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The only obstacle to the carrying out of the arrangement was Susan's determination not to leave Basil and Minnie Kindred. But why should not Basil Kindred and his daughter come as well ? asked Dan; there was plenty of room for them, and it would be such company. And after the lapse of a little time, the result that Dan wished for was accomplished, and Basil and Minnie and Susan were living with them. They were a very happy family. The parlour-window had been altered to allow more space for the bird-cages; and Dan, looking around sometimes upon the group of happy faces, would remark that it was almost like a romance.
And so indeed it was, notwithstanding that the scene was laid in the humblest of humble localities.
THE STRANGE COURSES OF LOVE.
PERHAPS one of the most absurd questions that could be put to a person would be to ask him how old he was when he was born. Yet the little old-men's faces possessed by some babies might furnish an excuse for such a question. The shrewd look, the cunning twinkle, the pinched nose, the peaked chin, the very wrinkles—you see
— them all, though the child be but a few weeks old. All the signs of worldly cunning and worldly wisdom are there, ready made, unbought by worldly experience; and as you look at them and wonder how old the little child-man really is, the object of your curiosity returns your look with scarcely less speculation in his eye than you have in yours. You are conscious that you are no match, except in physical strength, for the little fellow lying in his mother's lap or sprawling in his cradle; and a curious compound of pity and humiliation afflicts you in consequence.
Some such a child as this was Solomon Fewster
a before he attained to the dignity of boyhood ; his parents and their friends agreed in declaring that he was a cunning little fellow, a knowing little fellow; they would poke their fingers in the fat creases of his neck, and would sportively say, 'O, you cunning little rogue ! You knowing little rogue !' and he would crow and laugh, and endeavour to utter the words after them. He was so accustomed to the phrase, and grew to be so fond of it, that when he was old enough to understand its meaning, his chief desire seemed to be to prove himself worthy of it. It falls to the lot of but very few of us to compass our desires. Solomon Fewster was one of the fortunate exceptions. He was dubbed a cunning little rogue before he knew what such praise meant; and (could it be that he was unwilling to trade under false pretences ?) when he did know, he educated himself to deserve it, and succeeded. A small percentage of the old-men babies retain their old-men's looks as they grow to boyhood ; specimens of these can be seen any day in our courts and alleys. This was not the case with Solomon Fewster; as he grew, the old-man's look faded from his face, and the spirit of ' a cunning little rogue' took root in
his heart, and flourished there. His parents dying when he was a child, he was left to the charge of a bachelor uncle, an undertaker by trade, who adopted and educated him. When he was taken from school—where he was the cunningest boy of them all—he was initiated into the mysteries of the undertakering business; and when he was of age he was intrusted with a responsible position, and his uncle made a will, leaving everything to him. He proved himself an invaluable ally ; was grieved to the heart at the losses sustained by his uncle's customers; wept when he assisted at measurements; was broken-hearted when the clay was taken from the house; and sobbed with an almost utter prostration of spirit when he receipted the account, and signed Payment in Full. He entered heart and soul into the business, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Whether it was because he looked upon himself as the future master of the establishment, or because it was congenial to his nature, he strove by every means in his power to extend the connection; and being as acute and sensible as a man of double his age, his efforts were successful and the business flourished. Death was most obliging to him, and waited and fawned upon him at every step he took. If his spirits became depressed because
. trade was slack, a fortunate epidemic restored him to his usual cheerfulness, and orders poured in ; and it is no disparagement of him, as an undertaker, to state that he buried his friends and acquaintances with melancholy satisfaction. When he was twenty-three years of age his uncle died. He paid the old gentleman every possible mark of respect: had the coffin lined with white satin ; wept till his face was puffed ; entered the expense of the funeral in the ledger to the debit of the deceased, and wiped off the amount at once as a bad debt. Then he set to work vigorously upon his own account. He had his name painted over the door, and issued circulars to every house for miles round. In those circulars he announced that he undertook and conducted funerals cheaper than any other undertaker in London; said that one trial would prove the fact; and respectfully solicited the patronage of his friends and the public. His appeal was successful; his trade increased ; and Solomon Fewster was generally spoken of as a man on the high-road to prosperity.
When Solomon Fewster first saw Ellen, she was seventeen years of age, and he was seized with a sudden admiration for her pretty face and grace