Abbildungen der Seite

Cuthbert; “I have heard nothing of it myself—and—eh—just give me that tumbler, Nubley; it quite upsets me—I don't understand—I—eh—eh dear.” “The fact is plain enough,” said Nubley; “some seven or eight millions of rupees are wanting to settle the affairs of the firm; and a certain number of men, women and children who, like yourself, are fond of high interest, are left to bite nothing but dust;-however, my dear friend, so long as I have a pice in my purse you shall never feel the effects of the blow.” “No,” said Cuthbert, “no–I thank you warmly—kindly— eh-but I don't see—eh—I am all quite bewildered—it is such a change—eh—such an alteration—dear me, I am very hot, Nubley—eh—and are you sure!” “Oh,” replied Nubley, “here are the letters and documents; the announcement of the fact to you was forwarded to me, because you either forgot or neglected to leave your address in the country—it has not reached you—the only question is, what you mean to do?—that's the way I'll work him.” “But what am I to do?” said Cuthbert; “what will Gilbert do—eh—dear me.” “Gilbert,” said Nubley, “oh he will do well enough—what makes you think of him?—he has offended you—he has driven you away—eh 4–1 wonder what he will say to that * “Yes,” said Cuthbert, “I have been driven away—eh—but still I never meant—but—what is to be done?—I—really.” “Tell your story to your great favourite here, Mrs. Brandyball,” said Nubley; “she is a woman of knowledge and experience, and, as you have confided your fate to her keeping, don't you see—eh 3–that's what I should recommend—of course after your marriage you will remain here—no need of running away for the honey-moon—eh 3–don't you know; and then keep quiet until we see what can be saved out of the ruins.” “Yes,” said Cuthbert; “but then—dear, dear-ring the bell, my dear Nubley, for Hutton—two pulls—eh—if it is not too much trouble—but this—really—and—eh.” And at the end of this flurry, poor Cuthbert sank back upon the sofa, and when Hutton came into the room and saw nothing above the back of the couch but the flowing curls with which his unhappy master had been decorated, since he last ..Quitted him, he hesitated as to what he was to do, and stood looking about him—

[ocr errors]

enor was it until Cuthbert's gentle and familiar bleat roused him to a sense of his duty, that he dared approach the young head which he beheld on my brother's old shoulders. “Some more eau de Cologne, Hutton,” said Cuthbert; “and —eh dear—where is Mrs. Brandyball—and Kitty—and—” “Yes,” said Nubley, “they may as well know the particulars as far as I have them—besides it will save me the trouble of telling my story twice over.” “You need not be alarmed about that,” said Mrs. Brandyball, entering the little cabinet with Kate; “you talk so loud, at least as it seems to us who are accustomed to Mr. Cuthbert's quietness, that we heard every word you said in the next room.” “And I'm sure nobody tried to listen,” said Kate; “and so,” continued the lady, “ something bad has happened 3” “Yes,” said Cuthbert, “yes—very bad—as Nubley tells me; eh—dear, dear—I—am ruined.” “I don't believe a word of it,” said the lady; “it is a trumped-up story—it is a plot got up to frighten you out of your marriage and reduce you to be a dependant upon your charming brother and excellent friend ; but the scheme will fail—I am quite aware of the attempt—but I tell you it will fail; for, even were it true as it is false, the change would make no change in me—to us, to me, and my dear Kate, should devolve the charge of cheering your existence and of providing the means of rendering you independent of the designing families at Blissfold.” - “Kind—amiable woman,” said Cuthbert. Kate made two tears, and placed herself on the footstool by “Pappy's" side, and kissed his hand. “Good—affectionate child,” said Cuthbert. Cunning fores—thought Nubley. “If it is a scheme, eh—dear, dear,” said Cuthbert to Nubley—“it is a very silly one—agitating me for no purpose.” “Scheme,” said Nubley; “no, no-I am rather too old to play off jokes—the fact is the fact.” “So you say,” said Kitty, pertly. Impudent, little mina—thought my friend. “My dear young lady,” said he, “I never say what I do not mean.” “No,” said Kate, who could not resist the temptation of being saucy, “on the contrary you always do say what you mean.” “Nor,” continued Nubley, “state that which I cannot prove; here is the letter which I have received from the late firm of

Chipps, Rice, Hiccory, and Co., giving a statement of their failure, with a schedule of their debts and credits, and the painful result; which, as I said before, will produce a pice in the pound, or something of that sort; but which benefit, according to the terms upon which my friend here left his property in the business, will not accrue to him, inasmuch as, on the contrary, it forms part of the assets which are to secure that advantage to others.” “Dear me, dear me,” said Cuthbert, and natural tears flowed down his furrowed cheek; “how thoughtless—ah—that's it—I left it all to Hiccory—he did as he liked.” “But, my dear Mr. Gurney,” said Mrs. Brandyball, “why should you distress yourself by telling the story; is it likely that such an event should have occurred and you not have been the first person made acquainted with it !” “Ah—that's true,” said Cuthbert; “eh Nubley.” Silly creature—thought my friend;—“ that’s easily accounted for,” said he ; “I obtained the first intelligence, because, as I told you, the letter which encloses one to you, was sent to my agents, by Hiccory, who, not knowing where you were in England, Wales, Scotland, or Ireland, begs me to forward it forth with—and here it is.” Saying which, he produced a packet directed to Cuthbert, the size and appearance of which produced a slight convulsive shudder on his emaciated frame. “Eh dear! dear!” said my poor brother—“I can’t read it—if what you say is true—it’s no matter what I read. Here, Kate—open it—read it for me.” “I’ll do it, my love,” said Brandyball, taking the despatch from the hand of her “ darling child.” “Read it yourself, Cuthbert,” muttered Nubley—“to trust affairs of such importance—to—eh 4” “I have perfect confidence,” said Cuthbert—“I have nosecrets—read—read it out.” Mrs. Brandyball, who, after all, was not much of a dab at reading manuscripts off-hand, and who soon became bewildered in a maze of mohurs, rupees (arcot and sicca,) pagodas, pice, fanams, and cowries, went through her work as steadily as could be expected, until she had finished the last pararaph, which referring to the “State, Schedule, and Account É. brought to her conviction the full and entire truth of every word that Nubley had said, and corroborated the fact that the amiable Cuthbert, instead of a creditor of the estate, had been converted into a responsible part of the firm, where he had since his departure figured as the “Co.” which was added to their “style” as soon as he had set sail from Saugar. “It’s all true enough,” said Mrs. Brandyball. “Poor, dear Mr. Gurney !” “Yes, yes,” said Cuthbert, throwing himself back on his sofa–“true—but,” added he, lifting himself gently up, assisted by Kate, who raised his head, “Providence is always good—this is a sad blow—but—it—has kindly afforded me consolation—eh dear! eh dear!” “How " said Nubley. “In these dear kind creatures near me,” said Cuthbert, half-sobbing—“they will take care of me—soothe me—ah : —I ought to be very grateful.” Poor old *—thought Nubley; “umph 1” “I have nobody to look to but them.” Nubley, with all his eccentricities, was a quick observer, and the expression of Mrs. Brandyball's countenance during the delivery of Cuthbert’s last bit of “recitative” was not lost upon him. “No, Mr. Gurney,” said the lady, when he had concluded, “Providence has raised you more and better friends than me, to whom the cherishing and solacing you under affliction will be equally a duty and a pleasure. Kindly as you think of me, I am not vain enough to suppose that my claims upon your affection can be superior to theirs.” “They are,” said Cuthbert; “I have told you so; I am pledged to you—and your own words, spoke to me a quarter of an hour ago—eh ! dear me!—they convince me—that— my opinion of your regard for me is not misplaced.” “No,” said Kate, who was, for some reasons best known to themselves, up to this period certainly attached to Mrs. Brandyball, and was too young to appreciate the sudden change in that lady's feelings, consequent upon the alteration of my brother's circumstances—“no, dear Pappy, that they are not; we will work for you, and do whatever we can for Ou. “It would be rather difficult, Miss Kate,” said Mrs. Brandyball, “to ascertain the manner in which, with your idleness of disposition and flightiness of character, you could contribute to the support of your father-in-law. However, we had better leave Mr. Nubley and Mr. Gurney together— they have really serious business to discuss—matters with which of course we can have nothing to do.” “Idleness and flightiness " said Kate, colouring crimson

** who made me idle?—who taught me to be flighty 1–If I am flighty and idle.” “Come, Miss Falwasser,” replied Brandyball, warming, “don’t answer me—I will suffer no pertness so long as you continue under my roof.” “Your roof!” exclaimed Kitty; “I’m sure Pappy 3 * “Be silent, Miss 1” interrupted the lady; “leave the room this moment.” “I sha’n’t, Ma'am,” answered the irritated girl. “Oh, my dear child,” said the placid, good-natured Cuthbert, “don’t speak in that way to Mrs. Brandyball—if you love me, dear, never treat her with disrespect.” “I want none of her respect,” said the lady; “I merely want decency of behaviour. And so long as you both stay here, I will take care not to be spoken sharply to by a pert, forward chit like Miss Kitty.” Saying which the irate lady bounced out of the room. “Go after her, Kate,” said Cuthbert—“go, there’s a dear.” “I’ll leave the room, Pappy,” said Kate, “because I will do all I can that you bid me—but I will not go near her.” And with these words, illustrated by a flood of tears, Kate, anxious to conceal her agitation, rushed out of the apartment. Whereupon Nubley, taking up the skirts of his coat, danced grotesquely round the room, to his own singing of an old country dance. Cuthbert opened his eyes to their full extent, and evidently thought him mad, and expressed as much in his astonished countenance. “That's it—that's it!” cried Nubley. “What?” asked Cuthbert. I shan't tell him yet, thought he, “Oh, nothing—nothing— only something: he's as blind as a bat—never mind.” Saying which, and being nearly breathless with his eccentric exertions, he threw himself into his chair, and completed the astonishment of his friend, by wishing him joy of the news from India. “Joy!” said Cuthbert. “Yes, joy,” repeated Nubley : “out of evil comes good. You are as innocent as a baby : this misfortune will prove your friends—eh, don't you see ? Not he.” Nor did he. The brief experience, which Nubley had already of Mrs. Brandyball's conduct during the ten minutes subsequent to her conviction that the history of Cuthbert’s

« ZurückWeiter »