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.life. Why, bless ye, it's the same tackle and the same fly that takes the big fish and the little one. It's no more trouble to make up to a duchess than a dairymaid. I'll pick a real white-handed one, you see if I don't. A wife that can move, uncle, cool and calm, and lofty, like an air balloon; wearing her dresses as if she was made for them, and her jewels as if she didn't know she'd got them on; looking as much at home in the Queen's drawing-room as she does in her own. That's my sort, and that's the sort I'll choose! Why, there's scores of 'em to be seen any afternoon in the Park. Never tell me I can't go in and take my pick. "Nothing venture, nothing have," they say. I ain't going to venture much. I don't see occasion for it, but I'll have what I want, you see if I won't, or I'll know the reason why.'
Whereon Bargrave, who considered womankind in general as an unnecessary evil, would reply
'Time enough, Tom, time enough. I haven't had much experience with the ladies myself, except as clients, you know. The less I see of 'em, I think, the more I like 'em. Better put it off a little, Tom. It can be done any day, my boy, when you've an hour to spare. 1 wouldn't be in a hurry if I was you. There's a fresh sample ticketed every year; and they're not like port wine, you must remember, they don't improve with keeping.'
Tom Ryfe had plenty of time to revolve his speculations, matrimonial and otherwise, during his journey to Ecclesfield Manor by one of those mid-day trains so irritating to through-passengers, which stop at intermediate stations, dropping brown-paper parcels, and taking up old women with baskets. He reviewed many little affairs of the heart in which he had lately been engaged, without, however, suffering his affections to involve themselves too deeply for speedy withdrawal. He reflected with great satisfaction on his own fastidious rejection of several suitable parties,' as he expressed it, who did not quite reach his standard of aristocratic perfection, remembering how Mrs. Blades,
the well-to-do widow, with fine eyes and a house in Duke Street, had fairly landed him but for that unfortunate dinner at which he detected her eating fish with a knife; how certain grated-looking needlemarks on Miss Glance's left forefinger had checked him just in time while in the act of kissing her hand; and how, on the very eve of a proposal to beautiful Constance De Courcy, whose manner, bearing, and appearance, no less than her name, denoted the extreme of refinement and high birth, he had sustained a shock, galvanic but salutary, from her artless exclamation, Oh my! whatever shall I do? If here isn't Pa!'
'No,' thought Tom, as he rolled on into the fair expanse of down country that lay for miles round Ecclesfield, 'I haven't found one yet quite up to the pattern I require. When I do I shall go in and win, that's all. I don't see why my chance shouldn't be as good as another's. I'm not such a badlooking chap when I'm dressed and my hair 's greased. I can do tricks with cards like winking. I can ride a bit, shoot a bit -'specially pigeons -dance a bit, and make love to 'em no end. I've got the gift of the gab, I know, and I stick at nothing. That's what the girls like, and that's what will pull me through when I find the one I want. Another station, and not there yet! What a slow train this is!'
It was a slow train, and Tom arriving at Ecclesfield, saw on the face of the servant who admitted him that he was too late. In addition to the solemn and mysterious hush that pervades a house in which the dead lie yet unburied, a feeling of horror, the result of some unlooked-for and additional calamity, seemed to predominate; and Tom was hardly surprised, however much he might be shocked, when the old butler gasped, in broken sentences, 'Seizure-last night-quite unconscious-all over this morning. Will you take some refreshment, sir, after your journey?'
Mr. Bruce had been dead a few hours-dead without time to set his house in order, without conscious
ness even to wish his child goodbye.
She came down to see Mr. Bargrave's clerk that afternoon, pale, calm, collected, beautiful, but stern and unbending under the sorrow against which her haughty nature rebelled. In a few words, referring te a memorandum the while, she gave him her directions for the funeral and its ceremonies; desired him to ascertain at once the state of her late father's affairs, the amount of a succession to which she believed herself entitled; begged he would return with full information that day fortnight; ordered luncheon for him in the dining-room; and so dismissed him as a bereaved queen might dismiss the humblest of her subjects.
Tom Ryfe, returning to London by the next train, thought he had never felt so small; and yet, was not this proud, sorrowing, and beautiful young damsel the ideal he had been seeking hitherto in vain? It is not too much to say that for twenty miles he positively hated her, striving fiercely against the influence, which yet he could not but acknowledge. In another twenty, his good opinion of his best friend Mr. Ryfe reasserted itself. He had seen something of the world, and possessed, moreover, a certain shallow acquaintance with human nature, not of the highest class, so he argued thus:
Women like what they are unaccustomed to. The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein makes love to a private soldier simply because she don't know what a private soldier is. This girl must have lived amongst a set of starched and stuck-up people who have not two ideas beyond themselves and their order. She has never so much as seen a smart, business-like, active fellow, ready to take all trouble off her hands, and make up her mind for her before she can turn round-young, too, and not so bad-looking, though I dare say she's used to good-looking chaps enough. The man's game who went in for Miss Bruce would be this: constant attention to her interests, supreme disregard for her feelings, and never to let her have
her own way for a moment. She'd be so utterly taken aback she'd give in without a fight. Why shouldn't I try my chance? It's a good spec. It must be a good spec. And yet, hang it! such a high-handed girl as that would suit me without a shilling. It dashed me a little at first; but I like that scornful way of hers I own. What eyes, too! and what hair! I wonder if I'm a fool. No; nothing's impossible; it's only difficult. What! London already? Ah! there's no place like town.'
The familiar gas-lamps, the roll of the cabs, the bustle in the streets, dispelled whatever shadows of mistrust in his own merits remained from Tom's reflections in the railway carriage; and long before he reached his uncle's house, he had made up his mind to go in,' as ho called it, for Miss Bruce, morally confident of winning, yet troubled with certain chilling misgivings, as fearing that this time he had really fallen in love.
Many and long, during the ensuing week, were the consultations between old Bargrave and his nephew as to the future prospects of the lady in question. Her father had died without a will. That fact seemed pretty evident, as he had often expressed his intention of preparing such an instrument, but had hitherto moved no further in the matter.
'Depend upon it, Tom,' said his uncle, that very evening over their port wine, he wouldn't go to anybody else. He was never much of a business-man, and he couldn't have disentangled his affairs sufliciently to make 'em clear, except to me. It's a sad pity for many reasons, but I'm just as sure there's no will as I am that my glass is empty. Help yourself, Tom, and pass the wine.'
'Then she takes as next of kin,' said Tom, thinking of Maud's dark eyes, and filling his glass. Here's her health!'
'By all means,' assented Bargrave. Her very good health, poor girl! But as to the succession I have my doubts; grave doubts. There's a trust, Tom. I looked over the deed while you were down there
to-day. It is so worded that a male heir might advance a prior claim. There is a male heir, a parson in Dorsetshire, not a likely man to give in without a fight. We'll look at it again to-morrow. If it reads as I think, I wouldn't give a pinch of snuff for the young lady's chance.'
Tom's face fell. 'Can't we fight it, uncle?' said he, stoutly, applying himself once more to the port; but Bargrave had drawn his silk handkerchief over his face, and was already fast asleep.
So uncle and nephew went into the trust-deed, morning after morning, arriving in its perusal at a conclusion adverse to Miss Bruce's interest; but then, as the younger man observed, 'the beauty of our English law is, that you can always fight a thing, even if you haven't a leg to stand on.'
It was almost time for Tom Ryfe's return journey to Ecclesfield, and a coat ordered for the express purpose of captivating Miss Bruce had actually come home, when the post brought him a little note from that lady, which afforded him, as such notes often do, an absurd and overweening joy. It was bordered with the deepest black, and ran as follows:
'DEAR SIR (dear sir,' thought Tom,'ah! that sounds much sweeter than plain sir')-I venture to trouble you with a commission in the nature of business. A packet, containing some diamond ornaments belonging to me, will be left by the jeweller at Mr. Bargrave's office to-morrow. Will you kindly bring it down with you to Ecclesfield? Yours, very obediently, MAUD BRUCE.'
Tom kissed the signature. Ho was very far gone already, and took care to be at the office in time to receive the diamonds. That boy was out of the way, of course! So Tom summoned the grimy Dorothea to his presence.
'I shall be busy for an hour,' said he; don't admit anybody unless he comes by appointment, except it's a man with a packet of jewellery. Take it in yourself, and bring it here at once. I've got to carry it down
with me to-night by the train. Do you understand?'
'Is it a long journey as you're a-goin', sir?' asked Dorothea. 'I should like to clean up a-bit while you was away.'
'Only to Bragford,' answered Tom; 'but I might not be back for a day or two. Mind about the parcel, though,' he added, in the exuberance of his spirits. The thing's valuable. It's for a young lady. It's jewels, Dorothea. It's diamonds!'
'Lor!' said Dorothea, going back to her scrubbing forthwith.
The jeweller, being dilatory, Tom had finished his letters before that artificer arrived, thus saving Dorothea all responsibility in the valuable packet confided to his charge, for Mr. Ryfe received it himself in the outer office, whither he had resorted in a fidget to compare a time-table with a railway map of England. He fretted to set off at once. He had finished his business he had nothing to do now but eat an early dinner at his uncle's, and so start by the afternoon train on the path of love, triumph, and success, leaving the boy, coerced by ghastly threats, to take charge of the office in his absence.
We have all seen a bird moulting, draggled, dirty, woe-begone, not to be recognized for the same bird, sleek and glossy in its holiday-suit of feathers, pruning its wing for a flight across the summer-sky. Even so different was the Dorothea of the unkempt hair, the soapy arms, the dingy apron, and the grimy face, from a gaudy damsel who emerged in the afternoon sun out of Mr. Bargrave's chambers, bright with all the colours of the rainbow, and scrupulously dressed, according to the extreme style of the last prevailing fashion but two.
She was a good-looking woman enough now that she had 'cleaned herself,' as she expressed it, but for a certain roughness of hair, coarseness of skin, and general redundancy of outline, despite of which drawbacks, however, she attracted many admiring glances from cab-drivers, omnibus-conductors, a precocious shoeblack, and the policeman on duty, as she tripped into Holborn,
and mingled with the living stream that flows unceasingly down that artery of London.
Dorothea seemed to know where she was going well enough, and yet the coarse, red cheek, turned pale while she approached her goal, though it was but a flashy, dirtylooking gin-shop, standing at a corner where two streets met.
colour rose though, higher than before, when a potboy, with a shock of red hair, and his shirt-sleeves rolled up to his shoulders, thus accosted her.
'You're just in time, miss; he'd 'a been off in a minit, but old Batters, he come in just now, and your young man stopped to take his share of another half-quartern.'
VERY married man who has been left for a while by his wife to keep house for himself has found himself in this dilemma:-if he really keeps house, it takes a great deal of time, and if he does not, he wastes a great deal of money. Amidst all the distractions of soap, soda, and sand-paper-things from the grocer to be locked up, and all sorts of things to be given out-we have sometimes thought of the poor prisoner in the Bastile, who found it the most trying of punishments to be compelled to answer one call every quarter of an hour.
The loss of only one penny a day -let our bachelor friends take warning-means that one whole sovereign, and another half-sovereign on the top of it, must be paid away extra at the end of the year.
Now suppose only one penny a day wasted in wood, three pennies a day in coals, two more in needless washing, two in soap, one in candles, two in gas-'But stop! stop! as to bread, meat, perquisites. Oh! horror upon horrors! we can imagine all.' Then, my friend, you will admit that if you tried to keep house after your own device, you would very easily find yourself a loser to the extent of fifty golden sovereigns by Christmas-day; and this you would forfeit as the price and penalty of enjoying your own boasted composure, and perhaps of indulging in reflections on your good wife's fussing and fidgeting, of which you thus learn the value.
Our readers will now be in a fair state of mind to go with us, if we say that the thousand and one little
AND SMALL ECONOMIES.
trifles incident to the varied comforts and luxuries of the present day are something serious; that there is a fret and worry in spending money as well as in getting it; that few persons but from dire necessity have the energy to keep sufficient watch on their shillings and their pence; and that ladies soon find themselves obliged to compound, by attending to the more weighty matters, and leaving the rest to take care of themselves, otherwise a lady's life would be harder than any servant's, 'and bubble, bubble, toil and trouble,' would be the tenour of the day.
Accordingly, tradesmen who 'live to please, and please to live,' have fallen into certain convenient ways of doing business, as if on purpose to save the lady and her household no small part of the distractions aforesaid. So the principle of agency, of division of labour, and of working by deputy has crept into modern household economy-and not before it was wanted-to reduce the detail of family duties to their lowest terms.
But now-a-days we decry a certain retrograde movement. Persons who little know the trouble they have been saved are taking exception to that principle, turning amateur shopkeepers, and think to save money by doing that for themselves which it has been long our custom to have done for us.
In some form or other, most persons have had just a taste and trial of this amateur trading, and will bear us witness that it rarely lasts long; and if we count the full value of time wasted and temper fretted,
we shall see that extreme necessity alone can recommend it; and agree with Dr. Primrose, the vicar of Wakefield, who slily observed of his daughters' ingenious schemes of economy, that he never could find that he lived for at all the less.
For instance, once we baked at home, whence fresh difficulties with cooks, extra fuel and barm-bread, sometimes sour and sometimes heavy, and grumbled about up-stairs and down-stairs all the week. After that we brewed at home, and were bound to drink, as well as eat, the faulty produce of our labour with more grumbling as aforesaid; and as to washing at home, with the house full of steam-disgust everywhere and comfort nowhere, exposed to all the peculation of the helps, ever busy at the table, however idle at the tub-all this results from one-sided calculations. We lose one way if we gain another, not considering that those who live by such work can make such employment well worth their while and ours too.
We admit that needy persons may reply, 'If only a little is saved, that little to us happens to be much.' Then you, and you only, are the persons to adopt such plans; so work for yourselves, and earn your own wages. Here lies the joint of the whole question of amateur trading, and of the Co-operative Stores, and the like. No one need pay extra for services or conveniences which he in particular does not want. No one need pay the extra profit of an agent or middleman, or West End dealer to bring City supplies to the very doors of Bayswater, when he does not mind the trouble of fetching and carrying and buying for himself. That a clerk with small salary should step aside with his flag-basket into Leadenhall Market and bargain, buy, and carry home fish, flesh, and fowl, or other City stores at City prices, is reasonable enough; but that a man of fortune should go out of his way to do the same, certainly does some to us to be setting a very small value on his time and comfort.
But what is the difference between the dealing of the ordinary West
VOL. XV.-NO. LXXXV.
End shops and the Co-operative Stores, and what reason is there to prefer the one to the other?
Some think to avoid a monopoly and high prices. But if any one believes that there is any combination or understanding as to prices at West End shops, he little knows the rivalry and the jealousies of money-making man. Think only of the cards and circulars, the application for custom, and even the fees to servants to secure the favours of new comers into a neighbourhood. Think of the many shops of the same kind, and new shops daily springing up, certainly not to combine, but in fierce opposition, to snatch the profits from the older houses. See the prices ticketed, the placards with mighty parade of cheapness, and every device to snap up a customer, or supplant a rival. How does all this agree with the idea of combination?
We are well informed that the profits of West End shops are low as they can be. Successful tradesmen are ever on the alert to secure
an opening to plant a son in business, always beginning with a profession of low prices. We are equally well informed that these sons, without great caution and industry, cannot pay their way, and that a bare ten per cent. on capital, all expenses paid, is the most that ordinary luck and industry can
No one but a tradesman can realize what competition is-how keen the strife, not only from selfinterest, but also from jealousy, which Sheridan justly said was the more active principle of the two. As little can we enter into a tradesman's anxiety for his credit sake, and for preserving in his neighbourhood that reputation on which his custom wholly depends. What is called the goodwill of a shop has, perhaps, cost him money, and may turn into ill-will any day merely from the angry gossip of two or three offended customers. A shop, like a bank, depends on the very breath of the public; and if once it gains a name for being dear or exorbitant, its connexion may melt away like snow. Add to this that the loss of only a