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his friend directed to two open letters lying upon the table, and exulting in particularly broad black margins.

“Take it,” said Pythias, tossing one of the ostentatiously-mournful letters across, “ you will see by that what I have lost. My poor old uncle; you had opportunities formerly of seeing how fond he was of me.”

“The jovial old boy! and is he gone?” exclaimed Ego, with unaffected fervency; and then, respecting his young friend's grief, he relapsed into a silence of some minutes' duration.

At length, returning from the window to which he had retired to give the bereaved nephew an opportunity of recovering himself, Ego approached him, with the view of offering a few words of sympathy-of consolation if possible—nay, even of gentle remonstrance, for the agitation of the young man was excessive, and it was necessary that he should put some control upon his emotions.

“I can't,” he cried in reply to the friendly expostulation ; “ I feel as though I should never know peace and comfort again. I have been in this state for several hours—and as you see me now, you will see me years hence, if I live so long. My dear sir, you have never lost such an uncle under such circumstances. You cannot understand an affliction such as mine. Mine is the agony of a lifetime, not of a day.” And he Aung himself, in what is called “abandonment,” on a sofa.

Now, Ego had not only never lost, but he had never happened to possess, a particularly rich uncle who was particularly fond of him ; the feelings of nephews therefore, on occasions like the present, were indeed enigmas to him. He well knew the extreme sensitiveness of his young friend's nature, his ardent susceptibility, his uncorruptedness of heart; and he equally well knew what reason the nephew had to be unboundedly grateful to a relation whose sole heir he was. Still, with all allowances on the score of susceptibility and gratitude, the emotion painfully visible in the features and demeanour of the bereaved, did appear extravagant-extravagant and mysterious.

" No,” exclaimed the mourner, starting from the sofa, and pacing the room from corner to corner, pray do not bid me be composed. The veriest clod would be moved almost to madness by such a sudden, such an irreparable loss. So kind,” stopping short, and reflecting for an instant, like an experienced clerk, who counts up at a glance a long column of heavy sums, and instantly ascertains the total, so kind and liberal as he was to me!" And at the thought his eyes rolled in so distressing a manner that the idea of the applicability of a straight-waistcoat darted across the mind of the friendly and compassionate beholder.

“ The remembrance of that kindness,” urged Ego, after a pause, “ will cheer you all through life; while the splendid fortune which you inherit, will enable you so to give effect to that jovial soul's generosity of-"

“Splendid fortune !—What do you mean? Oh, I see you've read the wrong letter. A splendid fortune !-a splendid shilling. You see, I'm cut off'; I should have mentioned that at first ;-cut off! The jovial soul that you speak of has left it all to a four-bottle rascal, a drunken cousin of mine, who had impressed his mind with a full belief

that I had joined the teetotalers, and so he swore that nobody should have his money that didn't know how to spend it—adding that he begrudged me the shilling, lest I should spend it in water-cold without ! And not a fault proved against me but one-that I wouldn't let him pay my wine-merchant's account last year—that I would make his allowance suffice--would discharge my own debts ! So much for temperance, honesty, gratitude, and moderation! If ever I'm temperate, grateful, honest, or moderate again, may I - -!”

It must be plain that Mr. Ego had not the slightest chance that day of finding a listener in his duped and disconsolate friend. So, having thus discovered the cause of the extreme emotion he had witnessed, and pronounced it to be, like many other mysteries, very simple and very natural when explained, he departed, with his own pathetic tale yet untold.

“ If the heart of a man be depressed with cares,” he is very apt to wander, quite unconsciously, into the vicinity of something not ill-calculated to lighten it. And so it was with Mr. Ego, who strolled on until he found himself unexpectedly in the neighbourhood of Tavistocksquare, and consequently within reach of the knocker of his tenderhearted—we had almost said of his tinder-hearted-friend, Mrs. Blos

som.

“ There are no such kind and pitying things as women, after all," said Ego, internally, as he lifted one of the pleasing bronze knockers that confer peculiar gentility on the door of Mrs. Blossom ; "and of all women,” he added, as he rang the bell, “ there's not one that will listen to you so attentively as a widow."

We should here remark that Mrs. Blossom was a widow; and by way of supplying some description of her we may observe, that the door above alluded to being rather wide than lofty in its structure, was singularly well adapted to afford admission to the lady of the mansion. But the widow Blossom was a charming person nevertheless, and we do not scruple to say had been more so. Only she was so very tender-hearted.

“ Delightful !” exclaimed that lady, as she tripped lightly-for trip lightly she could—into the drawing-room, and took the hand of her visiter between both her own—which were sufficiently small, white, and plump, to prevent any gentleman from being in a violent hurry to escape from their pressure. “ Delightful! This is so kind. I'm so glad you have dropped in—it is so very kind. But, dear, dear Mr. Ego-what is the matter? Why you look almost as melancholy as a married man!"

This was instantly followed by a short, fat, pleasant little laugh, which served as a running accompaniment to a declaration that she must have her wicked joke against marriage, though she protested it was a state of life into which she never once repented of having entered ; and then her face assumed a look of most sad and anxious inquiry, like Liston's (only lovelier), when he used to make that touching appeal to a gentleman with something upon his mind, “If it's murder, mention it."

“Ah! my dear madam," said Mr. Ego, " I know I ought not to come to you to tell my

troubles" “Ah! my dear friend,” interrupted the widow Blossom, “ I'm sure I've troubles that will match with the worst of yours. Talking of troubles, now-do sit down, and I'll tell you. I'm so charmed to have this opportunity, and I know you will sympathize. Those girls of mine

only think-they are beginning to occasion me such extreme distress. There's Miss Harriet-little Harrie, your favourite-well, I know I shall surprise you ; nothing on earth will now suit the girl, nothing but

- I'm half-ashamed to tell you, positively—but falling in love; falling -in-love! Ah, you may well look grieved ! Such a mere child, you know! you remember her being born. Why she was eightecn i think—or was it nineteen ?-only the other day, not a great while ago. Ridiculous, isn't it? but how dreadful ! I'm so shocked to hear the child talk; to hear her tell me that I was both in love and in matrimony too, long before I was her age, as I certainly was; and very, very bappily, I always lived considering the violent temper of poor Augustus, and his infidelities. But then that's no rule, and I am sure I should never have thought of being married if my mamma had been in a state of widowhood. Besides, my dear friend, what makes this affair a thousand times more shocking is, that this gentleman, Ensign Atkins--one of the Shropshire Atkinses-is supposed, very erroneously and very absurdly, but generally supposed to have-tó have other thoughts in visiting here—that is, that his addresses have another direction; not that I'm sure—but you must at once perceive how truly distressing is the whole affair—you can understand a mother's feelings," and the prettiest blush that had overspread the comely, round, fleshy features of the widow Blossom, was now succeeded by a sparkling and rather dangerous fire in the eye. “But of course I'm quite resolved," she continued, “to check this monstrously-premature passion, at once and for ever. If I utterly destroy the child's happiness it will be all for her own good. Don't you feel that I am right, and, unprotected as I am, that I must take this decided step? I'll lock her up for life-I will indeed. I see now that you quite agree with me—it's so kind. Directly I saw you, your face said that you came to sympathize with me!" and the charming widow Blossom, maternal tenderness and grateful friendship struggling in her gentle heart together, burst into a very becoming and well-sustained shower of tears.

The tearful mood was as little favourable as the talking mood for the one purpose of the melancholy Mr. Ego's visit, which was, to disburden his heart of its own sad freight. Accordingly he took upon himself, after a short interval, the task of consoling the forlorn widow, by pointing out the usual chances and prospects of relief in these cases — viz., that young ladies are very fickle, and that little Harrie was changeable from a child—that she was quite as likely to listen to the voice of reason as to the voice of love—that first love rarely made a match of it—that what appeared to be a dead shot of Cupid's might be nothing more than a flash in the pan—that a little absence and country air are an effectual cure in such cases—that the ensign might be ordered to join his regiment ! This last suggestion was unfortunate, for the excited widow looked less pleased than ever-reproachful even; so that. Mr. Ego, exhausted, saw no mode of condolence so practicable as an immediate plunge into the story of his own troubles.

“ But, dearest Mrs. Blossom,” he began, “ let me entreat you to be calm-listen to me but for a few moments. Where should I seek a

gentle listener, if not here? To whom should I appeal for sympathy, if not to you? The matter that is now weighing on my heart, dear Mrs. Blossom, -"

And Mr. Ego proceeded in a most earnest manner, and in tones mellifluously sad, to descant upon his secret woe, and his confidence in the tender-heartedness of his listener; who, on her part, reading in his eyes something very peculiar which she could not readily interpret, and hearing herself proclaimed as one to whom his soul yearned to disclose the source of his emotion, inclined her ear to hearken with such intentness and anxiety, that before he could possibly commence his dreary tale, Mr. Ego felt considerably disconcerted. He paused—and the pause begat fresh perplexity in the heaving bosom of the widow. What could those looks denote? What was he about to reveal ? Why should he so suddenly pause? An idea, quick as the lightning, and it must be owned equally bright, flashed across her mind-and then a flush as suddenly crimsoned her face. Her eyes, which had drooped very prettily as the tones of her perturbed visiter ceased, were now momentarily raised, and that glance which met his, had almost over. powered her sensitive nature. She was now in visible confusion; she was not less agitated, but evidently from an opposite cause, than she had been but a few minutes before; and poor Ego exhibited by his extreme embarrassment a full consciousness of all the difficulties that beset a gentleman who is misunderstood by a widow of exquisite sensibility.

His deep-seated sorrow, which he had called expressly to talk about, had now become unutterable, and he sat for a few moments longer, looking things that could only be described by the same epithet. But of course he felt that this absurd perplexity must be terminated at once by a desperate effort at explanation; and accordingly, having contrived to force his lips completely apart, he essayed, but in the most nervous tones, to articulate, “Ah, dearest madam, if you knew how natural it is for me, long as we have known and deeply as we have esteemed each other, to disclose to you in confidence all that I feel here—" but here he stopped, for in the necessary illustration of his text he had placed his hand somewhere in the immediate neighbourhood of the left-hand pocket of his waistcoat—a locality towards which the timid but very tender eye of the widow Blossom was as though instinctively directed; and this significant glance was no sooner observed by him, than his embarrassment was increased tenfold. He almost felt that he had better at once tell her in plain terms, she was entirely mistaken. But could he ? Could he even tell her now what he came to tell her, and disappoint her so cruelly? In his confusion he took her hand, which trembled as he touched it—and this made matters worse; he instantly dropped it and apologized and this made matters worse still. Not knowing what else in the world to do, there is every reason to apprehend that Mr. Ego would have felt absolutely obliged to extricate himself from his exceedingly delicate situation, by stammering out the expected announcement, and professing a boundless and unalterable passion, had not the startled widow herself relieved him, by a slight scream which issued from her lips, and supplied him with a pretext for instantly springing from his chair.

It's that Kitty, I heard her on the stairs," exclaimed Mrs. Blossom, in a voice hurried and agitated; and as the door of the drawing-room flew open, and Kitty sprang into the room like a young bird, whisking at the same time a little china ornament from a table which she passed, her mother fixing her fond eyes, brimful of tears, on Mr. Ego's face, cried out in tones which the timely crash behind shut from all ears but his, “ Was ever widow left with such irritating, such unfeeling children!"

Which way he turned, when he quitted the mansion of the provoked widow Blossom, Mr. Ego by no means knew or cared. He was alive only to the one fact that to the annoyance with which he had left home that morning, he had now one or two superadded—and as he walked on, he began to consider that it was rather odd that he should happen to find friend after friend in a tragic mood—all wailing and gnashing their teeth, so that not a word of his own story could he tell. But by this time he had travelled within a stone's throw of Gray's Inn.

“ Furnival's is not far off,” said Ego the wanderer, “ and I'll call on Tom Middleton. His three dismal octavoes have been made to look so brilliant in the reviews, and he has been written into so much more renown than he could ever hope to be read into, that he must be in a happy mood—and Tom's a kind fellow--I'll tell him my grievance."

Tom was at home; but the “ come in” which tardily followed the tap at the inner door of his chambers, had a gloomy, harsh, and illboding sound. If that “come in" did not come gratingly through the closed teeth of the gentleman-author within—but we won't anticipate.

Tom was in an easy-chair—but evidently on thorns—in a cozy position before the fire, but there was a manifest chill in his looks. He put out his hand languidly, and without rising, said simply, “Sit down."

The intruder was too much absorbed in his sorrow to see that he was an intruder; and bent on dividing his woes with a friend he loved, he began at once to explain.

“ Don't fancy, my dear Tom, that I come this time in the character of a congratulator-to bring you more delightful notices of your book, more critical tributes to your genius. Quite different-I'm here in the dismals. In faith, my dear fellow, I'm really concerned to say—"

“Oh! I know that,” said Tom, sharply; “ I was sure of that. I knew you must be concerned, much concerned—I could see that by your face, if I had needed such information.”

“ Then you've heard, have you ?" exclaimed Ego, with some surprise; and drawing his chair nearer, at the same time taking the hand of his friend with a grateful impulse, he added, “ Dear Tom, I'm sure you felt it bitterly, bitterly."

“ Heard of it ?" returned the author, in a sarcastic tone that was quite inexplicable; "heard of it? Oh, yes, I've heard of it. Felt it, you say! yes, and I've felt it too—bitterly, if that affords you any satisfaction. Heard ! oh, my good friend, one is sure to hear of these things rather promptly, and from many quarters. You're late with the news—six good-natured friends have been here before you."

Astonishing ! how did they hear of it ?” “They have read it,” replied Mr. Middleton, in a tone so calm

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