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tress--and--there was one cheering and redeeming hope in that-Iyes—I myself, with my paltry, trumpery independence, might relieve him from embarrassment and even poverty ; and, oh! how happy would Harriet be!-doubly happy, if that might happen, and we yet could rescue him from the besetting influence under which he was now labouring and we, with our small pittance, should show our generous feelings towards the man who, with the best natural disposition in the world, had been fascinated away from us, and taught almost to hate and despise us.
Hull saw by my countenance that something was passing in my mind.
“My dear friend,” said he, looking at me with his glass at his eye, “when I say Cuthbert is ruined, I don't mean to say that he will be a beggar, going about the streets holding out his hat for halfpence. Pooh! pooh! No:-I happen to know something about the matter. He may scrape a good deal out of the fire. I have known thousands of men-all intimate friends of my own—when I say thousands I mean two or three, who have smashed just like Chipp, Rice, and Hiccory, and yet, when everything was gone, there was always something left :-my dear friend don't tell me."
“ I was not thinking of that,” said I. My brother, so long as I have a guinea in the world, shall be welcome to half of it; but I am thinking rather of the new connexion with which he has got entangled at Bath.”
“I know,” said Hull, winking, diabolically, as I thought at the moment,“ Mother Brandyball—always call her mother-eh?—knew her husband intimately-nearly forty years older than her when they married-have danced her on my knee—and a beautiful babby she was."
Is it Ahasuerus or Methuselah ? said I to myself, marvelling to hear my excellent friend talk of having dandled the Gorgon Brandyball on his knee. Having played leap-frog with Doctor Johnson, or trundled a hoop with Sir Joseph Banks, would have been nothing to it.
“Never mind her," said Hull, we can talk of her another timeNubley is working there"
“ Why,” said I, opening my eyes to their extreme width in astonishment,“ how do you know that Nubley is there ?"
“How!” exclaimed Hull, with a crow of exultation," haven't I told you a hundred and fifty times that I have nothing in the world to do but to know everything?—besides, in this case I am rather interested.”
“In which case ?” said I,“ will Cuthbert suffer very seriously?”
“ My dear friend,” said Hull,“ that is at present a secret, or at least a doubt-nobody knows—at least very few-eh!- I am in it-besides, I am personally concerned--I have money depending."
This announcement certainly qualified my astonishment at his omniscience touching this particular business: however—as he no doubt meant it should-his intelligence had given an entirely new turn to my thoughts, and, in the midst of my apprehensions that a fall from our present position might be the result, and I did not think the chances against us much increased by the occurrence, seeing that I considered our fall settled by the Brandyball affair, I could not but feel an anticipation of the pleasure I should receive in proving to Cuthbert the sincerity and immutability of my affection, by offering him a share of my income, humble as it was.
· From Hull's manner I was convinced that he was sincere in his determination of not stopping to dine, but I begged him to stay for luncheon, in order that I might introduce him to Harriet, and, if I could secure his attendance, get my father-in-law to be of the party; not more for the purpose of enlivening my guest than to give him another triumph over my never-ending doubt as to the universality of his acquaintance. In this last attempt however I failed, Wells was absent-but my wife was made acquainted with my friend, and we sat down cosily, and I thought of other days.
“ Sweet spot, Ma’am, this,” said Hull; “in summer it must be lovely."
“ You have a very nice place of your own, Hull,” said I.
“Me !” exclaimed my friend ; " pooh! pooh!-a box--a band-boxgood garden-plenty of fruit-gooseberries-currants—but this !-pooh! it is Paradise !""
I could scarcely refrain from irritating my old friend into a vindication of his apple-crop, which I knew I could have elicited, but I was afraid of Harriet, who, having heard of his peculiar sensitiveness with regard to the “ bushels ” of that popular fruit which loaded the trees of his Tusculum, I restrained myself, I almost repented that I had, for, much to my alarm, (my better half being present,) Hull began to talk of Daly; and when he did talk, his delight being to show how intimately he was acquainted with everybody's business, he generally became more communicative than I had any desire he should be, touching my earlier acquaintance with my faithless friend.
“You have heard of Daly ?” said Hull, who ate no luncheon, and merely went through the motions for sociability's sake, which gave him the more time to talk—“ to be sure you have.” “ Yes,” said I, falteringly.
My dear friend, he is going to be married to a widow worth a million of money.”
I gave him a look which I wished him to understand, expressive-at least I meant it to be so— -of a desire not to touch upon the matrimonial part of Daly's history, for, although I concealed nothing from my Harriet of importance, and told her the truth, it might be that I did not tell her the whole truth, inasmuch as there were divers and sundry incidental circumstances which did not appear to me likely to increase her respect for my prudence, or elevate my friend Daly in her estimation. Hull, however, mistook the expression of my countenance, and evidently construed it into a sign of incredulity as to the amount, for the moment our eyes met he continued
“When I say a million, I mean twenty or thirty thousand poundsand quite enough too. Poor Emma eh!-you dog !-she hasn't been dead more than five or six months, but Daly very soon got into a new connexion. I suppose, Ma’am,” said Hull, looking at Harriet, “ you know all about that, eh?”
Harriet made an equivocal inclination of her head.
“ His versatility is curious,” continued Hull, who would talk, and would not eat; “ to think that he should have taken to that line
I was rather astounded, and said really ivquisitively,“What line ?"
“Oh, you dog!" said Hull, "you know-don't tell me-- he has got into what is called a connexion-in less than a week the whole thing was settled when he came to town he sold his book of travels in Tomfoodledoo, which he told me you had seen, to an eminent publisher -and was then asked to give a lecture upon the probable effect of a missionary expedition to the scene of his labours; he did it and the effect he produced was such that-don't tell me, he was invited to become the pastor of a flock of Independent Christians at Clapham-my dear friend, you'll find it fact-he got a three-and-sixpenny licence and started. Old Drone, of Hackney, lent him his pulpit—and Mrs. Waddlebom, the widow of a Wapping ship-chandler, took to him so stoutly, that in less than five days after she first heard him he won her heart.”
“Daly a preacher!” said I.
“Oh,” said Hull—" he-he-told you of Daly—such a man-macaroons--cows in cupboards, eh-dont you recollect, eh ?”
“No,” said I, “but you eat nothing
"Nothing !” exclaimed Hull—“I have eaten bushels--but I sayGilbert, d'ye remember the three legs of lamb and spinach-eh—don't you remeniber the French Count and the
“Yes,” said I, interrupting him in a tone not likely to encourage the style he had adopted—“but with respect to Daly how can he so suddenly have adopted this line—it is but a very short time ago
he down here, and then he had no idea certainly of taking to that style of exhibition.”
“My dear Ma'am,” said Hull, turning to my wife-"you know nothing of Gilbert's early friend, Daly-pooh! pooh! such a man !—I have known him carry home a bushel full of knockers and a bag full of bells, when he has dined with me—thousands of signs—Red Lions and Green Dragons—all the same to him—and the Cow and the-he-he-he!”
This was too much; it grew powerful and perilous- however, in order to save myself, I tried back upon our excellent friend's adoption of what might be called the clerical line.
“True,” said Hull, “ quite true-he preaches" “Well, but,” said I, “it is less than three weeks since he was here.” “ Versatility was always bis delight,” said Hull.
Versatility!” said I; “yes, but the versatility which can convert a man from an actor into a parson
“My dear friend,” said Hull, “ nothing so natural in the worldDaly was on his last legs-all gone—done, dished—what was left ?nothing but the Tabernacle, and there, under the especial protection of his puritan publisher, he succeeded—and I give you my word-all true -hey?--you will find him the happy husband of a woman with–I do not happen to know how much a-year.”
I was not particularly sorry to hear that Daly had fallen upon what Hull called his “last legs,” but I certainly did once again, begin to doubt the invariably correct history of Hull; and then I took a fancy into my head that he might have cherished the idea of takingif not to the church, to the conventicle, by finding my worthy father-in-law extremely comfortable, and carrying on the duties even of the establishment with an agreeable air of gaiety. What had hit him which could have
induced him to take to his present calling I certainly could not ascertain, but the visible result-I mean the captivation and capture of a rich and well-to-do widow-proved to me that, as far as worldly matters went, he had in a few days done much more than he or anybody else could have expected.
Having got this subject nearly over and out of the way, nobody can imagine the nervousness with which I was afflicted lest Hull should revert to the story of Daly's first wife—that was the point-and a point which, as I anticipated, he most particularly thought it wise to hit.
“What a nice girl Emma Haines was !" said Hull; Harriet looked strangely. 'Yes,"
" said I,“ very nice“Strange chance you were ever Mrs. Gilbert Gurney,” said Hull, chuckling ; “if it had not been for Daly's winning ways I never should have been here; odd-strange that—upon what little things great things turn-eh? my dear Ma'am, there he was all over head and ears in love-true-eh? I happen to know, when-pooh! pooh! don't tell me—Daly went and put his nose out of joint.”
“Well,” said I, with an affected indifference, “ Mrs. Gurney knows all that, for I have told her the whole history ; but his present position seems much more curious."
“ Curious !” said Hull, " there never was such a fellow. My dear friend, as I told you long ago—I happen to know-he is one of the cleverest dogs in the world; the moment the notion was given him of winning the widow, in one week he worked the scheme; and, I give you my word, that he is a preacher, and considered a good one, too, amongst the connexion. He is not slow in his movements--all touch and go; whether they are widows or not—eh?—you dog--he! he! he !"
I wished him at old Nick-my thoughts reverted to his early illtreament of me, and then thought of my letter and its contents, and began more to understand its bearings. The word connexion, which I had taken merely to refer to the expected marriage, I found to combine the spiritual connexion with some eccentric sect to which he had, pro hac vice, attached himself,
As for Harriet, never having been accustomed to the ways and manners of society like that in which my worthy Hull had been so long and so constantly in the habit of moving, she was extremely pleased and even astonished by his manner; for dear Hull was the most gentle and gallant of men when there were ladies present, and spoke of them kindly and justly when they were absent. He was a good creature, clever himself, and an admirer and appreciator of talent in others; but my wife had never seen what is called the world; and, although she could not exactly comprehend our visitor, she could not help wondering, and, to tell truth, his observations and remarks kept me, as I had anticipated, in a state of so much nervous excitement, that I was not sorry when Harriet left us, having taken leave of her new old acquaintance, with whom I proposed walking down to the inn, whence he was to mount his «
yellow and two," en route, to Portsmouth. “My dear friend,” said Hull, “ let me beg of you not to think of such a thing --me-take you out of your house--pooh! pooh !-no: stay where you are--I beg
“ I am going to the rectory,” said I. “I must have my walk, and
on our way you will, perhaps, tell me-for I was delighted you did not mention anything before Harriet of the Indian business-what you really think the result of my poor brother's misfortune or indiscretion will be.”
“I can tell you all I know here,” said Hull. “I think things are not so bad as they are represented ; and I happen to know that I can pick up undoubted intelligence at Portsmouth. I'll write to you from thence; but—now don't trouble yourself, my dear Gilbert, to walk. Mrs. Gurney is alone, and "
“No," said I," she is not; she has a young companion, and a younger one, too-she will be busy--and the weather is fine, and I want to see Mrs. Wells; so, come along."
“Upon my word,” said Hull, looking very serious--and it was surprising to see what a gloom he could throw into his joyous countenance “it vexes me
“Come along," said I, pushing my arm within his, and jocosely poking him along;
“ don't talk nonsense.” “ Nonsense,” said Hull; “ my dear friend, I don't talk nonsense ; I know that a man in your position must have a great many things to do -many affairs to look after-why should I break in upon you ?""
“Many things to do !” said I ; “I wish I had. I have nothing to do."
“My dear friend, why should you have anything to do ?” replied, or rather inquired, my extraordinary companion; "an independent man like you-don't tell me."
“ Well, then,” said I, “ if that be the case, and the position is an enviable one, which I assure you I do not acknowledge, what better use can I make of my time than in walking with you to the inn, where my appearance may, perhaps, have the effect of securing a pair of faster horses, and a more sprightly driver than you would otherwise get ?”
“My dear fellow, I don't want fast horses,” said Hull, evidently soured by my pertinacious attention to his comfort; “it makes no difference to me whether I get to Portsmouth at five, or six, or seven, or eight."
“ If that's the case, Hull,” said I, “ you might as well have stayed with us, and dined and slept.”
“Pooh! pooh!” answered he; "what I do want with sleep ? Now do return home. Mrs. Gurney will hate me for taking you away.”
“ Not she,” said I; and, upon a principle of opposition and contrariety, which might, perhaps, serve to illustrate the vileness of our nature, I resolved not to go back, because it appeared to me that Hull had some especial and particular reason for wishing me not to go on. This fallibility of humanity shows itself universally; nobody is ever satisfied by seeing other people having things all their own way; from the jealousies and bickerings at Court, or in the Cabinet, to the commonest struggle in the street, the spirit is the same. As the great English censor says, speaking of some ministerial rivalry,
" So, if some dirty urchin dares encroach