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EARLY one morning in November 1800, a gentleman looking out of a hackneycoach to learn what impeded his driver's progress, in Great Russel-street, Bloomsbury, London, beheld a crowd of people thronged round a hearse.—“ No accident, I hope, has happened?” said the gentleman to his coachman.
Why, yes, your honour, rather a rummish sort of a one,” replied the fellow unfeelingly; “ two sharks bave nabbed the same prey at once—Death and a bailey."
“ What do you mean?” exclaimed the gentleman impatiently.
Only, your honour, a corpse seized for debt!"
The gentleman's exclamation of pity and
concern was now delivered in a tone so expressive of humanity, that it instantly drew to the coach window Mrs. Leek, a greengrocer, who had been standing at her shop door to observe the commotion.
“ It is the copse of a widor, sir,” said Mrs. Leek, addressing the gentleman. “She lodged, poor lady! for some months past at Goodwin the bookseller's, and only died this morning for fright, on being arrested. The baileys have brought this hearse and a shell, to take the scarce cold body away, sir. I hears, too, that it is not a just debt, but all through the spite of an enemy who seduced her, from living lady-like, to want almost the common necessities of life; and during her illness--for she has been very bad a long time—it would have gone hard enough with her (for I don't think she would have even had doctor's stuff), only for the kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin, who can ill afford to assist any one, having such an exorbitant family of their own.”
Tears had started to the gentleman's eyes ere he could get the coach door open;
and without waiting to let the step down, he leaped upon
pavement. Hillo! your honour !” exclaimed the
alarmed coachman, hastily dismounting ; “I hopes no offence—but sure as how you does not mean to bilk me!”
Unfeeling savage!" replied the gentleman, throwing money to him; and then hastening to Goodwin's shop door (for to the private one the mob rendered a passage impossible), he loudly knocked, waited impatiently the twentieth part of a second, and then knocked again ; when a neat, pretty-looking female domestic, with eyes swollen by excess of weeping, unbolted the door, and cautiously let him in.—“I want to see Mr. Goodwin immediately,” said he.
Faith! and you must want it, sir,” replied the young woman, in a strong Hibernian accent, rendered almost inarticulate by a new burst of tears. “Sorrow one of the master can you see, at all, at all —Sure it's he that is standing guard over the dead corpse, Heaven preserve us! to save it from those d-ls in grain who kilt the
ould lady, and now want to bring her away.”
“ But I will not detain Mr. Goodwin a moment; or, if my seeing him is wholly impossible, Mrs. Goodwin may surely allow me to speak to her.”
“ Is it to speak to her now, when it's she that's supporting, and preventing from dying, the lifeless body of poor, dear, sweet, darling Miss Julee; and crying over her for all the world as if she was one of her own childer?"
“ Some other of the family, then, may let me speak to them.”
Why, sorrow one of the family, then, but myself, but what are all in fits.-Oh! then more grief to me for not being in fits too, and having more nature for the misfortunate, than to bear all this so hardheartedly!” and she burst into a new flood of tears.
“ But, my good compassionate girl ! you can better evince your kindness to the unfortunate, by allowing me to see some one of Mr. Goodwin's family. Go and tell them a person who can assist them is here, anxious to have his services accepted”—and he now offered the almost-howling girl some money, to ensure compliance.
No, no, thank you!" she replied, disdainfully recoiling from the offered money
_“You may be after belonging to that old white-livered fellow, Laroche ; 'tis like enough you are his spalpeen of a son, for I