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of unvarnished boots and an ill-brushed hat; and far more deeply interested in in-coming fees, than in the resentments and dilapidations of Harrals.
On the day of little Johnny's christening, however, the discarded son became conscious, almost for the first time, that he was decidedly
in the wrong.
From the moment of welcoming the little fellow to his modest wicker cradle, he regarded him less as the second child of his happy wedlock, than as the heir-in-tail to the family estates; and the sort of consequence he assigned to his infant, seemed to retrace itself through his own veins to those of his father. However lightly he had hitherto affected to hold the hereditary rank and fortune of the Woolstons, now that he had subsided into a mere link in the chain that was to unite their name with posterity, he began to exaggerate its importance.
This son of his, who squalled so lustily when invested in the christening-robe worked by his Denny Cross aunts, and already worn by his sister on occasion of a similar solemnity, might perhaps live to aggrandise the family hereditaments. Little Johnny need not marry imprudently. Little Johnny need not extinguish himself on the threshold of life. Nay, he might perhaps live to become a peer of the realm, and increase the Harrals estate by the Walsingham property adjoining ; long coveted by the reigning baronet, who had waited and parleyed for thirty years, in hopes to get it a bargain.
Yet, in spite of all these prospective honours, and lacking the ox roasted whole for immediate distribution, and the stout October that ought to have been brewed, with a view to his coming of age, the world in general cared as little for the birth of John Woolston the Second, as for that of the last-born pauper in the parish union. Even the heart of his proud father was darkened on the morning of the christening, by a letter from his coal-merchant, requesting that the amount of his over-due Christmas bill might be settled without further delay.
But it was not alone the peremptory tone of the dealer in Screened Walls-end, or even the careless one in which the baptismal ceremony was gabbled over by an over-tasked curate, that produced his humiliation of spirit. His brother-in-law, Harpsden, formerly, when the suitor of Caroline Woolston, so obsequious and affectionate, had evaded, by shuffling excuses, a journey to town to officiate at his nephew's christening; while Mrs. Molyneux acquainted her brother, in a few reckless lines, that Gerald and herself found it impossible to quit Molyneux Castle before the close of the hunting season, to stand sponsors for the boy. As to Wroughton and Clara, they had not so much as trou
bled themselves to answer the letter announcing the birth of an heir to Harrals.
Poor Woolston ceased therefore to wonder, since his own kith and kin stood aloof, that his mere acquaintances were growing cooler and cooler. Ignorant of the nature of the Harrals entail, people concluded, from appearances, that the offended son was actually disinherited; and the nods of the great, whom he accidentally encountered, became more and more patronising ; and the coldness of the ungracious, more icy.
Already sore from the consciousness of a pinched and needy household, these slights galled him severely. He had not greatness of soul to rise superior to such petty annoyances. Few people have, to whom it is impossible to pay their coal-merchant's bill. Nor did he take into account that it was less the poor man who was avoided by his acquaintance, than the care
To be seen walking with an individual in a seedy coat, is not half so unsatisfactory to a man of the world, as to waste his time on a