We pleased ourselves during the honeymoon with forming plans for our life in London, and a pretty paradise did we build for ourselves! Well, we were but forty years old between us; and, for my part, I never found any harm come of castle-building, but a great deal of pleasure.
Before I left London I had, to say the truth, looked round me for a proper place, befitting persons of our small income; and Gus Hoskins and I, who hunted after office-hours in couples, bad fixed on a very snug little cottage in Camden Town, where there was a garden that certain small people might play in when they came: a horse and gig-house, if ever we kept one — and why not, in a few years? — and a fine healthy air, at a reasonable distance from ‘Change; all for 30_l. a year. I had described this little spot to Mary as enthusiastically as Sancho describes Lizias to Don Quixote; and my dear wife was delighted with the prospect of housekeeping there, vowed she would cook all the best dishes herself (especially jam-pudding, of which I confess I am very fond), and promised Gus that he should dine with us at Clematis Bower every Sunday: only he must not smoke those horrid cigars. As for Gus, he vowed he would have a room in the neighbourhood too, for he could not bear to go back to Bell Lane, where we two had been so happy together; and so good-natured Mary said she would ask my sister Winny to come and keep her company. At which Hoskins blushed, and said, “Pooh! nonsense now.”
But all our hopes of a happy snug Clematis Lodge were dashed to the ground on our return from our little honeymoon excursion; when Mrs. Hoggarty informed us that she was sick of the country, and was determined to go to London with her dear nephew and niece, and keep house for them, and introduce them to her friends in the metropolis.
What could we do? We wished her at — Bath: certainly not in London. But there was no help for it; and we were obliged to bring her: for, as my mother said, if we offended her, her fortune would go out of our family; and were we two young people not likely to want it?
So we came to town rather dismally in the carriage, posting the whole way; for the carriage must be brought, and a person of my aunt’s rank in life could not travel by the stage. And I had to pay 14_l. for the posters, which pretty nearly exhausted all my little hoard of cash.
First we went into lodgings — into three sets in three weeks. We quarrelled with the first landlady, because my aunt vowed that she cut a slice off the leg of mutton which was served for our dinner; from the second lodgings we went because aunt vowed the maid would steal the candles; from the third we went because Aunt Hoggarty came down to breakfast the morning after our arrival with her face shockingly swelled and bitten by — never mind what. To cut a long tale short, I was half mad with the continual choppings and changings, and the long stories and scoldings of my aunt. As for her great acquaintances, none of them were in London; and she made it a matter of quarrel with me that I had not introduced her to John Brough, Esquire, M.P., and to Lord and Lady Tiptoff, her relatives.
Mr. Brough was at Brighton when we arrived in town; and on his return I did not care at first to tell our Director that I had brought my aunt with me, or mention my embarrassments for money. He looked rather serious when perforce I spoke of the latter to him and asked for an advance; but when he heard that my lack of money had been occasioned by the bringing of my aunt to London, his tone instantly changed. “That, my dear boy, alters the question; Mrs. Hoggarty is of an age when all things must be yielded to her. Here are a hundred pounds; and I beg you to draw upon me whenever you are in the least in want of money.” This gave me breathing-time until she should pay her share of the household expenses. And the very next day Mr. and Mrs. John Brough, in their splendid carriage-and-four, called upon Mrs. Hoggarty and my wife at our lodgings in Lamb’s Conduit Street.
It was on the very day when my poor aunt appeared with her face in that sad condition; and she did not fail to inform Mrs. Brough of the cause, and to state that at Castle Hoggarty, or at her country place in Somersetshire, she had never heard or thought of such vile odious things.
“Gracious heavens!” shouted John Brough, Esquire, “a lady of your rank to suffer in this way! — the excellent relative of my dear boy, Titmarsh! Never, madam — never let it be said that Mrs. Hoggarty of Castle Hoggarty should be subject to such horrible humiliation, while John Brough has a home to offer her — a humble, happy, Christian home, madam; though unlike, perhaps, the splendour to which you have been accustomed in the course of your distinguished career. Isabella my love! — Belinda! speak to Mrs. Hoggarty. Tell her that John Brough’s house is hers from garret to cellar. I repeat it, madam, from garret to cellar. I desire — I insist — I order, that Mrs. Hoggarty of Castle Hoggarty’s trunks should be placed this instant in my carriage! Have the goodness to look to them yourself, Mrs. Titmarsh, and see that your dear aunt’s comforts are better provided for than they have been.”
Mary went away rather wondering at this order. But, to be sure, Mr. Brough was a great man, and her Samuel’s benefactor; and though the silly child absolutely began to cry as she packed and toiled at Aunt’s enormous valises, yet she performed the work, and came down with a smiling face to my aunt, who was entertaining Mr. and Mrs. Brough with a long and particular account of the balls at the Castle, in Dublin, in Lord Charleville’s time.
“I have packed the trunks, Aunt, but I am not strong enough to bring them down,” said Mary.
“Certainly not, certainly not,” said John Brough, perhaps a little ashamed. “Hallo! George, Frederic, Augustus, come upstairs this instant, and bring down the trunks of Mrs. Hoggarty of Castle Hoggarty, which this young lady will show you.”
Nay, so great was Mr. Brough’s condescension, that when some of his fashionable servants refused to meddle with the trunks, he himself seized a pair of them with both bands, carried them to the carriage, and shouted loud enough for all Lamb’s Conduit Street to hear, “John Brough is not proud — no, no; and if his footmen are too high and mighty, he’ll show them a lesson of humility.”
Mrs. Brough was for running downstairs too, and taking the trunks from her husband; but they were too heavy for her, so she contented herself with sitting on one, and asking all persons who passed her, whether John Brough was not an angel of a man?
In this way it was that my aunt left us. I was not aware of her departure, for I was at the office at the time; and strolling back at five with Gus, saw my dear Mary smiling and bobbing from the window, and beckoning to us both to come up. This I thought was very strange, because Mrs. Hoggarty could not abide Hoskins, and indeed had told me repeatedly that either she or he must quit the house. Well, we went upstairs, and there was Mary, who had dried her tears and received us with the most smiling of faces, and laughed and clapped her hands, and danced, and shook Gus’s hand. And what do you think the little rogue proposed? I am blest if she did not say she would like to go to Vauxhall!
As dinner was laid for three persons only, Gus took his seat with fear and trembling; and then Mrs. Sam Titmarsh related the circumstances which had occurred, and how Mrs. Hoggarty had been whisked away to Fulham in Mr. Brough’s splendid carriage-and-four. “Let her go,” I am sorry to say, said I; and indeed we relished our veal-cutlets and jam-pudding a great deal more than Mrs. Hoggarty did her dinner off plate at the Rookery.
We had a very merry party to Vauxhall, Gus insisting on standing treat; and you may be certain that my aunt, whose absence was prolonged for three weeks, was heartily welcome to remain away, for we were much merrier and more comfortable without her. My little Mary used to make my breakfast before I went to office of mornings; and on Sundays we had a holiday, and saw the dear little children eat their boiled beef and potatoes at the Foundling, and heard the beautiful music: but, beautiful as it is, I think the children were a more beautiful sight still, and the look of their innocent happy faces was better than the best sermon. On week-days Mrs. Titmarsh would take a walk about five o’clock in the evening on the left-hand side of Lamb’s Conduit Street (as you go to Holborn)— ay, and sometimes pursue her walk as far as Snow Hill, when two young gents from the I. W. D. Fire and Life were pretty sure to meet her; and then how happily we all trudged off to dinner! Once we came up as a monster of a man, with high heels and a gold-headed cane, and whiskers all over his face, was grinning under Mary’s bonnet, and chattering to her, close to Day and Martin’s Blacking Manufactory (not near such a handsome thing then as it is now)— there was the man chattering and ogling his best, when who should come up but Gus and I? And in the twinkling of a pegpost, as Lord Duberley says, my gentleman was seized by the collar of his coat and found himself sprawling under a stand of hackney-coaches; where all the watermen were grinning at him. The best of it was, he left his head of hair and whiskers in my hand: but Mary said, “Don’t be hard upon him, Samuel; it’s only a Frenchman.” And so we gave him his wig back, which one of the grinning stable-boys put on and carried to him as he lay in the straw.
He shrieked out something about “arretez,” and “Francais,” and “champ-d’honneur;” but we walked on, Gus putting his thumb to his nose and stretching out his finger at Master Frenchman. This made everybody laugh; and so the adventure ended.
About ten days after my aunt’s departure came a letter from her, of which I give a copy:—
“My Dear Nephew — It was my earnest whish e’er this to have returned to London, where I am sure you and my niece Titmarsh miss me very much, and where she, poor thing, quite inexperienced in the ways of ‘the great metropulus,’ in aconamy, and indeed in every qualaty requasit in a good wife and the mistress of a famaly, can hardly manidge, I am sure, without me.
“Tell her on no account to pay more than 6.5_d. for the prime pieces, 4.75_d. for soup meat; and that the very best of London butter is to be had for 8.5_d.; of course, for pudns and the kitchin you’ll employ a commoner sort. My trunks were sadly packed by Mrs. Titmarsh, and the hasp of the portmantyou-lock has gone through my yellow satn. I have darned it, and woar it already twice, at two ellygant (though quiat) evening-parties given by my hospatable host; and my pegreen velvet on Saturday at a grand dinner, when Lord Scaramouch handed me to table. Everything was in the most sumptious style. Soup top and bottom (white and brown), removed by turbit and sammon with immense boles of lobster-sauce. Lobsters alone cost 15_s. Turbit, three guineas. The hole sammon, weighing, I’m sure, 15 lbs., and never seen at table again; not a bitt of pickled sammon the hole weak afterwards. This kind of extravigance would just suit Mrs. Sam Titmarsh, who, as I always say, burns the candle at both ends. Well, young people, it is lucky for you you have an old aunt who knows better, and has a long purse; without witch, I dare say, some folks would be glad to see her out of doors. I don’t mean you, Samuel, who have, I must say, been a dutiful nephew to me. Well, I dare say I shan’t live long, and some folks won’t be sorry to have me in my grave.
“Indeed, on Sunday I was taken in my stomick very ill, and thought it might have been the lobster-sauce; but Doctor Blogg, who was called in, said it was, he very much feared, cumsumptive; but gave me some pills and a draft wh made me better. Please call upon him — he lives at Pimlico, and you can walk out there after office hours — and present him with 1_l. 1_s., with my compliments. I have no money here but a 10_l. note, the rest being locked up in my box at Lamb’s Cundit Street.
“Although the flesh is not neglected in Mr. B.‘s sumptious establishment, I can assure you the sperrit is likewise cared for. Mr. B. reads and igspounds every morning; and o but his exorcises refresh the hungry sole before breakfast! Everything is in the handsomest style — silver and goold plate at breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and his crest and motty, a beehive, with the Latn word industria, meaning industry, on everything — even on the chany juggs and things in my bedd-room. On Sunday we were favoured by a special outpouring from the Rev. Grimes Wapshot, of the Amabaptist Congrigation here, and who egshorted for 3 hours in the afternoon in Mr. B.‘s private chapel. As the widow of a Hoggarty, I have always been a staunch supporter of the established Church of England and Ireland; but I must say Mr. Wapshot’s stirring way was far superior to that of the Rev. Bland Blenkinsop of the Establishment, who lifted up his voice after dinner for a short discourse of two hours.
“Mrs. Brough is, between ourselves, a poor creature, and has no sperrit of her own. As for Miss B., she is so saucy that once I promised to box her years; and would have left the house, had not Mr. B. taken my part, and Miss made me a suitable apollogy.
“I don’t know when I shall return to town, being made really so welcome here. Dr. Blogg says the air of Fulham is the best in the world for my simtums; and as the ladies of the house do not choose to walk out with me, the Rev. Grimes Wapshot has often been kind enough to lend me his arm, and ’tis sweet with such a guide to wander both to Putney and Wandsworth, and igsamin the wonderful works of nature. I have spoke to him about the Slopperton property, and he is not of Mr. B.‘s opinion that I should sell it; but on this point I shall follow my own counsel.
“Meantime you must gett into more comfortable lodgings, and lett my bedd be warmed every night, and of rainy days have a fire in the grate: and let Mrs. Titmarsh look up my blue silk dress, and turn it against I come; and there is my purple spencer she can have for herself; and I hope she does not wear those three splendid gowns you gave her, but keep them until better times. I shall soon introduse her to my friend Mr. Brough, and others of my acquaintances; and am always
“Your loving Aunt.
“I have ordered a chest of the Rosolio to be sent from Somersetshire. When it comes, please to send half down here (paying the carriage, of course). ’Twill be an acceptable present to my kind entertainer, Mr. B.”
This letter was brought to me by Mr. Brough himself at the office, who apologised to me for having broken the seal by inadvertence; for the letter had been mingled with some more of his own, and he opened it without looking at the superscription. Of course he had not read it, and I was glad of that; for I should not have liked him to see my aunt’s opinion of his daughter and lady.
The next day, a gentleman at “Tom’s Coffee-house,” Cornhill, sent me word at the office that he wanted particularly to speak to me: and I stopped thither, and found my old friend Smithers, of the house of Hodge and Smithers, just off the coach, with his carpet-bag between his legs.
“Sam my boy,” said he, “you are your aunt’s heir, and I have a piece of news for you regarding her property which you ought to know. She wrote us down a letter for a chest of that home-made wine of hers which she calls Rosolio, and which lies in our warehouse along with her furniture.”
“Well,” says I, smiling, “she may part with as much Rosolio as she likes for me. I cede all my right.”
“Psha!” says Smithers, “it’s not that; though her furniture puts us to a deuced inconvenience, to be sure — it’s not that: but, in the postscript of her letter, she orders us to advertise the Slopperton and Squashtail estates for immediate sale, as she purposes placing her capital elsewhere.”
I know that the Slopperton and Squashtail property had been the source of a very pretty income to Messrs. Hodge and Smithers, for Aunt was always at law with her tenants, and paid dearly for her litigious spirit; so that Mr. Smithers’s concern regarding the sale of it did not seem to me to be quite disinterested.
“And did you come to London, Mr. Smithers, expressly to acquaint me with this fact? It seems to me you had much better have obeyed my aunt’s instructions at once, or go to her at Fulham, and consult with her on this subject.”
“‘Sdeath, Mr. Titmarsh! don’t you see that if she makes a sale of her property, she will hand over the money to Brough; and if Brough gets the money he —”
“Will give her seven per cent. for it instead of three — there’s no harm in that.”
“But there’s such a thing as security, look you. He is a warm man, certainly — very warm — quite respectable — most undoubtedly respectable. But who knows? A panic may take place; and then these five hundred companies in which he is engaged may bring him to ruin. There’s the Ginger Beer Company, of which Brough is a director: awkward reports are abroad concerning it. The Consolidated Baffin’s Bay Muff and Tippet Company — the shares are down very low, and Brough is a director there. The Patent Pump Company — shares at 65, and a fresh call, which nobody will pay.”
“Nonsense, Mr. Smithers! Has not Mr. Brough five hundred thousand pounds’ worth of shares in the Independent West Diddlesex, and is that at a discount? Who recommended my aunt to invest her money in that speculation, I should like to know?” I had him there.
“Well, well, it is a very good speculation, certainly, and has brought you three hundred a year, Sam my boy; and you may thank us for the interest we took in you (indeed, we loved you as a son, and Miss Hodge has not recovered a certain marriage yet). You don’t intend to rebuke us for making your fortune, do you?”
“No, hang it, no!” says I, and shook hands with him, and accepted a glass of sherry and biscuits, which he ordered forthwith.
Smithers returned, however, to the charge. “Sam,” he said, “mark my words, and take your aunt away from the Rookery. She wrote to Mrs. S. a long account of a reverend gent with whom she walks out there — the Reverend Grimes Wapshot. That man has an eye upon her. He was tried at Lancaster in the year ‘14 for forgery, and narrowly escaped with his neck. Have a care of him — he has an eye to her money.”
“Nay,” said I, taking out Mrs. Hoggarty’s letter: “read for yourself.”
He read it over very carefully, seemed to be amused by it; and as he returned it to me, “Well, Sam,” he said, “I have only two favours to ask of you: one is, not to mention that I am in town to any living soul; and the other is to give me a dinner in Lamb’s Conduit Street with your pretty wife.”
“I promise you both gladly,” I said, laughing. “But if you dine with us, your arrival in town must be known, for my friend Gus Hoskins dines with us likewise; and has done so nearly every day since my aunt went.”
He laughed too, and said, “We must swear Gus to secrecy over a bottle.” And so we parted till dinner-time.
The indefatigable lawyer pursued his attack after dinner, and was supported by Gus and by my wife too; who certainly was disinterested in the matter — more than disinterested, for she would have given a great deal to be spared my aunt’s company. But she said she saw the force of Mr. Smithers’s arguments, and I admitted their justice with a sigh. However, I rode my high horse, and vowed that my aunt should do what she liked with her money; and that I was not the man who would influence her in any way in the disposal of it.
After tea, the two gents walked away together, and Gus told me that Smithers had asked him a thousand questions about the office, about Brough, about me and my wife, and everything concerning us. “You are a lucky fellow, Mr. Hoskins, and seem to be the friend of this charming young couple,” said Smithers; and Gus confessed he was, and said he had dined with us fifteen times in six weeks, and that a better and more hospitable fellow than I did not exist. This I state not to trumpet my own praises — no, no; but because these questions of Smithers’s had a good deal to do with the subsequent events narrated in this little history.
Being seated at dinner the next day off the cold leg of mutton that Smithers had admired so the day before, and Gus as usual having his legs under our mahogany, a hackney-coach drove up to the door, which we did not much heed; a step was heard on the floor, which we hoped might be for the two-pair lodger, when who should burst into the room but Mrs. Hoggarty herself! Gus, who was blowing the froth off a pot of porter preparatory to a delicious drink of the beverage, and had been making us die of laughing with his stories and jokes, laid down the pewter pot as Mrs. H. came in, and looked quite sick and pale. Indeed we all felt a little uneasy.
My aunt looked haughtily in Mary’s face, then fiercely at Gus, and saying, “It is too true — my poor boy — already!” flung herself hysterically into my arms, and swore, almost choking, that she would never never leave me.
I could not understand the meaning of this extraordinary agitation on Mrs. Hoggarty’s part, nor could any of us. She refused Mary’s hand when the poor thing rather nervously offered it; and when Gus timidly said, “I think, Sam, I’m rather in the way here, and perhaps — had better go,” Mrs. H. looked him full in the face, pointed to the door majestically with her forefinger, and said, “I think, sir, you had better go.”
“I hope Mr. Hoskins will stay as long as he pleases,” said my wife, with spirit.
“Of course you hope so, madam,” answered Mrs. Hoggarty, very sarcastic. But Mary’s speech and my aunt’s were quite lost upon Gus; for he had instantly run to his hat, and I heard him tumbling downstairs.
The quarrel ended, as usual, by Mary’s bursting into a fit of tears, and by my aunt’s repeating the assertion that it was not too late, she trusted; and from that day forth she would never never leave me.
“What could have made Aunt return and be so angry?” said I to Mary that night, as we were in our own room; but my wife protested she did not know: and it was only some time after that I found out the reason of this quarrel, and of Mrs. H.‘s sudden reappearance.
The horrible fat coarse little Smithers told me the matter as a very good joke, only the other year, when he showed me the letter of Hickson, Dixon, Paxton and Jackson, which has before been quoted in my Memoirs.
“Sam my boy,” said he, “you were determined to leave Mrs. Hoggarty in Brough’s clutches at the Rookery, and I was determined to have her away. I resolved to kill two of your mortal enemies with one stone as it were. It was quite clear to me that the Reverend Grimes Wapshot had an eye to your aunt’s fortune; and that Mr. Brough had similar predatory intentions regarding her. Predatory is a mild word, Sam: if I had said robbery at once, I should express my meaning clearer.
“Well, I took the Fulham stage, and arriving, made straight for the lodgings of the reverend gentleman. ‘Sir,’ said I, on finding that worthy gent — he was drinking warm brandy-and-water, Sam, at two o’clock in the day, or at least the room smelt very strongly of that beverage —‘Sir,’ says I, ‘you were tried for forgery in the year ‘14, at Lancaster assizes.’
“‘And acquitted, sir. My innocence was by Providence made clear,’ said Wapshot.
“‘But you were not acquitted of embezzlement in ‘16, sir,’ says I, ‘and passed two years in York Gaol in consequence.’ I knew the fellow’s history, for I had a writ out against him when he was a preacher at Clifton. I followed up my blow. ‘Mr. Wapshot,’ said I, ‘you are making love to an excellent lady now at the house of Mr. Brough: if you do not promise to give up all pursuit of her, I will expose you.’
“‘I have promised,’ said Wapshot, rather surprised, and looking more easy. ‘I have given my solemn promise to Mr. Brough, who was with me this very morning, storming, and scolding, and swearing. Oh, sir, it would have frightened you to hear a Christian babe like him swear as he did.’
“‘Mr. Brough been here?’ says I, rather astonished.
“‘Yes; I suppose you are both here on the same scent,’ says Wapshot. ‘You want to marry the widow with the Slopperton and Squashtail estate, do you? Well, well, have your way. I’ve promised not to have anything more to do with the widow and a Wapshot’s honour is sacred.’
“‘I suppose, sir,’ says I, ‘Mr. Brough has threatened to kick you out of doors, if you call again.’
“‘You have been with him, I see,’ says the reverend gent, with a shrug: then I remembered what you had told me of the broken seal of your letter, and have not the slightest doubt that Brough opened and read every word of it.
“Well, the first bird was bagged: both I and Brough had had a shot at him. Now I had to fire at the whole Rookery; and off I went, primed and loaded, sir — primed and loaded.
“It was past eight when I arrived, and I saw, after I passed the lodge-gates, a figure that I knew, walking in the shrubbery — that of your respected aunt, sir: but I wished to meet the amiable ladies of the house before I saw her; because look, friend Titmarsh, I saw by Mrs. Hoggarty’s letter, that she and they were at daggers drawn, and hoped to get her out of the house at once by means of a quarrel with them.”
I laughed, and owned that Mr. Smithers was a very cunning fellow.
“As luck would have it,” continued he, “Miss Brough was in the drawing-room twangling on a guitar, and singing most atrociously out of tune; but as I entered at the door, I cried ‘Hush!’ to the footman, as loud as possible, stood stock-still, and then walked forward on tip-toe lightly. Miss B. could see in the glass every movement that I made; she pretended not to see, however, and finished the song with a regular roulade.
“‘Gracious Heaven!’ said I, ‘do, madam, pardon me for interrupting that delicious harmony — for coming unaware upon it, for daring uninvited to listen to it.’
“‘Do you come for Mamma, sir?’ said Miss Brough, with as much graciousness as her physiognomy could command. ‘I am Miss Brough, sir.’
“‘I wish, madam, you would let me not breathe a word regarding my business until you have sung another charming strain.’
“She did not sing, but looked pleased, and said, ‘La! sir, what is your business?’
“‘My business is with a lady, your respected father’s guest in this house.’
“‘Oh, Mrs. Hoggarty!’ says Miss Brough, flouncing towards the bell, and ringing it. ‘John, send to Mrs. Hoggarty, in the shrubbery; here is a gentleman who wants to see her.’
“‘I know,’ continued I, ‘Mrs. Hoggarty’s peculiarities as well as anyone, madam; and aware that those and her education are not such as to make her a fit companion for you. I know you do not like her: she has written to us in Somersetshire that you do not like her.’
“‘What! she has been abusing us to her friends, has she?’ cried Miss Brough (it was the very point I wished to insinuate). ‘If she does not like us, why does she not leave us?’
“‘She has made rather a long visit,’ said I; ‘and I am sure that her nephew and niece are longing for her return. Pray, madam, do not move, for you may aid me in the object for which I come.’
“The object for which I came, sir, was to establish a regular battle-royal between the two ladies; at the end of which I intended to appeal to Mrs. Hoggarty, and say that she ought really no longer to stay in a house with the members of which she had such unhappy differences. Well, sir, the battle-royal was fought — Miss Belinda opening the fire, by saying she understood Mrs. Hoggarty had been calumniating her to her friends. But though at the end of it Miss rushed out of the room in a rage, and vowed she would leave her home unless that odious woman left it, your dear aunt said, ‘Ha, ha! I know the minx’s vile stratagems; but, thank Heaven! I have a good heart, and my religion enables me to forgive her. I shall not leave her excellent papa’s house, or vex by my departure that worthy admirable man.’
“I then tried Mrs. H. on the score of compassion. ‘Your niece,’ said I, ‘Mrs. Titmarsh, madam, has been of late, Sam says, rather poorly — qualmish of mornings, madam — a little nervous, and low in spirits — symptoms, madam, that are scarcely to be mistaken in a young married person.’
“Mrs. Hoggarty said she had an admirable cordial that she would send Mrs. Samuel Titmarsh, and she was perfectly certain it would do her good.
“With very great unwillingness I was obliged now to bring my last reserve into the field, and may tell you what that was, Sam my boy, now that the matter is so long passed. ‘Madam,’ said I, ‘there’s a matter about which I must speak, though indeed I scarcely dare. I dined with your nephew yesterday, and met at his table a young man — a young man of low manners, but evidently one who has blinded your nephew, and I too much fear has succeeded in making an impression upon your niece. His name is Hoskins, madam; and when I state that he who was never in the house during your presence there, has dined with your too confiding nephew sixteen times in three weeks, I may leave you to imagine what I dare not — dare not imagine myself.’
“The shot told. Your aunt bounced up at once, and in ten minutes more was in my carriage, on our way back to London. There, sir, was not that generalship?”
“And you played this pretty trick off at my wife’s expense, Mr. Smithers,” said I.
“At your wife’s expense, certainly; but for the benefit of both of you.”
“It’s lucky, sir, that you are an old man,” I replied, “and that the affair happened ten years ago; or, by the Lord, Mr. Smithers, I would have given you such a horsewhipping as you never heard of!”
But this was the way in which Mrs. Hoggarty was brought back to her relatives; and this was the reason why we took that house in Bernard Street, the doings at which must now he described.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00