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Fortuna sævo læta negotio, el
Ludum insolentem ludere pertinax,
Transmutat incertos honores,
Nunc mihi, nunc alii benigna.
Laudo manentem: si celeres quatit
Pennas, resigno quæ dedit, et ineâ
Virtute me involvo, probamque
Pauperiem sine dote quæro

CLOSET COURT had never looked so odious to Titmouse as it did when, harrassed and depressed as I have described him, he approached it about one o'clock, A.M. He flung himself on his bed for a moment directly he had shut his door, intending presently to rise and undress; but sleep having got him prostrate, secured her victory. She waved her black wand over him, and he woke not till eight o'clock in the morning. A second long-drawn sigh was preparing to follow its predecessor, when he heard it strike eight, and sprung off the bed in a fright; for he ought to have been at the shop an hour ago. Dashing a little water into his face, and scarce staying to wipe it off, he ran down stairs, through the court, and along the street, never stopping till he had found his way into-almost the very arms of the dreaded Mr Tag-rag; who, rarely making his appearance till about half past nine, had, as the deuce would have it, happened to come down an hour and a half earlier than usual, on the only morning out of several hundreds on which Titmouse had been more than ten minutes beyond

his time.

"Yours ve-ry respectfully, Mr Titmouse-Thomas Tag-rag!" exclaimed that personage with mock solemnity, bowing formally to his astounded and breathless shopman.

"I-I-beg your pardon, sir; but I wasn't very well, and overslept myself," stammered Titmouse.

"Ne-vermind, Mr Titmouse, ne-ver mind-it don't much signify," interrupted Mr Tag-rag, bitterly; "you've just got an hour and a half to take this piece of silk, with my compliments, to Messrs Shuttle and Weaver, in Dirt Street, Spitalfields, and ask them if they ar'n't ashamed to send it to a WestEnd house like mine, and bring back a better piece instead of it!"

HOR. CARM. Lib. iii. 49.

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Very well, sir-but-before my breakfast, sir?"

“Did I say a word about breakfast, sir? You heard my orders, sir; you can attend to them or not, Mr Titmouse, as you please!"

Off trotted Titmouse instanter, without his breakfast; and so Tag-rag gained one object he had had in view. Titmouse found this rather trying: a five-mile walk before him, with no inconsiderable load under his arm, havving had nothing to eat since the preceding evening, when he had partaken of a delicate repast of thick slices of bread, smeared slightly over with salt butter, and moistened with a most astringent decoction of tea-leaves sweetened with brown sugar, and discoloured with sky blue milk. He had not even a farthing about him wherewith to buy a penny roll! As he went disconsolately along, so many doubts and fears buzzed impetuously about him, that they completely darkened his little soul, and bewildered his small understanding. Ten Thousand a- Year!it was never meant for the like of him. He soon worked himself into a conviction that the whole thing was infinitely too good to be true; the affair was desperate; it had been all moonshine; for some cunning purpose or another, Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, had been-ah, here he was within a few yards of their residence, the scene of last night's tragic transactions! As he passed Saffron Hill, he paused, looked up towards the blessed abode

"Where centred all his hopes and fears," uttered a profound sigh,and passed slowly on towards Smithfield. The words "Quirk, Gammon, and Snap," seemed to be written over every shop-window which he passed-their images filled his mind's eye. What could they be at? They had been all very polite and friendly—and of their own


seeking had he affronted them? How coldly and proudly they had parted with him over-night! It was evident that they could stand no nonsensethey were great lawyers; so he must (if they really would allow him to see them again) eat humble pie cheerfully till he had got all that they had to give him. How he dreaded the coming night! Perhaps they intended civilly to tell him that they would have nothing more to do with him ;-they would get the estate for themselves, or some one else that would be more manageable! They had taken care to tell him nothing at all about the nature of his pretensions to this grand fortune. Oh, how crafty they were-they had it all their own way!-But what, after all, had he really done? The estates

were his, if they were really in earnesthis, and no one's else; and why should he be kept out of them at their will and pleasure?-Suppose he were to say he would give them all he was entitled to for £20,000 down, in cash? Oh no; on second thoughts, that would be only two years' income ! But on the other hand-he dared hardly even propose it to his thoughts-still, suppose it should really all turn out true! Goodness gracious!-that day two months he might be riding about in his carriage in the Parks, and poor devils looking on at him, as he now looked on all those who now rode. There he would be, holding up his head with the best of them, instead of slaving about as he was that moment, carrying about that cursed bundleough! how he shrunk as he changed its position, to relieve his aching right arm! Why was his mouth to be stopped-why might he not tell his shopmates? What would he not give for the luxury of telling it to the odious Tag-rag? If he were to do so, Mr Tag-rag, he was sure, would ask him to dinner the very next Sunday, at his country house at Clapham. Thoughts such as these so occupied his mind, that he did not for a long while observe that he was walking at a rapid rate towards the Mile-end road, having left Whitechapel church nearly half a mile behind him! The possible master of £10,000 a-year felt fit to drop with fatigue, and sudden apprehension of the storm he should have to encounter when he first saw Mr Tag-rag after so long an absence. He was detained for a cruel length of time at Messrs Shuttle and


Weaver's, who not having the required quantity of silk at that moment on their premises, had some difficulty in obtaining it, after having sent for it to one or two neighbouring manufactories; by which means it came to pass that it was two o'clock before Titmouse, completely exhausted and dispirited, and reeking with perspiration, had reached Dowlas and Company's. The gentlemen of the shop had finished their dinners.

"Go up stairs and get your dinner, sir!" exclaimed Tag-rag imperiously, after having received Messrs Shuttle and Weaver's message.

Titmouse went up stairs hungry enough, and found himself the sole occupant of the long close-smelling room in which his companions had been dining. His dinner was presently brought to him by a slatternly servant-girl. It was in an uncovered basin, which appeared to contain nothing but the leavings of his compa nions-a savoury intermixture of cold potatoes, broken meat, (chiefly bits of fat and gristle,) a little hot water ha ving been thrown over it to make it appear warm and fresh-(faugh!) His plate (with a small pinch of salt upon it) had not been cleaned after its recent use, but evidently only hastily smeared over with a greasy towel, as also seemed his knife and fork, which, in their disgusting state, he was fain to put up with, the table-cloth on which he might have wiped them having been removed. A hunch of bread that seemed to have been tossing about in the pan for days, and half-a-pint of flat-looking and sour-smelling tablebeer, completed the fare set before him; opposite which he sate for some minutes, too much occupied with his reflections to commence his repast. He was in the act of scooping out of the basin some of its inviting contents, when--" Titmouse!" exclaimed the voice of one of his shopmates, peering in at him through the half-opened door," Mr Tag-rag wants you! He says you've had plenty of time to finish your dinner!"

"Oh, tell him, then, I'm only just beginning my dinner-eugh! such as it is," replied Titmouse, masticating the first mouthful with an appearance of no particular relish,-for to the like of it he had never before sate down since he had been in the honoured house he was then serving.

In a few minutes' time Mr Tag-rag

2 &

himself entered the room, stuttering "How much longer, sir, is it your pleasure to spend over your dinner, eh?" "Not another moment, sir," answered Titmouse, looking with ill-concealed disgust at the savoury victuals before him; "if you'll only allow me a few minutes to go home and buy a penny roll instead of all this".

"Ve-ry good, sir! Very parti-cu-larly good, Mr Titmouse," replied Tag-rag, with ill-subdued fury; any thing else that I can make a leetle momorandum of against the day of your leaving us?"


This hint of twofold terror, i. e. of withholding the wretched balance of salary that might be due to him, on the ground of misconduct, and of also giving him a damning character, dispelled the small remains of Titmouse's appetite, and he rose to return to the shop, involuntarily clutching his fist as he brushed close past the tyrant Tag-rag on the stairs, whom he would have been delighted to pitch down head-foremost; and if he had done so, none of his fellow-slaves below, in spite of their present sycophancy towards Tag-rag, would have shown any particular alacrity in picking up their common oppressor. Poor Tittlebat resumed his old situation behind the counter; but how different his present from his former air and manner! With his pen occasionally peeping pertly out of his bushy hair over his right ear, and his yard measure in his hand, no one, till Monday morning, had been more cheerful, smirk ing, and nimble than Tittlebat Tit. mouse: Alas, how crestfallen now! None of his companions could make him out, or guess what was in the wind; so they very justly concluded that he had been doing something dreadfully disgraceful, the extent of which was known to Tag-rag and himself alone. Their jeers and banter were giving place to cold distrust. ful looks, that were much more trying to bear. How he longed to be able to burst upon their astounded minds with the pent-up intelligence that was silently racking and splitting his little bosom! But if he did-the terrible firm of Quirk, Gammon, and Snap Oh! the very thought of them glued his lips together. But then there was one whom he might surely make a confidant-the excellent Huckaback, with whom he had had no opportunity of communicating since Sunday night.

That gentleman was as close a prisoner at the establishment of Diaper and Sarsenet, in Tottenham-court Road, as Titmouse at Messrs Dowlas's, of which said establishment he was as great an ornament as Titmouse of that of Messrs Dowlas. They were about the same height, and equals in puppyism of manners, dress, and appearance; but Titmouse was much the better-looking. With equal conceit in their faces, that of Huckaback, square, and flat, and sallow, had an expression of ineffable impudence, that made a lady shudder, and a gentleman feel a tingling sensation in his right toe. About his small black eyes there was a glimmer of low cunning;-but I have not patience to paint the fellow any farther. When Titmouse left the shop that night, a little after nine, he hurried to his lodgings, to make himself as imposing in his appearance before Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, as his time and means would admit of. Behold, on the table lay a letter from Huckaback. It was written in a flourishing mercantile hand; and here is a copy of it:

"Dear Tit,

"I hope you are well, which is what I can only middling say in repect of me. Such a row with my governors as I have had to-day! I thought that, as I had been in the House near upon Eighteen Months at L.25 per annum, I might naturally ask for L.30 a-year (which is what my Predecessor had,) when, would you be lieve it, Mr Sharpeye (who is going to be taken in as a Partner), to whom I named the thing, ris up in rage against me, and I were had up into the counting-house, where both the governors was, and they gave it me in such a way that you never saw nor heard of; but it wasn't all on their own side, as you know me too well to think of. You would have thought I had been a-going to rob the house. They said I was most oudacious, and all that, and ungrateful, and what would I have next? Mr Diaper said times was come to such a pitch!! since he was first in the business, for salaries is risen to double, and not half the work done that was, and no gratitude(cursed old curmudgeon!) He said if I left them just now, I might whistle for a character, except what I would not like; but if he don't mind I'll give him a trick of law about that-which

brings me to what happened to-day with our lawyers, the people at Saffron Hill, whom I thought I would call in on to-day, being near the neighbourhood with some light goods, to see how affairs was getting on, and stir them up a bit".

This almost took Titmouse's breath away

"6 feeling most interested on your account, as you know, dear Tit, I do. I said I wanted to speak to one of the gentlemen on business of wital im portance; whereat I was quickly shown into a room where two gents was sitting. Having put down my parcel for a minute on the table, I said Ì was a very intimate friend of yours, and had called in to see how things went on about the advertisement; whereat you never saw in your life how struck they looked, and stared at one another in speechless silence, till they said to me, what concerned me about the business? or something of that nature, but in such a way that ris a rage in me directly, all for your sake (for I did not like the looks of things); and says I, I said, we would let them know we were not to be gammoned; whereat up rose the youngest of the two, and ringing the bell, he says to a tight-laced young gentleman with a pen behind his ear, Show him to the door,' which I was at once; but, in doing so, let out a little of my mind to them. They're no better than they should be, you see if they are; but when we Trick the property, we'll show them who is their masters, which consoles me. Good-bye, keep your sperrits up, and I will call and tell you more about it on Sunday. So fare well (I write this at Mr Sharpeye's desk, who is coming down from dinner directly). Your true friend,

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"R. HUCKABACK. "P.S.-Met a young Jew last night with a lot of prime cigars, and (know ing he must have stole them, they looked so good at the price) I bought one shilling's worth for me, and two shillings' worth for you, your salary being higher, and to say nothing of your chances."

All that part of the foregoing letter which related to its amiable writer's interview with Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, Titmouse read in a kind of spasm-he could not draw a breath, and felt a choking sen sation coming over him. After a

while, "I may spare myself," thought he, "the trouble of rigging outHuckaback has done my business for me with Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and Snap-mine will only be a walk in vain!"- After what had occurred last night between him and them ! !— and so urgently as he had been enjoined to keep the matter to himself! Of course Huckaback would seem to have been sent by him; seeing he appeared to have assumed the hectoring tone which Titmouse had tried so vainly over-night, and now so bitterly repented of; and he had no doubt grossly insulted the arbiters of Titmouse's destiny, (for he knew Huckaback's impudence,)-he had even said that he (Titmouse) would not be GAMMONED by them. But time was pressing with a beating heart he scrambled into a change of clothes-bottling up his wrath against the unconscious Huckaback till he should see that worthy. In a miserable state of mind he set off soon after for Saffron Hill at a quick pace, which soon became a trot, and often sharpened into a downright run. He saw, heard, and thought of nothing, as he hurried along Oxford Street and Holborn, but Quirk, Gammon, Snap, and Huckaback, and the reception which the lat ter had secured for him-if, indeed, he was to be received at all. The magical words, Ten Thousanda- Year, had not disappeared from the field of his troubled vision; but how faintly and dimly they shone!-like the Pleiades coldly glistening through intervening mists far off-oh! at what a stupendous, immeasurable, and hopeless distance! Imagine those stars gazed at by the anguished and despairing eyes of the bereaved lover, madly believing one of them to contain HER who has just departed from his arms, and from this world, and you may form a notion of the agonizing feelings-the absorbed contemplation of one dear, dazzling, but distant object, experienced on this occasion by Mr Titmouse. No, no; I don't mean seriously to pretend that so grand a thought as this could be entertained by his little optics intellectual; you might as well suppose the tiny eye of a black beetle to be scanning the vague, fanciful, and mysterious figure and proportions of Orion, or a chimpanzee to be perusing and pondering over the immortal Principia. I repeat, that I have no

desire of the sort, and am determined not again foolishly to attempt fine writing, which I now perceive to be entirely out of my line. In language more befitting me and my subject, I may be allowed to say that there is no getting a quart into a pint pot; that Titmouse's mind was a half-pint-and it was brimful. All the while that I have him going on thus, however, Titmouse was hurrying down Holborn at a rattling rate. When at length he had reached Saffron Hill, he was in a bath of perspiration. His face was quite red; he breathed hard; his heart beat violently; he had got a stitch in his side; and he could not get his gloves on his hot and swollen hands. He stood for a moment with his hat off, wiping his reeking forehead, and endeavouring to recover himself a little, before entering the dreaded presence to which he had been hastening. He oven fancied, for a moment, that his eyes gave out sparks of light! While thus pausing, St Andrew's Church struck ten, half electrifying Titmouse, who bolted up the hill, and was soon standing opposite the door. How the sight of it smote him, as it reminded him of the way in which, on the preceding night, he had bounded out of it! But that could not now be helped; so ring went the bell, as softly, however, as he could; for he recollected that it was a very loud bell, and he did not wish to offend. He waited some time, and nobody answered. He waited for nearly two minutes, and trembled, assailed by a thousand vague fears. He might not, however, have rung loudly enough-so-again, a little louder, did he venture to ring. Again he waited. There seemed something threatening in the great brass plate on the door, out of which "QUIRK, GAMMON, AND SNAP" appeared to look at him ominously. While he thought of it, by the way, there was something very serious and stern in all their faces-he wondered that he had not noticed it before. What a drunken beast he had been to go on in their presence as he had!— thought he; then Huckaback's image flitted across his disturbed fancy"Ah!" thought he "that's the thing! That's it, depend upon it; this door will never be opened to me again-he's done for me!" He breathed faster, clenched his fist, and involuntarily raised it in a menacing way, when he heard himself addressed-"Oh! dear me,

sir, I hope I haven't kept you waiting," said the old woman whom he had before seen, fumbling in her pocket for the door-key. She had been evidently out shopping, having a plate in her left hand, over which her apron was thrown. "Hope you've not been ringing long, sir!"

"Oh, dear! no, ma'am," replied Titmouse with anxious civility, and a truly miserable smile" Afraid I may have kept them waiting," he added, almost dreading to hear the answer.

"Oh no, sir, not at all-they've all been gone since a little after nine; but there's a letter I was to give you!" She opened the door; Titmouse nearly dropping. "I'll get it for you, sir-let me see, where did I put it?Oh, in the clerk's room, I think." Titmouse followed her in. "Dear mewhere can it be ?" she continued, peering about, and then snuffing the long wick of the candle which she had left burning for the last quarter of an hour, during her absence. "I hope none of the clerks has put it away in mistake! Well, it isn't here, any how."

"Perhaps, ma'am, it's in their own room"-suggested Titmouse, in a faint


"Oh, pr'aps it is!" she replied. "We'll go and see"-and she led the way, followed closely by Titmouse, who caught his breath as he passed the green-baize door. Yes, there was the room-the scene of last night was transacted there, and came crowding over his recollection ;-there was the green-shaded candlestick-the table covered with papers. -an arm-chair near it, in which, probably, Mr Quirk had been sitting only an hour before to write the letter they were now in quest of, and which might be to forbid him their presence for ever! How dreary and deserted the room looked, thought he, as he peered about it in search of the dreaded letter !

"Oh, here it is!-well, I never!who could have put it here, now? I'm sure I didn't. Let me see it was, no doubt," said the old woman, holding the letter in one hand, and putting the other to her head

"Never mind, ma'am," said Titmouse, stretching his hand towards her," now we've got it, it don't much signify." She gave it to him. "Seem particularly anxious for me to get itdid they?" he enquired, with a strong ef fort to appear unconcerned--the dreaded letter quite quivering in his fingers,

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