this morning?"

"Yes, indeed he was--nay, I may say, terribly excited! I was greatly
alarmed on his account, directly I saw him."

"And is this Mr. Titmouse--eh?--involved in the thing?"

"I really can't tell, your Grace--his movements are somewhat
eccentric--it's extremely difficult to discover or account for them! By
the way, I recollect, now, that I _did_ mention his name to Lord

"Ah, indeed! What about?" interrupted his Grace, briskly.

"Why, I just heard that early this morning there would be one or two
executions put into his house--he's been going on lately in a very wild

"Oh, he's a monstrous little--but was that all that passed between you
and my Lord Dreddlington about him?"

"I will undertake to say," replied Gammon, pausing, putting his finger
to his lips, and appearing to try to recollect--"that that was the only
mention made of his name, for soon after his Lordship was seized with a
fit," and Mr. Gammon proceeded to give the duke a very vivid and feeling
description of it.

"What a singular hallucination his Lordship must be laboring under, to
make such an assertion concerning me as he appears to have made!"
presently observed Gammon.

"Very!" replied the duke, gravely, still feeling serious misgivings on
the subject; but what could he either say, or do, further, after the
solemn, the explicit, and repeated denials of Mr. Gammon? His Grace then
gave him an account of what he had heard as to the mode of Lord
Dreddlington's seizure, and that of Lady Cecilia; and as he went on,
Gammon quivered from head to foot--and it required all his extraordinary
powers of self-command to conceal his excessive agitation from the duke.

"By the way, where is Mr. Titmouse?" inquired the duke, as he rose,
after saying that he was going on immediately to Grosvenor Square. "I
have sent to Park Lane, and find that he has not been there since the

"I really don't know, I assure your Grace. I have not seen him for
several days. If his affairs are as seriously involved as your Grace
would intimate, he may probably be keeping out of the way!"

"Do let me beg of you to take the trouble of inquiring after him
to-morrow morning, Mr. Gammon. He must be very much shocked to hear of
the lamentable condition of Lady Cecilia!"

"Indeed I will, I assure your Grace: I only hope he may not have gone
over to the Continent."

"God bless my soul, but I hope not!" interrupted the duke, earnestly:
and added, after one or two other observations, "then I understand you
as stating, Mr. Gammon, that there is not the least pretence or
foundation, in point of fact, for the representation which my Lord
Dreddlington has made concerning you, with reference to Mr.
Titmouse--excuse me--is it so, upon your word of honor?"

"Upon my sacred word of honor!" replied Gammon, steadfastly; and,
shortly afterwards, bowing to the duke, took his leave, promising to
call on his Grace early on the morrow, and to make every exertion to see
Mr. Titmouse--whom Mr. Gammon was now, indeed, devouringly anxious to
see, and would have made almost any sacrifice to be enabled to fall in
with him that very night. Good heavens! how much now depended on
Titmouse!--on the manner in which he would deal with such questions as
would infallibly be asked of him by the duke, and by any one else who
might have heard of the rumor! In short, Gammon was quite distracted by
doubts and fears, as he bent his way back to his chambers, not
venturing, after what he had heard, to call in Grosvenor Square that
evening, lest he should hear fatal news of either the earl or Lady
Cecilia--that is, of either or both of his _victims_! The next morning,
the following announcement of the earl's illness appeared in most of the
morning papers, and created quite a sensation in "society:"--

     CECILIA TITMOUSE.--Yesterday, while sitting in the office of his
     solicitor, the Earl of Dreddlington experienced an apoplectic
     seizure of a most serious nature, and which, but for prompt and
     decisive medical treatment, must have proved immediately fatal.
     His Lordship rallied sufficiently during the course of the day
     to admit of his being conveyed to his house in Grosvenor Square,
     but in the evening experienced a second and still more alarming
     fit, and continues in a state which is calculated to excite the
     greatest apprehension. We regret also to add, that Lady Cecilia
     Titmouse, his Lordship's only daughter, happening to be with his
     Lordship at the moment of this sudden attack, was immediately
     seized with illness; which, in her Ladyship's critical state of
     health, may be attended with most serious consequences."

In the evening papers, it was stated that the Earl of Dreddlington still
continued in a precarious condition, and that Lady Cecilia was not
expected to survive the night; and the instant that Mr. Gammon laid his
hands on the next morning's paper, he turned with eagerness and
trepidation to a certain gloomy corner of it--and a faint momentary mist
came over his eyes, while he read as follows:--

     "Yesterday, in Grosvenor Square, in her 29th year, after giving
     premature birth to a son, still-born, Lady Cecilia Titmouse, the
     Lady of Tittlebat Titmouse, Esq., M. P., and only daughter and
     heiress of the Right Honorable the Earl of Dreddlington."

Mr. Gammon laid down the paper, and for some moments felt overcome with
a deadly faintness. Having, however, recovered himself a little, on
casting a hasty apprehensive glance over the newspaper, for intelligence
of the Earl of Dreddlington, he read as follows:--

     "The Earl of Dreddlington, we regret to say, continues alarmingly
     ill. Drs. Bailey and Whittington are in constant attendance upon
     his Lordship. Our readers will see, in another part of our paper,
     the melancholy announcement of the death of his Lordship's lovely
     and accomplished daughter, Lady Cecilia Titmouse, after giving
     premature birth to a son, still-born. We regret to hear it
     rumored, that the illness of his Lordship originated in a shock
     occasioned by circumstances of a very painful nature; but this
     report, we trust, will turn out to be unfounded. In the event of
     his Lordship's demise, he is succeeded in his titles and estates by
     his son-in-law, and heir, upon the death of the Lady Cecilia, Mr.
     Titmouse, M. P. for Yatton."

       *       *       *       *       *

It will surely be a relief to one's feelings to pass away, for a while
at least, from the contemplation of these events of untoward and
disastrous issue, to persons and to incidents of a very different
character. Turn, therefore, kind and patient reader! your eye to that
retreat of long-suffering virtue which is to be found in Vivian Street!

Relieved from the _immediate_ pressure which had, as it were, forced him
down into the very dust, poor Aubrey's pious and well-disciplined mind
was not long in recovering that tone of confident reliance upon the
goodness and mercy of God, which God had seen fit so severely to try;
and such He now permitted Aubrey to see had been His object. He and his
lovely--his beloved wife and sister, soon recovered a considerable
measure of composure, and even cheerfulness; yet felt they all _in the
deep waters_. The generous and timely interference of Mr. Runnington had
secured them, indeed, a few months' respite from the harassing and
tormenting attacks of those who seemed bent upon their destruction; but
what was to become of them all, when the arrival of the next term should
have again set into motion against them the dismal machinery of the law?
None of them could foresee any mode of exit from their troubles;
speculation was idle: yet lost they not an humble but trembling hope,
that Providence would yet make a way for their escape.

The one of all the recent occurrences which had most shocked and
disheartened Mr. Aubrey, and driven him nearest to the verge of
downright despair, was that of Lady Stratton's death, and its afflicting
concomitants. How powerfully and perseveringly did the Arch-enemy of
mankind represent this circumstance to him--especially in those moods of
depression which are incident to all of us in this fluctuating scene of
trial and suffering--as proof that he was the sport of chance, the
victim of evil destiny! What--it was suggested--had he, his wife, his
sister, done to _deserve_ it? But, thank God! in vain were these
suggestions from beneath; totally ineffectual

    "To shake his trust in God!"

Certainly, the event alluded to baffled all his calculations long, and
deeply, and anxiously as he reflected upon it, in all its bearings--and
his only refuge lay in the simple reference of it to the all-wise
providence of God. Oh, foolish fiend! and didst thou really think this
little matter was sufficient to make this Christian man doubt or deny
God's moral government of the world?--Far otherwise, indeed, was it with
him, enlightened by intelligence from on high; and which satisfied
Aubrey, that while there was so much that was utterly incomprehensible
and inexplicable in the character of God Himself, in His physical and
natural government of the world, it was but reasonable to expect
corresponding mystery and incomprehensibility in His _moral_ government
of the world. We are permitted to obtain a few occasional glimpses of
the one, as well as of the other--and they should satisfy us of the
reality of the sublime and awful system which is in existence around us.
What know we of the ultimate scope and end of His working? What seeming
good shall we be sure will not produce evil? What seeming evil shall we
be sure will not produce, and is not designed to produce, good? And may
not our ignorance in these respects be specially ordained to test the
faith of man--to check presumptuous confidence--to repel palsying
despair; in a word, to make man _walk humbly with his God_, in constant
and implicit dependence upon him? Oh, blessed is the man of true
devoutness of mind, and protected from innumerable troubles and perils
that assail and overpower those who choose to live _without God in the
world_!--Thus was it that Aubrey, as he had not presumed in his
prosperity, so despaired not in his adversity.

He had commenced a sedulous attendance at the chambers of Mr. Mansfield,
within a few days after the delicate kindness of Mr. Runnington had
afforded him the means of doing so. He already knew sufficient to give
him an interest in the intricate system of the law of real property; and
the immediate practical operation of its principles, which he witnessed
in his new scene of study, served to enhance his estimate of its
importance and value. In addition, however, to his absorbing
professional labors, he continued his occasional contributions to
substantial literature; but Mr. Runnington's generosity had enabled him
to dispense with that severe and incessant exertion to which he had been
till then accustomed, and to address himself to his difficult yet
delightful studies, with undivided energy.

Some short time after he had commenced his attendance at Mr. Mansfield's
chambers, Mr. Aubrey was, one morning about ten o'clock, on his way down
to Lincoln's Inn, and when about to cross Piccadilly, paused to let pass
him a dusty post-chaise and four, dashing up St. James's Street; and as
it went close and rapidly by him, he quite started with astonishment;
for, unless his eyes had extraordinarily deceived him, he had seen in
that chaise no other a person than Lord De la Zouch: who, however, if
it _were_ he, had not appeared to see Mr. Aubrey, and probably had
really not observed him.

"Why, how can this be?" thought Aubrey, standing and gazing for a moment
in astonishment after the dust-covered vehicle. "The letter which Agnes
received the other day from Lady De la Zouch, did not say a word about
Lord De la Zouch's intention to return to England! And alone!--And in a
post-chaise--and travelling all night, as he evidently has, from Dover!
'T is strange! What can be the matter?"--And he stood for a moment
irresolute whether or not he should retrace his steps, and satisfy his
curiosity by calling at the house of Lord De la Zouch, in Dover Street.
On consideration, however, he determined not to do so. He might be
mistaken; but if not, Lord De la Zouch might have been called back to
England on a matter of special urgency, and possibly deem a visit from
any one, except those whom he expected to see, intrusive. Aubrey,
therefore, continued his way on to Lincoln's Inn; and was very soon
engrossed with the matters there requiring his attention. But it really
was Lord De la Zouch whom he had seen; and, moreover, it was solely on
Aubrey's own account that his Lordship, leaving Lady De la Zouch at
Paris, had taken this sudden journey to England--not intending Aubrey,
however, at all events at present, to be apprised of the fact. 'Twas
entirely owing to the unconscious Gammon that Lord De la Zouch thus made
his appearance in England; for, had that gentleman not taken such
special pains to have inserted in the _Morning Growl_, the full and
accurate account of the proceedings which he had caused to be instituted
against himself, which the reader has had laid before him, and which his
Lordship, in due course, had read at Paris, with infinite anxiety and
alarm on the score of its possible bearing upon Mr. Aubrey, his
Lordship would in all probability have continued at Paris for several
months longer, in total ignorance of the thraldom of the unfortunate
Aubreys. The moment that his Lordship had perused the report in
question, he wrote off to Mr. Runnington a strictly confidential letter,
begging an immediate answer, with as full and exact an account of Mr.
Aubrey's circumstances as Mr. Runnington could give. By the very next
post, that gentleman wrote off to his Lordship a long answer,
acquainting him with what had befallen the persecuted Aubrey, viz.--his
double arrest, and in respect of so terrible a liability. Mr. Runnington
spoke in very glowing and feeling terms of the manly fortitude of Mr.
Aubrey under his accumulated misfortunes; and, in short, drew so moving
a picture of the deplorable circumstances into which Mr. Aubrey and his
family were plunged, that his Lordship the next day wrote off to inform
Mr. Runnington, in confidence, that he might expect to see his Lordship
in London within a day or two--for that he was coming over solely on the
affairs of the Aubreys--and was, in fact, resolved upon bringing about,
cost what it might, either alone, or in conjunction with such other
friends of Mr. Aubrey as his Lordship might think proper to take into
his counsels, a complete and final settlement of Mr. Aubrey's affairs,
and so place him at once and forever out of the reach of all his
enemies; to set him once more straight and free in the world, and give
him a fair chance of securing, by the successful practice of the
profession of the bar, that independence, affluence, and distinction, to
which his great talents, learning, industry, and unconquerable energy,
warranted him in aspiring. As soon as his Lordship had recovered from
the fatigues of his journey, he sent off a servant to request the
immediate attendance of Mr. Runnington--who was overjoyed at receiving
the summons, and could hardly refrain from stepping over to Mr.
Mansfield's, in order to apprise Mr. Aubrey of the arrival of Lord De la
Zouch. He abstained, however, from doing so, on recollecting the strict
injunctions of Lord De la Zouch; and immediately set off for Dover
Street. But before they met, let me take the opportunity of mentioning
one or two little matters connected with the previous movements of Mr.

He was a very able man; clear-headed, cautious, experienced, and
singularly prompt and determined, when once he had resolved on any
course of proceeding: in short, he was quite capable of contending
against even such a formidable opponent as Gammon, subtle, tortuous, and
unscrupulous though he might be. "Let me once _get hold_ of Master
Gammon--that's all!"--thought, very frequently, Mr. Runnington. Now, the
astounding avowal which Miss Aubrey represented Mr. Gammon as having
made to her, in his insane attempt to prevail upon her to entertain his
addresses--viz. that he possessed the power of immediately, and by legal
means, displacing Mr. Titmouse, and repossessing Mr. Aubrey, of
Yatton--had made a profound impression on the mind of Mr. Runnington.
The more that he reflected upon the incident--and upon the character of
Mr. Gammon, the stronger became his conviction that Mr. Gammon had been
in earnest in what he had said; that there was a foundation in fact for
his assertion; and that if so, some scheme of profound and infernal
wickedness must have been had recourse to, in order to dispossess Mr.
Aubrey of Yatton, and place Titmouse there in his stead. Then Mr.
Runnington adverted, in his own mind, to the circumstance of Mr.
Gammon's exercising such a constant interference and control over
Titmouse, and all matters connected with Yatton. Mr. Runnington many and
many a time pondered these things in his mind--but was, after all,
completely at a loss to know what steps to take, and how to deal with
the affair, as it stood. Then again, with reference to the death of Lady
Stratton, and the melancholy circumstances attending it, Mr. Runnington
had entered into a correspondence with Mr. Parkinson, with a view to
ascertaining the chances there were, of procuring his draft of Lady
Stratton's will, to be admitted to probate; and laid the whole affair,
in the shape of a "case," before an eminent practitioner in the
ecclesiastical court. The opinion he thus obtained, was, however,
adverse; mainly, on the ground that there was clearly evidence to show a
subsequent essential alteration of intention on the part of Lady
Stratton--to say nothing of certain other difficulties which, the fee
marked being a very handsome one, were suggested by the astute civilian.
Mr. Runnington was much chagrined at this result; and abandoned his
design of seriously contesting Mr. Titmouse's claim to administration.
It could, however, he thought, do no harm if he were just to lodge a
_caveat_, even though he should there leave the matter. It might have
the effect of interposing some delay; staving off any contemplated
proceedings upon the bond which Mr. Aubrey had given to the late Lady
Stratton; and afford an opportunity for negotiation concerning the
payment of Mr. Aubrey and Miss Aubrey's shares of the property of the
intestate. This step, therefore, he took--and was by no means chagrined
at finding, some short time afterwards, that the Vulture Company were
bent on pursuing their ordinary course, in cases of policies which
rendered it worth their while, viz. not paying till they were forced to
do so:--and the Company, in their turn, were only too happy to find that
there was a chance of a protracted dispute concerning the right to the
policy. Not satisfied with this--still haunted by Mr. Gammon's
mysterious statement to Miss Aubrey--it all at once occurred to Mr.
Runnington, in the course of one of his many meditations upon the
subject, to take an opportunity of discussing the affair, in all its
bearings, with Sir Charles Wolstenholme, whose penetrating, practical
sagacity, sharpened by his zeal and sympathy, might hit upon something
or other undiscernible to Mr. Runnington. Without having intimated his
intentions to Mr. Aubrey, Mr. Runnington, shortly after having lodged
his caveat, succeeded in obtaining an interview with Sir Charles,
expressly with a view of talking over the affairs of the unfortunate Mr.

"God bless my soul!" cried Sir Charles, in a tone of wonder, as soon as
Mr. Runnington had mentioned the statement of Mr. Gammon to Miss Aubrey,
and the circumstances accompanying it. In short, it was clear that Sir
Charles was every whit as much struck with the fact as had been Mr.
Runnington; and for some minutes after Mr. Runnington had named it,
seemed lost in thought. A considerable pause here ensued in their
conversation; and Mr. Runnington was quite delighted to see his
distinguished companion evidently engaged in turning about the facts of
the case in his clear and powerful understanding; viewing them from
every point in which they could be contemplated, and in all their

"It's very likely, I am disposed to think, that the fellow was in
earnest," at length said Sir Charles; "at all events that he _believed_
he had the power which he professed to possess; and that he was hurried
away into prematurely disclosing it. Egad, he's a nice person, that
Gammon, too, by the way, to think of his proposing to sweet, pretty Miss
Aubrey--ah, hah," he added with a faint but contemptuous smile; and
presently subjoined in a musing sort of way--"I've got the general facts
that came out at the trial still pretty fresh in my mind, and I've been
just running over the links in his chain of proof. 'Gad! we could
hardly have failed to detect a hitch, if there had been one! Link by
link we went over it--and were long enough about it, at any rate! I can
conceive too, that in a case of that sort there was room for a little
bit of perjury, if it were cleverly managed; and Mr. Gammon _is_ a
_clever_ man! By the way, I'm actually going down special for him to
York, in that bribery case, ah, hah! Ay," he presently resumed, "I
suspect that one or two of the links in that chain of his must have been
of base metal. Devil take him! he must have done it well, too!" He
smiled bitterly.

"If _that's_ your impression, Sir Charles," said Mr. Runnington,
eagerly, "what do you think of having a shot at them--a second

"Oh, by Heaven! _that's_ an awful affair!" replied Sir Charles, shaking
his head, and looking very serious; "besides, what he's done once, he
may do again."

"Ah, but we know all his witnesses now beforehand! Then we fought him in
the dark; but now"----

"Ay, there's something in _that_, certainly," said Sir Charles,
musingly; "but then 't is such a frightful expense; and where poor
Aubrey's to get the means"----

"Oh, never mind that, Sir Charles!" replied Mr. Runnington, nevertheless
somewhat seriously; but thinking of Lord De la Zouch, he added rather
briskly--"If you only intimate an opinion favorable towards venturing
the experiment, I'll undertake that _funds_ shall be forthcoming."

While Mr. Runnington was saying this, Sir Charles Wolstenholme sat
leaning back in his chair, his head inclined on one side, the fingers of
one hand playing mechanically with his chin; in fact, he was deeply
engaged in thought, and Mr. Runnington did not interrupt him.

"Ah," he presently exclaimed with a sort of sigh, looking with sudden
vivacity at his companion--"I have it--I have it--I see a way out of the
wood! Well, if you can only get ammunition, it's my advice to you to
fight the battle over again--_but on quite a different field_. We'll
strike a blow in a new hemisphere!"

"Indeed, Sir Charles? What, in a court of equity?"

"Oh, pho, no!--You say you _have_ entered a caveat against the grant of
Letters of Administration?"

"Yes, certainly," replied Mr. Runnington, a little disappointed; "but,
as I explained, there's no chance of establishing a _will_."

"Never mind _that!_ Throw the will to the dogs. I'll show you a wrinkle
worth a hundred wills! Mr. and Miss Aubrey, and Titmouse, are, you know,
of course, entitled each to a third of Lady Stratton's estate, but as
Aubrey would appear to the court to be in fact insolvent, and to owe
Titmouse a much larger sum than Aubrey is entitled to, out of the
intestate's estate--the preferable right to administer is certainly that
of Titmouse. Never mind that, however. Contest his right to administer
_at all_: stand by your _caveat_--and when you are called upon to
support it, do so on the ground _that Mr. Aubrey is_ NEARER _of kin to
Lady Stratton than Titmouse_--which will make it necessary for the
fellow, you know, to set forth his pedigree with the greatest
minuteness. You will then have a commission go down to the very spot
where all the witnesses are, and those fellows, the proctors, you know,
are as keen as beagles"----

"Oh, Sir Charles, Sir Charles! I--I see it all! Oh, admirable"----

"To be sure!" continued Sir Charles, with much animation. "Their case
will be as it were laid on the rack, when the process of the
ecclesiastical court is applied to it. You have an examiner on the
spot--all secret and mysterious--proctors ferreting out all sorts of
old registers and musty documents, that _we_ should never think of. 'T
is quite in their line--births, deaths, and marriages, and everything
connected with them. By Jove! _if_ there's a flaw, you'll discover it in
_this_ way!"

"Oh, heavens!" cried Mr. Runnington, with grateful glee, "your hint is
worth thousands upon thousands of pounds"----

"If it only produce _Ten Thousand a-Year_--ah, hah!" interrupted Sir
Charles, laughing good-naturedly; and very soon afterwards Mr.
Runnington quitted his chambers, charmed and excited by the masterly
suggestion which had been made to him, and resolved to go off to his
proctor _instanter_, set about acting upon the hint forthwith, and get a
kind of general notion of the process which he thought of commencing.
You might, within an hour's time, have seen Mr. Runnington closeted with
the proctor always employed by his firm--Mr. OBADIAH POUNCE--a man whose
look told you he was made for penetrating into and poking about anything
musty, or obscure. He was, indeed, thoroughly up to his business--in
fact, not an abler or more experienced proctor was to be found in
Doctor's Commons. As Mr. Pounce was not entirely unacquainted with the
facts--having drawn up the case which had been submitted to Dr. FLARE
for his opinion as to the admissibility to probate of Mr. Parkinson's
draft of Lady Stratton's intended will--it did not take long to put him
in possession of the wishes and intentions of Mr. Runnington.

"Let us come away to Dr. Flare at once," quoth Pounce, putting his watch
into his fob--"You'll catch him at home just now, I know, and perhaps in
good-humor; and a short consultation with _him_ will be worth half a
dozen written opinions."

So they set off for the chambers of Dr. Flare, which were at only a few
yards' distance. Dr. Flare was a very great man in the ecclesiastical
court; in fact, by far the most eminent practitioner there. He was
thoroughly versed in ecclesiastical law, and every species of learning
connected with it; in fact, he had for the last thirty years been
concerned in every case of the least importance which had come before
that solemn, quaint, and mysterious tribunal. He was possessed of great
acuteness and powers of arrangement, and had wonderful industry; but his
capital quality was that of thoroughly identifying himself with his
cause. Into every cause in which he was employed, he entered with all
the keenness and vivacity which he could have displayed in one of vital
personal consequence to himself. The moment he had possessed himself of
the facts of his case, he became sincerely and really convinced, to the
end of the chapter, that he was on the right side--that the legal and
moral merits were with his client--that he ought to win--and that his
opponents were among the most execrable of mankind. But, to be sure,
such a _temper_ was his! So fierce and fiery, that it scorched everybody
who came into contact with him. He was like an angry dog, who, if he
have nothing else to snap at, will snap at his own tail--and Dr. Flare,
when he had no one else to get into a passion with, would get into one
with himself. His own quickness of perception was calculated to render
him impatient and irritable under even the clearest and briefest
statement which could be addressed to him. He was, in a manner, the
victim of his own _acumen nimium_. In spite of considerable impetuosity
of temper, he was a kind, an honorable, and high-minded man; and when
not in actual conflict, lived on very good terms with his grave and very
learned brethren. In person, he was short and spare; his slight gray
whiskers looked as if they had been calcined by his cheeks, which,
though thin, were of a florid red color; his forehead was ample; and
there was an expression about his piercing gray eye which seemed to ask
with a curse, of any one entering, "why d'ye interrupt me?" When Mr.
Pounce and Mr. Runnington entered his room--which was covered with
papers and open books--the doctor was settling, _in furore_, Articles
extending over many hundred folios, against an unhappy curate,
flourishing on forty pounds a-year in Rutlandshire, "_touching and
concerning his soul's health, and the lawful correction and reformation
of his manners and excesses_," (such was the solemn and affectionate
strain in which the reverend delinquent was addressed,) for having
refused to baptize a child by the name of "JUDAS ISCARIOT"--that being
the name desired to be given to his infant by a blasphemous little
Radical cobbler, a chattering infidel, who sought, by that means, to
evince his insane hatred of the Christian religion. Now, Dr. Flare was
himself an ardent friend of the Church, and a sincere Christian: but, by
virtue of the quality to which I have before alluded, he had brought
himself to look upon this poor clergyman as guilty of a most flagrant
piece of wickedness; and was forging, _con amore_, the bolt to be
presently levelled at so enormous an offender. But a few minutes before
their arrival, moreover, an incident had occurred to the doctor, which
had roused him into a kind of frenzy: he had been interrupted by an
applicant to be sworn to some matter or other, for which the doctor was
entitled to the usual fee of one shilling. The deponent had only
half-a-crown; so the doctor had to take out his purse, and give him the
difference, with a muttered curse; and you may guess the scene which
ensued on the deponent's presently returning, and requesting that the
sixpence which the doctor had given him might be changed, being _a bad
one_!--Mr. Runnington was prepared to go fully into his case before Dr.
Flare; but on catching sight of him, he looked so startling a contrast
to the calm and affable Sir Charles Wolstenholme--so like a hyena
squatting in his den--that his heart suddenly failed him; and after
observing, that instead of interrupting the doctor at that time, he
would immediately lay a written case before him, he and Mr. Pounce made
their escape into the open air; the former looking so relieved of
apprehension, that Mr. Pounce almost died with laughter. But it occurred
to Mr. Runnington, that, in the present stage of the business, Mr.
Pounce was just as satisfactory an adviser as Dr. Flare could be--and he
determined upon being guided by Mr. Pounce, whom he immediately
instructed to retain Dr. Flare; and then talked over the whole case in
all its bearings--the result being, that Mr. Pounce entirely
corroborated the view taken by Sir Charles Wolstenholme, and pointed out
so clearly and forcibly the peculiar advantages attending the
contemplated mode of procedure, that Mr. Runnington nearly made up his
mind on the spot, to venture on the experiment; but at all events
undertook to give his final decision within twenty-four hours' time. The
next morning, however, he received information from Mr. Pounce, which
was calculated to quicken his motions; viz. that Mr. Titmouse was
moving, and had just "_warned the caveat_,"[15] with a view to
discovering who his opponent was, and what was the ground of his
opposition. Now, this chanced to occur on the very day of Lord De la
Zouch's arrival in London; his servant calling at Mr. Runnington's
office with a note requesting his attendance in Dover Street, within a
few hours of Mr. Runnington's receiving intelligence of the movement of
Mr. Titmouse. The result of a very long and anxious discussion between
Mr. Runnington and Lord De la Zouch was, that his Lordship acquiesced in
the expediency of the course suggested to him, viz. to suspend for a
month or two carrying into effect the scheme which he had formed for
extricating Mr. Aubrey from all his liabilities--since the proceedings
about to be instituted in the ecclesiastical court might possibly render
unnecessary the very large pecuniary sacrifice contemplated by his
Lordship, by disentitling Mr. Titmouse to receive any part of the demand
which he was at present enforcing against Mr. Aubrey. His Lordship then
gave a _carte blanche_ to Mr. Runnington, and authorized him instantly
to commence, and most vigorously prosecute every measure which might be
necessary--to spare no expense or exertion--to give and take no quarter;
for Lord De la Zouch expressed the warmest indignation at the whole
conduct of Mr. Gammon--particularly his presumptuous advances towards
Miss Aubrey, and the audacious measures to which he had resorted, for
the purpose of securing her favor. His Lordship also felt, in common
with Sir Charles Wolstenholme and Mr. Runnington, that Mr. Gammon's
avowal to Miss Aubrey of his absolute control over the enjoyment of the
Yatton property, warranted the suspicion that the decisive steps about
to be taken would lead to the most important results. Thus fortified,
Mr. Runnington immediately gave instructions to Mr. Pounce to proceed:
and that person at once entered formally into battle with his brother
proctor, Mr. Quod, who was acting for Mr. Titmouse. Supposing it to be
all a very simple straightforward affair on the part of Mr. Titmouse,
Mr. Quod did not give himself any particular concern about the step
taken by Mr. Pounce, and with which he did not acquaint Mr. Gammon, till
that gentleman called to inquire in what state the proceedings were; and
when he found the ground taken by Mr. Aubrey, and that it would compel
Mr. Titmouse to prove over again every link in the chain which connected
him with the elder branch of the Aubrey family, he was not a little
agitated, though he made a great effort to conceal it, while listening
to Mr. Quod's account of the process about to be commenced. Each party,
it seemed, would have to give in to the court "_an allegation_," or
statement of the pedigree he intended to establish, and which would be
lodged at the registry. Each would then, in due course, obtain a copy of
his opponent's allegation, in order to guide him in framing his own
proof and interrogatories. A COMMISSION would then be sent, by the
court, into the county where the witnesses resided, to examine them--the
examiner being an officer of the court, a proctor--and, while thus
engaged, representing the court. This officer having been furnished by
the parties with a copy of the two allegations, the names of the
witnesses, and the interrogatories, would proceed to examine the
witnesses; but in a manner very different from any adopted by the courts
of law--viz. one by one, alone, secretly, and in the most searching and
thorough manner; and having given his or her evidence, the witness would
be formally threatened with the terrors of the ecclesiastical court, if
he or she should presume to disclose to any person, much less the
parties, the evidence which had been thus given to the examiner. When
the whole of the evidence had been in this mysterious way collected, it
would be lodged in the proper office of the court; and till the arrival
of the proper time for permitting both parties to take copies of
it--they would be in total ignorance as to the exact nature of that
which had been given by even their own witnesses. Mr. Quod added, that
the briefs which had been used at the trial of the action of ejectment,
would of themselves furnish almost the entire "allegations," and greatly
facilitate and accelerate the proceedings.

"Then, do the parties, or their proctors," inquired Gammon, "go down
beforehand to the spot where the commission is to be held?"

"Oh yes, both parties, of course--Pounce and I shall be both at work
down there, rummaging registries, records, churchyards--brushing up
every man, woman, and child, that's got a word to say on the
subject--warm work, warm work, Mr. Gammon! We sha'n't leave a stone
unturned on either side! Lord, I recollect a case, for instance, where a
_marriage_ passed muster in all your common-law courts, one after the
other; but as soon as it got into _our_ hands--aha!--we found out that
it was no marriage at all! and some thirty or forty thousand a-year
changed owners! What d'ye think of that?" said Mr. Quod, rubbing his
hands, with a pleased and confident air, which strangely contrasted with
the reserved and disconcerted manner of his companion; who, in fact, had
been thrown into a cold perspiration by what he had heard. "Pounce,"
continued Quod, "is a keen hand, but I know one that's not afraid of him
any day! But I'm sorry they've secured Dr. Flare, I own"----

"Ah, well, that can't be helped now, you know. Good-day, Mr. Quod," said
Gammon, with a sickly smile. "I shall be with you about this time
to-morrow, to make arrangements." And with this he withdrew.

"Curse Lady Stratton--her will--her policy--everything connected with
the old creature," said Gammon to himself, vehemently, as he sat that
evening alone, in his chamber, meditating upon this most unexpected turn
which the thing had taken; "nothing but vexation, and disappointment,
and _danger_, by Heaven!--attends every move I make in her accursed
affairs! Was there ever such a check, for instance, as this? Who could
have dreamed of it? What may it not lead to?" Here he got up hastily,
and walked for some minutes to and fro. "By Heaven, it won't do!--Would
to Heaven I had never ventured on the speculation of Titmouse's
administering to the old woman!--What could I have been about? And,
too, when I knew nothing about the policy! But how can I now retreat? I
_must_ go on!" Another pause. "Stay--stay--that won't do either! Oh,
no!--not for a moment! But what will they not conclude from our sudden
striking? Of course, that we dare not bring Titmouse's pedigree again
into the light; and, besides, by relinquishing the administration to
Aubrey, shall I not be putting weapons into his hands--in the possession
of the funds--against ourselves? Ay, to be sure! So, by ----, here we
are in for it, whether we will or not--and no escape!" The latter words
he uttered aloud, at the same time snapping his fingers with a desperate
air; and continued walking about for a long time in a state of most
direful perplexity and alarm. "What _shall_ I do?" said he at length
aloud, and then thought within himself--"Move in what direction I may, I
am encountered by almost insuperable difficulties! Yet how cautious have
I not been!--If I concede the administration to Aubrey, to what motives
of conscious weakness will he not refer it? I _must_ act--I dare not
hesitate to act--on the solemn finding of a jury, now deliberately
acquiesced in for so considerable a time by Aubrey. And I know that the
ecclesiastical court won't easily be brought to act against that
finding. It will never do to have to fight the question of distribution
in the Court of _Chancery_."--Here he threw himself on his sofa, and
remained absorbed in thought for some time. Again he rose, and paced his
room with folded arms. At length another view of the matter presented
itself to him. "Suppose one were to sound Aubrey or Runnington on the
subject, and tell them that I have prevailed on Titmouse to withdraw his
claim to administer--in consideration of the moral certainty there is
that Lady Stratton intended _they_ should have the whole of her
property--at all events of the amount of the policy.--Bah! _that_ won't
do! They'd never believe us! But who, in Heaven's name, is finding the
funds for such a serious contest as this?--Runnington has no doubt got
some of Aubrey's friends to come forward and make a last experiment on
his behalf. But why take this particular move?" He drew a long breath,
and every particle of color fled from his cheek. "Alas! alas! I now see
it all. Miss Aubrey has betrayed me! She has told to her brother--to
Runnington--what, in my madness, I mentioned to her! That explains all!
Yes," he exclaimed aloud in a vehement tone, "you beautiful fiend, it is
your hand that has commenced the work of destruction--as you suppose!"

Neither Lord De la Zouch nor Mr. Runnington saw any necessity for
hesitating to apprise Mr. Aubrey of the steps they meditated taking on
his behalf, as soon as they had come to the decision above recited, and
for which, of course, it became necessary to obtain his sanction. During
the course, therefore, of the day after that on which their
determination had been taken, at Lord De la Zouch's desire, Mr.
Runnington undertook to make the important communication to Mr. Aubrey.
For a while he seemed to stagger under the weight of intelligence of
such magnitude; and it was some time before he recovered calmness of
feeling sufficient to appreciate the nature and consequences of the
meditated step--viz. a direct, an immediate, and most formidable effort
to replace him in the possession of the estates from which he had been
some two years before displaced. But all other considerations were
speedily absorbed in one which most profoundly affected him--the
princely conduct of his friend Lord De la Zouch. Mr. Aubrey said scarce
anything upon this topic for some time; but Mr. Runnington perceived how
powerfully his feelings were excited. And will it occasion surprise when
I say, that this feeling of gratitude towards the creature--towards the
noble instrument--was presently itself merged into another, that of
gratitude towards God, whose mysterious and beneficent purpose
concerning him, he contemplated with a holy awe? Mr. Runnington was
himself greatly moved by the spectacle before him; but desirous of
relieving the increasing excitement under which he perceived Mr. Aubrey
laboring, he kindly turned the conversation towards the practical
details, and apprised him of the consultation which he had had with Sir
Charles Wolstenholme, to all of which Mr. Aubrey listened with intense
interest, and thoroughly appreciated the value of the admirable
suggestion upon which they were acting. But Lord De la Zouch had, with a
most delicate consideration, peremptorily enjoined Mr. Runnington not to
acquaint Mr. Aubrey with the circumstance, either of his Lordship's
having come over from France solely on his affairs, or of his meditated
project of summarily releasing Mr. Aubrey from all his embarrassments.
As soon as Mr. Runnington had informed Mr. Aubrey that he would find his
Lordship then at Dover Street, and in readiness to receive him, that
closed their interview; and Mr. Aubrey, in a state of extraordinary
exhilaration of spirits, instantly set off to see his munificent
benefactor, and pour out before him the homage of an oppressed and
grateful heart. After a long interview, the character of which the
reader may easily imagine, Lord De la Zouch insisted on setting out for
Vivian Street--for he declared he could not let another hour pass
without seeing those in whose welfare he felt so tender an interest: so
arm in arm they walked thither; and it would have made any one's heart
thrill with satisfaction to see the brightened countenance of poor
Aubrey, as he walked along, full of joyful excitement, which was visible
even in the elasticity and vigor of his step. It seemed as though a
millstone had been taken from his neck; for though he was, indeed, of a
somewhat sanguine temperament, yet had he not, in what had happened,
solid ground to sustain the strongest and brightest hopes? Whether he
was right, or whether he was wrong, still he entertained a confidence
that it was God's good providence to which he was indebted for what had
happened--and that He would bring it to a successful issue. They agreed
together, as they neared Vivian Street, to be guided by circumstances,
in communicating or withholding information of the glorious interference
in their favor which was at that moment in active operation. Mr.
Aubrey's knock--so vastly sharper and more energetic than was his
wont--brought two fair creatures to the window in a trice--their faces
pale with apprehension; but who shall tell the agitation they
experienced on seeing Lord De la Zouch and Mr. Aubrey? 'Twas an
affecting interview; here was their princely deliverer--the very soul of
delicacy and generosity--for as such, indeed, they regarded him, though
as yet ignorant of his last noble act of munificence! His Lordship's
quick and affectionate eye detected, with much pain, on first seeing
them, the ravages of the cankering anxiety which had been so long their
lot; how much thinner were both of them, and was more especially Mr.
Aubrey, than when he had last seen them! And the mourning which they
wore for Lady Stratton made the delicate figures of Mrs. Aubrey and Kate
appear slighter than even they really were. Their countenances, also,
bore the traces of sorrow and suffering--but the _expression_ was, if
possible, lovelier than ever. The fire and spirit of Kate's blue eyes
was subdued into an exquisite expression of serenity and pensiveness;
but on the present occasion her bosom was agitated by so many
conflicting feelings--she felt conscious that her very sense of
embarrassment was a delicious one--as gave a surprising vivacity of
expression to her features. Lord De la Zouch's heart melted within him,
as he looked at them, and reflected on the sufferings through which
they had passed, and felt a delighted consciousness of the pleasure
which his appearance occasioned that virtuous but long oppressed and
harassed family, and in the scene of their graceful and honorable
poverty: and devout and earnest were his wish and his hope, that
Providence would be pleased to crown with success his interference in
their behalf. His Lordship would not be denied on one matter, upon which
he declared that he had made up his mind--that they should all of them
return with him to dinner in Dover Street;--and, to be sure, the sight
of his carriage, which he had ordered to follow him within an hour's
time, gave them to understand that he really was in earnest--and they
both hastened up to dress, oh, with what bounding hearts, and elastic
steps!--Lord De la Zouch felt, as they all sat together in his carriage,
as though he were a fond father restored to the presence of
long-afflicted children; and his courtesy was touched with an exquisite
tenderness. When they entered the spacious and lofty drawing-rooms,
which, though then wearing the deserted appearance incident to the
season, reminded them of many former hours of splendid enjoyment, they
felt a flutter of spirits, which it required no little effort to
overcome. The drawing and dining rooms struck them as quite prodigious,
from their contrast to the little apartments to which they had been so
long accustomed in Vivian Street: and several other little circumstances
revived recollections and associations of a painfully interesting
nature; but as their spirits grew more exhilarated, they felt a sense of
real enjoyment to which all of them had long been strangers. One or two
sly allusions made by his Lordship to the probable future occupants of
the house, and the more modern air they might choose, perhaps, to give
it, suddenly brought as bright a bloom into Kate's cheek, as ever had
mantled there! When they had returned home, it was impossible to think
of _bed_--all of them had so much to say, and were in so joyous an
excitement; and before they had parted for the night, Aubrey, unable any
longer to keep to himself the true source of his enjoyment, electrified
them by a frank and full disclosure of the great event of the day!

A day or two afterwards, Lord De la Zouch, having accomplished his
benevolent purposes, returned to the Continent, having pledged Mr.
Aubrey to communicate with him frequently, and particularly with
reference to the progress of the important proceedings which he had
caused to be set on foot. The splendid chance which now existed of
retrieving his former position, was not allowed by Mr. Aubrey to
interfere with his close attention to his professional studies, to which
he might yet have to look for the only source of his future subsistence;
and he continued his attendance at Mr. Mansfield's chambers with
exemplary punctuality and energy. It was not long after Lord De la
Zouch's second departure from England, that the melancholy events
occurred which have just been narrated--I mean the serious illness of
Lord Dreddlington, and the untimely death of Lady Cecilia. The Aubreys
had no other intimation of those occurrences than such as they derived
from the public papers--from which it appeared that his Lordship's
illness had occasioned the fright which had ended in so sad a
catastrophe with Lady Cecilia; and that his Lordship's illness had
originated in agitation and distress, occasioned by the failure of
extensive mercantile speculations into which he had allowed himself to
be betrayed by designing persons. In passing down Park Lane, Mr. and
Mrs. Aubrey, and Kate, saw a hatchment suspended from the house of Mr.
Titmouse; and, some short time afterwards, they saw that bereaved
gentleman himself, in the Park, driving a beautiful dark-blue cab, his
tiger and he both in mourning--which became them equally. Black greatly
alters most people's appearance; but it effected a peculiar change in
Mr. Titmouse; the fact being, however, that, desirous of exhibiting even
extra marks of respect for the memory of the dear deceased Lady Cecilia,
he had put his sandy mustaches and imperial into mourning, by carefully
dressing them with Indian ink, which gave a very touching and pensive
character indeed to his features.


While Mr. Pounce and Mr. Quod, after their own quaint fashion, are doing
decisive battle with each other in a remote corner of the field of
action; and while--to change the figure--Mr. Titmouse's pedigree is
being subjected to the gloomy, silent, and mysterious inquisition of the
ecclesiastical court, let us turn for a moment to contemplate a pitiable
figure, a victim of the infernal machinations of Mr. Gammon--I mean the
poor old Earl of Dreddlington. He was yet--a month after the death of
his unhappy daughter, Lady Cecilia--staggering under the awful shock
which he had experienced. Before he had been in any degree restored to
consciousness, she had been buried for nearly three weeks; and the
earliest notification to him of the melancholy occurrence, was the deep
mourning habiliments of Miss Macspleuchan, who scarcely ever quitted his
bedside. When, in a feeble and tremulous voice, he inquired as to the
cause of his daughter's death, he could get no other account of
it--either from Miss Macspleuchan, his physicians, or the Duke of
Tantallan--than that it had been occasioned by the shock of suddenly
seeing his Lordship brought home seriously ill, she being, moreover, in
a very critical state of health. When, at length, he pressed and
challenged Miss Macspleuchan upon the matter--viz. the reality of the
blighting discovery of Mr. Titmouse's illegitimacy--she resolutely
maintained that he was laboring altogether under a delusion--indeed a
double delusion; first, as to his imaginary conversation with Mr.
Gammon; and secondly, as to his supposed communication of it to Lady
Cecilia. Her heart was smitten, however, by the steadfast look of
mournful incredulity with which the earl regarded her from time to time;
and, when alone, she reproached herself in tears with the fraud she was
practising upon the desolate and broken-hearted old man. The duke,
however, seconded by the physician, was peremptory on the point,
believing that otherwise the earl's recovery was impossible; and as his
Grace invaluably joined Miss Macspleuchan in treating the mere mention
of the matter as but the figment of a disordered brain, the poor earl
was at length silenced if not convinced. He peremptorily prohibited Mr.
Titmouse, however, from entering his house--much more from appearing in
his presence; and there was little difficulty in making that gentleman
seem satisfied that the sole cause of his exclusion was his cruelty and
profligacy towards the late Lady Cecilia:--whereas, he knew all the
while, and with a sickening inward shudder, the real reason--of which he
had been apprised by Mr. Gammon. Very shortly after the earl's illness,
the Duke of Tantallan had sent for Mr. Titmouse to interrogate him upon
the subject of his Lordship's representations; but Mr. Gammon had been
beforehand with the duke, and thoroughly tutored Titmouse--dull and weak
though he was--in the part he was to play, and which Mr. Gammon had
striven to make as easy to him as possible. The little ape started with
well-feigned astonishment, indignation, and disgust, as soon as the duke
had mentioned the matter, and said very little--(such were Gammon's
peremptory injunctions)--and that little only in expression of
amazement--that any one could attach the slightest importance to the
mere wanderings of a brain disturbed by illness. 'Twas certainly a
ticklish matter, the duke felt, to press too far, or to think of
intrusting it to third parties. His Grace very naturally concluded,
that what his own superior tact and acuteness had failed in eliciting,
could be detected by no one else. He frequently pressed Mr. Gammon,
however, upon the subject; but that gentleman maintained the same calm
front he had exhibited when first questioned by the duke; giving the
same account of all he knew of Titmouse's pedigree--and clinching the
matter by sending to his Grace a copy of the brief, and of the
short-hand writer's notes of the trial--challenging, at the same time,
the most rigorous investigation into every circumstance in the case. It
was very natural for the duke, under these circumstances, to yield at
length, and feel satisfied that the whole affair rested on no other
basis than the distempered brain of his suffering kinsman. Nothing shook
his Grace more, however, than the sight of Titmouse: for he looked,
verily, one whom it was exceedingly difficult to suppose possessed of
one drop of aristocratic blood!--Miss Macspleuchan, a woman of superior
acuteness, was infinitely more difficult to satisfy upon the subject
than the duke; and though she _said_ little, her manner showed that she
was satisfied of the existence of some dreadful mystery or other,
connected with Mr. Titmouse, of which Mr. Gammon was master--and the
premature discovery of which had produced the deplorable effects upon
the earl under which he was at that moment suffering. The earl, when
alone with her, and unconscious of her presence, talked to himself
constantly in the same strain; and when conversing with her, in his
intervals of consciousness, repeated over and over again, without the
slightest variation, facts which seemed as it were to have been burned
in upon his brain. Miss Macspleuchan had--to conceal nothing from the
reader--begun to cherish very warm feelings of attachment to Mr. Gammon;
whose striking person, fascinating conversation, and flattering
attention to herself--a thing quite unusual on the part of any of the
earl's visitors--were well calculated to conduce to such a result. But
from the moment of Lord Dreddlington's having made the statement which
had been attended by such dreadful consequences, her feelings towards
Mr. Gammon had been completely chilled and alienated. Her demeanor, on
the few occasions of their meeting, was constrained and distant; her
countenance clouded with suspicion, her manners frozen with reserve and

Mr. Gammon's first interview with the earl, after his illness and
bereavement, had become a matter of absolute necessity--and was at his
Lordship's instance; his wishes being conveyed through the Duke of
Tantallan, who had intimated to him that it was indeed indispensable, if
only to settle some matters of business, of pressing exigency, connected
with the failure of the Artificial Rain Company. The duke was with his
noble kinsman at the time of Mr. Gammon's calling--having intended to be
present at the interview. They awaited his arrival in the earl's
library. It is very difficult to describe the feelings with which Mr.
Gammon anticipated and prepared for the appointed interview with the man
on whom he had inflicted such frightful evil, towards whom he felt that
he had acted the part of a fiend. How had he dealt with the absolute and
unrestrained confidence which the earl had reposed in him! The main prop
and pillar of the earl's existence--family pride--Gammon had snapped
asunder beneath him; and as for fortune--Gammon knew that the earl was
absolutely ruined. Not, however, that Gammon really felt any
commiseration for his victim: his anxiety was only as to how he should
extricate himself from liability in respect of it. And had not a man of
even his marble heart cause for apprehension, in approaching the earl on
that occasion, to be interrogated concerning Titmouse--to look the earl
in the face, and deny what had passed between them;--and that, too,
when the rigid investigation was pending which might, within a few short
weeks, convict and expose him to the scorn--the indignation--of society,
as a monster of fraud and falsehood?

The earl sat in his library, dressed in deep black, which hung upon his
shrunk attenuated figure, as upon an old skeleton. He looked twenty
years older than he had appeared two short months before. His hair,
white as snow, his pallid emaciated cheek, his weak and wandering eye,
and a slight tremulous motion about his head and shoulders--all showed
the mere wreck of a man that he had become, and would have shocked and
subdued the feelings of any beholder. What a contrast he presented to
the portly and commanding figure of the Duke of Tantallan, who sat
beside him, with a brow clouded by anxiety and apprehension! At
length--"Mr. Gammon, my Lord," said the servant, in a low tone, after
gently opening the door.

"Show him in," said the duke, rather nervously, adding to the earl in a
hurried whisper,--"now be calm--my dear Dreddlington--be calm--it will
be over in a few minutes' time."--The earl's lips quivered a little, his
thin white hands trembled, and his eyes were directed towards the door
with a look of most mournful apprehension, as the fiend entered. Mr.
Gammon was pale, and evidently nervous and excited; his habitual
self-command, however, would have concealed it from any but a practised
observer. What a glance was that with which he first saw the earl!--"It
gives me deep pain, my Lord," said he, in a low tone, slowly advancing
with an air of profound deference and sympathy, "to perceive that you
have been so great a sufferer."

"Will you take a chair, sir?" said the duke, pointing to one which the
servant had brought for him, and in which Gammon sat down, with a
courteous inclination towards the duke; and observing that Lord
Dreddlington's face had become suddenly flushed, while his lips moved as
if he were speaking, "You see," added his Grace, "that my Lord
Dreddlington is but slowly recovering!"--Gammon sighed, and gazed at the
earl with an expression of infinite concern.

"_Is it true, sir?_" inquired the earl, after a moment's interval of
silence--evidently with a desperate effort.

Gammon felt both of his companions eying him intently, as he answered
calmly--"Alas!--your Lordship of course alludes to that unhappy

"Is it true, sir?" repeated the earl, altogether disregarding Gammon's
attempt at evasion.

"You cannot but be aware, Mr. Gammon, of the subject to which my Lord
Dreddlington is alluding"--said the duke, sternly, in a low tone.

"Oh!" exclaimed Gammon, with a slight shrug of his shoulders and a
sigh--"I understand that your Lordship is referring to some conversation
which you supposed has passed between your Lordship and me concerning
Mr. Titmouse!"

"Sir--sir--yes! yes!" gasped the earl, gazing at him intently.

"Well, my Lord, I have heard with inexpressible astonishment that you
suppose I told your Lordship that he was _illegitimate_."

"Ay," said the earl, with tremulous eagerness.

"Oh, my Lord, you are really laboring under as complete a delusion as
ever man"--commenced Gammon, with a melancholy smile.

"Sir--Mr. Gammon--do you believe that there is NO GOD?--that HE does not
know the--the"--interrupted the earl, but ceased, apparently overpowered
by his emotions. Gammon looked in appealing silence at the duke.

"What makes you imagine, sir, that I am bereft of reason and memory?"
presently inquired the earl, with a strength of voice and manner which
alarmed Gammon.

"I cannot account, my Lord, for the extraordinary hallucination which

"And I suppose, sir, I am equally dreaming about the rent-charge for two
thousand a-year, which you have got on the Yatton pro"----

"Oh, pardon--pardon me, my Lord! All pure--absolute delusion and
fiction!" interrupted Gammon, with a confident smile, a look, and a tone
of voice, which would have staggered the most incredulous.

The earl raised his thin white trembling hand, and pressed it against
his forehead for a moment; and then said, turning to the duke--"He would
deny that he is now in our presence!"

"My dear Dreddlington--don't, for God's sake, excite yourself," said the
duke, anxiously; adding after a pause, "I am as persuaded as I am of my
existence, that you're under a complete delusion! Recollect your serious
illness--every one is subject to this sort of thing when he's been so
ill as you have!"

"Oh, Tantallan! Tantallan!" replied the earl, mournfully shaking his
head--"I take God to witness how this man is lying!" The duke glanced
hastily at Gammon as these words were uttered, and observed that he had
gone suddenly pale, and was in the act of rising from his chair.

"Pray, Mr. Gammon"----commenced the duke, imploringly.

"I can make very great allowance, I assure your Grace, for his
Lordship's situation--but there are bounds which I will permit no man
living, under any circumstances, to overstep with impunity," said
Gammon, calmly but resolutely--overjoyed at obtaining such a pretext for
abruptly terminating the embarrassing interview--"and unless his
Lordship chooses instantly to retract what he has said, and apologize
for it, I will never enter his presence again!"

"Oh--he had better go!" said the earl, feebly, addressing the duke,
evidently averting his face from Gammon with disgust and horror.

"Mr. Gammon, _pray_ resume your seat," said the duke,
significantly--"You are bound to regard the words as not having been

"I thank your Grace," replied Gammon, determinedly--"but I require an
explicit retractation. I entertain a deep deference towards your Grace,
but am also aware of what is due to myself. My Lord," he added, as if at
a sudden impulse, addressing the earl, "do permit me to request your
Lordship to withdraw and apologize for"----But the earl turned his face
aside; and extending his hand towards Gammon, feebly motioned him away;
on which, with a low bow to the Duke of Tantallan, Gammon took his hat
and moved towards the door.

"Sir--Mr. Gammon--you _must_ not go," said the duke, in an earnest and
commanding manner--"you are here on business, of pressing
importance--all _this_ must pass away and be forgotten."

"_Your Grace_ I shall be most happy to attend at any time, and anywhere;
but this room I quit instantly."

"Then, sir, have the goodness to walk into the next," said the duke,
somewhat imperiously, "and I will come to you presently." Mr. Gammon
bowed and withdrew.

"Oh God! how atrocious is the conduct of that man!" said the earl, when
they were left alone.

"Really, Dreddlington, you must get rid of these--these--absurd

"Let me never see his face again!" replied the earl, feebly. "I have but
a short time to live, and that time the sight of _him_, I feel, makes
still shorter!" The duke looked both vexed and embarrassed.

"Come--come--now he's here," continued his Grace, "and on a very
important errand--let us have done with the fellow--let us have him
back, and I'll tell him you withdraw"----

"Withdraw? He _is_ withdrawn," replied the earl, confusedly.

"What d'ye mean, my dear Dreddlington? I say--let me tell him"----

"I mean, it was at his chambers, in Holborn--I pledge my honor, I
recollect as if it were yester"----

"Pho, pho!" cried the duke, rather impatiently--"it must be done! He's
come on matters of the very last importance--the thing's been put off to
the very latest moment on your account--that cursed Company!" The earl
looked up at his companion, and a faint smile flitted over his wasted

"Ah--I'm now satisfied," said he, shaking his head--"that they must dig
a very great depth, indeed, before they come to the copper." The duke
looked puzzled, but said hastily, "That's right!--I'll have him back,
and you'll allow me to say it's all a mistake?"

"Certainly--I am satisfied of it."

"That will do, my dear Dreddlington!--That's the way such nonsense
_should_ be put an end to," said the duke, and, ringing the bell,
ordered the servant to request Mr. Gammon to return. After a brief
interval, that gentleman re-entered the library, but with some sternness
and reluctance of manner.

"Mr. Gammon," replied the duke, a little quickly, "my Lord Dreddlington
owns he was mistaken--he, of course, withdraws the expression--so we
had better at once to business"----

"Ay--certainly!--certainly! Have you the papers with you, Mr. Gammon?"
inquired the earl, while his trembling fingers held his gold spectacles.
Mr. Gammon bowed rather haughtily, and resuming the chair he had
quitted, drew it to the table, and opened a little packet.

"It was a ridiculous affair, I am afraid, sir," said the earl,
addressing Mr. Gammon, who felt a little surprised at the altered look
and tone of the earl.

"I fear it was extremely _unfortunate_, my Lord, in its issue," he
replied gravely, arranging his papers.

"The thing did not look so absurd _at first_, Tantallan, I assure you!"
said the earl, addressing the duke, who was eying Mr. Gammon's movements
with much anxiety; for he had come prepared to state the final result of
long negotiations between the creditors and the directors and
shareholders of the "Artificial Rain Company."

"These things never do--at first," his Grace replied with a sort of

"Just show us, Mr. Gammon," said the earl, "if you please, the diagrams
and the sections of the strata"-----

"The _what_?" inquired the duke, turning surprisedly to the earl--so did
Mr. Gammon, and for a moment ceased arranging his papers. Both the duke
and he turned pale, and gazed in silent dismay at their companion.
Gammon felt momentarily sick at heart. It was evident that Lord
Dreddlington's mind had gently given way!--There was a smile of
indescribable weakness flickering about the mouth; the eyes were
unsteady; all sternness had vanished from his brow; and his manner was
calm, with even an approach towards cheerfulness. Gammon's face was
suddenly blanched, and he glanced with horror at the duke, who, without
removing his eyes from Lord Dreddlington, unconsciously exclaimed, "Oh
my God!"

"Is it your Lordship's pleasure"----faltered Gammon, his hands trembling

"You are right, Tantallan," said Lord Dreddlington, as if suddenly
struck by the peculiar look with which the duke continued to regard him.
"You shall hear all; but we must be alone. Sir, you may retire, and be
in attendance another day," he added, abruptly addressing Gammon, with
all his former stateliness of manner, but with a feeble voice. Mr.
Gammon, very greatly agitated, hastily put together the documents which
he had partially arranged on the table, and with a profound bow

"At nine this evening--in Portman Square, sir, if you please," said the
duke, tremulously.

"I will attend your Grace," said Gammon, and with not a little
trepidation closed the door after him; on which the earl proceeded, in a
very anxious and mysterious manner, to intimate the existence of a
conspiracy on the part of the Earl of Fitzwalter and others, to prevent
his--Lord Dreddlington's--obtaining a marquisate, on the ground that he
had been connected with Sir Sharper Bubble in a swindling company; and
his Lordship had good grounds for believing that Mr. Gammon was secretly
lending his assistance to the undertaking, and his coming there that
morning with the papers relating to the intended purchase of the Isle of
Dogs, was in furtherance of his treacherous objects! The duke listened
in silent dismay to this rambling account of the imaginary conspiracy,
and had just determined upon quietly sending for Miss Macspleuchan, when
the earl abruptly paused, and after a confused stare at his companion,
pressed his hand to his forehead, and said with hesitation and
embarrassment--"Pray, Tantallan, don't think anything more about
what I have been saying! I--I--feel that I have been talking
nonsense--incoherently--Surely it must have struck _you so_? Eh,

There was something so imbecile and miserable in the look with which the
earl regarded his companion, that the duke for a moment could not reply
to him. At length, "My dear Dreddlington," said he, gently grasping his
hand, "you are at present only a little excited--you will soon recover
yourself. Let us ask Miss Macspleuchan to join us, as she is sitting all
alone up-stairs."

"Not just now, Tantallan--I feel I have wandered a little, but all is
now right again. He is gone, is he?" The duke nodded. "The sight of that
man was at first too much for me; I felt oppressed and confused, but I
thought it right to struggle against it!--He denied it all?--Is not that
enough to drive a man out of his senses?"

"My dear Dreddlington, we shall get wrong again--let us quit the
subject," said the duke, anxiously.

"No," replied the earl, languidly, "do not fear me; I feel quite myself
again! I can only repeat to you, that that man's conversation with me
about--about"--he shuddered--"as certainly happened, as the heavens are
above us!" The earl had really, at all events for the present, recovered
from the temporary confusion into which his thoughts had fallen; and
proceeded, with as much energy as his shattered condition would admit
of, to give the duke, as he had often done before, a distinct and
consistent account of all that had taken place at Mr. Gammon's
chambers:--and as he went on, it all of a sudden occurred to his Grace,
for the first time--how improbable is it that Lord Dreddlington should
have _invented_ a scene, which he has uniformly delineated in almost the
same words? What but truth and reality could enable him to preserve such
a consistency in describing a transaction with such minute
circumstantiality? Having once looked at the matter in this new light,
every succeeding moment saw him more and more satisfied that such was
the true view of it; and before he had quitted his unfortunate kinsman,
he had pretty nearly convinced himself of three things; first, that Mr.
Titmouse was a hideous little base-born miscreant and impostor;
secondly, that Mr. Gammon must be the profoundest scoundrel living; and
lastly, that it was very singular that he--the duke--had been so long in
arriving at such a conclusion. But then, it subsequently occurred to the
sagacious duke--how was he to act? What position was he to assume with
Mr. Gammon, when he came, in the evening, in obedience to his Grace's
own appointment? What reasons could he assign for his sudden change of
opinion? Nothing new had occurred: and he felt a little embarrassed,
seeing that all he should be able to say would be that he had at length
suddenly taken a different view of facts long well known! At all events,
he determined to put the brief of Mr. Titmouse's case, used at the
trials, and which Mr. Gammon had some time before forwarded to his
Grace's house, into the hands of some eminent lawyer, for a candid and
confidential opinion.

Mr. Gammon, on quitting Lord Dreddlington's house, quickly recovered
from the momentary shock which he had suffered in the earl's presence;
and--shall I record the fact?--all other feelings and all his fears were
merged in one of delight and exultation at the awful calamity which had
befallen Lord Dreddlington: no one, Mr. Gammon considered, would
thenceforth think of attaching the least importance to anything the earl
might say, or had said, but would doubtless deem it the mere creation of
a disordered brain. Then all that would be necessary, would be the
silencing Titmouse--no difficult matter, since even he could comprehend
that secrecy was to him a matter of salvation or destruction! But then,
again, like a criminal's chance glance at the hideous guillotine or
gallows in the distance--a recollection of the ecclesiastical inquiry,
at that instant in vigorous action, blanched the cheek of Mr. Gammon,
and dashed all his new hopes to the ground. If those infernal
inquisitors _should_ discover all, and thereby demonstrate Titmouse's
illegitimacy, how perfectly frightful would be the position of Mr.
Gammon! What would then avail him the insanity of Lord Dreddlington?
Would it not, on the contrary, be then attributed to the right
cause--the atrocious cruelty and villany which had been practised upon
him? How irretrievably was Gammon committed by his repeated and solemn
asseverations to Miss Macspleuchan and the Earl of Dreddlington? The
evidence which sufficed to entitle Mr. Aubrey, in preference to Mr.
Titmouse, to administer to Lady Stratton, would also suffice to entitle
him to an immediate restoration to the Yatton property! And would the
matter rest there? Would no steps be taken, in such an event, to fix
him--Gammon--as a partner, or a prime mover, in the frauds and
conspiracy by which alone, it would then be alleged, Titmouse had been
enabled to recover the property? Absorbed by these pleasant
contemplations, he was so lost to all around him, that he was within an
ace of being crushed to death under the wheels of an enormous
coal-wagon, which he had not seen approaching, as he crossed the street.
It might, perhaps, have been well had it been so--the accident would
certainly have saved him from a "_sea of troubles_," on which, for aught
we can at present see, he may be tossed for the remainder of his life.

The chief object of Mr. Gammon's interview with the Earl of
Dreddlington, had been to communicate to his Lordship information
concerning the alarming position in which he stood with reference to the
defunct Artificial Rain Company. The very prominent and active part
which his Lordship had been seduced into taking, in the patronage and
management of that Company, had naturally marked him out as the fittest
object of attack to the creditors. The Company had no Act of Parliament,
nor charter, nor deed of settlement; it was simply a huge unwieldy
_partnership_, consisting of all such persons as could be shown to be
interested, or to have held themselves out to the world as interested,
in it: and consequently, whether individually known or not, liable to
the public who had dealt with the Company, and given credit to it; on
the very obvious principle of equity, that all who would seek to share
the profits of a speculation must be responsible for its liabilities. In
the present instance, had it not been for the circumstance of there
being a considerable number of weak, inexperienced, but responsible
adventurers, who, by entering into the affair, had become liable to
share Lord Dreddlington's burden of responsibility, his Lordship must
have been totally ruined to all intents and purposes.[16] As soon as Sir
Sharper Bubble's absconding had opened the eyes of the public, and of
the shareholders, it became necessary to take instant measures for
ascertaining the exact state of affairs--and the liabilities which had
been contracted. Heavens! what a frightful array of creditors now made
their appearance against the Artificial Rain Company! It was
inconceivable how so many, and to so immense an amount, could have
arisen during the short period of the Company's being in existence; but
the fact is, that there are always thousands of persons who, as soon as
they once see individuals of undoubted responsibility fairly committed
to a speculation of this sort, will give almost unlimited credit, and
supply anything which may be ordered on behalf, or for the purposes, of
the Company. It had originated in a supposed grand discovery of our
philosophical friend, Dr. Diabolus Gander, that there were certain
modes of operating upon the atmosphere, by means of electrical agency,
which would insure an abundant supply of rain in seasons of the greatest
drought. Now, first and foremost among the creditors of the Company, was
that distinguished philosopher himself; who, to constitute himself
effectually a creditor, had cunningly declined to take any shares in the
concern!--He now claimed £1,700 for a series of "preliminary
experiments," independently of compensation for his time and services in
conducting the aforesaid experiments;--and, in order to put the question
of _liability_ beyond all doubt, the doctor had taken care, from time to
time, to invite the more distinguished and wealthy of the shareholders
to come and witness his doings--always carefully noting down their
names, and the names also of the witnesses who could prove such
attendance--the interest they took in the experiments--their expressed
good wishes for the success of the Company, &c. &c., and their repeated
acknowledgments of the uniform courtesy of the worthy doctor, who
thought no pains too great to explain the nature of his surprising
operations. Then, again, he had entered into an agreement, signed by
Lord Dreddlington, and one or two others on behalf of the Company, by
which he was appointed "permanent scientific director" for a period of
ten years, at a salary of £1,000 a-year, over and above the sums agreed
to be paid him for "collateral and supplementary services." This latter
claim, however, the doctor very generously offered to compromise, in
consideration of the exhalation of the Company, on payment of four
thousand pounds down!! Then came a demand amounting to little short of
£25,000 for an inconceivable quantity of copper wire, which had been
purchased for the purpose of being used in all the cities and towns
which chose to avail themselves of the services of the Company, in the
following way:--viz. a complete circle of electric communication was to
be obtained, by attaching wires to the summits of all the church
steeples, and it was necessary that such wires should be of considerable
strength and thickness, to prevent their being broken by birds flying
against, and perching upon them: (But Dr. Gander intimated that he had
very nearly discovered a mode of charging the wires, which would cause
any bird coming into contact with them, immediately to fall down dead.)
Then there were fearful charges for at least nine miles' length of
leaden pipes and hose, and for steam-engines, and electrical machines,
and so forth; particularly an item of eight thousand pounds for the
expenses of trying the experiment in a village in the extremity of
Cornwall, and which was very nearly completed, when the unfortunate
event occurred which occasioned the sudden break up of the Company. This
will suffice to give the uninitiated reader a glimpse of the real nature
of the liabilities incurred by those who had become partners in this
splendid undertaking. Dr. Gander got two actions commenced the very day
after the departure of Sir Sharper Bubble, against six of the principal
shareholders, in respect of his "preliminary experiments," and his
agreement for ten years' service; and writs came fluttering in almost
daily; all which occurrences rendered it necessary to take measures for
coming speedily to an amicable compromise. After very great exertions,
and attending many meetings, Mr. Gammon succeeded in provisionally
extricating Lord Dreddlington, on his paying down, within twelve months,
the sum of £18,000; the Duke of Tantallan was in for some £8,000, the
Marquis of Marmalade for £6,000: and the latter two peers made the most
solemn vows never to have anything to do again with joint-stock
companies: though it must be owned that they had been, as the phrase is,
"let off easily." But I must not disguise from the reader that the
Artificial Rain Company was not the only one with which these
distinguished individuals, together with Lord Dreddlington, had become
connected--there was the Gunpowder and Fresh Water Company, of which
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, were the solicitors--but _sufficient
for the day is the evil thereof_; and let it suffice for the present to
say, that some short time afterwards, the Duke of Tantallan, on the part
of the Earl of Dreddlington, paid down the sum of £10,000 on account of
the above-mentioned sum of £18,000, the remainder of which was to be
called for in six months' time. Mr. Gammon, however, could not think of
the possibility of the Gunpowder Company's explosion without a shudder,
on account of the dreadful extent to which Lord Dreddlington was
implicated, and from which Gammon feared that there really were no means
of extricating him. What would he have given never to have seduced the
earl into embarking into any such speculations? Nay, what would he not
have given, never to have set eyes upon either the Earl of Dreddlington
or the Lady Cecilia? What advantage had he ever gained, after all, by
his desperate grasp after aristocratic connection? If, however, the earl
should prove really and permanently insane, what a godsend would such an
event be, in every point of view, to Gammon--silencing forever the chief
sufferer and witness--and saving Gammon from all the endless vexations
and anxieties arising out of personal explanations and collisions with
the man, whom he had drawn into the vortex of pecuniary ruin--shielding
Gammon, in short, from a world of reproaches and execrations.

As for Mr. Titmouse, the _fortunate_ (!) possessor of ten thousand
a-year--as thousands, with a sigh of envy, regarded him--the uninitiated
who had an opportunity of watching his public motions, gave him credit
for feeling very deeply the melancholy bereavement which he had
sustained in the loss of the Lady Cecilia; but those more intimately
acquainted with his family circumstances, could not help remarking one
little ingredient of pleasure in his recent cup of bitterness; viz. that
as Lady Cecilia had left no offspring--no dear pledge of affection--Mr.
Titmouse was not only saved a vast deal of anxiety as to the bringing up
of the child, but had become himself heir-apparent to the barony of
Drelincourt, on the death of the Earl of Dreddlington; who, whatever
might be the effect of his whispered misfortunes in his pecuniary
speculations, had not the power, being merely tenant for life under the
entail, of injuring the fortune annexed to the title. Though Mr. Gammon
loathed the very sight, the very thought, of Titmouse, he was yet the
centre of prodigious anxiety to Gammon, who felt that he had, at all
events at present, a deep stake in the upholding, to the world, of Mr.
Titmouse's position and credit. He had been frightened by Gammon into a
state of the most abject submission to all his requirements--one of
which was, the preservation of that external decorum, when in public,
which had produced the very favorable impression already adverted to.
The other was--a vast contraction of his expenditure. Mr. Gammon
insisted upon his disposing of his house in Park Lane--which had,
indeed, been for months almost destitute of furniture, that having
fallen a prey to divers of his execution-creditors--but engaged for him
a suit of handsome furnished apartments in Chapel Street, May Fair,
allowing him the attendance of a valet, as usual; and also hiring for
him a cab, tiger, groom, and a couple of saddle-horses, with which Mr.
Titmouse contrived to make an appearance, before so much of the world as
was left in London during the autumn, suitable to his station. Some of
the more clamorous of his creditors, Mr. Gammon had contrived to pacify
by considerable payments on account, and a solemn assurance that every
one of Mr. Titmouse's debts was in train for rapid liquidation. Could
his creditors, indeed--Gammon asked--fail to see and judge for
themselves, what an altered man, in his person and habits, Mr. Titmouse
had become, since the shock he had received on the death of Lady
Cecilia? Had, indeed, he felt never so disposed to re-enter the scenes
of gay and expensive profligacy in which he had revelled so madly during
the first eighteen months after his extraordinary exaltation; there was
a serious obstacle to his doing so, in his having neglected to pay
divers heavy "debts of honor," as they are strangely called; for which
delinquencies he had twice had his nose pulled in public, and once been
horsewhipped. The gates of the sporting world were thus finally closed
against him, and thus was at least one source of profligate expenditure
shut out. Though, however, he was free to ride or drive whithersoever he
chose--and that, too, as became a man of fashion, in respect of
appearance and equipment--he felt but a prisoner at large, and dependent
entirely upon the will and pleasure of Mr. Gammon for his very means of
subsistence. Most of his evenings were spent in such of the theatres as
were open, while his nights were often passed amid scenes which were
very strange ones indeed for a young widower to be seen in! Though he
was a frequent visitor at Brookes', I must nevertheless do that
respectable club the justice of saying, that its members were not very
anxious for the presence or company of Mr. Titmouse. In fact, but for
the continued countenance afforded to him, for reasons best known to
that gentleman, by Mr. O'Gibbet, my friend would have been, some time
before, unceremoniously expelled from the club, where he had made,
certainly, one or two exceedingly disagreeable exhibitions. Liquor was
made for fools to get drunk with, and so shorten their encumbering
existence upon the earth; and as for Titmouse, I really do not think he
ever went to bed completely sober; and he avowed, that "whenever he was
alone, he felt so miserable;" and there was only one way, he said, which
he knew of to "drive dull care away." Though aware of it in point of
fact, Titmouse had neither sense nor sensibility enough to appreciate
the fearful frailty of that tenure by which he held his present
advantages of station--never reflecting that he was liable at any moment
to be precipitated down from his elevation, into far deeper obscurity
and poverty than he had ever emerged from! He had no power of enhancing
his enjoyment of the present, either by vivid contrast with the past, or
with the possible reverses of the future. A wealthy and profligate fool
is by no means the enviable person he may appear to silly lookers-on;
but what must he be when placed in the circumstances of Titmouse? He
found town, at a dull season--the fall of the year to be sure--become
daily duller, the sphere of his enjoyments having become so miserably
contracted; and Mr. Gammon more and more stern and gloomy; in fact,
Titmouse always dreaded to go near him, for he enjoined on Titmouse,
whenever they met, a circumspection which was new and intolerable. He
was refused admission at Lord Dreddlington's; the Duke of Tantallan's he
dared not go near. When, in the Park, he met the earl's chariot--a
dismal object indeed to him--driving slowly along--all in deep
mourning--the place of Lady Cecilia occupied now by Miss Macspleuchan,
and the shattered old white-haired man beside her, taking evidently no
notice of anything about him; if Titmouse caught Miss Macspleuchan's
eye, it was instantly removed, as from a disgusting object. He never met
that carriage without a shudder, and a violent one, at thought of the
frightful fraud of which he had been at first the unconscious
instrument, but to which he was now a consenting party. He had
earnestly besought Mr. Gammon to allow him to spend a few months on the
Continent, and provide him with funds to do so; but on due
consideration, Mr. Gammon refused, in the very critical conjuncture of
existing circumstances--at all events till he should have been furnished
with some clew to the course which the pending investigation was taking.
But Mr. Gammon consented to his going down to Yatton; so down he went,
but to encounter only sullen faces; servants whose wages were in arrear;
tenants whom his exactions were ruining; the friends of Mudflint and
Bloodsuck indignant at his not coming forward to rescue them from
impending destruction; and his constituency furious at the number of
bills remaining unpaid; at his total disregard of their interests in
Parliament; and his contemptible and ridiculous conduct and appearance
there, which had made them the laughing-stock of the nation. As for any
of the nobility or gentry of the neighborhood, of course their notice of
him was quite out of the question. From good little Dr. Tatham, even, he
could get nothing more than a cold and guarded civility; in fact, Mr.
Titmouse was fifty times more miserable at Yatton than he had been in
London; and, moreover, the old Hall had been completely stripped of the
handsome furniture that had been put into it on his coming into
possession, by his voracious execution-creditors; and all he could do
here to enjoy existence, was to smoke, and drink brandy and water. He
felt an impostor; that he had no right to be there; no claim to the
respect or attention of any one. Through the noble grounds of Yatton,
amid the soft melancholy sunshine of October, he walked, frightened and
alone; a falling leaf alighting on him would make him start with
apprehension, and almost drop his cigar. While such was the dreary
aspect of things at Yatton, what was the condition of Mr. Gammon in

It is not possible that any one who betakes himself to tortuous modes of
effecting his purposes, and of securing the objects which a keen
ambition may have proposed to him, can be _happy_. The perpetual dread
of detection and failure, causes him to lie, as it were, ever writhing
upon a bed of torture. To feel one's self _failing_, irretrievably, in
spite of deeply-laid, desperate, and dishonorable schemes for securing
success, is sickening and miserable indeed. One in such circumstances
feels that the bitterness of disappointment will not be mitigated or
assuaged by a consciousness of the sympathy and respect of those who
have witnessed the unsuccessful attempts--a thought which is deadening
to the soul; and Gammon felt himself among the most miserable of
mankind. All other anxieties were, however, at present absorbed in
one--that concerning the issue of the inquiry then pending; and which,
as it were, darkened his spirit within him, and hung round his neck like
a millstone. If the issue of that investigation should be adverse--he
had absolutely nothing for it but instant flight from universal scorn
and execration. Of what avail would then have been all his prodigious
anxieties, sacrifices, and exertions, his deep-laid and complicated
plans and purposes? He would have irretrievably damned himself, for
what? To allow the wretch Titmouse to revel, for a season, in unbounded
luxury and profligacy! What single personal advantage had Mr. Gammon
hitherto obtained for himself, taxed to their utmost as had been his
powerful energies for the last three years? First of all, as to Miss
Aubrey, the lovely object of his intense desires--what advance had he
made towards the accomplishment of his objects after all his profound
and cruel treachery against her brother? Not a hair's-breadth. Nay, on
the contrary, the slight footing of intimacy which he had contrived, in
the first instance, to secure, he had now lost forever. Could they have
failed to perceive, in spite of all his devices, his relentless hand in
the recent persecution of Mr. Aubrey? The stern deportment of Mr.
Runnington, who had expressly prohibited Mr. Aubrey from all
communication with Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, except through Mr.
Runnington himself--spoke volumes. Moreover, Mr. Gammon had chanced to
be prowling about Vivian Street on the very evening on which Lord De la
Zouch made his unexpected appearance with Mr. Aubrey, as already
described; and Gammon had seen Mr. Aubrey, Mrs. Aubrey, and Miss Aubrey,
followed by his Lordship, enter his carriage in dinner-costume; and he
thought with a violent pang of one Mr. Delamere! He had also ascertained
how suddenly his Lordship had come over from Paris--just at that crisis
in the circumstances of the Aubreys; and how probable was it, that his
Lordship's potent interference had originated the formidable proceedings
of the ecclesiastical court! And suppose the result of them should be,
to detect the imposition by means of which Titmouse had been enabled to
oust Mr. Aubrey from Yatton--what must _she_--what must they all--think
of Mr. Gammon, after his avowal to Miss Aubrey? Inevitably, that he had
either originally contrived, or, having long since discovered, was now
conniving at, the imposture! And what if she really were now all the
while engaged to the future Lord De la Zouch? And if the present Lord De
la Zouch, with his immense revenues, were resolved to bear Mr. Aubrey
through all his difficulties and troubles with a high hand? Had not
Gammon already felt the power of Lord De la Zouch in the late accursed
bribery actions? And imagining his Lordship to have been stimulated to
set on foot the pending proceedings, by the communication of Miss Aubrey
concerning Mr. Gammon's own admissions to her--was his Lordship likely
to falter in his purposes?

Look again at the financial difficulties which were thickening around
him. Between sixty and seventy thousand pounds had been already raised
on mortgage of the Yatton estates!--and not a shilling more could now be
obtained without additional and collateral security, which Gammon could
not procure. Then there was the interest payable half-yearly on these
mortgages, which alone swallowed up some £3,500 annually. In addition to
this, Titmouse was over head-and-ears in debt; and he must be supported
all the while in a manner suitable to his station; and an establishment
must be kept up at Yatton. How, with all this, was Mr. Gammon's own
dearly bought rent-charge to be realized? The already overburdened
property was totally unequal to bear this additional pressure. Again, if
his motion, which was to be made in the ensuing term for a new trial in
the case of _Wigley_ v. _Gammon_, should fail, there he was left at the
mercy of the plaintiff for a sum very considerably exceeding £3,000
(including the heavy costs,) and capable of being immediately enforced
by incarceration of his person, or seizure of his goods! Mr. Gammon,
moreover, had been unfortunate in some gambling speculations in the
funds, by which means the money he had so quickly made, had been as
quickly lost. It was true, there were the probable proceeds of the two
promissory notes now put in suit against Mr. Aubrey, and also the bond
of Lord De la Zouch himself, in all amounting to twenty thousand pounds,
with interest: but months must necessarily elapse before, even in the
ordinary course, the actions for the recovery of these sums could be
brought to a successful issue--to say nothing of any disastrous
occurrence which Gammon could just conceive the possibility of, and
which might have the effect of fatally impugning the right of action of
Mr. Titmouse. Gammon had repeatedly turned in his mind the propriety of
raising money by assignment of the bond of Lord De la Zouch, but for
several reasons had deemed it inexpedient to venture upon such a step.
For instance, the bond would be due within a month or two; and who would
advance any serious sum on so large a security, without rigorous
inquiries into the original validity of the instrument, and into the
right of the obligee to put it in suit. Supposing the issue of the
ecclesiastical inquiry to be adverse, and Titmouse's title to the Yatton
property to be destroyed; would not that at once invalidate his claims
upon the bond, and also upon the two promissory notes--at all events in
equity? Lastly, his hopes of political advancement, to which he clung
with incredible tenacity, full blooming though they had been till the
moment of his being sued for the bribery penalties, were all in danger
of being blighted forever, unless he could succeed in defeating the
verdict during the ensuing term, of which he entertained scarce any
expectation at all. But even supposing him successful there--what was to
become of him if the issue of the pending ecclesiastical proceedings
should brand him as abetting imposture of the most gross and glaring
description--nay, as being in fact its originator? Once or twice, during
his frequent agitating reviews of all these events and circumstances, he
caught, as it were, a ghastly glimpse of a sort of system of RETRIBUTION
in progress--and was able to trace evil consequences--of defeat and
misery--from every single act which he had done!

Success or failure in the ecclesiastical suit, was now in fact the pivot
upon which everything turned with Mr. Gammon--it would be either his
salvation, or his destruction; and the thought of it kept him in a state
of feverish trepidation and excitement, from morning to night--rendering
him almost wholly incapable of attending to his professional business.
He had gone down several times, accompanied by Mr. Quod, to ascertain,
as far as was practicable, the course which things were taking. Mr.
Quod was very sanguine indeed as to the issue; but, alas! Gammon had not
ventured to tell him the true state of the case: so that Quod naturally
confined himself to the substantiating of Mr. Titmouse's pedigree, as it
had been propounded, and with success, at the trial of the ejectment.
Mr. Gammon trembled at the systematic and vigorous prosecution of the
cause on the part of Mr. Aubrey; what might it not elicit? Regardless of
the consequences, he had several times tried to discover from those who
had been examined, the course of inquiry which had been pursued, and the
evidence which had been obtained from them--but in vain: some of the
witnesses were in a station of society which repelled his advances; and
others were effectually deterred from communicativeness by the
injunctions of the commissioner. Thus Mr. Gammon could ascertain
nothing--and was left to await, in fearful suspense, the legitimate
issue of this tantalizing and mysterious process, till the day when both
parties should be put in possession of all the evidence which had been

The prospects of the Aubreys, brightened though they had been by the
sudden interference of Lord De la Zouch at the very moment of their
deepest gloom, did not disturb that calm and peaceful course of life
which they had maintained through all their troubles. Oh, how animated
and happy, however, was now that little family!--and that, not through
any overweening confidence as to the result of Lord De la Zouch's
operations on their behalf, but from a pious and cheerful persuasion
that they were not forsaken of Heaven, which had given this token of its
remembrance. The beautiful bloom began to reappear on the cheeks both of
Mrs. Aubrey and Kate, and the eye of Mr. Aubrey was no longer laden with
gloom and anxiety. He pursued the study of the law with steadfast energy
till the period of Mr. Mansfield's quitting town, and his chambers
being closed till the beginning of November. The Aubreys, poor souls!
secretly pined for a glimpse, however brief, of the pleasures of the
country; and about the middle of September, they, sure enough, received
a very pressing invitation from Lord and Lady De la Zouch, for all of
them to join them in France, by way of a total and enlivening change of
scene. Mrs. Aubrey and Kate had all but persuaded Mr. Aubrey into an
acceptance of the kind suit, when he suddenly bethought himself of what
he deemed an insuperable obstacle. It will be borne in mind that Mr.
Aubrey had given bail to a very large amount, nearly sixteen thousand
pounds, in the two actions at the suit of Mr. Titmouse, and of Messrs.
Quirk, Gammon, and Snap; and, on inquiry, two of the friends who had
become surety for him were abroad and could not be communicated with; so
Mr. Aubrey peremptorily refused, under such circumstances, to quit the
country, though for never so brief an interval. On seriously assuring
Lord De la Zouch that there existed insuperable objections to his just
then leaving England, the ever-active kindness of his noble friend
prompted a fresh proposal,--that they should, within a week's time, all
of them, set off for a lovely residence of his Lordship's in Essex, some
fifteen miles from town, called Tunstall Priory--where they would find
everything fully prepared for their reception, and where they were
earnestly entreated to remain till they should be joined by their host
and hostess from France, about the latter end of October. 'T is quite
impossible for me to describe the exhilaration of spirits with which,
the invitation having been most gratefully accepted by Mr. Aubrey, they
all prepared for their little journey. Mr. Aubrey had made arrangements
for their going down by one of the coaches, which went within a couple
of miles of the Priory; but here again the thoughtful delicacy and
kindness of his Lordship was manifest; for the evening before they set
off, one of the servants from Dover Street came to ask at what hour they
would wish the carriage to call for them, and the van for their
luggage--such being the orders which had come from his Lordship; and
further, that the carriage was to remain at their command during the
whole of their stay at the Priory. Both Mrs. Aubrey and Kate, in their
excitement, burst into tears on hearing of this additional trait of
anxious and considerate attention. Oh! it would have cheered your heart,
good reader, to see the blithe faces, and bounding spirits, with which
that little family set off on the ensuing morning on their little
expedition. Oh! how refreshing was the country air!--how enlivening and
beautiful the country scenery amid the gentle sunlight of September!--'T
was a Paradise of a place--and as day after day glided away, they felt a
sense of the enjoyment of existence, such as they had never experienced

Though it is not a very pleasant transition, the order of events
requires us to return to town, and to no very pleasant part of town,
viz. Thavies' Inn. 'T was about eight o'clock in the evening, towards
the close of October, and Mr. Gammon was walking to and fro about his
room, which was rendered sufficiently snug by the light of a lamp and
the warmth of a good fire. He himself, however, was very far from being
cheerful--he was in a state of exquisite anxiety and suspense--and might
well be; for he was at length in momentary expectation of receiving a
copy of the evidence which had been taken on the part of Mr. Aubrey, in
the ecclesiastical suit. He muttered blighting curses at the intolerable
delay of old Mr. Quod, who, Mr. Gammon felt assured, might have procured
a copy of the evidence several hours before, with only moderate
exertion. Twice had his messenger been despatched in vain; and he was
now absent on the third errand to Mr. Quod's chambers. At length Mr.
Gammon heard a heavy footstep ascending the stairs--he knew it, and,
darting to the door, opened it just as his messenger had reached the
landing with a bulky white packet under his arm, sealed, and tied with
red tape.

"Ah!--that will do. Thank you, thank you!--call to-morrow morning," said
Gammon, hastily, almost snatching the packet out of the man's hand.

"Mrs. Brown--don't let me be disturbed to-night by any one--on any
earthly consideration," said he, with feverish impetuosity, to his
laundress; and, having ordered her to close the outer door, he
re-entered his sitting-room, and with a beating heart burst open the
seals, tape, and cartridge-paper, and fastened in an instant with
devouring eyes upon the pregnant enclosure. Over page after page he
glanced with lightning speed, his breathing unconsciously accelerated
the while. When he had got to about the middle of the evidence, his
breath was for a minute suspended, while his affrighted eye travelled
down a couple of pages, which told him all--all he had feared to see,
and more--more than he had known himself. "Ah, perdition--the game is
up!" he faintly exclaimed, and, rising from his chair, threw himself
down upon the sofa, in a state of dismay and bewilderment which no words
of mine are powerful enough to describe.

Quite as much anxiety had been felt on the same subject in a different
quarter, during the whole of the day, at the Priory; where were still
the Aubreys, who had been joined a week before by Lord and Lady De la
Zouch, and by Mr. Delamere, who had come over with them from the
Continent. Mr. Runnington had written to assure Mr. Aubrey, that the
first moment of his being able to procure a copy of the evidence, he
would come down with it in a post-chaise and four. As, however, nine
o'clock elapsed without his having made his appearance, Mr. Delamere
slipped out, and without announcing his intention, ordered his groom to
have his horses in readiness instantly; and within a quarter of an
hour's time he was on his way to town, having left a hasty verbal
message, acquainting Lord and Lady De la Zouch of the object of his
sudden move. When he reached Mr. Runnington's offices, he found no one
there, to his infinite disappointment. Having slept in Dover Street, he
reappeared at Mr. Runnington's about ten o'clock the next morning, and
found a chaise and four at the door, into which Mr. Runnington, with a
large packet under his arm, was in the very act of entering, to drive
down to the Priory.

"How is it--for God's sake?" said Mr. Delamere, rushing forward to Mr.
Runnington, who was sufficiently surprised at seeing him.

"Oh, thank God! The battle's ours!"--replied Mr. Runnington, with
delighted excitement. "The murder's out!--I'll pledge my existence that
within three months' time we have them all back at Yatton!"

"You're _off_ instantly, are not you?" inquired Delamere, his face
blanched with emotion.

"To be sure--won't you come with me?" replied Mr. Runnington.

"Rattle away, my lads, and here's a guinea a-piece for you!" shouted
Delamere to the post-boys--and the next moment they were on their way,
and at indeed a rapid pace. In somewhere about an hour and a quarter's
time, the reeking horses and dusty chaise dashed up to the hall-door of
the Priory; and, as Delamere caught one or two figures standing at the
windows, he waved his hand in triumph through the chaise-window. That
brought Lord and Lady De la Zouch and Mr. and Mrs. Aubrey, breathless to
the door--out jumped Delamere, without waiting for the steps to be let
down, and, grasping the hands of all four, exclaimed with
enthusiasm--"Victory!--victory!--but where is she--?"

"Miss Aubrey's somewhere in the grounds, sir," replied a servant.

"Mr. Runnington will tell you all"--said Delamere; and springing off the
step, was out of sight in a twinkling, in quest of Miss Aubrey--burning
to be the first with the joyful news. He soon caught sight of her
graceful figure--she was standing with her back towards him, apparently
in a musing posture, gazing at the bubbling rivulet. Hearing his
bounding steps, she turned round, and started at seeing him.

"Oh, Kate, Kate!" he stammered breathlessly, "by Heaven, we've
won!"--Miss Aubrey turned very pale.

"Mr. Delamere--you--you--cannot be--I _hope_ you are not
mistaken"----said she, faintly.

"On my sacred word of honor, I have seen--I have read it all myself! 'T
is as sure as that the sun is shining--The game is up with the
villains!" Miss Aubrey made him no answer; her cheek continued white as
that of a statue; and it was absolutely necessary that he should put his
arm around her--if he had not, she would have fallen.

"Come!--Come! My sweet, my lovely Kate! Rouse yourself!" cried he, with
fond anxiety, and pressed his lips gently on her forehead--a liberty of
which she was probably not conscious, for she made no show of
resistance. Presently she heaved a deep sigh, her eyes opened, and,
finding herself entirely in his embrace, she made a slight effort to
disengage herself, but in vain. He was supporting her on one knee--for
there was no bench or seat within view. She burst into tears, and they
soon relieved her pent-up bosom of its excitement.

"Dearest--sweetest Kate--it's glorious news, and I have been too hasty
with it!" said he, excitedly.

"No--no--Mr. Delamere! I am only overpowered with joy and with
gratitude! Oh, Mr. Delamere, I could sink out of your sight!"

"Pho! my own angel!--Don't make me miserable by talking in that strain!"

"Well, what _shall_ I say?" cried she, passionately, bursting again into
tears, and turning her face from him, conscious that it was reddening.

"_Say_, Kate? That you will let me love you, and will love me in return!
Come, my own Kate! Heaven smiles on you--smile you on _me_!" She spoke
not---but sobbed, her face still averted from him.

"I know you won't say me nay, Kate, if it's only for the _news_ I've
brought you express"--said Delamere, ardently, and imprinted a
passionate kiss on her unresisting lips.

"My sweet Kate! how I have thought of you in every part of the world in
which I've been"--commenced Delamere, after having a second and a third
and a fourth time pressed his lips upon those of his beautiful and
blushing mistress; and Heaven only knows what other absurdities he might
have been guilty of, when to Kate's inconceivable embarrassment, behold,
a sudden turn brought them full in view of Lord and Lady De la Zouch and
Mr. Runnington.

"My dear, dear Miss Aubrey," cried Lord De la Zouch, "we have come to
congratulate you on this great event!" and he grasped her affectionately
by the hands, and then Lady De la Zouch embraced her future
daughter-in-law, whose cheeks burned like fire, while those of Mr.
Delamere tingled a little.

"Upon my honor, sir, you seem to have been making hay while the sun
shines," said his Lordship, in a low tone, and laughing, having left
Miss Aubrey and Lady De la Zouch together for a few moments.

"Dearest Lady De la Zouch, how did Charles bear it?" inquired Miss

"He bore it with calmness, though he turned very pale; but poor Mrs.
Aubrey was very painfully excited--it was really a most affecting scene.
But she is much better now--shall we return to the house?--By the way,"
added she, slyly, "now you're _come into your fortune_, as the saying
is, Kate--I--I suppose--eh?--Geoffrey has been talking nonsense to you!"
Poor Kate blushed deeply, and burst into tears.

That was a happy--happy day; and Mr. Runnington, having been compelled
to stay to dinner, returned home at a late hour feeling already richly
repaid for all his exertions. Miss Aubrey sat up for at least a couple
of hours in her own room, writing, according to a promise she had made,
a very long letter to Dr. Tatham; in which she gave him as full an
account as she could, of the surprising and decisive event which had
just happened. 'T was quite the letter of a daughter to a fond
father--full of ardent affection, and joyous anticipations of seeing him
again; but as to the other little incident of the day, which concerned
herself personally, Kate paused--laid down her pen--resumed
it--blushed--hesitated--trembled--and at length extinguished her taper,
and retired to rest, saying to herself that she would _think_ of it, and
make up her mind by the morning.

The letter went off, however, after all, without the slightest allusion
to the possibility of its lovely writer becoming a future Lady De la

But it is now high time that the reader should be put into possession of
the important disclosures produced by the ecclesiastical inquiry; and we
must for a while lose sight of the happy Aubreys, and also of the
gloomy, discomfited Gammon, in order to become acquainted with the exact
state of facts which had called forth such violent and opposite


The reader may possibly bear in mind that Mr. Titmouse had established
his right to succeed to the Yatton property, then enjoyed by Mr. Aubrey,
by making out to the satisfaction of the jury, on the trial at York,
that he, the aforesaid Mr. Titmouse, was descended from an elder branch
of the Aubrey family; that there had existed an unsuspected female
descendant of Stephen Dreddlington, the elder brother of Geoffrey
Dreddlington, through whom Mr. Aubrey derived his claim to the
succession; and that this obscure female descendant had left issue
equally obscure and unsuspected--viz. Gabriel Tittlebat Titmouse--to
whom _our_ friend Titmouse was shown to be heir-at-law. In fact, it had
been made out in open court, by clear and satisfactory evidence,
_First_, that the aforesaid Gabriel Tittlebat Titmouse was the direct
descendant, through the female line, of Stephen Dreddlington;
_Secondly_, had been shown the marriage of Gabriel Tittlebat Titmouse;
_Thirdly_, the birth of Tittlebat Titmouse, the first, and indeed the
only issue of that marriage. All these were not only proved, but
unquestionable facts; and from them, as far as _descent_ went, the
preferable right of Titmouse to that of Aubrey, resulted as an
inevitable inference, and the verdict went accordingly. But as soon as,
owing to the happy and invaluable suggestion of the Attorney-General, a
rigid inquiry had been instituted, _on the spot_, whence the oral and
documentary evidence had been obtained by Mr. Gammon--an inquiry
conducted by persons infinitely more familiar with such matters than
common lawyers, those acute and indefatigable inquisitors succeeded in
making the following remarkable discovery. It was found that the two old
witnesses who had been called to prove that part of the case, on the
trial, had since died--one of them very recently. But in pushing their
inquiries, one or two other old witnesses were met with who had _not_
been called by Mr. Gammon, even if he had been aware of their existence;
and one of these, an old man, while being closely interrogated upon
another matter, happened to let fall some expressions which startled the
person making minutes of the evidence; for he spoke of Mr. Titmouse's
mother under three different names, _Gubbins_, _Oakley_, and _Johnson_.
Now, the proof of the trial had been simply the marriage of Gabriel
Tittlebat Titmouse, by bans, to Janet Johnson, _spinster_. Either, then,
both the witnesses must be mistaken as to her having had other names, or
there must be some strange mystery at the bottom of it--and so it at
length turned out. This woman's maiden name had been Gubbins; then she
had married a rope-maker, of the name of Oakley, in Staffordshire, but
had separated from him, after two or three years' quarrelsome
cohabitation, and gone into Yorkshire, where she had resided for some
time with an aunt--in fact, no other person than old Blind Bess! She had
subsequently become acquainted with Gabriel Tittlebat Titmouse; and to
conceal the fact of her previous marriage--her husband being alive at
the time--she was married to Gabriel Tittlebat Titmouse under the name
of "_Johnson_." Two years afterwards, this exemplary female died,
leaving an only child, Tittlebat Titmouse. Shortly afterwards his father
came up to London, bringing with him his little son--and some five years
subsequently died, leaving one or two hundred pounds behind him for the
bringing up of Tittlebat decently--a duty undertaken by a distant
relative of his father, and who had been dead some years. Of course,
Titmouse, at the time when he was first presented to the reader, knew no
more than did the dead of his being in any way connected with the
distinguished family of the Aubreys in Yorkshire; nor of the very
unpleasant circumstances attending his mother's marriage, with which the
reader has just been made acquainted. Nothing can be easier than to
conceive how Mr. Gammon might have been able, even if acquainted with
the true state of the facts, to produce an impregnable case in court, by
calling, with judgment, only that evidence which was requisite to show
the marriage of Titmouse's father with Janet Johnson--viz. an examined
copy of an entry in the parish register of Grilston; of the fact of the
marriage under the names specified; and some other slight evidence of
the identity of the parties. How was the Attorney-General, or any one
advising him, to have got at the mystery attending the name of
"Johnson," in the absence of suspicion pointed precisely at that
circumstance? The defendant in an action of ejectment is necessarily in
a great measure in the dark as to the evidence which will be adduced
against him, and must fight it as it is presented to him in court; and
the plaintiff's attorney is generally better advised than to bring into
court witnesses who may be able, if pressed, to disclose more than is
necessary or desirable!

The way in which Mr. Gammon became acquainted with the true state of the
matter, was singular. While engaged in obtaining and arranging the
evidence in support of the plaintiff's case, under the guidance of Mr.
Lynx's opinion, Mr. Gammon stumbled upon a witness who dropped one or
two expressions, which suddenly reminded him of two little documents
which had been some time before put into his possession without his
having then attached the least importance to them. He was so disturbed
at the coincidence, that he returned to town that very night to inspect
the papers in question. They had been obtained by Snap from old Blind
Bess: in fact, (_inter nos_,) he had purloined them from her on one of
the occasions of his being with her in the manner long ago described,
having found them in an old Bible which was in a still older canvas bag;
and they consisted of, first, a letter from one James Oakley to his
wife, informing her that he was dying, and that, having heard she was
living with another man, he exhorted her to leave her wicked courses
before _she_ died; secondly, a letter from one Gabriel Tittlebat
Titmouse to his wife, reproaching her with drunkenness and loose
conduct, and saying that she knew as well as he did, that he could
transport her any day he liked;[17] therefore she had better mind what
she was about. This letter was written in the county jail, whither he
had been sent for some offence against the game-laws. Old Blind Bess had
been very feeble when her niece came to live with her; and, though aware
of her profligate conduct, had never dreamed of the connection between
the great family at the Hall and her niece's child. These were the two
documents which Mr. Titmouse had destroyed, on Gammon's having intrusted
them for a moment into his hands!--Though I do not attach so much
importance to them as Mr. Gammon did--since I cannot see how they could
have been made available evidence for any purpose contemplated by
Gammon--I am not surprised at _his_ having done so. They were infinitely
too dangerous documents to admit of his taking the opinion of counsel
upon; he therefore kept them entirely to himself, as also the discovery
to which they led, not trusting his secret, even to either of his
partners. Before the case had come into court, Mr. Gammon had been in
possession of the facts now laid for the first time before the
reader--contemplating, even then, the use to be thereafter made of the
prodigious power he should have become possessed of, in aid of his own
personal advancement. Thus was Titmouse base-born indeed--in fact,
doubly illegitimate; for, first, his mother had been guilty of bigamy in
marrying his father; and, secondly, even had that not been so, her
marrying under a false name[18] had been sufficient to make the marriage
utterly void, and equally of course to bastardize her issue.

Such, then, was the damning discovery effected by the ecclesiastical
commission, and which would by-and-by blazon to the whole world the
astounding fact, that this doubly base-born little wretch had been
enabled, by the profound machinations of Mr. Gammon, not only to deprive
Mr. Aubrey of the Yatton estates, but also to intermarry with the Lady
Cecilia, the last of the direct line of the noble Dreddlingtons and
Drelincourts--to defile the blood, and blight the honor, of perhaps the
oldest and the proudest of the nobility of England. Upon Mr. Gammon, it
lit like a thunderbolt. For many hours he seemed to have been utterly
crushed and blasted by it. His faculties appeared paralyzed. He was
totally incapable of realizing his position--of contemplating the
prodigious and appalling consequences which must inevitably and almost
immediately ensue upon this discovery of his secret. He lay upon the
sofa the whole night without closing his eyes, or having moved a muscle
since he had thrown himself down upon it. His laundress came in with his
bed-candle, trimmed the lamp, stirred the fire, and withdrew, supposing
him asleep. The fire went out--then the lamp--and when, about eight
o'clock the next morning, his laundress reappeared, he still lay on the
sofa; and a glimpse of his pale and haggard face alarmed her greatly,
and she went for a medical man before he was aware of her having done
so. On her returning, and informing him of what she had done, it roused
him from his lethargy, and, starting from the sofa, he desired her to
go back and request the medical man not to come, as it was unnecessary.
Heaving profound sighs, he proceeded to his dressing-room, got through
his toilet, and then sat down to the breakfast-table, and for the first
time made a very powerful effort to address his thoughts steadily to the
awful nature of the emergency into which he was driven. Mr. Quod soon
after made his appearance.

"This is a _very--very--ugly business_, Mr. Gammon!" quoth he, with a
gloomy countenance. "I look upon it there's an end to the suit--eh?"

"It is not likely that we shall stir further, certainly," replied Mr.
Gammon, with a desperate effort to speak calmly: then there was a pause.

"And I should think the matter can't end _here_," presently added Mr.
Quod. "With such evidence as this, of course they'll attack Yatton!"

"Then I am prepared to resist them," said Gammon; convinced in his own
mind that the sole object of Mr. Quod's visit was to see after the
payment of his bill--a reasonable anxiety, surely, considering the
untoward issue of the proceedings.

"How could all this have escaped _me_, in getting up the case for the
trial?" said Gammon, after a while, darting an anxious and furtive
glance at his companion.

"Ay--I hope this will teach you common-law fellows that there's a trick
or two worth knowing at Doctor's Commons!" replied Mr. Quod. "D'ye
remember what I told you at starting?--How was it, d'ye say, you
couldn't find it out? No one could, till we did!--But, by the way, do we
fight anymore in the cause? Because we must decide at once--it's no use,
I should say, going to the expense of a hearing"----

"I will give you an answer in the course of the day, Mr. Quod," replied
Gammon, with an air of repressed fury; and succeeded in getting rid of
his matter-of-fact but anxious visitor for the present; and then
reperused the whole of the evidence, and considered within himself, as
well as he was able, what course he ought to pursue. He had need, truly,
to do so; for he very shortly found that he had to deal with an enemy in
Mr. Runnington--uncompromising and unrelenting--whose movements were
equally prompt, vigorous, and skilful. That gentleman, following up his
blow, and acting under the advice of Sir Charles Wolstenholme, who had
just returned to town for the commencement of the legal year--viz.
Michaelmas Term--first of all gave notice, through Mr. Pounce, of his
intention to proceed with the suit for administration; but found that
the enemy in that quarter had struck; Mr. Quod formally notified his
abandonment of opposition on the part of Mr. Titmouse. So far so good.
Mr. Runnington's next step was to go down into Staffordshire and
Yorkshire, accompanied by Mr. Pounce, and by his own experienced
confidential clerk, in order to ascertain still more distinctly and
conclusively the nature of the evidence which was in existence
impeaching the legitimacy of Mr. Titmouse. His inquiries were so
satisfactory, that, within a week of his return to town, he had caused
an action of ejectment to be brought for the recovery of the whole of
the Yatton property; and copies of the "Declaration" to be served on Mr.
Titmouse, and on every tenant in possession upon the estate. Then he
served notices on them, calling upon each and every one of them not to
pay rent in future to any one except Charles Aubrey, Esquire, or his
agents by him lawfully appointed; and caused a formal demand of the
title-deeds of the estate to be forthwith made upon Mr. Titmouse,
Messrs. Bloodsuck and Son, and Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap; and also
advertisements to be inserted in the newspapers, to caution all persons
against advancing money on mortgage or on other security of the Yatton
property, "formerly in possession of, and now claimed by, Charles
Aubrey, Esq., but at present wrongfully held by Tittlebat Titmouse,
Esq., M.P., and for the recovery of which an action of ejectment has
been commenced, and is now pending;" and also from advancing money "on
the faith or security of a certain bond conditioned in the penalty of
£20,000 for the payment to Tittlebat Titmouse of £10,000, with interest,
on or before the 24th day of January next, and dated the 26th July,
18--, and signed by Lord De la Zouch and Charles Aubrey, Esq., the same
having been obtained by undue means, and on a false and fraudulent
pretence of money being due from the said Charles Aubrey, Esq., to the
aforesaid Tittlebat Titmouse." These advertisements, and certain
paragraphs relating to the same matter, which found their way into the
newspapers, to the consternation of Gammon, came under the eye of the
Duke of Tantallan, and struck him dumb with dismay and horror at so
decisive and public a corroboration of his worst fears. A similar effect
they produced upon Miss Macspleuchan, who, however, succeeded in keeping
them for some time from the observation of the unfortunate Earl of
Dreddlington. But there were certain other persons in whom these
announcements produced an amazing degree of consternation; viz. three
and ISRAEL FANG, who were at present the depositaries of Mr. Titmouse's
title-deeds, with a lien upon them, as they had fondly imagined, to the
extent of nearly seventy thousand pounds--that being the amount of money
they had advanced, in hard cash, to Mr. Titmouse, upon mortgage of his
Yatton estates. The last of these unfortunate gentlemen--old Mr.
Fang--had advanced no less a sum than twenty thousand pounds. He had
been the first applied to, and had most fortunately taken a collateral
security for the whole sum advanced; viz. a bond--the bond of our old
friend, "THOMAS TAG-RAG, draper and mercer, of No. 375 Oxford Street,
and Satin Lodge, Clapham, in the county of Surrey." As soon as ever the
dismayed Israelite, by his attorney, had ascertained, by inquiry at the
office of Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap--where all was confusion--that
there really was a claim set up to the whole of the estates, on behalf
of him who had been so recently and suddenly dispossessed of them, he
exclaimed in an ecstasy, "Oh, ma Got! oh, ma _dear_ Got! Shoo Tag-rag!
Shoo on the bond! Looshe no time"----and he was obeyed. Terrible to
tell, two big bum-bailiffs the next day walked straight into the shop of
Mr. Tag-rag, who was sitting in his little closet at the farther end,
with his pen in his hand, busily checking some bills just made out, and
without the least ceremony or hesitation hauled him off, hardly giving
him time to put his hat on, but gruffly uttering in his ear some such
astounding words as "Thirty thousand pounds!" He resisted desperately,
shouting out for help; on which all the young men jumped over the
counters, and seemed to be coming to the rescue! while one or two female
customers rushed affrighted into the street. In short, there was a
perfect panic in the shop; though the young men merely crowded round,
and clamored loudly, without venturing upon a conflict with the two
burly myrmidons of the law, who clapped their prize into a coach
standing opposite--Mr. Tag-rag frothing at the mouth, and with
impassioned gesticulation, protesting that he would have them both
transported to Botany Bay on the morrow. They laughed at him
good-humoredly, and in due time deposited him safely in the lock-up of
Mr. Vice, who, on seeing that he was disposed to be troublesome, thrust
him unceremoniously into the large room in which, it may be recollected,
Mr. Aubrey had been for a few minutes incarcerated, and left him,
telling him he might write to his attorney. There he continued for a
long while in a state bordering on frenzy. Indeed, he must have fancied
that the devil had made it, just then, his particular business to worry
and ruin _him_; for what do you think had happened to him only two days
before? an event which had convulsed Clapham to its centre--so much, at
least, of Clapham as knew of the existence of the Tag-rags and the
Reverend Dismal Horror, his chapel and congregation. That young shepherd
of faithful souls having long cherished feelings of ardent fondness
towards one gentle lamb in his flock in particular--viz. Tabitha
Tag-rag--who was the only child of the wealthiest member of his little
church--took upon himself to lead her, nothing loath, a very long and
pleasant ramble--in plain English, Mr. Dismal Horror had eloped with the
daughter of his head deacon--to the infinite scandal and disgust of his
congregation, who forthwith met and deposed him from his pulpit; after
which his father-in-law solemnly made his will, bequeathing everything
he had to a newly-established Dissenters' college; and the next
day--being just about the time that the grim priest of Gretna was
forging the bonds of Hymen for the happy and lovely couple before him,
Mr. Tag-rag was hauled off in the way which I have mentioned--which two
occurrences would have the effect of enabling Mr. Dismal Horror to prove
the disinterestedness of his attachment--an opportunity for which he
vowed that he panted--inasmuch as he and she had become, indeed, all the
world to each other. He must now go into some other line of business, in
order to support his fond and lovely wife; and, as for Tag-rag, his
pious purposes were frustrated altogether. There was no impeaching the
validity of the bond held by the infuriate and inexorable Jew who had
arrested him, and who clearly had been no party to any fraud by
which--if any--the signature of Mr. Tag-rag had been procured. Mr.
Tag-rag's attorney, Mr. Snout, instantly called upon Messrs. Quirk,
Gammon, and Snap, to inquire into the particulars of the astounding
transaction by which his client had been drawn into so ruinous a
liability--but was very cavalierly treated; for he was informed that Mr.
Tag-rag must, in their opinion, have lost his senses--at all events his
memory; for that he had most deliberately executed the bond, after its
nature had been fully explained to him by Mr. Gammon--and his signature
was witnessed and attested in the usual way by a clerk in the office,
and also in the presence of all the three partners. On hearing all
this--and examining Mr. Amminadab, who stated without any hesitation, as
the fact in truth was, that he had been called in specially to witness
Mr. Tag-rag's execution of the bond, and had seen and heard him
sign,[19] and say he delivered it as his act and deed--Mr. Snout hurried
back to his frenzied client, and endeavored, for a long while, with
praiseworthy patience, to reason with him; explaining to him the glaring
improbability of his version of the affair. This led to very high words
indeed between them, and at length Mr. Tag-rag actually spit in his
face. Mr. Snout, being a very little man, and unable to resent the vile
insult effectually, instantly quitted the room, expressing his firm
belief that Mr. Tag-rag was a swindler, and he would no more be
concerned for a person of that description. Mr. Tag-rag could not
procure bail for so fearful an amount; so he committed an act of
bankruptcy, by remaining in prison for three weeks. Down, then, came all
his creditors upon him in a heap, especially the Jew; a rattling
bankruptcy ensued--the upshot of the whole being--to anticipate,
however, a little--that a first and final dividend was declared of three
farthings in the pound--for it turned out that friend Tag-rag had been,
like many of his betters, _speculating_ a great deal more than any one
had had the least idea of. I ought, however, to have mentioned that, as
soon as he had become bankrupt, and his assignees had been appointed,
they caused an indictment to be preferred against Mr. Titmouse, and
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, for fraud and conspiracy in obtaining
the bond from Mr. Tag-rag; and on the same grounds, made an application,
fortified by strong affidavits, to the Lord Chancellor, to strike the
last three gentlemen off the rolls. In addition to all this, the two
other unfortunate mortgagees, Mordecai Gripe, and Mephibosheth
Mahar-shalal-hash-baz--who had no security at all for their advances
except the title-deeds of the estate, and the personal covenant of Mr.
Titmouse--beset the office in Saffron Hill from morning to night, like
frantic fiends, and nearly drove poor old Mr. Quirk out of his senses.
Mr. Snap was peremptory and insolent; while Gammon seldom made his
appearance--and would see no one at his private residence, pleading
serious indisposition.

After anxious reflection, Mr. Gammon did not absolutely despair of
extricating himself from the perils with which he was personally
environed. As for certain fond hopes of political advancement, after
which, indeed, his soul had so long pined, he did not even yet abandon
the hope of being able to prevail on his friend at headquarters--to whom
he had undoubtedly rendered considerable political services at no little
personal risk--to overlook the accident which had befallen him, in the
adverse verdict for the bribery penalties, even should he fail in his
motion to defeat that verdict in the ensuing term. He had had indeed, a
distinct intimation, that--that one obstacle removed--a very important
and influential situation under government was within his reach. But,
alas! this last overwhelming misfortune--how could he possibly evade or
surmount it? What human ingenuity or intrepidity could avail to
extricate him from the consequences of his insane avowal to Miss
Aubrey--and his counter-statements to the Duke of Tantallan and Miss
Macspleuchan--to say nothing of the Earl of Dreddlington? He resolved to
risk it--to rely on his own resources, and the chapter of accidents. The
mere presence of difficulty strung his nerves to encounter it. He
resolved to rely on the impossibility of fixing him directly with a
knowledge of the rottenness of Titmouse's pretensions--at all events,
till a period considerably subsequent to the trial, and Titmouse's
marriage with the Lady Cecilia. It occurred to him, as calculated,
moreover, to aid his contemplated movements, if he could find a fair
pretext for throwing overboard his partners, especially Mr.
Quirk--satisfied that his own uniform caution had prevented him from
committing himself to them--or at least had deprived them of means of
proving it. He very soon met with an opportunity, of which he promptly
availed himself.

Some week or ten days after the commencement of the term, Mr. Quirk was
walking down Parliament Street, on his way to the Court of King's Bench,
hoping, among other things, to hear the court say whether they would
grant or refuse a rule _nisi_ for a new trial, in a certain cause of
WIGLEY _v._ GAMMON, which had been moved for on the first day of term by
Sir Charles Wolstenholme, and which Lord Widdrington had said the court
would take a day or two's time to consider. Mr. Quirk's eye caught the
figure of a person, a few steps in advance of him, whom he fancied he
had seen before. In a few minutes' time, the old gentleman was covered
with a cold perspiration; for in a young man, about thirty years old,
decently dressed--thin, sallow, and wearing a very depressed air--Mr.
Quirk recognized Mr. STEGGARS--a gentleman whom he had imagined to be at
that moment comfortably settled, and for some ten years yet to come and
unexpired, at Botany Bay! This was the individual, it may be
recollected, whose execrable breach of trust, when a clerk of Mr.
Parkinson's at Grilston, had led to Mr. Quirk's discovery of the
infirmity in Mr. Aubrey's title. The fact was, that Mr. Steggars had
quitted England, as the reader may recollect, horribly disgusted with
Mr. Quirk's conduct towards him; and had also subsequently experienced
some little remorse on account of his own mean and cruel conduct towards
a distinguished gentleman and his family, none of whom had ever given
him the slightest pretext for hostility or revenge. He had contrived to
make his feelings upon the subject known to an official individual at
Botany Bay, who had given him an opportunity of explaining matters fully
to the authorities at home--the principal of whom, the Home
Secretary--had been, and indeed continued to be, a warm personal friend
of Mr. Aubrey's. This minister caused inquiries to be made concerning
Steggars' behavior while abroad, which were so satisfactorily answered
as to procure a remission of the remainder of his sentence, just as he
was entering upon his fourth year's service at Botany Bay. Immediately
on his return--which had taken place only a few days before the
commencement of Michaelmas Term--he sought out Mr. Aubrey's attorneys,
Messrs. Runnington, and put them fully in possession of all the facts of
the case, relating to Mr. Quirk's grossly dishonorable conduct in
obtaining and acting upon a knowledge of the supposed defect in Mr.
Aubrey's title. Upon Mr. Quirk's coming alongside of this gentleman, and
looking at him with a most anxious inquisitiveness, he encountered a
fearfully significant glance--and then Mr. Steggars, in a very pointed
and abrupt manner, crossed over the street for the purpose of avoiding
him. Mr. Quirk was so dreadfully disconcerted by this occurrence, that
instead of going on to court, where he would have heard Mr. Gammon's
rule for a new trial _refused_, he retraced his steps homeward, and
arrived at the office just as a clerk was inquiring for him; and who, on
seeing him, put into his hands the following startling document, being a
_"Rule"_ which had been granted the day before, by the Court of King's

     "On reading the Affidavit of JONATHAN STEGGARS, the affidavits of
     James Parkinson and Charles Runnington, and the paper-writing
     marked A, all thereunto annexed, It is ORDERED that Caleb Quirk,
     Gentleman, an attorney of this Honorable Court, do, on Wednesday
     next, in this present term, show cause why he should not forthwith
     deliver up to Charles Aubrey, Esquire, the deeds and documents
     specified in the paper-writing thereto annexed, marked A, _and
     also, why he should not answer the matters contained in the said
     Affidavits_.[20] Upon the motion of Sir Charles Wolstenholme.

     "By the Court."

"Oh Lord!" exclaimed Mr. Quirk, faintly, and, sinking into his chair,
inquired for Mr. Gammon; but, as usual, he had not been at Saffron Hill
that day. Giving orders to Mr. Amminadab to have copies taken
immediately of the affidavits mentioned in the rule, Mr. Quirk set off
for Mr. Gammon's chambers, but missed that gentleman, who he learned,
had gone to Westminster. The next day Mr. Gammon called at the office,
but Mr. Quirk was absent; on going, however, into the old gentleman's
room, Mr. Gammon's eye lit on the above-mentioned "rule," and also on
the affidavits upon which it had been granted. Having hurriedly glanced
over them, he hastily replaced them on the desk, as he had found them,
and repaired to his own room, greatly flustered--resolved to wait for
Mr. Quirk's arrival, and appear to be informed by him, for the first
time, of the existence of the aforesaid formidable documents. While he
was really buried in a revery, with his head resting on one hand and a
pen in the other, his countenance miserably pale and harassed, Mr. Quirk
burst hastily into his room with the rule and affidavits in his hand.

"Oh Lord, Gammon! How are you, Gammon?" he stuttered. "Haven't seen you
this age!--Where have you been? How are you, eh?" and he grasped very
cordially the cold hand of Mr. Gammon, which did not return the

"I am not very well, Mr. Quirk; but--you seem agitated!--Has anything
fresh hap"----

"Fresh?--Ecod, my dear Gammon! Fresh, indeed! Here's a _new_ enemy come
into the field!--D----d if I don't feel going mad!--Look, Gammon,
look!"--and he placed the rule and affidavits in Mr. Gammon's hands, and
sat down beside him.

"What!--_Answer the matters in the affidavit?_" quoth Gammon,
amazedly.--"Why, what have you been doing, Mr. Quirk? And--who upon
earth is--_Jonathan Steggars_?"

"Who's Steggars!" echoed Mr. Quirk, stupidly.

"Yes, Mr. Quirk--_Steggars_. Who is he?" repeated Gammon, intrepidly.

"Steggars, you know--Gammon! You recollect Steggars, of course--eh?"
inquired Mr. Quirk, with an apprehensive stare--"Steggars;
_Steggars_--you know! eh? You don't recollect! Oh, botheration! Come,
come, Gammon!"

"Who is he?" again inquired Gammon, somewhat sternly.

"Oh Lud! oh Lud! oh Lud!" exclaimed Mr. Quirk, despairingly--"What _are_
you after, Gammon? You don't intend--it can't be--that you're going
to--eh?--It's Steggars, you know--we defended him, you know--and he got
transported for embezzling that mortgage money of Mr. Parkinson's. You
recollect how we got hold of Mr. Aubrey's story from him?" While Mr.
Quirk was saying all this with feverish impetuosity, Mr. Gammon appeared
to be, for the first time, glancing eagerly over the affidavits.

"Why--good heavens, Mr. Quirk!" said he, presently, with a start--"is it
possible that these statements can have the slightest foundation in

"Ay, drat it--that _you_ know as well as I do, Gammon," replied Mr.
Quirk, with not a little eagerness and trepidation--"Come, come, it's
rather late in the day to sham Abraham just now, friend Gammon!"

"Do you venture, Mr. Quirk, to stand there, and deliberately charge me
with being a party to the grossly dishonorable conduct of which you are
here accused upon oath--which, indeed, you admit yourself to have been
guilty of?"

"D----d if I don't, Master Gammon!" replied Mr. Quirk, slapping his hand
on the table after a long pause, in which he looked completely
confounded and aghast. "Why, you'll want, by-and-by, to persuade me that
my name isn't Caleb Quirk--why, zounds! you'll drive me mad! You're gone
mad yourself--you must be!"

"How dare you insult me, sir, by charging me with conniving at your
infamous and most unprofessional conduct?"

"Why--come!" cried Quirk, with a horrible laugh--"You don't know how we
first got scent of the whole thing?--Ah, ha! It dropped down from the
clouds, I suppose, into our office--oh Lud, Lud, Gammon! it isn't kind
to leave an old friend in the lurch at such a pinch as this!"

"I tell you, Mr. Quirk, that I never had the least idea in the world
that this wretch Steggars--Faugh! I should have scouted the whole thing!
I would rather have retired from the firm!"

"That's it, Gammon! Go on, Gammon! This is uncommonly funny! It is,
indeed, aha!" quoth Quirk, trembling violently.

"This is no time for trifling, sir, believe me. Let me tell you thus
much, in all candor--that I certainly had, from the first, misgivings as
to the means by which you became possessed of this information; but
considering our relative situations, I did not feel myself at liberty to
press you on the point--Oh, Mr. Quirk, I am really shocked beyond all
bounds! What will the profession say of"--

"D---- the profession! What d'ye suppose I must be just now thinking of
_you_? Why, you'd make a dog strike its father!"

"I may have been unfortunate, Mr. Quirk--I may have been imprudent; but
I have never been dishonorable--and I would not for the whole creation
have my name associated with this infernal transac"----

"Come, come--who wanted me to forge a tombstone, Gammon?" inquired Mr.
Quirk, glancing very keenly at his friend.

"Wanted you to forge a tombstone, sir!" echoed Gammon, with an astounded

"Ay! ay! Forge a tombstone!" repeated Mr. Quirk, dropping his voice, and
slapping one hand upon the other.

"Upon my word and honor, Mr. Quirk, I pity you! You've lost your

"You wanted me to forge a tombstone! D----d if you didn't!"

"You had better go home, Mr. Quirk, and take some physic to clear your
head, for I am sure you're going wrong altogether!" said Gammon.

"Oh, Gammon, Gammon! Aren't you ashamed of yourself? Come--honor among
thieves! Be honest for once"----

"Your conduct is so extraordinary, Mr. Quirk, that I must request you to
leave my room, sir"----

"I sha'n't--it's _mine_ too"--quoth Quirk, snapping his fingers with a
desperate air.

"Then I will, sir," replied Gammon, with a low bow; and, taking up his
hat, moved towards the door.

"You sha'n't, Gammon--you mustn't!" cried Quirk, but in vain--Mr.
Gammon had taken his final departure, leaving Mr. Quirk on the very
verge of madness. By-and-by he went into Snap's room, who sat there the
picture of misery and terror; for whereas it had always seemed to him
that he had never been fairly admitted into the confidence of his senior
partners in the very important matters which had been going on for the
last two years--now that all things were going wrong, he was candidly
given credit by Mr. Quirk and Mr. Gammon for having lent a helping hand
to everything from the very beginning! In fact, he was frightened out of
his wits at the terrible turn which matters were taking. 'T was he who
had to stand the brunt of the horrid badgering of the three frenzied
Jews; he was included in half-a-dozen indictments for fraud and
conspiracy, at the instance of the aforesaid Israelites, and of the
assignees of Mr. Tag-rag; and Heaven only could form a notion of what
other good things were in store for him! He wondered vastly that they
had not contrived to stick _his_ name into the affidavits which had that
day come in, and which seemed to have turned Mr. Quirk's head upside
down! Conscious, however, of his own innocence, he resolved to hold on
to the last, with a view, in the event of the partnership blowing up, of
scraping together a nice little practice out of the remnants.

Half recklessly, and half in furtherance of some designs which he was
forming, Gammon followed up, on the ensuing morning, his move with Mr.
Quirk, by sending to him and to Mr. Snap a formal written notice of his
intention to retire from the partnership, in conformity with the
provisions of their articles, at the end of a calendar month from the
date; and he resolved to take no part at all in the matter to which Mr.
Quirk's attention had been so sternly challenged by the Court of King's
Bench--leaving Mr. Quirk to struggle through it as best he might.

But what was Mr. Gammon to do?

He could not stir a step in any direction for want of money--getting
every hour more and more involved and harassed on this score. The
ecclesiastical suit he had given up, and Mr. Quod had instantly sent in
his heavy bill, requiring immediate payment--reminding Mr. Gammon that
he had pledged himself to see him paid, whatever might be the issue.
Here, again, was an action of ejectment, on a tremendous scale, actually
commenced, and being vigorously carried on--with evidently unlimited
funds at command--for the recovery of every acre of the Yatton property.
Was it to be resisted? Where were the funds? Here he was, again,
already a defendant in four indictments, charging fraud and
conspiracy--proceedings entailing a most destructive expense; and his
motion for a new trial, in the action for the bribery penalty having
failed, he was now liable to pay, almost instantly, a sum exceeding
£3,000 to the plaintiff, for debt and costs. As for the balance of their
bill against Mr. Aubrey, that was melting away hourly in the
taxing-office; and the probable result would be an action against them,
at the suit of Mr. Aubrey, for maliciously holding him to bail. Was it
possible, thought Gammon, to make the two promissory notes of Mr. Aubrey
available, by discontinuing the actions commenced upon them, and
indorsing them over at a heavy discount? He took an opinion upon the
point--which was to the effect, that such a step could not _then_ be
taken, so as to give any third party a better right against Mr. Aubrey
than Mr. Titmouse had. Even had this, however, been otherwise, an
unexpected obstacle arose in Mr. Spitfire, who now held Mr. Gammon at
arm's length, and insisted on going forward with the actions; but he, in
his turn, was, as it were, checkmated by a move of Mr. Runnington's in
the Court of Chancery; where he obtained an injunction against
proceeding with the actions on the notes, till the result of the pending
action of ejectment should have been ascertained; and, in the event of
the lessor of the plaintiff recovering, an account taken of the mesne
profits which had been received by Mr. Titmouse. No one, of course,
would now advance a farthing on mortgage of Mr. Titmouse's interest in
the Yatton property; and Mr. Gammon's dearly earned rent-charge of
£2,000 a-year had become mere waste parchment, and as such he destroyed
it. The advertisements concerning Lord De la Zouch's bond had
effectually restrained Mr. Gammon from raising anything upon it; since
any one advancing money upon the security of its assignment, must have
put it in suit against his Lordship, when due, in the name of Mr.
Titmouse, and any answer to an action by him, would of course operate
against the party using his name. Mr. Gammon then bethought himself of
felling the timber at Yatton; but, as if that step on his part had been
anticipated, before they had got down more than a couple of trees at the
extremity of the estate, down came an injunction from the Lord
Chancellor, and so there was an end of all resources from that quarter.
Should he try the experiment of offering to surrender Yatton without the
delay and expense of defending the ejectment? He knew he should be
laughed at; they must quickly see that he had no funds to fight with,
even had he the slightest case to support. Mr. Gammon saw that Mr.
Aubrey's position was already impregnable, and the notion of a
compromise utterly ridiculous. As for resources of his own, he had
none, for he had been exceedingly unfortunate in his dealings in the
British and foreign funds, and had suffered severely and unexpectedly
through his connection with one or two of the bubble companies of the
day. In fact, he was liable to be called upon at any moment for no less
a sum than £3,000, and interest, which had been advanced to him on
security of a joint and several bond given by himself and Mr. Titmouse;
and he lived in daily dread lest the increasing frequency of the rumors
to his discredit, should get to the ears of this particular creditor,
and precipitate his demand of repayment. To the vexation occasioned by
this direct pecuniary embarrassment, and by the impossibility of
retrieving himself by a move in any direction--being, in short, in a
complete _dead-lock_--were to be added other sources of exquisite
anxiety and mortification. To say nothing of the perilous legal and
criminal liabilities which he had incurred, the consciousness of his
appearing an atrocious liar, and indeed an impostor, in the eyes of the
Duke of Tantallan, of the Earl of Dreddlington, of Miss Macspleuchan, of
the Aubreys, of _Miss Aubrey_--in fact, of every one who saw or heard of
what he had done--stung him almost to madness; considerations of this
kind were infinitely more insupportable than all the others by which he
was oppressed, put together. And when he reflected that the Lord
Chancellor, to whose favorable notice he had ever fondly aspired--and to
a considerable extent, successfully--had been put in possession of all
the heavy charges made against him, on the score of fraud and
conspiracy, by means of the various motions made before his Lordship,
and the affidavits by which they were supported, he felt his soul
withered within him. In short, it must surely appear, by this time, that
the devil had, in his dismal sport, got his friend Mr. Gammon up into a

In like manner Mr. Titmouse had his lesser troubles--for he was all of a
sudden reduced very nearly to the verge of literal starvation. His
creditors of every kind and degree seemed actuated by the spirit of the
law of the Twelve Tables--which, when a debtor was insolvent, permitted
his creditors to cut him, bodily, physically, into pieces, in proportion
to the respective magnitudes of their claims against him. Actions were
commenced against him by the three Jews, on his covenants to repay the
principal and interest due on the mortgages; half-a-dozen more were
pending against him on bills of exchange and promissory notes, which he
had given for various sums of money which had been lent him, though he
had no means of proving the fact, on terms of the most monstrous usury.
Scarcely was there a single tradesman in town or country with whom he
had ever dealt, who had not sued, or was not about to sue him. Every
article of furniture both at Yatton and at his lodgings--great or small,
cabs, harness, horses--all had disappeared: and, but for the protection
afforded to his person by privilege of Parliament, he would have been
pounced upon by at least a hundred ravenous and infuriate creditors in
an instant, and never been seen or heard of any more, except on the
occasion of some feeble and vain cry for relief under the Insolvent
Debtors' Act. He had been obliged, on coming up from Yatton, to borrow
five pounds from poor Dr. Tatham!--who, though infinitely surprised at
the application, and greatly inconvenienced by compliance with it, lent
him cheerfully the sum he asked for; Titmouse, the little scamp,
pledging himself to enclose the doctor a five-pound note by the first
post after his reaching town. That, however, even had he ever intended
giving the matter a thought, he could no more have done than he could
have sent Dr. Tatham the mitre of the Archbishop of Canterbury; in
consequence of which the worthy little doctor was obliged to postpone
his long-meditated purchase of a black coat and breeches indefinitely.
The morning after Titmouse's return, he betook himself to Saffron Hill,
which he reached just as Mr. Quirk and Mr. Snap, deserted by Mr. Gammon,
were endeavoring, in great tribulation and terror, to concoct affidavits
in answer to those on which the rule in the Court of King's Bench had
been obtained. Mr. Amminadab, with a little hesitation, yielded to his
importunities, and allowed him to go into Mr. Quirk's room.

"Oh, Lud! Oh, Lud--you--you--you--infernal little villain!" cried out
Mr. Quirk, hastily approaching him, pale and stuttering with fury--and,
taking him by the collar, turned him out by main force.

"I say!--I say!--Come, sir! I'm a member of"----

"I'll _member_ you, you impostor! Get out with you!--get out!"

"So help me----! I'll go to some other attor"----gasped Titmouse,
ineffectually struggling against Mr. Quirk.

"Eugh!--Beast!" exclaimed Snap, who kept by the side of Mr. Quirk, ready
to give any assistance which might be requisite.

"What have I----eh?--What have I done--demme!--Come, come--hollo! hands

"If ever--if ever--if ever you dare show your cursed little face
here--again"--sputtered Mr. Quirk, trembling with rage.

"This is a breach of privilege!--On my life I'll--I really _will_--I'll
complain to the House to-night." By this time he had been forced through
the outer passage into the street, and the door closed furiously behind
him. A little crowd was instantly collected around him, and he might
possibly have thought of addressing it in terms of indignant eloquence,
but he was deterred by the approach of a policeman, with a very
threatening countenance, and slunk down Saffron Hill in a truly shocking
state of mind. Then he hurried to Thavies' Inn, pale as death--and with
a tremulous voice inquired for Mr. Gammon; but that gentleman had given
special orders to be invariably denied to him. Again and again he
called--and was again and again repulsed; and though he lingered on one
or two occasions for an hour at least, in order to waylay Mr. Gammon, it
was in vain. Letter after letter he sent, but with no better effect; and
at length the laundress refused to take them in.

Gammon _dared_ not see Titmouse; not because he feared Titmouse, but

The House of Commons was sitting, unusual as was such an occurrence at
that time of the year; but Parliament had been called together on a
special urgency, and a very fierce and desperate contest was carrying on
between the Opposition and the Ministers, whose very existence was at
stake, and almost nightly divisions were melting down their majority,
till they were within an ace of being in a positive minority. Under
these circumstances, although Mr. Titmouse's position had become a
matter of notoriety, and he could no longer exhibit in public even the
outside show and trappings of a man of fashion, beyond his mere personal
finery, (which had become very precious, because he saw no means of
replacing it,) and though he was _cut_, as a matter of course, by every
one out of doors, yet he found he had one friend, at least, in his
extremity, who scorned to imitate the fickle and perfidious conduct of
all around him. That frank and manly individual was no less a person, to
his honor be it spoken, than the Secretary of the Treasury--_and
whipper-in_--Mr. Flummery; who always spoke to him in the most cordial
and confiding manner, and once or twice even asked him to join his
dinner-table at Bellamy's. On one of these occasions, Mr. Titmouse
resolved to put Mr. Flummery's friendship to the test, and boldly asked
for a "_place_." His distinguished friend appeared certainly startled
for a moment, and then evidently felt inwardly tickled, as was evinced
by a faint twitching at the corners of his mouth. He proceeded, however,
in a very confidential manner, to ask Mr. Titmouse as to his familiarity
with financial matters; for (in the most sacred confidence) it did so
happen that, although no one knew it but himself and one other person,
there was sure to be a vacancy in a certain office within a fortnight at
farthest; and without saying anything further, Mr. Flummery laid his
finger on his lip, and looked steadfastly at Titmouse, who did
similarly; and within half an hour's time made one of a glorious
majority of four, obtained by the triumphant Ministry. Titmouse was now
in excellent spirits concerning his future prospects, and felt that, if
he could but contrive to hold on during the fortnight intervening
between him and his accession to office, all would be well. He therefore
conceived he had nothing to do but apply to some one or two friends,
whom he had accommodated with loans, for repayment. But, alas! Mr.
O'Doodle acknowledged that his exchequer was empty just then; and Mr.
M'Squash said he really fancied he had repaid Mr. Titmouse the hundred
pounds which he had lent him, but would look and see. Then Mr. Titmouse
ventured to apply to Mr. O'Gibbet--that gentleman being Titmouse's
debtor to the tune of some five hundred pounds. He called Mr. Titmouse
aside, and in the most delicate and feeling manner intimated the delight
it would have afforded him to respond to the call of Mr. Titmouse under
ordinary circumstances; but the fact was, he felt placed in a most
painfully embarrassing position, on account of the grave doubts which
had occurred to him, as to the right of Mr. Titmouse either to have
lent the money at all, or, consequently, to receive repayment of it. In
short, the lawyers would call this setting up the _jus tertii_; Mr.
O'Gibbet protesting that he looked upon himself, in point of conscience,
as a trustee of the money for the real owner; and, till _he_ should have
been discovered, bound to retain it--so pleasant is _sometimes_ the
performance of one's duty! Titmouse could not in the least appreciate
these exquisite scruples; but knowing Mr. O'Gibbet's influence over Mr.
Flummery, he feigned to acquiesce in the propriety of what was advanced
by Mr. O'Gibbet, who, on being pressed, _lent_ him five pounds.

Finding that those whom he had till then imagined bound to consider his
interests, had, in so unprincipled and ungrateful a manner, deserted
him, he resolved to be true to himself, and bent all the powers of his
mind to the contemplation of his present circumstances, and how he
should act with advantage. After due and deep reflection, a very
felicitous stroke occurred to him. He did not know the exact state of
the question with reference to the right to the possession of
Yatton--little dreaming that, in point of fact, Mr. Aubrey was at that
moment virtually reinstated in the enjoyment of that fine estate. Now,
it occurred to Mr. Titmouse as very probable, that his opponent would
catch at any fair offer of a compromise, since he--Titmouse--had
unquestionably the advantage over him at present, having nine-tenths of
the law on his side--viz. _possession_; and if he were to propose to
split their differences by making an offer of his hand and heart to Miss
Aubrey, it could do no harm, and _might_ be attended with the happiest
results. How was she to know the desperate shifts to which he was driven
at present? And if he could but contrive, consistently with his pledge
to Mr. Flummery, to give her an inkling of the brilliant prospects that
awaited him! In short, I am able to give the reader an exact copy of a
letter which, after infinite pains, two days being spent over it, he
sent to Miss Aubrey; and which was duly forwarded to her, and deposited
in her hands, as she alighted from her horse, on returning from a ride
with Mr. Delamere and Lord De la Zouch. Here follows that skilful and
touching performance:--

                                                "House of Comons,
                                           "_Wednesday_ Nov. --, 18--.


     "Madam,--hoping That this Will not Disapoint you Through
     Strangeness (which I own Looks Somewhat So) at First sight of my
     adressing This Epistle to You, to Say Ever since I Have had The
     unhapiness to be a Widdower Since the Death of Lady Cecilia
     Titmouse of which There Is Many False accounts Every Thing Goes
     Entirely Wrong (For the present) with me, all For Want of a Lady
     Which w^d. feel That Conubial Interest in me That is So delightful
     In the Married State. I was Honored With writing To You soon After
     I was so Happy as to Get the Property But Supose you could not Have
     Got It Seeing I got No Ans^r. And Natrally suposed There Was
     obstacles In The Way For it Was Settled Soon as You might have
     Heard That I was to Mary my Cousin (The Lady Cecilia) whom I Loved
     Truly till Death cut Her Short On her Way To an Erly Grave, Alas. I
     know It is In Dispute wh^r. y^r. respectable Brother or I are
     Owners of Yatton You See The Law which Gave It me Once _may Give it
     Me Again and No Mistake_--who knows (in this uncertain Life)
     whatever Turns Up I can (Betwixt Ourselves) assure You There Is
     _Something In The Wind_ For me w^h. dare not Say More Of at this
     Present. But Suposing You & I shall Hit it what Say You if I should
     Propose dividing The Estate betwixt Him & Me & _Settling All my
     Half on You_ And as To the _Title_ (w^h. at present I Am Next to)
     what say You To your Brother and I Tossing up for it When It comes
     for I am Sorry to hear His Lordship is breaking, and I know _Who I
     sh^d. Like To see Lady Drelincourt_, oh what a hapiness Only To
     think Of, As They are dividing very soon (And they Do Run It
     _Uncommon_ _Fine_, But Ministers Must Be Suported or The Country
     Will Go to the Devil Dogs) Must Close Begging an Answer directed to
     Me Here, And Subscribe myself,

                                        "Hn^d. and dear Madam,
                                            "Yr^s. Most Obediently,
                                                           "T. TITMOUSE.

       "Vivian Street."

"I hope, Kate, you have not been giving this gentleman encouragement!"
quoth Delamere, when he had read the above. It formed a topic of
pleasant merriment when they all met at dinner--a right cheerful party,
consisting solely of the Aubreys and Lord and Lady De la Zouch, and
Delamere. Mr. Aubrey had returned from town with important intelligence.

"Mr. Runnington is steadily and patiently unravelling," said he, as they
sat in unrestrained converse after dinner--(I must take the opportunity
of saying that Miss Aubrey looked as beautiful as ever, and in brilliant
spirits)--"one of the most monstrous tissues of fraud that ever was
woven by man! We sometimes imagine that Mr. Gammon must have had in view
the securing Yatton for himself! The firm of Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and
Snap, are completely overwhelmed with the consequences of their
abominable conduct!--I understand they have terribly taken in the
Jews--to the amount of at least seventy or eighty thousand pounds of
hard cash; and one of them, it seems, on discovering that he has no real
and effectual security, very nearly succeeded in hanging himself the
other day."

"What's this I see in the paper about a Mr. Tag-rag?" inquired Lord De
la Zouch:--and Mr. Aubrey told him the miserable condition to which
Tag-rag had been reduced by the alleged chicanery of the firm of Quirk,
Gammon, and Snap.

"Mr. Runnington seems to be managing matters with great vigor and
skill," said his Lordship.

"Admirably! admirably! I never in my life saw or heard of such complete
success as attends every step he takes against the enemy; he is hourly
pressing them nearer and nearer to the verge of the precipice, and
cutting off all retreat. They would fight, but they have no funds! Look
at the administration suit!" Mr. Aubrey then proceeded to mention two
very important circumstances which had come to his knowledge since his
former visit to town. First, an offer was understood to have come direct
from Mr. Gammon, to abandon the defence to the ejectment, on condition
of his receiving, on behalf of Mr. Titmouse, the sum of two thousand
pounds; but Mr. Runnington had peremptorily refused to listen to any
proposal of the kind, and the action was, at that moment, in full
progress, with every prospect of there being no real defence even
attempted. The next piece of intelligence was, that Messrs. Screw and
Son, the solicitors to the Vulture Insurance Company, had called on
Messrs. Runnington, on learning that they were the solicitors of the
party to whom letters of administration had been granted, and intimated
that the directors--those discreet and candid gentlemen--"taking all the
circumstances of the case into their consideration," had determined to
offer no further opposition to the payment of the policy on the life of
the late Lady Stratton. Mr. Screw talked very finely about the high
principle and good feeling which ever actuated that distinguished
Company; but he did not tell Mr. Runnington what was the real cause of
their abandoning their opposition, which was this--that before their
"commission" to examine their sole witness, Dr. Podagra, could have
reached China, they had accidentally received authentic intelligence of
his death; he having been killed by a crowd for vaccinating the infant
of one of the Chinese! Under these circumstances, Mr. Runnington agreed
to the terms proposed on the part of the Company; viz. that the action
be discontinued forthwith, each party pay their own costs, and the whole
amount of the policy, minus the £2,000 which had been advanced to Lady
Stratton, be paid to Mr. Aubrey within a month from the day of
discontinuing the action. Though Kate very vehemently protested against
it, she was at length persuaded to allow her brother to act according to
the manifest intentions of the venerable deceased; and he in his turn
received a very gratifying assurance that she would have given him,
under the special circumstances of the case, no anxiety respecting his
bond for £2,000 given to Lady Stratton! Thus was Kate no longer a
dowerless maiden; having at her absolute disposal a sum of thirteen
thousand pounds, in addition to which, in the event of their being
restored to the possession of Yatton, she would be in the receipt of the
income left her as a charge upon the estate by her father; viz. five
hundred a-year.

While the cheering sunshine of returning prosperity was thus beaming
with daily increasing warmth and brightness upon the Aubreys,

     "And all the clouds that lower'd upon their house,"


          "In the deep bosom of the ocean buried"--

the sun of that proud and weak old man, the Earl of Dreddlington, was
indeed going down in darkness. The proceedings which have been laid at
length before the reader, arising out of the extraordinary termination
of the inquiry set on foot by the ecclesiastical court, and quickly
ending in the adoption of measures for the immediate recovery of Yatton,
had attracted far too much of public attention to admit of their being
concealed from the earl, comparatively secluded from the world though
he was. But the frightful confirmation of his assertion concerning what
had occurred between himself and Mr. Gammon, respecting Titmouse,
appeared to make no commensurate impression upon a mind no longer
capable of appreciating it. He had been seized by a partial paralysis
shortly after the last interview between himself, Mr. Gammon, and the
Duke of Tantallan; and it was evident that his reason was failing
rapidly. And it was perhaps a merciful dispensation, for it appeared
that the cup of his misery and mortification was not even yet full. That
other monstrous fabric of absurdity and fraud, built upon public
credulity--the Gunpowder and Fresh Water Company--suddenly dropped to
pieces, principally on account of its chief architect, Mr. Gammon, being
unable to continue that attention and skill by which it had been kept so
long in existence. It suddenly exploded, involving everybody concerned
in it in ruin. The infatuated, and now dismayed, shareholders, and the
numerous and designing creditors, came crowding round the more prominent
of the parties concerned, clamorous and desperate. Meetings were called
from time to time--producing, however, no other results, than fearfully
extending the prospect of liability incurred. The shareholders had
fondly imagined that they could repose with confidence on the provision
inserted in the prospectus, and in the deed of settlement--viz. that no
one was to be liable beyond the amount of their shares actually
subscribed for: alas! how dreadful the delusion, and how quickly
dissipated! The houses of Lord Dreddlington, the Duke of Tantallan, and
others, were besieged by importunate creditors; and at length a general
meeting was called, at which resolutions were passed, strongly
reflecting upon the Earl of Dreddlington and Mr. Gammon; and directing
the solicitor concerned for the rest of the shareholders to file a bill
against the earl and Mr. Gammon, for the purpose of compelling them to
pay all the debts incurred by the Company! More than this, it was
threatened that unless satisfactory proposals were promptly received
from, or made on behalf of, the Earl of Dreddlington, he would be
proceeded against as a TRADER liable to the bankrupt-laws, and a docket
forthwith struck against him! Of this crowning indignity impending over
his head, the poor old peer was fortunately not conscious, being at the
moment resident at Poppleton Hall, in a state not far removed from
complete imbecility. The Duke of Tantallan was similarly threatened; and
alarmed and enraged almost to a pitch of madness, resolved to take
measures for completely exposing and punishing the individual, to whose
fraudulent plausibility and sophistries he justly attributed the
calamity which had befallen him and the Earl of Dreddlington.

"Out of this nettle danger, I'll yet pluck the flower _safety_"--said
Mr. Gammon to himself, as he sat inside one of the coaches going to
Brighton, towards the close of the month of November, being on the
morning after the explosion of the Gunpowder and Fresh Water Company.
Inextricably involved as he appeared, yet, conscious of his almost
boundless internal resources, he did not despair of retrieving himself,
and defeating the vindictive measures taken against him. His chambers
were besieged by applicants for admission--Titmouse among them; whose
senseless pertinacity, overheard by Gammon as he sat within, while his
laundress was being daily worried by Titmouse, several times excited
Gammon almost up to the point of darting out and splitting open the head
of the intruder; old Mr. Quirk also sent daily letters, in a piteous
strain, and called besides daily, begging to be reconciled to Gammon;
but he sternly turned a deaf ear to all such applications. In order to
escape this intolerable persecution, at all events for a while, and in
change of scene and air, unpropitious though the weather was, seek to
recruit his health and spirits, he had determined upon spending a week
at Brighton; telling no one, however, except his old and faithful
laundress, his destination; and instructing her to say that he was gone,
she believed, into Suffolk, but would certainly return to town within a
week. His pale and harassed features showed how much he required repose
and relief, but for these he sought in vain. He felt not a whit the
better after a two days' stay, though the weather had suddenly cleared
up, the sky become clear and bright, and the air brisk and bracing.
Whithersoever _he_ went, he carried about him a thick gloom which no
sunshine could penetrate, no breezes dissipate. He could find rest
nowhere, neither at home nor abroad, neither alone nor in company,
neither sleeping nor waking. His brow was clouded by a stern melancholy,
his heart was bursting with a sense of defeat, shame, exposure,
mortification; and with all his firmness of nerve, he could not
contemplate the future but with a shudder of apprehension. In fact, he
was in a state of intense nervous irritability and excitement from
morning to night. On the evening of the third day after his arrival, the
London paper, forwarded to him as usual from the neighboring library,
contained a paragraph which excited him not a little; it being to the
effect, that a named solicitor of eminence had been the day before
appointed by the Lord Chancellor to that very office--the one, in truth,
which Gammon knew his Lordship had all along destined for _him_; one
which he could have filled to admiration, which would have given him
permanent _status_ in society; the salary attached to it being,
moreover, £1,800 a-year! Gammon laid down the paper--a mist came before
his eyes--and a sense of desolation pervaded his soul. After a while his
eye lit on another part of the paper--gracious heavens!--there were
three or four lines which instantly roused him almost into madness. It
was an advertisement, stating that _he_ had "ABSCONDED," and offering a
reward of £200 to any one who would give information by which he might
be "_discovered and apprehended_!"

"_Absconded!_" he exclaimed aloud, starting up, and his eye flaming with
fury--"accursed miscreants! I'll quickly undeceive them!"--Instantly
unlocking his paper-case, he sat down and wrote off a letter to the
editor of the newspaper, giving his full name and address; most
indignantly denying his having attempted or dreamed of absconding;
stating that he should be in London within forty-eight hours; and
requiring an ample apology for the gross insult and libel which had been
perpetrated, to be inserted in the next number of his paper. Then he
wrote off to the solicitor, Mr. Winnington, who had conducted all the
town proceedings in the cause of _Wigley_ v. _Gammon_, alluding in terms
of indignation and astonishment to the offensive advertisement, and
assuring him that he should, within forty-eight hours, be found, as
usual, at his chambers, and prepared to make an immediate and
satisfactory arrangement in respect of the damages and costs which were
now due from him. In a similar strain he wrote to Mr. Runnington (who
had maintained throughout, personally, a cautious courtesy towards Mr.
Gammon)--begging him to postpone signing judgment in the action of _Doe
on the demise of Aubrey_ v. _Roe_, till the last day of term, as he had
a new and final proposal to make, which might have the effect of saving
great delay and expense. He added, that he had also a proposition to
offer upon the subject of Lord De la Zouch's bond and Mr. Aubrey's
promissory notes, and begged the favor of a line in answer, addressed to
him at his chambers in Thavies' Inn, and which he might find on his
arrival. To a similar effect, he also wrote to the solicitor who was
working the docket which had been struck against Mr. Tag-rag; and also
to the solicitor who was employed on behalf of the shareholders in the
Gunpowder and Fresh Water Company:--in all of them reprobating, in terms
of the keenest indignation, the unwarrantable and libellous use of his
name which had been made, and making appointments for the individuals
addressed to call at his chambers on the day after his arrival in town.
Having thus done all in his power to counteract the injurious effects
which were calculated to arise from so very premature and cruel a
measure as that which had been taken, in offering a reward for his
apprehension as an absconded felon, he folded up, sealed, and directed
the letters, and took them himself to the post-office, in time for that
night's post; and that he was really terribly excited, may be easily
believed. He did not touch the dinner which he found laid for him on his
return, but sat on the sofa, absorbed in thought, for nearly an hour:
when he suddenly rang the bell, ordered his clothes to be instantly got
ready for travelling, and his bill made out. He then went and secured a
place in that night's mail, which was starting for town at half-past
eight o'clock. At that hour he quitted Brighton, being the only inside
passenger--a circumstance which gave him an ample opportunity for
reflection, and of which doubtless he availed himself--at all events,
certain it is, that he closed not his eyes in sleep during the whole of
the journey. Greatly to the surprise of his laundress, he made his
appearance at his chambers between six and seven o'clock in the morning,
rousing her from bed. He had thus, it will be observed, reached town
contemporaneously with his own letters; and as all the appointments
which he had made, were for the day after that of his arrival, he had
secured a twenty-four hours' freedom from interruption of any sort, and
resolved to avail himself of it, by keeping within doors the whole of
the time, his laundress denying him, as usual, to any one who might
call. He asked her if she had seen or heard of the atrocious
advertisement which had appeared in yesterday's paper? She replied, in
tears, that she had; and added, that no doubt to that circumstance were
to be attributed the calls made yesterday from morning to night--an
announcement which seemed to heighten the excitement under which Mr.
Gammon was evidently laboring. As soon as his lamp had been lit, he
opened his paper-case, and wrote the following letter:--

                                   "_Thavies' Inn, Wednesday Morning._

     "DEAR HARTLEY,--As I have not missed an annual meeting of _our_
     little club for these ten years, I shall be found at my place,
     to-night, at nine to a moment: that is, by the way, if I shall be
     admitted, after the execrable advertisement concerning me which
     appeared in yesterday's papers, and the writer of which I will give
     cause, if I can discover him, to repent to the latest day he lives.
     I came up this morning suddenly, to refute, by my presence and by
     my acts, the villanous falsehoods about my absconding. _Entre
     nous_, I am somewhat puzzled, just now, certainly--but never fear!
     I shall find a way out of the wood yet. Expect me at nine, to a
     minute,--Yours as ever,
                                                            "O. GAMMON.

       "HARRY HARTLEY, Esq.
        "Kensington Square."

This he sealed and directed; and requesting his laundress to put it into
the office in time for the first post, without fail--he got into bed,
and slept for a couple of hours: when he awoke somewhat refreshed, made
his toilet as usual, and partook of a slight breakfast.

"_You_ did not suppose I had absconded, Mrs. Brown, eh?" he inquired
with a melancholy smile, as she removed his breakfast things.

"No, sir; indeed I did not believe a word of it--you've always been a
kind and just master to me, sir--and"--she raised her apron to her eyes,
and sobbed.

"And I hope long to continue so, Mrs. Brown. By the way, were not your
wages due a day or two ago?"

"Oh yes! sir--but it does not signify, sir, the least; though on second
thoughts--it does, sir; for my little niece is to be taken into the
country--she's dying, I fear--and her mother's been out of work for"----

"Here's a ten-pound note, Mrs. Brown," replied Mr. Gammon, taking one
from his pocket-book--"pay yourself your wages; write me a receipt as
usual, and keep the rest on account of the next quarter, if it will
assist you just now when you are in trouble." She took the bank-note
with many expressions of thankfulness; and but for her tears, which
flowed plentifully, she might have noticed that there was something
deadly in the eye of her kind and tranquil master. On her retiring, he
rose, and walked to and fro for a long time, with folded arms, wrapped
in profound meditation--from which he was occasionally unpleasantly
startled by hearing knocks at his door, and then his laundress assuring
the visitor that Mr. Gammon was out of town, but would return on the
morrow. It was a cheerless November day, the snow fluttering lazily
through the foggy air; but his room was made snug and cheerful enough,
by the large fire which he kept up. Opening his desk, he sat down, about
noon, and wrote a very long letter--in the course of which, however, he
repeatedly laid down his pen--got up and walked about, heaving deep
sighs, and being occasionally exceedingly agitated. At length he
concluded it, paused some time, and then folded it up, and sealed it.
Then he spent at least two hours in examining all the papers in his desk
and cabinet. A considerable number of them he burned, and replaced and
arranged the remainder carefully. Then again he walked up and down the
room. The cat, a very fine and favorite one, which had been several
years an inmate of the chambers, attracted his attention, by rubbing
against his legs. "Poor puss!" he exclaimed, stroking her fondly on the
back; and, after a while, the glossy creature sidled away, as it were
reluctantly, from his caressing hand, and lay comfortably coiled up on
the hearth-rug, as before. Again he walked to and fro, absorbed in
melancholy reflection for some time; from which he was roused, about
five, by Mrs. Brown bringing in the spare dinner--which, having barely
tasted, he soon dismissed, telling her that he felt a strange shooting
pain in his head, and that his eyes seemed sometimes covered by a mist:
but that he doubted not his being well enough to keep his appointment at
the club--as she knew had been his habit for years. He requested her to
have his dressing-room prepared by a quarter to eight, and a coach
fetched by eight o'clock precisely. As soon as she had withdrawn, he sat
down and wrote the following letter to the oldest and most devoted
personal friend he had in the world:

     "MY DEAR----. I entreat you, by our long unbroken friendship, to
     keep the enclosed letter by you, for a fortnight; and then, with
     your own hand, and alone, deliver it to the individual to whom it
     is addressed. Burn _this_ note--I mean the one which I am at this
     instant writing to you--the instant you shall have read it; and
     take care that no eye sees the enclosed but _hers_--or all my
     efforts to secure a _little_ provision for her will be frustrated.
     In the corner of the top drawer of my cabinet will be found, folded
     up, a document referred to in the enclosed letter--in fact, _my
     will_--and which I wish _you_, as an old friend, to take the very
     earliest opportunity of discovering, _accidentally_. You will find
     the _date_ all correct, and _safe_. But whether my fiendish
     persecutors will allow it to have any effect, situated as are my
     affairs, is more than doubtful. Still I will throw away no chance
     in favor of the being who has occupied so much of my last thoughts.
     Call here to-morrow--at any hour you please--and say that you have
     called to see me, _according to my appointment_, and produce and
     show the enclosed ordinary invitation, to any one who may inquire,
     as being the only communication which you have received from me
     since my return from Brighton. Bear all this in mind, by the value
     you set upon my friendship: _whatever you may then see or hear, be
     firm and prudent_.--O. G."


In this letter he enclosed the long letter and the note already
mentioned; and having sealed and directed the whole, with elaborate
distinctness, he threw his cloak round him, and went with his packet to
the post-office, and with his own hand, after an instant's hesitation,
dropped it into the box, and returned to his chambers.

Then he took another sheet of paper, and wrote thus:

     "DEAR VIPER,--I doubt whether, after all, there will be a
     Dissolution; but, at any rate, I will perform my promise, and be
     ready with what you wish for Sunday week.--Yours ever,
                                                                "O. G.

     "P. S.--I shall call upon you on Saturday, without fail."

This he folded up and directed, and proceeded to commence the

                                          "_Thavies' Inn, Wednesday._

     "DEAR SIR,--I have finally determined to make every sacrifice in
     order to extricate myself, with honor, from my present
     embarrassments. You will, therefore, as soon as you get this,
     please to sell out all my"----

Here he laid down his pen; and Mrs. Brown presently announcing that
everything was ready in his dressing-room, he thanked her, and proceeded
to shave and dress. He was not more than a quarter of an hour over his
toilet. He had put on his usual evening dress--his blue body-coat,
black trousers, a plain shirt and black stock, and a white
waistcoat--scarcely whiter, however, than the face of him who wore it.

"I am going for the coach now, sir," said Mrs. Brown, knocking at the

"If you please," he replied briskly and cheerfully--and the instant that
he had heard her close the outer door after her, he opened the secret
spring drawer in his desk, and took out a very small glass phial, with a
glass stopper, over which was tied some bladder to preserve its contents
from the air; then he carefully closed the drawer. His face was ghastly
pale; his knees trembled; his hands were cold and damp as those of the
dead. He took a strong peppermint lozenge from the mantelpiece, and
chewed it, while he removed the stopper from the bottle, which contained
about half a dram of the most subtle and potent poison which has been
discovered by man--one extinguishing life almost instantaneously, and
leaving no trace of its presence except a slight odor, which he had
taken the precaution of masking and overpowering with that of the
peppermint. He returned to get his hat, which was in his dressing-room;
he put it on--and in glancing at the glass, scarcely recognized the
ghastly image which it reflected. His chief object was, to complete the
deception he intended practising on the Insurance Company, with whom he
had effected a policy on his life for £2,000--and also to delude
everybody into the notion of his having died suddenly, but naturally.
Having stirred up the large red fire, and made a kind of hollow in it,
he took out the stopper, and dropped it, with the bladder, which had
been tied over it, into the fire. Then he took his pen in his right hand
with a fresh dip of ink in it; kneeled down on the fender, close to the
fire; faintly whispered "_Oh, Emma!_" poured the whole of the deadly
poison into his mouth, and succeeded in dropping the phial into the very
heart of the fire--falling down the next instant on the hearth-rug,
oblivious, insensible--_dead_. However it might have been, that the
moment after he had done this direful deed, he would have GIVEN THE
WHOLE UNIVERSE, had it been his, to have undone what he had done--he had
succeeded, _for the present_, in effecting his object.

Poor Mrs. Brown's terror, on discovering her master stretched senseless
on the floor--his hat pushed partly down over his eyes in the act of
falling--may be imagined. Medical assistance was called in, but only to
announce that "the vital spark had fled." It was clearly either
apoplexy, said the intelligent medical man, or an organic disease of the
heart. Of this opinion were the astute coroner and his jury, without
hesitation. The deceased had evidently been seized while in the very act
of writing to some broker. [Gammon had no more "_stock_" of any sort,
for all he had written that letter, than the cat which had unconsciously
witnessed, and been for a moment disturbed by, his death.] Mr. Hartley
came, and producing the note which he had received, spoke of the
disappointment which they had all felt on account of Mr. Gammon's
non-arrival. The other letters--the appointments which he had made for
the morrow--the evidence which he had taken care to enable his laundress
to give--all these things were decisive--it was really "scarcely a case
requiring an inquest;" but as they had been called, they returned a
verdict of "Died by the Visitation of God." He was buried, a few days
afterwards, in the adjoining churchyard, (St. Andrew's,) where he lies
mouldering away quietly enough, certainly; but whether (in the language
of the solemn and sublime burial-service which his successful fraud had
procured to be read over his remains) "_in sure and certain hope of the
resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ_," is
another, and a fearful question.

His "friend" was faithful and discreet, obeying the injunctions of the
deceased to the letter. The "individual" alluded to in Mr. Gammon's note
to him, was a beautiful girl whom Mr. Gammon had seduced under a solemn
promise of marriage; who was passionately attached to him; whose name he
had uttered when on the eve of death; and to whom he had, some six
months before, bequeathed the amount of the policy--his will being
witnessed by Mary Brown, his housekeeper. Though his creditors were, of
course, entitled to every farthing of the £2,000, out of which he had so
artfully swindled the Insurance Company, they generously allowed her, in
consideration of her peculiar and melancholy situation, and of the will
which Mr. Gammon had made in her favor, to receive the sum of three
hundred pounds. It sufficed to support her during the few months of
suffering and shame which were allotted to her upon earth, after the
death of her betrayer; not far from whose remains were then deposited
the blighted beauty of her whom he had loved only to destroy.


With its architect, fell that surprising fabric of fraud and wrong, the
rise and fall of which are commemorated in this history--a fabric which,
if it had "risen like an exhalation," so like an exhalation had
disappeared, and with it all the creatures which had peopled it. Though
Mr. Runnington's vigilance and ability had set matters into such a
train, that, had Mr. Gammon lived to continue his most skilful
opposition, he could not have delayed for any considerable length of
time Mr. Aubrey's restoration to Yatton, yet the sudden and most
unexpected death of Mr. Gammon greatly accelerated that event.
Notwithstanding the verdict of the coroner's inquest, both Mr. Aubrey
and Mr. Runnington--and in fact very many others--strongly suspected the
true state of the case; viz. that, in the desperation of defeat and
dreaded exposure, he had destroyed himself.

Towards the close of the term, Mr. Runnington went to the proper office
of the Court of King's Bench, in order to ascertain whether Mr. Titmouse
had taken the requisite steps towards defending the actions of ejectment
commenced by Mr. Aubrey, and found that, though the prescribed period
had elapsed, he had not; in other words, that he had "SUFFERED JUDGMENT
BY DEFAULT." Delighted, though not much surprised by this discovery, Mr.
Runnington resolved at once to follow up his victory. 'Twas only a short
and simple process that was requisite to effect such great results. He
took a single sheet of draft paper on which he wrote some half-dozen
lines called an "_incipitur_," as if he were going to copy out the
"declaration" in ejectment, but stopped short about the fifth line. This
sheet of paper, together with another containing his "Rule for
Judgment," he took to the Master's office, in order that that
functionary might "SIGN JUDGMENT"--which he did by simply writing in the
margin of what Mr. Runnington had written, the words--"_Judgment signed,
23d November 18--,_" then impressing above it the seal of the court; and
behold, at that instant, the _property_ in the whole of the Yatton
estates had become vested in Mr. Aubrey again!

The next step requisite was to secure the _possession_ of the property;
for which purpose Mr. Runnington immediately procured a WRIT OF
POSSESSION, (_i.e._ a writ requiring the sheriff of Yorkshire to put Mr.
Aubrey into actual possession,) to be engrossed on a slip of parchment.
This he got sealed; and then obtained a WARRANT from the sheriff to his
officers, to execute the writ. Now the sheriff might, had it been
necessary, have roused--nay, was bound to do so--the whole _posse
comitatus_, in order to compel submission to his authority; and I can
assure the reader that the whole _posse comitatus_ would have answered
his summons on that occasion very eagerly--but it was needless. Who was
there to resist him at Yatton? The transference of the possession became
under these circumstances a very slight matter-of-fact affair, and went
off in this wise. The under-sheriff of Yorkshire drove up in his gig to
the Hall, where he found Mr. Parkinson waiting his arrival--(no breaking
open of doors was necessary!)--and in a word or two, informed Mr.
Parkinson, with a smile, that he then delivered the possession to him
for and on account of Charles Aubrey, Esquire, his heirs and assigns,
forever--and after remarking, "what a fine estate it was, and in very
good order, _considering_," he drove off. I may add, that to save the
useless expense of some hundred writs of possession, "_attornments_"
were taken from all the tenants--_i. e._ written acknowledgments that
they held under Charles Aubrey, Esquire, as their sole, true, and proper
landlord. This done, that gentleman was reinstated in all that he had
been dispossessed of, as absolutely, and to all intents and purposes, as
if the events of the last three years had been but a _dream_--as if such
persons as Tittlebat Titmouse, and Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, had never
existed; and Mr. Griffiths the steward, and Mr. Parkinson, by way of
commemorating the event, opened a couple of bottles of port-wine, which,
with the efficient assistance of Mr. Waters and Mr. Dickons, the upper
and under bailiffs, Tonson the gamekeeper, and Pumpkin the gardener,
were very quickly emptied amid shouts--in which 'tis hoped the
good-natured reader will join--of "Hip, hip, hip, hurrah!--Hip, hip,
hip, _hurrah_!--Hip, hip, hip, _hurrah_! _hurrah!_ HURRAH!" Then
phlegmatic Mr. Dickons stepped out into the court-yard, and, by way of
further relieving his excited feelings, flung his heavy ashen
walking-stick up a surprising height into the air; and when he had
caught it on its descent, as he grasped it in his huge horny hand in
silence, he shook it above his head with the feeling that he could have
smashed a million of Titmice in a minute, if he could have got among
them. Then he thought of Mrs. Aubrey and Kate, and up went the stick
again, higher even than before--by which time they had all come out into
the yard, and shouted again, and again, and again, till their voices
rang and echoed in the air, and raised an uproar in the rookery behind

While this result of his triumphant exertions was being thus celebrated
at Yatton, Mr. Runnington was stirring himself to the utmost in London,
in order to extricate Mr. Aubrey from all his pecuniary
embarrassments--the chief of which were, his two promissory notes for
£5,000 each, with interest, and the actions depending upon them--the
joint bond of himself and Lord De la Zouch for £10,000 and interest--and
the action pending for the balance of Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap's
bill--viz. £1,446, 14s. 6d. Undoubtedly, these matters occasioned him a
vast deal of trouble and anxiety; but his experienced tact, and
vigilance, and determination, overcame all obstacles. The balance of
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap's abominable bill of costs, melted away
and totally disappeared in the heat of the taxing-office; and with the
aid of certain summary applications, both to the Lord Chancellor and to
the common-law judges, and after a good deal of diplomacy, Mr.
Runnington succeeded in getting into his hands, cancelled, the
above-mentioned two notes, on payment to Mr. Spitfire, for and on
account of Mr. Titmouse, of £250, (of which Mr. Titmouse, by the way,
got £15, the remainder being claimed by Spitfire in respect of costs.)
The bond for ten thousand pounds, which was found in the strong box of
the late Mr. Gammon, was delivered up by Messrs. Quirk and Snap, on
certain hints being given them by Mr. Runnington of the serious
consequences of refusal. Not satisfied with this, Mr. Runnington
obtained from Mr. Titmouse a formal and solemn release and discharge, to
Mr. Aubrey, his heirs, executors, and administrators, of all claims,
debts, damages, sums of money, demands, costs, charges, bills, bonds,
notes, accounts, reckonings, expenses, judgments, executions, actions,
and suits whatsoever, either at law or in equity. But how stood the
matter of Mr. Titmouse's liabilities to Mr. Aubrey, in respect of the
mesne profits during the last two years and more? Why, he owed Mr.
Aubrey a sum of some twenty-five thousand pounds--not one farthing
of which would ever see its way into the pockets of him who had
been so cruelly defrauded of it! The greatest trouble of Mr.
Runnington, however, was the extorting of the Yatton title-deeds
from the three Jews, Mordecai Gripe, Israel Fang, and Mephibosheth
Maharshalal-hash-baz. Unhappy wretches! they writhed and gasped as
though their very hearts were being torn out; but they had no help for
it, as their own attorneys and solicitors told them; since the right of
Mr. Aubrey to his title-deeds was as clear and indisputable as his right
to the estates, and their resistance of his claim would only entail on
them additional, very serious, and fruitless expense. They grinned,
chattered, stuttered, and stamped about in impotent but horrible fury;
and, if they could, would have torn Mr. Gammon out of his grave, and
placed his body, and those of Messrs. Quirk and Snap, over a slow fire!

These gentlemen, were not, however, the only persons who had been
astounded, dismayed, and defeated, by Mr. Gammon's _leap into the dark_.
To say nothing of Mr. Wigley, who might now whistle for his debt and
costs, and many other persons who had rested all their hopes upon Mr.
Gammon's powers, and his responsibility, his sudden death precipitated
total ruin upon his weak aristocratical dupe and victim, the poor old
Earl of Dreddlington. In addition to the formidable movement against the
earl and Mr. Gammon in the Court of Chancery, on the part of their
co-shareholders and adventurers, for the purpose of securing them to be
declared alone liable for all the debts contracted by the Gunpowder and
Fresh Water Company, the creditors, rendered impatient and desperate by
the sudden death of Mr. Gammon, began to attempt daily to harass the
unfortunate earl with their personal importunity for payment of their
demands, and that at his residence in Grosvenor Square and at Poppleton
Hall. At the former they were, of course, uniformly encountered by the
answer that his Lordship was both ill and out of town. Upon that, down
to his Lordship's nearest country residence--viz. Poppleton--went the
chief of his infuriate creditors, not believing the answer they had
received at his Lordship's town-house; but at Poppleton, the earl was
of course denied to them, and with a peremptoriness of manner, which,
excited as they were, they converted into insolence and defiance, and a
determined _denial_ to his Lordship's creditors. Upon this, they took
the opinion of counsel upon three points. _First_, whether a peer of the
realm could be made a bankrupt if he became a trader; _Secondly_,
whether the Earl of Dreddlington's active connection with the Gunpowder
and Fresh Water Company constituted him a trader within the meaning of
the bankrupt laws; and _Lastly_, whether the facts stated amounted to an
act of bankruptcy. To this it was answered--_First_, that a peer could
clearly be made a bankrupt if he traded, as an Earl of Suffolk had been
declared a bankrupt by reason of an act of bankruptcy committed by him
in buying and selling of wines, (per Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, in _ex
parte_ Meymot, 1 Atkyn's Reports, p. 201.) _Secondly_, that the
Gunpowder and Fresh Water Company was one of such a nature as
constituted its members "traders" within the meaning of the bankrupt
laws. _Thirdly_, that the facts stated showed the committing of an act
of bankruptcy, on the part of the Earl of Dreddlington, by "_beginning
to keep his house_." Upon this, the more eager and reckless of his
Lordship's creditors instantly struck a docket against him: and
thereupon, down came the messenger of the court to take possession of
his Lordship's houses and effects, both Grosvenor Square, Poppleton
Hall, and in Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland--that is, as to the
last four, if he could discover them. At Poppleton he was sternly
refused admission; on which he produced his authority, and protested
that, if further denied, he would immediately proceed to effect an
entrance by main force, come what might, and those within must take the
consequences!--After a brief affrighted pause on the part of those
within, he was admitted--and immediately declared himself to be in
possession, under the bankruptcy, and by the authority of the Lord
Chancellor, of the premises, and everything upon them; at the same time
announcing to the dismayed inmates, that he would do nothing to give the
slightest annoyance, or occasion apprehensions to the noble bankrupt
personally. This very unusual occurrence found its way into the
newspapers of the next day, which brought, accidentally, under the
notice of Mr. Aubrey, the lamentable condition of his haughty yet fallen
kinsman. He hurried off in alarm and agitation to Mr. Runnington, and
requested him immediately to put himself into communication with the
earl's solicitor, whoever he might be, with a view to saving him, if
possible, from the indignity and ruin with which he was threatened; and
then himself drove down to Poppleton, to tender his services in any way
that might appear most desirable. He was shocked indeed at finding the
house, and everything in it, in formal possession of the bankruptcy
messenger; but much more so, on learning the deplorable condition of the
earl personally. It appeared that he had most unfortunately witnessed,
during a brief lucid interval, and while he was being assisted out of
his carriage on his return from an airing, the arrival of the messenger,
and his altercation with the servants at the door; and that, on being
made acquainted with the true nature of the proceeding, he staggered
back into the arms of Miss Macspleuchan, and was soon afterwards seized
with another fit of paralysis. All this Mr. Aubrey, on his arrival,
learned from Miss Macspleuchan--whom he knew only by name--and who
communicated the dismal tidings in an agony of grief and agitation. The
physician and apothecary were with the earl when Mr. Aubrey arrived; and
finding that he could render no personal service to his suffering
kinsman, he returned to town, assuring Miss Macspleuchan that she would
see him again on the morrow--and that he would, in the mean while, do
all in his power to avert from the earl the immediate effects of his
fearful imprudence. Faithful to his promise, he instructed Mr.
Runnington to do everything in reason to rescue the earl, and, in his
person, the honor of the family, from the impending misfortune. 'Twas,
however, all in vain. Two days afterwards, and before Mr. Runnington had
acted upon the instructions given to him by Mr. Aubrey, the latter
received intelligence by express from Poppleton, that the earl was in
dying circumstances; that he was conscious of his rapidly approaching
end; and was understood to have expressed a wish to see Mr. Aubrey
before he died. When he arrived, he was at once ushered into the earl's
bedchamber, and found the Duke of Tantallan sitting on one side of the
bed, and Miss Macspleuchan on the other; she was weeping in silence, and
her left hand was grasped between the thin white hands of the earl,
whose face was turned towards her. His snow-white hair and wasted
features, and the expression of mingled misery, feebleness, and
affection that were in his eyes, fixed heavily upon Miss Macspleuchan,
filled Mr. Aubrey with deep emotion. The earl seemed a mere skeleton!
Shortly after Mr. Aubrey had entered the room, Miss Macspleuchan leaned
down to the earl's ear, and, in a whisper, informed him of Mr. Aubrey's
arrival. He did not seem at first to have heard, or at least
comprehended, what she had said; but, a few moments afterwards, opened
his eyes a little wider than they had been before, and his lips quivered
as if with an effort at speaking. Then he very feebly extended both his
thin arms towards Miss Macspleuchan, who was still leaning over him, and
placed them tremblingly round her neck, from which, however, in a moment
or two, they suddenly fell; the lower jaw also fell; the poor earl was
dead--and Miss Macspleuchan, with a faint sigh, sank back in a swoon
into the arms of the nurse who stood beside her, and who, assisted by a
female attendant, immediately removed her from the room. The Duke of
Tantallan remained sitting where he was, but with his face averted, and
his right hand clasping one of the hands of his deceased kinsman: and
Mr. Aubrey continued standing at the foot of the bed, his eyes covered
by his hand. Neither of them spoke for some time. At length the duke,
very deeply affected, slowly rose, and quitted the chamber in silence,
followed by Mr. Aubrey, as those entered who were to commence the last
sad offices for the dead.

The duke undertook all the arrangements for the funeral; and after much
melancholy conversation with his Grace concerning the shocking state in
which the earl had left his affairs, and having offered to provide,
should it be necessary, for Miss Macspleuchan, Mr. Aubrey took his

"Is the carriage at the door?" he inquired of the servant who stood in
the hall expecting his approach.

"Yes, my Lord," he replied; and his words caused LORD DRELINCOURT almost
to start back a step or two; and he changed color. Then he entered his
carriage, and continued in a very melancholy and subdued mood during the
whole of the drive up to town. He had, indeed, now become Lord
Drelincourt--an event thus announced the next morning to the great
world, in the columns of the obsequious _Aurora_.

     "Yesterday, at his residence, Poppleton Hall, Hertfordshire, in his
     seventieth year, died the Right Hon. the Earl of Dreddlington,
     G.C.B., F.C.S., &c. &c. His Lordship was Fifth Earl of
     Dreddlington, and Twentieth BARON DRELINCOURT. The Earldom (created
     in 1667) is now extinct; but his Lordship is succeeded in the
     ancient barony of Drelincourt (created by writ, 12th Henry II.) by
     CHARLES AUBREY, Esq. of Yatton, in Yorkshire, the representative of
     the younger branch of the family, who is now 21st Lord Drelincourt,
     and has just succeeded in establishing his title to the whole of
     the Yatton property, which about two years ago, it may be
     remembered, was recovered in a very extraordinary manner (which is
     now, we believe, the subject of judicial inquiry) by Tittlebat
     Titmouse, Esq., at present M.P. for Yatton. His Lordship (who is
     now in his thirty-sixth year) took a double first-class at Oxford,
     and sat for several years as member for Yatton. He married, in
     18--, Agnes, sole daughter and heiress of the late Colonel St.
     Clair, who fell in the Peninsular war, and has issue by her
     Ladyship two children, Charles, born in 18--, and Agnes, born in
     18--. His Lordship has no brothers, and only one sister, Miss
     Catharine Aubrey, who is understood to be affianced to the Hon. Mr.
     Delamere, the only son and heir of the Right Hon. Lord De la

Till Yatton could be got ready for their reception, they had taken, as a
temporary residence, a furnished house in Dover Street, only a few
doors' distance from that of Lord De la Zouch; and on his arrival from
Poppleton Hall, Lord Drelincourt found Lady Drelincourt and his sister
had not yet returned from their afternoon's drive. When they drew up to
the door, however, the closed shutters and drawn blinds apprised them of
the melancholy event which had taken place. On hearing that Lord
Drelincourt was alone in the drawing-room, where he had been for upwards
of an hour, they rushed hastily up-stairs, and in a few moments Lord and
Lady Drelincourt had fondly embraced each other, and Miss Aubrey, full
of eager affection, had embraced both of them; and then, quitting the
room, quickly returned with Charles and Agnes, now--little unconscious
creatures!--the Honorable Charles and Honorable Agnes Aubrey. Surely it
was not to be expected that any of them should entertain very poignant
feelings of sorrow for the death of an individual who had ever totally
estranged himself from them, and treated every member of their family
with the most offensive and presumptuous insolence--with the bitterest
contempt; who, when he knew that they were destitute and all but
perishing, had kept cruelly aloof as ever, without once extending
towards them a helping hand. Still they had regarded the afflicting
circumstances which attended, and hastened, their lofty kinsman's death,
with sincere commiseration for one so weak and misguided, and whose
pride had had, indeed, so signal and fearful a fall. These were topics
which afforded scope for sad but instructive conversation and
reflection; and before Lord and Lady Drelincourt had laid their heads on
their pillows that night, they again devoutly returned thanks to Heaven
for the happy restoration which had been vouchsafed to _them_, and
offered sincere and fervent prayers for its guidance in every stage of
their future career.

This event, of course, threw them again, for a time, into mourning. Lord
Drelincourt attended the funeral of the late earl, which took place at
Poppleton, and was plain and private; and a few days afterwards,
yearning to see Yatton once again, and anxious also to give his personal
directions concerning very many matters which required them, he accepted
an offer of a seat in the carriage of Lord De la Zouch, who was going
down for a few days to Fotheringham on business of importance. Lord
Drelincourt agreed to take up his abode at Fotheringham during his brief
stay in Yorkshire, and to give no one at Yatton a previous intimation of
his intention to pay a visit to them--purposing, the morning after his
arrival at Fotheringham, to ride over quietly, alone and unexpectedly,
to the dear place of his birth, and scene of such signal trials and
expected joys of restoration and reunion.

'Twas about four o'clock in the afternoon of a frosty day in the early
part of December; and Dr. Tatham was sitting alone in his
plainly-furnished and old-fashioned little study, beside the table on
which Betty, his old housekeeper, had just laid his scanty show of
tea-things--the small, quaintly-figured round silver tea-pot having been
the precious gift, more than twenty years before, of old Madam Aubrey.
On his knee lay open a well-worn parchment-covered Elzevir edition of
_Thomas à Kempis_, a constant companion of the doctor's, which he had
laid down a few moments before, in a fit of musing--and was gazing in
the direction of the old yew-tree, a portion of which, with a gray
crumbling corner of his church, at only some two dozen yards' distance,
was visible through the window. On one side of his book-shelves hung his
surplice on one peg, and on another his gown; and on the other his rusty
shovel-hat and walking-stick. Over the mantelpiece were suspended two
small black profile likenesses of old Squire Aubrey and Madam Aubrey,
which they had themselves presented to the doctor nearly thirty years
before. Though it was very cold, there was but a handful of fire in the
little grate; and this, together with the modicum of brown sugar in the
sugar-basin, and about two small spoonfuls of tea, which he had just
before measured out of his little tea-caddy, into the cup, in order to
be ready to put it into his tea-pot, when Betty should have brought in
the kettle--and four thin slices of scantily buttered brown bread--all
this, I say, seemed touching evidence of the straitened circumstances in
which the poor doctor was placed. His clothes, too, very clean, very
threadbare, and of a very rusty hue--down even to his gaiters--suggested
the same reflection to the beholder. The five pounds which he had
scraped together for purchasing a new suit, Mr. Titmouse, it will be
remembered, had succeeded in cheating him out of. His hair was of a
silvery white; and though he was evidently a little cast down in
spirits, the expression of his countenance was as full of benevolence
and piety as ever. He was, moreover, considerably thinner than when he
was last presented to the reader; and well he might be, for he had
since undergone great privation and anxiety. He--_he_, peaceful
unoffending old soul!--had long been followed with pertinacious
bitterness and persecution by two new inhabitants of the village; viz.
the Rev. Smirk Mudflint and Mr. Bloodsuck, junior. The former had
obtained a lease from Mr. Titmouse of the little structure which had
formerly been Miss Aubrey's school, and had turned it into an Unitarian
chapel--himself and family residing in part of the building. He preached
every Sunday _at_ Dr. Tatham, turning his person, his habits, his
office, and his creed into bitter ridicule; and repeatedly challenging
him, from his pulpit, to an open discussion of the points in difference
between them! By means of his "moral" discourses every Sunday morning,
and his "political" discourses every Sunday evening--and which he used
all his powers to render palatable to those who heard him--he was
undoubtedly seducing away many of the parishioners from the parish
church; a matter which began visibly to prey upon the doctor's spirits.
Then Mr. Bloodsuck, too, was carrying on the campaign briskly against
the parson--against whom he had got a couple of actions pending at the
suit of parishioners, in respect of his right to certain tithes which
had never before been questioned by any one. Only that very day the
impudent jackanapes--for that, I am sure, you would have pronounced Mr.
Barnabas Bloodsuck at first sight--had sent a very peremptory and
offensive letter to the doctor, which had been designed by its writer to
have the effect of drawing him into a sudden compromise; whereas the
doctor, with a just sense and spirit, had resolved never in any way to
suffer his rights, and those of his successors, to be infringed. Many
and many a weary walk to Mr. Parkinson's office at Grilston had these
persecuting proceedings of Bloodsuck's cost the doctor, and also
considerable and unavoidable expense, which, had he been in any other
hands than those of good Mr. Parkinson, must by this time have involved
the doctor in utter ruin, and broken his heart. Still generous according
to his means, the good soul had, on his last visit to Grilston,
purchased and brought home with him a couple of bottles of port-wine,
which he intended to take on Christmas-day to the poor brother parson in
an adjoining parish, to whom I alluded in the early part of this
history. All these matters might well occasion Dr. Tatham anxiety, and
frequent fits of despondency, such as that under which he was suffering,
when he heard a gentle tapping at his door, while sitting in his study
as I have described him. "Come in, Betty," quoth the doctor, in his
usual kind and quiet way, supposing it to be his old housekeeper with
his tea-kettle; for she had gone with it a few minutes before across the
yard to the well, leaving the front door ajar till her return. As he
uttered the words above-mentioned, the door opened. He sat with his back
towards it; and finding, after a pause, that no one entered or spoke, he
turned round in his chair to see the reason why; and beheld a gentleman
standing there, dressed in deep mourning, and gazing at him with an
expression of infinite tenderness and benignity. The doctor was a little
of a believer in the reality of spiritual appearances; and, taken quite
off his guard, jumped out of his chair, and, stared for a second or two
in mute amazement, if not even apprehension, at the figure standing
silently in the doorway.

"Why! Bless--bless my soul--can it be"--he stammered, and the next
instant perceived that it was indeed, as I may say, the _desire of his
eyes_--Mr. Aubrey, now become, as the doctor had a few days before heard
from Mr. Parkinson, Lord Drelincourt.

"Oh my dear, old, revered friend! Do I see you once again?" exclaimed
his Lordship, in a tremulous voice, as he stepped hastily up to the
doctor, with his arms extended, and, grasping the hand of the doctor
with vehement pressure, they both gazed at each other for some moments
in silence, and with the tears in their eyes--Lord Drelincourt's soul
touched within him by the evident alteration which had taken place in
Dr. Tatham's appearance.

"And is it indeed true, my dear friend?" at length faltered the doctor,
still gazing fondly at Lord Drelincourt.

"It _is_ your old friend, Charles Aubrey! dearest doctor! God bless you,
revered friend and instructor of my youth!" said Lord Drelincourt, with
a full heart and a quivering lip: "I am come, you see, once more to
Yatton, and first of all to you; and in your presence to acknowledge the
goodness of God, for He has been very good to me!"

"The Lord God of thy fathers bless thee!" exclaimed Dr. Tatham,
solemnly; and Lord Drelincourt reverently received the benison. A few
moments afterwards he sat down, opposite the doctor, in the only spare
chair there was in the room, and they were instantly engaged in eager
and affectionate converse.

"Why, Mr. Aubrey," quoth the doctor, with a smile, but also a slight
embarrassment, "I had forgotten--Lord Drelincourt, how strangely it

"Yes, it is true, such is now my name; but, believe me, I am not yet
reconciled to it, especially, dearest doctor, in your presence! Shall I
ever be as happy as Lord Drelincourt as I have been as Charles Aubrey?"

"Ay, ay, dear friend, to be sure you will! 'Tis in the course of God's
providence that you are raised to distinction, as well as restored to
that which is your own! Long may you live to enjoy both! and, I hope,
_at Yatton_," he added earnestly.

"Oh, can you doubt it, dearest doctor? My heart is only now recovering
the wounds it received in being torn from this dear spot!"

"And Mrs. Au--I mean Lady Drelincourt. God Almighty bless her! and
Kate--sweet, dear Kate! Well! _She_ has not changed her name yet, I

"Not _yet_," replied Lord Drelincourt, with a cheerful smile.

"And do you mean to say that you are all coming to old Yatton again?"
inquired the doctor, rubbing his hands.

"Coming to Yatton again? 'Tis a little paradise to all of us! Here we
wish to live; and when we follow those who have gone before us, _there_
we wish to rest!" said Lord Drelincourt, solemnly, and he pointed
towards the churchyard, with a look that suddenly filled the doctor's
eyes with tears, for it brought full before them the funeral of Mrs.

"I have something for you," said Lord Drelincourt, after a pause, taking
out his pocket-book, "from my wife and sister, who charged me to give it
into your own hands with their fervent love;" and he gave two letters
into the doctor's hands, which trembled with emotion as he received

"I shall read them by-and-by, when I am alone," said he, as, gazing
fondly at the superscriptions, he placed the two letters on the

"Come in! come in!" quoth the doctor, quickly, hearing a knocking at the
door--"that's Betty. You have not forgotten old Betty, have you?" said
he to Lord Drelincourt, as the good old woman opened the door in a
flustered manner, with the kettle in her hands, and dropped an awful
courtesy on seeing Lord Drelincourt, whom she instantly recognized.

"Well, Betty," said he, with infinite cordiality, "I am glad to see you
again, and to hear that you are well!"

"Yes, sir!--if you please, sir!--thank you, sir!" stammered Betty,
courtesying repeatedly, and standing, with the kettle in her hand, as if
she did not intend to come in with it.

"That will do, Betty," quoth the doctor, looking delighted at Lord
Drelincourt's good-natured greeting of his faithful old servant; "bring
it in! And Thomas is quite well, too," he added, turning to Lord
Drelincourt--Thomas being Betty's husband--and both of whom had lived
with the doctor for some eighteen or twenty years--Thomas's business
being to look after the doctor's nag while he kept one, and now to do
odd jobs about the little garden and paddock. After one or two kind
inquiries about him, "I must join you, Doctor--if you please," said Lord
Drelincourt, as Betty put the kettle on the fire; "you'll give me a cup
of tea"----

"A cup of tea? Ay, to be sure! Betty! here," said he, beckoning her to
him, and whispering to her to bring out the best tea-things, and to run
out into the village for a couple of tea-cakes, and a little more tea,
and some eggs and butter, and half a pound of lump sugar--for the doctor
was bent upon doing the thing splendidly, on so great an occasion; but
Lord Drelincourt, who overheard him, and who had asked to take tea with
him only that he might not delay the doctor's doing so--(for Lord
Drelincourt had not yet dined)--interposed, declaring that if anything
of the sort were done, he would leave immediately; adding, that he
expected his horses at the door every moment, and also that Lord De la
Zouch (who had come over with him from Fotheringham, and had come down
to the Hall) would presently call to join him on his way home. This
secured Lord Drelincourt's wishes, and you might within a few minutes'
time have seen him partaking of the doctor's humble beverage, while they
continued in eager and earnest conversation. Lord Drelincourt had that
morning had a very long interview with Mr. Parkinson, from whom he had
learned the life of persecution which the poor doctor had led for the
last two years--listening to it with the keenest indignation. The doctor
himself softened down matters a good deal in the account which _he_ gave
Lord Drelincourt--but his Lordship saw at once that the case had not
been in the least overstated by Mr. Parkinson; and, without intimating
anything of his intentions to the doctor, resolved upon forthwith taking
certain steps which, had they known them, would have made two
conspicuous persons in the village shake in their shoes.

"What's that, Doctor?" suddenly inquired Lord Drelincourt, hearing a
noise as of shouting outside. Now, the fact was, that the appearance of
Lord Drelincourt, and Lord De la Zouch, and their two grooms, as they
galloped down the village on their way to the Hall, (from which Lord
Drelincourt, as I have stated, had walked to the vicarage, whither he
was to be followed by Lord De la Zouch,) had created a pretty sensation
in the neighborhood; for Lord Drelincourt, rapidly as he rode in, was
soon recognized by those who were about, and the news spread like
wildfire that "my Lord the squire" had come back, and was then at
Yatton--a fact which seemed to be anything but gratifying to Messrs.
Bloodsuck and Mudflint, who were talking together, at the moment when
Lord Drelincourt asked the question of Dr. Tatham, at the door of Mr.
Mudflint, whose face seemed to have got several degrees sallower within
a quarter of an hour, while Mr. Bloodsuck looked quite white. There was
a continually increasing crowd about the front of the vicarage; and as
they got more and more assured of the fact that Lord Drelincourt was at
that moment with Dr. Tatham, they began to shout "hurrah!" So----

"What's that?" inquired Lord Drelincourt.

"Ah!--I know!" cried the doctor, with not a little excitement; "they've
found you out, bless them!--hark!--I have not heard such a thing I don't
know how long--I wonder they don't set the bells a-ringing!--Why, bless
me! there's a couple of hundred people before the door!" exclaimed he,
after having stepped into the front room, and reconnoitred through the
window. Though the gloom of evening was rapidly deepening, Lord
Drelincourt also perceived the great number that had collected together,
and his eye having caught the approaching figure of Lord De la Zouch,
for whom, and the grooms, the crowd made way, he prepared to leave. Lord
De la Zouch dismounted, and, entering the vicarage, shook hands with the
utmost cordiality with the little doctor, whom he invited to dine and
sleep at Fotheringham on the morrow, promising to send the carriage for
him. The little doctor scarce knew whether he stood on his head or his
heels, in the flurry of the moment; and when he and Lord Drelincourt
appeared at the door, and a great shout burst from those present, it was
with difficulty that he could resist his inclination to join in it. It
was growing late, however, and they had a long ride before them: so Lord
Drelincourt, having stood for some moments bareheaded and bowing to all
around, and shaking hands with those who pressed nearest, following the
example of Lord De la Zouch, mounted his horse, and waving his hand
affectionately to Dr. Tatham, rode off amid the renewed cheers of the
crowd. From that moment worthy little Dr. Tatham had regained all his
former ascendency at Yatton!

As the two peers sat together over their wine that evening, the fate of
the Rev. Mr. Mudflint, and Barnabas Bloodsuck, junior, "gentleman, &c.,"
was sealed. The more that they talked together about the wanton and
bitter insult and persecution which those worthies had so long
inflicted, upon one, surely, of the most inoffensive, peaceable, and
benevolent beings upon the earth, Dr. Tatham, the higher rose their
indignation, the sterner their determination to punish and remove his
enemies. The next morning Lord De la Zouch wrote up to town, directing
instructions to be given to Mr. Winnington, who had conducted the
proceedings in the actions of Wigley _v._ Mudflint, and Wigley _v._
Bloodsuck, to issue execution forthwith. Lord Drelincourt also did his
part. Almost every house in the village was his property, and he
instructed Mr. Parkinson immediately to take steps towards summarily
ejecting the two aforesaid worthies from the premises they were
respectively occupying--convinced that by so doing he was removing two
principal sources of filth and mischief from the village and
neighborhood; for they were the founders and most active members of a
sort of spouting-club for radical and infidel speechifying, and which
club their presence and influence alone kept together.

Early the next morning Lord Drelincourt returned to the Hall, having
appointed several persons to meet him there, on business principally
relating to the restoration of the Hall to its former state, as far as
was practicable; at all events, to render it fit for the reception of
the family within as short a period as possible. According to an
arrangement he had made before quitting town, he found, on reaching the
Hall, a gentleman from London, of great taste and experience, to whose
hands was to be intrusted the entire superintendence of the contemplated
reparations and restorations, both internal and external, regard being
had to the antique and peculiar character of the mansion--it being his
Lordship's anxious wish that Lady Drelincourt and Miss Aubrey, on their
return, should see it, as nearly as might be, in the condition in which
they had left it. Fortunately, the little Vandal who had just been
expelled from it had done little or no permanent or substantial injury.
There was the same great irregular mass of old brickwork, with its huge
stacks of chimneys, just as they had ever known it, only requiring a
little pointing. That fine old relic, the castellated gateway, clad in
ivy, with its gray, crumbling, stone-capped battlements, and escutcheon
over the point of the arch, had suffered no change; even the quaint,
weather-beaten sun-dial stood in the centre of the grass-plot, within
the court-yard, as they had left it. The yew-trees still lined the high
walls which surrounded the court-yard; and the fine old clump of cedars
of Lebanon was there--green, stately, and solemn, as in days of yore.
The moment, however, that you passed the threshold of the Hall, you
sighed at the change that had taken place. Where were now the armed
figures, the pikes, bows, guns, spears, swords, and battle-axes, and the
quaint old pictures of the early ancestors of the family of the Aubreys?
Not a trace to be seen of them; and it gave Lord Drelincourt a pang as
his eye travelled round the bare walls. But the case was not desperate.
All the aforesaid pictures still lay rolled up in the lumber-room, where
they had continued as articles utterly valueless ever since Mr. Titmouse
had ordered them to be taken down. They had been brought from their
obscurity, and now lay on the floor, having been carefully unrolled and
examined by the man of taste, who undertook quickly to remove the
incipient ravage of mould and dirt at present visible, and to have them
suspended in their former position, in such a state as that only the
closest scrutiny could detect any difference between their present and
former condition. The other relics of antiquity--viz. the armor--had
been purchased by the late Lady Stratton at one of the sales of
Titmouse's effects, occasioned by an execution against him, and they
still were at her late residence, and of course at Lord Drelincourt's
disposal, as her Ladyship's administrator. These, on his seeing them,
the man of taste pronounced to be very fine and valuable specimens of
old English armor, and undertook to have them also in their old places,
and in a far better condition even than before. Lord Drelincourt sighed
repeatedly as he went over every one of the bare and deserted rooms in
the mansion--nothing being left except the beautiful antique
mantelpieces of inlaid oak, and the oak-panelling of the different
apartments, which, as a part of the freehold, could not be seized as the
personal property of Mr. Titmouse. His creditors had swept off, from
time to time, everything that had belonged to him. The hall, the
dining-room, breakfast-room, drawing-rooms, the library, the bedrooms,
dressing-rooms, boudoirs of Mrs. Aubrey and his sister, the long
galleries, the rooms in which Charles and Agnes used to romp and play
about--were all now bare and desolate, and the echoes of their footfalls
and voices, in passing through them, struck Lord Drelincourt's heart
with sadness. But all this was to be easily and quickly remedied; for a
_carte blanche_ was given to the man of taste at his elbow, who
undertook within two, or at most three months' time, to leave nothing
for the eye or the heart to sigh for--guided, moreover, as all his
movements would be, by those who were so deeply interested in their
success. On reaching the two rooms in the north-eastern extremities of
the building, the windows of which commanded a view of nearly
three-fourths of the estate, he gazed around him in silence,--one which
those beside him thoroughly appreciated. _There_ was nothing to shock
the eye or pain the heart; for as Mr. Titmouse had been restrained from
cutting timber, behold! what a sight would be seen when, in the
approaching spring, the groves and forests, stretching far and wide
before him, should have put on all their bravery! And he found on
inquiry, and going over a portion of the grounds, that Mr. Waters and
Dickons had kept pretty sharp eyes about them, and maintained everything
in infinitely better condition than could have been expected. Mr. Tonson
had, moreover, looked very keenly after the game; and Pumpkin undertook,
by spring-time, to make his gardens and greenhouses a sight delightful
to behold. In a word, Lord Drelincourt left everything under the
management of the London man of taste and of Mr. Griffiths, the former
being guided, of course, in the purchase of the leading articles of
furniture in town, from time to time, by the tastes of Lord and Lady
Drelincourt, and Miss Aubrey. Mr. Griffiths was desired to re-engage as
many of the former servants of Mr. Aubrey as he could; and informed Lord
Drelincourt of two, in particular, who had signified their anxious wish
to him on the subject; viz. Mrs. Jackson, the housekeeper, who had lived
in that capacity with a brother of hers at York, on quitting the service
of Mrs. Aubrey. She was, of course, to be immediately reinstated in her
old place. The other was Harriet, Miss Aubrey's maid, who, it may be
recollected, was so disconsolate at being left behind by Miss Aubrey,
who had secured her a place at the late Lady Stratton's, at whose house
she still lived, with several of the other servants, the establishment
not having been yet finally broken up. The poor girl very nearly went
distracted with joy on receiving, a short time afterwards, an
intimation, that as soon as she had got her clothes in readiness, she
might set off for town, and enter at once upon her old duties as lady's
maid to Miss Aubrey. Finding, on inquiry, that there was not one single
tenant upon the estate, whose rent had not been raised above that which
had been paid in Mr. Aubrey's time, he ordered the rent of all to be
reduced to their former amount, and inquiries to be made after several
respectable tenants, whom the extortion of Mr. Titmouse and his agents
had driven from their farms, with a view of restoring them, in lieu of
their very questionable successors. Having thus set everything in train
for a restoration to the former happy and contented state of things
which prevailed at Yatton before the usurpation of Mr. Titmouse, Lord
Drelincourt returned to town; but first left a hundred pounds in Dr.
Tatham's hands, to be distributed as he thought proper among the poorer
villagers and neighbors on Christmas-eve; and also insisted on the
doctor's acceptance, himself, of fifty pounds in advance, on account of
his salary, a hundred a-year, as chaplain to Lord Drelincourt, which
appointment the doctor received from his Lordship's own hands, and with
not a little delight and pride. His Lordship, moreover, desired Mr.
Parkinson to hold him responsible for any little demand which might be
due from the poor doctor, in respect of the litigation in which he had
been involved; and thus Dr. Tatham was made a free man of again, with no
further question about his right to tithes, or any more of the
interruption of any of the sources of his little income, to which he had
lately been subjected; and with fifty pounds, moreover, at his absolute
disposal. The doctor made his appearance on Christmas-day in a very fine
suit of black, new hat and all, and had a very full attendance at
church, and, moreover, a very cheerful and attentive one.

A day or two after Lord Drelincourt's return to town, Messrs. Mudflint
and Bloodsuck received a very pressing invitation to York Castle, whose
hospitable owners would receive no refusal. In plain English, they were
both taken in execution on the same day, by virtue of two writs of
_capias ad satisfaciendum_, for the damages and costs due to Mr. Wigley;
viz. £2,960, 16s. 4d. from Smirk Mudflint, and £2,760, 19s. from
Barnabas Bloodsuck, junior. Poor Mr. Mudflint! In vain--in vain had
been his Sunday evenings' lectures for the last three months, on the
errors which pervaded all systems of jurisprudence which annexed any
pecuniary liabilities to political offences, instead of leaving the evil
to be redressed by the spontaneous good sense of society. A single tap
of the sheriff's officer on the eloquent lecturer's shoulder, upset all
his fine speculations; just as Corporal Trim said, that one shove of the
bayonet was worth all Dr. Slop's fine metaphysical discourses upon the
art of war!

In the next _Yorkshire Stingo_, (which, alas! between ourselves, was
very nearly on its last legs,) there appeared one of, I must own, the
most magnificent articles of the kind which I ever read, upon the
atrocious and unparalleled outrage on the liberties of the subject,
which had been committed in the incarceration of the two patriots--the
martyr-patriots--Mudflint and Bloodsuck. On that day, it said, the sun
of liberty had set on England forever--in fact, for it was a time for
speaking out--it had gone down in blood. The enlightened patriot,
Mudflint, had at length fallen before the combined forces of bigotry and
tyranny, which were now, in the shape of the Church of England and the
aristocracy, riding rough-shod over the necks of Englishmen. In his
person lay prostrate the sacred rights of conscience, and the
inalienable liberty of Englishmen. He had stood forth, nobly foremost,
in the fray between the people and their oppressors; and he had
fallen!--but he felt how _dulce et decorum_ it was, _pro patriâ mori_!
He felt prouder and happier in his bonds than could ever feel the
splendid fiend at F----m, in all his blood-stained magnificence! It then
called upon the people, in vivid and spirit-stirring language, to rise
against their tyrants like one man, and the days of their oppressors
were numbered; and stated that the first blow was already struck against
the black and monstrous fabric of priestcraft and tyranny; for that a
SUBSCRIPTION had been already opened on behalf of Mr. Mudflint and Mr.
Bloodsuck, for the purpose of discharging the amount of debt and costs
for which they had been so infamously deprived of their liberty. An
unprecedented sensation had--it seemed--been already excited; and a
reference to the advertising columns of their paper would show that the
work went bravely on. The friends of religious and civil liberty all
over the country were roused; they had but to continue their exertions,
and the majesty of the people would be heard in a voice of thunder. This
article produced an immense sensation in that part of York Castle where
the patriots were confined, and in the immediate neighborhood of the
office of the _Yorkshire Stingo_, (in fact, it had emanated from the
masterly pen of Mudflint himself.) Sure enough, on referring to the
advertising columns of the _Stingo_, the following did appear fully to
warrant the tone of indignant exultation indulged in by the editor:--

     Subscriptions already received (through C. Woodlouse) towards
     raising a fund for the liberation of the Reverend Smirk Mudflint
     and Barnabas Bloodsuck, junior, Esq., at present confined in York

     An ardent admirer of the talents and character
       of the Reverend Smirk Mudflint                    £200 0 0
     Several friends of the Rev. S. M                     150 0 0
     Anonymous                                            100 0 0
     John Brown, Esq.                                      50 0 0
     James Smith, Esq.                                     50 0 0
     John Jones, Esq.                                      50 0 0
     Sir Harkaway Rotgut Wildfire, Bart.                   50 0 0

Now, to conceal nothing from the reader, I regret being obliged to
inform him that, with the exception of Sir H. R. Wildfire, Bart., the
above noble-spirited individuals, whom no one had ever heard of in or
near to Grilston, or, in fact, anywhere else, had their local
habitation and their name only in the fertile brain of the Rev. Mr.
Mudflint; who had hit upon this device as an effectual one for _getting
up the steam_, (to use a modern and significant expression,) and giving
that mighty impulse which was requisite to burst the bonds of the two
imprisoned patriots.

Sir Harkaway's name was in the list, to be sure, but that was on the
distinct understanding that he was not to be called on to _pay_ one
farthing; the bargain being, that if he would give the sanction of his
name to Messrs. Mudflint and Bloodsuck, they would allow him to have the
credit, _gratis_, of so nobly supporting the Liberal cause.

The following, however, were real and _bonâ fide_ names and
subscriptions collected, with immense exertion, during the ensuing three
weeks; and though, when annexed to the foregoing flourishing
commencement of the list, they give it, I must own, a somewhat tadpole
appearance, yet here they are:--

     Subscriptions already received                      £650  0  0
     Cephas Woodlouse, Esq.                                 1  1  0
     Barnabas Bloodsuck, Esq., senior                       1  1  0
     Gargle Glister, Esq.                                   0 10  0
     Going Gone, Esq.                                       0  7  0
     Simon Snooks, Esq.                                     0  5  0
     "Tyrants, beware!!"                                    0  2  6
     "One who is ready to ascend the scaffold, if required" 0  2  0
     "Behemoth"                                             0  1  6
     "A foe to priestcraft"                                 0  1  0
     "Britons NEVER shall be slaves!"                       0  0  9
     "Down with the aristocracy!"                           0  0  6
     "Free inquiry"                                         0  0  4
     "Brutus and Cassius"                                   0  0  4
     "Virtue in prison, _better than vice in a castle_"     0  0  3
     "Defiance!"                                            0  0  2
     Small sums                                             0  0  1-3/4
     Making a grand total of sums actually received
     by the editor of the _Yorkshire Stingo_, of           £3 13  5-3/4

Certainly this was "not as good as had been anticipated"--as the editor
subsequently owned in his leading article--and asked, with sorrowful
indignation, how the people could expect any one to be true to them if
they were not true to themselves! "Our cheeks," said he, "tingle with
shame on looking at the paltry list of additional contributions--'Oh,
lame and impotent conclusion' to so auspicious a commencement!"--This
was very fine indeed. It came very well from Mr. Woodlouse in his
_editorial_ capacity; but Mr. Woodlouse, in his capacity as a man of
business, was a very different person. Alas! that it should fell to my
lot to inquire, in my turn, with sorrowful indignation--was there NO
_honor among thieves_? But, to come to the point, it fell out in this
wise. Patriots must _live_, even in prison; and Mr. Mudflint, being
sorely pressed, wrote a letter to his "Dear Woodlouse," asking for the
amount of subscriptions received up to that date. He received, in
return, a most friendly note, addressed "My dear Mudflint," full of
civilities and friendly anxieties--hoping the air of the Castle agreed
with him--assuring him how he was missed from the Liberal circle, and
that he would be welcomed with open arms if ever he got
out--and--enclosing a nicely drawn out _debtor_ and _creditor account_!!

     The Rev. Smirk Mudflint and Barnabas Bloodsuck, Esq., in account
     with Cephas Woodlouse, [in which every farthing of the above
     sum of £3, 13s. 5-3/4d. was faithfully set down to the _credit_ side,
     to be sure; but, alas!--on the DEBIT side stood the following!]--

     To advertising lists of Subscriptions in _Y. S._
       (three weeks)                                         £3 15 6
     To Circulars, Hand-bills, &c. (as per order)             2 13 9
     Postage and Sundries                                     0  4 3
                                                             £6 13 6
     By cash, amount of Subscriptions received                3 13 5-3/4
     Balance due to C. W                                     £3  0 0-1/4

On perusing the above document, so pregnant with perfidy and extortion,
Mr. Mudflint put it into his pocket, and, slipping off to his
sleeping-room, closed the door, took off his garters, and, with very
deadly intentions towards himself was tying them together--casting a
ghastly glance, occasionally, at a great hook in the wall, which he
could just reach by standing on a stool--when he was discovered, and
removed with his hands fastened behind him, "to the strong room," where
he was firmly attached to a heavy wooden bench, and left to his
meditations. Solitude and reflection restored the afflicted captive to
something like composure and resignation; and after meditating long and
deeply on the selfishness and worthlessness of worldly friendship, his
thoughts gradually turned towards a _better place_--a haven of
rest--viz. the Insolvent Debtors' Court.

The effect of this infamous treatment upon his fellow-captive,
Bloodsuck, was quite different. Having sworn one single prodigious oath,
he enclosed the above account, and sent it off to his father, in the
following pithy letter:--

                                       "_York Castle, Dec. 29, 18--_

     "DEAR FATHER,--Read the enclosed! and then _sell up
     Woodlouse_.--Your dutiful Son,

                                                 B. BLOODSUCK, Jun."

The old gentleman, on reading this laconic epistle, and its enclosure,
immediately issued execution against Woodlouse, on a cognovit of his for
£150, which he had given to the firm of Bloodsuck and Son for the
balance of a bill of theirs for defending him unsuccessfully against an
action for an infamous libel. Nobody would bid anything for his moribund
"_Stingo_;" he had no other effects, and was immediately taken in
execution, and sent to York Castle, where he, Bloodsuck, and Mudflint,
whenever they met, could hardly be restrained from tearing one
another's eyes out.

'Tis thus that reptiles of this sort prey upon each other!--To "begin
nothing of which you have not well considered the end," is a saying, the
propriety of which every one recognizes when he hears it enunciated, but
no one thinks of in the conduct of actual life; and what follows, will
illustrate the truth of my reflection. It seemed a capital notion of
Mudflint's to send forth such a splendid list of sham subscribers, and
it was natural enough for Mr. Bloodsuck to assent to it, and Mr.
Woodlouse to become the party to it which he did--but who could have
foreseen the consequences? A quarrel among rogues is almost always
attended with ugly and unexpected consequences to themselves. Now, here
was a mortal feud between Mr. Woodlouse on the one side, and Messrs.
Mudflint and Bloodsuck on the other; and in due time they all applied,
as a matter of course, for relief under the Insolvent Debtors' Act.
Before they got to the question concerning the nature of the debt--viz.
the penalties in an action for the odious offence of bribery--in the
case of Mr. Mudflint, he had to encounter a very serious and truly
unexpected obstacle--viz. he had given in, with the minutest accuracy,
the items of the subscription, amounting to £3, 13s. 5-3/4d., but had
observed the most mysterious and (as he might have supposed) politic
silence concerning _the greater sum_ of £650, and which had been brought
under the notice of the creditors of Messrs. Mudflint and Bloodsuck by
Mr. Woodlouse. On the newspaper acknowledging the receipt of that large
sum being produced in court, Mr. Mudflint made very light of the matter,
simply smiling and shrugging his shoulders; but when Mr. Woodlouse was
called as a witness, you may guess the consternation of Mr. Mudflint, on
hearing him swear that he had certainly never himself received the
money, but had no doubt of Mr. Mudflint having done so--which, in fact,
had always been his impression; for when Mr. Mudflint had furnished him
with the list, which he handed up to court, in Mudflint's handwriting,
he inserted it in his paper as a matter of course--taking it to be a
_bonâ fide_ and matter-of-fact transaction. The evident consternation of
Mudflint satisfied all who heard him of his villany, and of the truth
and honesty of Woodlouse, who stuck to this new version of the affair
manfully. But this opened quite a new view of his position to Mr.
Bloodsuck; who, on finding that he must needs adopt either Mudflint's or
Woodlouse's account of the matter, began to reflect upon the
disagreeable effect it would have, thereafter, upon the connection and
character of the respectable firm of Bloodsuck and Son, for him to
appear to have been a party to such a shocking fraud upon the public, as
a sham list of subscribers, and to so large an amount. He therefore
swore stoutly that he, too, had always been under the impression that
Mr. Mudflint had received the £650!! and very much regretted to find
that that gentleman must have been appropriating so large a sum to
himself, instead of being now ready to divide it between their
respective creditors. This tallied with Woodlouse's account of the
matter; and infinitely disgusted was that gentleman at finding himself
so cleverly outwitted by Bloodsuck. On this Mudflint turned with fury
upon Bloodsuck, and he upon Mudflint, who abused Woodlouse; and
eventually the commissioners, unable to believe any of them, remanded
them all, as a pack of rogues, till the next court day; addressing a
very stern warning to Mr. Mudflint, concerning the serious consequences
of his persisting in fraudulently concealing his property from his
creditors. By the time of his being next brought up, the persecuted
Mudflint had bethought himself of a bold mode of corroborating the
truth of his explanation of that accursed first list of
subscribers--viz. summoning Sir Harkaway Rotgut Wildfire as a witness in
his behalf; whom he confidently asked whether, for all his name appeared
in the subscription list, he had really ever given one farthing of the
£50 there mentioned? Now, had our friend Mudflint been a long-headed
man, he would not have taken this step; for Sir Harkaway could never be
supposed capable of bringing himself to admit that he had been a party
to such a dirty deceit upon the public as he was now charged with. On a
careful consideration of the circumstances, therefore, Sir Harkaway,
having an eye solely to his own credit, first said, with a somewhat
haughty, but at the same time embarrassed air, that he was not in the
habit of allowing his name to appear in such lists without his having
actually paid the sum named, then, on being pressed, he swore that he
_thought_ he must have paid it; then, that he had very _little_ doubt on
the subject; then, that he had _no_ doubt on the matter at all; then,
that he knew that in point of fact he _had_ advanced the money; and
finally, that he then recollected all the circumstances most
distinctly!--On this complete confirmation of the roguery of Mudflint,
he was instantly reprimanded severely, and remanded indefinitely; the
whole court believing that he had appropriated to his own use every
farthing of the £650, defrauding even his fellow-prisoner, Mr.
Bloodsuck. It was a good while before Mudflint recovered from the
effects of this astounding conduct of Sir Harkaway. When his wits had
returned to him, he felt certain that, somewhere or other, he had a
letter from Sir Harkaway which would satisfy everybody of the very
peculiarly unpleasant position in which the worthy baronet had placed
himself. And sure enough, on desiring his wife to institute a rigorous
search among his papers, she succeeded in discovering the following
remarkable document, which she at once forwarded to her disconsolate

                                    "_View-Hallo Hall, 27th Dec. 18--._

     "I have a considerable regard for your services to liberty, (civil
     and religious,) and am willing to serve you in the way you wish.
     You may _put me down_, therefore, in the list for anything you
     please, as my name carries weight in the county--but, of course,
     you know better than to _kill your decoy duck_."
                             "Sir, your obedient servant,
                                                       "H. R. WILDFIRE.

     "The REV. S. MUDFLINT, &c., &c."

This unfortunate letter, in the first frenzy of his rage and exultation,
Mudflint instantly forwarded, with a statement of facts, to the editor
of the _True Blue_ newspaper, which carried it into every corner of the
county on the very next morning; and undoubtedly gave thereby a heavy
blow and a great discouragement to the Liberal cause all over Yorkshire;
for Sir Harkaway had always been looked upon as one of its very
stanchest and most powerful supporters.


Very shortly after Messrs. Mudflint and Bloodsuck had gone to pay this,
their long-expected visit, to the governor of York Castle, Mr. Parkinson
required possession of the residence of each of them, in Yatton, to be
delivered up to him on behalf of Lord Drelincourt, allowing a week's
time for the removal of the few effects of each; after which period had
elapsed, the premises in question were completely cleared of everything
belonging to their late odious occupants--who, in all human probability,
would, infinitely to the delight of Dr. Tatham and all the better sort
of the inhabitants, never again be there seen or heard of. In a similar
manner another crying nuisance--viz. the public-house known by the name
of The Toper's Arms--was got rid of; it having been resolved upon by
Lord Drelincourt, that there should be thenceforth but one in Yatton,
viz.,--the quiet, old, original Aubrey Arms, and which was quite
sufficient for the purposes of the inhabitants. Two or three other
persons who had crept into the village during the Titmouse dynasty were
similarly dealt with, infinitely to the satisfaction of those left
behind; and by Christmas-day the village was beginning to show signs of
a return to its former condition. The works going on at the Hall gave an
air of cheerful bustle and animation to the whole neighborhood, and
afforded extensive employment at a season of the year when it was most
wanted. The chapel and residence of the Rev. Mr. Mudflint underwent a
rapid and remarkable alteration. The fact was, that Mr. Delamere had
conceived the idea, which, with Lord Drelincourt's consent, he
proceeded to carry immediately into execution, of pulling down the
existing structure, and raising in its stead a very beautiful school,
and filling it with scholars, and providing a matron for it, by way of
giving a pleasant surprise to Kate on her return to Yatton. He engaged a
well-known architect, who submitted to him a plan of a very beautiful
little Gothic structure, adapted for receiving some eighteen or twenty
scholars, and also affording a permanent residence for the mistress. The
scheme being heartily approved of by Mr. Delamere and Dr. Tatham, whom
he had taken into his counsels in the affair, they received a pledge
that the school should be completed and fit for occupation within three
months' time. There was to be, in the front, a small and tasteful
tablet, bearing the inscription--

                             _=C. A.=_

The mistress of Kate's former school gladly relinquished a similar
situation which she held in another part of the county, in order to
return to her old one at Yatton; and Dr. Tatham was, in the first
instance, to select the scholars, who were to be clothed at Delamere's
expense, in the former neat and simple attire which had been adopted by
Miss Aubrey. How he delighted to think of the charming surprise which he
was thus preparing for his lovely mistress, and by which, at the same
time, he was securing for her a permanent and interesting memento in the

About this time there came a general election; the nation being
thoroughly disgusted with the character and conduct of a great number of
those who had, in the direful hubbub of the last election, contrived to
creep into the House of Commons. Public affairs were, moreover, getting
daily into a more deranged and dangerous condition: in fact, the
Ministers might have been compared to a parcel of little mischievous and
venturesome boys, who had found their way into the vast and complicated
machinery of some steam-engine, and set it into a fearful motion, which
they could neither understand nor govern; and from which they were only
too glad to escape safely--if possible--and make way for those whose
proper business it was to attend to it. All I have to do, however, at
present, with that most important political movement, is to state its
effect upon the representation of the borough of Yatton. Its late
member, Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse, it completely annihilated. Of course, he
made no attempt to stand again; nor, in fact, did any one in the same
interest. The _Yorkshire Stingo_, in its very last number, (of which
twelve only were sold,) tried desperately to get up a contest, but in
vain. Mr. Going Gone--and even Mr. Glister--were quite willing to have
stood--but, in the first place, neither of them could afford to pay his
share of the expenses of erecting the hustings; and, secondly, there
were insurmountable difficulties in the way of either of them procuring
even a pseudo qualification.[21] Besides, the more sensible of even the
strong Liberal electors had become alive to the exquisite absurdity of
returning such persons as Titmouse, or any one of his class. Then the
Quaint Club had ceased to exist, partly through the change of political
feeling which was rapidly gaining ground in the borough, and partly
through terror of the consequences of bribery, of which the miserable
fate of Mudflint and Bloodsuck was a fearful instance. In fact, the
disasters which had befallen those gentlemen, and Mr. Titmouse, had
completely paralyzed and crushed the Liberal party at Yatton, and
disabled it from ever attempting to contend against the paramount and
legitimate influence of Lord Drelincourt. The result of all this was,
the return, without a contest, of the Honorable Geoffrey Lovel Delamere
as the representative of the borough of Yatton in the new Parliament; an
event, which he penned his first frank[22] in communicating to a certain
young lady then in London. Nothing, doubtless, could be more delightful
for Mr. Delamere; but in what a direful predicament did the loss of his
seat place the late member, Mr. Titmouse! Just consider for a moment.
Mr. Flummery's promise to him of a "place," had vanished, of course,
into thin air--having answered its purpose of securing Mr. Titmouse's
vote up to the very moment of the dissolution; an event which Mr.
Flummery feared would tend to deprive himself of the honor of serving
his country in any official capacity for some twenty years to come--if
he should so long live, and the country so long survive his exclusion
from office. Foiled thus miserably in this quarter, Mr. Titmouse applied
himself with redoubled energy to render available his other resources,
and made repeated and most impassioned applications to Mr. O'Gibbet--who
never took, however, the slightest notice of any of them: considering
very justly that Mr. Titmouse was no more entitled to receive back, than
he had originally been to lend, the £500 in question. As for Mr.
O'Doodle and Mr. M'Squash they, like himself, were thrown out of
Parliament; and no one upon earth seemed able to tell whither they had
gone, or what had become of them, though there were a good many people
who made it their business to inquire into the matter very anxiously.
That quarter, therefore, seemed at present quite hopeless. Then there
was an Honorable youngster, who owed him a hundred pounds; but he, the
moment that he had lost his election, caused it to be given out to any
one interested in his welfare--and there suddenly appeared to be a great
many such--that he was gone on a scientific expedition to the South
Pole, from which he trusted, though he was not very sanguine, that he
should, one day, come back.--All these things drove Mr. Titmouse very
nearly beside himself--and certainly his position was a little
precarious. When Parliament was dissolved, he had in his pocket a couple
of sovereigns, the residue of a five-pound note, out of which, _mirabile
dictu_, he had actually succeeded in teasing Mr. Flummery on the evening
of the last division; and these two sovereigns, a shirt or two, the
articles actually on his person, and a copy of _Boxiana_, were all his
assets to meet liabilities of about a hundred thousand pounds; and the
panoply of Parliamentary "privilege" was dropping off, as it were,
hourly. In a very few days' time, in fact, he would be at the mercy of a
terrific host of creditors, who were waiting to spring upon his little
carcass like so many famished wolves. Every one of them had gone on with
his action up to _judgment_ for both debt and costs--and had his _Ca.
Sa._ and _Fi. Fa._[23] ready for use at an instant's notice. There were
three of these injured gentlemen--the three Jews, Israel Fang, Mordecai
Gripe, and Mephibosheth Mahar-shalal-hash-baz--who had entered into a
solemn vow with one another that they would never lose sight of Titmouse
for one moment, by day or by night, whatever pains or expense it might
cost them--until, the period of privilege having expired, they should be
at liberty to plunge their talons into the body of their little debtor.
There were, in fact, at least a hundred of his creditors ready to pounce
upon him the instant that he should make the slightest attempt to quit
the country. His lodgings consisted, at this time, of a miserable little
room in a garret at the back of a small house in Westminster, not far
from the Houses of Parliament, and of the two, inferior to the room in
Closet Court, Oxford Street, in which he was first presented to the
reader. Here he would often lie in bed half the day, drinking
weak--because he could not afford strong--brandy and water, and
endeavoring to consider "what the devil" he had done with the immense
sums of money which had been at his disposal--how he would act, if by
some lucky chance he should again become wealthy--and, in short, "what
the plague was now to become of him." What was he to do? Whither should
he go?--To sea?--Then it must be as a common sailor--if any one would
now take him! Or suppose he were to enlist? "Glorious war, and all
that," _et cetera_; but both these schemes pre-supposed his being able
to escape from his creditors, who, he had a vehement suspicion, were on
the look-out for him in all directions. Every review that he thus took
of his hopeless position and prospects, ended in a fiendish degree of
abhorrence of his parents, whose fault alone it was--in having brought
him into the world--that he had been thus turned out of a splendid
estate of ten thousand a-year, and made worse than a beggar. He would
sometimes spring out of bed, convulsively clutching his hands together,
and wishing himself beside their grave, to tear them out of it. He
thought of Mr. Quirk, Mr. Snap, and Mr. Tag-rag, with fury; but whenever
he adverted to Mr. Gammon, he shuddered all over, as if in the presence
of a baleful spectre. For all this, he preserved the same impudent strut
and swagger in the street which had ever distinguished him. Every day of
his life he walked towards the scenes of his recent splendor, which
seemed to attract him irresistibly. He would pass the late Earl of
Dreddlington's house, in Grosvenor Square, staring at it, and at the
hatchment suspended in front of it. Then he would wander on to Park
Lane, and gaze with unutterable feelings--poor little wretch!--at the
house which once had been his and Lady Cecilia's, but was then occupied
by a nobleman, whose tasteful equipage and servants were often standing
at and before the door. He would, on some of those occasions, feel as
though he should like to drop down dead, and be out of all his misery.
If ever he met and nodded, or spoke to those with whom he had till
recently been on the most familiar terms, he was encountered by a steady
stare, and sometimes a smile, which withered his very heart within him,
and made the last three years of his life appear to have been but a
dream. The little dinner that he ate--for he had almost entirely lost
his appetite through long addiction to drinking--was at a small tavern,
at only a few doors' distance from his lodgings, and where he generally
spent his evenings, for want of any other place to go to; and he formed
at length a sort of intimacy with a good-natured and very respectable
gentleman, who came nearly as often thither as Titmouse himself, and
would sit conversing with him very pleasantly over his cigar and a glass
of spirits and water. The oftener Titmouse saw him, the more he liked
him; and at length, taking him entirely into his confidence, unbosomed
himself concerning his unhappy present circumstances, and still more
unhappy prospects. This man was a brother of Mahar-shalal-hash-baz the
Jew, and a sheriff's officer, keeping watch upon his movements, night
and day, alternately with another who had not attracted Titmouse's
notice. After having canvassed several modes of disposing of himself,
none of which were satisfactory to either Titmouse or his friend, he
hinted that he was aware that there were lots of the enemy on the
look-out for him, and who would be glad to get at him; but he knew, he
said, that he was as safe as in a castle for some time yet to come; and
he also mentioned a scheme which had occurred to him--but this was all
in the strictest confidence--viz. to write to Lord Drelincourt, (who
was, after all, his relation of some sort or other, and ought to be
devilish glad to get into all his, Titmouse's, property so easily,) and
ask him for some situation under government, either in France, India, or
America, and give him a trifle to set him up at starting, and help him
to "nick the bums!" His friend listened attentively, and then protested
that he thought it an excellent idea, and Mr. Titmouse had better write
the letter and take it at once. Upon this Titmouse sent for pen, ink,
and paper; and while his friend leaned back calmly smoking his cigar,
and sipping his gin and water, poor Titmouse wrote the following epistle
to Lord Drelincourt--the very last which I shall be able to lay before
the reader:--

     "To the Right HON. LORD DRELINCOURT, My Lord--

     "Natrally situated In The Way which I Am With y^r lordship Most
     Unpleasantly Addressing you On A Matter of that Nature most Painful
     To My feelings Considering My surprising Forlorn Condition, And So
     Sudden Which Who c^d Have A Little While Ago suppos'd. Y^r Lordship
     (of Course) Is Aware That There Is No fault of Mine, But rather My
     Cursed Parents w^h Ought To be Ashamed of Themselves For Their
     Improper Conduct w^h Was never made Acquainted with till Lately
     with Great Greif. Alas. I Only Wish I Had Never Been Born, or Was
     Dead and Cumfortable in An Erly Grave. I Humbly, My Lord,
     Endevoured To Do My Duty when In the Upper Circles and Especially
     to the People, which I Always voted for, _Steady_, in The House,
     And Never Injured Any One, Much less you, My Lord, if You Will
     Believe Me, For I surely w^d. Not Have Come Upon You In the Way I
     did My Lord But Was obliged, And Regret, &c. I Am Most Truly
     Miserable, Being (Betwixt You and Me, my Lord) over Head and Years
     in debt, And Have Nothing To pay With and out of _The House_ So
     Have No Protection and Fear am Going Very Fast To y^e. Dogs, my
     Lord, Swindle O'Gibbet, Esq. M.P. Owes me £500 (borrowed Money) and
     Will not Pay and is a Shocking Scamp, but (depend upon it) I will
     stick To Him Like a Leach. Of Course Now your Lordship Is Got into
     y^e Estate &c. you Will Have y^e Rents, &c., but Is Not _Half_ The
     _Last Quarter_ Mine Seeing I Was in possession w^h is 9-10ths of
     y^e law. But gave it All up To you willingly Now For what can't Be
     cur'd, Must Be Indur'd can y^r lordship Get me _Some Foreign_
     Appointment _Abroad_ w^h sh^d be much obliged for and Would Get Me
     out of the Way of Troubling y^r lordship about the Rents w^h
     _freely give Up_. You Being Got To _that High Rank_ w^h was to
     Have Been mine can do What You please doubtless. Am Sorry To Say I
     am Most Uncommon Hard Up Since I Have Broke up. And am nearly Run
     Out. Consider my Lord How Easy I Let You Win y^e Property. When
     might Have Given Your Lordship Trouble. If you will Remember this
     And Be So obliging to _Lend me_ a £10 Note (For y^e Present) Will
     much oblige
                                 "Your Lordship's to Command,
                                         "Most obed^t
                                                    "TITTLEBAT TITMOUSE.

     "P.S.--I Leave This with my _Own Hand_ That you May be Sure and get
     it. Remember me to Miss A. and Lady D."

Mr. Titmouse contented himself with telling his new friend merely the
substance of the above epistle, and, having sealed it up, he asked his
companion if he were disposed for a walk to the West End; and on being
answered in the affirmative, they both set off for Lord Drelincourt's
house in Dover Street. When they had reached it, his friend stepped to a
little distance; while Titmouse, endeavoring to assume a confident air,
hemmed, twitched up his shirt-collar, and knocked and rang with all the
boldness of a gentleman coming to dinner. Open flew the door in a
moment; and--

"My Lord Drelincourt's--isn't it?" inquired Titmouse, holding his letter
in his hand, and tapping his ebony cane pretty loudly against his legs.

"Of course it is! What d'ye want?" quoth the porter, sternly, enraged at
being disturbed at such an hour by such a puppy of a fellow as then
stood before him--for the bloom was off the finery of Titmouse; and who
that knew the world would call, and with such a knock, at seven o'clock
with a letter? Titmouse would have answered the fellow pretty sharply,
but was afraid of endangering the success of his application: so, with
considerable calmness, he replied--

"Oh--Then have the goodness to deliver this into his Lordship's own
hand--it's of great importance."

"Very well," said the porter, stiffly, not dreaming what a remarkable
personage was the individual whom he was addressing, and the next
instant shut the door in his face.

"Dem impudent blackguard!" said he, as he rejoined his friend--his heart
almost bursting with mortification and fury; "I've a great mind to call
to-morrow, 'pon my soul--and get him discharged!"

He had dated his letter from his lodgings, where, about ten o'clock on
the ensuing morning, a gentleman--in fact, Lord Drelincourt's man of
business--called, and asking to see Mr. Titmouse, gave into his hands a
letter, of which the following is a copy:--

                                     "_Dover Street, Wednesday Morning._

     "Lord Drelincourt, in answer to Mr. Titmouse's letter, requests his
     acceptance of the enclosed Bank of England Note for Ten Pounds.

     "Lord D. wishes Mr. Titmouse to furnish him with an address, to
     which any further communications on the part of Lord D. may be

On repairing to the adjoining tavern, soon after receiving the above
most welcome note, Mr. Titmouse fortunately (!) fell in with his friend,
and, with somewhat of an air of easy triumph, showed him Lord
Drelincourt's note, and its enclosure. Some time afterwards, having
smoked each a couple of cigars and drank a couple of tumblers of brandy
and water, Mr. Titmouse's companion got very confidential, and in a low
whisper said, that he had been thinking over Mr. Titmouse's case ever
since they were talking together the night before; and for five pounds
would put him in the way of escaping all danger immediately, provided no
questions were asked by Mr. Titmouse; for he, the speaker, was running a
great risk in what he was doing. Titmouse placed his hand over his
heart, exclaiming, "Honor--honor!" and having called for change from the
landlord, gave a five-pound note into the hand of his companion, who
thereupon, in a mysterious undertone, told him that by ten o'clock the
next morning he would have a hackney-coach at the door of his lodgings,
and would at once convey him safely to a vessel then in the river, and
bound for the south of France; where Mr. Titmouse might remain till he
had in some measure settled his affairs with his creditors. Sure enough,
at the appointed time, the promised vehicle drew up at the door of the
house where Titmouse lodged; and within a few moments' time he came
down-stairs with a small portmanteau, and entered the coach where sat
his friend, evidently not wishing to be recognized or seen by anybody
passing. They talked together earnestly and eagerly as they journeyed
eastward; and just as they arrived opposite a huge dismal-looking
building, with a large door, and immensely high walls, the coach
stopped. Three or four persons were standing, as if they had been in
expectation of an arrival; and, requesting Mr. Titmouse to alight for a
moment, his friend opened the coach door from within, and let down the
steps. The moment that poor Titmouse had got out, he was instantly
surrounded, and seized by the collar by those who were standing by; his
perfidious "friend" had disappeared; and almost petrified with amazement
and fright, and taken quite off his guard by the suddenness of the
movement, poor Titmouse was hurried through the doorway of the King's
Bench Prison, the three Jews following close at his heels, and conducted
into a very gloomy room. There he seemed first to awake to the horrors
of his situation, and went into a paroxysm of despair and fury. He
sprang madly towards the door, and on being repulsed by those standing
beside him, stamped violently about the room, shouting, "Murder, murder!
thieves!" Then he pulled his hair, shook his head with frantic
vehemence, and presently sank into a seat, from which, after a few
moments, he sprang wildly, and broke his cane into a number of pieces,
scattering them about the room like a madman. Then he cried
passionately; more, in fact, like a frantic school-girl, than a man; and
struck his head violently with his fists. All this while the three Jews
were looking on with a grin of devilish gratification at the little
wretch's agony. His frenzy lasted so long that he was removed to a
strong room, and threatened with being put into a strait waistcoat if he
continued to conduct himself so outrageously. The fact of his being thus
safely housed, soon became known, and within a day or two's time, the
miserable little fellow was completely overwhelmed by his creditors;
who, absurd and unavailing as were their proceedings, came rushing down
upon him, one after another, with as breathless an impetuosity as if
they had thought him a mass of solid gold, which was to become the spoil
of him who could first seize it. The next day his fate was announced to
the world by paragraphs in all the morning newspapers, which informed
their readers that "yesterday Mr. Titmouse, late M.P. for Yatton, was
secured by a skilful stratagem, just as he was on the point of quitting
this country for America, and lodged in the King's Bench Prison, at the
suit of three creditors, to the extent of upwards of sixty thousand
pounds. It is understood that his debts considerably exceed the sum of
one hundred and fifty thousand pounds." As soon as he had become calm
enough to do so--viz. three or four days after his incarceration--he
wrote a long, dismal epistle to Lord Drelincourt, and also one to Miss
Aubrey, passionately reminding them both that he was, after all, of the
same blood with themselves, only luck had gone for them and against him,
and therefore he hoped they would "remember him, and do something to get
him out of his trouble." He seemed to cling to them as though he had a
claim upon them--instead of being himself Lord Drelincourt's debtor to
the amount of, _at least_, twenty thousand pounds, had his Lordship,
instead of inclining a compassionate ear to his entreaties, chosen to
fling his heavy claim, too, into the scale against him. This, however,
was a view of the case which never occurred to poor Titmouse. Partly of
their own accord, and partly at Miss Aubrey's earnest entreaty, Lord
Drelincourt and Mr. Delamere went to the King's Bench Prison, and had a
long interview with him--his Lordship being specially anxious to
ascertain, if possible, whether Titmouse had been originally privy to
the monstrous fraud by means of which he had succeeded in possessing
himself of Yatton, at so fearful a cost of suffering to those whom he
had deprived of it. While he was chattering away, more after the fashion
of a newly-caged ape, than a MAN, with eager and impassioned tone and
gesticulation--with a profuse usage of his favorite phraseology--"'Pon
my soul!" "'Pon my life!" "By Jove!" and of several shocking oaths, for
which he was repeatedly and sternly rebuked by Lord Drelincourt, with
what profound and melancholy interest did the latter regard the strange
being before him, and think of the innumerable extraordinary things
which he had heard concerning him! Here was the widowed husband of the
Lady Cecilia, and son-in-law of the Earl of Dreddlington--that broken
pillar of pride!--broken, alas! in the very moment of imaginary
magnificence! Here was the late member of Parliament for the borough of
Yatton, whose constituency had deliberately declared him possessed of
their complete confidence!--on whose individual vote had several times
depended the existence of the king's ministry, and the passing of
measures of the greatest possible magnitude! This was he whom all
society--even the most brilliant--had courted as a great lion.--This was
the sometime owner of Yatton! who had aspired to the hand of Miss
Aubrey! who had for two years revelled in every conceivable species of
luxury, splendor, and profligacy! Here was the individual at whose
instance--at whose nod--Lord Drelincourt had been deprived of his
liberty, ruthlessly torn from the bleeding bosom of his family, and he
and they, for many, many weary months, subjected to the most harassing
and heart-breaking privations and distresses! On quitting him, Lord
Drelincourt put into his hand a ten-pound note, with which Titmouse
seemed--though he dared not say so--not a little disappointed. His
Lordship and Mr. Delamere were inclined, upon the whole--for Titmouse
had displayed some little cunning--to believe that he had not been aware
of his illegitimacy till the issue of the ecclesiastical proceedings had
been published; but from many remarks he let fall, they were satisfied
that Mr. Gammon must have known the fact from a very early period--for
Titmouse spoke freely of the constant mysterious threats he was in the
habit of receiving from Mr. Gammon. Lord Drelincourt had promised
Titmouse to consider in what way he could serve him; and during the
course of the day instructed Mr. Runnington to put the case into the
hands of some attorney of the Insolvent Debtors' Court, with a view of
endeavoring to obtain for the unfortunate little wretch the "_benefit
of the Act_." As soon as the course of practice would admit of it, he
was brought up in the ordinary way before the court, which was quite
crowded by persons either interested as creditors, or curious to see so
celebrated a person as TITTLEBAT TITMOUSE. The commissioners were
astounded at the sight of the number and magnitude of his liabilities--a
hundred thousand pounds at least!--against which he had nothing to set
except the following items:--

     Cash lent Swindle O'Gibbet, Esq. M. P        £500
     Do. do. Phelim O'Doodle                       200
     Do. do. Micah M'Squash                        100

--together with some other similar but lesser sums; but for none of them
could he produce any vouchers, except for the sum lent to the Hon. Empty
Belly, who had been imprudent enough to give him his I. O. U. Poor
Titmouse's discharge was most vehemently opposed on the part of his
creditors--particularly the three Jews--whose frantic and indecorous
conduct in open court occasioned the chief commissioner to order them to
be twice removed. _They_ would have had Titmouse remanded to the day of
his death! After several adjourned and lengthened hearings, the court
pronounced him not to be entitled to his discharge till he should have
remained in prison for the space of eighteen calendar months; on hearing
which he burst into a fit of loud and bitter weeping, and was removed
from court, wringing his hands and shaking his head in perfect despair.
As soon as this result had been communicated to Lord Drelincourt, (who
had taken special care that his name should not be among those of Mr.
Titmouse's creditors,) he came to the humane determination of allowing
him a hundred and fifty pounds a-year for his life, _payable weekly_, to
commence from the date of his being remanded to prison.--For the first
month or so he spent all his weekly allowance in brandy and water and
cigars, within three days after receiving it. Then he took to gambling
with his fellow-prisoners; but, all of a sudden, he turned over quite a
new leaf. The fact was, that he had become intimate with an unfortunate
literary hack, who used to procure small sums by writing articles for
inferior newspapers and magazines; and at his suggestion, Titmouse fell
to work upon several quires of foolscap: the following being the title
given to his projected work by his new friend--

                         "UPS and DOWNS:
                       Memoirs of My Life,
                    TITTLEBAT TITMOUSE, Esq.,
                     Late M. P. for Yatton."

He got so far on with his task as to fill three quires of paper; and it
is a fact that a fashionable publisher got scent of the undertaking,
came to the prison, and offered him three hundred pounds for his
manuscript, provided only he would undertake that it should fill three
volumes. This greatly stimulated Titmouse; but unfortunately he fell ill
before he had completed the first volume, and never, during the
remainder of his confinement, recovered himself sufficiently to proceed
further with his labors. I once had an opportunity of glancing over what
he had written, which was really very curious, but I do not know what
has since become of it. During the last month of his imprisonment he
became intimate with a villanous young Jew attorney, who, under the
pretence of commencing proceedings in the House of Lords (!) for the
recovering of the Yatton property once more from Lord Drelincourt,
contrived to get into his own pockets more than one-half of the weekly
sum allowed by that nobleman to his grateful pensioner! On the very day
of his discharge, Titmouse--not comprehending the nature of his own
position--went off straight to the lodgings of Mr. Swindle O'Gibbet to
demand payment of the five hundred pounds due to him from that honorable
gentleman, to whom he became a source of inconceivable vexation and
torment. Following him about with a sort of insane and miserable
pertinacity, Titmouse lay in wait for him now at his lodgings--then at
the door of the House of Commons; dogged him from the one point to the
other; assailed him with passionate entreaties and reproaches in the
open street: went to the public meetings over which Mr. O'Gibbet
presided, or where he spoke, (always on behalf of the rights of
conscience and the liberty of the subject,) and would call out--"Pay me
my five hundred pounds! I want my money! Where's my five hundred
pounds?" on which Mr. O'Gibbet would point to him, call him an
"impostor! a liar!" furiously adding that he was only hired by the
enemies of the people to come and disturb their proceedings: whereupon
(which was surely a new way of paying old debts) Titmouse was always
shuffled about--his hat knocked over his eyes--and he was finally kicked
out, and once or twice pushed down from the top to the bottom of the
stairs. The last time that this happened, poor Titmouse's head struck
with dreadful force against the banisters; and he lay for some time
stunned and bleeding. On being carried to a doctor's shop, he was
shortly afterwards seized with a fit of epilepsy. This seemed to have
given the finishing stroke to his shattered intellects; for he sank soon
afterwards into a state of idiocy. Through the kindness and at the
expense of Lord Drelincourt, he was admitted an inmate of a private
lunatic asylum, in the Curtain Road, near Hoxton, where he still
continues. He is very harmless; and after dressing himself in the
morning with extraordinary pains--never failing to have a glimpse
visible of his white pocket-handkerchief out of the pocket in the breast
of his surtout--nor to have his boots very brightly polished--he
generally sits down with a glass of strong and warm toast and water, and
a colored straw, which he imagines to be brandy and water, and a cigar.
He complained, at first, that the brandy and water was very weak; but he
is now reconciled to it, and sips his two tumblers daily with an air of
tranquil enjoyment. When I last saw him he was thus occupied. On my
approaching him, he hastily stuck his quizzing-glass into his eye, where
it was retained by the force of muscular contraction, while he stared at
me with all his former expression of rudeness and presumption. 'Twas at
once a ridiculous and a mournful sight.

I should have been very glad, if, consistently with my duty as an
impartial historian, I could have concealed some discreditable features
in the conduct of Mr. Tag-rag, subsequently to his unfortunate
bankruptcy. I shall not, however, dwell upon them at greater length than
is necessary. His creditors were so much dissatisfied with his conduct,
that not one of them could be prevailed upon to sign his
certificate,[24] by which means he was prevented from re-establishing
himself in business, even had he been able to find the means of so
doing; since, in the eye of our law, any business carried on by an
uncertificated bankrupt, is so carried on by him only as a trustee for
his creditors.--His temper getting more and more soured, he became at
length quite intolerable to his wife, whom he had married only for her
fortune, (£800, and the good-will of her late husband's business, as a
retail draper and hosier, in Little Turn-stile, Holborn.) When he found
that Mrs. Tag-rag would not forsake her unhappy daughter, he snapped his
fingers at her, and, I regret to say, told her that she and her
daughter, and her respectable husband, might all go to the devil
together--but he must shift for himself; and, in plain English, he took
himself off. Mr. Dismal Horror found that he had made a sad business of
it, in marrying Miss Tag-rag, who brought him two children in the first
nineteen months, and seemed likely to go on at that rate for a long time
to come, which made Mr. Horror think very seriously of following the
example of his excellent father-in-law--viz. deserting his wife. They
had contrived to scrape together a bit of a day-school for young
children, in Goswell Street; but which was inadequate to the support of
themselves, and also of Mrs. Tag-rag, who had failed in obtaining the
situation of pew-opener to a neighboring dissenting chapel. The scheme
he had conceived, he soon afterwards carried into effect; for, whereas
he went out one day saying he should return in an hour's time, he
nevertheless came not back at all. Burning with zeal to display his
pulpit talents, he took to street-preaching, and at length succeeded in
getting around him a group of hearers, many of them most serious and
attentive pickpockets, with dexterous fingers and devout faces, wherever
he held forth, which was principally in the neighborhood of the Tower
and Smithfield--till he was driven away by the police, who never
interfered with his little farce till he had sent his hat round; when,
to preserve the peace, they would rush in, disperse the crowd, and
taking him into custody, convey him to the police-office, where, in
spite of his eloquent defences, he several times got sentenced to three
months' imprisonment, as an incorrigible disturber of the peace, and in
league with the questionable characters, who--the police declared--were
invariably members of every congregation he addressed. One occasion of
his being thus taken into custody was rather a singular one:--Mr.
Tag-rag happened to be passing while he was holding forth, and, unable
to control his fury, made his way immediately in front of the
impassioned preacher; and, sticking his fists in his side a-kimbo,
exclaimed, "_Aren't_ you a nice young man now?"--which quite
disconcerted his pious son-in-law, who threw his hymn-book in his
father-in-law's face, which bred such a disturbance that the police
rushed in, and took them both off to the police-office; where such a
scene ensued as beggars all description. What has since become of Mr.
Horror, I do not know; but the next thing I heard of Mr. Tag-rag was his
entering into the employ of no other a person than Mr. Huckaback, who
had been for some time settled in a little shop in the neighborhood of
Leicester Square. Having, however, inadvertently shown in to Mr.
Huckaback one of the creditors to whom he had given special orders to be
denied, that gentleman instantly turned him out of the shop, in a fury,
without character or wages; which latter, nevertheless, Tag-rag soon
compelled him, by the process of the Court of Bequests, to pay him;
being one week's entire salary. In passing one day a mock auction, on
the left-hand side of the Poultry, I could not help pausing to admire
the cool effrontery with which the Jew in the box was putting up showy
but worthless articles to sale to four patient puffers--his entire
audience--and who bid against one another in a very business-like way
for everything which was thus proposed for their consideration. Guess my
astonishment and concern, when one of the aforesaid puffers, who stood
with his back towards me, happened to look round for a moment, to
discover in him my friend Mr. Tag-rag!! His hat was nicely brushed, but
all the "_nap_" was off; his coat was clean, threadbare, and evidently
had been made for some other person; under his arm was an old cotton
umbrella; and in his hands, which were clasped behind him, were a pair
of antiquated black gloves, doubled up, only for show, evidently not
for use. Notwithstanding, however, he had sunk thus low, there happened
to him, some time afterwards, one or two surprising strokes of good
fortune. First of all, he contrived to get a sum of three hundred pounds
from one of his former debtors, who imagined that Tag-rag was authorized
by his assignees to receive it. Nothing, however, of the kind; and
Tag-rag quietly opened a small shop in the neighborhood of St. George's
in the East, and began to scrape together a tolerable business. Reading
one day a flourishing speech in Parliament, on the atrocious enormity of
calling upon Dissenters to pay Church-rates--it occurred to Mr. Tag-rag
as likely to turn out a good speculation, and greatly increase his
business, if he were to become a martyr for conscience sake; and after
turning the thing about a good deal in his mind, he determined on
refusing to pay the sum of twopence-halfpenny, due in respect of a rate
which had been recently made for the repair of the church steeple, then
very nearly falling down. In a very civil and unctuous manner, he
announced to the collector his determination to refuse the payment on
strictly conscientious grounds. The collector expostulated--but in vain.
Then came the amazed churchwardens--Tag-rag, however, was inflexible.
The thing began to get wind, and the rector, an amiable and learned
man--and an earnest lover of peace in his parish--came to try his powers
of persuasion--but he might have saved himself the trouble; 'twas
impossible to divert Mr. Tag-rag's eye from the glorious crown of
martyrdom he had resolved upon earning. Then he called on the minister
of the congregation where he "worshipped," and with tears and agitation
unbosomed himself upon the subject, and besought his counsel. The
intelligent and pious pastor got excited; so did his leading people. A
meeting was called at his chapel, the result of which was a declaration
that Mr. Tag-rag's conduct was most praiseworthy and noble--that he had
taken his stand upon a great principle--and deserved to be supported.
Several leading members of the congregation, who had never dealt with
him before, suddenly became customers of his. The upshot of the matter
was, that after a prodigious stir, Mr. Tag-rag became a victim in right
earnest; and was taken into custody by virtue of a writ _De Contumace
Capiendo_, amid the indignant sympathy and admiration of all those
enlightened persons who shared his opinions. In a twinkling he shot up,
as it were, into the air like a rocket, and became popular, beyond his
most sanguine expectations. The name of the first Church-rate martyr
went the round of every paper in the United Kingdom; and at length came
out a lithographed likeness of his odious face, with his precious
autograph appended, so--


Subscriptions were entered into on his behalf; and as they were paid
into his hands from time to time, he kept quietly increasing his
purchases of linen-drapery and enlarging his business, in a most
decisive and satisfactory manner. Nothing could exceed the accounts
brought in to the poor martyr of the extent to which his custom was
increasing; for in each window of his shop hung a copy of his portrait,
attracting the eye of every passenger. But he was not the only person
who rejoiced in this state of things; there being others who had a deep
stake in his success, and whom--forgetful of the maxim that one should
begin nothing till one has well considered the end of it--he had not at
first adverted to, viz. HIS ASSIGNEES--to whom belonged, in point of
law, the rattling business he was carrying on, and who were watching his
movements with lively interest. He was suddenly struck dumb with dismay
and astonishment when he heard of this unexpected issue of the affair,
and began to fear that he had "missed his providential way." His
assignees, however, seemed to think that they had got into _theirs_--and
enlarged the premises, and greatly increased the stock, profiting by the
continually augmenting popularity of Tag-rag. From the moment of this
dismal discovery, his ardor in the Great Cause wonderfully declined; and
he would have jumped at any decent excuse for getting out of the thing
altogether. And, indeed, when he came to think of it--where was the
difficulty? He had fought a good fight--he had maintained a great
principle--he had borne the heat and burden of the day!--But while the
martyr was thus musing within himself, powerful forces were coming into
the field to his succor--viz. the Society for the Promotion of Civil and
Religious Discord; who having caused all the proceedings against Tag-rag
to be laid before an ambitious little Radical Barrister, he discovered a
fatal flaw in them--viz. that in the _Significavit_, the word "Bishop"
was spelled "_Bisop_," (_i.e._ without the "h.") The point was argued
with prodigious pertinacity, and incredible ingenuity, by four counsel
on each side; each party vehemently declaring that if he failed, the
laws of England would be shaken to their very foundation: an intimation
which not a little agitated the court. After great deliberation,
however, the objection, "being in favor of liberty," was held to
prevail; all the proceedings were quashed; and Mr. Tag-rag was
consequently declared entitled to his discharge!--On this he was invited
to a grand tea-party by the leading friends of the voluntary principle,
given in Hackney Fields, where, amid a concourse of at least a hundred
souls, (including women and children,) Tag-rag (inwardly shuddering,
however, at the thought) avowed himself ready to go again to the stake,
"if Providence should require it." That seemed not, however, likely to
be the case; for the churchwardens, having already had to pay some
£1,750 odd in the shape of costs, resolved never to meddle with him any
more. He succeeded in prevailing on his assignees to take him into the
shop, in order to carry on the business upon their account, and as their
servant--for which they allowed him two pounds a-week. Out of this,
however, he was soon after compelled by the parish authorities to allow
twelve shillings a-week to Mrs. Tag-rag; and on making her the first
payment, he actually spit in the poor woman's face! Dr. Johnson used to
say that _patriotism_ was the last refuge of a scoundrel. Now-a-days,
however, it is _Church-rate Martyrdom_; and Tag-rag has had many

I must not, however, conclude this part of my long history, without
adverting to what befell the surviving partners of Mr. Gammon, namely,
Messrs. Quirk and Snap. The former had horrible misgivings as to the
true cause of Mr. Gammon's death--having a strange inward persuasion
that he had destroyed himself. When he heard of the event, very
suddenly, from the laundress, he was seized with a fit of trembling
which lasted for several days. He dared not attend the funeral--or go to
Mr. Gammon's chambers, while his corpse lay there. Mr. Snap, however,
had younger and firmer nerves; and resolved to gratify his natural and
very delicate curiosity, by seeing "how Mr. Gammon looked in his
coffin." The day after the enlightened coroner's inquest had been held,
therefore, he went to the chambers for that purpose, and was shown by
the sobbing laundress into the silent and gloomy bedroom where the
remains of Mr. Gammon lay awaiting burial. The coffin lay on trestles
near the window, which of course was darkened; and Mr. Snap, having
taken off his hat, removed the coffin-lid and the face-cloth, and
_there_ was the cold stern countenance of Mr. Gammon, before him! In
spite of himself, Mr. Snap trembled as he looked, and for a moment
doubted whether in gazing at the _yellow effigy of him that was_, he
really beheld the late Mr. Gammon; so fixed, so rigid, were the
features--so contracted of their proportions, and disfigured by the
close-fitting frilled cap. What determination was yet visible in the
compressed lips! The once keen and searching eyes of Mr. Gammon were now
hid forever beneath the heavy and clammy eyelids; and the ample brow was
no longer furrowed by the workings of the active and powerful spirit
which had "jumped the world to come!" Mr. Snap gazed for several minutes
in silence, and his heart beat a little quicker than usual.

"Oh, sir!" sobbed the laundress at length, as she, too, advanced to look
again at the countenance of her deceased master, and from which she
seldom took her eyes long together when alone--"he was the kindest and
best of men! He was indeed!" Mr. Snap said nothing, but presently took
hold of the cold, thin, stiff fingers of Mr. Gammon's right hand,
squeezed them gently, and then replaced the hand in its former position.

"I hope he's happy, dear soul!" cried the laundress, gazing at him
through her tears.

"Yes, of course he is--no doubt," replied Mr. Snap, in a somewhat lower
tone of voice than he had spoken in before, and slowly returned to the
sitting-room; whither the laundress followed him as soon as she had
replaced the face-cloth and coffin-lid.

"Got a drop of brandy in the room, Mrs. Brown?" he inquired, and passed
his hand across his face, which had grown very pale.

She gave him what he asked for; he drank it, and sighed.

"Devilish ugly look that cap gives him--eh, Mrs. Brown? Hardly knew

"Ay, poor soul; but it don't much signify how the _face_ looks if the
heart's all right. He was always so kind to me; I shall never get
another master like him!"

"Died _very_ suddenly, Mrs. Brown; didn't he?"

"Ay, he did, sir! His troubles broke his heart!"

"He'd quite enough of them to do so!" replied Snap, significantly, and
took his departure. He was one of the few who attended the funeral, and
the day on which it took place was the gloomiest he had ever known.

Mr. Gammon being gone, old Mr. Quirk seemed to have quite lost the use
of his head, and could attend to nothing. As for "the matters of the
affidavits," which he had been ordered by the Court of King's Bench to
answer, it was impossible to do so, except by acknowledging the facts
they stated to be true; and he was, in the ensuing term, struck off the
roll of attorneys, and ceased to be any longer a "gentleman, one of the
attorneys of our lord the king, before the king himself." In short, he
was completely broken up. He was quickly compelled to part with Alibi
House--in fact, with all his property; and very narrowly escaped being
thrown into a prison, there to end his days. During the last week of his
stay at Alibi House, while all his effects were being sold, he was
observed to sit down for hours together before a certain picture covered
with black crape; and once or twice he lifted up the crape, and gazed
with a horrid look at the object before him, as if he were meditating
something very mysterious and dismal. Nothing, however, happened. If he
had ever wished to hang himself, he never could succeed in screwing his
courage up to the sticking-place. He prevailed on a friend to buy in,
for him, that particular picture; and it was almost the only article
that he took with him to the small lodgings to which he removed with his
daughter, on the sale of Alibi House. As for poor Miss Quirk, I pity her
from my very soul; for, though rather a weak girl, she was perfectly
good-natured; and the reader will probably join in my indignation
against Mr. Toady Hug, when he hears that that gentleman, on seeing the
unfortunate turn which affairs took with Miss Quirk, owing to no fault
of hers, at the very moment when he ought to have clung closest to the
poor girl, deserted her, after having been engaged to be married to her
ever since the period of her having been disappointed of the affections
of Mr. Titmouse. It was, however, the business of the firm of Quirk,
Gammon, and Snap, that he had desired to marry; and finding that it no
longer existed, he considered himself justified in rescinding the
contract on the ground of a failure of consideration. Snap, hearing of
this, instantly tendered his own "heart" in lieu of that of Mr. Hug--and
was accepted. He kept this very quiet, however, till the fate of the
action for a breach of promise of marriage, which he persuaded Miss
Quirk to allow him to bring in her name against Mr. Hug, should have
been decided--as it soon was; for I should have mentioned that no
attempt had been made by any one to strike _Snap_ off the rolls. He
retained a Mr. Heartbreak, a most eloquent counsel in such cases: and as
Mr. Toady Hug defended himself in what he imagined to be a very splendid
speech, the jury immediately found a verdict against him of five hundred
pounds--a little fortune for Miss Quirk, if Hug could have paid it. But
the fact was, that he could _not_; and after a long negotiation between
Snap and him, it was settled that there should be a sort of secret
partnership between them; and that Hug should work out the damages, by
doing Mr. Snap's business for a quarter only of the proper fees--the
full fee, however, for appearance's sake among his brethren, was to be
marked on his brief. Shortly after this Snap got married, and took a
little house in Saffron Hill, only two doors from the old office; and,
as he had always anxiously cultivated the acquaintance of the leading
thieves, he soon got into a very respectable connection. A year
afterwards, Mrs. Snap made him the happy father of a quaint-looking
little child; which, being a boy, his father, out of reverence for his
deceased friend and partner, Mr. Gammon, caused to be christened by the
name of "_Oily Snap_." Old Mr. Quirk lingered on for about a couple of
years longer, most inconveniently to Snap, when he died of a broken
heart; and as Snap assisted in depositing the revered remains of his
father-in-law in St. Andrew's church-yard, he could not help thinking
within himself what a _horrid_ thing it would be, were the old gentleman
to get up again, and come back and establish himself for another couple
of years, in their little back parlor!

Let us now, however, turn to characters worthier of our notice, of our
sympathy, and our congratulation.

Two or three days after the assembling of the new Parliament, Lord
Drelincourt was introduced by two of his brother barons, (one of whom
was Lord De la Zouch,) with the usual formalities, into the House of
Lords. As he stood at the table while being sworn in, tranquil and
dignified, there was such an expression of noble simplicity and
_goodness_ in his features--which had not even then, however, entirely
lost the traces of the anxiety and suffering through which he had passed
during the last three years--as touched me to the very soul; and I
fervently wished him health and long life to enjoy his new honors. He
looked quite commanding in his ample ermine and scarlet robes; and
having, with the pen which was tendered him, inscribed on the roll the
name "DRELINCOURT"--(that of very nearly the most ancient barony in
England)--and formally taken his seat on the barons' bench, and received
the congratulations of his brother peers who came crowding around
him--he stepped up to the woolsack, and grasped with silent energy the
hand of the new Lord Chancellor, Lord Wolstenholme, who, composed and
commanding in his appearance and bearing, and familiar with his position
as if he had occupied it for more years than _days_, welcomed the
newly-introduced peer with infinite warmth and cordiality. This was Sir
Charles Wolstenholme, the Attorney-General of a few short months before,
and he to whose masterly ability and unwavering friendship Lord
Drelincourt was mainly, if not indeed altogether, indebted for the
position which he then occupied. They sat talking together for some
time; and the Chancellor happening to mention the ludicrous and yet
intolerable pressure to which he was subject for everything he had to
give away--particularly in the _livings_ which fell to his
disposal--instanced a small one in Devonshire of four hundred a-year, of
which he had had notice only two hours before coming to the House, since
which time he had had upwards of a dozen applications for it from so
many peers then present! "Now, as a small _memento_ of to-day,
Drelincourt," said he, with a smile, "can you give me the name of any
man who wants, and in your judgment would suit, such a living?"

"Oh, my dear Lord Chancellor!" replied Lord Drelincourt, with eager
delight, "I know a man--a very able, exemplary, _starving_ friend of
mine, Mr. Neville--the Rev. Ralph Neville. He will do honor to your

"'Tis his!" replied the Chancellor; "give me his name and address--he
shall have it offered him this very evening, if he live in town."

Lord Drelincourt, overjoyed, wrote down Mr. Neville's name and address,
and gave it to the Chancellor; and having reminded him that their dinner
hour was seven precisely, (the Chancellor had been for some time engaged
to dinner with him on that day,) Lord Drelincourt somewhat hastily
quitted the House, resolved to be himself the first bearer to poor Mr.
Neville of the delightful intelligence of his promotion. His carriage,
with Lady Drelincourt and Miss Aubrey in it, had been standing for some
time near the House, awaiting his return, in order to drive once or
twice round the Park before dinner; but you may guess the kind of
transport with which they heard him give directions for their being
driven to St. George's in the East, and the object of his errand. When
Lord Drelincourt's equipage--simple and elegant, and with the coronet
painted on the panels so small as not to _challenge_ the observation of
every passenger--drew up opposite the humble lodgings of Mr. Neville, he
and his little sick wife were sitting at tea, for which purpose he had a
few minutes before propped her up upon the sofa, on which she was
obliged to recline during the greater part of each day. Prettily
flustered were both of them on seeing the carriage roll up, the steps
let down, and hearing Lord Drelincourt, followed quickly by Lady
Drelincourt and Miss Aubrey, (it was the first time that they had seen
the former two except as Mr. and Mrs. Aubrey,) knock at the door. Oh,
how sweet was the office of communicating such news as that which they
had brought to Mr. and Mrs. Neville! He, on hearing it, turned
immediately, and as it were instinctively, to his pale suffering wife,
with full eye and quivering lip--and she returned the look he gave her!
Well he knew that the true source of her frail health was their
privation and miserably straitened circumstances, and that the
intelligence which they had just received, would, as it were, pour into
the broken heart the oil of gladness and of health. There was not the
slightest change in the deportment of his distinguished visitors; but
his own was, in spite of all he could do to the contrary, consciously
subdued, and a little embarrassed. What thankfulness was in his heart!
How was the great, barren, frowning world around him, turned into a
smiling paradise! No longer would they be unable to supply their few and
modest wants! No longer deny themselves the innocent enjoyments of life,
and cheerful intercourse with society! Soon would he be in the
independent exercise of the delightful duties of the pastoral office!
And what a thoughtfulness of their humble interests had been evinced by
Lord Drelincourt in the first moments of his own excitement and triumph!
To all parties, that was, indeed, an occasion of the outgoing of hearts
towards each other; and Lord and Lady Drelincourt, before leaving, had
insisted on seeing Mr. and Mrs. Neville at dinner in Dover Street,
before they left town, as they expected would shortly be the case.

As I have already intimated, Lord Drelincourt had that evening a select
dinner party; and there was a little incident connected with it, which
will, I think, serve to set forth, were it necessary, his considerate
good-nature. His guests consisted of the Lord Chancellor and Lady
Wolstenholme, Lord and Lady De la Zouch, Mr. Delamere, three or four
other friends, Mr. Runnington, and a Mr. Staveley, a former fellow-pupil
of Lord Drelincourt's, and whom he had left still studying closely in
the chambers of Mr. Mansfield. Lord Drelincourt had always entertained a
very friendly feeling towards Mr. Staveley, who was a young man of very
strong understanding, great industry, sound principle, and perfect
frankness and simplicity of character. Mr. Aubrey had from the first
observed the depression of spirits to which his companion was subject,
and which, in the course of their subsequent unreserved communications
with each other, he had discovered to be occasioned by the sad
precariousness of his pecuniary circumstances, and the absence of all
prospect or apparent chance of professional connection. It seemed that
the relative by whose liberality alone he had been enabled to enter
himself a student at Lincoln's Inn, and become a pupil of Mr.
Mansfield's, had died suddenly, leaving his nephew almost totally
destitute. Was it not likely that he was just such a person as would
excite the yearning sympathies of his now ennobled fellow-student?
Indeed it was so; and the reason of Lord Drelincourt's asking him to
dinner on the present occasion was, to give him a personal introduction
to two individuals capable of being hereafter of vast service to any
candidate (possessed of industry, energy, and talent) for professional
business and distinction; namely, Mr. Runnington, as a solicitor of
first-rate eminence, great personal respectability, and amiability of
character--and the Lord Chancellor; with both of whom, as may easily be
believed, Lord Drelincourt had much personal influence. Mr. Staveley was
the first guest that arrived, and he found Lord Drelincourt alone in the
drawing-room. His Lordship seized the opportunity of conversing with his
friend unrestrainedly upon the topics above alluded to, and of assuring
him that he might always rely on any good offices which it might be in
his Lordship's power to perform for him. He spoke to his desponding
companion in a tone of earnest and inspiriting encouragement. "Come,
come, my dear Staveley," said he, "_exporrige frontem_! It would seem to
be the tendency of close and solitary legal study to make a man despair,
and distrust the utility of his labors! But--go straight on!--Constancy,
honor, industry, and talent, will inevitably clear the way for their
possessor, and also in due time force him forward. Ah! believe me, I
know what your feelings are; for very recently I shared them, but always
endeavored to master them. As for the want of a connection, I can only
say that I knew but one attorney and solicitor in all London--my own--a
Mr. Runnington, (who dines with me to-day;)--but had I known none, I
should not have been disheartened, so long as I had health of body and
mind, and the means of pursuing my studies"----Here Lord Drelincourt's
quick ear caught a faint and half-suppressed sigh, uttered by his
companion.--"I did my best while engaged in the study of the law, and am
sure that I shall never have occasion to regret it; and I frankly tell
you, Staveley, I was as poor as a church mouse the whole time--over head
and ears in debt; and, but for the kindness of this very Mr. Runnington,
who lent me three hundred pounds, I never could have entered Mr.
Mansfield's chambers, or formed your acquaintance."--While saying this,
Lord Drelincourt was looking very keenly indeed at his companion.--"The
law," continued his Lordship, "is a noble profession! I should have
become an enthusiast in it had I continued to devote myself to its study
and practice;--by the way, will you accept, as a little _memento_ of our
friendship--which I trust you will not permit to be broken off,
Staveley--my few law-books? Of course, I have no further occasion for
those which relate to the more practical"----Here one of the doors
opened, and Lady Drelincourt and Miss Aubrey--oh, you beautiful
Kate!--entered, looking each of them exceedingly lovely, and receiving
Mr. Staveley with a charming cordiality and courtesy; for they had often
heard Lord Drelincourt mention his name. The other guests then made
their appearance, in quick succession; and Lord Drelincourt made a point
of introducing Mr. Staveley, in very flattering terms, to the
Chancellor, who received him with great urbanity, as indeed did Mr.
Runnington. 'Twas truly a delightful dinner party--all were in high
spirits. As for the Lord Chancellor, he took an opportunity during the
evening of pressing on Lord Drelincourt the acceptance of an important
office under the new government--one which they were exceedingly anxious
to have satisfactorily filled, and to which would be annexed a seat in
the cabinet!--Lord Drelincourt, however, firmly declined the brilliant
offer, on the plea of the repose which he felt to be requisite, both for
his family and himself, and also the attention due to his private
affairs, to which it would be necessary to devote his personal
superintendence for some time to come.--But to return for a moment to
Mr. Staveley. Soon after he had sat down to breakfast the next morning,
a servant of Lord Drelincourt's brought to his chambers a parcel, which,
in fact, consisted of the books of which his Lordship had begged his
acceptance over-night. With what peculiar interest did Mr. Staveley
glance over them, finding in every page slight pencil marks, evidencing
the careful reading of their former owner. In laying down the first book
which he had opened, something fell from it upon the floor, which, on
his picking it up, proved to be a letter addressed to himself, in the
handwriting of Lord Drelincourt. On opening it, what were his feelings
on seeing it contain an enclosure of a draft on his Lordship's banker
for the sum of £300, which he begged Mr. Staveley to accept as a loan,
to be repaid whenever and however he might think fit; and in terms of
the most earnest delicacy, reminding him of the circumstance which his
Lordship had named over-night; namely, his own acceptance of a similar
sum from Mr. Runnington. Mr. Staveley colored under a conflict of
emotions, which subsided quickly, into one strong and deep feeling of
gratitude towards his truly noble and generous friend; and that morning
he wrote a letter, acknowledging in fitting terms the munificent act of
Lord Drelincourt, and enclosing his note-of-hand for the amount; both of
which, however, on his receiving them, Lord Drelincourt, with a
good-natured smile, put into the fire, that there might exist no
evidence whatever of the transaction between himself and Mr. Staveley.
His Lordship did not even take Lady Drelincourt in this matter into his

At length every arrangement had been made in London for their quitting
it, and at Yatton for their arrival. The last article of furniture, a
magnificent piano for Lady Drelincourt, had gone down a fortnight
before. Lord and Lady De la Zouch, together with Mr. Delamere, had been
at Fotheringham for some time; and the accounts which they gave in their
letters, of the scene which might be expected on the memorable occasion
of Lord Drelincourt's resuming possession of Yatton, threw them all into
a flutter of excitement. From Mr. Delamere's accounts, it would seem as
if the day _of their return_ was to be a sort of jubilee. He himself had
been to and fro twenty times between Yatton and Fotheringham; an entire
unanimity of feeling existed, it seemed, with reference to all the
leading arrangements, between himself, Mr. Griffiths, Dr. Tatham, Lord
and Lady De la Zouch, and the Earl and Countess of Oldacre, whom it had
been deemed expedient to take into their counsels upon the occasion; and
a difficult negotiation concerning a certain fine military band,
belonging to a regiment stationed only eleven miles off, had been
brought to a most satisfactory termination! Dr. Tatham wrote letters to
them, especially to Miss Aubrey, almost every day, and, in fact, they
all began to imagine themselves already at Yatton, and in the midst of
the delicious bustle that was going on there.

At length, the long-expected day for their setting off arrived--the 5th
day of May 18--. About ten o'clock in the forenoon might have been seen
standing, opposite Lord Drelincourt's door in Dover Street, two roomy
travelling carriages and four. Several newly engaged servants had gone
down two or three days before, in charge of a large van full of luggage;
and in the first carriage were going only Lord and Lady Drelincourt and
Miss Aubrey, his Lordship's valet and Lady Drelincourt's maid sitting in
the rumble behind; while the second carriage was occupied by little
Charles and Agnes, and their attendants, together with Harriet, Miss
Aubrey's faithful and pretty little maid. Everything being at length
ready, the word was given, crack went the whips, and away they rolled on
their memorable and exciting journey. There was an evident air of
expectation and interest along the road, for a long while before they
approached Yatton; for in fact it was generally known that Lord
Drelincourt, who, it was believed, had passed through a series of
romantic adventures, was going down to take possession of the ancient
family estate in Yorkshire. How the hearts of the travellers yearned
towards the dear old familiar objects on each side of the road, which,
as they advanced at a rapid pace, they passed with increasing frequency!
At length they reached the last posting-house, which was within twelve
miles of Yatton, and where there were manifest symptoms of preparation
and stir. Eight very fine horses were brought out in a twinkling, and
the harness appeared both new and gay. Mrs. Spruce, the landlady,
together with her two daughters, all of them dressed with unusual
smartness, stood at the inn door, courtesying repeatedly; and on Lady
Drelincourt and Kate seeing them, they beckoned them to the carriage
door, and inquired after their health, with such a kindness and interest
in their manner, as almost brought tears into their eyes.

"So you have not forgotten us, Mrs. Spruce?" asked Lord Drelincourt,
with a gay smile, as they handed a couple of glasses of water into the
carriage, at the request of Lady Drelincourt and Kate, who were
evidently getting very nervous with their proximity to Yatton, and the
exciting scenes which must there be awaiting them.

"Oh, my Lord, forgotten your Lordship! No, my Ladies, not for one minute
since the dismal day you all went--my Lord! There's _such_ a stir, my
Ladies, along the road--you'll see it all when you get a mile farther
on!--Of course, your Lordship and your Ladyships know what's going to be
done at the Hall"----

"Ah, ah! so I hear! Well--good-day, Mrs. Spruce!" cried Lord
Drelincourt, and the next moment they had dashed off, in their last
stage, and at a thundering pace, to be sure. It was nearly twelve
o'clock at noon, and the day was bright and beautiful--and there was a
fresh and exhilarating breeze stirring, which oft came laden with the
rich scents of summer fields.

"Oh Agnes! oh Kate! what a contrast is this to the day on which our
horses' heads, two years ago, were turned the other way!" exclaimed Lord
Drelincourt; but received only a faint reply, for his companions were
getting flurried and restless with the rapidly increasing evidences of
excitement on the road. As they advanced, they overtook vehicles of
every description, all containing people in gay holiday trim, and all
with their horses' heads turned one way; viz. towards the great centre
of attraction, Yatton. At length the augmenting number of carriages,
chaises, cars, gigs, vans, carts, wagons--many of them decked with
ribbons, flowers, and laurel boughs--compelled them to slacken their
speed, and gave them fuller opportunities of witnessing the joyful
enthusiasm with which their approach was greeted. Already they heard, or
imagined they heard, from the direction of Yatton, the sounds of voices
and music.

"I'm sure, Charles, I shall cry like a child"--quoth Kate, her eyes
suddenly filling with tears; and such was the case also with Lady

"And what, Kate, if you do?" cried her brother, joyfully, kissing and
embracing them affectionately.

"Charles! Charles!--I declare there's old Granny Grimston--it is
indeed!" cried Kate, eagerly, as they passed an old-fashioned
market-cart, in which sat, sure enough, the good creature Miss Aubrey
had mentioned, beside her daughter, to whom Kate waved her hand
repeatedly--for the former had been an old pensioner of the late Mrs.

Oh, what a sight burst upon them as soon as they had reached the turning
of the road which brought them full in view of Yatton--the village and
the Hall! They came, too, to a dead stand-still--'twas impossible to get
on for some time, for they seemed to have got suddenly into the middle
of some great fair! What a shout rent the air! Boughs of laurel were
waving in all directions, with wreaths and ribbons! Beautiful nosegays
were flung in through the carriage windows by men, women, and even
children, all dressed in their best and gayest attire! Here was formed
an equestrian procession that was to precede them into Yatton,
consisting of some hundred stout Yorkshire yeomen, chiefly tenants of
Lord Drelincourt and his neighbors. Louder and louder came the shouts of
welcome from all quarters, before and behind, intermingled at length, as
they entered the village, with the clash and clangor of cymbals, the
thundering of drums, the sounds of trumpets, trombones, clarionets, and
shrill inspiriting fifes. 'Twas really most exciting; and Lady
Drelincourt and Kate were already amply fulfilling their own
predictions. Their carriage suddenly stopped for some moments; and a
louder shout than had till then been heard, burst around them, while the
military band approached playing "Rule Britannia!" followed by a
procession of at least two hundred horsemen, headed by Delamere, and all
wearing his bright blue election colors! He thrust his hand into the
carriage, and grasping those of each of them, again rode off. Here an
attempt was made to take the horses out of Lord Drelincourt's carriage,
which he peremptorily forbade, acknowledging, however, the affectionate
enthusiasm which prompted the proposal, by repeatedly bowing in all
directions as they passed down the village. Flags and branches of laurel
hung from almost every window, and the crowd had become so great as to
prevent them frequently from moving on for more than a minute or two
together. At length they saw the dear old church, with its long, thin,
gray spire--no doubt its little bells were ringing as loudly as they
could be rung, but they were not heard; for the band at that moment,
when within a few yards of the park gates, struck up in fine style the
inspiriting air of "The King shall hae his ain again!" A great number of
carriages were drawn up on each side of the entrance to the park, and
the high antique iron gates and stone pillars were covered with wreaths
of flowers and branches of laurel. Immediately within the gates, on each
side, upon forms and stools, sat about a dozen of the oldest tenants on
the estate, male and female, who, on the approach of Lord Drelincourt,
lifted up their hands feebly towards heaven, while tears ran down their
eyes, and they implored a blessing on those who were re-entering their
own, after so long and cruel a separation from it. But here the eager
and affectionate eyes of the travellers lit upon an object infinitely
more interesting and affecting than any they had yet seen--'twas the
venerable figure of Dr. Tatham, who, with his hat off, stood with his
hand and his face elevated momentarily towards heaven, imploring a
blessing upon those who were approaching. Lord Drelincourt instantly
called for the carriage door to be opened, and within a moment or two's
time, he had grasped the little doctor's hands in his own; and Lady
Drelincourt and Kate, having also hastily alighted, had thrown their
arms around him, and kissed him, with the feelings of two daughters
towards a fond and venerated father. The little doctor was quite
overcome, and could scarcely say a word--indeed, they were all much
excited. At this point came up Mr. Delamere, who had dismounted at the
gate, and placing Kate's arm hastily, and with a proud and triumphant
air, within his own, while Lady Drelincourt was supported between her
husband and Dr. Tatham, the two children following, with their
attendants, immediately behind--in this manner they approached the Hall,
each side of the avenue being lined with the gayly-dressed gentry of the
neighborhood, collected from far and wide. When they reached the fine
old gateway, there shot up suddenly into the air, upon a flag-staff
planted upon the centre of the turret, a splendid crimson banner, while
the band within the court-yard struck up the spirit-stirring air, one
which no Englishman can listen to without emotion--"See the conquering
hero comes!" The moment that they had passed under the gateway, what a
gay and brilliant scene presented itself! Upon the steps fronting the
door, and indeed all around, stood the most distinguished persons in the
county, ready to greet the new-comers. There was the Lord-Lieutenant,
the High Sheriff, two of the county Members--Catholics and
Protestants--high Tories and high Whigs--there they were--the high-born,
the beautiful--the gifted, the good--all crowding with eager and
enthusiastic welcome around those who were thus returning to their own,
after so extraordinary and infamous an exclusion and banishment. To Lady
Drelincourt, to Miss Aubrey, to Lord Drelincourt himself, amid the
overpowering excitement of the moment, it appeared as though they were
in a vivid and dazzling dream; and they felt completely confused and
bewildered. Lady De la Zouch, and one or two others of their considerate
friends, observing the painful emotions with which Lady Drelincourt and
Miss Aubrey were very nearly overcome, succeeded in withdrawing them
for a while from the tumultuous scene into their chambers.

A splendid cold collation was spread in the hall for the immediate
friends and guests of Lord Drelincourt, while an immense entertainment,
of a more substantial description, was prepared under an awning, upon
the beautiful terrace at the back of the Hall, for about three hundred
people, consisting principally of the tenantry, their families and
friends. (Half-a-dozen feasts were going on in the village, for those
who were necessarily--from want of room--excluded from the terrace
tables.) The substantial business of the day--viz. feasting--was to
commence, both for gentle and simple, at three o'clock, shortly before
which period Lady Drelincourt and Miss Aubrey appeared in the
drawing-room, and then in the hall, infinitely the better for their
refreshing toilets. 'Tis true that their eyes looked somewhat impaired
by the excessive emotions occasioned by the events of the day--for they
had both been several times, during their brief absence, on the verge of
hysterics; yet for all that they looked a pair of as lovely women as
dear Old England, rich in delicate beauty as it is, could produce. They
both wore plain white muslin dresses, with small blue rosettes, which
Lady De la Zouch had intimated would give a certain person infinite
gratification--meaning the new member for the borough; for his colors
were blue--whereof there was a modest glimpse in his own surtout. Lord
Drelincourt also appeared greatly the better for his visit to his
dressing-room, and was in the highest possible spirits--as well he might
be, amid a scene so glorious and triumphant as that around him; all
people, high and low, rich and poor, without distinction of party, vying
with one another in doing him honor, and welcoming him back to the halls
of his ancestors. At length, it being announced that all was in
readiness, before sitting down to their own banquet, Lord Drelincourt,
with Lady Drelincourt on one arm, and his sister on the other, and
followed by Dr. Tatham, Mr. Runnington, and almost all his guests,
passed along under the old archway that led over the bridge to the
terrace, in order that the doctor might say grace before the feast
began: and the instant that Lord and Lady Drelincourt and Miss Aubrey
made their appearance, the shouting and clapping of hands, and waving of
handkerchiefs, that ensued, defies description, completely overpowering
Lady Drelincourt and Kate, and somewhat disturbing the equanimity of
Lord Drelincourt himself. 'Twas several minutes before the least
cessation occurred. At length, however, Mr. Griffiths, the steward, who
was to preside on the occasion, succeeded in directing attention to Dr.
Tatham, who stood uncovered ready to say grace, which he did as soon as
there was a decent approach to silence; he and those who had accompanied
him, then returning to the Hall. What a prodigious onslaught was
instantly made on the enormous masses of beef, boiled and roast--the
hams, the tongues, the fowls--and all the innumerable other good things
which were heaped upon those hospitable tables. There was ale _ad
libitum_; and, in addition to that, a bottle of port and of sherry to
each mess of four, which latter luxuries, however, were generally
reserved for the business which was to take place after the substantial
part of the feast had been discussed.

According to a previous arrangement, about four o'clock intimation was
given to the vast party upon the terrace, that Lord Drelincourt,
accompanied by his guests, would come and take their seats for a short
time at the head of the tables--his Lordship occupying the place of Mr.
Griffiths. After a great bustle the requisite space was obtained at the
head of the nearest table; and presently Dr. Tatham led in Lady
Drelincourt, and Mr. Delamere, Kate; followed by Lord Drelincourt and
all his visitors--their arrival being greeted in the same enthusiastic
manner as before. After they had selected their places, but before they
had sat down, Dr. Tatham returned thanks amid a sudden and decorous
silence; and then all, having resumed their seats, had an opportunity of
feasting their eager and fond eyes with the sight of those who had been
so cruelly torn from them, and so long estranged. Lord Drelincourt sat
at the head of the table, with Lady Drelincourt on one side and his
sister upon the other, both looking exceedingly animated and beautiful.
Beside Kate sat Mr. Delamere, his eyes greedily watching her every look
and motion; and beside Lady Drelincourt sat the venerable Dr. Tatham,
looking as happy and as proud as it was possible for him to look. After
sitting for some minutes conversing with those immediately around him,
during which time expectation had gradually hushed down the noise which
had prevailed on their entering, Lord Drelincourt slowly poured out a
glass of wine, his hand slightly trembling; and while Lady Drelincourt
and Kate leaned down their heads, and hid their faces, he slowly rose,
amid respectful and anxious silence. His voice was at all times clear
and melodious, his enunciation distinct and deliberate; so that every
word he uttered could be heard by all present. There were grace and
dignity in his countenance and gestures; and you felt, as you looked and
listened to him, that he was speaking from his heart. Thus he spoke:--

"Oh, my friends! what a happy moment is this to me and mine! What thanks
do I not owe to God for His great goodness in bringing us again together
in our former relations of mutual and uninterrupted respect and
affection! You must not, however, expect me to say much now, for I
cannot, because my heart is so full of love and respect to those whom I
see around me, and of gratitude to God. May He, my dear friends, who is
now beholding us, and marking the thoughts of our hearts, bless and
preserve you all, and enable me never to give you cause to regret having
thus affectionately welcomed me back again to my home! It pleased Him,
my friends, that I, and those whom you see near me, and whom I so
tenderly love, should be torn away suddenly, and for a long time, from
all that our hearts held dear. The pangs it cost us--bear with me, my
friends--the pangs it cost us"--here Lord Drelincourt was obliged to
pause for some moments. "We have, since we left you all, gone through
much affliction, a little privation, and some persecution. It was all,
however, God's ordering, and we have besought Him that we might at all
times feel and know it to be so, in order that we might never be
impatient or rebellious. Ah, my friends! He is wiser and kinder in His
dealings with us than we are often able to see; and as for myself, I
think I can say that I would not have lost the lessons which my recent
sufferings have taught me, for a thousand times my present advantages.

"What has befallen me has satisfied me, and I hope you too, of the
slight hold we have of those advantages, of which we consider ourselves
surest. Who can tell, dear friends, what a day or an hour may bring
forth? And I hope I have also learned one of the great lessons of life,
better than I knew it before--that cheerful resignation to the will of
God is the only source of fortitude! God loves the voice of praise which
He hears _from the desert_! Never, dear friends, when we are in our
deepest difficulties and troubles--never, NEVER let us despair! Thank
God, I never did, or you would not perhaps have seen me here to-day. God
overrules everything for the real good of those who faithfully obey Him:
and in our own case, I can assure you, that the very things which we
looked upon as the cruellest and hardest to bear of all that had
happened to us, turned out to be the very means by which we have been
restored to the happiness which we are now met to celebrate! See how
good God has been to us! When I look around me, and see what I am
permitted to enjoy, and know what I _deserve_, I tremble.

"You all know, of course, that it has pleased God to place us a little
higher in point of mere worldly station than we were before; but I think
you will find that it has made only this difference in us; namely, that
we are more sensible of the importance of the duties which we have to
perform. 'Tis not, dear friends--I deeply feel--the mere coronet which
confers true distinction, but _how it is worn_. I, of course, have only
succeeded by birth, and, apparently, by accident, to that mark of
distinction which the merit of some other person had won for him long
ago. I trust I shall wear it with honor and humility, and that so--" he
paused for a moment,--"will my son, after me.

"And now, my dear friends, I must conclude. You see how much those who
are sitting near me are affected." Lord Drelincourt glanced fondly but
hastily at Lady Drelincourt and his sister, paused for some time, and
then in a lower tone resumed. "You may remember, some of you at least,
the evening before we left Yatton; what you then said to me"--here again
he paused, and for some time. "I have never forgotten that evening; the
thought of it has often been like balm poured into a broken heart.

"I have heard that since I left you all, things have gone very
differently from the way they went in my time. Oh, dear friends, there
shall be no more extortion--there shall be no more oppression, at
Yatton! I can, I think, answer for myself; and I think my little son
will not take after his father if--you shall see my children
presently--God bless you, dear friends! You see that I have now and
then been overcome while speaking; I know you will bear with me. Were
you in my place, and to look upon those whom I now look upon, you also
would be overcome. But let our tears now pass away! Rejoice, dear
friends, for it is a day of rejoicing! Be merry! be happy! I now from my
heart drink--we all drink--all your healths! Here are health, and peace,
and prosperity to you all! God bless you all!--God bless you all!"

Lord Drelincourt raised his glass to his lips, and drank off the wine it
contained, his hand visibly trembling the while. He then sat down,
evidently much subdued; and as for Lady Drelincourt, Miss Aubrey, and
Lady De la Zouch--nay, everybody present--they were deeply affected by
the simple and affectionate address that had fallen from Lord
Drelincourt; and which was followed by a long silence, infinitely more
expressive than the most vociferous responses. After a while, the band
commenced playing, in a very beautiful manner,

                "Should auld acquaintance be forgot."

There were heard several attempts, from time to time, from different
quarters, to join in the chorus, but they were very faint and subdued;
and Lord Drelincourt, perceiving the true state of the case, suddenly
covered his face with his hands, and appeared for some moments
powerfully affected. Then, affectionately taking the hands of Kate and
Lady Drelincourt, he fondly whispered, that all their past sufferings
were surely that day richly recompensed; and fearing lest his presence,
and that of his distinguished guests, might be a check upon the freedom
and hilarity of the great company before him, he rose, and bowing
courteously to all around, and followed by those who had accompanied
him, withdrew amid most vehement and prodigious cheering. A few minutes
afterwards, according to Lord Drelincourt's promise, little Charles and
Agnes were led in amid a thousand exclamations of fondness and
admiration, (they were really very beautiful children;) and having had a
little drop of wine poured into each of their cups, they drank timidly,
as they were told, to the health of all present, and then skipped
hastily back whence they had come.

I shall not detain the reader, with whom I am so soon about to part
forever, with the description which I had prepared of the opening of
Kate's school on the morrow; though I think he would like to have been
present. A prettier one there is not in England; and if anything could
have increased Kate's love for him who had taken such pains to please
her in the matter, it was Dr. Tatham's informing her, a morning or two
afterwards, that Mr. Delamere had endowed her school with fifty pounds
a-year, forever. In proportion to Kate's sorrow on leaving her school,
upon the occasion of their all being driven from Yatton, it may easily
be believed, were her delight and gratitude, for this its complete and
more efficient restoration. The opening of it by Dr. Tatham, in her
presence, and also in that of Mr. Delamere, was doubtless an interesting
ceremony, yet not to be compared, perhaps, with one that occurred a
short month afterwards at Yatton, and in which the same three persons
were principally concerned!

       *       *       *       *       *

----Here is a heavenly morning in June! and Kate lying trembling and
with beating heart, alone, in that old-fashioned chamber of hers, in
which she was first seen by the reader--or at least, where he obtained a
faint and dim vision of her.--'Tis very early, certainly; and as Kate
hath passed a strange, restless night, she is at length closing her eyes
in sleep; and as nothing is to be heard stirring, save yonder lark, that
is carrying his song higher and higher out of hearing every moment, she
will sleep for a while undisturbed.

       *       *       *       *       *

--But _now_, rise, Kate! rise! It is your wedding morning! Early
though it be, here are your fair bridemaids seeking admittance, to deck
you in your bridal robes! Sweet Kate, why turn so pale, and tremble so
violently? It is truly a memorable day, one long looked forward to with
a fluttering heart--a day of delicious agitation and embarrassment; but
courage, Kate! courage! Cannot these three beautiful girls who, like the
Graces, are arraying you, as becomes your loveliness, with all their
innocent arts and archness, provoke one smile on your pale cheek? Weep,
then, if such be your humor; for it is the overflowing of joy, and will
relieve your heart!--But hasten! hasten! your lover is below, impatient
to clasp you in his arms! The maids of the village have been up with the
sun, gathering sweet flowers to scatter on your way to the altar! Hark,
how merrily, merrily ring the bells of Yatton church!--Nearer and nearer
comes the hour which cannot be delayed; and why, blushing and trembling
maiden, should you dread its approach? Hark--carriage after carriage is
coming crashing up to the Hall!--Now your maidens are placing on your
beautiful brow the orange blossoms--mysterious emblems:--

          "The fruits of autumn, and the flowers of spring"--

and a long, flowing, graceful veil, shall conceal your blushes!--Now, at
length, she descends--and sinks into the arms of a fond and noble
brother, whose heart is too full for speech, as is that of her sister!
Shrink not, my beauteous Kate, from your lover, who approaches you, see
how tenderly and delicately! Is he not one of whom a maiden may be
proud? See the troops of ardent friends waiting to attend you, and do
you honor! Everywhere that the eye looks, are glistening gay wedding
favors, emblems of innocence and joy. Come, Kate--your brother waits;
you go with _him_ to church, but you will come back with ANOTHER! He who
loves you as a father, the venerable minister of God, is awaiting your
arrival! What a brilliant throng is in that little church!

Now her beautiful form is standing at the altar, beside her manly lover,
and the solemn ceremony has commenced, which is to unite, with Heaven's
awful sanction, these two young and happy and virtuous hearts!

'Tis done! Kate Aubrey! Kate Aubrey! where are you? She is no more--but,
as Mrs. Delamere, is sitting blushing and sobbing beside HER HUSBAND, he
elate with pride and fondness, as they drive rapidly back to the Hall.
In vain glances her eye at that splendid banquet, as it shrinks also
timidly from the glittering array of guests seated around it--and she
soon retires with her maidens to prepare for her agitating journey!

Well, they are gone! My pure and lovely Kate is gone! 'Tis hard to part
with her! But blessings attend her! Blessings attend you both! You
cannot forget dear YATTON, where all that is virtuous and noble will
ever with open arms receive you!

       *       *       *       *       *

    And now dear friends! farewell for many a day!
    If e'er we meet again, I cannot say.
    Together have we travell'd two long years,
    And mingled sometimes smiles, and sometimes tears!
    Now droops my weary hand, and swells my heart,--
    I fear, good friends! we must forever part.
    Forgive my many faults! and say of me,
    He hath _meant_ well, that writ this history.


[Footnote 1: NOTE 1. Page 46.

"The show of hands" (says Lord Stowell, in _Anthony v. Seager_, 1 Hag.
Cons. Rep. 13) "is only a rude and imperfect declaration of the
sentiments of the electors."]

[Footnote 2: NOTE 2. Page 72.

The time within which a petition against the return of a member of
Parliament must be presented, has, for the last two centuries, been a
fortnight after the meeting of Parliament, or the return of the member.
This still continues the limited period. See stat. 2 and 3 Vict. c. 31,
§ 2. The allusion in the text, therefore, is to the day _after_ that,
beyond which a petition could not be presented; and if Gammon, on or
after that fifteenth day, had paid money for their votes to the members
of the Quaint Club, he might have done it with impunity, as far as
concerned the perilling Mr. Titmouse's seat. The legislature has lately,
however, made great exertions to put down the system of bribing; and by
statute 5 and 6 Vict. c. 102, passed on the 19th August 1842, has
invested the House of Commons with very formidable powers for that
purpose. If petitioners on the score of bribery, fearful of the strength
of the case which may be brought against themselves on the same ground,
agree with their opponents to abandon the charge of bribery, and
compromise the matter, the committee may nevertheless inquire into the
whole matter, and report the result to the House. And by the fourth and
fifth section of that act, a petition complaining of bribery may be
presented at any time _after_ the first fourteen days of the meeting of
Parliament, and within three calendar months next after some one or more
of the alleged acts of bribery shall have been committed; and the
inquiries of the committee are limited to acts of bribery committed
within three months before presenting the petition. The entire system of
election law has been also remodelled by several very recent statutes,
as will be explained in the next note.]

[Footnote 3: NOTE 3. Page 87.

For this purpose each party, attended by their counsel, agents, and
political friends, immediately withdrew to separate rooms, to fix upon
the eleven names which they would strike off. Having done this, they met
in a third room, before an officer of the House; and struck off name by
name alternately, till the thirty-three were reduced to eleven.--This
process was called "_Knocking out the brains of the Committee_:" for as
each party's object was to get rid of a decided and known political
opponent, the abler and more eminent he was, the greater the necessity
for getting rid of him. Those left were the more obscure members of the

[Footnote 4: NOTE 4. Page 87.

The process of forming an election committee, as described in the text,
fell several times under the author's personal observation--in his
professional capacity--as late as till within the last five years, [this
note being written in 1845.] It was prescribed by a statute, which since
its enactment has been repeatedly amended and re-enacted, known by the
name of "THE GRENVILLE ACT," (stat. 10 Geo. III. c. 16.) It was long
regarded as a very masterly and successful mode of securing an impartial
committee. Thus speaks of it, for instance, Mr. Justice Coleridge, in a
note to his edition of _Blackstone's Commentaries_, (Vol. i. p. 187,
note 31:)--"This statute is justly celebrated for the wisdom and utility
of its provisions. One of its principal _objects_ is, to secure a fair
election of petition committees." This eulogy was penned in the year
1825; but even admitting it to have been _then_ justified by the working
of the system, its defects became subsequently the object of universal
regret and reprobation. For some years subsequently to the passing of
the Reform Bill, this constitution of election committees--depicted in
the text with rigorous fidelity--led to intolerable abuse, and merited
scandal and reproach. In the year 1844, after a previous ineffectual
remodelling of the system, was passed statute 7 and 8 Vict. c. 103,
entitled "An Act to amend the law for the trial of controverted
elections of members to serve in Parliament," (passed 9th August
1844,)--which created an entirely new system for the selection of these
committees--of which the following is an outline.--At the beginning of
every session, the Speaker appoints a "_general Committee of
Elections_," consisting of six members, who must be approved of by the
House--and then their appointment continues to the end of the session. A
list is then made of all the members of the House, liable to serve on
election committees, which is referred to this general committee; and
they select from it a certain number, not exceeding twelve, whom they
deem qualified to act as _chairmen_ of election committees; and who are
thereupon neither liable, nor eligible, to serve as _private_ members of
such committees. This body is called "the _Chairmen's Panel_." The
remaining members of the House, liable to serve, are then divided into
_five_ panels, of equal numbers; and the order in which these five
panels are to serve, is decided by lot, openly, by the clerk of the
House, at the table.--All election petitions are then referred to the
_general committee_, whose duty it is to select from the five panels,
according to the order in which they may have been drawn, FOUR members,
who are to serve as a select committee to try the petition referred to
them, in the order in which that petition may happen to stand in the
list of petitions--which is to be framed according to the provisions of
the Act in question. On the same day on which the general committee thus
choose the private members of the committee, but without knowing who
have been so chosen, the members of the _chairmen's panel_ select one of
their number to act as _chairman_ of the select committee; returning his
name to the general committee, as soon as the latter shall have informed
the chairmen's panel that the _four_ members have been chosen. When all
these arrangements have been completed, the parties in attendance are
called into the House, and the names of the chairman and the four
members read over to them; whereupon they withdraw, and this committee
of FIVE then proceed, in due course, to try the petition. If, through
illness, or other allowed excuse, the number should be reduced from five
to less than three, the committee is dissolved--unless the parties
choose to go on with _two_ members, or even ONE, who in such case will
lawfully constitute the committee.--Such is the scheme, devised with
anxious ingenuity, which has recently been adopted by the legislature,
for the all-important purpose of securing impartial election committees.
That it is a vast improvement on the system described in the text, seems
certain; but what will be its practical working, time alone can show.]

[Footnote 5: NOTE 5. Page 117.

These offences are now dealt with much more seriously; several late
statutes empowering the police magistrates to fine the offenders, and
even commit them to the tread-mill. The effect has been to interfere
seriously with this species of nocturnal amusement.]

[Footnote 6: NOTE 6. Page 227.

The reader will bear in mind, that, as explained in a note to the first
volume, arrest on mesne process was abolished a few years ago, by
statute 1 and 2 Vict. c. 110, (passed 16th August 1838.) The policy of
abandoning this system did not secure the unanimous approbation of the
Common Law Commissioners. One of the most learned of them dissented from
the report recommending the abolition of the system, and embodied his
reasons in a very elaborate supplemental report. That arrest on mesne
process was the means of inflicting an inconceivable amount of
unjustifiable suffering, and was often a mere vehicle for oppression--is
indisputable. The abolition of arrest on _final_ process stands on very
different grounds.]

[Footnote 7: NOTE 7. Page 241.

This is _now_ very far otherwise. Legal proceedings have been recently
prodigiously accelerated.]

[Footnote 8: NOTE 8. Page 241.

The reason why neither a Peer nor a Member of Parliament can be bail is,
that they are not liable to the ordinary process of the courts.--(Tidd's
_Practice_, p. 247, 9th ed.) The reason why attorneys and their clerks
cannot be bail, is to protect them from the importunities of their

[Footnote 9: NOTE 9. Page 245.

_I. e._ "Special Jury."]

[Footnote 10: NOTE 10. Page 245.

A writ of _certiorari_ issues from the Court of Queen's Bench in
criminal cases, for the purpose of removing them into it from inferior
courts; and when the writ is granted, as it may be at the instance of
either the prosecutor or defendant, it entirely supersedes the
jurisdiction of the inferior court, and renders all subsequent
proceedings in it entirely erroneous and illegal--unless the Court of
Queen's Bench should think fit to remand the record to the inferior
court. A _prosecutor_ may obtain a certiorari as a matter of right; but
a defendant only at the discretion of the court.]

[Footnote 11: NOTE 11. Page 275.

Forgery was a capital offence down to the year 1830. By statute 1 and 2
Will. IV. c. 66, passed on the 23d July in that year, and statute 2 and
3 Will. IV. c. 123, passed on the 16th August 1832; and particularly by
statute 7 Will. IV. and 1 Vict. c. 84, passed on the 17th July 1837, the
punishment of death is abolished in all cases of forgery, and
transportation for life, or for years, or imprisonment, with solitary
confinement and hard labor, substituted.]

[Footnote 12: NOTE 12. Page 295.


[Footnote 13: NOTE 13. Page 298.

Bribery at elections of members of Parliament was always an offence _at
common law_, punishable by indictment and information; but there are no
traces of any prosecutions at common law for such an offence. In the
year 1729 the legislature interfered, and, by stat. 2 Geo. II. c. 24,
inflicted the penalties which were sought to be recovered by the actions
mentioned in the text. Mr. Rogers, in his excellent treatise on
_Election Law_, says that it is not difficult to account for the silence
of the books of common law on the subject of bribery. When the increase
of money, and the growing importance of a seat in the House of Commons,
gave rise to a frequent commission of this offence, the House began to
assert its exclusive judicial power over all matters affecting the
election of its members--and punished bribery as one of the highest
offences affecting the freedom of elections. Having thus made it a
matter of _privilege_, it would have been dangerous for prosecutors to
carry their complaints to any other tribunal. Even since the passing of
the Act in question, however, numerous cases are on record of
proceedings for bribery, by indictment and information--at the instance,
not only of private persons, but of the attorney-general prosecuting by
order of the House; which latter power has been greatly extended by the
statute referred to in a former note.--With reference to the particular
transaction of Gammon with Ben Bran, narrated in a former page, viz.
_promising after_ the election to pay the Quaint Club for the votes they
had given--that alone was held, in the case of _Lord Huntingtower_ v.
_Gardiner_, 1 Barn. & Or., 297, (A.D. 1823,) not to be an offence within
the statute 2 Geo. II. c. 24, § 27. But Gammon, it will be borne in
mind, had been fatally implicated, by his negotiation with the club for
the purchase of their votes, _before_ the day of the election. The
penalties sued for in the text, are to be understood as having been due
in respect of offences committed by other cases of bribery, as already
explained, than those affecting the Quaint Club.]

[Footnote 14: NOTE 14. Page 307.

The system of joint-stock companies' speculation, as described in the
foregoing and subsequent pages of the text, so far from being an
exaggeration, falls far short of a complete illustration of the
stupendous scale of swindling which has, during the last ten or fifteen
years, been tolerated in this great commercial country. At length,
however, in the year 1844, the legislature has struck a blow calculated
to demolish the whole fabric, or, at all events, prevent any similar
erection. By statute 7 and 8 Vict. c. 110, entitled, "An Act for the
Registration, Incorporation, and Regulation of Joint-stock Companies,"
passed on the 5th Sept. 1844; and by act 7 and 8 Vict. c. 111, entitled,
"An Act for facilitating the winding up the affairs of Joint-stock
Companies, unable to meet their engagements," passed on the same
day--such restrictions are placed upon fraud and improvidence, as are
calculated to paralyze much of their powers of practising upon public
credulity. Publicity and responsibility are two objects which are
effectually attained by the combined operation of these acts, which are
masterpieces of commercial legislation.]

[Footnote 15: NOTE 15. Page 367.

_I. e._--The proctors' setting forth of their client's name and

[Footnote 16: NOTE 16. Page 392.

See the note to a preceding page in this volume, (_ante_, p. 307,) where
an explanation is given of the salutary change recently effected by the
legislature, in the law of joint-stock companies.]

[Footnote 17: NOTE 17. Page 415.

The present punishment of bigamy [or polygamy as, says Blackstone, (4
Comm. 163,) it ought to be called] is fixed by statute 9 Geo. IV. c. 31,
§ 22, which declares the offence of bigamy (whether the second marriage
have taken place in England or elsewhere) to be a felony liable to
transportation for seven years, and imprisonment with or without hard
labor, for any term not exceeding two years; subject, however, to a
proviso that the act shall not apply to any of the following cases: 1.
The case of a second marriage contracted out of England by any other
than a British subject. 2. The case of a person marrying again where
husband or wife shall have been continually absent from that person for
seven years then last past, and shall not have been known by such person
to be living during that time. 3. The case of any person who, at the
time of the second marriage, shall have been divorced _a vinculo_ from
the first marriage, or whose former marriage shall have been declared
void by any court of competent jurisdiction.

The meaning of the second of these exceptions is, that the husband or
wife shall not have been known by the other party at any period during
the seven years to be alive. _Regina_ v. _Cullen_, 9 _Car. & P._, 681.]

[Footnote 18: NOTE 18. Page 416.

It has been recently decided (the King _v._ Inhabitants of Wraxton, 4
Barn. and Adol., 640,) that to render a marriage invalid on the ground
stated in the text, _both parties_ must be aware of the false name being
adopted. See also, Wiltshire _v._ Prince, 3 Hagg. Ecc. Rep., 332.]

[Footnote 19: NOTE 19. Page 422.

Signing is not necessary to the validity of a bond or deed at Common
Law. The essential requisites are--_sealing and delivery_. See a very
interesting explanation of these matters in Vol. ii. pp. 305 _et seq._
of _Blackstone's Commentaries_.]

[Footnote 20: NOTE 20. Page 426.

An attorney cannot be thus compelled to answer matters _which would
amount to an indictable offence_; for that would be compelling him to
criminate himself. Upon this ground, applications like that in the text
are often discharged; but it affords no protection to an attorney where
the application is, not to show cause why he should not answer the
matter in the affidavit, but why he should not be struck off the 28th
roll.--See the distinction clearly explained in the case of Stephens
_v._ Hill, 10 M. and W.]

[Footnote 21: NOTE 21. Page 490.

The law regulating the "qualification," in respect of property,
requisite to render a man eligible for a seat in Parliament, has been
recently--viz., by stat. 1 and 2 Vict. c. 48,--altogether altered. Real
or _personal_ property to the extent of £600 a-year, now gives a
sufficient qualification to a _county_ member, and to the extent of 300,
to a member for a borough.]

[Footnote 22: NOTE 22. Page 491.

The privilege of franking letters, so long enjoyed by the members of
both Houses of Parliament, has been recently abolished. After the
introduction of the penny postage system, the privilege in question was
very greatly reduced in value and importance. By statute 3 and 4 Vict.
c. 96, § 56, (passed on the 10th August 1840,) "All privileges
whatsoever of sending letters by the post free of postage, or at a
reduced rate of postage, shall, except in the cases in that act
specified, wholly cease and determine."]

[Footnote 23: NOTE 23. Page 492.

These are the abbreviations of the technical words by which are known
the two writs of execution against a debtor's _person_, and his _goods_.
The former "Ca. Sa." represent the words addressed to the sheriff,
"_Ca_pias A. B. [the defendant] ad _sa_tisfaciendum." The latter
represent the words addressed to the sheriff, commanding him "ut _fi_eri
_fa_ciat"--that he should cause to be made, or realized, out of the
defendant's goods, the amount due to the plaintiff.]

[Footnote 24: NOTE 24. Page 505.

The certificate of a bankrupt no longer depends upon the mere will and
pleasure of his creditors, but upon the discretion of the commissioner,
or judge in bankruptcy, who has become acquainted with the whole conduct
of the bankrupt, and may grant, refuse, or postpone a certificate, and
annex such conditions to a grant of it as he may think fitting. This
very important and salutary alteration of the law was effected by
statute 5 and 6 Vict. c. 122, § 39, passed on the 12th August 1842. This
power has been exercised on several recent occasions, in a manner highly
satisfactory to the public, and creditable to the acuteness, discretion,
and firmness of the court.]

     THE END.

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     novels one hardly dare say that they are works of fiction; their
     characters are men and women of our time; they do in the book
     almost exactly what they had done in real life.--_Prof. Adolph
     Cohn, in The Bookman._

     He is a novelist to his finger-tips. No one has such grace, such
     lightness and brilliancy of execution.--_Henry James, in The

     The slightest pages from his pen will preserve the vibration of his
     soul so long as our tongue exists imperishable. He is the author of
     twenty masterpieces.--ÉMILE ZOLA.

                       254 WASHINGTON STREET, BOSTON.

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