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hodious rates (drat the poor, say I! them as can't work should starve!rates is a robbery!)—but howsomdever he's cleaned me out to-day; so, in coorse, I come up to you. Got it?" “I—I—I—'pon my life, Mrs Squallop, I'm uncommon sorry"
"Oh, bother your sorrow, Mr Titmouse!-out with the needful, for I can't stop palavering here."
"I-I can't, so help me !" gasped Titmouse, with the calmness of desperation.
"You can't! And, marry, sir, why not, may I make bold to ask?" enquired Mrs Squallop, after a moment's pause, striving to choke down her rage.
"P'r'aps you can get blood out of a stone, Mrs Squallop; it's what I can't," replied Titmouse, striving to screw his courage up to the sticking place, to encounter one who was plainly bent upon mischief. "I've got two shillings-there they are," throwing them on the table; "and cuss me if I've another rap in the world; there, ma'am !"
"You're a liar, then, that's flat!" exclaimed Mrs Squallop, slapping her hand upon the table, with a violence that made the candle quiver on it, and almost fall down. "You have the himperance," said she, commencing the address she had been preparing in her own mind ever since Mr Gripe had quitted her house, "to stand there and tell me you've got nothing in the world but them two shillings! Heugh! Out on you, you oudacious fellow! you jack-a-dandy! You tell me you haven't got more than them two shillings, and yet turns out every Sunday morning of your life like a lord, with your pins, and your rings, and your chains, and your fine coat, and your gloves, and your spurs, and your dandy cane-ough! you whippersnapper! You're a cheat-you're a swindler, jack-a-dandy! You're the contempt of the whole court, you are, you jack-a-dandy! You've got all my rent on your back, and have had every Sunday for three months, you cheat! -you low fellow!-you ungrateful chap! You're a-robbing the widow and fatherless! Look at me, and my six fatherless children down there, you good-for-nothing, nasty, proud puppy! -eugh! it makes me sick to see you. You dress yourself out like my lord mayor! You've bought a gold chain
with my rent, you rascally cheat! You dress yourself out ?-Ha, ha!— you're a nasty, mean-looking, humptydumpty, carroty-headed
"You'd better not say that again, Mrs Squallop."
"Not say it again! ha, ha! Hoighty-toighty, carroty-haired jacka-dandy!-why, you hop-o-my-thumb! d'ye think I won't say whatever I choose, and in my own house? You're a Titmouse by name and by nature; there ain't a cockroach crawling down stairs that ain't more respectable-like and better behaved than you. You're a himpudent cheat, and dandy, and knave, and a liar, and a red-haired rascal-and that in your teeth! Ough! Your name stinks in the court. You're a-taking of every body in as will trust you to a penny's amount. There's poor old Cox, the tailor, with a sick wife and children, whom you've cheated this many months, all of his not having spirit to summons you! But I'll set him upon you; you see if I don't-and I'll have my own, too, or I wouldn't give that for the laws!" shouted Mrs Squallop, at the same time snapping her fingers in his face, and then pausing for breath after her eloquent invective.
Now, what is the use," said Titmouse, gently, being completely cowed-"now, what good can it do to go on in this way, Mrs Squallop"
"Missus me no Missus, Mr Titmouse, but pay me my rent, you jacka-dandy! You've got my rent on your back, and on your little fingers; and I'll have it off you before I've done with you, I warrant you. I'm your landlady, and I'll sell you up; I'll have old Thumbscrew here the first thing in the morning, and distrain every thing, and you, too, you jack-daw, if any one would buy you, which they won't! I'll have my rent at last; I've been too easy with you, you ungrateful chap; for, mark, even Mr Gripe this morning says, 'haven't you a gentleman lodger up above? get him to pay you your own,' says he; and so I will.
I'm sick of all this, and I'll have my rights! Here's my son, Jem, a far better-looking chap than you, though he hasn't got hair like a mop all under his chin, and he's obligated to work from one week's end to another in a paper cap and fustian jacket; and you-you painted jackanapes! But now I have got you, and I'll turn you
inside out, though I know there's nothing in you! But I'll try to get at your fine coats, and spurs, and trow sers, your chains and pins, and make something of them before I've done with you, you jack-a-dandy!"—and the virago shook her fist at him, looking as though she had not yet uttered even half that was in her heart towards him.
[Alas, alas, unhappy Titmouse, muchenduring son of sorrow! I perceive that you now feel the sharpness of an angry female tongue; and indeed to me, not in the least approving of the many coarse and heart-splitting expressions which she uses, it seems nevertheless that she is not very far off the mark in much that she hath said; for, in truth, in your conduct there is not a little that to me, piteously inclined towards you as I am, yet appeareth obnoxious to the edge of this woman's reproaches. But think not, O bewildered and notwith-sufficient distinctness - discerningthe-nature-of-things Titmouse! that she hath only a sharp and bitter tongue. In this woman behold a mother, and it may be that she will soften before you, who have plainly, as I hear, neither father nor mother. me!]
Titmouse trembled violently; his lips quivered; and the long pent-up tears forced their way at length over his eyelids, and fell fast down his cheeks.
"Ah, you may well cry!-you may! But it's too late!-it's my turn to cry now! Don't you think that I feel for my own flesh and blood, that is my six children? And isn't what's mine theirs? And aren't you keeping the fatherless out of their own? It's too bad of you—it is! and you know it is," continued Mrs Squallop, vehemently.
"They've got a mother to take care of them," Titmouse sobbed; "but there's been no one in the-the-world that cares a straw for me-this twenty -years!" He fairly wept aloud.
"Well, then, more's the pity for you. If you had, they wouldn't have let you make such a puppy of yourself —and at your landlady's expense, too. You know you're a fool," said Mrs Squallop, dropping her voice a little; for she was a MOTHER, after all, and she knew that what poor Titmouse had just stated was quite true. She tried hard to keep up the fire of her wrath,
by forcing into her thoughts every aggravating topic against Titmouse that she could think of: but it became every moment harder and harder to do so, for she was consciously softening rapidly towards the weeping and miserable object on whom she had been heaping such violent and bitter abuse. He was a great fool, to be sure; he was very fond of fine clothes-he knew no better he had, however, paid his rent well enough, till lately-he was a very quiet, well disposed lodger, for all she had known-he had given her youngest child a pear not long ago— Really, she thought, I may have gone a little too far.
"Come-it ain't no use crying in this way. It won't put money into your pocket, nor my rent into mine. You know you've wronged me, and I must be paid," she added, but in a still lower tone. She tried to cough away
a certain rising disagreeable sensation about her throat, that kept increasing ; for Titmouse, having turned his back to hide the extent of his emotions, seemed half choked with suppressed sobs.
"So you won't speak a word-not a word to the woman you've injured so much?" enquired Mrs Squallop, trying to assume a harsh tone, but her eyes were a little obstructed with tears.
"I-I-can't speak," sobbed Titmouse—“ I—I feel ready to dropevery body hates me"-here he paused; and for some moments neither spoke. "I've been kept on my legs the whole day about the town by Mr Tag-rag, and had no dinner. I-I-wish I was dead! I do!—you may take all I have
here it is"-continued Titmouse, with his foot pushing towards Mrs Squallop the old hair trunk that contained all his little finery-" I sha'n't want them much longer-for I'm turned out of my situation."
This was too much for Mrs Squallop, and she was obliged to wipe her full eyes with the corner of her apron, without saying a word. Her heart smote her for the misery she had inflicted on one who seemed quite broken down. Pity suddenly flew, fluttering his wingssoft dove!-into her heart, and put to flight in an instant all her enraged feelings. "Come, Mr Titmouse," said she, in quite an altered tone-"never mind me; I'm a plain-spoken woman enough, I dare say-and often say more than I mean-for I know I ain't
over particular when my blood's up but-I-I wouldn't hurt a hair of your head, poor chap!-for all I've said no, not for double the rent you owe me. Come! don't go on so, Mr Titmouse-what's the use? it's all quite -over-I'm so sorry-Lud! if I'd really thought"-she almost sobbed"you'd been so-so-why, I'd have waited till to-morrow night before I'd said a word. But, Mr Titmouse, since you haven't had any dinner, won't you have a mouthful of somethinga bit of bread and cheese?—I'll soon fetch you up a bit, and a drop of beer-we've just had it in for our suppers.
“No, thank you—I can't—I can't
"Oh, bother it, but you shall! I'll go down and fetch it up in half a minute, as sure as my name's Squallop!" And out of the room, and down stairs she bustled, glad of a moment to recover herself.
"Lord-a-mercy!" said she, on entering her room, to her eldest daugh. ter and a neighbour who had just come in to supper-and while she hastily cut a thick hunch of bread, and a good slice of cheese-" there I've been a rating that poor chap, up at the top room (my dandy lodger, you know,) like any thing-and I really don't think he's had a morsel of victuals in his belly this precious day; and I've made him cry, poor soul! as if his heart would break. Pour us out half a pint of that beer, Sally-a good half pint, mind!-I'm going to take it up stairs directly. I've gone a deal too far with him, I do think-but it's all of that nasty old Gripe-I've been wrong all the day through it! How I hate the sight of old Gripe!-What odious-looking people they do get to collect the rates and taxes, to be sure! -Poor chap," she continued, as she wiped out a plate with her apron, and put into it the bread and cheese, with a knife-" he offered me a chair when I went in, so uncommon civil-like, it took a good while before I could get myself into the humour to give it him as I wanted. And he's no father nor mother, (half of which has happened to you, Sal, and the rest will happen one of these days, you know!) and he's not such a very bad lodger, after all, though he does get a little behind-hand now and then, and though he turns out every Sunday
like a lord, poor fool-as my poor husband used to say, with a shining back and empty belly.'
"But that's no reason why honest people should be kept out of their own, to feed his pride," interposed her neighbour, a skinny old widow, who had never had chick nor child, and was always behind-hand with her own rent; but whose effects were not worth distraining upon. "I'd get hold of some of his fine crincum-crancums and gim-cracks, for security, like, if I were you. I would, indeed."
"Why-no, poor soul-I don't hardly like: he's a vain creature, and puts every thing he can on his back, to be sure; but he a'n't quite a rogue,
"Ah, ha, Mrs Squallop-you're such a simple soul!-Won't my fine gentleman make off with his finery after to-night?"
"Well, I shouldn't have thought it! To be sure he may! Really, there can't be much harm in asking him (in a kind way) to deposit one of his fine things with me, by way of security—that ring of his, you know -eh? Well, I'll try it," said Mrs Squallop, as she set off up stairs.
"I know what I should do, if he was a lodger of mine, that's all," said her visiter, (as Mrs Squallop quitted the room,) vexed to find their supper so considerably and unexpectedly diminished, especially as to the pot of porter, which she strongly suspected would not be replenished.
"There," said Mrs Squallop, setting down on the table what she had brought for Titmouse, "there's a bit of supper for you; and you're welcome to it, I'm sure, Mr Titmouse."
"Thank you, thank you-I can't eat," said he, casting, however, upon the victuals a hungry eye, which belied what he said, while in his heart he longed to be left alone with them for about three minutes.
"Come, don't be ashamed-fall to work-it's good wholesome victuals," said she, lifting the table near to the edge of the bed, on the side of which he was sitting, and taking up the two shillings lying on the table-" and capital beer, I warrant me; you'll sleep like a top after it."
"You're uncommon kind, Mrs Squallop; but I sha'n't get a wink of sleep to-night for thinking."
"Oh, bother your thinking! Let
me see you begin to eat a bit. Well, I suppose you don't like to eat and drink before me, so I'll go." [Here arose a sudden conflict in the good woman's mind, whether or not she would act on the suggestion which had been put into her head down stairs. She was on the point of yielding to the impulse of her own goodnatured, though coarse feelings; but at last-] "I-I-dare say, Mr Titmouse, you mean what's right and straightforward," she stammered.
"Yes, Mrs Squallop-you may keep those two shillings; they're the last farthing I have left in the whole world."
"No-hem! hem!-a-hem! I was just suddenly a thinking-now can't you guess, Mr Titmouse?"
"What, Mrs Squallop?" enquired Titmouse, meekly, but anxiously.
"Why-suppose now-if it were only to raise ten shillings with old Balls, round the corner, on one of those fine things of yours-your ring, say." [Titmouse's heart sunk within him.]
"Well, well-never minddon't fear," said Mrs Squallop, observing him suddenly turu pale again. "I-I only thought-but never mind! it don't signify-good-night! we can talk about that to-morrow-good-night -a good night's rest to you, Mr Titmouse!" and the next moment he heard her heavy step descending the stairs. Several minutes had elapsed before he could recover from the agitation into which he had been thrown by her last proposal; but within ten minutes of her quitting the room, there stood before him, on the table, an empty plate and jug.
The beast! the fat old toad!" thought he, the instant that he had finished masticating what had been supplied to him by real charity and good-nature," the vulgar wretch! -the nasty canting old hypocrite!I saw what she was driving at all the while! She had her eye on my ring! She'd have me pawn it at old Balls's-ha, ha!-Catch me! that's all!-Seven shillings a-week for this nasty hole!-I'll be bound I pay nearly half the rent of the whole house-the old cormorant!-out of what she gets from me! How I hate her! More than half my salary goes into her greasy pocket! Cuss me if I couldn't have kicked her down stairs -porter, bread and cheese, and all
while she was standing canting there! A snivelling old beldam!-Pawn my ring!!-Lord!!"-Here he began to undress. "Ha! I'm up to her; she'll be coming here to-morrow, with that devil Thumbscrew, to distrain, I'll be sworn. Well I'll take care of these, any how ;" and, kneeling down and unlocking his trunk, he took out of it his guard-chain, breast-pin, studs, and ring, carefully folded them up in paper, and depositing them in his trowsers' pockets, resolved that henceforth their nightly resting-place should be-under his pillow; while during the day they should accompany his person whithersoever he went. Next he bethought himself of the two or three important papers to which Mr Gammon had referred; and, with tremulous eagerness, read them over once or twice, but without being able to extract from them the slightest meaning. Then he folded them up in a half-sheet of writing-paper, which he proceeded to stitch carefully beneath the lining of his waistcoat: after which he blew out his slim candle, and with a heavy sigh got into bed. For some moments after he had blown out the candle did the image of it remain on his aching and excited retina; and just so long did the thoughts of ten thousand a-year dwell on his fancy, fading, however, quickly away amid the thickening gloom of doubts, and fears, and miseries, which oppressed him.— There he lies, stretched on his bed, a wretched figure, lying on his breast, his head buried beneath his feverish arms. Anon, he turns round upon his back, stretches his wearied limbs. to their uttermost, folds his arms on his breast, then buries them beneath the pillow, under his head. Now he turns on his right side, then on his left-presently he starts up, and with muttered curse shakes his little pillow, flinging it down angrily. He cannot sleep-he cannot rest - he cannot keep still. Bursting with irritability, he gets out of bed, and steps to the window, which opening wide, a slight gush of fresh air cools his hot face for a moment or two. His wearied eye looks upward and beholds the moon shining overhead in cold splendour, turning the clouds to gold as they flit past her, and shedding a softened lustre upon the tiled roofs and irregular chimneypots-the only objects visible
At that moment there happened to be also gazing at the same glorious object, but at some two hundred miles' distance from London, a somewhat different person, with very different feelings, and in very different circumstances. It was one of the angels of the earth-a pure hearted and very beautiful young woman; who, after a day of peaceful, innocent, and charitable employment, and having just quitted the piano, where her exquisite strains had soothed and delighted the feelings of her brother, harassed with political anxieties, had retired to her chamber for the night. A few moments before she was presented to the reader, she had extinguished her taper, and dismissed her maid without her having discharged more than half her accustomed duties-telling her that she should finish undressing by the light of the moon, which then poured her soft radiance into every corner of the spacious but old-fashioned chamber in which she sat. Then she drew her chair to the window-recess, and pushing open the window, sat before it, half undressed as she was, her head leaning on her hand, gazing upon the scenery before her with tranquil admiration. Silence reigned absolutely. Not a sound issued from the ancient groves, which spread far and wide on all sides of the fine old mansion in which she dwelt-solemn solitudes, nor yet less soothing than solemn! Was not the solitude enhanced by a glimpse she caught of a restless fawn, glancing in the distance across the avenue, as he silently changed the tree under which he slept? Then the gentle breeze would enter her window, laden with sweet scents of which he had just been rifling the coy flowers beneath, in their dewy repose, tended and petted during the day by her own delicate hand! Beautiful moon!-cold and chaste in thy skyey palace, studded with brilliant and innumerable gems, and shedding down thy rich and ten
der radiance upon this lovely seclusion -was there upon the whole earth a more exquisite countenance then turned towards thee than hers?- Wrap thy white robe, dearest Kate, closer round thy fair bosom, lest the amorous nightbreeze do thee hurt, for he groweth giddy with the sight of thy charms! Thy rich tresses, half-uncurled, are growing damp-so it is time that thy blue eyes should seek repose. Hie thee, then, to yon antique couch, with its quaint carvings and satin draperies dimly visible in the dusky shade, inviting thee to sleep: and having first bent in cheerful reverence before thy Maker-to bed!—to bed!-dear Kate, nothing disturbing thy serene thoughts, or agitating that beautiful bosom. Hush! hush! Now she sleeps.
It is well that thine eyes are closed in sleep; for, behold—see!—the brightness without is disappearing; sadness and gloom are settling on the face of nature; the tranquil night is changing her aspect; clouds are ga thering, winds are moaning; the moon is gone:-but sleep on, sweet Kate-sleep on, dreaming not of dark days before thee Oh, that thou couldst sleep on till the brightness returned!
After having stood thus leaning against the window for nearly half an hour, Titmouse, heavily sigling, returned to bed-but there he tossed about in wretched restlessness till nearly four o'clock in the morning. If he now and then sank into forgetfulness for a while, it was only to be harassed by the dreadful image of Mrs Squallop, shouting at him, tearing his hair, cuffing him, flinging a pot of porter in his face, opening his boxes, tossing his clothes about, taking out his invaluable ornaments; by Tag-rag kicking him out of the shop; and Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and Snap dashing past him in a fine carriage, with six horses, and paying no attention to him as he ran shouting and breathless after them; Huckaback following, kicking and pinching him behind. These were the few little bits of different-coloured glass in a mental kaleidoscope, which, turned capriciously round, produce those innumerable fantastic combinations out of the simple and ordinary events of the day, which we call dreams-tricks of the wild sisters Fancy, when sober