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Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens

Part 10 out of 15

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'Changed her ground, and said that Frank being a single man, its
impropriety was obvious.'

'Noble-minded creature!' exclaimed the enraptured Tottle.

'Oh! both Fanny and I said, at once, that she was regularly cut out
for you.'

A gleam of placid satisfaction shone on the circular face of Mr.
Watkins Tottle, as he heard the prophecy.

'There's one thing I can't understand,' said Mr. Gabriel Parsons,
as he rose to depart; 'I cannot, for the life and soul of me,
imagine how the deuce you'll ever contrive to come together. The
lady would certainly go into convulsions if the subject were
mentioned.' Mr. Gabriel Parsons sat down again, and laughed until
he was weak. Tottle owed him money, so he had a perfect right to
laugh at Tottle's expense.

Mr. Watkins Tottle feared, in his own mind, that this was another
characteristic which he had in common with this modern Lucretia.
He, however, accepted the invitation to dine with the Parsonses on
the next day but one, with great firmness: and looked forward to
the introduction, when again left alone, with tolerable composure.

The sun that rose on the next day but one, had never beheld a
sprucer personage on the outside of the Norwood stage, than Mr.
Watkins Tottle; and when the coach drew up before a cardboard-
looking house with disguised chimneys, and a lawn like a large
sheet of green letter-paper, he certainly had never lighted to his
place of destination a gentleman who felt more uncomfortable.

The coach stopped, and Mr. Watkins Tottle jumped--we beg his
pardon--alighted, with great dignity. 'All right!' said he, and
away went the coach up the hill with that beautiful equanimity of
pace for which 'short' stages are generally remarkable.

Mr. Watkins Tottle gave a faltering jerk to the handle of the
garden-gate bell. He essayed a more energetic tug, and his
previous nervousness was not at all diminished by hearing the bell
ringing like a fire alarum.

'Is Mr. Parsons at home?' inquired Tottle of the man who opened the
gate. He could hardly hear himself speak, for the bell had not yet
done tolling.

'Here I am,' shouted a voice on the lawn,--and there was Mr.
Gabriel Parsons in a flannel jacket, running backwards and
forwards, from a wicket to two hats piled on each other, and from
the two hats to the wicket, in the most violent manner, while
another gentleman with his coat off was getting down the area of
the house, after a ball. When the gentleman without the coat had
found it--which he did in less than ten minutes--he ran back to the
hats, and Gabriel Parsons pulled up. Then, the gentleman without
the coat called out 'play,' very loudly, and bowled. Then Mr.
Gabriel Parsons knocked the ball several yards, and took another
run. Then, the other gentleman aimed at the wicket, and didn't hit
it; and Mr. Gabriel Parsons, having finished running on his own
account, laid down the bat and ran after the ball, which went into
a neighbouring field. They called this cricket.

'Tottle, will you "go in?"' inquired Mr. Gabriel Parsons, as he
approached him, wiping the perspiration off his face.

Mr. Watkins Tottle declined the offer, the bare idea of accepting
which made him even warmer than his friend.

'Then we'll go into the house, as it's past four, and I shall have
to wash my hands before dinner,' said Mr. Gabriel Parsons. 'Here,
I hate ceremony, you know! Timson, that's Tottle--Tottle, that's
Timson; bred for the church, which I fear will never be bread for
him;' and he chuckled at the old joke. Mr. Timson bowed
carelessly. Mr. Watkins Tottle bowed stiffly. Mr. Gabriel Parsons
led the way to the house. He was a rich sugar-baker, who mistook
rudeness for honesty, and abrupt bluntness for an open and candid
manner; many besides Gabriel mistake bluntness for sincerity.

Mrs. Gabriel Parsons received the visitors most graciously on the
steps, and preceded them to the drawing-room. On the sofa, was
seated a lady of very prim appearance, and remarkably inanimate.
She was one of those persons at whose age it is impossible to make
any reasonable guess; her features might have been remarkably
pretty when she was younger, and they might always have presented
the same appearance. Her complexion--with a slight trace of powder
here and there--was as clear as that of a well-made wax doll, and
her face as expressive. She was handsomely dressed, and was
winding up a gold watch.

'Miss Lillerton, my dear, this is our friend Mr. Watkins Tottle; a
very old acquaintance I assure you,' said Mrs. Parsons, presenting
the Strephon of Cecil-street, Strand. The lady rose, and made a
deep courtesy; Mr. Watkins Tottle made a bow.

'Splendid, majestic creature!' thought Tottle.

Mr. Timson advanced, and Mr. Watkins Tottle began to hate him. Men
generally discover a rival, instinctively, and Mr. Watkins Tottle
felt that his hate was deserved.

'May I beg,' said the reverend gentleman,--'May I beg to call upon
you, Miss Lillerton, for some trifling donation to my soup, coals,
and blanket distribution society?'

'Put my name down, for two sovereigns, if you please,' responded
Miss Lillerton.

'You are truly charitable, madam,' said the Reverend Mr. Timson,
'and we know that charity will cover a multitude of sins. Let me
beg you to understand that I do not say this from the supposition
that you have many sins which require palliation; believe me when I
say that I never yet met any one who had fewer to atone for, than
Miss Lillerton.'

Something like a bad imitation of animation lighted up the lady's
face, as she acknowledged the compliment. Watkins Tottle incurred
the sin of wishing that the ashes of the Reverend Charles Timson
were quietly deposited in the churchyard of his curacy, wherever it
might be.

'I'll tell you what,' interrupted Parsons, who had just appeared
with clean hands, and a black coat, 'it's my private opinion,
Timson, that your "distribution society" is rather a humbug.'

'You are so severe,' replied Timson, with a Christian smile: he
disliked Parsons, but liked his dinners.

'So positively unjust!' said Miss Lillerton.

'Certainly,' observed Tottle. The lady looked up; her eyes met
those of Mr. Watkins Tottle. She withdrew them in a sweet
confusion, and Watkins Tottle did the same--the confusion was
mutual.

'Why,' urged Mr. Parsons, pursuing his objections, 'what on earth
is the use of giving a man coals who has nothing to cook, or giving
him blankets when he hasn't a bed, or giving him soup when he
requires substantial food?--"like sending them ruffles when wanting
a shirt." Why not give 'em a trifle of money, as I do, when I
think they deserve it, and let them purchase what they think best?
Why?--because your subscribers wouldn't see their names flourishing
in print on the church-door--that's the reason.'

'Really, Mr. Parsons, I hope you don't mean to insinuate that I
wish to see MY name in print, on the church-door,' interrupted Miss
Lillerton.

'I hope not,' said Mr. Watkins Tottle, putting in another word, and
getting another glance.

'Certainly not,' replied Parsons. 'I dare say you wouldn't mind
seeing it in writing, though, in the church register--eh?'

'Register! What register?' inquired the lady gravely.

'Why, the register of marriages, to be sure,' replied Parsons,
chuckling at the sally, and glancing at Tottle. Mr. Watkins Tottle
thought he should have fainted for shame, and it is quite
impossible to imagine what effect the joke would have had upon the
lady, if dinner had not been, at that moment, announced. Mr.
Watkins Tottle, with an unprecedented effort of gallantry, offered
the tip of his little finger; Miss Lillerton accepted it
gracefully, with maiden modesty; and they proceeded in due state to
the dinner-table, where they were soon deposited side by side. The
room was very snug, the dinner very good, and the little party in
spirits. The conversation became pretty general, and when Mr.
Watkins Tottle had extracted one or two cold observations from his
neighbour, and had taken wine with her, he began to acquire
confidence rapidly. The cloth was removed; Mrs. Gabriel Parsons
drank four glasses of port on the plea of being a nurse just then;
and Miss Lillerton took about the same number of sips, on the plea
of not wanting any at all. At length, the ladies retired, to the
great gratification of Mr. Gabriel Parsons, who had been coughing
and frowning at his wife, for half-an-hour previously--signals
which Mrs. Parsons never happened to observe, until she had been
pressed to take her ordinary quantum, which, to avoid giving
trouble, she generally did at once.

'What do you think of her?' inquired Mr. Gabriel Parsons of Mr.
Watkins Tottle, in an under-tone.

'I dote on her with enthusiasm already!' replied Mr. Watkins
Tottle.

'Gentlemen, pray let us drink "the ladies,"' said the Reverend Mr.
Timson.

'The ladies!' said Mr. Watkins Tottle, emptying his glass. In the
fulness of his confidence, he felt as if he could make love to a
dozen ladies, off-hand.

'Ah!' said Mr. Gabriel Parsons, 'I remember when I was a young man-
-fill your glass, Timson.'

'I have this moment emptied it.'

'Then fill again.'

'I will,' said Timson, suiting the action to the word.

'I remember,' resumed Mr. Gabriel Parsons, 'when I was a younger
man, with what a strange compound of feelings I used to drink that
toast, and how I used to think every woman was an angel.'

'Was that before you were married?' mildly inquired Mr. Watkins
Tottle.

'Oh! certainly,' replied Mr. Gabriel Parsons. 'I have never
thought so since; and a precious milksop I must have been, ever to
have thought so at all. But, you know, I married Fanny under the
oddest, and most ridiculous circumstances possible.'

'What were they, if one may inquire?' asked Timson, who had heard
the story, on an average, twice a week for the last six months.
Mr. Watkins Tottle listened attentively, in the hope of picking up
some suggestion that might be useful to him in his new undertaking.

'I spent my wedding-night in a back-kitchen chimney,' said Parsons,
by way of a beginning.

'In a back-kitchen chimney!' ejaculated Watkins Tottle. 'How
dreadful!'

'Yes, it wasn't very pleasant,' replied the small host. 'The fact
is, Fanny's father and mother liked me well enough as an
individual, but had a decided objection to my becoming a husband.
You see, I hadn't any money in those days, and they had; and so
they wanted Fanny to pick up somebody else. However, we managed to
discover the state of each other's affections somehow. I used to
meet her, at some mutual friends' parties; at first we danced
together, and talked, and flirted, and all that sort of thing;
then, I used to like nothing so well as sitting by her side--we
didn't talk so much then, but I remember I used to have a great
notion of looking at her out of the extreme corner of my left eye--
and then I got very miserable and sentimental, and began to write
verses, and use Macassar oil. At last I couldn't bear it any
longer, and after I had walked up and down the sunny side of
Oxford-street in tight boots for a week--and a devilish hot summer
it was too--in the hope of meeting her, I sat down and wrote a
letter, and begged her to manage to see me clandestinely, for I
wanted to hear her decision from her own mouth. I said I had
discovered, to my perfect satisfaction, that I couldn't live
without her, and that if she didn't have me, I had made up my mind
to take prussic acid, or take to drinking, or emigrate, so as to
take myself off in some way or other. Well, I borrowed a pound,
and bribed the housemaid to give her the note, which she did.'

'And what was the reply?' inquired Timson, who had found, before,
that to encourage the repetition of old stories is to get a general
invitation.

'Oh, the usual one! Fanny expressed herself very miserable; hinted
at the possibility of an early grave; said that nothing should
induce her to swerve from the duty she owed her parents; implored
me to forget her, and find out somebody more deserving, and all
that sort of thing. She said she could, on no account, think of
meeting me unknown to her pa and ma; and entreated me, as she
should be in a particular part of Kensington Gardens at eleven
o'clock next morning, not to attempt to meet her there.'

'You didn't go, of course?' said Watkins Tottle.

'Didn't I?--Of course I did. There she was, with the identical
housemaid in perspective, in order that there might be no
interruption. We walked about, for a couple of hours; made
ourselves delightfully miserable; and were regularly engaged.
Then, we began to "correspond"--that is to say, we used to exchange
about four letters a day; what we used to say in 'em I can't
imagine. And I used to have an interview, in the kitchen, or the
cellar, or some such place, every evening. Well, things went on in
this way for some time; and we got fonder of each other every day.
At last, as our love was raised to such a pitch, and as my salary
had been raised too, shortly before, we determined on a secret
marriage. Fanny arranged to sleep at a friend's, on the previous
night; we were to be married early in the morning; and then we were
to return to her home and be pathetic. She was to fall at the old
gentleman's feet, and bathe his boots with her tears; and I was to
hug the old lady and call her "mother," and use my pocket-
handkerchief as much as possible. Married we were, the next
morning; two girls-friends of Fanny's--acting as bridesmaids; and a
man, who was hired for five shillings and a pint of porter,
officiating as father. Now, the old lady unfortunately put off her
return from Ramsgate, where she had been paying a visit, until the
next morning; and as we placed great reliance on her, we agreed to
postpone our confession for four-and-twenty hours. My newly-made
wife returned home, and I spent my wedding-day in strolling about
Hampstead-heath, and execrating my father-in-law. Of course, I
went to comfort my dear little wife at night, as much as I could,
with the assurance that our troubles would soon be over. I opened
the garden-gate, of which I had a key, and was shown by the servant
to our old place of meeting--a back kitchen, with a stone-floor and
a dresser: upon which, in the absence of chairs, we used to sit
and make love.'

'Make love upon a kitchen-dresser!' interrupted Mr. Watkins Tottle,
whose ideas of decorum were greatly outraged.

'Ah! On a kitchen-dresser!' replied Parsons. 'And let me tell
you, old fellow, that, if you were really over head-and-ears in
love, and had no other place to make love in, you'd be devilish
glad to avail yourself of such an opportunity. However, let me
see;--where was I?'

'On the dresser,' suggested Timson.

'Oh--ah! Well, here I found poor Fanny, quite disconsolate and
uncomfortable. The old boy had been very cross all day, which made
her feel still more lonely; and she was quite out of spirits. So,
I put a good face on the matter, and laughed it off, and said we
should enjoy the pleasures of a matrimonial life more by contrast;
and, at length, poor Fanny brightened up a little. I stopped
there, till about eleven o'clock, and, just as I was taking my
leave for the fourteenth time, the girl came running down the
stairs, without her shoes, in a great fright, to tell us that the
old villain--Heaven forgive me for calling him so, for he is dead
and gone now!--prompted I suppose by the prince of darkness, was
coming down, to draw his own beer for supper--a thing he had not
done before, for six months, to my certain knowledge; for the cask
stood in that very back kitchen. If he discovered me there,
explanation would have been out of the question; for he was so
outrageously violent, when at all excited, that he never would have
listened to me. There was only one thing to be done. The chimney
was a very wide one; it had been originally built for an oven; went
up perpendicularly for a few feet, and then shot backward and
formed a sort of small cavern. My hopes and fortune--the means of
our joint existence almost--were at stake. I scrambled in like a
squirrel; coiled myself up in this recess; and, as Fanny and the
girl replaced the deal chimney-board, I could see the light of the
candle which my unconscious father-in-law carried in his hand. I
heard him draw the beer; and I never heard beer run so slowly. He
was just leaving the kitchen, and I was preparing to descend, when
down came the infernal chimney-board with a tremendous crash. He
stopped and put down the candle and the jug of beer on the dresser;
he was a nervous old fellow, and any unexpected noise annoyed him.
He coolly observed that the fire-place was never used, and sending
the frightened servant into the next kitchen for a hammer and
nails, actually nailed up the board, and locked the door on the
outside. So, there was I, on my wedding-night, in the light
kerseymere trousers, fancy waistcoat, and blue coat, that I had
been married in in the morning, in a back-kitchen chimney, the
bottom of which was nailed up, and the top of which had been
formerly raised some fifteen feet, to prevent the smoke from
annoying the neighbours. And there,' added Mr. Gabriel Parsons, as
he passed the bottle, 'there I remained till half-past seven the
next morning, when the housemaid's sweetheart, who was a carpenter,
unshelled me. The old dog had nailed me up so securely, that, to
this very hour, I firmly believe that no one but a carpenter could
ever have got me out.'

'And what did Mrs. Parsons's father say, when he found you were
married?' inquired Watkins Tottle, who, although he never saw a
joke, was not satisfied until he heard a story to the very end.

'Why, the affair of the chimney so tickled his fancy, that he
pardoned us off-hand, and allowed us something to live on till he
went the way of all flesh. I spent the next night in his second-
floor front, much more comfortably than I had spent the preceding
one; for, as you will probably guess--'

'Please, sir, missis has made tea,' said a middle-aged female
servant, bobbing into the room.

'That's the very housemaid that figures in my story,' said Mr.
Gabriel Parsons. 'She went into Fanny's service when we were first
married, and has been with us ever since; but I don't think she has
felt one atom of respect for me since the morning she saw me
released, when she went into violent hysterics, to which she has
been subject ever since. Now, shall we join the ladies?'

'If you please,' said Mr. Watkins Tottle.

'By all means,' added the obsequious Mr. Timson; and the trio made
for the drawing-room accordingly.

Tea being concluded, and the toast and cups having been duly
handed, and occasionally upset, by Mr. Watkins Tottle, a rubber was
proposed. They cut for partners--Mr. and Mrs. Parsons; and Mr.
Watkins Tottle and Miss Lillerton. Mr. Timson having conscientious
scruples on the subject of card-playing, drank brandy-and-water,
and kept up a running spar with Mr. Watkins Tottle. The evening
went off well; Mr. Watkins Tottle was in high spirits, having some
reason to be gratified with his reception by Miss Lillerton; and
before he left, a small party was made up to visit the Beulah Spa
on the following Saturday.

'It's all right, I think,' said Mr. Gabriel Parsons to Mr. Watkins
Tottle as he opened the garden gate for him.

'I hope so,' he replied, squeezing his friend's hand.

'You'll be down by the first coach on Saturday,' said Mr. Gabriel
Parsons.

'Certainly,' replied Mr. Watkins Tottle. 'Undoubtedly.'

But fortune had decreed that Mr. Watkins Tottle should not be down
by the first coach on Saturday. His adventures on that day,
however, and the success of his wooing, are subjects for another
chapter.

CHAPTER THE SECOND

'The first coach has not come in yet, has it, Tom?' inquired Mr.
Gabriel Parsons, as he very complacently paced up and down the
fourteen feet of gravel which bordered the 'lawn,' on the Saturday
morning which had been fixed upon for the Beulah Spa jaunt.

'No, sir; I haven't seen it,' replied a gardener in a blue apron,
who let himself out to do the ornamental for half-a-crown a day and
his 'keep.'

'Time Tottle was down,' said Mr. Gabriel Parsons, ruminating--'Oh,
here he is, no doubt,' added Gabriel, as a cab drove rapidly up the
hill; and he buttoned his dressing-gown, and opened the gate to
receive the expected visitor. The cab stopped, and out jumped a
man in a coarse Petersham great-coat, whity-brown neckerchief,
faded black suit, gamboge-coloured top-boots, and one of those
large-crowned hats, formerly seldom met with, but now very
generally patronised by gentlemen and costermongers.

'Mr. Parsons?' said the man, looking at the superscription of a
note he held in his hand, and addressing Gabriel with an inquiring
air.

'MY name is Parsons,' responded the sugar-baker.

'I've brought this here note,' replied the individual in the
painted tops, in a hoarse whisper: 'I've brought this here note
from a gen'lm'n as come to our house this mornin'.'

'I expected the gentleman at my house,' said Parsons, as he broke
the seal, which bore the impression of her Majesty's profile as it
is seen on a sixpence.

'I've no doubt the gen'lm'n would ha' been here, replied the
stranger, 'if he hadn't happened to call at our house first; but we
never trusts no gen'lm'n furder nor we can see him--no mistake
about that there'--added the unknown, with a facetious grin; 'beg
your pardon, sir, no offence meant, only--once in, and I wish you
may--catch the idea, sir?'

Mr. Gabriel Parsons was not remarkable for catching anything
suddenly, but a cold. He therefore only bestowed a glance of
profound astonishment on his mysterious companion, and proceeded to
unfold the note of which he had been the bearer. Once opened and
the idea was caught with very little difficulty. Mr. Watkins
Tottle had been suddenly arrested for 33l. 10s. 4d., and dated his
communication from a lock-up house in the vicinity of Chancery-
lane.

'Unfortunate affair this!' said Parsons, refolding the note.

'Oh! nothin' ven you're used to it,' coolly observed the man in the
Petersham.

'Tom!' exclaimed Parsons, after a few minutes' consideration, 'just
put the horse in, will you?--Tell the gentleman that I shall be
there almost as soon as you are,' he continued, addressing the
sheriff-officer's Mercury.

'Werry well,' replied that important functionary; adding, in a
confidential manner, 'I'd adwise the gen'lm'n's friends to settle.
You see it's a mere trifle; and, unless the gen'lm'n means to go up
afore the court, it's hardly worth while waiting for detainers, you
know. Our governor's wide awake, he is. I'll never say nothin'
agin him, nor no man; but he knows what's o'clock, he does,
uncommon.' Having delivered this eloquent, and, to Parsons,
particularly intelligible harangue, the meaning of which was eked
out by divers nods and winks, the gentleman in the boots reseated
himself in the cab, which went rapidly off, and was soon out of
sight. Mr. Gabriel Parsons continued to pace up and down the
pathway for some minutes, apparently absorbed in deep meditation.
The result of his cogitations seemed to be perfectly satisfactory
to himself, for he ran briskly into the house; said that business
had suddenly summoned him to town; that he had desired the
messenger to inform Mr. Watkins Tottle of the fact; and that they
would return together to dinner. He then hastily equipped himself
for a drive, and mounting his gig, was soon on his way to the
establishment of Mr. Solomon Jacobs, situate (as Mr. Watkins Tottle
had informed him) in Cursitor-street, Chancery-lane.

When a man is in a violent hurry to get on, and has a specific
object in view, the attainment of which depends on the completion
of his journey, the difficulties which interpose themselves in his
way appear not only to be innumerable, but to have been called into
existence especially for the occasion. The remark is by no means a
new one, and Mr. Gabriel Parsons had practical and painful
experience of its justice in the course of his drive. There are
three classes of animated objects which prevent your driving with
any degree of comfort or celerity through streets which are but
little frequented--they are pigs, children, and old women. On the
occasion we are describing, the pigs were luxuriating on cabbage-
stalks, and the shuttlecocks fluttered from the little deal
battledores, and the children played in the road; and women, with a
basket in one hand, and the street-door key in the other, WOULD
cross just before the horse's head, until Mr. Gabriel Parsons was
perfectly savage with vexation, and quite hoarse with hoi-ing and
imprecating. Then, when he got into Fleet-street, there was 'a
stoppage,' in which people in vehicles have the satisfaction of
remaining stationary for half an hour, and envying the slowest
pedestrians; and where policemen rush about, and seize hold of
horses' bridles, and back them into shop-windows, by way of
clearing the road and preventing confusion. At length Mr. Gabriel
Parsons turned into Chancery-lane, and having inquired for, and
been directed to Cursitor-street (for it was a locality of which he
was quite ignorant), he soon found himself opposite the house of
Mr. Solomon Jacobs. Confiding his horse and gig to the care of one
of the fourteen boys who had followed him from the other side of
Blackfriars-bridge on the chance of his requiring their services,
Mr. Gabriel Parsons crossed the road and knocked at an inner door,
the upper part of which was of glass, grated like the windows of
this inviting mansion with iron bars--painted white to look
comfortable.

The knock was answered by a sallow-faced, red-haired, sulky boy,
who, after surveying Mr. Gabriel Parsons through the glass, applied
a large key to an immense wooden excrescence, which was in reality
a lock, but which, taken in conjunction with the iron nails with
which the panels were studded, gave the door the appearance of
being subject to warts.

'I want to see Mr. Watkins Tottle,' said Parsons.

'It's the gentleman that come in this morning, Jem,' screamed a
voice from the top of the kitchen-stairs, which belonged to a dirty
woman who had just brought her chin to a level with the passage-
floor. 'The gentleman's in the coffee-room.'

'Up-stairs, sir,' said the boy, just opening the door wide enough
to let Parsons in without squeezing him, and double-locking it the
moment he had made his way through the aperture--'First floor--door
on the left.'

Mr. Gabriel Parsons thus instructed, ascended the uncarpeted and
ill-lighted staircase, and after giving several subdued taps at the
before-mentioned 'door on the left,' which were rendered inaudible
by the hum of voices within the room, and the hissing noise
attendant on some frying operations which were carrying on below
stairs, turned the handle, and entered the apartment. Being
informed that the unfortunate object of his visit had just gone up-
stairs to write a letter, he had leisure to sit down and observe
the scene before him.

The room--which was a small, confined den--was partitioned off into
boxes, like the common-room of some inferior eating-house. The
dirty floor had evidently been as long a stranger to the scrubbing-
brush as to carpet or floor-cloth: and the ceiling was completely
blackened by the flare of the oil-lamp by which the room was
lighted at night. The gray ashes on the edges of the tables, and
the cigar ends which were plentifully scattered about the dusty
grate, fully accounted for the intolerable smell of tobacco which
pervaded the place; and the empty glasses and half-saturated slices
of lemon on the tables, together with the porter pots beneath them,
bore testimony to the frequent libations in which the individuals
who honoured Mr. Solomon Jacobs by a temporary residence in his
house indulged. Over the mantel-shelf was a paltry looking-glass,
extending about half the width of the chimney-piece; but by way of
counterpoise, the ashes were confined by a rusty fender about twice
as long as the hearth.

From this cheerful room itself, the attention of Mr. Gabriel
Parsons was naturally directed to its inmates. In one of the boxes
two men were playing at cribbage with a very dirty pack of cards,
some with blue, some with green, and some with red backs--
selections from decayed packs. The cribbage board had been long
ago formed on the table by some ingenious visitor with the
assistance of a pocket-knife and a two-pronged fork, with which the
necessary number of holes had been made in the table at proper
distances for the reception of the wooden pegs. In another box a
stout, hearty-looking man, of about forty, was eating some dinner
which his wife--an equally comfortable-looking personage--had
brought him in a basket: and in a third, a genteel-looking young
man was talking earnestly, and in a low tone, to a young female,
whose face was concealed by a thick veil, but whom Mr. Gabriel
Parsons immediately set down in his own mind as the debtor's wife.
A young fellow of vulgar manners, dressed in the very extreme of
the prevailing fashion, was pacing up and down the room, with a
lighted cigar in his mouth and his hands in his pockets, ever and
anon puffing forth volumes of smoke, and occasionally applying,
with much apparent relish, to a pint pot, the contents of which
were 'chilling' on the hob.

'Fourpence more, by gum!' exclaimed one of the cribbage-players,
lighting a pipe, and addressing his adversary at the close of the
game; 'one 'ud think you'd got luck in a pepper-cruet, and shook it
out when you wanted it.'

'Well, that a'n't a bad un,' replied the other, who was a horse-
dealer from Islington.

'No; I'm blessed if it is,' interposed the jolly-looking fellow,
who, having finished his dinner, was drinking out of the same glass
as his wife, in truly conjugal harmony, some hot gin-and-water.
The faithful partner of his cares had brought a plentiful supply of
the anti-temperance fluid in a large flat stone bottle, which
looked like a half-gallon jar that had been successfully tapped for
the dropsy. 'You're a rum chap, you are, Mr. Walker--will you dip
your beak into this, sir?'

'Thank'ee, sir,' replied Mr. Walker, leaving his box, and advancing
to the other to accept the proffered glass. 'Here's your health,
sir, and your good 'ooman's here. Gentlemen all--yours, and better
luck still. Well, Mr. Willis,' continued the facetious prisoner,
addressing the young man with the cigar, 'you seem rather down to-
day--floored, as one may say. What's the matter, sir? Never say
die, you know.'

'Oh! I'm all right,' replied the smoker. 'I shall be bailed out
to-morrow.'

'Shall you, though?' inquired the other. 'Damme, I wish I could
say the same. I am as regularly over head and ears as the Royal
George, and stand about as much chance of being BAILED OUT. Ha!
ha! ha!'

'Why,' said the young man, stopping short, and speaking in a very
loud key, 'look at me. What d'ye think I've stopped here two days
for?'

''Cause you couldn't get out, I suppose,' interrupted Mr. Walker,
winking to the company. 'Not that you're exactly obliged to stop
here, only you can't help it. No compulsion, you know, only you
must--eh?'

'A'n't he a rum un?' inquired the delighted individual, who had
offered the gin-and-water, of his wife.

'Oh, he just is!' replied the lady, who was quite overcome by these
flashes of imagination.

'Why, my case,' frowned the victim, throwing the end of his cigar
into the fire, and illustrating his argument by knocking the bottom
of the pot on the table, at intervals,--'my case is a very singular
one. My father's a man of large property, and I am his son.'

'That's a very strange circumstance!' interrupted the jocose Mr.
Walker, en passant.

'--I am his son, and have received a liberal education. I don't
owe no man nothing--not the value of a farthing, but I was induced,
you see, to put my name to some bills for a friend--bills to a
large amount, I may say a very large amount, for which I didn't
receive no consideration. What's the consequence?'

'Why, I suppose the bills went out, and you came in. The
acceptances weren't taken up, and you were, eh?' inquired Walker.

'To be sure,' replied the liberally educated young gentleman. 'To
be sure; and so here I am, locked up for a matter of twelve hundred
pound.'

'Why don't you ask your old governor to stump up?' inquired Walker,
with a somewhat sceptical air.

'Oh! bless you, he'd never do it,' replied the other, in a tone of
expostulation--'Never!'

'Well, it is very odd to--be--sure,' interposed the owner of the
flat bottle, mixing another glass, 'but I've been in difficulties,
as one may say, now for thirty year. I went to pieces when I was
in a milk-walk, thirty year ago; arterwards, when I was a
fruiterer, and kept a spring wan; and arter that again in the coal
and 'tatur line--but all that time I never see a youngish chap come
into a place of this kind, who wasn't going out again directly, and
who hadn't been arrested on bills which he'd given a friend and for
which he'd received nothing whatsomever--not a fraction.'

'Oh! it's always the cry,' said Walker. 'I can't see the use on
it; that's what makes me so wild. Why, I should have a much better
opinion of an individual, if he'd say at once in an honourable and
gentlemanly manner as he'd done everybody he possibly could.'

'Ay, to be sure,' interposed the horse-dealer, with whose notions
of bargain and sale the axiom perfectly coincided, 'so should I.'
The young gentleman, who had given rise to these observations, was
on the point of offering a rather angry reply to these sneers, but
the rising of the young man before noticed, and of the female who
had been sitting by him, to leave the room, interrupted the
conversation. She had been weeping bitterly, and the noxious
atmosphere of the room acting upon her excited feelings and
delicate frame, rendered the support of her companion necessary as
they quitted it together.

There was an air of superiority about them both, and something in
their appearance so unusual in such a place, that a respectful
silence was observed until the WHIRR--R--BANG of the spring door
announced that they were out of hearing. It was broken by the wife
of the ex-fruiterer.

'Poor creetur!' said she, quenching a sigh in a rivulet of gin-and-
water. 'She's very young.'

'She's a nice-looking 'ooman too,' added the horse-dealer.

'What's he in for, Ikey?' inquired Walker, of an individual who was
spreading a cloth with numerous blotches of mustard upon it, on one
of the tables, and whom Mr. Gabriel Parsons had no difficulty in
recognising as the man who had called upon him in the morning.

'Vy,' responded the factotum, 'it's one of the rummiest rigs you
ever heard on. He come in here last Vensday, which by-the-bye he's
a-going over the water to-night--hows'ever that's neither here nor
there. You see I've been a going back'ards and for'ards about his
business, and ha' managed to pick up some of his story from the
servants and them; and so far as I can make it out, it seems to be
summat to this here effect--'

'Cut it short, old fellow,' interrupted Walker, who knew from
former experience that he of the top-boots was neither very concise
nor intelligible in his narratives.

'Let me alone,' replied Ikey, 'and I'll ha' wound up, and made my
lucky in five seconds. This here young gen'lm'n's father--so I'm
told, mind ye--and the father o' the young voman, have always been
on very bad, out-and-out, rig'lar knock-me-down sort o' terms; but
somehow or another, when he was a wisitin' at some gentlefolk's
house, as he knowed at college, he came into contract with the
young lady. He seed her several times, and then he up and said
he'd keep company with her, if so be as she vos agreeable. Vell,
she vos as sweet upon him as he vos upon her, and so I s'pose they
made it all right; for they got married 'bout six months
arterwards, unbeknown, mind ye, to the two fathers--leastways so
I'm told. When they heard on it--my eyes, there was such a
combustion! Starvation vos the very least that vos to be done to
'em. The young gen'lm'n's father cut him off vith a bob, 'cos he'd
cut himself off vith a wife; and the young lady's father he behaved
even worser and more unnat'ral, for he not only blow'd her up
dreadful, and swore he'd never see her again, but he employed a
chap as I knows--and as you knows, Mr. Valker, a precious sight too
well--to go about and buy up the bills and them things on which the
young husband, thinking his governor 'ud come round agin, had
raised the vind just to blow himself on vith for a time; besides
vich, he made all the interest he could to set other people agin
him. Consequence vos, that he paid as long as he could; but things
he never expected to have to meet till he'd had time to turn
himself round, come fast upon him, and he vos nabbed. He vos
brought here, as I said afore, last Vensday, and I think there's
about--ah, half-a-dozen detainers agin him down-stairs now. I have
been,' added Ikey, 'in the purfession these fifteen year, and I
never met vith such windictiveness afore!'

'Poor creeturs!' exclaimed the coal-dealer's wife once more: again
resorting to the same excellent prescription for nipping a sigh in
the bud. 'Ah! when they've seen as much trouble as I and my old
man here have, they'll be as comfortable under it as we are.'

'The young lady's a pretty creature,' said Walker, 'only she's a
little too delicate for my taste--there ain't enough of her. As to
the young cove, he may be very respectable and what not, but he's
too down in the mouth for me--he ain't game.'

'Game!' exclaimed Ikey, who had been altering the position of a
green-handled knife and fork at least a dozen times, in order that
he might remain in the room under the pretext of having something
to do. 'He's game enough ven there's anything to be fierce about;
but who could be game as you call it, Mr. Walker, with a pale young
creetur like that, hanging about him?--It's enough to drive any
man's heart into his boots to see 'em together--and no mistake at
all about it. I never shall forget her first comin' here; he wrote
to her on the Thursday to come--I know he did, 'cos I took the
letter. Uncommon fidgety he was all day to be sure, and in the
evening he goes down into the office, and he says to Jacobs, says
he, "Sir, can I have the loan of a private room for a few minutes
this evening, without incurring any additional expense--just to see
my wife in?" says he. Jacobs looked as much as to say--"Strike me
bountiful if you ain't one of the modest sort!" but as the gen'lm'n
who had been in the back parlour had just gone out, and had paid
for it for that day, he says--werry grave--"Sir," says he, "it's
agin our rules to let private rooms to our lodgers on gratis terms,
but," says he, "for a gentleman, I don't mind breaking through them
for once." So then he turns round to me, and says, "Ikey, put two
mould candles in the back parlour, and charge 'em to this
gen'lm'n's account," vich I did. Vell, by-and-by a hackney-coach
comes up to the door, and there, sure enough, was the young lady,
wrapped up in a hopera-cloak, as it might be, and all alone. I
opened the gate that night, so I went up when the coach come, and
he vos a waitin' at the parlour door--and wasn't he a trembling,
neither? The poor creetur see him, and could hardly walk to meet
him. "Oh, Harry!" she says, "that it should have come to this; and
all for my sake," says she, putting her hand upon his shoulder. So
he puts his arm round her pretty little waist, and leading her
gently a little way into the room, so that he might be able to shut
the door, he says, so kind and soft-like--"Why, Kate," says he--'

'Here's the gentleman you want,' said Ikey, abruptly breaking off
in his story, and introducing Mr. Gabriel Parsons to the crest-
fallen Watkins Tottle, who at that moment entered the room.
Watkins advanced with a wooden expression of passive endurance, and
accepted the hand which Mr. Gabriel Parsons held out.

'I want to speak to you,' said Gabriel, with a look strongly
expressive of his dislike of the company.

'This way,' replied the imprisoned one, leading the way to the
front drawing-room, where rich debtors did the luxurious at the
rate of a couple of guineas a day.

'Well, here I am,' said Mr. Watkins, as he sat down on the sofa;
and placing the palms of his hands on his knees, anxiously glanced
at his friend's countenance.

'Yes; and here you're likely to be,' said Gabriel, coolly, as he
rattled the money in his unmentionable pockets, and looked out of
the window.

'What's the amount with the costs?' inquired Parsons, after an
awkward pause.

'Have you any money?'

'Nine and sixpence halfpenny.'

Mr. Gabriel Parsons walked up and down the room for a few seconds,
before he could make up his mind to disclose the plan he had
formed; he was accustomed to drive hard bargains, but was always
most anxious to conceal his avarice. At length he stopped short,
and said, 'Tottle, you owe me fifty pounds.'

'I do.'

'And from all I see, I infer that you are likely to owe it to me.'

'I fear I am.'

'Though you have every disposition to pay me if you could?'

'Certainly.'

'Then,' said Mr. Gabriel Parsons, 'listen: here's my proposition.
You know my way of old. Accept it--yes or no--I will or I won't.
I'll pay the debt and costs, and I'll lend you 10l. more (which,
added to your annuity, will enable you to carry on the war well) if
you'll give me your note of hand to pay me one hundred and fifty
pounds within six months after you are married to Miss Lillerton.'

'My dear--'

'Stop a minute--on one condition; and that is, that you propose to
Miss Lillerton at once.'

'At once! My dear Parsons, consider.'

'It's for you to consider, not me. She knows you well from
reputation, though she did not know you personally until lately.
Notwithstanding all her maiden modesty, I think she'd be devilish
glad to get married out of hand with as little delay as possible.
My wife has sounded her on the subject, and she has confessed.'

'What--what?' eagerly interrupted the enamoured Watkins.

'Why,' replied Parsons, 'to say exactly what she has confessed,
would be rather difficult, because they only spoke in hints, and so
forth; but my wife, who is no bad judge in these cases, declared to
me that what she had confessed was as good as to say that she was
not insensible of your merits--in fact, that no other man should
have her.'

Mr. Watkins Tottle rose hastily from his seat, and rang the bell.

'What's that for?' inquired Parsons.

'I want to send the man for the bill stamp,' replied Mr. Watkins
Tottle.

'Then you've made up your mind?'

'I have,'--and they shook hands most cordially. The note of hand
was given--the debt and costs were paid--Ikey was satisfied for his
trouble, and the two friends soon found themselves on that side of
Mr. Solomon Jacobs's establishment, on which most of his visitors
were very happy when they found themselves once again--to wit, the
OUTside.

'Now,' said Mr. Gabriel Parsons, as they drove to Norwood together-
-'you shall have an opportunity to make the disclosure to-night,
and mind you speak out, Tottle.'

'I will--I will!' replied Watkins, valorously.

'How I should like to see you together,' ejaculated Mr. Gabriel
Parsons.--'What fun!' and he laughed so long and so loudly, that he
disconcerted Mr. Watkins Tottle, and frightened the horse.

'There's Fanny and your intended walking about on the lawn,' said
Gabriel, as they approached the house. 'Mind your eye, Tottle.'

'Never fear,' replied Watkins, resolutely, as he made his way to
the spot where the ladies were walking.

'Here's Mr. Tottle, my dear,' said Mrs. Parsons, addressing Miss
Lillerton. The lady turned quickly round, and acknowledged his
courteous salute with the same sort of confusion that Watkins had
noticed on their first interview, but with something like a slight
expression of disappointment or carelessness.

'Did you see how glad she was to see you?' whispered Parsons to his
friend.

'Why, I really thought she looked as if she would rather have seen
somebody else,' replied Tottle.

'Pooh, nonsense!' whispered Parsons again--'it's always the way
with the women, young or old. They never show how delighted they
are to see those whose presence makes their hearts beat. It's the
way with the whole sex, and no man should have lived to your time
of life without knowing it. Fanny confessed it to me, when we were
first married, over and over again--see what it is to have a wife.'

'Certainly,' whispered Tottle, whose courage was vanishing fast.

'Well, now, you'd better begin to pave the way,' said Parsons, who,
having invested some money in the speculation, assumed the office
of director.

'Yes, yes, I will--presently,' replied Tottle, greatly flurried.

'Say something to her, man,' urged Parsons again. 'Confound it!
pay her a compliment, can't you?'

'No! not till after dinner,' replied the bashful Tottle, anxious to
postpone the evil moment.

'Well, gentlemen,' said Mrs. Parsons, 'you are really very polite;
you stay away the whole morning, after promising to take us out,
and when you do come home, you stand whispering together and take
no notice of us.'

'We were talking of the BUSINESS, my dear, which detained us this
morning,' replied Parsons, looking significantly at Tottle.

'Dear me! how very quickly the morning has gone,' said Miss
Lillerton, referring to the gold watch, which was wound up on state
occasions, whether it required it or not.

'I think it has passed very slowly,' mildly suggested Tottle.

('That's right--bravo!') whispered Parsons.

'Indeed!' said Miss Lillerton, with an air of majestic surprise.

'I can only impute it to my unavoidable absence from your society,
madam,' said Watkins, 'and that of Mrs. Parsons.'

During this short dialogue, the ladies had been leading the way to
the house.

'What the deuce did you stick Fanny into that last compliment for?'
inquired Parsons, as they followed together; 'it quite spoilt the
effect.'

'Oh! it really would have been too broad without,' replied Watkins
Tottle, 'much too broad!'

'He's mad!' Parsons whispered his wife, as they entered the
drawing-room, 'mad from modesty.'

'Dear me!' ejaculated the lady, 'I never heard of such a thing.'

'You'll find we have quite a family dinner, Mr. Tottle,' said Mrs.
Parsons, when they sat down to table: 'Miss Lillerton is one of
us, and, of course, we make no stranger of you.'

Mr. Watkins Tottle expressed a hope that the Parsons family never
would make a stranger of him; and wished internally that his
bashfulness would allow him to feel a little less like a stranger
himself.

'Take off the covers, Martha,' said Mrs. Parsons, directing the
shifting of the scenery with great anxiety. The order was obeyed,
and a pair of boiled fowls, with tongue and et ceteras, were
displayed at the top, and a fillet of veal at the bottom. On one
side of the table two green sauce-tureens, with ladles of the same,
were setting to each other in a green dish; and on the other was a
curried rabbit, in a brown suit, turned up with lemon.

'Miss Lillerton, my dear,' said Mrs. Parsons, 'shall I assist you?'

'Thank you, no; I think I'll trouble Mr. Tottle.'

Watkins started--trembled--helped the rabbit--and broke a tumbler.
The countenance of the lady of the house, which had been all smiles
previously, underwent an awful change.

'Extremely sorry,' stammered Watkins, assisting himself to currie
and parsley and butter, in the extremity of his confusion.

'Not the least consequence,' replied Mrs. Parsons, in a tone which
implied that it was of the greatest consequence possible,--
directing aside the researches of the boy, who was groping under
the table for the bits of broken glass.

'I presume,' said Miss Lillerton, 'that Mr. Tottle is aware of the
interest which bachelors usually pay in such cases; a dozen glasses
for one is the lowest penalty.'

Mr. Gabriel Parsons gave his friend an admonitory tread on the toe.
Here was a clear hint that the sooner he ceased to be a bachelor
and emancipated himself from such penalties, the better. Mr.
Watkins Tottle viewed the observation in the same light, and
challenged Mrs. Parsons to take wine, with a degree of presence of
mind, which, under all the circumstances, was really extraordinary.

'Miss Lillerton,' said Gabriel, 'may I have the pleasure?'

'I shall be most happy.'

'Tottle, will you assist Miss Lillerton, and pass the decanter.
Thank you.' (The usual pantomimic ceremony of nodding and sipping
gone through) -

'Tottle, were you ever in Suffolk?' inquired the master of the
house, who was burning to tell one of his seven stock stories.

'No,' responded Watkins, adding, by way of a saving clause, 'but
I've been in Devonshire.'

'Ah!' replied Gabriel, 'it was in Suffolk that a rather singular
circumstance happened to me many years ago. Did you ever happen to
hear me mention it?'

Mr. Watkins Tottle HAD happened to hear his friend mention it some
four hundred times. Of course he expressed great curiosity, and
evinced the utmost impatience to hear the story again. Mr. Gabriel
Parsons forthwith attempted to proceed, in spite of the
interruptions to which, as our readers must frequently have
observed, the master of the house is often exposed in such cases.
We will attempt to give them an idea of our meaning.

'When I was in Suffolk--' said Mr. Gabriel Parsons.

'Take off the fowls first, Martha,' said Mrs. Parsons. 'I beg your
pardon, my dear.'

'When I was in Suffolk,' resumed Mr. Parsons, with an impatient
glance at his wife, who pretended not to observe it, 'which is now
years ago, business led me to the town of Bury St. Edmund's. I had
to stop at the principal places in my way, and therefore, for the
sake of convenience, I travelled in a gig. I left Sudbury one dark
night--it was winter time--about nine o'clock; the rain poured in
torrents, the wind howled among the trees that skirted the
roadside, and I was obliged to proceed at a foot-pace, for I could
hardly see my hand before me, it was so dark--'

'John,' interrupted Mrs. Parsons, in a low, hollow voice, 'don't
spill that gravy.'

'Fanny,' said Parsons impatiently, 'I wish you'd defer these
domestic reproofs to some more suitable time. Really, my dear,
these constant interruptions are very annoying.'

'My dear, I didn't interrupt you,' said Mrs. Parsons.

'But, my dear, you DID interrupt me,' remonstrated Mr. Parsons.

'How very absurd you are, my love! I must give directions to the
servants; I am quite sure that if I sat here and allowed John to
spill the gravy over the new carpet, you'd be the first to find
fault when you saw the stain to-morrow morning.'

'Well,' continued Gabriel with a resigned air, as if he knew there
was no getting over the point about the carpet, 'I was just saying,
it was so dark that I could hardly see my hand before me. The road
was very lonely, and I assure you, Tottle (this was a device to
arrest the wandering attention of that individual, which was
distracted by a confidential communication between Mrs. Parsons and
Martha, accompanied by the delivery of a large bunch of keys), I
assure you, Tottle, I became somehow impressed with a sense of the
loneliness of my situation--'

'Pie to your master,' interrupted Mrs. Parsons, again directing the
servant.

'Now, pray, my dear,' remonstrated Parsons once more, very
pettishly. Mrs. P. turned up her hands and eyebrows, and appealed
in dumb show to Miss Lillerton. 'As I turned a corner of the
road,' resumed Gabriel, 'the horse stopped short, and reared
tremendously. I pulled up, jumped out, ran to his head, and found
a man lying on his back in the middle of the road, with his eyes
fixed on the sky. I thought he was dead; but no, he was alive, and
there appeared to be nothing the matter with him. He jumped up,
and putting his hand to his chest, and fixing upon me the most
earnest gaze you can imagine, exclaimed--'

'Pudding here,' said Mrs. Parsons.

'Oh! it's no use,' exclaimed the host, now rendered desperate.
'Here, Tottle; a glass of wine. It's useless to attempt relating
anything when Mrs. Parsons is present.'

This attack was received in the usual way. Mrs. Parsons talked TO
Miss Lillerton and AT her better half; expatiated on the impatience
of men generally; hinted that her husband was peculiarly vicious in
this respect, and wound up by insinuating that she must be one of
the best tempers that ever existed, or she never could put up with
it. Really what she had to endure sometimes, was more than any one
who saw her in every-day life could by possibility suppose.--The
story was now a painful subject, and therefore Mr. Parsons declined
to enter into any details, and contented himself by stating that
the man was a maniac, who had escaped from a neighbouring mad-
house.

The cloth was removed; the ladies soon afterwards retired, and Miss
Lillerton played the piano in the drawing-room overhead, very
loudly, for the edification of the visitor. Mr. Watkins Tottle and
Mr. Gabriel Parsons sat chatting comfortably enough, until the
conclusion of the second bottle, when the latter, in proposing an
adjournment to the drawing-room, informed Watkins that he had
concerted a plan with his wife, for leaving him and Miss Lillerton
alone, soon after tea.

'I say,' said Tottle, as they went up-stairs, 'don't you think it
would be better if we put it off till-till-to-morrow?'

'Don't YOU think it would have been much better if I had left you
in that wretched hole I found you in this morning?' retorted
Parsons bluntly.

'Well--well--I only made a suggestion,' said poor Watkins Tottle,
with a deep sigh.

Tea was soon concluded, and Miss Lillerton, drawing a small work-
table on one side of the fire, and placing a little wooden frame
upon it, something like a miniature clay-mill without the horse,
was soon busily engaged in making a watch-guard with brown silk.

'God bless me!' exclaimed Parsons, starting up with well-feigned
surprise, 'I've forgotten those confounded letters. Tottle, I know
you'll excuse me.'

If Tottle had been a free agent, he would have allowed no one to
leave the room on any pretence, except himself. As it was,
however, he was obliged to look cheerful when Parsons quitted the
apartment.

He had scarcely left, when Martha put her head into the room, with-
-'Please, ma'am, you're wanted.'

Mrs. Parsons left the room, shut the door carefully after her, and
Mr. Watkins Tottle was left alone with Miss Lillerton.

For the first five minutes there was a dead silence.--Mr. Watkins
Tottle was thinking how he should begin, and Miss Lillerton
appeared to be thinking of nothing. The fire was burning low; Mr.
Watkins Tottle stirred it, and put some coals on.

'Hem!' coughed Miss Lillerton; Mr. Watkins Tottle thought the fair
creature had spoken. 'I beg your pardon,' said he.

'Eh?'

'I thought you spoke.'

'No.'

'Oh!'

'There are some books on the sofa, Mr. Tottle, if you would like to
look at them,' said Miss Lillerton, after the lapse of another five
minutes.

'No, thank you,' returned Watkins; and then he added, with a
courage which was perfectly astonishing, even to himself, 'Madam,
that is Miss Lillerton, I wish to speak to you.'

'To me!' said Miss Lillerton, letting the silk drop from her hands,
and sliding her chair back a few paces.--'Speak--to me!'

'To you, madam--and on the subject of the state of your
affections.' The lady hastily rose and would have left the room;
but Mr. Watkins Tottle gently detained her by the hand, and holding
it as far from him as the joint length of their arms would permit,
he thus proceeded: 'Pray do not misunderstand me, or suppose that
I am led to address you, after so short an acquaintance, by any
feeling of my own merits--for merits I have none which could give
me a claim to your hand. I hope you will acquit me of any
presumption when I explain that I have been acquainted through Mrs.
Parsons, with the state--that is, that Mrs. Parsons has told me--at
least, not Mrs. Parsons, but--' here Watkins began to wander, but
Miss Lillerton relieved him.

'Am I to understand, Mr. Tottle, that Mrs. Parsons has acquainted
you with my feeling--my affection--I mean my respect, for an
individual of the opposite sex?'

'She has.'

'Then, what?' inquired Miss Lillerton, averting her face, with a
girlish air, 'what could induce YOU to seek such an interview as
this? What can your object be? How can I promote your happiness,
Mr. Tottle?'

Here was the time for a flourish--'By allowing me,' replied
Watkins, falling bump on his knees, and breaking two brace-buttons
and a waistcoat-string, in the act--'By allowing me to be your
slave, your servant--in short, by unreservedly making me the
confidant of your heart's feelings--may I say for the promotion of
your own happiness--may I say, in order that you may become the
wife of a kind and affectionate husband?'

'Disinterested creature!' exclaimed Miss Lillerton, hiding her face
in a white pocket-handkerchief with an eyelet-hole border.

Mr. Watkins Tottle thought that if the lady knew all, she might
possibly alter her opinion on this last point. He raised the tip
of her middle finger ceremoniously to his lips, and got off his
knees, as gracefully as he could. 'My information was correct?' he
tremulously inquired, when he was once more on his feet.

'It was.' Watkins elevated his hands, and looked up to the
ornament in the centre of the ceiling, which had been made for a
lamp, by way of expressing his rapture.

'Our situation, Mr. Tottle,' resumed the lady, glancing at him
through one of the eyelet-holes, 'is a most peculiar and delicate
one.'

'It is,' said Mr. Tottle.

'Our acquaintance has been of SO short duration,' said Miss
Lillerton.

'Only a week,' assented Watkins Tottle.

'Oh! more than that,' exclaimed the lady, in a tone of surprise.

'Indeed!' said Tottle.

'More than a month--more than two months!' said Miss Lillerton.

'Rather odd, this,' thought Watkins.

'Oh!' he said, recollecting Parsons's assurance that she had known
him from report, 'I understand. But, my dear madam, pray,
consider. The longer this acquaintance has existed, the less
reason is there for delay now. Why not at once fix a period for
gratifying the hopes of your devoted admirer?'

'It has been represented to me again and again that this is the
course I ought to pursue,' replied Miss Lillerton, 'but pardon my
feelings of delicacy, Mr. Tottle--pray excuse this embarrassment--I
have peculiar ideas on such subjects, and I am quite sure that I
never could summon up fortitude enough to name the day to my future
husband.'

'Then allow ME to name it,' said Tottle eagerly.

'I should like to fix it myself,' replied Miss Lillerton,
bashfully, 'but I cannot do so without at once resorting to a third
party.'

'A third party!' thought Watkins Tottle; 'who the deuce is that to
be, I wonder!'

'Mr. Tottle,' continued Miss Lillerton, 'you have made me a most
disinterested and kind offer--that offer I accept. Will you at
once be the bearer of a note from me to--to Mr. Timson?'

'Mr. Timson!' said Watkins.

'After what has passed between us,' responded Miss Lillerton, still
averting her head, 'you must understand whom I mean; Mr. Timson,
the--the--clergyman.'

'Mr. Timson, the clergyman!' ejaculated Watkins Tottle, in a state
of inexpressible beatitude, and positive wonder at his own success.
'Angel! Certainly--this moment!'

'I'll prepare it immediately,' said Miss Lillerton, making for the
door; 'the events of this day have flurried me so much, Mr. Tottle,
that I shall not leave my room again this evening; I will send you
the note by the servant.'

'Stay,--stay,' cried Watkins Tottle, still keeping a most
respectful distance from the lady; 'when shall we meet again?'

'Oh! Mr. Tottle,' replied Miss Lillerton, coquettishly, 'when WE
are married, I can never see you too often, nor thank you too
much;' and she left the room.

Mr. Watkins Tottle flung himself into an arm-chair, and indulged in
the most delicious reveries of future bliss, in which the idea of
'Five hundred pounds per annum, with an uncontrolled power of
disposing of it by her last will and testament,' was somehow or
other the foremost. He had gone through the interview so well, and
it had terminated so admirably, that he almost began to wish he had
expressly stipulated for the settlement of the annual five hundred
on himself.

'May I come in?' said Mr. Gabriel Parsons, peeping in at the door.

'You may,' replied Watkins.

'Well, have you done it?' anxiously inquired Gabriel.

'Have I done it!' said Watkins Tottle. 'Hush--I'm going to the
clergyman.'

'No!' said Parsons. 'How well you have managed it!'

'Where does Timson live?' inquired Watkins.

'At his uncle's,' replied Gabriel, 'just round the lane. He's
waiting for a living, and has been assisting his uncle here for the
last two or three months. But how well you have done it--I didn't
think you could have carried it off so!'

Mr. Watkins Tottle was proceeding to demonstrate that the
Richardsonian principle was the best on which love could possibly
be made, when he was interrupted by the entrance of Martha, with a
little pink note folded like a fancy cocked-hat.

'Miss Lillerton's compliments,' said Martha, as she delivered it
into Tottle's hands, and vanished.

'Do you observe the delicacy?' said Tottle, appealing to Mr.
Gabriel Parsons. 'COMPLIMENTS, not LOVE, by the servant, eh?'

Mr. Gabriel Parsons didn't exactly know what reply to make, so he
poked the forefinger of his right hand between the third and fourth
ribs of Mr. Watkins Tottle.

'Come,' said Watkins, when the explosion of mirth, consequent on
this practical jest, had subsided, 'we'll be off at once--let's
lose no time.'

'Capital!' echoed Gabriel Parsons; and in five minutes they were at
the garden-gate of the villa tenanted by the uncle of Mr. Timson.

'Is Mr. Charles Timson at home?' inquired Mr. Watkins Tottle of Mr.
Charles Timson's uncle's man.

'Mr. Charles IS at home,' replied the man, stammering; 'but he
desired me to say he couldn't be interrupted, sir, by any of the
parishioners.'

'_I_ am not a parishioner,' replied Watkins.

'Is Mr. Charles writing a sermon, Tom?' inquired Parsons, thrusting
himself forward.

'No, Mr. Parsons, sir; he's not exactly writing a sermon, but he is
practising the violoncello in his own bedroom, and gave strict
orders not to be disturbed.'

'Say I'm here,' replied Gabriel, leading the way across the garden;
'Mr. Parsons and Mr. Tottle, on private and particular business.'

They were shown into the parlour, and the servant departed to
deliver his message. The distant groaning of the violoncello
ceased; footsteps were heard on the stairs; and Mr. Timson
presented himself, and shook hands with Parsons with the utmost
cordiality.

'Game!' exclaimed Ikey, who had been altering the position of a
green-handled knife and fork at least a dozen times, in order that
he might remain in the room under the pretext of having something
to do. 'He's game enough ven there's anything to be fierce about;
but who could be game as you call it, Mr. Walker, with a pale young
creetur like that, hanging about him?--It's enough to drive any
man's heart into his boots to see 'em together--and no mistake at
all about it. I never shall forget her first comin' here; he wrote
to her on the Thursday to come--I know he did, 'cos I took the
letter. Uncommon fidgety he was all day to be sure, and in the
evening he goes down into the office, and he says to Jacobs, says
he, "Sir, can I have the loan of a private room for a few minutes
this evening, without incurring any additional expense--just to see
my wife in?" says he. Jacobs looked as much as to say--"Strike me
bountiful if you ain't one of the modest sort!" but as the gen'lm'n
who had been in the back parlour had just gone out, and had paid
for it for that day, he says--werry grave--"Sir," says he, "it's
agin our rules to let private rooms to our lodgers on gratis terms,
but," says he, "for a gentleman, I don't mind breaking through them
for once." So then he turns found to me, and says, "Ikey, put two
mould candles in the back parlour, and charge 'em to this
gen'lm'n's account," vich I did. Vell, by-and-by a hackney-coach
comes up to the door, and there, sure enough, was the young lady,
wrapped up in a hopera-cloak, as it might be, and all alone. I
opened the gate that night, so I went up when the coach come, and
he vos a waitin' at the parlour door--and wasn't he a trembling,
neither? The poor creetur see him, and could hardly walk to meet
him. "Oh, Harry!" she says, "that it should have come to this; and
all for my sake," says she, putting her hand upon his shoulder. So
he puts his arm round her pretty little waist, and leading her
gently a little way into the room, so that he might be able to shut
the door, he says, so kind and soft-like--"Why, Kate," says he--'

'Here's the gentleman you want,' said Ikey, abruptly breaking off
in his story, and introducing Mr. Gabriel Parsons to the crest-
fallen Watkins Tottle, who at that moment entered the room.
Watkins advanced with a wooden expression of passive endurance, and
accepted the hand which Mr. Gabriel Parsons held out.

'I want to speak to you,' said Gabriel, with a look strongly
expressive of his dislike of the company.

'This way,' replied the imprisoned one, leading the way to the
front drawing-room, where rich debtors did the luxurious at the
rate of a couple of guineas a day.

'Well, here I am,' said Mr. Watkins, as he sat down on the sofa;
and placing the palms of his hands on his knees, anxiously glanced
at his friend's countenance.

'Yes; and here you're likely to be,' said Gabriel, coolly, as he
rattled the money in his unmentionable pockets, and looked out of
the window.

'What's the amount with the costs?' inquired Parsons, after an
awkward pause.

'Have you any money?'

'Nine and sixpence halfpenny.'

Mr. Gabriel Parsons walked up and down the room for a few seconds,
before he could make up his mind to disclose the plan he had
formed; he was accustomed to drive hard bargains, but was always
most anxious to conceal his avarice. At length he stopped short,
and said, 'Tottle, you owe me fifty pounds.'

'I do.'

'And from all I see, I infer that you are likely to owe it to me.'

'I fear I am.'

'Though you have every disposition to pay me if you could?'

'Certainly.'

'Then,' said Mr. Gabriel Parsons, 'listen: here's my proposition.
You know my way of old. Accept it--yes or no--I will or I won't.
I'll pay the debt and costs, and I'll lend you 10l. more (which,
added to your annuity, will enable you to carry on the war well) if
you'll give me your note of hand to pay me one hundred and fifty
pounds within six months after you are married to Miss Lillerton.'

'My dear--'

'Stop a minute--on one condition; and that is, that you propose to
Miss Lillerton at once.'

'At once! My dear Parsons, consider.'

'It's for you to consider, not me. She knows you well from
reputation, though she did not know you personally until lately.
Notwithstanding all her maiden modesty, I think she'd be devilish
glad to get married out of hand with as little delay as possible.
My wife has sounded her on the subject, and she has confessed.'

'What--what?' eagerly interrupted the enamoured Watkins.

'Why,' replied Parsons, 'to say exactly what she has confessed,
would be rather difficult, because they only spoke in hints, and so
forth; but my wife, who is no bad judge in these cases, declared to
me that what she had confessed was as good as to say that she was
not insensible of your merits--in fact, that no other man should
have her.'

Mr. Watkins Tottle rose hastily from his seat, and rang the bell.

'What's that for?' inquired Parsons.

'I want to send the man for the bill stamp,' replied Mr. Watkins
Tottle.

'Then you've made up your mind?'

'I have,'--and they shook hands most cordially. The note of hand
was given--the debt and costs were paid--Ikey was satisfied for his
trouble, and the two friends soon found themselves on that side of
Mr. Solomon Jacobs's establishment, on which most of his visitors
were very happy when they found themselves once again--to wit, the
outside.

'Now,' said Mr. Gabriel Parsons, as they drove to Norwood together-
-'you shall have an opportunity to make the disclosure to-night,
and mind you speak out, Tottle.'

'I will--I will!' replied Watkins, valorously.

'How I should like to see you together,' ejaculated Mr. Gabriel
Parsons.--'What fun!' and he laughed so long and so loudly, that he
disconcerted Mr. Watkins Tottle, and frightened the horse.

'There's Fanny and your intended walking about on the lawn,' said
Gabriel, as they approached the house. 'Mind your eye, Tottle.'

'Never fear,' replied Watkins, resolutely, as he made his way to
the spot where the ladies were walking.

'Here's Mr. Tottle, my dear,' said Mrs. Parsons, addressing Miss
Lillerton. The lady turned quickly round, and acknowledged his
courteous salute with the same sort of confusion that Watkins had
noticed on their first interview, but with something like a slight
expression of disappointment or carelessness.

'Did you see how glad she was to see you?' whispered Parsons to his
friend.

'Why, I really thought she looked as if she would rather have seen
somebody else,' replied Tottle.

'Pooh, nonsense!' whispered Parsons again--'it's always the way
with the women, young or old. They never show how delighted they
are to see those whose presence makes their hearts beat. It's the
way with the whole sex, and no man should have lived to your time
of life without knowing it. Fanny confessed it to me, when we were
first married, over and over again--see what it is to have a wife.'

'Certainly,' whispered Tottle, whose courage was vanishing fast.

'Well, now, you'd better begin to pave the way,' said Parsons, who,
having invested some money in the speculation, assumed the office
of director.

'Yes, yes, I will--presently,' replied Tottle, greatly flurried.

'Say something to her, man,' urged Parsons again. 'Confound it!
pay her a compliment, can't you?'

'No! not till after dinner,' replied the bashful Tottle, anxious to
postpone the evil moment.

'Well, gentlemen,' said Mrs. Parsons, 'you are really very polite;
you stay away the whole morning, after promising to take us out,
and when you do come home, you stand whispering together and take
no notice of us.'

'We were talking of the BUSINESS, my dear, which detained us this
morning,' replied Parsons, looking significantly at Tottle.

'Dear me! how very quickly the morning has gone,' said Miss
Lillerton, referring to the gold watch, which was wound up on state
occasions, whether it required it or not.

'I think it has passed very slowly,' mildly suggested Tottle.

('That's right--bravo!') whispered Parsons.

'Indeed!' said Miss Lillerton, with an air of majestic surprise.

'I can only impute it to my unavoidable absence from your society,
madam,' said Watkins, 'and that of Mrs. Parsons.'

During this short dialogue, the ladies had been leading the way to
the house.

'What the deuce did you stick Fanny into that last compliment for?'
inquired Parsons, as they followed together; 'it quite spoilt the
effect.'

'Oh! it really would have been too broad without,' replied Watkins
Tottle, 'much too broad!'

'He's mad!' Parsons whispered his wife, as they entered the
drawing-room, 'mad from modesty.'

'Dear me!' ejaculated the lady, 'I never heard of such a thing.'

'You'll find we have quite a family dinner, Mr. Tottle,' said Mrs.
Parsons, when they sat down to table: 'Miss Lillerton is one of
us, and, of course, we make no stranger of you.'

Mr. Watkins Tottle expressed a hope that the Parsons family never
would make a stranger of him; and wished internally that his
bashfulness would allow him to feel a little less like a stranger
himself.

'Take off the covers, Martha,' said Mrs. Parsons, directing the
shifting of the scenery with great anxiety. The order was obeyed,
and a pair of boiled fowls, with tongue and et ceteras, were
displayed at the top, and a fillet of veal at the bottom. On one
side of the table two green sauce-tureens, with ladles of the same,
were setting to each other in a green dish; and on the other was a
curried rabbit, in a brown suit, turned up with lemon.

'Miss Lillerton, my dear,' said Mrs. Parsons, 'shall I assist you?'

'Thank you, no; I think I'll trouble Mr. Tottle.'

Watkins started--trembled--helped the rabbit--and broke a tumbler.
The countenance of the lady of the house, which had been all smiles
previously, underwent an awful change.

'Extremely sorry,' stammered Watkins, assisting himself to currie
and parsley and butter, in the extremity of his confusion.

'Not the least consequence,' replied Mrs. Parsons, in a tone which
implied that it was of the greatest consequence possible,--
directing aside the researches of the boy, who was groping under
the table for the bits of broken glass.

'I presume,' said Miss Lillerton, 'that Mr. Tottle is aware of the
interest which bachelors usually pay in such cases; a dozen glasses
for one is the lowest penalty.'

Mr. Gabriel Parsons gave his friend an admonitory tread on the toe.
Here was a clear hint that the sooner he ceased to be a bachelor
and emancipated himself from such penalties, the better. Mr.
Watkins Tottle viewed the observation in the same light, and
challenged Mrs. Parsons to take wine, with a degree of presence of
mind, which, under all the circumstances, was really extraordinary.

'Miss Lillerton,' said Gabriel, 'may I have the pleasure?'

'I shall be most happy.'

'Tottle, will you assist Miss Lillerton, and pass the decanter.
Thank you.' (The usual pantomimic ceremony of nodding and sipping
gone through) -

'Tottle, were you ever in Suffolk?' inquired the master of the
house, who was burning to tell one of his seven stock stories.

'No,' responded Watkins, adding, by way of a saving clause, 'but
I've been in Devonshire.'

'Ah!' replied Gabriel, 'it was in Suffolk that a rather singular
circumstance happened to me many years ago. Did you ever happen to
hear me mention it?'

Mr. Watkins Tottle HAD happened to hear his friend mention it some
four hundred times. Of course he expressed great curiosity, and
evinced the utmost impatience to hear the story again. Mr. Gabriel
Parsons forthwith attempted to proceed, in spite of the
interruptions to which, as our readers must frequently have
observed, the master of the house is often exposed in such cases.
We will attempt to give them an idea of our meaning.

'When I was in Suffolk--' said Mr. Gabriel Parsons.

'Take off the fowls first, Martha,' said Mrs. Parsons. 'I beg your
pardon, my dear.'

'When I was in Suffolk,' resumed Mr. Parsons, with an impatient
glance at his wife, who pretended not to observe it, 'which is now
years ago, business led me to the town of Bury St. Edmund's. I had
to stop at the principal places in my way, and therefore, for the
sake of convenience, I travelled in a gig. I left Sudbury one dark
night--it was winter time--about nine o'clock; the rain poured in
torrents, the wind howled among the trees that skirted the
roadside, and I was obliged to proceed at a foot-pace, for I could
hardly see my hand before me, it was so dark--'

'John,' interrupted Mrs. Parsons, in a low, hollow voice, 'don't
spill that gravy.'

'Fanny,' said Parsons impatiently, 'I wish you'd defer these
domestic reproofs to some more suitable time. Really, my dear,
these constant interruptions are very annoying.'

'My dear, I didn't interrupt you,' said Mrs. Parsons.

'But, my dear, you did interrupt me,' remonstrated Mr. Parsons.

'How very absurd you are, my love! I must give directions to the
servants; I am quite sure that if I sat here and allowed John to
spill the gravy over the new carpet, you'd be the first to find
fault when you saw the stain to-morrow morning.'

'Well,' continued Gabriel with a resigned air, as if he knew there
was no getting over the point about the carpet, 'I was just saying,
it was so dark that I could hardly see my hand before me. The road
was very lonely, and I assure you, Tottle (this was a device to
arrest the wandering attention of that individual, which was
distracted by a confidential communication between Mrs. Parsons and
Martha, accompanied by the delivery of a large bunch of keys), I
assure you, Tottle, I became somehow impressed with a sense of the
loneliness of my situation--'

'Pie to your master,' interrupted Mrs. Parsons, again directing the
servant.

'Now, pray, my dear,' remonstrated Parsons once more, very
pettishly. Mrs. P. turned up her hands and eyebrows, and appealed
in dumb show to Miss Lillerton. 'As I turned a corner of the
road,' resumed Gabriel, 'the horse stopped short, and reared
tremendously. I pulled up, jumped out, ran to his head, and found
a man lying on his back in the middle of the road, with his eyes
fixed on the sky. I thought he was dead; but no, he was alive, and
there appeared to be nothing the matter with him. He jumped up,
and potting his hand to his chest, and fixing upon me the most
earnest gaze you can imagine, exclaimed--'Pudding here,' said Mrs.
Parsons.

'Oh! it's no use,' exclaimed the host, now rendered desperate.
'Here, Tottle; a glass of wine. It's useless to attempt relating
anything when Mrs. Parsons is present.'

This attack was received in the usual way. Mrs. Parsons talked TO
Miss Lillerton and AT her better half; expatiated on the impatience
of men generally; hinted that her husband was peculiarly vicious in
this respect, and wound up by insinuating that she must be one of
the best tempers that ever existed, or she never could put up with
it. Really what she had to endure sometimes, was more than any one
who saw her in every-day life could by possibility suppose.--The
story was now a painful subject, and therefore Mr. Parsons declined
to enter into any details, and contented himself by stating that
the man was a maniac, who had escaped from a neighbouring mad-
house.

The cloth was removed; the ladies soon afterwards retired, and Miss
Lillerton played the piano in the drawing-room overhead, very
loudly, for the edification of the visitor. Mr. Watkins Tottle and
Mr. Gabriel Parsons sat chatting comfortably enough, until the
conclusion of the second bottle, when the latter, in proposing an
adjournment to the drawing-room, informed Watkins that he had
concerted a plan with his wife, for leaving him and Miss Lillerton
alone, soon after tea.

'I say,' said Tottle, as they went up-stairs, 'don't you think it
would be better if we put it off till-till-to-morrow?'

'Don't YOU think it would have been much better if I had left you
in that wretched hole I found you in this morning?' retorted
Parsons bluntly.

'Well--well--I only made a suggestion,' said poor Watkins Tottle,
with a deep sigh.

Tea was soon concluded, and Miss Lillerton, drawing a small work-
table on one side of the fire, and placing a little wooden frame
upon it, something like a miniature clay-mill without the horse,
was soon busily engaged in making a watch-guard with brown silk.

'God bless me!' exclaimed Parsons, starting up with well-feigned
surprise, 'I've forgotten those confounded letters. Tottle, I know
you'll excuse me.'

If Tottle had been a free agent, he would have allowed no one to
leave the room on any pretence, except himself. As it was,
however, he was obliged to look cheerful when Parsons quitted the
apartment.

He had scarcely left, when Martha put her head into the room, with-
-'Please, ma'am, you're wanted.'

Mrs. Parsons left the room, shut the door carefully after her, and
Mr. Watkins Tottle was left alone with Miss Lillerton.

For the first five minutes there was a dead silence.--Mr. Watkins
Tottle was thinking how he should begin, and Miss Lillerton
appeared to be thinking of nothing. The fire was burning low; Mr.
Watkins Tottle stirred it, and put some coals on.

'Hem!' coughed Miss Lillerton; Mr. Watkins Tottle thought the fair
creature had spoken. 'I beg your pardon,' said he.

'Eh?'

'I thought you spoke.'

'No.'

'Oh!'

'There are some books on the sofa, Mr. Tottle, if you would like to
look at them,' said Miss Lillerton, after the lapse of another five
minutes.

'No, thank you,' returned Watkins; and then he added, with a
courage which was perfectly astonishing, even to himself, 'Madam,
that is Miss Lillerton, I wish to speak to you.'

'To me!' said Miss Lillerton, letting the silk drop from her hands,
and sliding her chair back a few paces.--'Speak--to me!'

'To you, madam--and on the subject of the state of your
affections.' The lady hastily rose and would have left the room;
but Mr. Watkins Tottle gently detained her by the hand, and holding
it as far from him as the joint length of their arms would permit,
he thus proceeded: 'Pray do not misunderstand me, or suppose that
I am led to address you, after so short an acquaintance, by any
feeling of my own merits--for merits I have none which could give
me a claim to your hand. I hope you will acquit me of any
presumption when I explain that I have been acquainted through Mrs.
Parsons, with the state--that is, that Mrs. Parsons has told me--at
least, not Mrs. Parsons, but--' here Watkins began to wander, but
Miss Lillerton relieved him.

'Am I to understand, Mr. Tottle, that Mrs. Parsons has acquainted
you with my feeling--my affection--I mean my respect, for an
individual of the opposite sex?'

'She has.'

'Then, what?' inquired Miss Lillerton, averting her face, with a
girlish air, 'what could induce YOU to seek such an interview as
this? What can your object be? How can I promote your happiness,
Mr. Tottle?'

Here was the time for a flourish--'By allowing me,' replied
Watkins, falling bump on his knees, and breaking two brace-buttons
and a waistcoat-string, in the act--'By allowing me to be your
slave, your servant--in short, by unreservedly making me the
confidant of your heart's feelings--may I say for the promotion of
your own happiness--may I say, in order that you may become the
wife of a kind and affectionate husband?'

'Disinterested creature!' exclaimed Miss Lillerton, hiding her face
in a white pocket-handkerchief with an eyelet-hole border.

Mr. Watkins Tottle thought that if the lady knew all, she might
possibly alter her opinion on this last point. He raised the tip
of her middle finger ceremoniously to his lips, and got off his
knees, as gracefully as he could. 'My information was correct?' he
tremulously inquired, when he was once more on his feet.

'It was.' Watkins elevated his hands, and looked up to the
ornament in the centre of the ceiling, which had been made for a
lamp, by way of expressing his rapture.

'Our situation, Mr. Tottle,' resumed the lady, glancing at him
through one of the eyelet-holes, 'is a most peculiar. and delicate
one.'

'It is,' said Mr. Tottle.

'Our acquaintance has been of SO short duration,' said Miss
Lillerton.

'Only a week,' assented Watkins Tottle.

'Oh! more than that,' exclaimed the lady, in a tone of surprise.

'Indeed!' said Tottle.

'More than a month--more than two months!' said Miss Lillerton.

'Rather odd, this,' thought Watkins.

'Oh!' he said, recollecting Parsons's assurance that she had known
him from report, 'I understand. But, my dear madam, pray,
consider. The longer this acquaintance has existed, the less
reason is I there for delay now. Why not at once fix a period for
gratifying the hopes of your devoted admirer?'

'It has been represented to me again and again that this is the
course I ought to pursue,' replied Miss Lillerton, 'but pardon my
feelings of delicacy, Mr. Tottle--pray excuse this embarrassment--I
have peculiar ideas on such subjects, and I am quite sure that I
never could summon up fortitude enough to name the day to my future
husband.'

'Then allow ME to name it,' said Tottle eagerly.

'I should like to fix it myself,' replied Miss Lillerton,
bashfully, but I cannot do so without at once resorting to a third
party.'

'A third party!' thought Watkins Tottle; 'who the deuce is that to
be, I wonder!'

'Mr. Tottle,' continued Miss Lillerton, 'you have made me a most
disinterested and kind offer--that offer I accept. Will you at
once be the bearer of a note from me to--to Mr. Timson?'

'Mr. Timson!' said Watkins.

'After what has passed between us,' responded Miss Lillerton, still
averting her head, 'you must understand whom I mean; Mr. Timson,
the--the--clergyman.'

'Mr. Timson, the clergyman!' ejaculated Watkins Tottle, in a state
of inexpressible beatitude, and positive wonder at his own success.
'Angel! Certainly--this moment!'

'I'll prepare it immediately,' said Miss Lillerton, making for the
door; 'the events of this day have flurried me so much, Mr. Tottle,
that I shall not leave my room again this evening; I will send you
the note by the servant.'

'Stay,--stay,' cried Watkins Tottle, still keeping a most
respectful distance from the lady; 'when shall we meet again?'

'Oh! Mr. Tottle,' replied Miss Lillerton, coquettishly, 'when we
are married, I can never see you too often, nor thank you too
much;' and she left the room.

Mr. Watkins Tottle flung himself into an arm-chair, and indulged in
the most delicious reveries of future bliss, in which the idea of
'Five hundred pounds per annum, with an uncontrolled power of
disposing of it by her last will and testament,' was somehow or
other the foremost. He had gone through the interview so well, and
it had terminated so admirably, that he almost began to wish he had
expressly stipulated for the settlement of the annual five hundred
on himself.

'May I come in?' said Mr. Gabriel Parsons, peeping in at the door.

'You may,' replied Watkins.

'Well, have you done it?' anxiously inquired Gabriel.

'Have I done it!' said Watkins Tottle. 'Hush--I'm going to the
clergyman.'

'No!' said Parsons. 'How well you have managed it!'

'Where does Timson live?' inquired Watkins.

'At his uncle's,' replied Gabriel, 'just round the lane. He's
waiting for a living, and has been assisting his uncle here for the
last two or three months. But how well you have done it--I didn't
think you could have carried it off so!'

Mr. Watkins Tottle was proceeding to demonstrate that the
Richardsonian principle was the best on which love could possibly
be made, when he was interrupted by the entrance of Martha, with a
little pink note folded like a fancy cocked-hat.

'Miss Lillerton's compliments,' said Martha, as she delivered it
into Tottle's hands, and vanished.

'Do you observe the delicacy?' said Tottle, appealing to Mr.
Gabriel Parsons. 'COMPLIMENTS, not LOVE, by the servant, eh?'

Mr. Gabriel Parsons didn't exactly know what reply to make, so he
poked the forefinger of his right hand between the third and fourth
ribs of Mr. Watkins Tottle.

'Come,' said Watkins, when the explosion of mirth, consequent on
this practical jest, had subsided, 'we'll be off at once--let's
lose no time.'

'Capital!' echoed Gabriel Parsons; and in five minutes they were at
the garden-gate of the villa tenanted by the uncle of Mr. Timson.

'Is Mr. Charles Timson at home?' inquired Mr. Watkins Tottle of Mr.
Charles Timson's uncle's man.

'Mr. Charles IS at home,' replied the man, stammering; 'but he
desired me to say he couldn't be interrupted, sir, by any of the
parishioners.'

'_I_ am not a parishioner,' replied Watkins.

'Is Mr. Charles writing a sermon, Tom?' inquired Parsons, thrusting
himself forward.

'No, Mr. Parsons, sir; he's not exactly writing a sermon, but he is
practising the violoncello in his own bedroom, and gave strict
orders not to be disturbed.'

'Say I'm here,' replied Gabriel, leading the way across the garden;
'Mr. Parsons and Mr. Tottle, on private and particular business.'

They were shown into the parlour, and the servant departed to
deliver his message. The distant groaning of the violoncello
ceased; footsteps were heard on the stairs; and Mr. Timson
presented himself, and shook hands with Parsons with the utmost
cordiality.

'How do you do, sir?' said Watkins Tottle, with great solemnity.

'How do YOU do, sir?' replied Timson, with as much coldness as if
it were a matter of perfect indifference to him how he did, as it
very likely was.

'I beg to deliver this note to you,' said Watkins Tottle, producing
the cocked-hat.

'From Miss Lillerton!' said Timson, suddenly changing colour.
'Pray sit down.'

Mr. Watkins Tottle sat down; and while Timson perused the note,
fixed his eyes on an oyster-sauce-coloured portrait of the
Archbishop of Canterbury, which hung over the fireplace.

Mr. Timson rose from his seat when he had concluded the note, and
looked dubiously at Parsons. 'May I ask,' he inquired, appealing
to Watkins Tottle, 'whether our friend here is acquainted with the
object of your visit?'

'Our friend is in MY confidence,' replied Watkins, with
considerable importance.

'Then, sir,' said Timson, seizing both Tottle's hands, 'allow me in
his presence to thank you most unfeignedly and cordially, for the
noble part you have acted in this affair.'

'He thinks I recommended him,' thought Tottle. 'Confound these
fellows! they never think of anything but their fees.'

'I deeply regret having misunderstood your intentions, my dear
sir,' continued Timson. 'Disinterested and manly, indeed! There
are very few men who would have acted as you have done.'

Mr. Watkins Tottle could not help thinking that this last remark
was anything but complimentary. He therefore inquired, rather
hastily, 'When is it to be?'

'On Thursday,' replied Timson,--'on Thursday morning at half-past
eight.'

'Uncommonly early,' observed Watkins Tottle, with an air of
triumphant self-denial. 'I shall hardly be able to get down here

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