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SOMETHING TO MY ADVANTAGE.
A Story in One Chapter.
VOL. X.-NO. LX.
[F Miss Christina Smith will apply Rudge and Ffinch, 104, Legality Lane, she may hear of something to her advantage.'
I was busy packing a hamper of new-laid eggs to send to our cousins, the Smiths, of Westminster. There was something in the hamper, too, besides eggs. A fine fat turkey, a goose even yet more distinguished for fatness and fineness, and I forget how many pounds of fresh-churned butter. We were country SmithsSmiths famous for our produce of these things, which we had the idea were not so easily come by in West
minster. At all events, the Westminster Smiths, with whom our relationship was almost a tradition, for that branch of the family had long been settled there, and we of the country had not seen the town for two generations, while it was almost as long since Westminster had come down to Devonshirewell, I was going to say, that these unseen, unknown city cousins of ours-though at other times we heard little of them-always responded gratefully and speedily on receipt of the hampers, which twice in the year, for as long as I can remember, and a great deal longer, too, I dare say, it was the custom of us Devonshire Smiths to send them. There was the Midsummer hamper and the Christmas hamper. No matter what commonly filled the former, it was the Christmas hamper I was now packing, and its contents I have already told you.
The best and safest way of packing eggs is to wrap each one separately in paper, and as you put them in the hamper, to fill up the crevices with straw, or, better still, shreds of paper. Of all the hundreds I scnt, never was a single egg of my packing known to break on the long journey to Westminster, as our cousins testified with wondering admiration.
Well, I had just torn off a piece of newspaper wherewith to enfold the egg I had in my hand, when the paragraph I have already transcribed caught my eye, riveted my attention, and caused me to suspend operations entirely. Suspend operations!-it made me do worse than that-made me drop the egg in my hand, which immediately smashed on the floor. No matter, it was only the stone floor of the kitchen, where it would do no harm, though even had it been on the new Brussels carpet in the parlour, I don't think that I should have heeded it. My thoughts had flown far away beyond the consideration of eggs or of carpets, and, unlike Alnaschar, that unlucky downfall did not rouse me from the vision of my dream.
'Christina Smith'-that was my name, as it had been my mother's before me. There were many Smiths
in the world; in my own brief and narrow experience I knew of many who were nothing akin to us. But Christina, that name was unique in our village, and since my mother died, I did not believe there lived another Christina Smith either there or anywhere beyond it. In that case the paragraph must be addressed to me. But Messrs. Rudge and Ffinch, how should they ever have heard of me-poor little rustic me! Much more likely, it seemed, that I should have heard of them, eminent London attorneys, yet I never had. Their eminence was, by the way, pur et simple the gift of my own brain. Then, how should I get to these gentlemen? Apply in person,' the advertisement said. Here was I, living with Aunt Sarah, all by myself, nearly two hundred miles away from London, how should I manage to go there? I, who had never been out of my native Devonshire all my life. Yet, on the other hand, how, having heard of that something to my advantage, how could I keep away? With the wondrous, the infinite grace of the unknown, that something enchanted and dazzled my view. Did it mean wealth? and how much? Enough for my fancy to build, without the help of genii, a palace beautiful as Aladdin's. I had read with delight the Arabian Nights,' and they were always a ready book of reference for my daydreams.
Though I had never seen, of course I had dreamt of my fairy prince before now. I was nineteen years old. Eggs and poultry, the matter-of-fact realities of my every day life, the absolute seclusion of our pretty cottage home, embosomed in its shade of trees, none of these things had sufficed to shut out the vision. My prince was not, however, like my palace, after the copy of Aladdin. I had always rather objected to the tailor parentage of that hero, as well as a few other things. But the ideal prince would be sure to come to the ideal palace, and ideal happiness would follow in his train, not for myself only, but for everybody I loved.
Something to my advantage." Again I read the advertisement on