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“For having got from possum to posset,
I hesitated—so did Sniggs—he evidently wished to speak—I unquestionably wished to hear: whether he were to begin voluntarily, or whether I were to begin to induce or suggest seemed the only doubt; the worthy apothecary, in point of fact, not being aware that I had been in any degree made acquainted with even the outline of the case. Wells, seeing the natural embarrassment of the parties, one prepared to give and the other to receive an explanation, broke the ice, by observing to Sniggs that I was in possession of the fact that he had received a letter from Mrs. Brandyball, and was apprised of its contents. 46 §. said Sniggs, very deeply affected;—and the spontaneous tear, glistening in eyes which I had scarcely ever before seen except sparkling with mirth, affected me much. They tell us there exists a certain sympathy in our nature touching that particular organ which produces irritability in our own, when looking at irritation in that of another. Whatever the cause might be, I cannot stop to consider; I certainly felt that the sorrow I saw was sincere—I wished it had not been where it was—but I felt myself not entirely proof against its infection. “Mr. Gurney,” said Sniggs, “I am sure you have felt my conduct, in this affair with your brother and his family, not what it ought to have been—I know it—not a word is necessary to explain your sentiments: permit me therefore, to exculpate myself, and, if possible, reinstate myself in your good opinion by a candid disclosure of my position.” “Really,” said I, “I am not aware 39 “Yes, you are, Sir,” said Sniggs; “and if you are not, I am. From the moment I first had the pleasure of introducing myself to Ashmead I was kindly received here; and if some little prejudices existed against me professionally—my friend, Mr. Wells, will understand what I mean—I had every reason to be satisfied and gratified with the manner in which I was treated.” “Oh!” said I, “pray don't speak of that. I o “Yes,” said Sniggs, emphatically, “I must speak of it—I think of it—and I must speak my thoughts: I will, however, be brief—for I need not recapitulate the history of your brother's arrival, of his kindness with your own, of his confidence in my professional ability, of the illness of poor Tom"—and here, more to my surprise than before, Sniggs again faltered 11
—“ or his unfortunate death:—but—what I have done there I know seems—seems—poh–what do I mean by seems?—was extremely uncourteous, uncivil, and presuming—originated in nothing more than a feeling that I was responsible entirely on the score of that poor boy to Mr. Cuthbert—that, whatever was the reason—I did not stop to calculate or argue—I have nothing to do with family differences—he looked to me, me, personally about him—and I felt that I looked to him for whatever professional remuneration I might deserve—and therefore—I am candid—for I go the whole length of admitting my fault to a certain extent—I certainly did defer to him, as o immediate superior, to the neglect of those to whom I ought—'
“But,” said I, again interrupting him, “I assure you, my dear Sniggs—” (if Harriet had heard that)—“I require no explanation—I know no fault ** “No, Sir,” said Sniggs, “but you must have these explanations, else how could Istand justified before you in having in my possession this letter from that devil incarnate, Mrs. Brandyball !—I once hinted that I had heard something about her—that Mrs. Lillywhite, who used to live at the bow-windowed house at the corner of Caddle-street, knew her, and told me things about her—never mind that—the woman, Sir, if you recollect, with the crimson velvet bonnet and the green cock's-feather—ah, well !—but—I certainly did act upon what I thought were Mr. Cuthbert Gurney's instructions—and all that—but the letter—the letter 1"
“What letter 4” said I.
“You had better come to that at once,” said Wells; “I know Gilbert is perfectly prepared to give you credit for the best intentions, and make any allowance for certain extravagancies committed under a false impression—but the letter is the point.”
“Well, then,” said Sniggs, “perhaps that is best—that in fact will speak for itself—what's to come is, as you say, the point. The truth is this:—feeling myself bound to Mr. Cuthbert, and strengthened in that feeling by Mrs. Brandyball, I followed what I believed was the will of the old gentleman, and seconded, if you recollect, by your own wish that I should
o to him, became as it were transferred from you to him.
&#". me, as I said to Mrs. S., I would not offend Mr. Gilbert Gurney for mints of money—but his brother is so amiable !”
“Well,” said I, “but the letter 33
“Exactly so,” said Sniggs; “all I mean to say is, that I
thought in all I did I was doing for the best—and as to dividing families, my poor Mrs. TS. only thought that the young ladies were to be put under her care just because Mrs. Gilbert was not well enough to be about with them—and I am sure, if I were to die this minute—” “But, my dear Mr. Sniggs,” said Wells, “we admit all this —let the worst come to the worst—it was an error in judgment—you thought you were acting rightly—but the let
“That's it,” said Sniggs, whose extraordinary anxiety to make a favourable impression as to what had passed before the letter arrived, led him into the most fidgety prolixity imaginable—“yes, I declare to heaven—dear me!—only think : oh that infernal cherry-brandy —but then such kindness—I really—upon my word I feel too much—and then the hospitality—I wouldn't, I declare for all the world, have done— dear me—dear me—” “Well, then,” said I, “now, my dear friend—give me your hand, all that is forgotten; I see you are in earnest, I am sure your heart is in its proper place—all that affair is settled. I will meet your candour as candidly—I was annoyed—you have explained—and now we are quits, and as good friends as ever.’ “No, no,” said Sniggs, “we can't be—I have been wrong —but the letter”—saying which, he, to my great delight, as thinking it likely to be the finale of the conversation, drew it out of his pocket—“this letter opened my eyes—I saw, my dear Sir, I had been betrayed by that Hottentot of a woman —Dear me, Sir, there's no compassing her in body or mind— there it is—I tell you Sir, as to the effect this infernal letter has had upon my mental vision, tutty is a trifle to it.” “May I read it?” said I. - - - -. “Read it!” said Sniggs—“to be sure: why—why did I speak to our dear Rector about it else!” The letter was couched in these terms:–
“Dear Mr. Sniggs, The exercise of delicate attentions which you have so continuously evinced towards our inestimable friend Mr. Gurney, and the disinterested and ingenuous sympathy you have invariably exhibited in all his views and wishes, have excited in his generous and sensitive heart a respect for your character, and an affection for the attributes of your mind, which have formed the basis of a confidence such as he is not usually disposed to make.
“Encouraged by the exalted opinion he entertains of your qualities—mental, professional, and (may I use the word 3) cordial—I have ventured to write you a few lines expressive of his wishes—breathed to me in moments of entire and implicit reliance upon my affection and discretion—with regard to his relations at Ashmead. You, as he conceives, have been treated there in a manner scarcely correspondent with the exertions you have always made, not only for their good, in the way of medical attendance, but as a sociable and agreeable companion—and for your qualities in that character can I not myself vouch —and he thinks, from what dear Mrs. Sniggs has heard of the desire of Jane Falwasser to stay at Ashmead, in conjunction with the resolution of that odious Mr. Nubley to come here to-morrow, that Mrs. Gilbert Gurney has been using some undue influence to wean the affections of the child from a devoted parent—as in truth Mr. Cuthbert Gurney may be called. In short, he is prejudiced against his brother, and wonders that you yourself are blind to the manner in which, upon your own showing, in your letter of yesterday, they have behaved towards you, “Our object is, in case Jane should not return to-morrow with old Nubley, to get her away, coate qui coate, from Ashmead; and, that being the case, you are relied upon, as the means of accomplishing the removal. “Before I say more on this point, I must tell you, to drop all further mystery, that it is a great object to me to have the girl detached from the Gilbert Gurneys; and since I have seen how kindly you have fallen in with my views o to the present moment, and with the certainty that Mr. Cuthbert Gurney duly appreciates your merits, and is determined adequately to reward all your exertions, I think it right to tell you that on Thursday week I am to become his wife. “This is of course told you in the strictest confidence, and told you only to convince you of the reliance I have upon you, founded on your ready acquiescence in the suggestions I made when you were here. As to poor Tom, his death is nothing to lament—he was one of the worst-conditioned boys I ever saw ; but of that we must be silent, because he was a favourite with our dear friend. My present great object, I repeat, is to #: Jane away. I want no link nor connexion with them; and I also repeat that from the way in which you managed the earliér part of the affair, you are the man to do the rest. “The letter desiring Jane to come to her father-in-law will be of course directed to you, and will—forgive me for touching upon such matters—contain a check on Mr. Cuthbert's
banker for two hundred pounds; I told him he could not do less. You will enforce the child's removal, and I will take care that his letter shall be quite strong enough in the way of credentials.
“I am as yet not rich, but do not be angry with me for making this letter into a small packet, in order to give room for a pair of bracelets which I think will become the arms of dear Mrs. Sniggs: of course you will caution her as to mentioning to Jane for the present the source whence they come —a fortnight over, and it will matter little; and I assure you I feel a conscious satisfaction in making an alliance with a dear kind creature, whose happiness it will be my constant study to secure. .
“Miss Fatley Fubbs, and that good-natured Eliza Skillygalee—a darling of mine—whom you saw when you were here, are both gone, so that my school is broken up altogether. When you were with us, you did not at all comprehend what I meant about getting rid of my loves. I have now, to use a low expression, packed them all off, except one, poor dear Adelgitha Dumps, whose father is consul-general at Owyhee, and has left nobody in England to take her off my hands.
“Let me hear by return of post—direct to me—and remember me kindly to Mrs. Sniggs—mind she does not mention the bracelets. * “Yours truly,
“Well, Sir,” said Sniggs, when I had read the letter and thrown it down in disgust, “are you surprised now at the repentance, the contrition, the horror which have conduced to my disclosure of this conspiracy, and my detestation of the transaetion —I had fallen into the snare—I was acted upon by a certain degree of fear—I speak before friends—I was distracted—I was flattered—I might have been—nay, I was deceived—but to turn deceiver—no, Mr. Gurney—the moment the artful woman outwitted herself into a belief that she had
secured an accomplice in her plot, and endeavoured to press
me into her service against a gentleman who, before I had heard her name or seen her face, had treated me as you had done—the thing was at an end.” I cannot express how much I felt gratified at this declaration; I had always liked Sniggs, and had made no concealment from him of my prepossession in his favour, and I was vexed and uncomfortable when I found him ungrateful and insincere. He had now acquitted himself, and stood once more