« ElőzőTovább »
Tag-rag was in a dire dilemma. He felt so flustered by the suddenness and seriousness of the thing, that he could not see his way plain in any direction. "Let me see," at length he stammered; and pulling a ready-reckoner out of his pocket, he affected to be consulting it, as if to ascertain merely the state of his banker's account, but really desiring a few moments' time to collect his thoughts. 'Twas in vain, however; nothing occurred to him; he saw no way of escape; his old friend the devil deserted him for a moment-supplied him with no ready lie. He must, he feared, cash up. "Well," said he "it certainly is rather unfortunate, just at this precise moment; but I'll step to the shop, and see how my ready-money matters stand. It sha'n't be a trifle, Mr Titmouse, that shall stand between us. But if I should be hard run-perhaps -eh? Would a five-pound note do?" “Why—a—a—if it wouldn't suit you to advance the ten".
"I dare say," interrupted Tag-rag, a trifle relieved, "I shall be able to accommodate you. Perhaps you'll step on to the shop presently, and then we can talk over matters. By the way, did you ever see any thing so odd? forgot the main thing; come and take your mutton with me at Clapham, next Sunday-my womankind will be quite delighted. Nay, 'tis their invitation-ha, ha!"
"You're very kind," replied Titmouse, colouring with pleasure. Here seemed the first pale primrose of the coming spring-an invitation to Satin Lodge.
"The kindness will be yours, Mr Titmouse. We shall be quite alone; have you all to ourselves; only me, my wife, and daughter-an only child, Mr Titmouse-such a child! She's really often said to me, I wonder'— but, I won't make you vain, eh? May I call it a fixture?"
"Pon my life, Mr Tag-rag, you're monstrous uncommon polite. It's true, I was going to dine with Mr Gammon".
"Oh! pho! (I mean no disrespect, mind!) he's only a bachelor-I've ladies in the case, and all that-eh, Mr Titmouse? and a young one." "Well-thank you, sir. Since your so pressing"
"That's it! An engagementSatin Lodge-for Sunday next," said Tag-rag, rising and looking at his
watch. "Time for me to be off. See you soon at the shop? Soon arrange that little matter of business, eh? You understand? Good-by! goodby!" and shaking Titmouse cordially by the hand, Tag-rag took his depart. ure. As he hurried on to his shop, he felt in a most painful perplexity about this loan of five pounds. It was truly like squeezing five drops of blood out of his heart. But what was to be done? Could he offend Titmouse? Where was he to stop, if he once began? Dare he ask for security? Suppose the whole affair should turn into smoke?
Now, consider the folly of Tag-rag. Here was he in all this terrible pucker about advancing five pounds on the strength of prospects and chances which he had deemed safe for adventuring his daughter upon-her, the only object on earth, (except money,) that he regarded with any thing like sincere affection. How was this? The splendour of the future possible good fortune of his daughter, might, perhaps, have dazzled and confused his perceptions. Then, again, that was a remote contingency; but this sudden appeal to his pocket-the demand of an immediate outlay and venturewas an instant pressure, and he felt it severely. Immediate profit and loss was every thing to Tag-rag. He was, in truth, a tradesman to his heart's core. If he could have seen the immediate quid pro quo-could have got, if only by way of earnest, as it were, a bit of poor Titmouse's heart, and locked it up in his desk, he would not have cared so much; it would have been a little in his line ;-but here was a FIVE-POUND NOTE going out forthwith, and nothing immediate, visible, palpable, replacing it. Oh! Titmouse had unconsciously pulled Tag-rag's very heart-strings!
Observe, discriminating reader, that there is all the difference in the world between a TRADESMAN and a MERCHANT; and, moreover, that it is not every tradesman that is a Tag-rag.
All these considerations combined to keep Tag-rag in a perfect fever of doubt and anxiety, which several hearty curses failed in effectually relieving. By the time, however, that Titmouse had made his appearance, with a sufficiently sheepish air, and was beginning to run the gauntlet of grinning contempt from the choice youths on each side of the shop, Tag-rag had determined on the course he should
pursue in the matter above referred
To the amazement and disgust of all present, Tag-rag bolted out of a little counting-house or side-room, hastened to meet Titmouse with outstretched hand and cordial speech, drew him into his little room, and shut the door. There Tag-rag informed his flurried young friend that he had made arrangements (with a little inconvenience, which signified nothing) for lending Titmouse five pounds.
"And, as life's uncertain, my dear Mr Titmouse," said Tag-rag, as Titmouse, with evident ecstasy, put the five-pound note into his pocket-"even between the dearest friends-eh? Understand? It's not you I fear, nor you me, because we've confidence in each other. But if any thing should happen, those we leave behind us"- -Here he took out of his desk an I. O. U. £5, ready drawn up and dated—“ a mere slip a word or two-is satisfaction to both of us."
"Oh yes, sir! yes, sir!-any thing!" said Titmouse; and hastily taking the pen proferred him, signed his name, on which Tag-rag felt a little relieved. Lutest ring was then summoned into the room, and then (not a little to his astonishment) addressed by his imperious employer. "Mr Lutestring, you will have the goodness to see that Mr Titmouse is treated by every person in my establishment with the utmost respect. Whoever treats this gentleman with the slightest disrespect, isn't any longer a servant of mine. D'ye hear me, Mr Lutestring?" added Tag-rag, sternly, observing a very significant glance of intense hatred which Lutestring directed towards Titmouse. "D'ye hear me, sir?"
"Oh, yes, sir! yes, sir!-your orders shall be attended to." And leaving the room, with a half-audible whistle of contempt, while a grin overspread his features, he had within five minutes filled the mind of every shopman in the establishment with feelings of mingled wonder, hatred, and fear towards Titmouse. What could have happened? What was Mr Tag-rag about? This was all of a piece with his rage at Lutestring the day before. "D--d Titmouse!" said or thought every one.
Titmouse, for the remainder of the day, felt, as may be imagined, but little at his ease; for-to say nothing of his insuperable repugnance to the discharge of any of his former duties; his uneasiness under the oppressive civilities of Mr Tag-rag; and the evident disgust towards him entertained by his companions ;-many most important considerations arising out of recent and coming events, were momentarily forcing themselves upon his attention. The first of these was his hair; for Heaven seemed to have suddenly given him the long-coveted means of changing its detested hue; and the next was-an eyeglass, without which, he had long felt his appearance and appointments to be painfully incomplete. Early in the afternoon, therefore, on the readily. admitted plea of important business, he obtained the permission of the obsequious Tag-rag to depart for the day; and instantly directed his steps to the well known shop of a fashionable perfumer and perruquier, in Bond Street-well known to those, at least, who were in the habit of glancing at the enticing advertisements in
the newspapers. Having watched
through the window till the coast was clear, (for he felt a natural delicacy in asking for a hair dye before people who could in an instant perceive his urgent occasion for it), he entered the shop, where a well-dressed gentleman was sitting behind the counter, reading. He was handsome; and his elaborately curled hair was of a heavenly black (so at least Titmouse considered it) that was better than a thousand printed advertisements of the celebrated fluid which formed the chief commodity there vended. Titmouse, with a little hesitation, asked this gentleman what was the price of their article "for turning light hair black"-and was answered-" only seven and sixpence for the smallersized bottle." One was in a twinkling placed upon the counter-where it lay like a miniature mummy, swathed, as it were, in manifold advertisements. "You'll find the fullest directions within, and testimonials from the highest nobility to the wonderful effi. cacy of the CYANOCHAITANTHROPO
* This fearful-looking word, I wish to inform my lady readers, is a monstrous amalgamation of three or four Greek words-denoting a fluid" that can render the human
"I should think so, sir," answered Titmouse, mournfully; "and do you really say, sir, that this what's-its-name turned yours of that beautiful black?"
"Think? 'Pon my honour, sir, certain; no mistake, I assure you! I was fretting myself into my grave about the colour of my hair! Why, sir, there was a nobleman in here (I don't like to mention names) the other day, with a head that seemed as if it had been dipped into water, and then powdered with brick dust; but-I assure you, the Cyanochaitanthropopoion was too much for it-it turned black in a very short time. You should have seen his lordship's ecstasy-[the speaker saw that Titmouse would swallow any thing; so he went on with a confident air]-and in a month's time he had married a beautiful woman, whom he had loved from a child, but who never would marry a man with such a head of hair."
"How long does it take to do all this, sir?" interrupted Titmouse, eagerly, with a beating heart.
"Sometimes two-sometimes three days. In four days' time, I'll answer for it, your most intimate friend would not know you. My wife did not know me for a long while, and wouldn't let me salute her-ha, ha!" Here another customer entered; and Titmouse, laying down the five-pound note he had squeezed out of Tag-rag, put the wonder-working phial into his pocket, and on receiving his change, departed, bursting with eagerness to try the
effects of the Cyanochaitanthropopoion. Within half an hour's time he might have been seen driving a hard bargain with a pawnbroker for a massive-looking eyeglass, which, as it hung suspended in the window, he had for months cast a longing eye upon; and he eventually purchased it (his eyesight, I need hardly say, was perfect) for only fifteen shillings. After taking a hearty dinner in a little dusky eatinghouse in Rupert Street, frequented by fashionable-looking foreigners, with splendid heads of curling hair and mustachios, he hastened home. Fortunately, he was undisturbed that evening. Having lit his candle, and locked his door, with tremulous fingers he opened the papers enveloping the lit tle phial; and glancing over their contents, got so inflamed with the numberless instances of its efficacy, detailed in brief but glowing terms— the Duke of *** the Countess of ***** *___ the Earl of, &c. &c. &c. &c.-the lovely Miss the celebrated Sir Little Bull's-eye, (who was so gratified that he allowed his name to be used)-all of whom, from having hair of the reddest possible description, were now possessed of ebon-hued locks"-that the cork was soon extracted from the bottle. Having turned up his coat cuffs, he commenced the application of the Cyanochaitanthropopoion, rubbing it into his hair, eyebrows, and whiskers, with all the energy he was capable of, for upwards of half-an-hour. Then he read over every syllable on the papers in which the phial had been wrapped; and about eleven o'clock, having given sundry curious glances at the glass, got into bed, full of exciting hopes and delightful anxieties concerning the success of the great experiment he was trying. He could not sleep for several hours. He dreamed a rapturous dream-that he bowed to a gentleman with coalblack hair, whom he fancied he had seen before-and suddenly discovered that he was only looking at himself in a glass!!This woke him. Up he jumped, and in a trice was standing before his little glass. Good God!
hair black." Whenever a barber or perfumer determines on trying to puff off some villanous imposition of this sort, strange to say, he goes to some starving scholar, and gives him half-a-crown to coin a word like the above, that shall be equally unintelligi ble and unpronounceable, and therefore attractive and popular.
NO. CCXCI. VOL. XLVII.
he almost dropped down dead! his hair was perfectly green-there could be no mistake about it. He stood staring in the glass in speechless horror, his eyes and mouth distended to their utmost, for several minutes. Then he threw himself on the bed, and felt fainting. Up he presently jumped again-rubbed his hair desperately and wildly about-again looked into the glass-there it was, rougher than before; but eyebrows, whiskers, and head-all were, if any thing, of a more vivid and brilliant green. Despair came over him. What had all his troubles been to this?-what was to become of him? He got into bed again, and burst into a perspiration. Two or three times he got in and out of bed, to look at himself again-on each occasion deriving only more terrible confirmation than before of the disaster that had befallen him. After lying still for some minutes, he got out of bed, and kneeling down, tried to pray; but it was in vain-and he rose half choked. It was plain he must have his head shaved, and wear a wig -that was making an old man of him at once. Getting more and more dis turbed in his mind, he dressed himself, half determined on starting off to Bond Street, and breaking every pane of glass in the shop window of the cruel impostor who had sold him the liquid that had so frightfully, disfigured him. As he stood thus irresolute, he heard the step of Mrs Squallop approaching his door, and recollected that he had ordered her to bring up his tea-kettle about that time. Having no time to take his clothes off, he thought the best thing he could do would be to pop into bed again, draw his nightcap down to his ears and eyebrows, pretend to be asleep, and, turning his back towards the door, have a chance of escaping the observation of his landlady. No sooner thought of than done. Into bed he jumped, and drew the clothes over him-not aware, however, that in his hurry he had left his legs, with boots and trousers on, exposed to view-an unusual spectacle to his landlady, who had, in fact, scarcely ever known him in bed at so late an hour before. He lay as still as a mouse. Mrs Squallop, after glancing at his legs, happening to direct her eyes towards the window, beheld a small phial, only half of whose dark contents were remaining
of course it was POISON. sudden fright she dropped the kettle, plucked the clothes off the trembling Titmouse, and cried out-❝ Oh, Mr Titmouse! Mr Titmouse! what have you been".
"Well, ma'am, what the devil do you mean? How dare you"—— commenced Titmouse, suddenly sitting up, and looking furiously at Mrs Squallop. A pretty figure he was. He had all his day-clothes on; a white cotton nightcap was drawn down to his very eyes, like a man going to be hanged; his face was very pale, and his whiskers were of a bright green colour.
"Lord a-mighty!" exclaimed Mrs Squallop, faintly, the moment that this strange apparition presented itself; and, sinking on the chair, she pointed with a dismayed air to the ominouslooking object standing on the window shelf. Titmouse from that supposed she had found it all out. "Wellisn't it a shame, Mrs Squallop?" said he, getting off the bed, and, plucking off his nightcap, exhibited the full extent of his misfortune. "What d'ye think of that!" he exclaimed, staring wildly at her. Mrs Squallop gave a faint shriek, turned her head aside, and motioned him away.
"I shall go mad-I shall
"Oh Lord!-oh Lord!" groaned Mrs Squallop, evidently expecting him to leap upon her. Presently, however, she a little recovered her presence of mind; and Titmouse, stuttering with fury, explained to her what had taken place. As he went on, Mrs Squallop became less and less able to control herself, and at length burst into a fit of convulsive laughter, and sat holding her hands to her fat shaking sides, as if she would have tumbled off her chair. Titmouse was almost on the point of striking her! At length, however, the fit went off; and, wiping her eyes, she expressed the greatest commiseration for him, and proposed to go down and fetch up some soft soap and flannel, and try what "a good hearty wash would do." Scarce sooner said than done-but, alas, in vain! Scrub, scrub-lather, lather, did they both; but, the instant the soap-suds were washed off, there was the head as green as ever!
"What am I to do, Mrs Squallop?" groaned Titmouse, having taken another look at himself in the glass.
"Why-really I'd be off to a police
office, and have 'em all taken up, if as how I was you."
"No-See if I don't take that bottle, and make the fellow that sold it me swallow what's left-and I'll smash in his shop front besides."
"Oh you won't-you musn't—not on no account! Stop at home a bit, and be quiet, it may go off with all this washing, in the course of the day. Soft soap is an uncommon strong thing for getting colours out-but-a -a-excuse me, Mr Titmouse-why wasn't you satisfied with the hair God Almighty had given you? D'ye think He didn't know a deal better than you what was best for you? I'm blest if I don't think this is a judgment on you." "What's the use of your standing preaching to me in this way, Mrs Squallop? Ain't I half mad without it Judgment or no judgmentit? where's the harm of my wanting black hair any more than black trousers? That ain't your own hair, Mrs Squallop-you're as grey as a badger underneath-I've often remarked it."
"I'll tell you what, Mr Himperance!" furiously exclaimed Mrs Squallop," you're a liar! And you deserve what you've got! It is a judgment, and I hope it will stick by you-so take that for your sauce, you vulgar fellow! Get rid of your green hair if you can! It's only carrot tops, instead of carrot roots-and some likes one, some the other-ha! ha! ha!"
"I'll tell you what, Mrs Squ"he commenced, but she had gone, having slammed to the door behind her with all her force; and Titmouse was left alone in a half frantic state, in which he continued for nearly two hours. Once again he read over the atrocious puffs which had overnight inflated him to such a degree, and he now saw that they were all lies. This is a sample of them :—
"This divine fluid (as it was enthusiastically styled to the inventor, by the lovely Duchess of Doodle) possesses the inestimable and astonishing quality of changing hair, of whatever colour, to a dazzling jet black; at the same time imparting to it a rich glossy appearance, which wonderfully contributes to the imposing tout ensemble presented by those who use it. That well known ornament of the circle of fashion, the young and lovely Mrs Fitzfrippery, owned to the proprietor that to this surprising fluid it was that
she was indebted for those unrivalled raven ringlets, which attracted the eyes of envying and admiring crowds," and so forth. A little farther on :"This exquisite effect is not in all cases produced instantaneously; much will of course depend (as the celebrated M. Dupuytren, of the Hotel Dieu, at Paris, informed the inventor) on the physical idiosyncracy of the party using it, with reference to the constituent particles of the colouring matter, constituting the fluid in the capillary vessels. Often a single application suffices to change the most hopeless-looking head of red hair to as deep a black; but, not unfrequently, the hair passes through intermediate shades and tints—all, however, ultimately settling into a deep and permanent black."
This passage not a little revived the drooping spirits of Titmouse. dentally, however, an asterisk at the last word in the above sentence, directed his eye to a note at the bottom of the page, printed in such minute type as baffled any but the strongest sight and most determined eye to read, and which said note was the following:
"Though cases do, undoubtedly, occasionally occur, in which the native inherent indestructible qualities of the hair defy all attempts at change or even modification, and resist even this potent remedy: of which, however, in all his experience" (the specific had been invented for about six months) "the inventor has known but very few instances." But to this exceedingly select class of unfortunate incurables, poor Titmouse entertained a dismal suspicion that he belonged.
"Look, sir! Look! Only look here what your stuff has done to my hair!" said Titmouse, on presenting himself soon after to the gentleman who had sold him the infernal liquid; and, taking off his hat, exposed his green hair. The gentleman, however, did not appear at all surprised, or discomposed. "Ah-yes! I see-I see. You're in the intermediate stage. It differs in different people."
"Differs, sir! I'm going mad! I look like a green monkey."
"In me, the colour was a strong yellow. But have you read the descriptions that are given in the wrapper?"