Page images

glance at Sally would have convinced the most ingenious fabricator of scandal, and dealer in inuendoes, that here there was no foundation on which to build even the slightest surmise of the kind, for both Sally's person and face were to her a shield that would have rebutted any notion of the sort. Alas! that Nature, so extolled by every poet for her impartiality, should be at times so capricious in her favours, and bestow her gifts so grudgingly, even on those whose very sex entitles them to be considered fair ! “Kind goddess," as Will of Avon styles thee, surely thou didst in this instance, behave most unfairly, bestowing on Sally Sadlins an elevation of figure that, had she been of the other sex, might have raised her to the rank of a corporal of grenadiers. Yet, if thou gavest her an aspiring stature, thou gavest her no aspiring thoughts; and if thou didst deny to her softness of person, fortunately for her peace, thou didst not gift her with the least susceptibility of heart. If Sally was not loveable, there was no woman on earth who could possibly have regretted it less. Indeed, I may safely aver, the idea of love never for an instant entered her head, much less had a single twinge of it ever touched her heart. She had heard people talk of love; and she supposed --if indeed she ever bestowed a thought on the subject—that there must be something in the world so called, otherwise people would not have invented a name for it: but she could no more pretend to say what it was, than to describe the ingredients of the air she breathed:-In short, Sally was the most guileless, simple, and disinterested of mortals that ever entered beneath the roof of a single gentleman, to be the first servant where there was no mistress.

Well, therefore, might Mrs. Thoms, who was aware that elderly gentlemen in her “dear” uncle's situation, are not always gifted with that discretion that beseems their years, but sometimes commit themselves to wedlock, in an unwary moment, to the no small prejudice of their affectionate relatives ;-well, I say, might the prudent Mrs. Thoms congratulate herself on having found such a treasure, so invaluable a jewel, as Sally Sadlins.“ She was certain that from this quarter, at least, there was nothing to be apprehended — nothing to intercept her “ dear” uncle's three per cents. from what she considered the legitimate object of their destination. Some alarm, indeed, had been excited in her mind, by hearing that Mr. Fogrum had been seen rather frequently of late knccking at the door of Mrs. Simpson ; but then again she thought that he could not possibly be led thither by any other motive than that of chatting away an hour with the widow of an old friend ; beside, this lady was not likely either to lead, or to be led, into matrimony. In her younger days Mrs. Simpson might have been pretty, but none of her acquaintance could recollect when. She still patched ; yet the patch was applied not where coquetry would have placed it, but where necessity dictated, namely, over the left eye. Mrs. Thoms therefore

consoled herself with the reflection, that it was better her uncle should knock at Mrs. Simpson's door than at that of a more attractive fair one.—No! her uncle, she was perfectly satisfied, would never marry.

“What have you got there, Sally?” said Mr. Fogrum to his housekeeper, one day, as she drew something from her pocket, while standing before the side-board opposite to him. “An't please you, Sir,” replied Sally, in a meek, but no very gentle voice, “it's a bit o'summat I was going to shew you. You know, Sir, my uncle Tim took leave of me yesterday, before he goes to sea again, and so he gave me this paper, which he says may chance to turn up trumps, and make me comfortable for life.”

“Well, let me see what it is, Sally-is it the old fellow's will ?—Hum!—why, Sally, this is a Lottery ticket! - a whole Lottery ticket; yet I will venture to say not worth more than the rag of paper 'tis printed on. I have myself tried the Lottery, times and often, ere now, and never got anything but-disappointment.— A blank, Sir, a blank'—that was the only answer I ever obtained from them. What could possibly induce your uncle to lay out his cash in so foolish a manner ? 'Tis never worth either keeping or thinking about. No. 123, confound it! I know it well, I once purchased a share of it myself—the very first I ever bought, when I was quite a lad; and well do I recollect that I chose it out of a whole heap, and thought myself very fortunate in obtaining one with such a sequence of figures—one, two, three.”

· Most composedly did Sally take the ticket again, not at all disconcerted at this denunciation of ill luck, but on the contrary, with a calmness worthy of a stoic. 'Tis true, she did not, like Patience on a monument, absolutely smile at grief; but then, Sally never smiled, nor would a smile perhaps, if the rigidity of her face would have permitted such a relaxation of its muscles, have tended greatly to heighten the attractions of her countenance. .

Her master in the meanwhile continued eating and wondering, and wondering and eating, until he could neither eat nor wonder more; but dismissing Sally with the dinner things, turned himself quietly to the fire, and took his pipe.'

Mrs. Thoms was sitting one morning cogitating on some mischief that she again began to apprehend from the Widow Simpson, in consequence of certain intelligence she had the day before received, respecting that lady's designs upon the person of her uncle, when she was suddenly startled from her reverie by a loud rapping at the door, and instantly afterwards who should enter the parlour, but the very subject of her meditations -Mrs. Simpson herself.

The appearance of so unusual a visitor would alone have sufficed to surprise her ; but there was something in

the good lady's manner and countenance, that denoted she came upon a very important errand.

“Why, Mrs. Thoms,” exclaimed she, almost breathless, as soon as she entered, “ have you heard ?-your uncle”

Good heavens!” cried Mrs. Thoms, “what do you mean ?—what has happened ?— my poor dear uncle ill—dying !”

“Compose yourself, Mrs. Thoms—not dying—but I thought you might have heard

Heard what ?—some accident, I suppose ?- poor dear man!”

“No; no accident,” returned the widow, who by this time had somewhat recovered her breath ; "but something very strange-most unaccountable. What you may think of it I know not, but for my part I think that Mr. Fogrum has acted—I shall not say how.”.

“And pray, Ma’am,” said Mrs. Thoms, who now began to think that it was some quarrel between them, of which the widow came to inform her, “what has Mr. Fogrum done, that you should come in this strange manner, and make so great a fuss about it? It is some nonsense, after all, I dare say.”

“Nonsense, forsooth!-well, I declare !-however, it certainly is no business of mine, Ma'am,” returned Mrs. Simpson, quite nettled at her reception; “and as I suppose you know what has taken place, and approve of it, I have nothing further to say."

« PreviousContinue »