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ADVERTISING FOR A WIFE.

BY DUDLEY COSTELLO, ESQ.

PART I.

HOW CAPTAIN RUATIGAN TRIED HIS LUCK ; WHAT CAME OF IT; AND

HOW FITZ-MORTIMER FOLLOWED HIS ADVICE.

“Upon my life, Fred," said Captain Rhatigan, at breakfast one morning in a friend's lodgings, balancing, as he spoke, an anchovy on his fork, with an air of profound reflection, as if he were weighing the fish and the merits of some difficult question in opposite scales ;

upon my life, there's no other way for you” (here the anchovy disappeared); "yes, you must make up your mind to it. I don't care if I do take another, they harmonise with the toast. It's what we must all come to!” And, as he delivered this not very intelligible opinion, Captain Rhatigan heaved what might in courtesy be called a sigh, though the noise he made would not have been out of place had he stood at the capstan heaving anchor.

The friend thus addressed, who seemed to have no appetite even for the stimulating delicacy which had interpolated itself in the preceding speech, was standing by the fire-place stirring a large cup of tea and meditating on something which, to judge by his countenance, did not afford him any very high degree of satisfaction. He was still a young man, though by no means in the bloom of youth, for dissipation had swept all bloom from his cheek and left marks on his brow which

years

would have been slow to trace. But though his features were haggard, they were yet handsome, and though his form was wasted, the loose and sadly faded brocade dressing-gown which shrouded it, could not conceal the proportions of a fine figure. His appearance indeed was, unfortunately, only the type of too many of his class, who run through their money, alienate their friends, become bankrupts in health and reputation, and are either cut off prematurely by accident or intemperance, or drag on a dishonoured existence till it closes unlamented. It was a toss up at this moment which might be the fate of Frederick Pierrepoint Fitz-Mortimer, but the chances seemed certainly more in favour of a sudden interruption than of a long career. At fifteen he had entered the army with an ample fortune, the best interests, and the brightest prospects ; at two-and-twenty he was a major of dragoons, and though “ too fond of pleasure," as the phrase goes, was in a fair way of achieving distinction ; at twenty-five, Tosses ať play had compelled him to sell out; and on the day on which he celebrated the twenty-ninth anniversary of his birth, he had gone through nearly every gradation that carries a gambler and a spendthrift downward.

At the period of his introduction to the reader, he was metaphorically on his last legs. Not only were all his means gone, his credit exhausted, and his resources a blank, but he even stood within the danger of the law, as far as its penalties were applicable to one who was over head and ears in debt, and had written his name across a much greater amount of paper than was compatible with his personal liberty, had the holders been acquainted with his whereabout. It was on this account that he now occupied apartments on the first floor of a house in an obscure street in Lisson Grove, having only shifted his quarters a few days before from a lodging on the Surrey side of the water, where the privacy which he coveted seemed in danger of being invaded.

“ You don't mean the rules, or a walk through the court, do you?” inquired the moody tea-drinker.

“Not a bit of it,” replied Captain Rhatigan ; "it's little good you'd get of the rules ; rules and regulations was never made for the like of you, Fred. And as to the coort, if you did get through it, even in three years' time, you'd be worse off when you came out than when you went in."

“Faith, I hardly know," said Fitz-Mortimer. “ To be worse off than I am now would be a difficult matter.”

“ Very likely,” returned his friend, coolly;“ but I don't think your situation would be improved by a three years' residence in the Queen's Bench, unless, indeed, the chief commissioner of the Insolvent Debtors' Court should take a fancy to you during your examination, and leave you all his property when he dies.”

“ What the devil, then, do you recommend?" said Fitz-Mortimer, almost angrily. “I wish you would speak out.”

"Oh, then, if it's speaking out you want, here's at it. It's like a plunge in the water in frosty weather,—the first shock is every thing. Hold your breath, and you'll bear it. You must get married!”

“ I don't see how that would help me." “ Not if you got a fortune with

your

wife?” “A fortune, yes ; but is that very likely, when,-d-n this old dressing-gown,--I've scarcely a coat to my back.” “ The more reason, Fred, why you should make the attempt.” “ No doubt of that. I never wanted one more.” " Which ?-a wife or a coat?”

“Which ever you please, as the showman says; but, granting the necessity, how is a wife attainable ?”

Listen, Fred, and mark my words. You must advertise !" “ Advertise !"

Yes, you must advertise for a wife. You won't be the first that has done so by many hundreds. I have done it myself," continued Captain Rhatigan,

drawing himself up and burying his chin in his stock ; " that is to say, I have done the same thing. I once answered an advertisement.'

“ And what came of it? I never knew you had been married.”

“I never was, my dear fellow, but I might have been if circumstances had been propitious.”

“When and where did this happen ?"

“ You shall hear. When first I was put on half-pay, I passed a season in London, divided, it must be confessed, between my lodgings in Northumberland-court, where I slept and breakfasted-Rupert-street, where I dined-Offey's and the Coal-hole, where I passed the evening-and a certain house in Jermyn-street, where I finished the night at roulette, until roulette nearly finished me. I then went to Jersey to get brandy cheap and economise. The brandy was cheap enough for that matter, but there was a knot of us - Taylor, of ours-Murphy, of the Bays

Hacket, of the dirty half-hundredth—and a few more, and somehow or other we made up the difference - took it, you'll say--in the quantity we consumed, so that when quarter-day came round, we found ourselves just as much to the bad as ever. Lord knows how it would have ended, but one fine day, as I was just stepping into a boat to take a pleasant sail, a rascally bailiff put his hand on my shoulder, and I knocked him down and put out to sea. The owner of the boat told me I should be banished for the offence, and so I was ; but as this happened to suit me, I went across to Granville, and for the next year or two drew my half-pay through the consul at St. Malo, living sometimes there and sometimes at Lannion, where fishing and shooting are more easily had. I got tired of this at last, and having scraped together a few pounds—for one can't spend money in Brittany live how you will I made a start of it for Paris. A Frenchman who can keep himself out of the sugar he steals at the Cafés, may make it out very well there, on next to nothing at all ; but a fellow with a good appetite, accustomed to his bottle, and inclined to amuse himself as a foreigner generally does, stands but a poor chance of making it out on half-pay, and, by Jabus, I got no richer there than I did in Jersey : that is to say, I found myself getting poorer. One morning, as I was shaving-that's the time for thinking over one's affairs, Fred, only it's rather dangerous if you happen to be very much in debt—and wondering what would turn up next, my eye fell upon a bit of newspaper, a French one, which I was just going to wipe my razor on, and fixed on an advertisement headed · Mariage. Marriage!' says I, that's the very thing for you, Tim Rhatigan, if the lady has got the wherewithal.' So I took up the paper to see what it was all about. I'll not say much for my accent, picked up at Cambrai with the army of occupation, and improved upon in Jersey and Brittany, but, for a knowledge of the language, you may trust me to be interpreter at head-quarters. What I read was as follows :

“Ancienne Maison St. Marc --patented by the government, No. 8, Rue des Colonnes, at the corner of the Rue de la Bourse, established for negotiations of marriage. Persons desirous of being married, may, with perfect confidence, address themselves to Madame St. Marc. Her position in the upper classes of society enables her to furnish the most positive information respecting widow ladies and spinsters, having settlements and fortunes from twenty thousand francs to two millions. Affranchir.'

“ I don't know what you may think, Fred, but the opposite sex had always a very favourable notion of Tim Rhatigan's appearance, and as I looked at myself in my shaving-glass that morning, I fancied they were not wrong

• Two millions !' says I, “I'll go for the whole stake-as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.' So I dressed myself, out of compliment to the French, in a military coat with frogs on it, and preferring a vivacious conversation to a correspondence, set out after breakfast for the Rue des Colonnes. Madame St. Marc was so much accustomed to high life that she had established her office in the quatrième au dessus de l'entresol. I climbed up a hundred and fourteen stairs, making false steps, and breaking my shins at every landing-place, and at last I stumbled against the door of madame. She was a very dignified lady, and wore a very shabby shawl, which once, she assured me, had been a Cachemire, and she discoursed in a mighty eloquent manner about the enormous fortunes she had under her thumb, but all the while she said nothing to

got.'

the purpose, nor could I bring her to book till I had forked out the sum of forty francs, pour entamer les affaires,' as she remarked. She then entered my name in her carnet, or private memorandum-book (I gave her that of my twelfth cousin, Lord Brallaghan), and asked me what amount of fortune I expected, and whether I preferred a widdy or a single lady?

6. It's a widdy you'll be yourself, ma'am,' says I, I'll go bail that them double barrels (meaning her eyes), have each killed their man, the divel a flash in the pan with either of themit's not in your presence, ma'am, that I'd make choice of any thing short of a widdy. As for the money, ma'am, there can't be too much of it, so give me the best you've

“ The compliment pleased her, and then it was she told me about her shawl, how her first husband (I was right, Fred, she had disposed of two), had given it to her as cadeau de noces, and affection for his memory still made her wear it; but she presently came back to business, and wanted to know what fortune I had, as it was necessary that the contracting parties should be sur le même pied.'

• Oh, as to that,' says I, the greater part of my money is fundsand sure enough it is-my own funds, when the agent pays it; and my landed property is in the moving bog of Kilmaleady-nobody can get at that-that's perfectly safe.'

“« And what does it bring you in ?' says she,—the knowing one.

“ • Ten thousand a year,' says I, off-hand, for I thought there was no use in making a poor mouth.

Bon,' says Madame St. Marc, you'll do, milor.'

“ She then turned to a thick volume, in which there appeared to be a good many entries. After running her eye over two or three

pages, she suddenly asked me if I was in the habit of going to church.

“ • I'm not particular, ma'am,' says I ; when I find one convenient to my lodging I sometimes drop in.' Then you

have no objection to meet me in one?' 666 None in life, ma’am,' says I, “I'd meet you anywhere,' (' By moonlight alone,' I hummed half aloud.)

Very well milor,' she answered, “come the day after to-morrow, at ten o'clock to the Eglise Saint Roch ; you'll find me just inside the entrance by the right-hand door, and before the service is over I will show you half a dozen ladies for

you to pick and choose from. Quand vous avez arrêté votre choix je vous ferai présenter à la dame.'

“Well, this seemed all fair and above-board, and so I took a polite leave of Madame St. Marc. When I got out into the street again I began to think over the affair. I knew by experience that the French ladies are rather susceptible, particularly when a man is six feet high, and has my whiskers, ' but' says I to myself, they like a showy outside, too, the serpents ! and they shall have it, if I spend my last rap. So I went to a fellow in the Palais Royal, who had no end to ready-made things in his shop, and picked out some of the gayest I could find. I was soon matched with the lower garments, but the divel a bit could I get on the coats and waistcoats; there wasn't a single one of them that was broad enough across the chest. Vous avez des epaules énormement forts, monsieur,' said the tailor. • You may say that, replied I, and if it had not been for these shoulders, and a few more pairs like 'em you'd not have had the pleasure of seeing me here to-day.' I comprehended now how it was we made such short work of the Frenchmen at Waterloo. The fellow promised however, to fit me, if I could wait four-and-twenty hours; for a wonder he kept his word, and when I turned out on the morning appointed I leave you to judge if a neater looking gentleman than myself ever trod the Boulevards. Sky-blue body coat with bright buttons, and black velvet collars were the fashion then. I wore one, cut in the very first style, with long swallow tail skirts and the waist up

to
my

shoulder blades. I chose my own waistcoat, having, I flatter myself, a little taste, and selected a satin with three broad stripes, black, scarlet, and yellow, like the body of a coral snake or a Belgian drum-major. I had on a green silk neckcloth, for the honour of my country ; besides it goes well with auburn whiskers and a florid complexion ; tight nankeen pantaloons and Hessian boots with fixed brass spurs, and as pretty a sugar-loaf hat set a little on one side as you'd wish to see on a summer's day.

You must have been quite killing,” said Fitz-Mortimer.

“ I was so, Fred, not a man or woman I met that morning could keep their eyes off me. It was pretty much the same when I got into the church, for the jingle of the spurs was as good as the priest's bell, and when once the dear creatures caught a glimpse of Tim Rhatigan in his best, I promise you they looked less and less at the big candlesticks on the altar. At last, Madame St. Marc, who had placed herself close to a pillar in the principal aisle, and was leaning over the back of one of the rush-bottomed chairs which you get for a sous-praying, of course—just raised her head and gave me a wink, as much as to say she had marked down a bird for me. I got behind the pillar, and following the direction in which she looked, caught sight of a plump little thing who was down on her knees and making believe to be very devout, only some how or other, her bright black eyes kept glancing off the book, as if she was thinking of something a little more tangible than Saint Polycarp, whoever he might be, that the priest was discoursing about. I saw by the expression of Madame St. Marc's countenance that I had guessed at the right person, and presently she whispered to me, as I bent my head over when the Host went up, to follow her at a distance when the service was over. She had no occasion to speak twice, and as the congregation were going down the steps, close to where Buonaparte left his mark on the 18th Brumaire, I saw her make up to the lady I have described and address her as an acquaintance. There was a good deal of smiling and talking on both sides, to make up for lost time in church, I suppose, and then they moved off together, taking the direction of the Tuileries gardens. I was up to the dodge, and instead of going in by the Porte des Feuillans I made a détour to the right and entered at the Place de la Concorde, not however, before I saw Madame St. Marc's head turned over her shoulder, as much as to say it was all right.' She chose the south side of the gardens, it's more shady and retired than the other part, and not haunted by the prying old English ladies, who object to the statues in what they call the dark walks,' and there I encountered my friend and her companion. She was as round and smooth as an egg, with an olive complexion, dark hair and eyes, a laughing mouth with very fine teeth in it-that kind of woman has always got something to laugh at-very pretty feet and ankles, and altogether just the sort of thing to fall in love with, even if she hadn't been so rich as Madame St. Marc afterwards told

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