« VorigeDoorgaan »
66 You won't !!"
vowed that if she sold him out and out “ No, sir, you sha'n't know a single she'd be put off no longer—and his word about it.'
pertinacious and melancholy tailor, “ Sha'n't know a single word about who, with sallow unshaven face, told it! My God! Do you know whom him of five children at home, all ill of you're talking to, sir? Do you really the smallpox, and his wife in an hospi. know who I am, sir?—whom you are tal—and he implored a payment on speaking to, sir?"
account. This sufferer succeeded in “ Mr Tag-rag, I presume, of the squeezing out of Titmouse seven shilfirm of Dowlas, Tag-rag, and Co."- lings on account, and his landlady exone or two of his companions near torted ten; which staved off a distress him, almost turned pale at the auda. -direful word—for some week or two city he was displaying.
longer ; and so they left him in the és And who are you, sir, that dare possession of eight shillings, or so, to to presume to bandy words with me, last till next quarter-day. He sighed sir” enquired Tag-rag, quivering heavily, barred his door, and sat down
opposite his little table, on which was “ Tittlebat Titmouse, at your ser- nothing but a solitary thin candle, and vice,” was the answer, in a glib tone, on which his eyes rested unconsciously, and with a sufficiently saucy air. till the stench of it, burning right down
“ You heard that, I hope ?" in the socket, roused him from his quired Tag-rag, with forced calm- wretched reverie. He then hastily ness, of a pale-faced young man, the threw off his clothes, and flung him. nearest to him.
self on his bed, to pass a far more dis. - Ye-es,'
was the meekly reluc- mal night than he had known for years. tant answer.
He ran the gauntlet at Messrs Dow. “ This day month you leave, sir !” las, Tag-rag, and Co.'s all Tuesday, said Mr Tag-rag, solemnly-as if as he had done on the day preceding. conscious that he was passing a sort One should have supposed that when of sentence of death upon the pre- his companions beheld him persecuted sumptuous delinquent.
by their common employer and mas“ Very well, Mr Tag-rag-any ter, whom they all equally hated, they thing that pleases you pleases your . would have made common cause with humble servant. will go this day their suffering companion, or at all month, and welcome. I've long events given no countenance to his wished
persecution; yet it was far otherwise. • Then you sha'n't leave, sir," said Without stopping to analyze the feel. Tag-rag, furiously.
ing which produced it, (and which the “ But I will, sir. You've given me moderately reflective reader may easily warning; and, if
haven't, now I analyze for himself if so disposed,) I give you warning," replied Titmouse; am grieved to have to say, that when turning, however, very pale, and ex- all the young men saw that Tag-rag periencing a certain sudden sinking of would be gratified by their cutting poor the heart-for this was a serious and Titmouse, who, with all his little vani. most unlooked-for event, and for a ties and emptinesses, had never offendwhile put out of his head all the agi- ed or injured any of them—they did tating thoughts of the last few hours. so; and, when Tag-rag observed it, Poor Titmouse had enough to bear- his miserable mind was more gratified what with the delicate raillery and with them by far than it had ever been banter of his accomplished compa- before. He spoke to all of them with nions for the rest of the day, and the unusual blandness; to the sinner, Tit. galling tyranny of Mr Tag-rag, who mouse, with augmented bitterness. dogged him about all day, setting him A few minutes after ten o'clock that about the most menial and troublesome night, a gentle ringing at the bell of offices he could, and constantly saying Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and Snap's mortifying things to him before cus- office, announced the arrival of poor tomers, and the state of miserable sus- Titmouse. The door was quickly pense in which Mr Gammon had opened by a clerk, who seemed in the thought fit to leave him ; I say that act of quitting for the night. surely all this was enough for him to o Ah-Me Titmouse, I presume?” bear without having to encounter at he enquired, with a kind of deference night, as he did, on his return to his in his manner that Titmouse had never lodgings, his blustering landlady, who been accustomed to.
“ The same, sir - Tittlebat Tit- « Yes" mouse.'
" What ?" “ Oh! allow me, sir, to conduct " Stopping out longer than I was you in to Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and allowed, and refusing to tell him what Snap, who are, I know, in expectation this gentleman and I had been talking of seeing you. It is very rarely that about." they are here at so late an hour.” - Don't think that'll do ; sure it With this he led the way to an inner wont !” briskly exclaimed Mr Snap ; room, and opening a green-baize door no just cause, that," and he jumped in the further side of it, announced Mr up, whisked down a book from the Titmouse, and left him-sufficiently shelves behind him, and eagerly turned flustered. Three gentlemen were sit- over the leaves. ting at a large table, on which he saw, - Never mind that now, Mr Snap,” by the strong but circumscribed light said Mr Quirk, rather petulantly ; of two large shaded candlesticks, were surely we have other matters to talk lying a great number of papers and about to-night.” parchments. The three gentlemen “ Asking
pardon, sir, but I think it rose when he entered, and Mr Gam- does matter to me, sir,” interposed mon came and shook hands with him. Titmouse; " for on the 10th of next
“Mr Titmouse, let me introduce month I'm a beggar-being next door you to Mr Quirk—(This was the se. to it now.' nior partner, a short, stout, elderly “ Not quite, we trust,” said Mr gentleman, with a shining bald head Gammon. and white hair, and sharp black eyes, “ But Mr Tag-rag said he'd make and who looked very earnestly at him) me as good as one. and Mr Snap-(this was the junior “ That's evidence to show malice," partner, having recently been pro- again eagerly interjected Mr Snap, moted to be such after ten years' ser- who was again tartly rebuffed by Mr vice in the office of managing clerk; Quirk ; even Mr Gammon turning tohe was about thirty, particularly well- wards him with a surprised—“Really, dressed, slight, active, and with a face Mr Snap !" like a terrier-so hard, sharp, and “ So Mr Tag-rag said he'd make wiry!- Mr Gammon himself was about you a beggar ?" enquired Mr Quirk. forty, very genteel, with a ready bow, “ He vowed he would, sir !" insinuating smile, and low tone of voice; - Ha, ha, ha!” laughed Mr Quirk his look, withal, acute and cautious.) and Mr Gammon—but such a laugh!
“A seat, Mr Titmouse," said Mr-not careless, or hearty, but subdued, Quirk, placing a chair for him, on and with a dash of deference in it. which he sat down, they resuming - Well—it perhaps may not signify theirs.
much, by that time," and he laughed “ Punctual, Mr Titmouse!" exclaim- again, followed by the soft laugh of ed Mr Gammon, with a smile; “more Mr Gammon, and a kind of sharp 80 than, I fear, you were yesterday, quick sound, like a bark, from Mr Snap. after our long interview, eh? Pray « But, gents, you'll excuse me if I what did that worthy person, Mr Rage say I think it does signify to me, and bag, say, on your return ?”
an't any laughing matter! Without Say, gents?"-(he tried to clear being rude, I'd rather come to busi. his throat, for he spoke somewhat ness, if there's any to be done, without more thickly, and his heart beat more this laughing at me.” perceptibly, than usual)—" I'm ruined “ Laughing at you! my dear siroma by it, and no mistake."
no, no!” exclaimed all three in a “Ruined! I'm sorry to hear it," breath—“laughing with you” said Mr interposed Mr Gammon, with a con- Quirk ! - By the time you mention, cerned air.
you may perhaps be able to laugh at Mr “ I am, indeed, sir. Such a tower. Rag-bag, and every body else, for—" ing rage as he has been in ever since ; (MWhy should we mince the matand he's given me warning to go on ter?' he whispered, in a low tone, to the 10th of next month.” He thought Mr Gammon, who nodded acquieshe observed a faint smile flit over the cence, and fixed his eyes earnestly on faces of all three. " He has, indeed!" Titmouse.]
“ Dear me, Mr Titmouse-what “ I really think we are warranted in cause did he allege for dismissing preparing to expect by that time an you?" keenly enquired Mr Quirk, extraordinary change in your circum
stances.” Titmouse began to tremble them, and round and square figures. violently, and his hands were bedewed When he saw them all bending over with a cold moisture.”
and scrutinising this mysterious ob“ I hear, sir,” he murmured; and he ject, it puzzled him (and many a also heard a faint ringing in his ears. better head than his has a pedigree
“ In all human probability, Mr Tit- puzzled before) sorely, and he began mouse," continued Mr Quirk, himself to suspect it was a sort of conjuring. a little excited with the important
paper ! communication that trembled on the “ I hope, gents, that paper's all tip of his tongue, "you will erelong right-eh?" said he, supported by the be put into possession of somewhere brandy, which he had nearly finished. about Ten Thousand a-year.”
They turned towards him with a smile The words seemed to have struck of momentary surprise, and thenTitmouse blind—as he saw nothing “ We hope so-a vast deal depends for some moments; then every thing on it,” said Mr Quirk, looking over seemed swimming around him, and his glasses at Titmouse. Now what he felt a sort of faintness or sickness he had hinted at, as far as he could stealing over him. They had hardly venture to do so, was a thought that been prepared for their communica. glanced across his as yet unsettled tion's affecting their visitor so power- brain, that there might have been infully. Mr Snap hastened out and in voked more than mere earthly assistwith a glass of water; and the earnest ance; but he prudently pressed the attentions of the three soon restored matter no farther-that was all Messrs Mr Titmouse to his senses.
It was a
Quirk, Gammon, and Snap’s look out; good while, however, before he could he had been no party to any thing of appreciate the little conversation which the sort, nor would he, knowingly. they now and then addressed to him, or He also observed the same sheets of estimate the full importance of the paper written all over, which Mr astounding event Mr Quirk had just Gammon had filled at his (Titmouse's) communicated. “ May I make free room, the night before ; and many to ask for a little brandy and water, new and more old-looking papers and gents? I feel all over in a kind of parchments. Sometimes they adtremble, said he, some half an hour dressed questions to him, but found it afterwards."
somewhat difficult to keep his atten. “ Yes—by all means, Mr Titmouse. tion up to any thing that was said to Mr Snap, will you be kind enough to him for the wild visions that were order Betty to bring in a glass of chasing one another through his heatbrandy and water from the Jolly ed brain; the passage of which said Thieves, next door?"-Snap shot out, visions was not a little accelerated by gave the order, and returned in a the large tumbler of brandy and water trice. The old woman, in a few which he had just taken. minutes' time followed, with a large “ Then, in fact," said Mr Gammon, tumbler of dark brandy and water, as the three simultaneously sat down, quite hot, for which Mr Gammon apo- after having been for some time standlogized, but Mr Titmouse said he pre- ing poring over the paper before Mr ferred it som
-and soon addressed him- Quirk. “Tittlebat's title accrued in self to the inspiriting mixture. It 1818?" quickly manifested its influence, re- “ Precisely so," said Mr Quirk em. assuring him wonderfully. As he sat phatically. sipping it, Messrs Quirk, Gammon, “ To be sure," confidently added and Snap being engaged in an earnest Snap ; who having devoted himself conversation, of which he could under exclusively all his life to the sharpest stand little or nothing, he had leisure practice of the common law as it is to look about him, and observed that called, knew about as much of real there was lying before them a large property law as
a snipe_but it sheet of paper, at which they all of would not do to appear ignorant
, them often and earnestly looked, filled or taking no part in the matter, with lines, som
in the presence of the heir-at-law, and the future great client of the House.
« Well, Mr Titmouse,” at length
said Mr Quirk, laying aside his glasses with writing at the ends of each of luckiest men of your day! We may
"you are likely to be one of the
money, is it?”
be mistaken, but it appears to us that the three readily-proffered right hands
66 And is it all a ready-money affair, “We do, indeed; and are very proud gents--or rent, and all that kind of and happy indeed to be the honour thing?" ed instruments of establishing your “ Why, almost entirely the latter," rights, my dear sir,” said Mr Gammon. answered Quirk, “ except the accu
" Then all the money that's been mulations.” spent this ten or twelve years is my “ Then I'm a great landlord, am I?”
“ Indeed, my dear Mr Titmouse, “ If we are right, it is undoubtedly you are- -(that is, unless we have as you say,” answered Mr Quirk. made a blunder such as our house is
• There'll be a jolly reckoning for not often in the habit of making)some one, then, shortly-eh? My and have two very fine houses in difeyes!”
ferent parts of the country.' “Ah, my dear Mr Titmouse,” cried “ Capital ! delightful! I'll live in Mr Gammon, with subdued ecstasy, both of them-such goings on! And as before his mind's eye rose visions is it quite up to the mark of L.10,000 of interminable proceedings at law a-year ?" and in equity--hundreds upon hun- * We really entertain no doubt.” dreds of portly, red tape-tied cases, " And such as I can spend all of it, • briefs,' and motion papers,' with every year ?" Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, at the bot- “ Certainly—no doubt of it-not tom of each of them, and constantly the least. The rents are paid with under the eye of the court and the bar, most exemplary—at least,” added Mr and before the public, (the same kind Gammon, with a captivating, an irreof thoughts must have passed through sistible smile, and taking him affecSnap's mind, for he rubbed his hands tionately by the hand" at least they in silence with an excited air.) will be, as soon as we have them fairly
“ My dear Mr Titmouse, you have in our management. a most just regard for your own in- « Oh, you're to get it all in for me, terests; there will be a reckoning, and are you ?” he enquired briskly. The a very terrible one, erelong, for some- three partners bowed, with the most body—but we've time enough for all deprecatingly disinterested air in the that! Only let us have the unspeak- world, intimating that, for his sake, able happiness of seeing you once they were ready to take upon themfairly in possession of your estates, selves even that troublesome responand our office shall know no rest till sibility! you have got all you are entitled to “ Capital ! couldn't be better ! every farthing even !"
couldn't be better ! Ah, ha, ha « Oh, never fear our letting them you've catched the goose, and must rest!” said Mr Quirk, judiciously ac- bring me its eggs. Ah, ha, ha! a commodating himself to the taste and touch in your line, old gents !" apprehension of his excited auditor- “ Ha, ha, ha! excellent! ah, ha, “ Those that must give up the goose, ha!” laughed the three partners at must give up the giblets also-ha, ha, the wit of their new client. Mr Titha !” Messrs Gammon and Snap mouse joined them, and snapped his echoed the laugh, and enjoyed the fingers in the air. joke of the head of the firm.
« Lord—I've just thoughtof Dowlas, “ Ha, ha, ha!” laughed Mr Tit- Tag-rag and Company's I seem as mouse, immensely excited by the con- if I hadn't seen or heard of them for joint influence of the brandy and the Lord knows how long !—but there news of the night ; " capital! capital! they are !_fancy old Tag-rag making hurrah! Such goings on there will me a beggar on the 10th of next be! You're all of the right sort, I month_ha, ha, ha!-sha'n't see that sce! Law for ever! Let me shake dd hob any more.” hands with you all, gents! Come, if “ There !" whispered Mr Gamyou please, all together! all friends mon, apprehensively, in the ear of Mr to-night!” And he grasped each of Quirk; “ didn't I tell you that that
would be it? We've been monstrous- 'em-he's robbed the fatherless, which ly foolish and premature.”.
I am, and an orphan! Keep me out “ It won't do to go back to that of what's mine, indeed ! D--d if eugh!-eh ? will it ?-you know what he shall, though !" I mean! Fancy Tittlebat Titmouse " My dear Mr Titmouse," said standing behind
Gammon gravely, “ we are getting The partners looked rather blank. on too fast-dreadfully too fast. It
“ We could venture to suggest, Mr will never do: matters of such imTitmouse,” said Mr Gammon, serious- mense importance as these cannot be ly, “ the absolute necessity there is for hurried on, or talked of, in this every thing on your part and our way."parts to go on as quietly as before, 56 I like that, sir !—I do, de!" for a little time to come; to be sure
• You will really, if you go on in and safe, my dear sir, we must be this wild way, Mr Titmouse, make us secret."
regret the trouble we have taken in « Oh, I see gents ! I see; mum the affair, and especially the prompt-mum's the word, for the present ! ness with which we have communiBut, I must say, if there is any one
the extent of your good whom I want to hear of it, sooner fortune." than another, its”
• Beg pardon, I'm sure, gents, but “ Dowdy, Rag-bag, and Co., I sup- mean no offence; am monstrous obpose! ha, ha, ha!" interrupted Mr liged to you for what you've done for Gammon, his partners echoing his membut, by Jove, it's taken me rather laugh.
a-back, I own, to hear that I'm to be “ Ha, ha, ha! Cuss the cats—that's kept so long out of it all. Why can't it-ha, ha, ha !" echoed Mr Titmouse; you offer him, whoever he is that has who, getting up out of his chair, could my property, a handsome sum to go not resist capering to and fro in out at once? Gents, I'll own to you something of the attitude of a stage. I'm most uncommon low-never so dancer, whistling and humming by low in my life-d-d low! Done up, turns, and indulging in various other and can't get what's justly mine! wild antics.
What am I to do in the mean while ? “ And now, gents, to do a bit of Consider that, gents.” business—when am I to begin scatter- " You are rather excited just now, ing the shiners, eh?" he enquired, Mr Titmouse," said Mr Quirk, seriinterrupting an earnest low-toned ously ; suppose we now break up, conversation between the partners. and resume our conversation to-mor.
« Oh, of course, some delay is un. row, when we are all in better and avoidable. All we have done, as yet, calmer trim ?" is to discover that, as far as we are “ No, sir, thanking you all the advised, and can judge, you are the same; but I think we'd better go on right owner ; but very extensive ope- with it now,” replied Titmouse, imperations must be immediately com- tuously. “Do you think I can stoop to menced, before you can be put in pos- go back to that nasty, beastly, shop, session. ere are some who won't and stand behind the counter?" be persuaded to drop L.10,000 a-year “ Our decided opinion, Mr Titout of their hands for the mere askmouse,” said Mr Quirk, emphatically ing.'
-his other partners getting very * The devil there are !
grave in their looks—" that is, if our they that want to keep me any longer opinion is worth offering". out of what's my own ?-what's justly " That remains to be seen," said mine? Eh? I want to know! Titmouse, with a pettish shake of the Haven't they kept me out long head. enough ?-__--n'em! Put 'em in “ Well, such as it is, we offer it you; prison directly–don't spare 'em-ras- and it is, that for many reasons you cals !"
continue, for a little while longer, in “ They'll probably, erelong, find your present situation." their way in that direction-for, how- • What! own Tag-rag for my masever, he's to make up, poor devil, the ter-and I worth £10,000 a-year?" mesne profits”.
* My dear sir, you've not got it « Mean profits ?_is that all you yet." call them, gents ? It's rogue's money
you'd have told me - villain's profits! So don't spare what you have, if you weren't sure ?