Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

gentlemen had been to inquire after him, and that three or four seemed anxious to take the chambers at the same rent he paid for them. He left word that his address would be

the house where his books and furniture had been deposited by Court on his leaving London; and, desiring the porter to inform any gentleman who wanted to know about the chambers, that they were to let at once at the usual rent, he thrust the bundle of letters into his pocket, and went forth in search of a lodging

Like many gentlemen of his stamp, though he had lived constantly in town for the last six years, he was completely ignorant of the bye-ways which lay without the bounds of his particular path. It had never interested him very much to know what other men, not so well off as himself, paid for lodgings. Many men of his acquaintance seemed to manage comfortably enough in rooms not a fourth part as big as his.

Many such men lived not very far from St. James's

Street; a quarter that would suit him well enough.

Thither he went, trying every house with “ lodgings » stuck in the window. Bury Street, Duke Street, King Street, York Street, &c., he tried them all. He was astonished, and beyond measure disheartened, at discovering what mere rat's holes were to be got in this fashionable neighbourhood for thirty shillings a week. Thirty shillings a week was altogether beyond his “figure ;" how could he afford to give thirty shillings a week for lodgings on three hundred pounds a year,

-out of which he would have to pay fifty for the interest on the thousand he owed his banker? The honour of living in such a locality had to be sacrificed. He left it in disgust, and walked up Piccadilly towards Mayfair. Here rent was just as high and lodgings no better. How tired he got of ringing up dirty housemaids, and waiting for the “ Missus” to show him the rooms and tell him how “’ealthy and hairy” they were,

how very cheap, and how remarkably respectable ! All looked, to his fastidious and untrained eye, dens of gloom and wretchedness. The stiff uneasy furniture of horsehair and pale mahogany, the flimsy paper fly-trap dangling from the ceiling, the villainous taste, making everything conspicuously offensive, characterised each set of rooms he looked at, not too expensive for the means he was reduced to.

It was growing dusk: still he had no idea where to settle. It was useless to put off the inconvenience to another day by going for the night to an hotel; besides, it was expenşive, and again he had nothing else to do. Gradually he relinquished the idea of finding quarters in the most fashionable

part

of the West End. He remembered having seen some decent looking lodging-houses in the neighbourhood of Whitehall. He entered three or four between that part of the town and the river ; here rent was materially lower, still the same stereotyped model of discom

fort seemed to have been closely adhered to. At last he was forced into the melancholy decision, that for one guinea a week he could nowhere find furnished apartments on anything approaching the same scale of grandeur as those which he had been in the habit of giving three for, unfurnished.

The landlady of No. 10 D-- Street appeared to be of a more accommodating and conciliatory disposition than the majority of lodging-house-keepers usually are; and the afternoon's walk had made him sufficiently acquainted with some of the peculiarities of the class, to enable him to detect at once the spark of amiability which shone in Mrs. Daniels' buxom face as, bustling about, she explained how very “ nice and comfortable” she could certainly make him. She could take him in there and then if he pleased; the bed was well-aired, the rooms had been cleaned that very morning ; she had only to light the fire, and send her little boy in a cab for his luggage, and it would all be as snug as possible in five minutes.

Between the combined influences of Mrs. Daniels' face, the promises of future advantages, and the happy reflection that he , might go farther and fare worse, Pierce de termined to remain where he was for the present; he therefore requested that his luggage might be sent for, his fire lit, and some tea and a mutton-chop brought up with as little loss of time as circumstances would permit.

Mrs. Daniels was as good as her word in exerting herself to the utmost.

She speedily provided for the temporary wants of her new lodger. The fire was lighted, the boy dispatched, and the tea-tray set upon the table. All was bustle and anxiety, for the buxom landlady had learnt from experience the appreciable value of a good first impression.

Pierce, with his pocket full of letters, and his head full of anything but Mrs. Daniels, was naturally desirous of being left to the sole enjoyment of his own company;

but

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »