« PreviousContinue »
enclosure meeting his eyes in the shape of a bank-note.
"Oh Lord!" he murmured, turning white as the sheet of paper he held. Then the letter dropped from his hand, and he stood as if stupified for some moments; but presently rapture darted through him; a five-pound bank-note was in his hand, and it had been enclosed in the following letter: "35, Thavies' Inn, 29th July 182-.
"My dear Mr Titmouse,
"Your last note, addressed to our
firm, has given me the greatest pain, and I hasten, on my return from the country, to forward you the enclosed trifle, which I sincerely hope will be of temporary service to you. May I beg the favour of your company on. Sunday evening next, at seven o'clock, to take a glass of wine with me? shall be quite alone and disengaged; and may have it in my power to make you some important communications, concerning matters in which, I assure you, I feel a very deep interest on your account. Begging the favour of an early answer to-morrow morning, I trust you will believe me, ever, my dear sir, your most faithful humble
The first balmy drop of the longexpected golden shower had at length fallen upon the panting Titmouse. How polite-nay, how affectionate and respectful-was the note of Mr Gammon! and, for the first time in his life, he saw himself addressed
"TITTLEBAT TITMOUSE, ESQUIRE." If his room had been large enough to admit of it, Titmouse would have skipped round it again and again in his frantic ecstasy. Having at length read over and over again the blessed letter of Mr Gammon, he hastily folded it crumpled up the bank-note in his hand, clapped his hat on his head, blew out his candle, rushed down stairs as if a mad dog were at his heels, and in three or four minutes' time was standing breathless before old Balls, whom he almost electrified by asking, with an eager and joyous air, for a return of the articles which he had only an hour before pawned with him; at the same time laying down the duplicates and the bank note. The latter, old Balls scrutinized with most anxious exactness, and even suspicion-but it seemed perfectly unexceptionable; so he
gave him back his precious ornaments, and the change out of his note, minus a trifling sum for interest. Titmouse then started off at top speed to Huckaback; but it suddenly occurring to him as possible that that gentleman, on hearing of his good fortune, might look for an immediate repayment of the ten shillings he had recently lent to Titmouse, he stopped short-paused— and returned home. There he had hardly been seated a moment, when down he pelted again, to buy a sheet of paper and a wafer or two, to write his letter to Mr Gammon; which having obtained, he returned at the same speed, almost overturning his fat landlady, who looked after him as if he were a mad cat scampering up and down stairs, and fearing that he had The note he gone suddenly crazy.
wrote to Mr Gammon was so exceed
ingly extravagant, that, candid as I have (I trust) hitherto shown myself in the delineation of Mr Titmouse's character, I cannot bring myself to give the said letter to the readermaking all allowances for the extraordinary excitement of its writer.
Sleep that night and morning found and left Mr Titmouse the assured exulting master of TEN THOUSAND AYEAR. Of this fact, the oftener he read Mr Gammon's letter, the stronger became his convictions. 'Twas undoubtedly rather a large inference from small premises; but it secured him unspeakable happiness, for a time, at a possible cost of future disappointment and misery, which he did not pause to consider. The fact is, that logic (according to Dr Watts, the right use of reason) is not a practical art. one regards it in actual life; observe, therefore, folks on all hands constantly acting like Tittlebat Titmouse in the case before us. His conclusion wasthat he had become the certain master
of ten thousand a-year; his premises
were what the reader has seen. I do not, however, mean to say, that if the reader be a youth hot from the University, he may not be able to prove, by a very refined and ingenious argument, that Titmouse was, in what he did above, a fine natural logician; for I recollect that Aristotle hath demonstrated, by a famous argument, that the moon is made of green cheese; and no one that I have heard of, hath ever been able to prove the contrary.
By six o'clock the next morning, Titmouse had, with his own hand,
dropped his answer into the letter-box upon the door of Mr Gammon's chambers in Thavies' Inn; in which answer he had, with numerous expressions of profound respect and gratitude, accepted Mr Gammon's polite invitation. A very happy man felt he, as he returned to Oxford Street; entering Messrs Dowlas's premises with alacrity, just as they were being opened, and volunteering his assistance in numerous things beyond his usual province, with singular briskness and energy; as if conscious that by doing so he was greatly gratifying Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, whose wishes upon the subject he knew. He displayed such unwonted cheerfulness and patient good-nature throughout the day, that one of his companions, a serious youth, in a white neckerchief, black clothes, and with a sanctified countenance-the only professing pious person in the establishment-took an occasion to ask him, in a mysterious whisper, "whether he had not got converted;" and whether he would, at six o'clock in the morning, accompany the speaker to a room in the neighbourhood, where he (the youth aforesaid) was going to conduct an exhortation and prayer meeting! Titmouse refused-but not without a few qualms; for luck certainly seemed to be smiling on him, and he felt that he ought to be grateful for it; but then, he at length reflected, the proper place for that sort of thing would be a regular church-to which he resolved to go. This change of manners Tag-rag, however, looked upon as assumed only to affront him; seeing nothing but impertinence and defiance in all that Titmouse did-as if the nearer Titmouse got to the end of his bondage—i. e. the 10th of August-the lighter-heart
ed he grew. He resolved religiously
to keep his counsel; to avoid evenat all events for the present-communicating with Huckaback.
On the ensuing Sunday he rose at an earlier hour than usual, and took nearly twice as long a time to dress often falling into many delightful reveries. By eleven o'clock he might be seen entering the gallery of St Andrew's Church, Holborn; where he considered that doubtless Mr Gammon, who lived in the neighbourbood, might attend. He asked three or four pew-openers, both below and above, if they knew which was Mr Gammon's pew-Mr Gammon of Thavies' Inn;
not dreaming of presumptuously going to the pew, but of sitting in some place that commanded a view of it. Mr Gammon, I need hardly say, was quite unknown there-no one had ever heard of such a person: nevertheless Titmouse, albeit a little galled at being, in spite of his elegant appearance, slipped into a back pew, remained-but his thoughts wandered grievously the whole time; on then he sauntered in the direction of Hyde Park, to which he seemed now to have a sort of claim. How soon might he become, instead of a mere spectator as heretofore, a partaker in its glories! The dawn of the day of fortune was on his long-benighted soul; and he could hardly subdue his excited feelings. Punctual to his appointment, as the clock struck seven he made his appearance at Mr Gammon's, with a pair of span-new white kid gloves on, and was speedily ushered, a little flurried, by a comfortable looking elderly female servant, into Mr Gammon's room. He was dressed just as when he was first presented to the reader, sallying forth into Oxford Street to enslave the ladyworld. Mr Gammon, who was sitting reading the Sunday Flash at a table on which stood a couple of decanters, several wine-glasses, and two or three dishes of fruit, rose and received his distinguished visiter with the most delightful affability.
"I am most happy, Mr Titmouse, to see you in this friendly way," said he, shaking him by the hand.
"Oh, don't name it, sir," quoth Titmouse, rather indistinctly, and hastily running his hand through his hair.
"I've nothing, you see, to offer you but a little fruit, and a glass of fair port or sherry.'
"Particular fond of them, sir," replied Titmouse, endeavouring to clear his throat; for in spite of a strong ef fort to appear at his ease, he was unsuccessful; so that, when Gammon's keen eye glanced at the bedizened figure of his guest, a bitter smile passed over his face, without having been observed. "This," thought he, as his eye passed from the ring glittering on the little finger of the right hand, to the studs and breast-pin in the shirt front, and thence to the guard-chain glaring entirely outside a damson-coloured satin waistcoat, and the spotless white glove which yet glistened on the left hand-" This is the writer of the dis
"Quite dreadful, sir-'pon my soul, dreadful; and such usage at Mr Tagrag's!"
mal epistle of the other day, announ- duced to such straits," said Gammon, cing his desperation and destitution!" in a sympathizing tone, but settling "Your health, Mr Titmouse!—help his eye involuntarily on the ring of yourself!" said Mr Gammon, in à Titmouse. cheerful and cordial tone; Titmouse pouring out a glass only three-quarters full, raised it to his lips with a slightly tremulous hand, and returned Mr Gammon's salutation. When had Titmouse tasted a glass of wine before?-a reflection occurring not only to himself, but also to Gammon, to whom it was a circumstance that might be serviceable.
"You see, Mr Titmouse, mine's only a small bachelor's establishment, and I cannot put my old servant out of the way by having my friends to dinner"-[quite forgetting that the day before he had entertained at least six friends, including Mr Frank pledge but, the idea of going through a dinner with Mr Titmouse !]
And now, O inexperienced Tit. mouse! unacquainted with the potent qualities of wine, I warn you to be cautious how you drink many glasses, for you cannot calculate the effect which they will have upon you; and, indeed, methinks that with this man you have a game to play which will not admit of much wine being drank. Be you, therefore, on your guard; for wine is like a strong serpent, who will creep unperceivedly into your empty head, and coil himself up therein, until at length he moves about-and all things are as naught to you!
"Oh, sir, 'pon my honour, beg you won't name it-all one to me, sir!— Beautiful wine this, sir."
Pretty fair, I think-certainly rather old; but what fruit will you take-currants or cherries?"
"Why-a-I've so lately dined," replied Titmouse, alluding to an exceedingly slight repast at a coffeeshop about two o'clock. He would have preferred the cherries, but did not feel quite at his ease how to dispose of the stones nicely-gracefully-so he took a very few red currants upon his plate, and eat them slowly, and with a modest air.
"Well, Mr Titmouse," commenced Gammon, with an air of concern," I was really much distressed by your last letter."
"Uncommon glad to hear it, sirknew you would, sir-you're so kindhearted ;-all quite true, sir!"
"I had no idea that you were re
"But you mustn't think of going abroad-away from all your friends, Mr Titmouse."
"Abroad, sir!" interrupted Titmouse, with anxious but subdued eagerness; "never thought of such a thing!"
"Oh! I-I thought "
"There isn't a word of truth in it, sir; and if you've heard so, it must have been from that audacious fellow that called on you-he's such a liar— if you knew him as well as I do, sir!" said Titmouse, with a confident air, quite losing sight of his letter to Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and Snap-“ No, sir-shall stay, and stick to friends that stick to me."
"Take another glass of wine, Mr Titmouse," interrupted Gammon, cordially, and Titmouse obeyed him ; but while he was pouring it out, a sudden recollection of his letter flashing across his mind, satisfied him that he stood detected in a flat lie before Mr Gammon, and he blushed scarlet.
"Do you like the sherry?" enquired Gammon, perfectly aware of what was passing through the mind of his guest, and wishing to divert his thoughts. Titmouse answered in the affirmative; and proceeded to pour forth such a number of apologies for his own behaviour at Saffron Hill, and that of Huckaback on the subsequent occasion, as Gammon found it difficult to stop, over and over again assuring him that all had been forgiven and forgotten. When Titmouse came to the remittance of the five pounds
"Don't mention it, my dear sir," interrupted Gammon, very blandly; "it gave me, I assure you, far greater satisfaction to send it, than you to receive it. I hope it has a little relieved you?"
"I think so, sir! I was, 'pon my life, on my very last legs.'
"When things come to the worst, they often mend, Mr Titmouse! I told Mr Quirk (who, to do him justice, came at last into my views) that, however premature, and perhaps imprudent it might be in us to go so far, I could not help relieving your pre
[Oh, Gammon, Gammon !]
"How uncommon kind of you, sir!" exclaimed Titmouse.
"Not in the least, my dear sir(pray fill another glass, Mr Titmouse!) You see Mr Quirk is quite a man of business-and our profession too often affords instances of persons whose hearts contract as their purses expand, Mr Titmouse-ha, ha! Indeed, those who make their money as hard as Mr Quirk (who, between ourselves, dare not look a gallows, or the hulks, or a map of Botany Bay, or the tread-mill, or the stocks, or fifty prisons, in the face, for the wrong he has done them) are apt to be slow at parting with it, and very suspicious."
"Well, I hope no offence, sir; but really I thought as much, directly I saw that old gent."
"Ah-but now he is embarked, heart and soul, in the affair."
"No! Is he really, sir?" enquired Titmouse, eagerly.
"That is," replied Gammon, quickly, " so long as I am at his elbow, urging him on-for he wants some one, who hem! In fact, my dear sir, ever since I had the good fortune to make the discovery, which happily brought us acquainted with each other, Mr Titmouse," [it was old Quirk who had made the discovery, and Gammon who had from the first thrown cold water on it,]" I have been doing all I could with him, and I trust I may say, have at last licked the thing into shape.'
"I'll take my oath, sir," said Titmouse, excitedly, "I never was so much struck with any one in all my born days as I was with you, sir, when you first came to my emp-to Mr Tagrag's, sir Lord, sir, how uncommon sharp you seemed!" Gammon smiled with a deprecating air, and sipped his wine in silence; but there was great sweetness in the expression of his countenance. Poor Titmouse's doubts, hopes, and fears, were rapidly subliming into a reverence for Gam
feelings by taking up your cause, without rendering ourselves liable to imprisonment for Heaven knows how long, and a fine that would be ruin itself, if we should be found out!"
Titmouse continued silent, his wineglass in his hand arrested in its way to his mouth; which, together with his eyes, were opened to their widest extent, as he stared with a kind of horror upon Mr Gammon. "Are we, then, unreasonable, my dear sir, in entreating you to be cautious-nay, in insisting on your compliance with our wishes, in all that we shall deem prudent and necessary, when not only your own best interests, but our characters, liberties, and fortunes are staked on the issue of this great enterprise? I am sure," continued Gammon, with great emotion, " you will feel for us, Mr Titmouse. I see you do!" Gammon put his hand over his eyes, in order, apparently, to conceal his emotion, and also to observe what effect he had produced upon Titmouse. The conjoint influence of Gammon's wine and eloquence not a little agitated Titmouse, in whose eyes stood tears.
I'll do any thing-any thing, sir," he almost sobbed.
"Oh! all we wish is to be allowed to serve you effectually; and to enable us to do that"
"Tell me to be hid in a coal-hole, and see if I won't do it."
"What! a coal-hole? Would you, then, even stop at Dowlas, Tag-rag, and Co.'s?"
"Ye-e-e-e-s, sir-hem! hem! That is, till the tenth of next month, when my time's up.'
"Ah!-ay-oh, I understand! Another glass, Mr Titmouse," said Gammon, pouring himself out some more wine; and observing, while Titmouse followed his example, that there was an unsteadiness in his motions of a very different description from that which he had exhibited at the commencement of the evening-at the same time wondering what the deuce they should do with him after the tenth.
"You see, I have the utmost con. fidence in you, and had so from the first happy moment when we met; but Mr Quirk is rather sus-In short, to prevent misunderstanding (as he says,) Mr Quirk is anxious that, you should give a written promise.' (Titmouse looked eagerly about for
writing materials.) "No, not now, but in a day or two's time. I confess, my dear Mr Titmouse, if I might have decided on the matter, I should have been satisfied with your verbal promise; but, I must say, Mr Quirk's grey hairs seem to have made him quite-eh? you understand? you think So, Mr Titmouse?"
"To be sure! 'pon my honour, Mr Gammon!" replied Titmouse, not very distinctly understanding, however, what he was so energetically assenting to.
"I dare say you wonder why we wish you to stop a few months longer at your present hiding-place-at Dowlas's?"
"Can't, after the tenth of next month, sir."
"But as soon as we begin to fire off our guns against the enemy-Lord, my dear sir, if they could only find out, you know, where to get at you-you would never live to enjoy your ten thousand a year! They'd either poison or kidnap you get you out of the way, unless you keep out of their way: and if you will but consent to keep snug at Dowlas's for a while, who'd suspect where you was? We could easily arrange with your friend Tag rag that you should”
My stars! I'd give something to hear you tell Tag-rag-why, I wonder what he'll do!"
"Make you very comfortable, and let you have your own way in every thing."
Go to the play, for instance, when. ever I want, and do all that sort of thing?
Nay, try! any thing!-And as for money, I've persuaded Mr Quirk to consent to our advancing you a certain sum per week, from the present time, while the cause is going on,"-(Titmouse's heart began to beat fast,) "in order to place you above absolute inconvenience; and when you cousider the awful sums we shall have to disburse-cash out of pocket-(counsel, you know, will not open their lips under a guinea)-for court-fees, and other indispensable matters, I should candidly say that four thousand pounds of hard cash out of pocket, advanced by our firm in your case, would be the very lowest." (Titmouse stared at him with an expression of stupid wonder.) "Yes-four thousand pounds, Mr Titmouse, at the very least the very least." Again he
"Ah! that is indeed a fearful question," replied Gammon, with a very serious air; "but at my request, our firm has agreed to make the necessary advances; and also (for I could not bear the sight of your distress, Mr Titmouse!) to supply your necessities liberally in the mean time, as I was saying.'
"Won't you take another glass of wine, Mr Gammon?" suddenly enquired Titmouse, with a confident air.
"With all my heart, Mr Titmouse! I'm delighted that you approve of it. I paid enough for it, I can warrant you."
"Cuss me if ever I tasted such wine! Uncommon! Come-no heeltaps, Mr Gammon-here goes-let's drink-success to the affair!"
"With all my heart, my dear sir—— with all my heart. Success to the thing-amen!" and Gammon drained his glass; so did Titmouse. "Ah! Mr Titmouse, you'll soon have wine enough to float a frigate-and indeed what not-with ten thousand a-year?"
"And all the accumulations, you know-ha, ha!"
"Yes-to be sure-accumulations. The sweetest estate that is to be found in all Yorkshire. Gracious, Mr Titmouse!" continued Gammon, with an excited air-" what may you not do? Go where you like-do what you like get into Parliament-marry some lovely woman! "
Lord, Mr Gammon!-you ain't dreaming? Nor I? But now, in course, you must be paid handsome for your trouble! Only say how muchName your sum! What you please! You only give me all you've said."
“For my part, I wish to rely entirely on your mere word of honour.— Between gentlemen, you know—my dear sir."
“You only try me, sir."
"But you see, Mr Quirk's getting old, and naturally is anxious to provide for those whom he will leave behind him-and so Mr Snap agreed with him-two to one against me, Mr Titmouse-of course they carried the day-two to one."
"Only say the figure."