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“Sir,” said I, “ were I to introduce to Lord — and his family a person who is not your wife, his lordship would be justified in ordering his grooms to duck me in the nearest horse-pond. Assure me, upon your honour, that you are married to Mrs. Snatchit, and I shali be happy to accede to your wish.” This was a question difficult of evasion.
He paused for a moment; then, laying his hand upon his heart, he said, fervently, “ Nephew, by all that is most sacred, I swear that I am not!” Again he paused for a while, and added, “ I will confess to you that I have more than once proposed marriage to her; but the good, the disinterested creature has always resolutely rejected the offer, nay, threatened to abandon me—to abandon me--should I persist in repeating it."
“And yet, my dear uncle," said I, in a tone of mild remonstrance, you would not have hesitated to introduce this
“Tobias,-my child-my son,” cried he,“ don't reproach me-I cannot help myself-I am a fettered slavema wretched, miserable man. Years ago did Wigsley and other friends warn me of what this -must-come to,"—(these words he uttered emphatically)—"and to this most surely, most wofully, is it come, Nephew-nephew-look at me, pity me, and learn wisdom through my folly. Let clergymen's daughters drown themselves if they will; but would you be a respected and a happy man, marry, marry, MARRY.”.
He covered his face with his hands and sobbed like a child ; then, throwing himself into a chair, he stared at me with a vacant, idiotic look —now almost common with him-and, after a few minutes, fell asleep. Deeply as I was moved by the earnest, the pathetic, words and manner of my poor uncle, there was something so exquisitely ludicrous in his warning about clergymen's daughters (coming as it did), that it was with difficulty I restrained my laughter.
To every word of this conversation had Mrs. Snatchit been listening at the keyhole of the door of the adjoining room! This I was told by one of the servants as I quitted the house. Mark well the day! Observe that this occurred on the sixteenth of July.
I returned to Oxford to pass my last term. Before the expiration of a month—on the 12th of August, I was astonished at the receipt of a letter dated “St. Germain-en-Laye." It was from my uncle, and, judging from the dryness of its style and its unusual brevity, it seemed to me to have been written under dictation. It was simply this :
u St. Germain-en-Laye,
8th August, 18. “Dear Nephew, “ Have not been very well-have been recommended change of airto try this place. Dear, Good Mrs. Snatchit, has most kindly consented to accompany and take care of me. The good captain, too, is
You need not write, AND BY NO (EANS COME. I am taken care of to my heart's content. Will give you notice of my return.
* Your affectionate uncle, “To T. Higs, Esq.,
“ Tobias Higs. “ Oriel College,
I instantly went up to town. I called in Little Ormond-street. The house was closed; but a bill in one of the windows, obligingly informed me that it was to be let, furnished, for six months, and that if I had the smallest desire for any further information, I might apply to one Mr. Clatterbottom, a house-agent in Lamb's Conduit-street. This was pleasant. I next went to my uncle's broker in the city. By him I was informed that on the seventeenth of July, my uncle had sold out all that remained to him-(I did not like the phrase)—of his property in the various stocks, which produced him 15,7251. 19s. 6d., for the purpose, as my uncle told him, of investing the money in the French funds." By the banker I was told, that on that same day, that identical sum had been remitted to the house of Larose and Co., bankers, at Paris, there to await niy uncle's order. My next visit was to Mr. Chousely, my uncle's solicitor, who assured me that up to the morning of the nineteenth of July, which was the day of his departure-quick work !-no alteration, that he knew of, had been made in my uncle's will to my disadvantage. Nevertheless, as he did not quite like the appearance of things, he advised that we should instantly set off together for France, and look about us. This we agreed to do on the morrow. On the morning of that day the post brought to Mr. Chousely a letter dated Dover. It was from my uncle. It stated that the air of France not agreeing with him, he had, after a few days' trial of it, resolved to return;
(this resolution he must have taken within a day or two after the date of his letter to me)—that he had arrived at Dover, but was too ill to proceed to London; and requested that Mr. Chousely would come to him without DELAY, as he had a communication of the utmost importance to make to him, and, if possible, bring Tobias along with him. To Dover we went; and there, at the Ship Inn, stretched on a bed, we found my poor uncle-speechless. To be brief : thus did he remain till, at the end of the third day-he expired.
And where were Mrs. Snatchit and the captain ? Nobody knew any thing about them. The old gentleman had arrived unattended. Well; we returned to London. The will was opened; it was unaltered; I still was residuary legatee: that was well; but
It appeared, upon investigation, that my uncle's property had never been as large as his friends supposed : that, at various times, he had given to Mrs. Snatchit sums of fifty, eighty, and a hundred pounds, amounting in the whole to nearly seven thousand pounds! and that the entire of the large sum remitted to Paris, had, “ at one fell swoop," been paid, upon his written order, to that lady!
And what remained to me? About sixty pounds lying in his banker's hands, and the unexpired term of_three years in the lease of the lively house in Little Ormond-street. The plate, and all else that was valuable and moveable, had already been taken by Mrs. Snatchit; and the heavy, old furniture was, according to the directions of the will, to be hers also. But it was not likely “the good, the disinterested creature," who had so often refused to marry her master, would now claim the legacy: —for she, and her husband, the moment they received the money from the Paris banker, betook themselves to the classic land of Italy. At the time when my uncle first met the “ clergyman's daughter," and saved her from a watery grave, she was already the wife of Richard Snatchit, a private in the guards, then serving in the Peninsula; and
at about the period when the captain's visits began to extend beyond the hour of nine, his lady, through my uncle's bounty, had been enabled to purchase his discharge from the regiment.
And here was 1, with the education and the habits of a gentleman, and led to expect wherewithal to support my position, left, not only without the means to do so, but without even sufficient to enable me to enter any profession, whereby I might have remedied my ill fortune. Was I not justified, then, in exclaiming at the outset of this narrative-
But I will reserve the conclusion of my own story for some other occasion, leaving my uncle to figure as the hero upon the present. And should his history, in no one point exaggerated, serve as a warning to one single single old gentleman in the Temple, or in Lincoln's-inn, or Clifford’s-inn, or Clement's-inn, or Albany, or even in the snug retreat of an Alpha Cottage, I shall not consider my time as ill-spent in the relating of it.
THE WIDOW MARRIED.*
BY MRS, TROLLOPE.
TETE-A-TETE, AND AN INTERRUPTION GREAT WANT OF GALLANTRY ON THE PART OF JACK-ENFORCED CONFIDENCE, sucCEEDED BY VERY FAMILIAR COMPANIONSHIP-A HAPPY LITTLE PARTY.
MEANWHILE the two friends at last reached their destination at Brompton; but not before the veal cutlets and mashed potatoes were very nearly reduced to cinders, and poor Miss Louisa as nearly out of temper as her constitutional tranquillity would permit.
The evening of course passed in alternate mutterings between Miss Matilda and Patty, which in style might not inaptly have been compared to those classic eclogues, in which a gentle contest is briskly kept up on rival themes; for “dear, beautiful Jack Steady," on the one side ; and “poor, dear Foxcroft," on the other, invariably formed the subject of each eloquent speaker's volubility. Good Miss Louisa was very little in their way, not seeming in the slightest degree conscious of what they were saying, and to all appearance as completely devoted to the intricate mysteries of some newly-invented knitting, as her companions could be in endeavouring to trace the still subtiler twistings of the human heart.
The following morning looked so brightly inviting, that even the quiet, thimble-loving Miss Louisa, proposed a walk; adding, moreover, with more than usual vivacity, “Suppose, my dears, that we were all to go together to hear the band play? It is such a beautiful walk, turning in at the Green-park, Matilda, you know; and I don't suppose dear Patty ever heard such a band in her life.”
The friends exchanged glances and a little closing up of the eyes, and an almost imperceptible shake of the head in each, said plainly to the other, that it would not do at all. It had, indeed, been agreed between them before they left their sleeping apartinent (for the uncombative Louisa had resigned herself to the drawing-room carpet, and a blanket), that Patty must assign an incipient sore throat, as a reason for wishing to stay at home; while Matilda, after the one-o'clock slice of bread-and-butter had been handed round, should request the company of her elder sister upon some errand of importance, to be invented for the nonce, the eligibility of performing which, should be further made manifest by pointing out the necessity of not letting poor Patty talk too much.
All this was accordingly performed ably, and received in the best manner possible by Miss Louisa ; and at ten minutes before two, Miss O'Donagough was seated alone, and in state, upon the Miss Perkinses' sofa, with every one of her beautiful pink bows exactly in its right place; her black curls, à la poodle, wantoning over her comely face, and her eyes shining with more than usual brightness.
Continued from No. ccxxviii., page 501.
Luckily she did not wait long, or it is possible her charming looks might have been injured by impatience. Exactly at two o'clock, the knocker of the house-door, gave signal of a visiter ; an active young step was heard upon the stairs, and in the next moment, the name of “Mr. John Steady" was announced, when Patty's “own darling Jack" stood before her.
The young man, though no longer in regimentals, looked, as she thought, ten thousand times handsomer than ever, and Patty's step to welcome him, was so eager that it brought her to the door almost before he had fully entered it.
“Oh, my dear Jack!” she exclaimed; “I am so glad you are come ! and I have made every body go out on purpose that we might have a long comfortable talk by ourselves. What a time it is since you set off in that nasty boat for Sheerness ! Ain't you glad to see me again, Jack ?”
“ Most surely I am, my dear Miss Patty,” replied the young man; “ but you are looking so remarkably well, that I have no occasion to inquire after your health. Have you been in London ever since your arrival ?
“Oh lor, no! not we,” replied Patty, seating herself on the sofa, with a hand extended on each side of her, so as to assist in a sort of jumpfor-joy movement with which she relieved the fulpess of her heart, while she gazed upon her visiter, as he sat opposite to her. “We staid almost no time in London then, but went down on the top of the coach to Brighton on purpose to see all mamma's grand relations; and there they were, lots of 'em, men, women, and children ; but there wasn't one of the whole kit, that I liked so well as you, Jack.”
“ You are exceedingly kind, I am sure," replied the youth, blushing a little, and then stopping, very evidently at a loss what to say next.
“Mercy upon me! I don't call that kind, because I could not help it, you know. You could not like any body as well as me, Jack, could you ?"
“ I am sure nobody in the world can deserve to be liked better-because you are always so very good-natured.”
“ Good-natured! Is that all? Why, I wouldn't give a penny for any body who hadn't more to say for themselves than that! My goodness, Jack! Do you remember your jumping overboard into the sea ? I never shall forget it, the longest day I have to live! And do you remember who it was'that brought you to ? and then our nice, dear, shipbilliards ! Oh, what fun, to be sure! And think of your trying to make us believe that you wasn't a bit better than a common sailor ! But I wasn't such a fool as that, any
how." “ My dear Miss O'Donagough,” began Mr. Steady—but the young lady stopped him short
“Once for all, Jack, I won't be called Miss O'Donagough, or Miss Patty, either, by you. So mind that, if you please, or else you and I shall quarrel, as sure as you sit there. You always used to call me Patty, and Patty I choose to be called ; and I shall call you Jack too, unless when we happen to have listeners, and then, I suppose, I must call you Mr. Steady."
The young man seemed to make an effort to look grave, but it was in vain, and he laughed heartily. Without exactly understanding,