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“That may be all very true, Madam, and yet not very satisfactory. It's the principle, Madam, it's the principle. Have you never found her making free with trifles — tea, for instance, or your needles and pins?” “Why, Ma'am, I can't say exactly, not having watched such trifles on purpose — but certainly I have not lost more that way than by servants in general.” “Ah, there it is l’ exclaimed the lady, casting up her hands and eyes. “Nobody thinks of crime in its infancy— as if it would not grow up like everything else ! We begin with pins and needles, and get on to brooches and rings. You will excuse, Madam, my being so particular, but nobody has suffered so much by dishonesty. I have been stripped three times.” “You don't say so !” exclaimed Mrs. Dowdum, with a motion of her chair towards the other, which telegraphically hinted a wish to know all the particulars. “It is too true, indeed,” said the lady, with a profound sigh, “and always by means of servants. The first time all my plate went—2,000 ounces, Madam, with the family crest, a boar's-head, – Madam. Then they cleared off all the family linen, a beautiful stock, Madam, just renewed ; and the third time I lost all my ornaments, pearls, Madam, emeralds — topazes — and diamonds, Madam, the diamonds I went to Court in.” “It must have broke your heart, Ma'am,” observed Mrs. Dowdum, finishing with a prolonged and peculiar clucking with her tongue against the roof of her mouth. “It nearly did, Madam,” said the lady, pulling out her handkerchief. “Not for my losses, however, although they were sufficiently considerable — but for the degradation of human nature. A girl too, that I had brought up under my own eye, and had impressed, as I thought, with the strictest principles of honesty. Morning, noon, and night, I impressed upon her the same lesson, — whatever you do, I used to say, be honest. It's the fourth of the cardinal virtues—faith, hope, charity, honesty.” “And the best policy besides,” said Mrs. Dowdum. “The best policy, Madam 1–the only policy, here or hereafter | It's one of the first principles of our nature, Madam. The very savages acknowledge it, and recognize the
grand distinction of meum and tuum. As Doctor Watts finely says, – ‘Why should I deprive my neighbor Of his goods against his will?
Hands were made for honest labor,
“Yes, that's a truism indeed,” said Mrs. Dowdum. “And pray what might become of the wicked hussy after all ?” “Ah! there's my trouble, Madam,” said the lady, clasping her hands together. “With my own will she should have lived a prey to her own reflections— but my husband would not hear of it. He could forgive anything, he said, but dishonesty. So the Bow-Street runners were sent for, – the unhappy girl was tried — I had to appear against her, and she—she-she—oh, oh!” — and the lady, covering her face with her hands, fell back in her chair. “Be composed, Ma'am, - pray do — pray do — do, do, do,” ejaculated the agitated Mrs. Dowdum. “You must take a sniff of something — or a glass of wine —” “No — nothing — not for the world,” sobbed the fainting lady—“only water — a little water l’” The good-natured Mrs. Dowdum instantly jumped from her chair, and ran down-stairs for a tumbler of the fluid — she then rushed up-stairs for her own smelling-bottle; and then she returned to the drawing-room, where she found her visitor, who eagerly took a long draught of the restorative. “I am better—indeed I am — only a little faintness,” — murmured the reviving patient. “But it is an awful thing— a very awful thing, Madam, to conduce even indirectly to the execution of a human being — for the poor creature was hung.” “Ay, I guessed as much,” said Mrs. Dowdum, with a fresh clucking, and a grave shake of the head. “Well, that’s just my own feeling to a T. I don’t think I could feel delighted at hanging any one, no, not even if they was to steal the house over my head l’” “I honor you for your humanity, Madam,” said the lady, warmly pressing Mrs. Dowdum's little fat hand between both her own. “I hope you will never find occasion to revoke such sentiments. In the mean time I am extremely obliged — extremely. Ann may come when she likes — and I have the honor to wish you a very, very, good-morning.”
“And I’m sure, Ma'am, I wish you the same,” replied Mrs. Dowdum, endeavoring to imitate the profound courtesy with which she was favored, “and I hope and trust you will find poor Ann turn out everything that can be wished. I do think you may repose confidently on her honesty, I do indeed, Ma'am.”
“We shall see, Madam, we shall see,” repeated the Lady as she went down the stairs, whence she was ushered by Betty, who received a piece of money during the passage, to the street-door. o
“What a nice woman l’” soliloquized Mrs. Dowdum, as she watched her visitor across the street and round the corner. “What a very nice woman | Quite a lady too — and how she have suffered I don't wonder she is so suspicious — but then she is so forgiving along with it ! It was quite beautiful to hear her talk about honesty — Faith, Hope, and Honesty, —
‘Why should I deprive my neighbor
Why indeed! I could have listened to her — but — Mercy on us! Where is the goold watch as was on the mantel ! — and — O Lord! where is the silver teapot I can’t see in the cupboard? Thieves | Thieves | Thieves 1"
“And to think,” said Mrs. Dowdum, at her twentieth repetition of the story, — “to think that I’ve lost the family goold watch and my silver teapot, by letting of her in l’”
“And to think,” said Betty to herself, putting her hand in her pocket, — “to think that I only got a bad shilling for letting of her out !”
Poor Miss Hopkinson 1 She had been ill for a fortnight, of a disorder which especially affected the nerves; and quiet, as Dr. Boreham declared, was indispensably necessary for her recovery. So the servants wore list shoes, and the knocker was tied up, and the street in front of number four was covered with straw.
In the mean while, the invalid derived great comfort from the unremitting attentions of her friends and acquaintance; but she was particularly gratified by the constant kind inquiries of Mr. Tweedy, the new lodger, who occupied the apartments
immediately over her head.
“If you please, ma'am,” said Mary, for the hundredth time, “it’s Mr. Tweedy's compliments, and begs to know if you feel any better?” “I am infinitely obliged to Mr. Tweedy, I’m sure,” whispered the sufferer, — “I am a leetle easier — with my best thanks and compliments.” Now, Miss Hopkinson was a spinster lady of a certain age, and she was not a little flattered by the uncommon interest the gentleman above stairs seemed to take in her state of health. She could not help recollecting that the new lodger and a very smart new cap had entered the house on the same day. She had fortunately worn the novel article on her accidental encounter with the stranger; and, as she used to say, a great deal depended on first impressions. “What a very nice gentleman | * remarked the nurse, as Mary closed the bed-room door. “What an uncommon nice man 1" cried Miss Filby, an old familiar gossip, who had come to cheer up the invalid with all the scandal of the neighborhood. “And he will send, ma'am,” said the nurse to the visitor, “to ask after us a matter of five or six times in a day.” “It is really extraordinary,” said Miss Filby, “and especially in quite a stranger!” “No, not quite,” whispered the invalid. “I met him twice upon the stairs.” “Indeed!” said Miss Filby. “It’s like a little romance. Who knows what may come of it? I have known as sudden things come to pass before now !” “There is summut in it surely,” said the nurse; “I only wish, ma'am, you could hear how warm and pressing he is in asking after her, whoever comes in his way. There was this morning, on the landing—“Nurse, says he, quite earnestlike, – “nurse, do tell me how she is.’ “Why then, sir,” says I, “she is as well as can be expected.’ ‘Ah!” said he, “that’s, the old answer, but it won't satisfy me. Is she better or worse ?’ ‘Well then, sir, says I, “she's much the same.’ “Ah, says he, fetching sich a long-winded sigh, “there’s where it is. She may linger in that way for months.” “Let’s hope not,’ says I. “You’ll be pleased to hear as how she's going to try to eat a bit o' chicking.’ “Chicking !’ says he, saving your presence, ma'am, -' chicking be d–d to you