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nothing to do with it."

" But you married for love, Alaric."



18 THE THEEE CLERKS.

" My marriage was not a very prudent one,
and sliould not be taken as an example. And
then I did get some fortune with my wife ; and
what is more, I was not so fearfully in want of
it as you are."

Charley acknowledged the truth of this, said
that he would think of the matrimonial project,
and promised, at any rate, to call on Clementina
on an early occasion. He had already made her
acquaintance, had already danced with her, and
certainly could not take upon himself to deny
that she was a " doosed fine girl."

But Charley had reasons of his own, reasons
which he could not make known to Alaric,
for not thinking much of, or trusting much
to. Miss Golightly's fortu.ne. In the first place,
he regarded marriage on such a grand scale
as that now suggested, as a ceremony which
must take a long time to adjust; the vfooing
of a lady with so many charms could not be
carried on as might be the wooing of a cham-
bermaid or a farmer's daughter. It must take
months at least to conciliate the friends of so
rich an heiress, and months at the end of them
to prepare the wedding gala. But Charley could
not wait for months ; before one month was over
he would probably be laid up in some vile limbo,
an unfortunate poor prisoner at the suit of an
iron-hearted tailor.

At this very moment of Alaric' s proposition,



THE HON. MRS. VAL AND MISS GOLIGHTLY. 19

at tliis instant wlien lie found himself talking

witli so nincli coolne.=;s of the exneclience or in-

J.

expedience of appropriating to his own purpose
a slight trifle of 20,000/., he was in dh^e strait
as to money difficulties.

He had lately, that is within the last twelve-
months, made acquaintance with an interesting
gentleman named Jabesli M*^Euen. Mr. Jabesh
M*^Euen was in the habit of relieving the dis-
tresses of such impoverished young gentlemen as
Charley Tudor; and though he did this with
every assurance of philanthropic regard, though
in doing so he only made one stipulation, '' pray
be j)unctual, Mr. Tudor, now pray do be punctual,
sir, and you may always count on me," never-
theless in spite of all his goodness Mr. M*^Euen's
young friends seldom continued to hold their
heads well up over the world's waters.

On the morning after this conversation with
Alaric, Charley intended to call on his esteemed
old friend. Many were the morning calls he
did make ; many were the weary, useless, aimless
walks which he took to that little street at the
back of Mecklenburg Square, with the fond hope
of getting some rehef from Mr. M'^Euen ; and
many also were the calls, the return visits, as it
were, which Mr. M*^Euen made at the Internal
Navigation, and numerous were the whispers
which he would there whis23er into the ears of the
young clerk, Mr. Snape the while sitting by, with



20 THE THREE CLERKS.

a sweet miconscious look, as though he firmly ,
believed Mr. M^^Ruen to be Charley's maternal
Tincle.

And then too Charley had other difficulties,
which in his mind presented great obstacles to
the Grolightly scheme, though Ala^ric would have
thought little of them, and TJndy nothing. What
was he to do with his Norfi)lk Street lady, his
bar-maid liouri, his Norali Greraghty, to v\^hom
he had sworn all manner . of undying love, and
for whom in some sort of fashion he really had
an affection. And Norah was not a light-of-love
whom it was as easy to lay down as to pick up.
Charlev had sworn to love her, and she had
sworn to love Charley, and to give her her due
she had kept her v/ord to him. Though her life
rendered necessary a sort of daily or rather
nightly flirtation v/ith various male comers — as
indeed for the matter of that did also the life of
Miss Clementina G-olightly — yet she had in her
way been true to her lover. She had been true
to him, and Charley did not doubt her, and in a
sort of low way respected her; though it was
but a dissipated and debauched respect. There
had even been talk between them of marriasre,
and v/ho can say what in his softer moments,
when his brain had been too weak or the toddy
too strong, Charley may not have promised.

And there was yet another objection to Miss
Golightly ; one even more difficult of mention,



THE HON. MRS. VAL AND MISS GOLIGHTLY. 21

one on which Charley felt hhnself more absolutely
constrained to silence than even either of the
other two. He was sufficiently disinclined to
speak to his cousin Alaric as to the merits either
of Mr. Jabesh M*^Euen or of Miss Geraghty,
but he could have been eloquent on either rather
than whisper a word as to the third person who
stood between him and the 20,000/.

The school in which Charley now lived, that
of the infernal nav^des„had taught him to laugh
at romance ; but it had not been so successful in
quelling the early feelings of his youth, in drying
up the fountains of poetry within him, as had
been the case with his cousin, in that other
school in which he had' been a scholar. Charley
was a dissipated, dissolute rake, and in some
sense had degraded himself; but he had still
this chance of safety on his side, that he himself
reprobated his o'>vn sins. He dreamt of other
things and a better hfe. He made visions to
himself of a sweet home, and a sweeter, sweetest,
lovely wife ; a love v/hose hair should not be
redolent of smoke, nor her hands reeking with
gin, nor her services at the demand of every
libertine who wanted a screw of tobacco, or a
glass of " cold without."

He had made such a vision to himself, and the
angel with which he had filled it v/as not a
creature of his imam nation. She who v^as to reimi
in this ethereal paradise, this liappy home, fj



al a:?



*.



22 THE THREE CLERKS.

tlie poles away from Norfolk Street, was a living
being in the sublunar globe, present sometimes
to Charley's eyes, and now so often present to his
thoughts ; and yet she was but a child, and as
ignorant that she had even touched a lover's heart
by her childish charms as though she had been
a baby.

After all, even on Charley's part, it was but a
vision. He never really thought that his young
inamorata would or could be to him a real true
heart's companion, returning his love with the
double love of a woman, watching his health,
curing his vices, and making the sweet things of
the world a living reality around him. This
love of his was but a vision, but not the less on
that account did it interfere with his cousin
Alaric's proposition in reference to Miss Clemen-
tina Grolightly.

That other love also, that squalid love of his,
was in truth no vision — was a stern, palpable
reality, very difficult to get rid of, and one which
he often thought to himself, would very pro-
bably swallow up that other love, and drive his
sweet dream far away into utter darkness and
dim chaotic space.

But at any rate it was clear that there was no
room in his heart for the beauteous Clementina,
" doosed fine girl" as she undoubtedly was, and
serviceable as the 20,000/. most certainly would
have been.



CHAPTER II.

A DAY WITH ONE OF THE NAVVIES. MORNING.

On tlie morning after liis conversation with
Alaric, Charley left liis lodgings with a heavy
heart and wended his w^ay tow^ards Mecklenburg
Square. Now this w^as a very circuitous route
by which to reach his office, seeing that he still
lodged in Davies Street with Harry Norman.
But not on this account did he leave home earlier
than usual ; in the first place, as he never went
to bed very early, he did. not find it practicable to
get up sooner than was absolutely necessary; then
he considered that it Avas higlily inexpedient that
Norman should suspect that he had any such
calls to make as these, wdiich so frequently took
him away, and therefore he alw^ays managed to
let his companion start before him ; and lastly,
why should he trouble himself to go early, when
it was so very easy to make any excuse to ]\Ir.
Snape ?

At about half-past nine therefore, Charley
started for Mecklenburg Square. At the corner
of Davies Street he got an omnibus, w^liich for
fourpence took him to one of the little alleys near



24 THE THREE CLERKS.

Gray's Inn, and tliere lie got down, and threading
tlie well-known locality, tlirougli Bedford Place
and across Theobald's Row, soon found himself
at the door of his generous patron. Oh ! how
he hated the house ; how he hated the blear-eyed,
cross-grained, dirty, impudent, fish-fag of an old
woman who opened the door for him ; how he
hated Mr. Jabesh M'^Ruen, to whom he now
came a supplicant for assistance, and how, above
all, he hated himself for being there.

He was shown into Mr. M'^Ruen's little front
parlour, where he had to wait for fifteen minutes,
while his patron made such a breakfast as gene-
rally falls to the lot of such men. We can ima-
gine the rancid butter, the stale befingered bread,
the ha'porth of sky-blue milk, the tea innocent
of China's wrongs — and the soiled cloth. Mr.
M*^Ruen always did keep Charley waiting fifteen
minutes, and so he was no v/liit surprised ; the
doing so was a part of the tremendous interest
which the wretched old usurer received for his
driblets of money.

There was not a bit of furniture in the room
on which Charley had not speculated till specu-
lation could go no further. The old escritoire
or secretaire which Mr. M^^Ruen always opened
the moment he came into the room ; the rickety
Pembroke table, covered with dirty papers which
stood in the middle of it ; the horse-hair-bottomed
chairs, on which Charley declined to sit down,



MORNING. 25

unless lie liad on liis tliickest winter trousers, so
perpendicular had become some atoms on the sur-
face, which, when new, had no doubt been hori-
zontal ; the ornaments (!) on the chimney, broken
bits of filthy crockery, full of whisps of paper,
with a china duck without a tail, and a dog to
correspond without a head. The pictures against
the wall, with their tarnished, dingy frames, and
cracked glasses, representing three of the seasons ;
how the fourth had gone before its time to its
final bourne by an unhappy chance, Mr. M*^Euen
had once explained to Charley, while endeavouring
to make his young customer take the other three
as good value for 7/. 10^. in arranging a little
transaction, the total amount of Avhich did not
exceed 15/.

In that instance, however, Charley, who had
already dabbled somewhat deeply in dressing-
cases, utterly refused to trade in the articles pro-
duced.

Charley stood with his back to the dog and
duck, facing Winter, with Spring on his right and
Autumn on his left ; it was well that Summer was
gone, no summer could have shed light on that
miserable chamber. He knew that he would
have to wait and was not therefore impatient,
and at the end of fifteen minutes Mr. M*^Euen
shuffled into the room in his slippers.

He was a little man with thin gray hair, which
stood upright from his narrow head — what his

VOL. II. c



26 THE THREE CLERKS.

age might liave been it was impossible to guess ;
lie was wizened, and dry, and gray; but still active
enough on his legs when he had exchanged his
shppers for his shoes ; and as keen in all his
senses as though years could never tell against
him.

He always wore round his neck a stiff- starched
deep white handkerchief, not fastened with a
bow in front, tile ends being tucked in so as to
be invisible. This cravat not only covered his
throat but his chin also, so that his head seemed
to grow forth from it, without the aid of any
neck ; and he had a trick of turning his face
round within it, an inch or two to the right or
to the left, in a manner which seemed to indicate
that his cranium was loose and might be re-
moved at pleasure.

He shuffled into the room where Charley was
standmg, with little short quick steps, and put-
ting out his hand just touched that of his cus-
tomer, by way of going through the usual process
of greeting.

Some short statement must be made of Char-
ley's money dealings with Mr. M'Euen up to
this period. About two years back a tailor had
an over-due bill of his for 20/. of which he was
ujiable to obtain payment, and being unwilling
to go to law, or perhaps being himself in Mr.
M^'Euen's power, he passed this bill to that
worthy gentleman — what amount of consideration



MORNING. 27

he got for it, it matters not now to inquire;
Mr. M^Euen very shortly afterwards presented
himself at the Internal xNTavigation, and intro-
duced himself to om* hero. He did this Avith
none of the over-bearing harshness of the ordinary
dun, or the short caustic decision of a creditor
determined to resort to the utmost severity of the
law. He turned his head about and smiled and
just showed the end of the bill peeping out from
among a parcel of others, begged Mr. Tudor to
be punctual, he would only ask him to be punctual
and would in such case do anything for him, and
ended his ^dsit by making an appointment to
meet Charley in the httle street behind Meclden-
burg Square. Charley kept his appointment and
came away from Mr. M*^Euen's with a well-con-
tented mind. He had, it is true, left 5/. behind
him, and had also left the bill, still enthe ; but
he had obtained. a promise of unlimited assistance
from the good-natui'ed gentleman, and had also
received instructions how he was to get a brother
clerk to draw a bill, how he was to accept it
himself, and how his patron was to cliscomit it
for him, paying him real gold out of the Bank
of England in exchange for his worthless signa-
ture.

Charley stept lighter on the ground as he left
Mr. M^Euen's house, on that eventful morning,
than he had done for many a day. There was
something delightfal m the feeling that he could

c .2



28 THE THREE CLERKS.

make money of his name in this way, as great
bankers do of theirs, by putting it at the bottom
of a scrap of paper. He experienced a sort of
pride too in having achieved so respectable a posi-
tion in the race of ruin which he was running, as
to have dealings with a bill-discounter. He felt
that he was putting himself on a par with great
men and rising above the low level of the infernal
navvies. Mr. M'^Ruen had pulled a bill out of
the heap of bills which he always carried in his
huge pocket-book, and shown to Charley the
name of an impoverished Irish peer on the back
of it ; and the sight of that name had made
Charley quite in love with ruin. He already felt
that he was almost hand- and- glove with Lord
Mount-Coffeehouse ; for it was a descendant of
the nobleman so celebrated in song. — '' Only be
punctual, Mr. Tudor ; only be punctual, and I
will do anything for you," Mr. M'Euen had
said, as Charley left the house ; Charley however
never had been punctual, and yet his dealings
with Mr. M'^Euen had gone on from that day to
this. What absolute money he had ever received
into his hand he could not now have said, but it
was very little, probably not amounting in all to
50/. Yet he had already paid during the two
years more than double that sum to this sharp-
clawed vulture, and still owed him the amounts
of more bills than he could number. Indeed he
had kept no account of these double-fanged little



"» MORNING. 29

documents ; he liad signed tliem whenever told to
do so, and had even been so preposterously foolish
as to sign them in blank. All he knew was that
at the beginning of every quarter Mr. M*^Ruen
got nearly the half of his little modicum of salary,
and that towards the middle of it he usually con-
trived to obtain an advance of some small, some
very small sum, and that when doing so he always
put his hand to a fresh bit of paper.

He was beginning to be heartily sick of the
bill-discounter. His intimacy w^ith the lord had
not yet commenced ; nor had he experienced any
of the delights which he had expected to accrue
to him from the higher tone of extravagance in
wdiich he entered when he made Mr. M*^Euen's
acquaintance. And then the horrid fatal waste
of time which he incurred in pursuit of the few
pounds which he occasionally obtained filled even
his heart with a sort of despair. Morning after
morning he would wait in that hated room ; and
then, day after day, at 2 o'clock he w^ould attend
the usurer's city haunt — and generally all in vain.
The patience of Mr. Snape was giving way, and
the disciphne even of the Internal Navigation
felt itself outraged.

And now Charley stood once more in that
dingy little front parlour in which he had never
yet seen a fire, and once more Mr. Jabesh M'^Euen
shuffled into the room in his big cravat and dirty
loose slippers.



30 THE THREE CLERKS. *

" How d'ye do, Mr. Tudor, how d'ye do ?
I hope you have brought a little of this with
you ;" and Jabesh opened out his left hand, and
tapped the palm of it with the middle finger of
his right, by way of showing that he expected
some money ; not that he did expect any, cormo-
rant that he was ; this vf as not the period of
the quarter in which he ever got money from his
customer.

" Indeed I have not, Mr. M*^Euen ; but I posi-
tively must get some."

" Oh— oh— oh— oh— Mr. Tudor— Mr. Tudor !
— How can we go on if you are so unpunctual ?
Now, I would do anything for you, if you would
only be punctual."

" Oh ! bother about that — you know your own
game, well enough."

"Be punctual, Mr. Tudor, only be punctual,
and we shall be all right — and so you have not
any of this ?" and Jabesh went through the tap-
ping again.

" Not a doit," said Charley ; " but I shall be
up the spout altogether if you don't do something
to help me."

" But you are so unpunctual, Mr. Tudor."

" Oh d — it ! you'll make me sick if you say
that again. Wliat else do you live by but that ?
But I positively must have some money from
you to-day. If not, I am done for."

" I don't think I can, Mr. Tudor ; not to-day,



MOENING. 31

Mr. Tudor — some otlier day, say tliis day montli ;
that is, if you'll be punctual."

" This day month ! no but this very day, Mr.
M^'Euen — why, you got 18/. from me when I
received my last salary, and I have not had a
shillins: back since."

" But you are so unpunctual, Mr. Tudor," and
Jabesh twisted his head backwards and forwards
within his cravat, rubbing his chin with the in-
terior starch.

"Well then, I'll tell you what it is," said
Charley, " I'll be shot if you get a shilling from
me on the 1st of October, and you may sell me
up as quick as you please. If I don't give a his-
tory of your business that will surprise some
people, my name isn't Tudor."

'' Ha, ha, ha !" laughed Mr. M'^Euen, with a
soft quiet laugh. " Well really, Mr. Tudor, I
w^ould do more for you than any other young
man that I know, if you were only a little more
punctual — How much is it you want now ? "

"15/.— or— 10/.— 10/. wm do."

" Ten pounds 1" said Jabesh, as though Charley
had asked for ten thousand — " Ten pounds ! — if
two or three would do ! "

" But two or three won't do."

" And whose name will you bring? "

" Whose name ! why Scatterall's, to be sure."
Now Scatterall was one of the navvies ; and from
him Mr. M*^Euen had not yet succeeded in ex-



32 THE THREE CLERKS.

tracting one fartliing, tliougli lie liad liis name
on a volume of Charley's bills.

" Scatterall — I don't like Mr. Scatterall," said
Jabesli ; " lie is very dissipated, and the most un-
punctual young man I ever met — you really
must get some one else, Mr. Tudor, you really
must."

" Oh, that's nonsense — Scatterall is as good as
anybody — I couldn't ask any of the other fellows
— they are such a low set."

" But Mr. Scatterall is so unpunctual. There's
your cousin, Mr. Alaric Tudor."

" My cousin Alaric ! — Oh, nonsense ; you don't
suppose I'd ask him to do such a thing — you
might as well tell me to go to my father."

• " Or that other gentleman you live with ; Mr.
Norman. He is a most punctual gentleman.
Bring me his name and I'll let you have 10/. —
or 8/. — I'll let you have 8/. at once."

"I dare say you wiU, Mr. M^'Ruen ; or 80/. ;
and be only too happy to give it me. But you
know that is out of the question ; now I won't
wait any longer; just give me an answer to this :
if I come to you in the city will you let me have
some money to-da}^ — if you won't, why I must
go elsewhere — that's all."

The interview ended by an appointment being
made for another meeting to come off at 2 p. m.
that day, at the Banks of Jordan, a public-house
in Sweeting's Alley, as well known to Charley as



MORNING. 33

tlie little front parlour of Mr. M'^Euen's house.
" Bring the bill stamp with you, Mr. Tudor,"
said Jabesh, by way of a last parting word of
counsel ; '' and let Mr. Scatterall sign it — that is
if it must be Mr. Scatterall ; but I wish you
would bring your cousin's name."

"Nonsense !"

" Well then, bring it signed — but I'll fill it ;
you young fellows understand nothing of filling
in a bill properly."

And then taking his leave the infernal navvy
hurried off, and reached his ofiice in Somerset
House at a quarter-past 11 o'clock. As he
walked along he bought the bit of stamped
paper on which his friend Scatterall was to write
his name.

Wlien he reached the ofiice he found that a
great commotion was going on. Mr. Snape was
standing up at his desk, and the first word which
greeted Charley's ears was an intimation from
that gentleman that Mr. Oldeschole had desired
that Mr. Tudor, when he arrived, should be in-
structed to attend in the board-room.

" Very well," said Charley in a tone of great
indifference, " with all my heart — I rather like
seeing Oldeschole now and then. But he mustn't
keep me long, for I have to meet my grand-
mother at Islington at 2 o'clock," and Charley
having hung up his hat prepared to walk ofi* to
the Secretary's room.

c 3



34 THE THREE CLERKS.

" You'll be good enough to wait a few
minutes, Mr. Tudor," said Snape. " Another
gentleman is with Mr. Oldeschole at present.
You will be good enough to sit down and go on
with the Kennett and Avon lock entries, till Mr.
Oldeschole is ready to see you."

Charley sat down at his desk, opposite to his
friend Scatterall. "I hope, Mr. Snape, you
had a pleasant meeting at eyening prayers
yesterday," said he, with a tone of extreme
interest.

" You had better mind the lock entries at
present, Mr. Tudor ; they are greatly in arrear."

" And the evening meetings are docketed up
as close as wax, I suppose. What the deuce is in
the vv^ind, Dick ?" Mr. Scatterall' s christian name
was Eichard — " Where's Corkscrew ?" Mr. Cork-
screw was also a navvy, and was one of those to
whom Charley had specially alluded when he
spoke of the low set.

"Oh, here's a regular go," said Scatterall.
" It's all up with Corkscrew, I believe."

" Why, what's the cheese, now ? "

" Oh ! it's all about some pork chops, which
Screwy had for supper last night." Screwy was
a name of love which among his brother navvies
was given to Mr. Corkscrew. " Mr. Snape seems
to think they did not agree with him."

" Pork chops in July !" exclaimed Charley.

" Poor Screwy forgot the time of year," said



MORNING. 35

another navvy ; "lie ought to have called it lamb
and grass/'

And then the story was told. On the preceding
afternoon, Mr. Corkscrew had been subjected to
the dire temptation of a boating party to the
Eel-pie Island for the following day, and a dinner
thereon. There were to be at the feast no less
than four and twenty jolly souls, and it was
intimated to Mr. Corkscrew that as no soul was
esteemed to be more jolly than his own, the party
would be considered as very imperfect unless he
could join it. Asking for a day's leave, Mr. Cork-
screw knew to be out of the question ; he had
already taken too many without asking. He was
therefore driven to take another in the same way,
and had to look about for some excuse which
might support him in his difficulty. An excuse
it must be, not only nevv^, but very valid ; one so
strong that it could not be overset ; one so well
avouched that it could not be doubted. Accord-
ingly, after mature consideration, he sat dovm
after leaving his office, and wrote the following
letter, before he started on an evening cruising
expedition mth some others of the party to
prepare for the next day's festivities.

*' Thursday morning, — July, 185 —

"my dear sir,

" I write from my bed where I am suffering
a most tremendous indiggestion, last night I eat
a stunning supper off pork chopps and never



36 THE THREE CLERKS.

remembered that pork cliopps always does dis-
agree with me, but I was very indiscrete and am


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