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quent agitation, was the following advertisement.
"NEXT OF KIN-Important.-The next of kin, if any such there be, of Gabriel Tittlebat Titmouse, formerly of Whithaven, cordwainer, and who died somewhere about the year 1793, in London, may hear of something of the GREATEST POSSIBLE IMPORTANCE to himself, or herself, or themselves, by immediately communicating with Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, solicitors, Saffron Hill. No time is to be lost. 9th July 183-.-The third advertisement."
By George! Here is a go!" exclaimed Huckaback, almost as much flustered.
"We aren't dreaming, Hucky-are we?" enquired Titmouse, his eyes still glued to the newspaper.
No by George! Never was either of us fellows so precious wide awake in our lives before! that I'll answer for!" Titmouse sate still and silent, and turned very pale.
"Read it up, Huck!-Let's hear how it sounds, and then we shall believe it!"
Huckaback read it aloud.
"It sounds like something, don't it?" enquired Titmouse, his colour a little returning.
"Uncommon !-If this isn't something, then there's nothing in any thing any more!"
No!-now, do you really think so?" said Titmouse, seeking further confirmation than he had yet derived from his senses of sight and hearing.
"I do, by -! What a go it is! -Well, my poor old mother used to say, ‘depend on it, wonders never will cease;' and curse me, if she ever said a truer word!”
Titmouse again read over the advertisement; and then relighting his fragment of cigar, puffed earnestly, in silence, for some moments.
"Such things never happens to such a poor devil of a chap as me!" exclaimed Huckaback, with a sigh.
"What is in the wind, I wonder?" muttered Titmouse.
"Bo!-Is there any of 'em flush enough of money to do the thing? And how should they think it would ever come to be seen by you?—Then, besides, there isn't a chap among them that could come up to the composing a piece of composition like that—no, not for all a whole year's salary-there isn't by George!"
"Ah! I don't know," said Titmouse, doubtfully. "But-honour!___ do you really now think there's any thing in it?"
"I do hanged if I don't, Tit!” was the sententious answer.
"Tol de rol, de rol, de rol, de rol,diddl'em daddl'em -bough!" almost shouted Titmouse, jumping up, snapping his fingers, and dancing about in a wild ecstasy, which lasted for at least a minute.
Hucky," "If I am
"Give me your hand, said he, almost breathless. a made man-tol de rol, lol de rol, lol de rol, lo!-you see, Huck!—if I don't give you the handsomest breastpin you ever saw! No paste! real diamond!-Hurrah! I will, by jingo!"
Huckaback grasped and squeezed his hand. “We've always been friends, Tit-haven't we?" said he, affectionately.
"My room won't hold me to-night!" continued Titmouse; "I'm sure it won't. I feel as if I were swelling all
I'll walk the streets all night: I couldn't sleep a wink for the life of me. I'll walk about till the shop opens. Oh, faugh! how nasty! Confound the shop, and Dowlas, Tag-rag, (especially Tag-rag,) and every thing, and every body in it! Thirty-five pounds a-year! See if I won't spend as much in cigars the first month!"
"Cigars! Is that your go? Now, I should take lessons in boxing, to begin with. It's a deuced high thing, you may depend upon it, and you can't be fit company for swells without it, Tit!"
"Whatever you like, whatever you like, Hucky! I'm sorry to say it, but how precious lucky that my father and mother's dead, and that I'm an only child-too-ra-laddy, too-ra-laddy!" Here he took such a sudden leap, that I am ashamed to say he split his trowsers very awkwardly, and that sobered him for a moment, while they made arrangements for cobbling it up as well as might be, with a needle and
thread which Huckaback always had by him.
"We're rather jumping in the dark a-bit, aren't we, Tit?" enquired Huckaback, while his companion was repairing the breach. "Let's look what it all means-here it is." He read it all aloud again—" greatest possible importance"-what can it mean? Why the deuce couldn't they speak out plainly ?"
"What! in a newspaper? Lord, Hucky! how many Titmouses would start up on all sides, if there isn't some already! I wonder what 'greatest possible importance' can mean, now!"
"Some one's left you an awful lot of money, of course."
"It's too good to be true."
"Or you may have made a smite; you a'n't such a bad-looking fellow, when you're dressed as you are now.' Mr Titmouse was quite flustered with the mere supposition, and also looked as sheepish as his features could admit of.
"E-e-e-eh, Hucky! how ve-ry silly you are!" he simpered.
"Or you may be found out heir to some great property, and all that kind of thing. But when do you intend to go to Messrs What's-their-name? I say, the sooner the better. Come,
you've stitched them well enough, now; they'll hold you till you get home; but I'd take off my straps, if I was you. Why shouldn't we go to these gents now? Ah, here they are -Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, solicitors."
"I wonder if they're great ones? Did you ever hear of them before?"
"Haven't I! Their names is always in this same paper; they are continually getting people off out of all kinds of scrapes.
"But, my dear fellow Saffron Low that; low, 'pon my soul! Never was near it in life."
Hucky, I'm going back to business after this?"
"Suppose it all turns out moonshine."
"Lord, but I won't suppose it! It makes me sick to think of nothing coming of it!-Let's go off at once, and see what's to be done!"
So Huckaback put the newspaper in his pocket, blew out the candle, and the two started on their important errand. It was well that their means had been too limited to allow of their indulging to a greater extent than a glass of port-wine negus (that was the name under which they drank the "publican's port"-i. e. a decoction of oak bark, logwood shavings, and a little brandy) between them; otherwise, excited as were the feelings of each of them by the discovery of the evening, they must in all probability have been guilty of some piece of extravagance in the streets. As it was, they talked very loudly as they went along, and in a tone of conversation pitched a little too high for their present circumstances, however in unison it might be with the expected circumstances of one of them.
In due time they reached the residence of which they were in search. It was a large house, infinitely superior to all its dingy neighbours; and on a bright brass-plate, a yard long at least, and a foot wide, stood the aweinspiring words, " QUIRK, GAMMON, & SNAP, SOLICITORS."
"Now, Tit," whispered Huckaback, after they had paused for a second or two-"now for it-pluck up a sperrit -ring!"
"I-I-feel all of a sudden uncommon funky—I think that last cigar of yours wasn't
"Stuff, Tit-ring! ring away! Faint heart never wins!"
"Well, it must be done; so-here goes, at any rate!" and with a short nervous jerk he caused a startling clatter within, which was so distinctively audible without, that both of them instinctively hemmed, as if to drown the noise which was so much greater than they had expected. In a very few moments they heard some one undoing the fastenings of the door, and the gentlemen looked at one another with an expression of mingled expectation and apprehension. little old woman at length stood before them with a candle in her hand.
"Who are you?" she exclaimed, crustily.
"Is this Messrs-what is it, Huck? -Oh! Messrs Quirk & Co's. ?" enquired Titmouse, tapping the end of his cane against his chin, with a desperate effort to appear at his ease.
"Why, where are your eyes? I should think you might have seen what was wrote on this here plate-it's large enough, one could have thought, to be read by them as can read!" What's your business?"
"We want-Give us the paper, Hucky" he added, addressing his companion, who produced it in a moment; and Titmouse would have proceeded to possess the old woman of all his little heart, when she cut him short by saying, snappishly-" They aren't none on 'em in; nor never is on Sundays-so you'll just call to-morrow, if you wants 'em. What's your names?"
Mr Tittlebat Titmouse," answered that gentleman, with a very particular emphasis on every syllable.
"Mr Who?" exclaimed the old woman, opening her eyes, and raising her hand to the back of her ear. Mr Titmouse repeated his name more loudly and distinctly.
Tippetitippety !-what's that?" "No, no!" exclaimed Titmouse, peevishly Ꭹ ; "I said, Mr Tit-el-bat Titmouse!-Will that suit ?"
cious! if ever I heard such a name. Oh! I see!-you're making a fool of me! Get off, or I'll call a constable in. Get along with you, you couple of puppies! Is this the way
"I tell you," said Mr Huckaback, "that this gentleman's name is Mr Tittabat Titmouse; and you'd better take care what you're at, old woman, for we've come on business of wital consequence."
"I dare say it'll keep till to-mor
The friends consulted for a moment, and then Titmouse asked if he might go in and write a letter to Messrs Quirk?
“No,” said she; "how do I know who you are? There's a public-house close by, where you may write what you like, and bring it here, and they'll get it the first thing in the morning. So that's what you may take away with you!"-with which the complais ant old janitrix shut the door in their faces.
"Huck, I'm afraid there's nothing
in it," said Titmouse, despondingly, to his friend-both of them remaining rooted to the spot.
"Oudacious old toad!" muttered Huckaback, indignantly.
"If there was any thing in it," said Titmouse, with a deep sigh," they must have made a deal of talk about it in the house; and this old thing must have heard my name often enough. It ain't so common a name, is it?"
"I-I own I don't half like the looks of it," replied his friend, putting his newspaper into his pocket again; "but we'll try if we can't write a letter to sound 'em, and so far take the old creature's advice. Here's the public-house she told us of. Come, let's see what's to be done."
Titmouse, greatly depressed, followed his friend; and they soon provided themselves with two glasses of stout, and implements for writing. That they made good use of their time and materials, let the following epistle prove. It was their joint composition, and here is an exact copy of it: :
"To Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and Snap.
"Your Names being put in an Advertisement in this present Sunday Flash, Newspaper of to Day's Date, Mr T. T. begs to inform your respectable House I feel anxious to speak with them on this truly interesting subject, seeing it mentions the Name of Gabriel Tittlebat Titmouse, which two last Names of that Deceased Person my own name is, which I can any Day (as soon as possible) call and prove to you, by telling you the Same, truly. He being Engaged in Business during the week very close, (for the Present,) I hope that if they Have any thing particular to say to Him, they will write to Me without the least Delay, and please address T. T., at Dowlas and Co's, No. 375, Oxford Street, Post-Paid, which will ensure its being duly Taken In by my Employers, and
to do the Liberal Thing if any thing suitable Turns up of it.
("Sunday Evening, 9/7/183-. "Forgot to Say, I am the only Child of my Honoured Parents, who died; before I knew them in Lawful Wedloc, and was 27 last Birth Day, Never having Seen your Advertise ment till this Night, wh, if Necessary can prove.")
This perspicuous and truly elegant performance having been thrice subjected to the critical examination of the friends, was then folded up, and directed to "Messrs Quirk and Co.," a great straggling wet wafer having been first put upon it. It was safely deposited, a few minutes afterwards, with the old woman of the house, and then the two West-End gentlemen hastened away from that truly plebeian part of the town. Under four different gas-lights did they stop, take out the newspaper, and spell over the advertisement; by which ingenious processes they at length succeeded in satisfying themselves that there was something in it. They parted, however, with a considerable abatement of the excitement with which they had set out on their voyage of discovery.
day;" and thereby succeeded in satis-
Coming!" he shouted, turning as white as the cambric he held in his hands
Mr Titmouse did not, on reaching his room, take off and lay aside his precious Sunday apparel with his accustomed care and deliberation. On the contrary, he peeled them off, as it were, and threw himself on the bed as quickly as possible, in order that he might calmly revolve the immense event of the day in his mind, which it had agitated like a stone thrown into a stagnant pool by the road-side. Oh, how restless was he!-not more so could he have been had he lain be--which became suddenly cold and tween horse-hair sheets. He repeatedly got up and walked two or three steps, which were all that his room admitted of, and then sunk into bed again-but not to sleep, till four or five o'clock; having nevertheless to rise at half-past six, to resume his detested duties at Dowlas and Co's., whose shop he assisted in opening at seven o'clock, as usual. When he and his shopmates were sitting together at breakfast, he could not help letting out a little, vaguely and mysteriously, about "something that might happen in the course of the
clammy; while his heart went thump, thump, as he hastily exclaimed, to the astonished lady, "Excuse me, ma'am, if you please-Jones," to the shopman next him, "will you attend to this lady?" and he hastened whither he had been called, amidst a prevalent grin and "hem!" from his compa nions on each side, as he passed along the shop, till he reached a middleaged gentlemanly looking person, standing near the door, and bowed to him.
"Mr Titmouse?" enquired the stranger, blandly.
"The same, sir, at your service," replied Titmouse, trembling involuntarily all over. The stranger slightly inclined towards him, and-still more slightly-touched his hat; fixing on him, at the same time, an inquisitive penetrating eye that really abashed him.
"You left you favoured us by leaving a note at our office last night, addressed to Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and Snap ?" he enquired, lowering his voice to a whisper.
"Yes, sir, hoping it was no""Pray, Mr Titmouse, can we be alone for about five or ten minutes ?" "I-I-don't exactly know, here, sir; I'm afraid-against the rules of the house-but-I'll ask. Here is Mr Tag-rag.-May I step into the cloakroom with this gentleman for a few minutes, sir?" he continued, addressing his imperious employer, who, with a pen behind his right ear, his left hand in his breeches pocket, and his right hand impatiently tweedling about his watch seals, had followed Titmouse, on hearing him enquired for in the manner I have described, and stood at a yard or two's distance, eyeing the two with a fussy dissatisfied look, wondering what on earth any one could want with one of his young men.
As Mr Tag-rag will figure a little on my canvass by-and-by, I may as well here give the reader a slight sketch of that gentleman.
about fifty-two years old; a great tyrant in his little way; a compound of ignorance, selfishness, and conceit. He knew nothing on earth except the price of his goods, and how to make the most of his business. He was of middle size, with a tendency to corpulence; and almost invariably wore a black coat and waistcoat, a white neck-handkerchief very firmly tied, and grey trowsers. He had a dull, grey eye, with white eyelashes, and no eyebrows; a forehead that seemed ashamed of his face, it retreated so far and so abruptly back from it; his face was pretty deeply pitted with the smallpox; his nose-or rather semblance of a nose-consisted of two great nostrils looking at you-as it were, impudently-out of the middle of his face; there was a perfect level space from cheekbone to cheekbone; his whiskers, neatly and closely cut, came in points to each corner of his mouth, which was a very large, shape
“Why, sir,” answered Tag-rag, somewhat cowed by the calm and gentlemanly, but at the same time decisive manner of Mr Gammon—“it's really very inconvenient, and decidedly against the rules of the house, for any of my young men to be absent on business of their own during my business-hours; but- I supposewhat must be, must be-I'll give him ten minutes-and he'd better not stay longer," looking significantly first at his watch, and then at Titmouse. "It's only for the sake of the other young men, sir. In a large establishment like ours, we're obliged, you know, sir," &c., &c., &c., he added, in a low cringing tone, deprecatory of the contemptuous air with which he felt that Mr Gammon was regarding him. That gentleman, with a slight bow, and a supercilious smile, presently quitted the shop, accompanied by Titmouse.
"How far do you live from this place, Mr Titmouse?" he enquired as soon as they had got into the street.
"Not four minutes' walk, sir; but -hem!" he was flustered at the idea of showing so eminent a person into his wretched room- 66 Suppose we were to step into this tavern here, sir-I dare say they've a room at our service
"Pray, allow me to ask, Mr Titmouse,-have you any private papers family writings, or things of that sort, at your rooms?"
Titmouse seemed considering. "I-I think I have, sir-one or two-but they're of no consequence."
"Are you a judge, Mr Titmouse?" enquired Mr Gammon, with a smile; "pray let us, my dear sir, at once to your rooms-time is very short and valuable. I should vastly like to look