Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The Parent's Assistant by Maria Edgeworth

Part 6 out of 10

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.1 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

as he understood the meaning of the lady's words. The drum beat, the
fife played, the archers marched, the spectators admired. Hal stepped
proudly, and felt as if the eyes of the whole universe were upon his
epaulettes, or upon the facings of his uniform; whilst all the time he
was considered only as part of a show.

The walk appeared much shorter than usual, and he was extremely sorry
that Lady Diana, when they were half-way up the hill leading to Prince's
Place, mounted her horse, because the road was dirty, and all the
gentlemen and ladies who accompanied her followed her example.

"We can leave the children to walk, you know," said she to the gentleman
who helped her to mount her horse. "I must call to some of them, though,
and leave orders where they are to join."

She beckoned: and Hal, who was foremost, and proud to show his alacrity,
ran on to receive her ladyship's orders. Now, as we have before
observed, it was a sharp and windy day; and though Lady Diana Sweepstakes
was actually speaking to him, and looking at him, he could not prevent
his nose from wanting to be blowed: he pulled out his handkerchief and
out rolled the new ball which had been given to him just before he left
home, and which, according to his usual careless habits, he had stuffed
into his pockets in his hurry. "Oh, my new ball!" cried he, as he ran
after it. As he stopped to pick it up, he let go his hat, which he had
hitherto held on with anxious care; for the hat, though it had a fine
green and white cockade, had no band or string round it. The string, as
we may recollect, our wasteful hero had used in spinning his top. The
hat was too large for his head without this band; a sudden gust of wind
blew it off. Lady Diana's horse started and reared. She was a FAMOUS
horse woman, and sat him to the admiration of all beholders; but there
was a puddle of red clay and water in this spot, and her ladyship's
uniform habit was a sufferer by the accident. "Careless brat!" said she,
"why can't he keep his hat upon his head?" In the meantime, the wind
blew the hat down the hill, and Hal ran after it amidst the laughter of
his kind friends, the young Sweepstakes, and the rest of the little
regiment. The hat was lodged, at length, upon a bank. Hal pursued it:
he thought this bank was hard, but, alas! the moment he set his foot upon
it the foot sank. He tried to draw it back; his other foot slipped, and
he fell prostrate, in his green and white uniform, into the treacherous
bed of red mud. His companions, who had halted upon the top of the hill,
stood laughing, spectators of his misfortune.

It happened that the poor boy with the black patch upon his eye, who had
been ordered by Lady Diana to "fall back" and to "keep at a distance,"
was now coming up the hill; and the moment he saw our fallen hero, he
hastened to his assistance. He dragged poor Hal, who was a deplorable
spectacle, out of the red mud. The obliging mistress of a lodging house,
as soon as she understood that the young gentleman was nephew to Mr.
Gresham, to whom she had formerly let her house, received Hal, covered as
he was with dirt.

The poor Bristol lad hastened to Mr. Gresham's for clean stockings and
shoes for Hal. He was unwilling to give up his uniform: it was rubbed
and rubbed, and a spot here and there was washed out; and he kept
continually repeating,--"When it's dry it will all brush off--when it's
dry it will all brush off, won't it?" But soon the fear of being too
late at the archery meeting began to balance the dread of appearing in
his stained habiliments; and he now as anxiously repeated, whilst the
woman held the wet coat to the fire, "Oh, I shall be too late; indeed, I
shall be too late; make haste; it will never dry; hold it nearer--nearer
to the fire. I shall lose my turn to shoot; oh, give me the coat; I
don't mind how it is, if I can but get it on."

Holding it nearer and nearer to the fire dried it quickly, to be sure;
but it shrunk it also, so that it was no easy matter to get the coat on
again. However, Hal, who did not see the red splashes, which, in spite
of all these operations, were too visible upon his shoulders, and upon
the skirts of his white coat behind, was pretty well satisfied to observe
that there was not one spot upon the facings. "Nobody," said he, "will
take notice of my coat behind, I daresay. I think it looks as smart
almost as ever!"--and under this persuasion our young archer resumed his
bow--his bow with green ribands, now no more!--and he pursued his way to
the Downs.

All his companions were far out of sight. "I suppose," said he to his
friend with the black patch--"I suppose my uncle and Ben had left home
before you went for the shoes and stockings for me?"

"Oh, yes, sir; the butler said they had been gone to the Downs a matter
of a good half-hour or more."

Hal trudged on as fast as he possibly could. When he got upon the Downs,
he saw numbers of carriages, and crowds of people, all going towards the
place of meeting at the Ostrich. He pressed forwards. He was at first
so much afraid of being late, that he did not take notice of the mirth
his motley appearance excited in all beholders. At length he reached the
appointed spot. There was a great crowd of people. In the midst he
heard Lady Diana's loud voice betting upon someone who was just going to
shoot at the mark.

"So then the shooting is begun, is it?" said Hal. "Oh, let me in! pray
let me into the circle! I'm one of the archers--I am, indeed; don't you
see my green and white uniform?"

"Your red and white uniform, you mean," said the man to whom he addressed
himself; and the people, as they opened a passage for him, could not
refrain laughing at the mixture of dirt and finery which it exhibited.
In vain, when he got into the midst of the formidable circle, he looked
to his friends, the young Sweepstakes, for their countenance and support.
They were amongst the most unmerciful of the laughers. Lady Diana also
seemed more to enjoy than to pity his confusion.

"Why could you not keep your hat upon your head, man?" said she, in her
masculine tone. "You have been almost the ruin of my poor uniform habit;
but I've escaped rather better than you have. Don't stand there, in the
middle of the circle, or you'll have an arrow in your eyes just now, I've
a notion."

Hal looked round in search of better friends. "Oh, where's my uncle?--
where's Ben?" said he. He was in such confusion, that, amongst the
number of faces, he could scarcely distinguish one from another; but he
felt somebody at this moment pull his elbow, and, to his great relief, he
heard the friendly voice, and saw the good natured face of his Cousin

"Come back; come behind these people," said Ben, "and put on my great-
coat; here it is for you."

Right glad was Hal to cover his disgraced uniform with the rough great-
coat which he had formerly despised. He pulled the stained, drooping
cockade out of his unfortunate hat; and he was now sufficiently recovered
from his vexation to give an intelligible account of his accident to his
uncle and Patty, who anxiously inquired what had detained him so long,
and what had been the matter. In the midst of the history of his
disaster, he was just proving to Patty that his taking the hatband to
spin his top had nothing to do with his misfortune, and he was at the
same time endeavouring to refute his uncle's opinion that the waste of
the whipcord that tied the parcel was the original cause of all his
evils, when he was summoned to try his skill with his FAMOUS bow.

"My hands are benumbed; I can scarcely feel," said he, rubbing them, and
blowing upon the ends of his fingers.

"Come, come," cried young Sweepstakes, "I'm within one inch of the mark;
who'll go nearer? I shall like to see. Shoot away, Hal; but first
understand our laws; we settled them before you came upon the green. You
are to have three shots, with your own bow and your own arrows; and
nobody's to borrow or lend under pretence of other's bows being better or
worse, or under any pretence. Do you hear, Hal?"

This young gentleman had good reasons for being so strict in these laws,
as he had observed that none of his companions had such an excellent bow
as he had provided for himself. Some of the boys had forgotten to bring
more than one arrow with them, and by his cunning regulation that each
person should shoot with their own arrows, many had lost one or two of
their shots.

"You are a lucky fellow; you have your three arrows," said young
Sweepstakes. "Come, we can't wait whilst you rub your fingers, man--
shoot away."

Hal was rather surprised at the asperity with which his friend spoke. He
little knew how easily acquaintance who call themselves friends can
change when their interest comes in the slightest degree in competition
with their friendship. Hurried by his impatient rival, and with his
hands so much benumbed that he could scarcely feel how to fix the arrow
in the string, he drew the bow. The arrow was within a quarter of an
inch of Master Sweepstakes' mark, which was the nearest that had yet been
hit. Hal seized his second arrow. "If I have any luck--" said he. But
just as he pronounced the word LUCK, and as he bent his bow, the string
broke in two, and the bow fell from his hands.

"There, it's all over with you!" cried Master Sweepstakes, with a
triumphant laugh.

"Here's my bow for him, and welcome," said Ben.

"No, no, sir," said Master Sweepstakes, "that is not fair; that's against
the regulation. You may shoot with your own bow, if you choose it, or
you may not, just as you think proper; but you must not lend it, sir."

It was now Ben's turn to make his trial. His first arrow was not
successful. His second was exactly as near as Hal's first. "You have
but one more," said Master Sweepstakes--"now for it!" Ben, before he
ventured his last arrow, prudently examined the string of his bow; and,
as he pulled it to try its strength, it cracked. Master Sweepstakes
clapped his hands with loud exultations and insulting laughter. But his
laughter ceased when our provident hero calmly drew from his pocket an
excellent piece of whip cord.

"The everlasting whip cord, I declare!" exclaimed Hal, when he saw that
it was the very same that had tied up the parcel. "Yes," said Ben, as he
fastened it to his bow, "I put it into my pocket, to-day, on purpose,
because I thought I might happen to want it." He drew his bow the third
and last time.

"Oh, papa!" cried little Patty, as his arrow hit the mark, "it's the
nearest; is it not the nearest?"

Master Sweepstakes, with anxiety, examined the hit. There could be no
doubt. Ben was victorious! The bow, the prize bow, was now delivered to
him; and Hal, as he looked at the whip-cord exclaimed, "How LUCKY this
whip-cord has been to you, Ben!"

"It is LUCKY, perhaps you mean, that he took care of it," said Mr.

"Ay," said Hal, "very true; he might well say, 'Waste not, want not.' It
is a good thing to have two strings to one's bow."


LUCY, daughter to the Justice.
MRS. BUSTLE, landlady of the "Saracen's Head."
WILLIAM, a Servant.


The House of Justice Headstrong--a hall--Lucy watering some myrtles--A
servant behind the scenes is heard to say--

I tell you my master is not up. You can't see him, so go about your
business, I say.

Lucy. To whom are you speaking, William? Who's that?

Will. Only an old man, miss, with a complaint for my master.

Lucy. Oh, then, don't send him away--don't send him away.

Will. But master has not had his chocolate, ma'am. He won't ever see
anybody before he drinks his chocolate, you know, ma'am.

Lucy. But let the old man, then, come in here. Perhaps he can wait a
little while. Call him. (Exit Servant.)

(Lucy sings, and goes on watering her myrtles; the servant shows in the
Old Man.)

Will. You can't see my master this hour; but miss will let you stay

Lucy (aside). Poor old man! how he trembles as he walks. (Aloud.) Sit
down, sit down. My father will see you soon; pray sit down.

(He hesitates; she pushes a chair towards him.)

Lucy. Pray sit down. (He sits down.)

Old Man. You are very good, miss; very good. (Lucy goes to her myrtles

Lucy. Ah! I'm afraid this poor myrtle is quite dead--quite dead.
(The Old Man sighs, and she turns round.)

Lucy (aside). I wonder what can make him sigh so! (Aloud.) My father
won't make you wait long.

Old M. Oh, ma'am, as long as he pleases. I'm in no haste--no haste.
It's only a small matter.

Lucy. But does a small matter make you sigh so?

Old M. Ah, miss; because, though it is a small matter in itself, it is
not a small matter to me (sighing again); it was my all, and I've lost

Lucy. What do you mean? What have you lost?

Old M. Why, miss--but I won't trouble you about it.

Lucy. But it won't trouble me at all--I mean, I wish to hear it; so tell
it me.

Old M. Why, miss, I slept last night at the inn here, in town--the
"Saracen's Head"--

Lucy (interrupts him). Hark! there is my father coming downstairs;
follow me. You may tell me your story as we go along.

Old M. I slept at the "Saracen's Head," miss, and--
(Exit, talking.)


Justice Headstrong's Study.

(He appears in his nightgown and cap, with his gouty foot upon a stool--a
table and chocolate beside him--Lucy is leaning on the arm of his chair.)

Just. Well, well, my darling, presently; I'll see him presently.

Lucy. Whilst you are drinking your chocolate, papa?

Just. No, no, no--I never see anybody till I have done my chocolate,
darling. (He tastes his chocolate.) There's no sugar in this, child.

Lucy. Yes, indeed, papa.

Just. No, child--there's NO sugar, I tell you; that poz!

Lucy. Oh, but, papa, I assure you I put in two lumps myself.

Just. There's NO sugar, I say; why will you contradict me, child, for
ever? There's no sugar, I say.

(Lucy leans over him playfully, and with his teaspoon pulls out two lumps
of sugar.)

Lucy. What's this, papa?

Just. Pshaw! pshaw! pshaw!--it is not melted, child--it is the same as
no sugar!.--Oh, my foot, girl, my foot!--you kill me. Go, go, I'm busy.
I've business to do. Go and send William to me; do you hear, love?

Lucy. And the old man, papa?

Just. What old man? I tell you what, I've been plagued ever since I was
awake, and before I was awake, about that old man. If he can't wait, let
him go about his business. Don't you know, child, I never see anybody
till I've drunk my chocolate; and I never will, if it were a duke--that's
poz! Why, it has but just struck twelve; if he can't wait, he can go
about his business, can't he?

Lucy. Oh, sir, he can wait. It was not he who was impatient. (She
comes back playfully.) It was only I, papa; don't be angry.

Just. Well, well, well (finishing his cup of chocolate, and pushing his
dish away); and at anyrate there was not sugar enough. Send William,
send William, child; and I'll finish my own business, and then--
(Exit Lucy, dancing, "And then!--and then!")

JUSTICE, alone.

Just. Oh, this foot of mine!--(twinges)--Oh, this foot! Ay, if Dr.
Sparerib could cure one of the gout, then, indeed, I should think
something of him; but, as to my leaving off my bottle of port, it's
nonsense; it's all nonsense; I can't do it; I can't, and won't, for all
the Dr. Spareribs in Christendom; that's poz!


Just. William--oh! ay! hey! what answer, pray, did you bring from the
"Saracen's Head"? Did you see Mrs. Bustle herself, as I bid you?

Will. Yes, sir, I saw the landlady herself; she said she would come up
immediately, sir.

Just. Ah, that's well--immediately?

Will. Yes, sir, and I hear her voice below now.

Just. Oh, show her up; show Mrs. Bustle in.

Enter Mrs. BUSTLE, the landlady of the "Saracen's Head."

Land. Good morrow to your worship! I'm glad to see your worship look so
purely. I came up with all speed (taking breath). Our pie is in the
oven; that was what you sent for me about, I take it.

Just. True; true; sit down, good Mrs. Bustle, pray--

Land. Oh, your worship's always very good (settling her apron). I came
up just as I was--only threw my shawl over me. I thought your worship
would excuse--I'm quite, as it were, rejoiced to see your worship look so
purely, and to find you up so hearty--

Just. Oh, I'm very hearty (coughing), always hearty, and thankful for
it. I hope to see many Christmas doings yet, Mrs. Bustle. And so our
pie is in the oven, I think you say?

Land. In the oven it is. I put it in with my own hands; and if we have
but good luck in the baking, it will be as pretty a goose-pie--though I
say it that should not say it--as pretty a goose-pie as ever your worship
set your eyes upon.

Just. Will you take a glass of anything this morning, Mrs. Bustle?--I
have some nice usquebaugh.

Land. Oh, no, your worship!--I thank your worship, though, as much as if
I took it; but I just took my luncheon before I came up; or more proper,
MY SANDWICH, I should say, for the fashion's sake, to be sure. A
LUNCHEON won't go down with nobody nowadays (laughs). I expect hostler
and boots will be calling for their sandwiches just now (laughs again).
I'm sure I beg your worship's pardon for mentioning a LUNCHEON.

Just. Oh, Mrs. Bustle, the word's a good word, for it means a good
thing--ha! ha! ha! (pulls out his watch); but pray, is it luncheon time.
Why, it's past one, I declare; and I thought I was up in remarkably good
time, too.

Land. Well, and to be sure so it was, remarkably good time for your
worship; but folks in our way must be up betimes, you know. I've been up
and about these seven hours!

Just. (stretching). Seven hours!

Land. Ay, indeed--eight, I might say, for I am an early little body;
though I say it that should not say it--I AM an early little body.

Just. An early little body, as you say, Mrs. Bustle; so I shall have my
goose-pie for dinner, hey?

Land. For dinner, as sure as the clock strikes four--but I mustn't stay
prating, for it may be spoiling if I'm away; so I must wish your worship
a good morning. (She curtsies.)

Just. No ceremony--no ceremony; good Mrs. Bustle, your servant.

Enter William, to take away the chocolate. The Landlady is putting on
her shawl.

Just. You may let that man know, William, that I have dispatched my OWN
business, and am at leisure for his now (taking a pinch of snuff). Hum!
pray, William (Justice leans back gravely), what sort of a looking fellow
is he, pray?

Will. Most like a sort of travelling man, in my opinion, sir--or
something that way, I take it,

(At these words the landlady turns round inquisitively, and delays, that
she may listen, while she is putting on and pinning her shawl.)

Just. Hum! a sort of a travelling man. Hum! lay my books out open at
the title Vagrant; and, William, tell the cook that Mrs. Bustle promises
me the goose-pie for dinner. Four o'clock, do you hear? And show the
old man in now.

(The Landlady looks eagerly towards the door, as it opens, and exclaims,)

Land. My old gentleman, as I hope to breathe!

Enter the OLD MAN.

(Lucy follows the Old Man on tiptoe--The Justice leans back and looks
consequential--The Landlady sets her arms akimbo--The Old Man starts as
he sees her.)

Just. What stops you, friend? Come forward, if you please.

Land. (advancing). So, sir, is it you, sir? Ay, you little thought, I
warrant ye, to meet me here with his worship; but there you reckoned
without your host--Out of the frying-pan into the fire.

Just. What is all this? What is this?

Land. (running on). None of your flummery stuff will go down with his
worship no more than with me, I give you warning; so you may go further
and fare worse, and spare your breath to cool your porridge.

Just. (waves his hand with dignity). Mrs. Bustle, good Mrs. Bustle,
remember where you are. Silence! silence! Come forward, sir, and let me
hear what you have to say.

(The Old Man comes forward.)

Just. Who and what may you be, friend, and what is your business with

Land. Sir, if your worship will give me leave--

(Justice makes a sign to her to be silent).

Old M. Please, your worship, I am an old soldier.

Land. (interrupting). An old hypocrite, say.

Just. Mrs. Bustle, pray, I desire, let the man speak.

Old M. For these two years past--ever since, please your worship--I
wasn't able to work any longer; for in my youth I did work as well as the
best of them.

Land. (eager to interrupt). You work--you--

Just. Let him finish his story, I say.

Lucy. Ay, do, do, papa, speak for him. Pray, Mrs. Bustle--

Land. (turning suddenly round to Lucy). Miss, a good morrow to you,
ma'am. I humbly beg your apologies for not seeing you sooner, Miss Lucy.
(Justice nods to the Old Man, who goes on.)

Old Man. But please your worship, it pleased God to take away the use of
my left arm; and since that I have never been able to work.

Land. Flummery! flummery!

Just. (angrily). Mrs. Bustle, I have desired silence, and I will have
it, that's poz! You shall have your turn presently.

Old M. For these two years past (for why should I be ashamed to tell the
truth?) I have lived upon charity, and I scraped together a guinea and a
half and upwards, and I was travelling with it to my grandson, in the
north, with him to end my days--but (sighing)--

Just. But what? Proceed, pray, to the point.

Old M. But last night I slept here in town, please your worship, at the
"Saracen's Head."

Land. (in a rage). At the "Saracen's Head"! Yes, forsooth! none such
ever slept at the "Saracen's Head" afore, or shall afterwards, as long as
my name's Bustle, and the "Saracen's Head" is the "Saracen's Head."

Just. Again! again! Mrs. Landlady, this is downright--I have said you
should speak presently. He SHALL speak first, since I've said it--that's
poz! Speak on, friend. You slept last night at the "Saracen's Head."

Old M. Yes, please your worship, and I accuse nobody; but at night I had
my little money safe, and in the morning it was gone.

Land. Gone!--gone, indeed, in my house! and this is the way I'm to be
treated! Is it so? I couldn't but speak, your worship, to such an
inhuman like, out o' the way, scandalous charge, if King George and all
the Royal Family were sitting in your worship's chair, beside you, to
silence me (turning to the Old Man). And this is your gratitude,
forsooth! Didn't you tell me that any hole in my house was good enough
for you, wheedling hypocrite? And the thanks I receive is to call me and
mine a pack of thieves.

Old M. Oh, no, no, no, NO--a pack of thieves, by no means.

Land. Ay, I thought when _I_ came to speak we should have you upon your
marrow-bones in--

Just. (imperiously). Silence! Five times have I commanded silence, and
five times in vain; and I won't command anything five times in vain--

Land. (in a pet, aside). Old Poz! (aloud). Then, your worship, I don't
see any business I have to be waiting here; the folks want me at home
(returning and whispering). Shall I send the goose-pie up, your worship,
if it's ready?

Just. (with magnanimity). I care not for the goose-pie, Mrs. Bustle.
Do not talk to me of goose-pies; this is no place to talk of pies.

Land. Oh, for that matter, your worship knows best, to be sure.
(Exit Landlady, angry.)



Lucy. Ah, now, I'm glad he can speak; now tell papa; and you need not be
afraid to speak to him, for he is very good-natured. Don't contradict
him, though, because he told ME not.

Just. Oh, darling, YOU shall contradict me as often as you please--only
not before I've drunk my chocolate, child--hey! Go on, my good friend;
you see what it is to live in Old England, where, thank Heaven, the
poorest of His Majesty's subjects may have justice, and speak his mind
before the first in the land. Now speak on; and you hear she tells you
that you need not be afraid of me. Speak on.

Old M. I thank your worship, I'm sure.

Just. Thank me! for what, sir? I won't be thanked for doing justice,
sir; so--but explain this matter. You lost your money, hey, at the
"Saracen's Head"? You had it safe last night, hey?--and you missed it
this morning? Are you sure you had it safe at night?

Old M. Oh, please your worship, quite sure; for I took it out and looked
at it just before I said my prayers.

Just. You did--did ye so?--hum! Pray, my good friend, where might you
put your money when you went to bed?

Old M. Please, your worship, where I always put it--always--in my

Just. Your tobacco-box! I never heard of such a thing--to make a STRONG
BOX of a tobacco-box. Ha! ha! ha! hum!--and you say the box and all were
gone in the morning?

Old M. No, please your worship, no; not the box--the box was never
stirred from the place where I put it. They left me the box.

Just. Tut, tut, tut, man!--took the money and left the box? I'll never
believe THAT! I'll never believe that anyone could be such a fool. Tut,
tut! the thing's impossible! It's well you are not upon oath.

Old M. If I were, please your worship, I should say the same; for it is
the truth.

Just. Don't tell me, don't tell me; I say the thing is impossible.

Old M. Please, your worship, here's the box.

Just. (goes on without looking at it). Nonsense! nonsense! it's no such
thing; it's no such thing, I say--no man would take the money and leave
the tobacco-box. I won't believe it. Nothing shall make me believe it
ever--that's poz.

Lucy (takes the box, and holds it up before her father's eyes). You did
not see the box, did you, papa!

Just. Yes, yes, yes, child--nonsense! it's all a lie from beginning to
end. A man who tells one lie will tell a hundred. All a lie! all a lie!

Old M. If your worship would give me leave--

Just. Sir, it does not signify--it does not signify! I've said it, I've
said it, and that's enough to convince me, and I'll tell you more; if my
Lord Chief Justice of England told it to me, I would not believe it--
that's poz!

Lucy (still playing with the box). But how comes the box here, I wonder?

Just. Pshaw! pshaw! pshaw! darling. Go to your dolls, darling, and
don't be positive--go to your dolls, and don't talk of what you don't
understand. What can you understand, I want to know, of the law?

Lucy. No, papa, I didn't mean about the law, but about the box; because,
if the man had taken it, how could it be here, you know, papa?

Just. Hey, hey, what? Why, what I say is this, that I don't dispute
that that box, that you hold in your hands, is a box; nay, for aught I
know, it may be a tobacco-box--but it's clear to me that if they left the
box they did not take the money; and how do you dare, sir, to come before
Justice Headstrong with a lie in your mouth; recollect yourself--I'll
give you time to recollect yourself.

(A pause.)

Just. Well, sir;, and what do you say now about the box?

Old M. Please, your worship, with submission, I CAN say nothing but what
I said before.

Just. What, contradict me again, after I gave you time to recollect
yourself! I've done with you; I have done. Contradict me as often as
you please, but you cannot impose upon me; I defy you to impose upon me!

Old M. Impose!

Just. I know the law!--I know the law!--and I'll make you know it, too.
One hour I'll give you to recollect yourself, and if you don't give up
this idle story, I'll--I'll commit you as a vagrant--that's poz! Go, go,
for the present. William, take him into the servants' hall, do you
hear?--What, take the money and leave the box? I'll never do it--that's

(Lucy speaks to the Old Man as he is going off.)

Lucy. Don't be frightened! don't be frightened!--I mean, you tell the
truth, never be frightened.

Old M. IF I tell the truth--(turning up his eyes).
(Old Man is still held back by the young lady.)

Lucy. One moment--answer me one question--because of something that just
came into my head. Was the box shut fast when you left it?

Old M. No, miss, no!--open--it was open; for I could not find the lid in
the dark--my candle went out. IF I tell the truth--oh!


Justice's Study--the Justice is writing.

Old M. Well!--I shall have but few days' more misery in this world!

Just. (looks up). Why! why--why then, why will you be so positive to
persist in a lie? Take the money and leave the box! Obstinate
blockhead! Here, William (showing the committal), take this old
gentleman to Holdfast, the constable, and give him this warrant.

Enter Lucy, running, out of breath.

Lucy. I've found it! I've found it! Here, old man; here's your money--
here it is all--a guinea and a half, and a shilling and a sixpence, just
as he said, papa.


Land. Oh la! your worship, did you ever hear the like?

Just. I've heard nothing yet that I can understand. First, have you
secured the thief, I say?

Lucy (makes signs to the landlady to be silent). Yes, yes, yes!--we have
him safe--we have him prisoner. Shall he come in, papa?

Just. Yes, child, by all means; and now I shall hear what possessed him
to leave the box. I don't understand--there's something deep in all
this; I don't understand it. Now I do desire, Mrs. Landlady, nobody may
speak a single word whilst I am cross-examining the thief.

(Landlady puts her finger upon her lips--Everybody looks eagerly towards
the door.)

Re-enter Lucy, with a huge wicker cage in her hand, containing a magpie--
The Justice drops the committal out of his hand.

Just. Hey!--what, Mrs. Landlady--the old magpie? hey?

Land. Ay, your worship, my old magpie. Who'd have thought it? Miss was
very clever; it was she caught the thief. Miss was very clever.

Old M. Very good! very good!

Just. Ay, darling, her father's own child! How was it, child? Caught
the thief, WITH THE MAINOUR, hey? Tell us all; I will hear all--that's

Lucy. Oh! then first I must tell you how I came to suspect Mr. Magpie.
Do you remember, papa, that day last summer, when I went with you to the
bowling-green, at the "Saracen's Head"?

Land. Oh, of all days in the year! but I ask pardon, miss.

Lucy. Well, that day I heard my uncle and another gentleman telling
stories of magpies hiding money; and they laid a wager about this old
magpie and they tried him--they put a shilling upon the table, and he ran
away with it, and hid it; so I thought that he might do so again, you
know, this time.

Just. Right, right. It's a pity, child, you are not upon the Bench; ha!
ha! ha!

Lucy. And when I went to his old hiding place, there it was; but you
see, papa, he did not take the box.

Just. No, no, no! because the thief was a magpie. No MAN would have
taken the money and left the box. You see I was right; no MAN would have
left the box, hey?

Lucy. Certainly not, I suppose; but I'm so very glad, old man, that you
have obtained your money.

Just. Well then, child, here--take my purse, and add that to it. We
were a little too hasty with the committal--hey?

Land. Ay, and I fear I was, too; but when one is touched about the
credit of one's house, one's apt to speak warmly.

Old M. Oh, I'm the happiest old man alive! You are all convinced that I
told you no lies. Say no more--say no more. I am the happiest man!
Miss, you have made me the happiest man alive! Bless you for it!

Land. Well now, I'll tell you what. I know what I think--you must keep
that there magpie, and make a show of him, and I warrant he'll bring you
many an honest penny; for it's a TRUE STORY, and folks would like to hear
it, I hopes--

Just. (eagerly). And, friend, do you hear? you'll dine here today,
you'll dine here. We have some excellent ale. I will have you drink my
health--that's poz!--hey? You'll drink my health, won't you--hey?

Old M. (bows). Oh! and the young lady's, if you please.

Just. Ay, ay, drink her health--she deserves it. Ay, drink my darling's

Land. And please your worship, it's the right time, I believe, to speak
of the goose-pie now; and a charming pie it is, and it's on the table.

Will. And Mr. Smack, the curate, and Squire Solid, and the doctor, sir,
are come, and dinner is upon the table.

Just. Then let us say no more; but do justice immediately to the goose-
pie; and, darling, put me in mind to tell this story after dinner.
(After they go out, the Justice stops.)

"Tell this story"--I don't know whether it tells well for me; but I'll
never be positive any more--THAT'S POZ!



Mr. and Mrs. Montague spent the summer of the year 1795 at Clifton with
their son Frederick, and their two daughters Sophia and Marianne. They
had taken much care of the education of their children; nor were they
ever tempted, by any motive of personal convenience or temporary
amusement, to hazard the permanent happiness of their pupils.

Sensible of the extreme importance of early impressions, and of the
powerful influence of external circumstances in forming the characters
and the manners, they were now anxious that the variety of new ideas and
new objects which would strike the minds of their children should appear
in a just point of view.

"Let children see and judge for themselves," is often inconsiderately
said. Where children see only a part they cannot judge of the whole; and
from the superficial view which they can have in short visits and
desultory conversation, they can form only a false estimate of the
objects of human happiness, a false notion of the nature of society, and
false opinions of characters.

For the above reasons, Mr. and Mrs. Montague were particularly cautious
in the choice of their acquaintances, as they were well aware that
whatever passed in conversation before children became part of their

When they came to Clifton they wished to have a house entirely to
themselves, but, as they came late in the season, almost all the lodging
houses were full, and for a few weeks they were obliged to remain in a
house where some of the apartments were already occupied.

During the first fortnight they scarcely saw or heard anything of one of
the families who lodged on the same floor with them. An elderly quaker,
and his sister Bertha, were their silent neighbours. The blooming
complexion of the lady had indeed attracted the attention of the
children, as they caught a glimpse of her face when she was getting into
her carriage to go out upon the Downs. They could scarcely believe that
she came to the Wells on account of her health.

Besides her blooming complexion, the delicate white of her garments had
struck them with admiration; and they observed that her brother carefully
guarded her dress from the wheel of the carriage, as he handed her in.
From this circumstance, and from the benevolent countenance of the old
gentleman, they concluded that he was very fond of his sister, and that
they were certainly very happy, except that they never spoke, and could
be seen only for a moment.

Not so the maiden lady who occupied the ground floor. On the stairs, in
the passages, at her window, she was continually visible; and she
appeared to possess the art of being present in all these places at once.
Her voice was eternally to be heard, and it was not particularly
melodious. The very first day she met Mrs. Montague's children on the
stairs, she stopped to tell Marianne that she was a charming dear, and a
charming little dear; to kiss her, to inquire her name, and to inform her
that her own name was "Mrs. Theresa Tattle," a circumstance of which
there was little danger of their long remaining in ignorance; for, in the
course of one morning, at least twenty single and as many double raps at
the door were succeeded by vociferations of "Mrs. Theresa Tattle's
servant!" "Mrs. Theresa Tattle at home?" "Mrs. Theresa Tattle not at

No person at the Wells was oftener at home and abroad than Mrs. Tattle.
She had, as she deemed it, the happiness to have a most extensive
acquaintance residing at Clifton. She had for years kept a register of
arrivals. She regularly consulted the subscriptions to the circulating
libraries, and the lists at the Ball and the Pump-rooms: so that, with a
memory unencumbered with literature, and free from all domestic cares,
she contrived to retain a most astonishing and correct list of births,
deaths and marriages, together with all the anecdotes, amusing,
instructive, or scandalous, which are necessary to the conversation of a
water drinking place, and essential to the character of a "very pleasant

"A very pleasant woman," Mrs. Tattle was usually called; and, conscious
of her accomplishments, she was eager to introduce herself to the
acquaintance of her new neighbours; having, with her ordinary expedition,
collected from their servants, by means of her own, all that could be
known, or rather, all that could be told about them. The name of
Montague, at all events, she knew was a good name, and justified in
courting the acquaintance. She courted it first by nods, and becks and
smiles at Marianne whenever she met her; and Marianne, who was a very
little girl, began presently to nod and smile in return, persuaded that a
lady who smiled so much, could not be ill-natured. Besides, Mrs.
Theresa's parlour door was sometimes left more than half open, to afford
a view of a green parrot. Marianne sometimes passed very slowly by this
door. One morning it was left quite wide open, when she stopped to say
"Pretty Poll"; and immediately Mrs. Tattle begged she would do her the
honour to walk in and see "Pretty Poll," at the same time taking the
liberty to offer her a piece of iced plum-cake.

The next day Mrs. Theresa Tattle did herself the honour to wait upon Mrs.
Montague, "to apologize for the liberty she taken in inviting Mrs.
Montague's charming Miss Marianne into her apartment to see Pretty Poll,
and for the still greater liberty she had taken in offering her a piece
of plum-cake--inconsiderate creature that she was!--which might possibly
have disagreed with her, and which certainly were liberties she never
should have been induced to take, if she had not been unaccountably
bewitched by Miss Marianne's striking though highly flattering
resemblance to a young gentleman (an officer) with whom she had danced,
now nearly twelve years ago, of the name of Montague, a most respectable
young man, and of a most respectable family, with which, in a remote
degree, she might presume to say, she herself was someway connected,
having the honour to be nearly related to the Joneses of Merionethshire,
who were cousins to the Mainwarings of Bedfordshire, who married into the
family of the Griffiths, the eldest branch of which, she understood, had
the honour to be cousin-german to Mr. Montague; on which account she had
been impatient to pay a visit, so likely to be productive of most
agreeable consequences, by the acquisition of an acquaintance whose
society must do her infinite honour."

Having thus happily accomplished her first visit, there seemed little
probability of escaping Mrs. Tattle's further acquaintance. In the
course of the first week she only hinted to Mr. Montague that "some
people thought his system of education rather odd; that she should be
obliged to him if he would, some time or other, when he had nothing else
to do, just sit down and make her understand his notions, that she might
have something to say to her acquaintance, as she always wished to have
when she heard any friend attacked, or any friend's opinions."

Mr. Montague declining to sit down and make this lady understand a system
of education only to give her something to say, and showing unaccountable
indifference about the attacks with which he was threatened, Mrs. Tattle
next addressed herself to Mrs. Montague, prophesying, in a most serious
whisper, "that the charming Miss Marianne would shortly and inevitably
grow quite crooked, if she were not immediately provided with a back-
board, a French dancing-master, and a pair of stocks."

This alarming whisper could not, however, have a permanent effect upon
Mrs. Montague's understanding, because three days afterwards Mrs.
Theresa, upon the most anxious inspection, entirely mistook the just and
natural proportions of the hip and shoulder.

This danger vanishing, Mrs. Tattle presently, with a rueful length of
face, and formal preface, "hesitated to assure Mrs. Montague, that she
was greatly distressed about her daughter Sophy; that she was convinced
her lungs were affected; and that she certainly ought to drink the waters
morning and evening; and above all things, must keep one of the patirosa
lozenges constantly in her mouth, and directly consult Dr. Cardamum, the
best physician in the world, and the person she would send for herself
upon her death-bed; because, to her certain knowledge, he had recovered a
young lady, a relation of her own, after she had lost one whole GLOBE* of
her lungs."


The medical opinion of a lady of so much anatomical precision could not
have much weight. Neither was this universal adviser more successful in
an attempt to introduce a tutor to Frederick, who, she apprehended, must
want some one to perfect him in the Latin and Greek, and dead languages,
of which, she observed, it would be impertinent for a woman to talk; only
she might venture to repeat what she had heard said by good authority,
that a competency of the dead tongues could be had nowhere but at a
public school, or else from a private tutor who had been abroad (after
the advantage of a classical education, finished in one of the
universities) with a good family; without which introduction it was idle
to think of reaping solid advantages from any continental tour; all which
requisites, from personal knowledge, she could aver to be concentrated in
the gentleman she had the honour to recommend, as having been tutor to a
young nobleman, who had now no further occasion for him, having,
unfortunately for himself and his family, been killed in an untimely

All Mrs. Theresa Tattle's suggestions being lost upon these stoical
parents, her powers were next tried upon the children, and her success
soon became apparent. On Sophy, indeed, she could not make any
impression, though she had expended on her some of her finest strokes of
flattery. Sophy, though very desirous of the approbation of her friends,
was not very desirous of winning the favour of strangers. She was about
thirteen--that dangerous age at which ill educated girls, in their
anxiety to display their accomplishments, are apt to become dependent for
applause upon the praise of every idle visitor; when the habits not being
formed, and the attention being suddenly turned to dress and manners,
girls are apt to affect and imitate, indiscriminately, everything that
they conceive to be agreeable.

Sophy, whose taste had been cultivated at the same time with her powers
of reasoning, was not liable to fall into these errors. She found that
she could please those whom she wished to please, without affecting to be
anything but what she really was; and her friends listened to what she
said, though she never repeated the sentiments, or adopted the phrases,
which she might easily have copied from the conversation of those who
were older or more fashionable than herself.

This word FASHIONABLE, Mrs. Theresa Tattle knew, had usually a great
effect, even at thirteen; but she had not observed that it had much power
upon Sophy; nor were her remarks concerning grace and manners much
attended to. Her mother had taught Sophy that it was best to let herself
alone, and not to distort either her person or her mind in acquiring
grimace, which nothing but the fashion of the moment can support, and
which is always detected and despised by people of real good sense and

"Bless me!" said Mrs. Tattle, to herself, "if I had such a tall daughter,
and so unformed, before my eyes from morning to night, it would certainly
break my poor heart. Thank heaven, I am not a mother! if I were, Miss
Marianne for me!"

Miss Marianne had heard so often from Mrs. Tattle that she was very
charming, that she could not help believing it; and from being a very
pleasing, unaffected little girl, she in a short time grew so conceited,
that she could neither speak, look, nor be silent without imagining that
everybody was, or ought to be, looking at her; and when Mrs. Theresa saw
that Mrs. Montague looked very grave upon these occasions, she, to repair
the ill she had done, would say, after praising Marianne's hair or her
eyes, "Oh, but little ladies should never think about their beauty, you
know. Nobody loves anybody for being handsome, but for being good."
People must think children are very silly, or else they can never have
reflected upon the nature of belief in their own minds, if they imagine
that children will believe the words that are said to them, by way of
moral, when the countenance, manner, and every concomitant circumstance
tell them a different tale. Children are excellent physiognomists--they
quickly learn the universal language of looks; and what is said OF them
always makes a greater impression than what is said TO them, a truth of
which those prudent people surely cannot be aware who comfort themselves,
and apologize to parents, by saying, "Oh, but I would not say so and so
to the child."

Mrs. Theresa had seldom said to Frederick Montague, "that he had a vast
deal of drollery, and was a most incomparable mimic;" but she had said so
of him in whispers, which magnified the sound to his imagination, if not
to his ear. He was a boy of much vivacity, and had considerable
abilities; but his appetite for vulgar praise had not yet been surfeited.
Even Mrs. Theresa Tattle's flattery pleased him, and he exerted himself
for her entertainment so much that he became quite a buffoon. Instead of
observing characters and manners, that he might judge of them, and form
his own, he now watched every person he saw, that he might detect some
foible, or catch some singularity in their gesture or pronunciation,
which he might successfully mimic.

Alarmed by the rapid progress of these evils, Mr. and Mrs. Montague, who,
from the first day that they had been honoured with Mrs. Tattle's visit,
had begun to look out for new lodgings, were now extremely impatient to
decamp. They were not people who, from the weak fear of offending a
silly acquaintance, would hazard the happiness of their family. They had
heard of a house in the country which was likely to suit them, and they
determined to go directly to look at it. As they were to be absent all
day, they foresaw that their officious neighbour would probably interfere
with their children. They did not choose to exact any promise from them
which they might be tempted to break, and therefore they only said at
parting, "If Mrs. Theresa Tattle should ask you to come to her, do as you
think proper."

Scarcely had Mrs. Montague's carriage got out of hearing when a note was
brought, directed to "Frederick Montague, Junior, Esq.," which he
immediately opened, and read as follows:--

"Mrs. Theresa Tattle presents her very best compliments to the
entertaining Mr. Frederick Montague; she hopes he will have the charity
to drink tea with her this evening, and bring his charming sister, Miss
Marianne, with him, as Mrs. Theresa will be quite alone with a shocking
headache, and is sensible her nerves are affected; and Dr. Cardamum says
that (especially in Mrs. T. T.'s case) it is downright death to nervous
patients to be alone an instant. She therefore trusts Mr. Frederick will
not refuse to come and make her laugh. Mrs. Theresa has taken care to
provide a few macaroons for her little favourite, who said she was
particularly fond of them the other day. Mrs. Theresa hopes they will
all come at six, or before, not forgetting Miss Sophy, if she will
condescend to be of the party."

At the first reading of this note, "the entertaining" Mr. Frederick, and
the "charming" Miss Marianne laughed heartily, and looked at Sophy, as if
they were afraid that she should think it possible they could like such
gross flattery; but upon a second perusal, Marianne observed that it
certainly was very good-natured of Mrs. Theresa to remember the
macaroons; and Frederick allowed that it was wrong to laugh at the poor
woman because she had the headache. Then twisting the note in his
fingers, he appealed to Sophy:--

"Well, Sophy, leave off drawing for an instant," said Frederick, "and
tell us what answer can we send?"

"Can!--we can send what answer we please."

"Yes, I know that," said Frederick. "I would refuse if I could; but we
ought not to do anything rude, should we? So I think we might as well
go, because we could not refuse, if we would, I say."

"You have made such confusion," replied Sophy, "between 'couldn't' and
'wouldn't' and 'shouldn't,' that I can't understand you; surely they are
all different things."

"Different! no," cried Frederick--"could, would, should, might, and
ought, are all the same thing in the Latin grammar; all of 'em signs of
the potential mood, you know."

Sophy, whose powers of reasoning were not to be confounded, even by
quotations from the Latin grammar, looked up soberly from her drawing,
and answered "that very likely those words might be signs of the same
thing in the Latin grammar, but she believed that they meant perfectly
different things in real life."

"That's just as people please," said her sophistical brother. "You know
words mean nothing in themselves. If I choose to call my hat my
cadwallader, you would understand me just as well, after I had once
explained it to you, that by cadwallader I meant this black thing that I
put upon my head; cadwallader and hat would then be just the same thing
to you."

"Then why have two words for the same thing?" said Sophy; "and what has
this to do with 'could' and 'should'? You wanted to prove--"

"I wanted to prove," interrupted Frederick, "that it's not worth while to
dispute for two hours about two words. Do keep to the point, Sophy, and
don't dispute with me."

"I was not disputing, I was reasoning."

"Well, reasoning or disputing. Women have no business to do either; for,
how should they know how to chop logic like men?"

At this contemptuous sarcasm upon her sex, Sophy's colour rose.

"There!" cried Frederick, exulting, "now we shall see a philosopheress in
a passion; I'd give sixpence, half-price, for a harlequin entertainment,
to see Sophy in a passion. Now, Marianne, look at her brush dabbing so
fast in the water!"

Sophy, who could not easily bear to be laughed at, with some little
indignation, said, "Brother, I wish--"

"There! there!" cried Frederick, pointing to the colour which rose in her
cheeks almost to her temples--"rising! rising! rising! look at the
thermometer! blood heat! blood! fever heat! boiling water heat!

"Then," said Sophy, smiling, "you should stand a little farther off, both
of you. Leave the thermometer to itself a little while. Give it time to
cool. It will come down to 'temperate' by the time you look again."

"Oh, brother!" cried Marianne, "she's so good-humoured, don't tease her
any more, and don't draw heads upon her paper, and don't stretch her
india-rubber, and don't let us dirty any more of her brushes. See! the
sides of her tumbler are all manner of colours."

"Oh, I only mixed red, blue, green and yellow, to show you, Marianne,
that all colours mixed together make white. But she is temperate now,
and I won't plague her; she shall chop logic, if she likes it, though she
is a woman."

"But that's not fair, brother," said Marianne, "to say 'woman' in that
way. I'm sure Sophy found out how to tie that difficult knot, which papa
showed us yesterday, long before you did, though you are a man."

"Not long," said Frederick. "Besides, that was only a conjuring trick."

"It was very ingenious, though," said Marianne; "and papa said so.
Besides, she understood the 'Rule of Three,' which was no conjuring
trick, better than you did, though she is a woman; and she can reason,
too, mamma says."

"Very well, let her reason away," said the provoking wit. "All I have to
say is, that she'll never be able to make a pudding."

"Why not, pray, brother?" inquired Sophy, looking up again, very gravely.

"Why, you know papa himself, the other day at dinner, said that the woman
who talks Greek and Latin as well as I do, is a fool after all; and that
she had better have learned something useful; and Mrs. Tattle said, she'd
answer for it she did not know how to make a pudding."

"Well! but I am not talking Greek and Latin, am I?"

"No, but you are drawing, and that's the same thing."

"The same thing! Oh, Frederick!" said little Marianne, laughing.

"You may laugh; but I say it is the same sort of thing. Women who are
always drawing and reasoning, never know how to make puddings. Mrs.
Theresa Tattle said so, when I showed her Sophy's beautiful drawing

"Mrs. Theresa Tattle might say so," replied Sophy, calmly; "but I do not
perceive the reason, brother, why drawing should prevent me from learning
how to make a pudding."

"Well, I say you'll never learn how to make a good pudding."

"I have learned," continued Sophy, who was mixing her colours, "to mix
such and such colours together to make the colour that I want; and why
should I not be able to learn to mix flour and butter, and sugar and egg,
together, to produce the taste that I want."

"Oh, but mixing will never do, unless you know the quantities, like a
cook; and you would never learn the right quantities."

"How did the cook learn them? Cannot I learn them as she did?"

"Yes, but you'd never do it exactly, and mind the spoonfuls right, by the
recipe, like a cook."

"Indeed! indeed! but she would," cried Marianne, eagerly: "and a great
deal more exactly, for mamma has taught her to weigh and measure things
very carefully: and when I was ill she always weighed the bark in
nicely, and dropped my drops so carefully: better than the cook. When
mamma took me down to see the cook make a cake once, I saw her spoonfuls,
and her ounces, and her handfuls: she dashed and splashed without
minding exactness or the recipe, or anything. I'm sure Sophy would make
a much better pudding, if exactness only were wanting."

"Well, granting that she could make the best pudding in the whole world,
what does that signify? I say she never would: so it comes to the same

"Never would! how can you tell that, brother?"

"Why, now look at her, with her books, and her drawings, and all this
apparatus. Do you think she would ever jump up, with all her nicety,
too, and put by all these things, to go down into the greasy kitchen, and
plump up to the elbows in suet, like a cook, for a plum-pudding?"

"I need not plump up to the elbows, brother," said Sophy, smiling: "nor
is it necessary that I should be a cook: but, if it were necessary, I
hope I should be able to make a pudding."

"Yes, yes," cried Marianne, warmly; "and she would jump up, and put by
all her things in a minute if it were necessary, and run down stairs and
up again like lightning, or do anything that was ever so disagreeable to
her, even about the suet, with all her nicety, brother, I assure you, as
she used to do anything, everything for me, when I was ill last winter.
Oh, brother, she can do anything; and she could make the best plum-
pudding in the whole world, I'm sure, in a minute, if it were necessary."


A knock at the door, from Mrs. Theresa Tattle's servant, recalled
Marianne to the business of the day.

"There," said Frederick, "we have sent no answer all this time. It's
necessary to think of that in a minute."

The servant came with his mistress' compliments, to let the young ladies
and Mr. Frederick know that she was waiting tea for them.

"Waiting! then we must go," said Frederick.

The servant opened the door wider, to let him pass, and Marianne thought
she must follow her brother: so they went downstairs together, while
Sophy gave her own message to the servant, and quietly stayed at her
usual occupations.

Mrs. Tattle was seated at her tea-table, with a large plate of macaroons
beside her when Frederick and Marianne entered. She was "delighted" they
were come, and "grieved" not to see Miss Sophy along with them. Marianne
coloured a little; for though she had precipitately followed her brother,
and though he had quieted her conscience for a moment by saying "You know
papa and mamma told us to do what we thought best," yet she did not feel
quite pleased with herself: and it was not till after Mrs. Theresa had
exhausted all her compliments, and half her macaroons, that she could
restore her spirits to their usual height.

"Come, Mr. Frederick," said she after tea, "you promised to make me
laugh; and nobody can make me laugh so well as yourself."

"Oh, brother," said Marianne, "show Mrs. Theresa Dr. Carbuncle eating his
dinner; and I'll be Mrs. Carbuncle."

Marianne. Now, my dear, what shall I help you to?

Frederick. "My dear!" she never calls him my dear, you know, but always

Mar. Well then, doctor, what will you eat to-day?

Fred. Eat, madam! eat! nothing! nothing! I don't see anything here I
can eat, ma'am.

Mar. Here's eels, sir; let me help you to some eel--stewed eel;--you
used to be fond of stewed eel.

Fred. Used, ma'am, used! But I'm sick of stewed eels. You would tire
one of anything. Am I to see nothing but eels? And what's this at the

Mar. Mutton, doctor, roast mutton; if you'll be so good as to cut it.

Fred. Cut it, ma'am! I can't cut it, I say; it's as hard as a deal
board. You might as well tell me to cut the table, ma'am. Mutton,
indeed! not a bit of fat. Roast mutton, indeed! not a drop of gravy.
Mutton, truly! quite a cinder. I'll have none of it. Here, take it
away; take it downstairs to the cook. It's a very hard case, Mrs.
Carbuncle, that I can never have a bit of anything that I can eat at my
own table, Mrs. Carbuncle, since I was married, ma'am, I that am the
easiest man in the whole world to please about my dinner. It's really
very extraordinary, Mrs. Carbuncle! What have you at that corner there,
under the cover?

Mar. Patties, sir; oyster patties.

Fred. Patties, ma'am! kickshaws! I hate kickshaws. Not worth putting
under a cover, ma'am. And why not have glass covers, that one may see
one's dinner before one, before it grows cold with asking questions, Mrs.
Carbuncle, and lifting up covers? But nobody has any sense: and I see
no water plates anywhere, lately.

Mar. Do, pray, doctor, let me help you to a bit of chicken before it
gets cold, my dear.

Fred. (aside). "My dear," again, Marianne!

Mar. Yes, brother, because she is frightened, you know, and Mrs.
Carbuncle always says "my dear" to him when she's frightened, and looks
so pale from side to side; and sometimes she cries before dinner's done,
and then all the company are quite silent, and don't know what to do."

"Oh, such a little creature; to have so much sense, too!" exclaimed Mrs.
Theresa, with rapture. "Mr. Frederick, you'll make me die with laughing!
Pray go on, Dr. Carbuncle."

Fred. Well, ma'am, then if I must eat something, send me a bit of fowl;
a leg and wing, the liver wing, and a bit of the breast, oyster sauce,
and a slice of that ham, if you please, ma'am.

(Dr. Carbuncle eats voraciously, with his head down to his plate, and,
dropping the sauce, he buttons up his coat tight across the breast.)

Fred. Here; a plate, knife and fork, bit o' bread, a glass of Dorchester

"Oh, admirable!" exclaimed Mrs. Tattle, clapping her hands.

"Now, brother, suppose that it is after dinner," said Marianne; "and show
us how the doctor goes to sleep."

Frederick threw himself back in an arm-chair, leaning his head back, with
his mouth open, snoring; nodded from time to time, crossed and uncrossed
his legs, tried to awake himself by twitching his wig, settling his
collar, blowing his nose and rapping on the lid of his snuff-box.

All which infinitely diverted Mrs. Tattle, who, when she could stop
herself from laughing, declared "It made her sigh, too, to think of the
life poor Mrs. Carbuncle led with that man, and all for nothing, too; for
her jointure was nothing, next to nothing, though a great thing, to be
sure, her friends thought for her, when she was only Sally Ridgeway
before she was married. Such a wife as she makes," continued Mrs.
Theresa, lifting up her hands and eyes to heaven, "and so much as she has
gone through, the brute ought to be ashamed of himself if he does not
leave her something extraordinary in his will; for turn it which way she
will, she can never keep a carriage, or live like anybody else, on her
jointure, after all, she tells me, poor soul! A sad prospect, after her
husband's death, to look forward to, instead of being comfortable, as her
friends expected; and she, poor young thing! knowing no better when they
married her! People should look into these things, beforehand, or never
marry at all, I say, Miss Marianne."

Miss Marianne, who did not clearly comprehend this affair of the
jointure, or the reason why Mrs. Carbuncle would be so unhappy after her
husband's death, turned to Frederick, who was at that instant studying
Mrs. Theresa as a future character to mimic. "Brother," said Marianne,
"now sing an Italian song for us like Miss Croker. Pray, Miss Croker,
favour us with a song. Mrs. Theresa Tattle has never had the pleasure of
hearing you sing; she's quite impatient to hear you sing."

"Yes, indeed, I am," said Mrs. Theresa.

Frederick put his hands before him affectedly; "Oh, indeed, ma'am!
indeed, ladies! I really am so hoarse, it distresses me so to be pressed
to sing; besides, upon my word, I have quite left off singing. I've
never sung once, except for very particular people, this winter."

Mar. But Mrs. Theresa Tattle is a very particular person. I'm sure
you'll sing for her.

Fred. Certainly, ma'am, I allow that you use a powerful argument; but I
assure you now, I would do my best to oblige you, but I absolutely have
forgotten all my English songs. Nobody hears anything but Italian now,
and I have been so giddy as to leave my Italian music behind me.
Besides, I make it a rule never to hazard myself without an

Mar. Oh, try, Miss Croker, for once.

[Frederick sings, after much preluding.]

Violante in the pantry,
Gnawing of a mutton-bone;
How she gnawed it,
How she claw'd it,
When she found herself alone!

"Charming!" exclaimed Mrs. Tattle; "so like Miss Croker, I'm sure I shall
think of you, Mr. Frederick, when I hear her asked to sing again. Her
voice, however, introduces her to very pleasant parties, and she's a girl
that's very much taken notice of, and I don't doubt will go off vastly
well. She's a particular favourite of mine, you must know; and I mean to
do her a piece of service the first opportunity, by saying something or
other, that shall go round to her relations in Northumberland, and make
them do something for her; as well they may, for they are all rolling in
gold, and won't give her a penny."

Mar. Now, brother, read the newspaper like Counsellor Puff.

"Oh, pray do, Mr. Frederick, for I declare I admire you of all things!
You are quite yourself to-night. Here's a newspaper, sir, pray let us
have Counsellor Puff. It's not late."

[Frederick reads in a pompous voice.]

"As a delicate white hand has ever been deemed a distinguishing ornament
in either sex, Messrs. Valiant and Wise conceive it to be their duty to
take the earliest opportunity to advertise the nobility and gentry of
Great Britain in general, and their friends in particular, that they have
now ready for sale, as usual, at the Hippocrates' Head, a fresh
assortment of new-invented, much admired, primrose soap. To prevent
impositions and counterfeits, the public are requested to take notice,
that the only genuine primrose soap is stamped on the outside, 'Valiant
and Wise.'"

"Oh, you most incomparable mimic! 'tis absolutely the counsellor himself.
I absolutely must show you, some day, to my friend Lady Battersby; you'd
absolutely make her die with laughing; and she'd quite adore you," said
Mrs. Theresa, who was well aware that every pause must be filled with
flattery. "Pray go on, pray go on. I shall never be tired, if I sit
looking at you these hundred years."

Stimulated by these plaudits, Frederick proceeded to show how Colonel
Epaulette blew his nose, flourished his cambric handkerchief, bowed to
Lady Diana Periwinkle, and admired her work, saying, "Done by no hands,
as you may guess, but those of Fairly Fair." Whilst Lady Diana, he
observed, simpered so prettily, and took herself so quietly for Fairly
Fair, not perceiving that the colonel was admiring his own nails all the

Next to Colonel Epaulette, Frederick, at Marianne's particular desire,
came into the room like Sir Charles Slang.

"Very well, brother," cried she, "your hand down to the very bottom of
your pocket, and your other shoulder up to your ear; but you are not
quite wooden enough, and you should walk as if your hip were out of
joint. There now, Mrs. Tattle, are not those good eyes? They stare so
like his, without seeming to see anything all the while."

"Excellent! admirable! Mr. Frederick. I must say that you are the best
mimic of your age I ever saw, and I'm sure Lady Battersby will think so
too. That is Sir Charles to the very life. But with all that, you must
know he's a mighty pleasant, fashionable young man when you come to know
him, and has a great deal of sense under all that, and is of a very good
family--the Slangs, you know. Sir Charles will come into a fine fortune
himself next year, if he can keep clear of gambling, which I hear is his
foible, poor young man! Pray go on. I interrupt you, Mr. Frederick."

"Now, brother," said Marianne.

"No, Marianne, I can do no more. I'm quite tired, and I will do no
more," said Frederick, stretching himself at full length upon a sofa.

Even in the midst of laughter, and whilst the voice of flattery yet
sounded in his ear, Frederick felt sad, displeased with himself, and
disgusted with Mrs. Theresa.

"What a deep sigh was there!" said Mrs. Theresa; "what can make you sigh
so bitterly? You, who make everybody else laugh. Oh, such another sigh

"Marianne," cried Frederick, "do you remember the man in the mask?"

"What man in the mask, brother?"

"The man--the actor--the buffoon, that my father told us of, who used to
cry behind the mask that made everybody else laugh."

"Cry! bless me," said Mrs. Theresa, "mighty odd! very extraordinary! but
one can't be surprised at meeting with extraordinary characters amongst
that race of people, actors by profession, you know; for they are brought
up from the egg to make their fortune, or at least their bread by their
oddities. But, my dear Mr. Frederick, you are quite pale, quite
exhausted; no wonder--what will you have? a glass of cowslip-wine?"

"Oh no, thank you, ma'am," said Frederick.

"Oh yes; indeed you must not leave me without taking something; and Miss
Marianne must have another macaroon. I insist upon it," said Mrs.
Theresa, ringing the bell. "It is not late, and my man Christopher will
bring up the cowslip-wine in a minute."

"But, Sophy! and papa and mamma, you know, will come home presently,"
said Marianne.

"Oh! Miss Sophy has her books and drawings. You know she's never afraid
of being alone. Besides, to-night it was her own choice. And as to your
papa and mamma, they won't be home to-night, I'm pretty sure; for a
gentleman, who had it from their own authority, told me where they were
going, which is further off than they think; but they did not consult me;
and I fancy they'll be obliged to sleep out; so you need not be in a
hurry about them. We'll have candles."

The door opened just as Mrs. Tattle was going to ring the bell again for
candles and the cowslip-wine. "Christopher! Christopher!" said Mrs.
Theresa, who was standing at the fire, with her back to the door, when it
opened, "Christopher! pray bring--Do you hear?" but no Christopher
answered; and, upon turning round, Mrs. Tattle, instead of Christopher,
beheld two little black figures, which stood perfectly still and silent.
It was so dark, that their forms could scarcely be discerned.

"In the name of heaven, who and what may you be? Speak, I conjure you!
what are ye?"

"The chimney-sweepers, ma'am, an' please your ladyship."

"Chimney-sweepers!" repeated Frederick and Marianne, bursting out a-

"Chimney-sweepers!" repeated Mrs. Theresa, provoked at the recollection
of her late solemn address to them. "Chimney-sweepers! and could not you
say so a little sooner? Pray, what brings you here, gentlemen, at this
time of night?"

"The bell rang, ma'am,", answered a squeaking voice.

"The bell rang! yes, for Christopher. The boy's mad, or drunk."

"Ma'am," said the tallest of the chimney-sweepers, who had not yet
spoken, and who now began in a very blunt manner; "ma'am, your brother
desired us to come up when the bell rang; so we did."

"My brother? I have no brother, dunce," said Mrs. Theresa.

"Mr. Eden, madam."

"Ho, ho!" said Mrs. Tattle, in a more complacent tone, "the boy takes me
for Miss Bertha Eden, I perceive"; and, flattered to be taken in the dark
by a chimney-sweeper for a young and handsome lady, Mrs. Theresa laughed,
and informed him "that they had mistaken the room; and they must go up
another pair of stairs, and turn to the left."

The chimney-sweeper with the squeaking voice bowed, thanked her ladyship
for this information, said, "Good night to ye, quality"; and they both
moved towards the door.

"Stay," said Mrs. Tattle, whose curiosity was excited; "what can the
Edens want with chimney-sweepers at this time o' night, I wonder?
Christopher, did you hear anything about it?" said the lady to her
footman, who was now lighting the candles.

"Upon my word, ma'am," said the servant, "I can't say; but I'll step down
below and inquire. I heard them talking about it in the kitchen; but I
only got a word here and there, for I was hunting for the snuff-dish, as
I knew it must be for candles when I heard the bell ring, ma'am; so I
thought to find the snuff-dish before I answered the bell, for I knew it
must be for candles you rang. But, if you please, I'll step down now,
ma'am, and see about the chimney-sweepers."

"Yes, step down, do; and, Christopher, bring up the cowslip-wine, and
some more macaroons for my little Marianne."

Marianne withdrew rather coldly from a kiss which Mrs. Tattle was going
to give her; for she was somewhat surprised at the familiarity with which
this lady talked to her footman. She had not been accustomed to these
familiarities in her father and mother, and she did not like them.

"Well," said Mrs. Tattle to Christopher, who was now returned, "what is
the news?"

"Ma'am, the little fellow with the squeaking voice has been telling me
the whole story. The other morning, ma'am, early, he and the other were
down the hill sweeping in Paradise Row. Those chimneys, they say, are
difficult; and the square fellow, ma'am, the biggest of the two boys, got
wedged in the chimney. The other little fellow was up at the top at the
time, and he heard the cry; but in his fright, and all, he did not know
what to do, ma'am; for he looked about from the top of the chimney, and
not a soul could he see stirring, but a few that he could not make attend
to his screech; the boy within almost stifling too. So he screeched, and
screeched, all he could; and by the greatest chance in life, ma'am, old
Mr. Eden was just going down the hill to fetch his morning walk."

"Ay," interrupted Mrs. Theresa, "friend Ephraim is one of your early

"Well," said Marianne, impatiently.

"So, ma'am, hearing the screech, he turns and sees the sweep; and at once
he understands the matter--"

"I'm sure he must have taken some time to understand it," interposed Mrs.
Tattle, "for he's the slowest creature breathing, and the deafest in
company. Go on, Christopher. So the sweep did make him hear."

"So he says, ma'am; and so the old gentleman went in and pulled the boy
out of the chimney, with much ado, ma'am."

"Bless me!" exclaimed Mrs. Theresa; "but did old Eden go up the chimney
himself after the boy, wig and all?

"Why, ma'am," said Christopher, with a look of great delight, "that was
all as one, as the very 'dentical words I put to the boy myself, when he
telled me his story. But, ma'am, that was what I couldn't get out of
him, neither, rightly, for he is a churl--the big boy that was stuck in
the chimney, I mean; for when I put the question to him about the wig,
laughing like, he wouldn't take it laughing like at all; but would only
make answer to us like a bear, 'He saved my life, that's all I know'; and
this over again, ma'am, to all the kitchen round, that cross-questioned
him. But I finds him stupid and ill-mannered like, for I offered him a
shilling, ma'am, myself, to tell about the wig; but he put it back in a
way that did not become such as he, to no lady's butler, ma'am; whereupon
I turns to the slim fellow (and he's smarterer, and more mannerly, ma'am,
with a tongue in his head for his betters), but he could not resolve me
my question either; for he was up at the top of the chimney the best part
o' the time: and when he came down Mr. Eden had his wig on, but had his
arm all bare and bloody, ma'am."

"Poor Mr. Eden!" exclaimed Marianne.

"Oh, miss," continued the servant, "and the chimney-sweep himself was so
bruised, and must have been killed."

"Well, well! but he's alive now; go on with your story, Christopher,"
said Mrs. T. "Chimney-sweepers get wedged in chimneys every day; it's
part of their trade, and it's a happy thing when they come off with a few
bruises.* To be sure," added she, observing that both Frederick and
Marianne looked displeased at this speech, "to be sure, if one may
believe this story, there was some real danger."

*This atrocious practice is now happily superseded by the use of sweeping

"Real danger! yes, indeed," said Marianne; "and I'm sure I think Mr. Eden
was very good."

"Certainly it was a most commendable action, and quite providential. So
I shall take an opportunity of saying, when I tell the story in all
companies; and the boy may thank his kind stars, I'm sure, to the end of
his days, for such an escape--But pray, Christopher," said she,
persisting in her conversation with Christopher, who was now laying the
cloth for supper, "pray, which house was it in Paradise Row? where the
Eagles or the Miss Ropers lodge? or which?"

"It was at my Lady Battersby's, ma'am."

"Ha! ha!" cried Mrs. Theresa, "I thought we should get to the bottom of
the affair at last. This is excellent! This will make an admirable
story for my Lady Battersby the next time I see her. These Quakers are
so sly! Old Eden, I know, has long wanted to obtain an introduction into
that house; and a charming charitable expedient hit upon! My Lady
Battersby will enjoy this, of all things."


"Now," continued Mrs. Theresa, turning to Frederick, as soon as the
servant had left the room, "now, Mr. Frederick Montague, I have a favour-
-such a favour--to ask of you; it's a favour which only you can grant;
you have such talents, and would do the thing so admirably; and my Lady
Battersby would quite adore you for it. She will do me the honour to be
here to spend an evening to-morrow. I'm convinced Mr. and Mrs. Montague
will find themselves obliged to stay out another day, and I so long to
show you off to her ladyship; and your Doctor Carbuncle, and your
Counsellor Puff, and your Miss Croker, and all your charming characters.
You must let me introduce you to her ladyship to-morrow evening. Promise

"Oh, ma'am," said Frederick, "I cannot promise you any such thing,
indeed. I am much obliged to you; but indeed I cannot come."

"Why not, my dear sir? why not? You don't think I mean you should
promise, if you are certain your papa and mamma will be home."

"If they do come home, I will ask them about it," said Frederick,
hesitating; for though he by no means wished to accept the invitation, he
had not yet acquired the necessary power of decidedly saying No.

"Ask them!" repeated Mrs. Theresa. "My dear sir, at your age, must you
ask your papa and mamma about such things?"

"Must! no, ma'am," said Frederick; "but I said I would. I know I need
not, because my father and mother always let me judge for myself almost
about everything."

"And about this, I am sure," cried Marianne. "Papa and mamma, you know,
just as they were going away, said, 'If Mrs. Theresa asks you to come, do
as you think best'"

"Well, then," said Mrs. Theresa, "you know it rests with yourselves, if
you may do as you please."

"To be sure I may, madam," said Frederick, colouring from that species of
emotion which is justly called false shame, and which often conquers real
shame; "to be sure, ma'am, I may do as I please."

"Then I may make sure of you," said Mrs. Theresa; "for now it would be
downright rudeness to tell a lady you won't do as she pleases. Mr.
Frederick Montague, I'm sure, is too wellbred a young gentleman to do so
unpolite, so ungallant a thing!"

The jargon of politeness and gallantry is frequently brought by the silly
acquaintance of young people to confuse their simple morality and clear
good sense. A new and unintelligible system is presented to them, in a
language foreign to their understanding, and contradictory to their
feelings. They hesitate between new motives and old principles. From
the fear of being thought ignorant, they become affected; and from the
dread of being thought to be children act like fools. But all this they
feel only when they are in the company of such people as Mrs. Theresa

"Ma'am," Frederick began, "I don't mean to be rude; but I hope you'll
excuse me from coming to drink tea with you to-morrow, because my father
and mother are not acquainted with Lady Battersby, and maybe they might
not like--"

"Take care, take care," said Mrs. Theresa, laughing at his perplexity:
"you want to get off from obliging me, and you don't know how. You had
very nearly made a most shocking blunder in putting it all upon poor Lady
Battersby. Now you know it's impossible that Mr. and Mrs. Montague could
have in nature the slightest objection to introducing you to my Lady
Battersby at my own house; for, don't you know, that, besides her
ladyship's many unquestionable qualities, which one need not talk of, she
is cousin, but once removed, to the Trotters of Lancashire--your mother's
great favourites? And there is not a person at the Wells, I'll venture
to say, could be of more advantage to your sister Sophy, in the way of
partners, when she comes to go the balls, which it's to be supposed she
will, some time or other; and as you are so good a brother, that's a
thing to be looked to, you know. Besides, as to yourself, there's
nothing her ladyship delights in so much as in a good mimic; and she'll
quite adore you!"

"But I don't want her to adore me, ma'am," said Frederick, bluntly; then,
correcting himself, added, "I mean for being a mimic."

"Why not, my love? Between friends, can there be any harm in showing
one's talents? You that have such talents to show. She'll keep your
secret, I'll answer for her; and," added she, "you needn't be afraid of
her criticism; for, between you and me, she's no great critic; so you'll
come. Well, thank you, that's settled. How you have made me beg and
pray! but you know your own value, I see; as you entertaining people
always do. One must ask a wit, like a fine singer, so often. Well, but
now for the favour I was going to ask you."

Frederick looked surprised; for he thought that the favour of his company
was what she meant: but she explained herself farther.

"As to the old Quaker who lodges above, old Ephraim Eden--my Lady
Battersby and I have so much diversion about him. He is the best
character, the oddest creature! If you were but to see him come into the
rooms with those stiff skirts, or walking with his eternal sister Bertha,
and his everlasting broad-brimmed hat! One knows him a mile off! But
then his voice and way, and altogether, if one could get them to the
life, they'd be better than anything on the stage; better even than
anything I've seen to-night; and I think you'd make a capital Quaker for
my Lady Battersby; but then the thing is, one can never get to hear the
old quiz talk. Now you, who have so much invention and cleverness--I
have no invention myself; but could you not hit upon some way of seeing
him, so that you might get him by heart? I'm sure you, who are so quick,
would only want to see him, and hear him, for half a minute, to be able
to take him off, so as to kill one with laughing. But I have no

"Oh, as to the invention," said Frederick, "I know an admirable way of
doing the thing, if that is all; but then remember, I don't say I will do
the thing, for I will not. But I know a way of getting up into his room,
and seeing him, without his knowing me to be there."

"Oh, tell it me, you charming, clever creature!"

"But, remember, I do not say I will do it."

"Well, well, let us hear it; and you shall do as you please afterwards.
Merciful goodness!" exclaimed Mrs. Tattle, "do my ears deceive me? I
declare I looked round, and thought I heard the squeaking chimney-sweeper
was in the room!"

"So did I, Frederick, I declare," cried Marianne, laughing, "I never
heard anything so like his voice in my life."

Frederick imitated the squeaking voice of this chimney-sweeper to great

"Now," continued he, "this fellow is just my height. The old Quaker, if
my face were blackened, and if I were to change clothes with the chimney-
sweeper, I'll answer for it, would never know me."

"Oh, it's an admirable invention! I give you infinite credit for it!"
exclaimed Mrs. Theresa. "It shall, it must be done. I'll ring, and have
the fellow up this minute."

"Oh, no; do not ring," said Frederick, stopping her hand, "I don't mean
to do it. You know you promised that I should do as I pleased. I only
told you my invention."

"Well, well; but only let me ring, and ask whether the chimney-sweepers
are below. You shall do as you please afterwards."

"Christopher, shut the door. Christopher," said she to the servant who
came up when she rang, "pray are the sweeps gone yet?"

"No, ma'am."

"But have they been up to old Eden yet?"

"Oh, no, ma'am; nor be not to go till the bell rings; for Miss Bertha,
ma'am, was asleep a-lying down, and her brother wouldn't have her wakened
on no account whatsomever. He came down hisself to the kitchen to the
sweeps, though; but wouldn't have, as I heard him say, his sister waked
for no account. But Miss Bertha's bell will ring when she wakens for the
sweeps, ma'am. 'Twas she wanted to see the boy as her brother saved, and
I suppose sent for him to give him something charitable, ma'am."

"Well, never mind your suppositions," said Mrs. Theresa; "run down this
very minute to the little squeaking chimney-sweep, and send him up to me.
Quick, but don't let the other bear come up with him."

Christopher, who had curiosity, as well as his mistress, when he returned
with the chimney-sweeper, prolonged his own stay in the room by sweeping
the hearth, throwing down the tongs and shovel, and picking them up

"That will do, Christopher! Christopher, that will do, I say," Mrs.
Theresa repeated in vain. She was obliged to say, "Christopher, you may
go," before he would depart.

"Now," said she to Frederick, "step in here to the next room with this
candle, and you'll be equipped in an instant. Only just change clothes
with the boy; only just let me see what a charming chimney-sweeper you'd
make. You shall do as you please afterwards."

"Well, I'll only change clothes with him, just to show you for one

"But," said Marianne to Mrs. Theresa whilst Frederick was changing his
clothes, "I think Frederick is right about--"

"About what, love?"

"I think he is in the right not to go up, though he can do it so easily,
to see that gentleman; I mean on purpose to mimic and laugh at him
afterwards. I don't think that would be quite right."

"Why, pray, Miss Marianne?"

"Why, because he is so good-natured to his sister. He would not let her
be wakened."

"Dear, it's easy to be good in such little things; and he won't have long
to be good to her neither; for I don't think she will trouble him long in
this world, anyhow."

"What do you mean?" said Marianne.

"That she'll die, child."

"Die! die with that beautiful colour in her cheeks! How sorry her poor,
poor brother will be! But she will not die, I'm sure, for she walks
about and runs upstairs so lightly! Oh, you must be quite mistaken, I

"If I'm mistaken, Dr. Panado Cardamum's mistaken too, then, that's my
comfort. He says, unless the waters work a miracle, she stands a bad
chance; and she won't follow my advice, and consult the doctor for her

"He would frighten her to death, perhaps," said Marianne. "I hope
Frederick won't go up to disturb her."

"Lud, child, you are turned simpleton all of a sudden; how can your
brother disturb her more than the real chimney-sweeper?"

"But I don't think it's right," persisted Marianne, "and I shall tell him

"Nay, Miss Marianne, I don't commend you now. Young ladies should not be
so forward to give opinions and advice to their elder brothers unasked;
and I presume that Mr. Frederick and I must know what's right as well as
Miss Marianne. Hush! here he is. Oh, the capital figure!" cried Mrs.
Theresa. "Bravo, bravo!" cried she, as Frederick entered in the chimney-
sweeper's dress; and as he spoke, saying, "I'm afraid, please your
ladyship, to dirt your ladyship's carpet," she broke out into immoderate
raptures, calling him "her charming chimney-sweeper!" and repeating that
she knew beforehand the character would do for him.

Mrs. Theresa instantly rang the bell, in spite of all expostulation--
ordered Christopher to send up the other chimney-sweeper--triumphed in
observing that Christopher did not know Frederick when he came into the
room; and offered to lay any wager that the other chimney-sweeper would
mistake him for his companion. And so he did; and when Frederick spoke,
the voice was so very like, that it was scarcely possible that he should
have perceived the difference.

Marianne was diverted by this scene; but she started, when in the midst
of it they heard a bell ring.

"That's the lady's bell, and we must go," said the blunt chimney-sweeper.

"Go, then, about your business," said Mrs. Theresa, "and here's a
shilling for you, to drink, my honest fellow. I did not know you were so
much bruised when I first saw you. I won't detain you. Go," said she,
pushing Frederick towards the door. Marianne sprang forward to speak to
him; but Mrs. Theresa kept her off; and, though Frederick resisted, the
lady shut the door upon him by superior force, and, having locked it,
there was no retreat. Mrs. Tattle and Marianne waited impatiently for
Frederick's return.

"I hear them," cried Marianne, "I hear them coming downstairs." They
listened again, and all was silent. At length they suddenly heard a
great noise of many steps in the hall.

"Merciful!" exclaimed Mrs. Theresa, "it must be your father and mother
come back." Marianne ran to unlock the room door, and Mrs. Theresa
followed her into the hall. The hall was rather dark, but under the lamp
a crowd of people, all the servants in the house having gathered

As Mrs. Theresa approached, the crowd opened in silence, and in the midst
she beheld Frederick, with blood streaming from his face. His head was
held by Christopher; and the chimney-sweeper was holding a basin for him.
"Merciful! what will become of me?" exclaimed Mrs. Theresa. "Bleeding!
he'll bleed to death! Can nobody think of anything that will stop blood
in a minute? A key, a large key down his back--a key--has nobody a key?
Mr. and Mrs. Montague will be here before he has done bleeding. A key!
cobwebs! a puff ball! for mercy's sake! Can nobody think of anything that
will stop blood in a minute? Gracious me! he'll bleed to death, I

"He'll bleed to death! Oh, my brother!" cried Marianne, catching hold of
the words; and terrified, she ran upstairs, crying, "Sophy, oh, Sophy!
come down this minute, or he'll be dead! My brother's bleeding to death!
Sophy! Sophy! come down, or he'll be dead!"

"Let go the basin, you," said Christopher, pulling the basin out of the
chimney-sweeper's hand, who had all this time stood in silence; "you are
not fit to hold the basin for a gentleman."

"Let him hold it," said Frederick; "he did not mean to hurt me."

"That's more than he deserves. I'm certain sure he might have known well
enough it was Mr. Frederick all the time, and he'd no business to go to
fight--such a one as he--with a gentleman."

"I did not know he was a gentleman!" said the chimney-sweeper, "how could

"How could he, indeed!" said Frederick; "he shall hold the basin."

"Gracious me! I'm glad to hear him speak like himself again, at
anyrate," cried Mrs. Theresa. "And here comes Miss Sophy, too."

"Sophy!" cried Frederick. "Oh, Sophy, don't you come--don't look at me;
you'll despise me."

"My brother! where? where?" said Sophy, looking, as she thought, at the
two chimney-sweepers.

"It's Frederick," said Marianne: "that's my brother."

"Miss Sophy, don't be alarmed," Mrs. Theresa began; "but gracious
goodness! I wish Miss Bertha--"

At this instant a female figure in white appeared upon the stairs; she
passed swiftly on, whilst everyone gave way before her. "Oh, Miss
Bertha!" cried Mrs. Theresa, catching hold of her gown to stop her, as
she came near Frederick. "Oh, Miss Eden, your beautiful India muslin!
take care of the chimney sweeper, for heaven's sake." But she pressed

"It's my brother, will he die?" cried Marianne, throwing her arms round
her, and looking up as if to a being of a superior order. "Will he bleed
to death?"

"No, my love!" answered a sweet voice: "do not frighten thyself."

"I've done bleeding," said Frederick.

"Dear me, Miss Marianne, if you would not make such a rout," cried Mrs.
Tattle. "Miss Bertha, it's nothing but a frolic. You see Mr. Frederick
Montague only in a masquerade dress. Nothing in the world but a frolic,
ma'am. You see he's stopped bleeding. I was frightened out of my wits
at first. I thought it was his eye, but I see it's only his nose. All's
well that ends well. Mr. Frederick, we'll keep your counsel. Pray,
ma'am, let us ask no questions; it's only a boyish frolic. Come, Mr.
Frederick, this way, into my room, and I'll give you a towel and some
clean water, and you can get rid of this masquerade dress. Make haste,
for fear your father and mother should drop in upon us."

"Do not be afraid of thy father and mother. They are surely thy best
friends," said a voice. It was the voice of an elderly gentleman, who
now stood behind Frederick.

"Oh, sir, oh, Mr. Eden," said Frederick, turning to him.

"Don't betray me! for goodness' sake!" whispered Mrs. Tattle, "say
nothing about me."

"I'm not thinking about you. Let me speak," cried he, pushing away her
hand, which stopped his mouth. "I shall say nothing about you, I promise
you," said Frederick, with a look of contempt.

"No, but for your own sake, my dear sir, your papa and mamma. Bless me!
is not that Mrs. Montague's carriage?"

"My brother, ma'am," said Sophy, "is not afraid of my father and mother's
coming back. Let him speak; he was going to speak the truth."

"To be sure, Miss Sophia, I wouldn't hinder him from speaking the truth;
but it's not proper, I presume, ma'am, to speak truth at all times, and
in all places, and before everybody, servants and all. I only wanted,
ma'am, to hinder your brother from exposing himself. A hall, I
apprehend, is not a proper place for explanation."

"Here," said Mr. Eden, opening the door of his room, which was on the
opposite side of the hall to Mrs. Tattle's. "Here is a place," said he
to Frederick, "where thou mayst speak the truth at all times, and before

"Nay, my room's at Mr. Frederick Montague's service, and my door's open
too. This way, pray," said she, pulling his arm. But Frederick broke
from her, and followed Mr. Eden.

"Oh, sir, will you forgive me?" cried he.

"Forgive thee!--and what have I to forgive!"

"Forgive, brother, without asking what," said Bertha, smiling.

"He shall know all!" cried Frederick; "all that concerns myself, I mean.
Sir, I disguised myself in this dress; I came up to your room to-night on
purpose to see you, without your knowing it, that I might mimic you. The
chimney-sweeper, where is he?" said Frederick, looking round; and he ran
into the hall to see for him. "May he come in? he may--he is a brave, an
honest, good, grateful boy. He never guessed who I was. After we left
you we went down to the kitchen together, and there, fool as I was, for
the pleasure of making Mr. Christopher and the servants laugh, began to
mimic you. This boy said he would not stand by and hear you laughed at;
that you had saved his life; that I ought to be ashamed of myself; that
you had just given me half a crown; and so you had; but I went on, and

Book of the day: