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last Birth Day, Never having Seen your a feverish furtive glance towards the door. Advertisement till this Night, wh, if Ne- He almost dropped at one time, as a postcessary can prove."
man crossed from the opposite side of the
street, as if to enter their shop—then passThis perspicuous and truly elegant per- ing on immediately, however, to the next formance having been thrice subjected to door. Not a person, in short, entered the the critical examination of the friends, was premises, that he did not scrutinize narrowthen folded up, and directed to “ Messrs. ly and anxiously, but in vain. No-buying Quirk and Co.;" a great straggling wet and selling was the order of the day, as wafer having first been put upon it. It was usual eleven o'clock struck and he sighed. safely deposited, a few minutes afterwards, 6. You don't seem well,” said a pretty young with the old woman of the house, and then woman, to whom, in a somewhat absent the two West-End gentlemen bastened manner, he was exhibiting and describing the away from that truly plebeian part of the qualities of some cambric.
“Oh-yemes, town. Under four different gas-lights did uncommon!” he replied; “never better, they stop, take out a newspaper, and spell ma'am, than when so well employed,” acover the advertisement; by which ingeni- companying the latter words with what he ous process they at length succeeded in sa- conceived to be a very arch, but which was in tisfying themselves that there was some- fact a very impudent look at his fair custothing in it. They parted, however, with a mer. At that moment, a voice called out to considerable abatement of the excitement him from the further end of the shop near with which they had set out on the voyage the door—" Titmouse wanted !" of discovery.
“ Coming !” he shouted, turning as white Mr. Titmouse did not, on reaching his as the cambric he held in his hands—which room, take off and lay aside his precious became suddenly cold and clammy; while Sunday apparel with his accustomed care his heart went thump, thump, as he hastily and deliberation. On the contrary, he peel- exclaimed, to the astonished lady, " Excuse ed them off, as it were, and threw himself me, ma'am, if you please Jones," to the on the bed as quickly as possible, in order shopman next him, “ will you attend to this that he might calmly revolve the immense lady ?" and he hastened whither he had event of the day in his mind, which it had been called, amidst a prevalent grin and agitated like a stone thrown into a stagnant “hem !” from his companions on each side pool by the roadside. Oh, how restless was as he passed along the shop till he reached he!_not more so could he have been had a middle-aged gentlemanly-looking person he lain between horse-hair sheets. He re- standing near the door, and bowed to him. peatedly got up and walked two or three “ Mr. Titmouse ?" inquired the stranger, steps, which were all that his room admit- blandly. ted of, and then sunk into bed again, but not “ The same, sir, at your service," replied to sleep—till four or five o'clock; having Titmouse, trembling involuntarily all over. nevertheless to rise at half-past six, to re- The stranger slightly inclined towards him, sume his detested duties at Dowlas and and—still more slightly-touched his hat; Co.'s, whose shop he assisted in opening at fixing on him, at the same time, an inseven o'clock as usual. When he and his quisitive penetrating eye that really abashshopmates were sitting together at break- ed him. fast, he could not help letting out a little, “ You left-you favoured us by leaving a vaguely and mysteriously, about “ some- note at our office last night, addressed to thing that might happen in the course of the Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap?” he day;" and thereby succeeded in satisfying inquired, lowering his voice to a whisper. his companions that he expected the visit of “Yes, sir, hoping it was no”. a policeman, for some row he had been con- “ Pray, Mr. Titmouse, can we be alone cerned in over night. Well, eight, nine, for about five or ten minutes ?" ten o'clock wore away heavily, and nothing “I–I-don't exactly know, here, sir; transpired, alas! to vary the monotonous I'm afraid it's against the rules of the duties in which Mr. Titmouse was engaged ; house-but I'll ask. Here is Mr. Tagbale after bale, and package after package, rag. May I step into the cloak-room with he took down and put up again, at the bid- this gentleman for a few minutes, sir?" he ding of pretty capricious customers; silk, continued, addressing his imperious emsatin, bombazines, crapes, muslins, ribands, ployer, who, with a pen behind his right gloves, he assisted in displaying and dispo- ear, his left hand in his breeches pocket, and sing of as usual; but it is certain that his his right hand impatiently tweedling about powerful understanding could no longer set- his watch seals, had followed Titmouse, on tle itself as before, upon his responsible and hearing him inquired for in the manner I arduous duties: every other minute, he cast have described, and stood at a yard or two's
TEN THOUSAND A YEAR.
Mr. Titmouse?" he inquired as soon as
distance, eyeing the two with a fussy dissatisfied look, wondering what on earth "Not four minutes' walk, sir; but hem!" any one could want with one of his young men. As Mr. Tagrag will figure a little on my he was flustered at the idea of showing so canvass by and by, I may as well here give eminent a person into his wretched roomthe reader a slight sketch of that gentle-"Suppose we were to step into this tavern man. He was about fifty-two years old; a here, sir-I dare say they've a room at our great tyrant in his little way; a compound serviceof ignorance, selfishness, and conceit. He knew nothing on earth except the price of his goods, and how to make the most of his business. He was of middle size, with a tendency to corpulence; and almost invariably wore a black coat and waistcoat, a white neck-handkerchief very firmly tied, and gray trousers. He had a dull gray eye, with white eyelashes, and no eyebrows; a forehead that seemed ashamed of his face, it retreated so far and so abruptly back from it; his face was pretty deeply pitted with the small-pox; his nose-or rather semblance of a nose-consisted of two great nostrils looking at you as it were, imprudentlyout of the middle of his face; there was a perfectly level space from cheekbone to cheekbone; his whiskers, neatly and closely cut, came in points to each corner of his mouth, which was a very large, shapeless, sensual-looking affair. This may serve, for the present, to give you an idea of the man who had contrived to excite towards himself the hatred and contempt of every body over whom he had any control.
"You know we never allow any thing of the sort," was his short reply, in a very disagreeable tone and manner, to the modest request of Titmouse, as above mentioned. "May I beg the favour of a few minutes' private conversation with Mr. Titmouse," said the stranger, politely, " on a matter of the last importance to him! My name, sir, is Gammon, and I am a solicitor."
Pray, allow me to ask, Mr. Titmouse,have you any private papers-family writings, or things of that sort, at your rooms?" Titmouse seemed considering.
"I-I think I have, sir-one or twobut they're of no consequence."
"Are you a judge, Mr. Titmouse ?” inquired Mr. Gammon, with a smile; "pray let us, my dear sir, at once to your rooms-time is very short and valuable. I should vastly like to look at these same insignificant papers of yours!"
In less than two minutes' further time, Mr. Gammon was sitting at Titmouse's little rickety round table, at his lodgings, with a sheet of paper, and his pens and portable inkstand before him, asking him a number of questions concerning his birth and family connexions, and taking down his answers very carefully-perhaps almost word for word. Mr. Titmouse was quite surprised at the knowledge which Mr. Gammon possessed of the family history of the TitAs for papers, &c., Mr. Titmouse mouses. succeeded in producing four or five old letters and memoranda from the bottom of his trunk, and the fly leaf of a Bible of his father's, which he did not recollect having opened before for very many years, and of which said entries, till pressed on the subWith these ject by Mr. Gammon, he had been hardly even aware of the existence. several documents Mr. Gammon was so much struck that he proposed to take them away with him, for better and more leisurely examination, and safer custody, at their office; but Mr. Titmouse significantly hinted at his very recent acquaintance with Mr. Gammon, who, he intimated, was at liberty to come and make exact copies of them whenever he pleased, in his (Mr. Titmouse's) presence.
"Oh, certainly-yes," replied Mr. Gammon, slightly colouring at the distrust implied by this observation; "I applaud your caution, Mr Titmouse. By all means keep thein, and most carefully; because, (I do not say that they are,) but it is quite possible, that they may become rather valuable."
"Thank you, sir: and now, hoping you'll excuse the liberty, I should uncommonly like to know what all this means-what is to turn up out of it all?"
"The law, my dear sir, is proverbially uncertain-”
Why, sir," answered Tagrag, somewhat cowed by the calm and gentlemanly, but at the same time decisive manner of Mr. Gammon-"it's really very inconvenient, and decidedly against the rules of the house, for any of my young men to be absent on business of their own, during my business hours; but I suppose-what must be, must be I'll give him ten minutes-he'd better not stay longer," looking significantly first at his watch, and then at Titmouse. "It's only for the sake of the other young men, sir. In a large establishment like ours, we're obliged, you know, sir," &c. &c. &c. he added, in a low cringing tone, deprecatory of the contemptuous air with which he felt that Mr. Gammon was regarding him. That gentleman, with a slight bow, and a supercilious smile, presently quitted the shop, accompanied by Titmouse.
How far do you live from this place,
"Oh, Lord! but the law can give me a hint-"
"The law never hints," interrupted Mr. Gammon, impressively, with a bland smile. "Well then, how did you come, sir, to know that there ever was such a person as Mr. Gabriel Titmouse? I suppose he is my great uncle, and what can come from him, if he was only a bit of a shoemaker ?” "Ah, yes-exactly; those are very inte-ly that can't signify, seeing he is dead, and resting questions." I'm his only son ?" asked Titmouse, quickly and eagerly.
"Oh yes, sir! yes-no doubt of it; sure
Oh, 'tis only a circumstance-a mere circumstance; but in business, you know, Mr. Titmouse, every little helps."
"Yes, sir: and them and a great many more I was going to ask long ago, but I saw you were-"
Sir, I perceive that we have positively been absent from your place of business nearly an hour-your employers will be getting rather impatient."
"Meaning no offence, sir-bother their impatience; I'm impatient, I assure you, to know what all this means. Come, sir, see how openly I have told you every thing."
"Why, certainly, you see, Mr. Titmouse," said Gammon, with an agreeable smile (it was that smile of his that had been the making of Gammon)" it is only candid in me to acknowledge that your curiosity is perfectly reasonable; and I see no difficulty in admitting that I have had a motive—"
"Yes, sir and all that-I know, sir,”. hastily interrupted Titmouse, but without irritating or disturbing the placid speaker.
"And that we waited with some anxiety for the result of our advertisement."
"Ah, you can't escape from that, you know, sir!" interposed Mr. Titmouse, with
"Is it money that's been left me-orany thing of that sort?"
"I quite feel for your anxiety-so perfectly natural—”
Oh, dear sir! if you'd only tell me the least bit-"
"If, my dear sir, I were to disclose just now the exact object we had in writing that advertisement in the papers-"
"How did you come to know of it at all, sir! Come, there can't be any harm." "Not the least, my dear sir. It was in the course of business-in the course of business."
"It quite pains me, I assure you, Mr. Titmouse-I think, by the way”—added Gammon, suddenly, as something occurred to him of their previous conversation, which he was not sure of "you told me that that Bible was given you by your father."
Why, meaning no offence, sir, I can't abide being put off in this kind of way. See what I've told you-you've told me nothing at all. I hope you haven't been only making me a cat's paw of? I hate being made a cat's paw of, sir!"
"That may or may not be, sir," answered Gammon, in the same imperturbable manner, drawing on his gloves, and rising from his chair. "In justice to yourself, and other parties concerned—”
"Oh! is any body to share in it?" exclaimed Titmouse, alarmedly.
a confident air.
"I am sure," said Gammon, smiling, that you will give us credit for consulting your best interests. We sincerely desire to advance them; and this matter occupies a good deal of our time and anxiety. İt— is really," looking at his watch, "an hour since we quitted your place of business— I fear I shall get into disgrace with your
"But it is a maxim with us, my dear sir, never to be premature in any thing, especially when it may be very prejudicial; you've really no idea, my dear Mr. Titmouse, of the world of mischief that is often done by precipitancy in legal matters; and in the present step of the business-the employers. Will you favor us with a call present stage, my dear sir-I really do see at our office to-morrow night, when the buit necessary not to-do any thing prema-siness of the day is over? When do you ture, and without consulting my partners." quit at night?" "Lord, sir!" exclaimed Titmouse, getting more and more irritated and impatient as he reflected on the length of his absence from Dowlas and Co.'s.
"About a quarter to ten, sir; but really— to-morrow night! Couldn't I come tonight, sir?"
"Gracious, Mr. Titmouse! how can you imagine it? You are at this moment the object of a considerable share of our anxiety”
"Not meaning it rudely, sir-please to tell me at once, plainly, am I to be the better for any thing you're now about?"
"Not to-night, I fear, my dear sir. We have a very important engagement. Let us say to-morrow night, at a quarter past ten-shall we say that hour?"
“Well, sir, if not before—yes—I'll be with you. But I must say
Good-day, Mr. Titmouse." They were by this time in Oxford Street again. "Goodday, my dear sir-good-day-to-morrow night, as soon after ten as possible—eh! Good-by."
This was all that Mr. Titmouse could get out of Mr. Gammon, who, hailing a coach
off the stand beside them, popped into it, “And who are you, sir, that dare to preand it was soon making its way eastward. sume to bandy words with me, sir?" inWhat a miserable mixture of doubts, hopes, quired Tagrag, quivering with rage. and fears, had Mr. Gammon left Titmouse! “ Tittlebat Titmouse, at your service," He felt as if he were like a squeezed orange; was the answer, in a glib tone, and with a he had told every thing he knew about him- sufficiently saucy air. self, and got nothing in return out of the - You heard that, I hope!” inquired Tagsmooth, imperturbable, impenetrable Mr. rag with forced calmness, of a pale-faced Gammon, but empty civilities.—“Lord, young man, the nearest to him. Lord!” thought Titmouse, as Mr. Gam- “ Ye-es," was the meekly reluctant mon's coach turned the corner; " what answer. would I give to know half about it that that “ This day month you leave, sir!” said man knows! But, Mr. Tagrag! good gra- Mr. Tagrag, solemnly as if conscious that cious! what will he say? It's struck twelve. he was passing a sort of sentence of death I've been an hour away—and he gave me upon the presumptuous delinquent. ten minutes! Shan't I catch it?”
Very well, Mr. Tagrag-any thing that And he did. Almost the very first person pleases you pleases your humble servant. he met, on entering the shop, was his respect- I will go this day month, and welcome ed employer, Mr. Tagrag, who, plucking I've long wished his watch out of his fob, and, looking furi- “ Then you shan't leave, sir," said Tagously at it, motioned the trembling Titmouse rag, furiously. to follow him to the farther end of the long “But I will, sir. You've given me shop, where there happened to be then no warning; and, if you haven't, now I give customers.
you warning,” replied Titmouse; turning, “ Is this your ten minutes, sir, eh?” however, very pale, and experiencing a “ I am sorry"
certain sudden sinking of the heart—for this “ Where the devil have you been, sir ?" was a serious and most unlooked-for event,
“With that gentleman, sir, and I really and for a while put out of his head all the did not know"
agitating thoughts of the last few hours. “You didn't know, sir! Who cares what Poor Titmouse had enough to bear—what you know, or don't know? You know you with the delicate raillery and banter of his ought to have been back fifty-five minutes accomplished companions for the rest of the ago, sir. You do, sir! Isn't your time day, and the galling tyranny of Mr. Tagrag, my property, sir! Don't I pay for it, sir? who dogged about him all day, setting him An hour in the middle of the day! My about the most menial and troublesome ofGod! I've not had such a thing happen this fices he could, and constantly saying mortifive years! I'll stop it out of your salary, fying things to him before customers, and
the state of miserable suspense in which Titmouse did not attempt to interrupt him. Mr. Gammon had thought fit to leave him;
“What have you been gossiping about, I say that surely all this was enough for sir?"
him to bear without having to encounter at Something that he wanted to say to me, night, as he did, on his return to his lodgsir."
ings, his blustering landlady, who vowed Impudence !-do you suppose I don't that if she sold him out and out, she'd be see your impertinence? I insist, sir, in put off no longer—and his pertinacious and knowing what all this gossiping with that melancholy tailor, who, with sallow unfellow has been about?
shaven face, told him of five children at “Then you won't know, sir,” replied home, all ill of the small-pox, and his wife Titmouse, doggedly; returning to his usual in an hospital-and he implored a payment station behind the counter.
on account. This sufferer succeeded in “ You won't!!"
squeezing out of Titmouse seven shillings "No, sir, you shan't know a single word on account, and his landlady extorted ten; about it."
which staved off a distress-direful word“Shan't know a single word about it! for some week or two longer; and so they My God! Do you know whom you're left him in the possession of eight shillings, talking to, sir? Do you really know who or so, to last till next quarter-day. He I am, sir ? whom you are speaking to, sighed heavily, barred his door, and sat sir?"
down opposite his little table, on which was “Mr. Tagrag, I presume, of the firm of nothing but a solitary thin candle, and on Dowlas, Tagrag & Co."-one or two of which his eyes rested unconsciously, till his companions near him, almost turned pale the stench of it, burning right down in the at the audacity he was displaying. socket, roused him from his wretched revery.
He then hastily threw off his clothes, and | tive, and with a face like a terrier, so hard, flung himself on his bed, to pass a far more sharp and wiry!-Mr. Gammon himself dismal night than he had known for years. was about forty, very genteel, with a ready bow, insinuating smile, and low tone of voice; his look withal, acute and cautious.
"A seat, Mr. Titmouse," said Mr. Quirk, placing a chair for him, on which he sat down, they resuming theirs.
He ran the gauntlet at Messrs. Dowlas, Tagrag & Co.'s all Tuesday, as he had done on the day preceding. One should have supposed that when his companions beheld him persecuted by their common employer and master, whom they all equally hated, they would have made common cause with their suffering companion, or at all events given no countenance to his persecution; yet it was far otherwise. Without stopping to analyze the feeling which produced it, (and which the moderately reflective reader may easily analyze for himself if so disposed,) I am grieved to have to say, that when all the young men saw that Tagrag
"Punctual, Mr. Titmouse!" exclaimed Mr. Gammon, with a smile; "more so than I fear you were yesterday, after our long interview, eh? Pray, what did that worthy person, Mr. Ragbag, say, on your return?"
Say, gents?"-(he tried to clear his throat, for he spoke somewhat more thickly, and his heart beat more perceptibly than usual)-"I'm ruined by it, and no mistake." "Ruined! I'm sorry to hear it," inter
would be gratified by their cutting poor Tit-posed Mr. Gammon, with a concerned air. mouse, who, with all his little vanities and emptiness, had never offended or injured any of them-they did so; and, when Tagrag observed it, his miserable mind was more gratified with them by far than it had ever been before. He spoke to all of them with unusual blandness; to the sinner, Titmouse, with augmented bitterness.
"I am, indeed, sir. Such a towering rage as he has been in ever since; and he's given me warning to go on the 10th of next month." He thought he observed a faint smile flit over the faces of all three. He has, indeed!"
A few minutes after ten o'clock that night, a gentle ringing of the bell of Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap's office, announced the arrival of poor Titmouse. The door was quickly opened by a clerk, who seemed in the act of quitting for the night.
"Ah-Mr. Titmouse, I presume?" he inquired, with a kind of deference in his manner that Titmouse had never been accustomed to.
"Dear me, Mr. Titmouse-what cause did he allege for dismissing you?" keenly inquired Mr. Quirk.
"Stopping out longer than I was allowed, and refusing to tell him what this gentleIman and I had been talking about."
"Don't think that'll do; sure it won't!" briskly exclaimed Mr. Snap; "no just cause that," and he jumped up, whisked down a book from the shelves behind him, and eagerly turned over the leaves.
"The same, sir-Tittlebat Titmouse." "Oh! allow me, sir, to conduct you in to Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, who are, I know, in expectation of seeing you. It is very rarely that they are here at so late an hour." With this he led the way to an inner room, and opening a green-baize door" in the further side of it, announced Mr. Titmouse, and left him-sufficiently flustered. Three gentlemen were sitting at a large table, on which he saw, by the strong but circumscribed light of two large shaded candlesticks, were lying a great number of papers and parchments. The three gentlemen rose when he entered, and Mr. Gammon came and shook hands with him.
"Never mind that now, Mr. Snap," said Mr. Quirk, rather petulantly; "surely we have other matters to talk about to-night."
"Asking pardon, sir, but I think it does matter to me, sir," interposed Titmouse; for on the 10th of next month I'm a beggar-being next door to it now."
"Not quite, we trust," said Mr. Gammon. “But Mr. Tagrag said he'd make me as good as one."
"That's evidence to show malice," again eagerly interjected Mr. Snap, who was again tartly rebuffed by Mr. Quirk; even Mr. Gammon turning towards him with a surprised "Really, Mr. Snap!"
"Mr. Titmouse, let me introduce you to Mr. Quirk" this was the senior partner, a short, stout, elderly gentleman, with a shining bald head and white hair, and sharp black eyes, and who looked very earnestly at him "and Mr. Snap"-this was the junior partner, having recently been promoted to be such after ten years' service in "Well-it perhaps may not signify much the office of managing clerk; he was about by that time;" and he laughed again, folthirty, particularly well dressed, slight, ac-lowed by the soft laugh of Mr. Gammon,
"So Mr. Tagrag said he'd make you a beggar?" inquired Mr. Quirk.
"He vowed he would, sir!"
"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed Mr. Quirk and Mr. Gammon-but such a laugh!-not careless, or hearty, but subdued with a dash of deference in it.