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"I hastened my departure as much as possible, for I dared not overtax my firmness, and I had already read a tale of weakness and of folly in that short visit which I cared not further to unravel.
"As I passed hastily from the apartment, madame's bell was rung with violence, and presently the finikin maid rushed past me, screaming at the top of her voice for hartshorn and warm water and M. Antonio, the valet-de-chambre, for that M. le General was seized with one of his most violent fits-a dreadful one-worse, in fact, than the one by which he had been attacked on the morning when he had flown into such a rage at poor Batiste, for awakening him out of bed by singing Pauvre Jacques,' while he was blacking the shoes under the bed-room window. And then I thought of my grandmother, and of her prophecy, and of Louis Girardot, the poor and friendless painter, and of her who was mouldering in the grave.
"I saw them no more after this-neither the one nor the other of this worthy pair--and even the memory of this day had almost passed away like a dream, when the year after, being again on my way from visiting the grave of Paquerette, and slowly descending the hill of the cemetery, my course was impeded by the entrance of a magnificently plumed and escutcheoned hearse, with a long train of mourners coming up the acclivity. I turned aside to let the train pass by just as the roll of the muffled drum burst upon the ear, and I heard one of the bystanders ask whose was the brilliant funeral. The reply struck to my heart. 'Tis that of General Girardot, notre bon general, one more of the emperor's darlings -they are all going one by one now that he is gone-but what have they better to do than to follow him?'
"I could not help turning after this to watch the procession as it slowly passed by the spot where slumbered poor Paquerette de Fontenay. Just then, a bunch of the rich ostrich feathers fell aside from the coffin, and while they paused to arrange it, one of the soldiers, attracted by the beauty of the scarlet blossoms which overshadowed, like a canopy, the head of the tomb, thrust his hand through the iron-grating, and plucked one of its brightest clusters. I was struck with a feeling of awe, for which I dared not stop to inquire the cause, when, a moment afterwards, I saw the self-same bunch of flowers fall from the soldier's hand when he fired into the grave, upon the richly-gilt and chiselled coffin-lid. It was a strange, a startling coincidence. Perhaps the last farewell of pity and forgiveness of that pure and gentle spirit to its first and only love.
"Madame Michelini, whose success upon the Paris boards grew, after some little time, rather doubtful, having inherited the wealth of Mon ami,' the general, married, after all, the trombone player, and retired from the stage, and she is living or rather languishing in her snug little picturesque villa at M—.
"My story is concluded," said the bouquetière, endeavouring to resume her cheerful manner. She looked at us with a smile, although the tears were trembling in her eyes, and said archly; "and now, gentlemen, shall I give you another? Come, a merry one, hey-all about"
"No, no," we both exclaimed in a breath, "not to-night-not to-night -we can endure no gaiety just now."
I coughed; R blew his nose very loud indeed—and, without saying another word, we quitted the shop arm-in-arm, and took, in silence and in sadness, the road to our hotel.
PHILIP AND HIS POODLE.
WHEN Philip arrived on the following morning at the station of the railroad, and inspected the bill, he was delighted to find that a train about to start in a few minutes would pass through Eccleshall, the residence of his contemplated father-in-law. Rendered cautious by his last misadventure, he looked out for an empty carriage, in which he might immediately ensconce himself, an object, however, in which he could not succeed, but coming to one with only a single passenger, he jumped in, drew up the glass, and shrunk into a corner, so as to escape observation from the people on the platform. In another minute he was in rapid motion, his confidence reviving as he knew that he was whirling further and further from London, and speeding towards a remote and somewhat obscure locality, where there was hardly a possibility of his being recognised. Anxious to gather some information about the town where he was to win his once known, but now totally unrecollected heiress, he inquired of his companion, apparently a decent tradesman, at what hour the train would reach Eccleshall. After stating the time, the stranger added—“What, are you going to Eccleshall? We don't often get visitors to our quiet
"Are you, then, a native of that place?" inquired Philip, delighted at the thought of better qualifying himself for the part he was about to act by a few searching questions.
"Not a native, but I've lived there, man and boy, going on for fiveand-twenty year."
"Then you doubtless know Mr. Samuel Gibbons."
"Know him! Should think I did: play bowls with him day at the Magpie."
"I am not acquainted with him myself, and indeed have never seen him. I am merely going down on a matter of business in which he is concerned. Pray, what sort of a person is he?"
"Oh, he's a good little creature as can be, to play bowls or smoke a pipe with, but, poor fellow! as to any thing else, he baint much better than a Tom Noddy, or a born natural. Some call him 'Silly Sam,' and others, 'Goose Gibbons.' I've heard say he's got a softening of the brain, but, for my part, I shouldn't ha' thought he ever had much brain to soften."
"And Mrs. Gibbons ?"
"Rest her.soul! she ha' been dead this seven or eight year."
"I think I heard there are some children living ?"
"Only one, a girl, that's to say, a young woman now; for Susan must be two,-let me see, ay, upwards of two-and-twenty years old, and a kindly, stout-hearted, strait-forward lass she be; that's what she be !" "Is it true, or did I dream it, that she has a handsome fortune of her own ?"
"Don't know what you call handsome, but her uncle, old Matt. Ruggles, the miller, lately left her a matter of seven thousand pound, hard money, and that I call something better than handsome."
"Oh! clearly, clearly, I quite agree with you," said Philip, in an absent manner, his thoughts being entirely engrossed by the anticipated possession of the nice, kind-hearted lass and her fortune, the compromising and the silencing of the forgery affair, and his inflexible determination to become thenceforward one of the most honourable men and devoted husbands in all England. There was no hypocrisy in this: his good intentions were always sincere at the moment, but unfortunately he was too weak and vacillating to give them consistency. One all-important point remained to be ascertained, and he now inquired whether Susan's fortune were entirely at her own disposal.
"To be sure it is," was the reply; "what would be the use of leaving it to silly Sam? Bless your heart! he baint fit to be trusted with money. Susan manages every thing and settles every thing, and she's not the girl to be choused and cheated, I promise you."
This latter averment was not quite palatable to his auditor, who ceased not, however, to renew his interrogatories, and to gather such information as might be useful to him until they arrived at Eccleshall, when he left the train, and betook himself to an inn, that he might digest the information he had received, so as to make it support, in the most plausible way, the character he had assumed. The more he considered the difficult and perilous part he was about to play, the more nervous he became, and feeling the want of some support and stimulus, before his début, he called for a plate of sandwiches, and a bottle of champagne, the contents of which he tossed off with a rapidity that soon changed his misgiving mood into one of comparative recklessness. Without being intoxicated he was highly excited, his spirits recovered their habitual buoyancy, his innate love of banter, and hoaxing, and cajolery revived in all its force, and under the confused notion that he was about to act a part in a farce, he proceeded to the house of "Goose Gibbons" with a full determination to have some fun with him in the first instance, whatever might be the ultimate result of their interview.
The door of a neat cottage, on the outskirts of the town, having been opened by a maid, the visitant was ushered through the house into a trim, formal garden, where he found the proprietor, a little vacant-looking bald-headed old man, employed in watering one of the beds, for the more comfortable performance of which duty he had laid aside his coat and hat. On the appearance of the stranger he ceased, and gazing with a bewildered air first on the watering-pot, next on the ground, and then fixing his eyes accusingly on the former, he exclaimed,
Why, I do declare you've gone and watered the radishes instead of the flower-beds. How funny! Only to think! I wonder what Susan will say y? What's this? a letter for me, and waiting for an answer: here's doings! Just step into the parlour, sir, and we'll see what it is. sorry Susan's gone to market, for she answers all my letters. Never was such a clever managing girl as my Susan."
To the parlour they accordingly adjourned, when after taking out and deliberately wiping his spectacles, the old man adjusted them to his nose,
which seemed to have undergone a gradual enlargement, probably because he always talked through it.
"Samuel Gibbons, Esquire," he ejaculated, as he stared at the superscription. "Bless my heart! I'm no squire. I was born plain Samuel Gibbons, and have been so ever since.”
True enough in one sense, thought Philip, as he replied,
"Nay, sir, that might have been the case formerly, but now that your daughter has received such an accession of fortune
"Well, that may make a squire of her, and I don't deny it, but it won't make a squire of me, will it? Only to see how dreams do come to pass. I dreamt that I was sitting at my window, and I saw a jackass come to the house, and he brought me a letter."
"I feel infinitely obliged by the implied compliment," said Philip, bowing to the ground, "but you know, sir, that dreams go by contraries." "To be sure they do, to be sure they do: let me see, how should we stand then? Why, in that case I do declare the letter would be brought to the ass-he! he! so it would; how very funny! Any way it makes out my dream. I dreamt of a letter, and here is a letter! Wonderful!"
This interjection was repeated two or three times during the perusal of the missive, at the conclusion of which he again wiped and replaced his spectacles, and after scrutinising his visitant from head to foot, exclaimed,
"Sure-ly you don't mean to tell me that you're Augustus Davis, little pale-faced Gus that was, the son of my old friend Gabriel?"
"The same, sir, at your service, and at the service of your fair daughter, if I may be so far honoured."
Why, Gus was very short, and almost as dark as a gipsy, while you are tall, and fair, and florid. To be sure boys do change when they grow up to be men, and a few years will sometimes-"
"My dear sir, don't talk of years; this metamorphosis was not the work of time, but effected in a few days by that frightful illness which brought me to death's door, and completely changed my constitution and appearance."
"You don't say so. I never heard of it. What was it called ?" Gladly would Philip have supported the professional character he had assumed by pouring forth, according to established usage, a cento of long-winded medical terms; but not having any at command, and relying implicitly on the ignorance of his hearer, he put his law vocabulary in requisition, and replied with much fluency, and a very profound air, "Mine, sir, was a complicated case, first manifesting itself in a severe attack of mandamus, which rapidly turned to a nisi-prius, accompanied by fieri-facias."
"Shocking! why, your face is fair enough now. Something of a nettle-rash, I suppose?"
"No, indeed, no-a genuine case of pramunire, though Doctor Addlehead seemed to think that it might have originated in habeas corpus, with a latent tendency to certiorari.”
"Poor fellow! how you must have suffered with all these terrible complaints ?"
"Tortures, sir, tortures! One day I gave such a terrific scream that it broke a rummer in the next house, stopped the clock, and set all the bells ringing."
Sept.-VOL. LXXXIV. NO. CCCXXXIII.
"Only to think, what fun! I should like to have heard it. And what did take to cure you?"
"In the first instance the doctor gave me a strong decoction of qui tam, but I cannot say it did me much good. The Banco Regis pills allayed the pain, and enabled me occasionally to get some sleep; but I attribute my cure to my taking large and repeated doses of tales de circumstantibus. After such an illness, and such a course of medicine can you wonder at the change in my appearance?"
"La dear, no! I only wonder that you lived-I'm sure I shouldn't. I couldn't have swallowed half those hard words; they would have stuck in my throat, and choked me. Why do you always give Latin names to your physic ?"
Why, sir, we of the faculty consider it more appropriate that our prescriptions should be written in a dead language."
"Well now, very like it may-you know best, you
know best. But talking of medicine, our milkman's little girl has got a nasty tumour on her arm, and he was asking me this morning what he had better apply to it."
"Why, sir, I should say a cataplasm."
La, dear! you wouldn't surely put a cataplasm on such a very little girl, would you?"
"Well then, she may take a kittenaplasm, if she's so small."
"And so she may, I do declare, and so I'll tell her father. And now I must say a word about myself, for I don't feel quite so well as I ought, and I do verily believe I have got something in my head: isn't it funny ?"
"Let me feel your pulse, if you please; every thing depends upon that; it is, in point of fact, the coram nobis of the whole system." Here he drew out his handsome gold watch, followed the hand till it had completed sixty seconds, looked particularly sapient, and resumed. good sir, don't be uneasy about your head; depend upon it there's nothing in it; only a case of non compos mentis, nothing that a little medicine will not cure; as to the particular prescription we must reflect a little. What says the Pharmacopeia ?'"
"La, dear! how can I tell? I don't know Farmer Copeer."
The sham apothecary appeared to be deeply cogitating, and then suddenly cried, for he thought he had said enough to establish his professional knowledge: "Sad thing the death of your brother-in-law, Mr. Ruggles, the miller! a very worthy man."
"Poor Matt.! he was, indeed, and such a boxer! took lessons of big Bob. Well, I hope he's happy, but I can't help thinking that if he should want to square his elbows, it must be far from comfortable to find them pinioned down by the sides of the coffin. La, dear, how funny!" "But you have told me nothing about your father, my old friend Gabriel."
Why, sir, you see by his letter that he's a sad invalid. In point of fact, he suffered so frequently from felo de se, that we began to think nature had come to a decided Nolle Prosequi. However, he was mending when I left home."
"And your relations, the Figginses. How's your uncle Sam, the dyer?"