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odds were daily rising against Macassar, and
as he heard the bets offered and taken at the
surrounding desks, his heart quailed within

' And the lovely Crinoline, she also had heard


of this eccentric will ; slie and her mother.
3000/. with interest arising for some half score
of years would make a settlement by no means
despicable in Ta\dstock Square, and would en-
able Macassar to maintain a house over which
even Crinoline need not be ashamed to preside.
But what if the legacy should be lost ! She also
knew to a day what was the age of her swain ;
she knew how close upon her was that day,
which, if she passed it unwedded, would see her
resolved to be deaf for ever to the vows of
Macassar. Still, if she managed well, there
might be time, at any rate for the marriage.

' But, alas, Macassar made no vows ; none at
least which the most attentive ear could consider
to be audible. Crinoline's ear was attentive, but
hitherto in vain. He would come there daily to
Tavistock Square, daily would that true and
valiant page lay open the path to his mistress's
feet, daily would Macassar sit there for a while
and sigh. But the en\dous hour would pass away,
while the wished-for word was still unsaid ; and
he would hurry back, and complete with figures
too often erroneous, the audit of some diocesan

' ''You must help him, my dear," said Crino-
line's mama.

' "But he says nothing, mama," said Crinoline
in tears.

' "You must encourage him to speak, my dear."


' " 1 do encourage liim, but by that time it is
always three o'clock, and then he has to go away."

' " You should be quicker, my dear. You should
encourage him more at once. Now try to-day ;
if you can't do anything to-day I really must get
your papa to interfere."

' Crinoline had ever been an obedient child, and
now, as ever, she determined to obey. But it was
a hard task for her. In three months he would
be twenty-five — in fifteen months twenty- six.
She however would do her best ; and then, if her
efibrts were unavailing, she could only trust to
providence and her papa.

' With sad and anxious heart did Macassar that
day take up his new silk hat, take up also his
darling umbrella, and descend the sombre steps
of the Episcopal Audit Office. " Seven to one on
the Lying-in," were the last words which reached
his ears as the door of his room closed behind
him. His was a dreadful position. What if that
sweet girl, that angel whom he so worshipped,
what if she, melted by his tale of sorrow, — that is
if he could prevail on himself to tell it, — should
take pity, and consent to be hurried prematurely
to the altar of Hymen ; and then, if after all the
legacy should be forfeited ! Poverty for liimself
he could endure ; at least he thought so ; but
poverty for her 1 could he bear that ? What if
he should live to see her deprived of that green
head-dress, robbed of those copious draperies,


reduced to English shoes, compelled to desert
that shrine in Hanover Square, and all through
him ! His brain reeled round, his head swam,
liis temples throbbed, his knees knocked against
each other, his blood stagnated, his heart col-
lapsed, a cold clammy perspiration covered him
fi:om head to foot; he could hardly reach the court-
yard and there obtain the support of a pillar.
Dreadful thoughts filled his mind ; the Thames,
the friendly Thames, was running close to him ;
should he not put a speedy end to all his misery ;
those horrid words, that " seven to one on the
Lying-in," still rang in his ears ; were the chances
really seven to one against his getting his legacy ?
" Oh ! " said he, " my aunt ; my aunt, my aunt,
my aunt, my aunt ! "

' But at last he roused the spirit of the man
within him. " Faint heart never won fair lady,"
seemed to be whispered to him from every stone
in Somerset House. The cool air blowing through
the passages revived him, and he walked forth
through the wide portals, resolving that he would
return a happy, thriving lover, or that he would
return no more — that night. Wliat w^ould he care
for Sir Gregory, what for the thin locks of the
senior clerk, if Crinoline should reject him ?

' It was his custom as he walked towards Tavis-
tock Square to stop at a friendly pastry-cook's in
Covent Garden, and revive his spirits for the
coming interviev/ with Banbury tarts and cherry


brandy. In tlie moments of his misery some-
thing about the pastry-cook's girl, something that
reminded him of Crinoline, it was probably her
nose, had tempted him to confide to her his love.
He had told her everything ; the kind young
creature pitied him, and as she ministered to his
wants, was wont to ask sweetly as to his passion.

' " And how was the lovely Lady Crinoline
yesterday ? " asked she. He had entrusted to
her a copy of his poem.

' " More beauteous than ever," he said, but
somewhat indistinctly, for his mouth was clogged
with the Banbury tart.

' " And goodnatured, I hope. — Indeed I don't
know how she can resist," said the girl ; " I'm
sure you'll make it all right to-day, for I see
you've got your winning way with you."

' Winning way with seven to one against liim !
Macassar sighed, and spilt some of his cherry
brandy over his shirt front. The kind-hearted girl
came and wiped it for him. " I think I'll have
another glass," said he, with a deep voice. He
did take another glass, and also eat another

' " He'U pop to-day as sure as eggs, now he's
taken them two glasses of popping powder," said
the girl, as he went out of the shop. " Well,
it's astonishing to me, what the men find to be
afraid of."

* And so Macassar hastened towards Tavistock-


square, all too quickly ; for as he made his way
across Grreat Eussell-street, he found that he was
very hot. He leant against the rail, and taking
off his hat and gloves began to cool himself, and
wipe away the dust with his pocket handkerchief.
" I wouldn't have minded the expense of a cab,"
said he to himself, '' only the chances are so
much against me ; seven to one !"

' But he had no time to lose. He had had but
two precious hours at his disposal, and thirty
minutes were already gone. He hurried on to
Tavistock Square, and soon found that well-known
door open before him.

' " The Lady Crinoline sits up- stairs alone,"
said the page ; " and is a^ thinking of you." Then
he added in a whisper, '' do you go at her straight
Mr. Macassar ; slip, slap and no mistake."

' All honour to the true and brave !


' As Macassar walked across the drawing-room,
CrinoHne failed to perceive his presence, although
his boots did creak rather loudly. Such at least
must be presumed to have been the case, for she
made no immediate sign of having noticed him.
She was sitting at the open window, with her lute
in hand, gazing into the vacancy of the square
below ; and as Macassar walked across the room,
a deep sigh escaped from her bosom. The page
closed the door, and at the same moment


Crinoline touched Iter lute, or ratlier pulled it at
tlie top and bottom, and threw one wild witch
note to the wind. As she did so, a line of a song
escaped from her lips, with a low, melancholy,
hut still rapturous cadence —

" His heart is at his office, /lia' heart is always there."

' " Oh, Mr. Macassar, is that you?" she exclaimed.
She struggled to rise, but finding herself unequal
to the effort, she sank back again on a chair,
dropped her lute on a soft footstool, and then
buried her face in her hands. It was dreadful for
Macassar to witness such agony.

* " Is anything the matter ?" said he.

' " Tlie matter !" said she. '' Ah ! ah !"

* " I hope you are not sick ?" said he.

^ " Sick !" said she. " Well, I fear, I am very

' " "Wliat is it ? " said he. " Perhaps only
bilious," he suggested.

' '' Oh ! oh ! oh !" — said she.

' " I see, I'm in the way ; and I think I had
better go," and so he prepared to depart.

' "No ! no 1 no !" said she, jumping up from
her chair. '' Oh ! Mr. Macassar, don't be so
cruel ; do you wish to see me sink on the carpet
before your feet ?"

' Macassar denied the existence of any such
wish ; and said, " that he humbly begged her.
pardon, if he gave any offence."


' " Offence !" said she, smiling sweetly on liim ;
sweetly, but yet sadly. " Offence ! no — no
offence. Indeed I don't know liow you could — but
never mind — I am sucli a silly thing. One's
feelings will sometimes get the better of one ;
don't you often find it so ?"

' " Oh ! yes, quite so," said Macassar. " I think
it's the heat."

' " He's a downright noodle," said Crinoline's
mama, to her sister-in-law — who lived with
them. The two were standing behind a chink
in the door, which separated the drawing-room
from a chamber behind it.

' " Won't you sit down, Mr. Macassar ?"
Macassar sat down. " Mama will be so sorry
to miss you again. She's calling somewhere in
Grosvenor Square, I believe. She wanted me to
go with her ; but I could not bring myself to go
with her to-day. It's useless for the body to go
out, when the heart still remains at home.
Don't you find it so ?"

' " Oh, quite so," said Macassar. The cherry
brandy had already evaporated before the blaze
of all that beauty ; and he was bethinking him-
self how he might best take himself off. Let the
hospital have the filthy lucre ! He would let the
money go ; and would show the world that he
loved for the sake of love alone ! He looked at
his watch, and fornid that it was already past


' Crinoline when she saw that watch, knew that
something must be done at once. She appreciated
more fully than her lover did the value of this
world's goods ; and much as she doubtless
sympathized with the wants of the hospital in
question, she felt that charity should begin at
home. So she fairly burst out into a flood of tears.

' Macassar was quite beside himself. He had
seen her weep before, but never with such
frightful violence. She rushed up from her
chair, and passing so close to him as nearly
to upset him by the waft of her petticoats threw
herself on to an ottoman, and hiding her face on the
stump in the middle of it, sobbed and screeched,
till Macassar feared that the buttons behind her
dress would crack and fly off.

' " Oh ! oh ! oh !" sobbed Crinoline.

' " It must be the heat," said Macassar ;
knocking down a flower-pot in his attempt to
open the window a little wider. " Oh ! dear,
what have I done ?" said he. " I think I'd
better go."

' " Never mind the flower-pot," said Crinoline,
looking up through her tears. " Oh ! oh ! oh !
oh ! me. Oh ! my heart."

' Macassar looked at his watch. He had only
forty-five minutes left for everything. The
expense of a cab would, to be sure, be nothing if
he were successful ; but then, what chance was
there of that ?


* " Can I do anything for yon in the Strand ?"
said he. "I must be at my office at three."

' " In the Strand !" she screeched. " What
could he do for me in the Strand ? Heartless —
heartless — heartless 1 Well go — go — go to your
office, Mr. Macassar ; your heart is there, I know.
It is always there. Gro — don't let me stand
between you and your duties — between you and
Sir Grregory. Oh ! how I hate that man ! Gro !
why should I wish to prevent you ; of course I
have no such wish. To me it is quite indifferent ;
only, mama will be so sorry to miss you. You
don't know how mama loves you. She loves
you almost as a son. But go — go ; pray go !"

' And then Crinoline looked at him. Oh ! how
she looked at him ! It was as though all the
goddesses of Heaven were inviting him to come
and eat ambrosia with them, on a rosy-tinted
cloud. All the goddesses, did we say ? No, but
one goddess, the most beautiful of them all.
His heart beat violently against his ribs, and he
felt that he was almost man enough for anything.
Instinctively his hand went again to his waist-
coat pocket.

' " You shan't look at your watch so often,"
said she, putting up her delicate hand and stopping
his. " There, I'll look at it for you. It's only just
two, and you needn't go to your office forthishour;"
and as she squeezed it back into his pocket, he
felt her fingers pressing against his heart, and


felt her hair — done all a V imperatrice—in sweet
contact with his cheek. " There, I shall hold
it there," said she ; "so that you shan't look at
it again."

' '' Will you stay, till I bid you go ?" said

' Macassar declared that he did not care a straw
for the senior clerk, or for Sir Grregory either.
He would stay there for ever," he said.

' " What ! for ever, in mama's drawing-room,"
said Crinoline, opening wide her lovely eyes with

' '' For ever near to you," said Macassar.

' '' Oh, Mr. Macassar," said Crinoline, dropping
her hand from his waistcoat, and looking
bashfally towards the ground. " Wliat can you
mean ?"

' Down went Macassar on his knees, and down
went Crinoline into her chair. There was
perhaps rather too much distance between them,
but that did not much matter now. There he
was on both knees, with his hands clasped
together as they were wont to be when he said
his prayers, with his umbrella beside him on
one side, and his hat on the other, making his
declaration in fall and unmistakable terms. A
yard or two of floor, more or less, between them
was neither here nor there. At first the bashful
Crinoline could not bring herself to utter a
distinct consent, and Macassar was very nearly


up and away, in a returning fit of despair. But
her good nature came to liis aid; and as she
quickly said, " I will, I will, I will," he returned
to his posture in somewhat nearer quarters, and
was transported into the seventh heaven by the
bliss of kissing her hand.

' " Oh, Macassar !" said she.

' " Oh, Crinoline !" said he.

' " You must come and tell papa, to-morrow,"
said she.

' He readily promised to do so.

' " You had better come to breakfast ; before he
goes into the City," said she.

' And so the matter was arranged, and the
lovely Lady Crinoline became the affianced bride
of the happy Macassar.

' It was past three when he left the house, but
what did he care for that ? He was so mad with joy
that he did not even know whither he was going.
He went on straight ahead, and came to no
check, till he found himself waving his hat over
his head in the New Road. He then began to
conceive that his conduct must have been rather
wild, for he was brought to a stand- still in a
crossing, by four or five cabmen, who were rival
candidates for his custom.

' " Somerset House, old brick!" he shouted out,
as he jumped into a Hansom, and as he did so
he 2)oked one of the other cabbies playfully in
the ribs with his umbrella.


c cc

'Is mama don't know as 'ow 'e's hout, I
shouldn't vonder," said the cabman — and away
went Macassar singing at the top of his voice as
he sat in the cab.

" The loveliest lady that ever was seen,
Is the lovely Lady Crinolme."

' The cab passed through Covent Garden on its
way. " Stop at the pastry-cook's at the corner,"
said Macassar, up through the little trap-door.
The cab drew up suddenly. " She's mine, she's
mine !" shouted Macassar, rushing into the shop,
and disregarding in the ecstasy of the moment
the various customers who were quietly eating
their ices. " She's mine, she's mine !

' With her hair done all a Vimperatrice,
Sweetly done with the best of grease.'

And now for Somerset House."

' Arrived at those ancient portals he recklessly
threw eighteen pence to the cabman, and ran up
the stone stairs which led to his office. As he
did so the clock, with iron tongue, tolled four. —
But what recked he what it tolled ! He rushed
into his room where his colleagues were now
locking their desks, and waving abroad his hat
and his umbrella, repeated the chorus of his
song. " She's mine, she's mine, —

' The loveliest lady that ever was seen,
Is the lovely Lady Crinoline.'

and she's mine, she's mine !"


' Exhausted nature could no more. He sank to
a chair, and his brother clerks stood in a circle
around him. Soon a spirit of triumph seemed
to actuate them all ; they joined hands in that
friendly circle, and dancing with joyftd glee,
took up with one voice the burden of the song

"Oh, how she walks,

And how she talks,
And sings like a bird serene ;

But of this be sure,

While the world shall endure,
The loveliest ladj that ever was seen,

Is still the Lady Crinoline —

The lovely Lady Crinoline."

' And that old senior clerk ^vitli the thin gray
hair, — was he angry at this general ebullition of
joy ? Oh no ! The just severity of his disciphne
was always tempered with genial mercy. ^ot
a word did he say of that broken promise, not a
word of the unchecked diocesan balance, not a
word of Sir Gregory's anger. He shook his
thin gray locks ; but he shook them neither in
sorrow nor in anger. " Grod bless you. Macassar
Jones," said he, " Grod bless you !"

' He too had once been yoimg, had once loved,
had once hoped and feared and hoped again, and
had once knelt at the feet of beauty. But, alas,
he had knelt in vain.

' " May Grod be with you, Macassar Jones," said
he, as he walked out of the office door wdth his


coloured bandana pressed to his eyes. '' May
Grod be with you, and make your bed fruit-
ful !"

" For the loveliest lady that ever was seen,
Is the lovely Lady Crinoline — "

shouted the junior clerks, still dancing in mad
glee round the happy lover.

' We have said that they all joined in this kindly
congratulation to their young friend. But no.
There was one spirit there whom envy had
soured, one whom the happiness of another had
made miserable, one whose heart beat in no uni-
son with these jocund sounds. As Macassar's
joy was at its height, in the proud moment of
his triumph, a hated voice struck his ears, and
filled his soul with dismay once more.

' There's two to one still on the Lying-in,' said
this hateful Lucifer.

'And so Macassar was not all happy even yet,
as he walked home to his lodgings.


' We have but one other scene to record, but
one short scene, and then our tale will be told
and our task will be done. And this last scene
shall not, after the usual manner of novelists, be
that of the wedding; but rather one which in
our eyes is of a much more enduring interest.
Crinoline and Macassar were duly married in


Bloomsbury Church. The dresses are said to
have come from the house in Hanover Square.
Crinoline behaved herself with perfect propriety,
and Macassar went through his work like a man.
When we have said that, we have said all that
need be said on that subject.

' But we must beg our readers to pass over the
space of the next twelve months, and to be
present with us in that front sitting-room of the
elegant private lodgings, which the married couple
now prudently occupied in Alfred Place. Lodg-
ings ! yes, they were only lodgings ; for not as
yet did they know what might be the extent of
their income.

'In this room during the whole of a long
autumn day sat Macassar in a frame of mind
not altogether to be envied. During the greater
portion of it he was alone ; but ever and anon
some bustling woman would enter and depart
without even deigning to notice the questions
which he asked. And then after a while he
found himself in company with a very respect-
able gentleman in black, who belonged to the
medical profession.

' " Is it coming ?" asked Macassar. " Is it, is it



' " Well — we hope so — we hope so," said the
medical gentleman. If not to-day, it will be
to-morrow. If I should happen to be absent,
Mrs. Gramp is all that you could desire. If not



to-day, it will certainly be to-morrow," — and so
tlie medical gentleman went his way.

' Now the coming morrow would be Macassar's
birthday. On that morrow he would be twenty-

'All alone he sat there till the autumn sun gave
way to the shades of evening. Some one brought
him a mutton chop, but it was raw and he could
not eat it ; he went to the side-board and prepared
to make himself a glass of negus, but the water
was all cold. His water at least was cold ; though
Mrs. Gamp's was hot enough. It was a sad and
mournful evening. He thought he would go out,
for he found that he was not wanted ; but a low
drizzling rain prevented him. Had he got wet
he could not have changed his clothes, for they
were all in the wardrobe in his wife's room. All
alone he sat till the shades of evening were hid-
den by the veil of night.

* But what sudden noise is that he hears within
the house ? Why do those heavy steps press so
rapidly against the stairs ? What feet are they
which are so busy in the room above him ? He
opens the sitting-room door, but he can see no-
thing. He has been left there without a candle.
He peers up the stairs, but a faint glimmer of
light shining through the keyhole of his wife's
door is all that meets his eye. " Oh my aunt !
my aunt !" he says as he leans against the ban-
isters. " My aunt, my aunt, my aunt !"


' What a birthday will this be for him on the
morrow. He already hears the sound of the
hospital beUs as they ring with joy at the ac-
quisition of their new wealth; he must dash
from his lips, tear from his heart, banish for ever
from his eyes, that vision of a sweet little cottage
at Brompton, with a charming dressing-room for
himself, and gas laid on all over the house.

' " Lodgings, I hate, I detest lodgings," he said
to himself. '' Connubial bliss and furnished lodg-
ings are not compatible. My aunt, my aunt, for
what misery hast thou not to answer ! Oh, Mrs.
Gramp, could you be so obliging as to tell me
what o'clock it is ?" The last question was asked
as Mrs. Gramp suddenly entered the room with a
candle. Macassar's watch had been required for
the use of one of the servants.

' " It's just half-past heleven, this wery moment
as is," said Mrs. Gamp ; " and the finest boy babby
as my heyes, which has seen a many, 'as ever sat

*Up, up to the ceihng, went the horse-hair
cushion of the lodging-house sofa — up went the
foot-stool after it, and its four wooden legs in
falling made a terrible clatter on the mahogany
loo-table. Macassar in his joy got hold of Mrs.
Gramp, and kissed her heartily, forgetful of the
fumes of gin. " Hurrah," shouted he, " hurrah,
hurrah, hurrah ! Oh, Mrs. Gamp, I feel so— so —
so — I really don't know how I feel."

H 2


' He danced round the room with noisy joy till
Mrs. Gramp made him understand how very iin-
suited were such riotous ebullitions to the weak
state of his lady-love up stairs. He then gave
over, not the dancing but the noise, and went
on capering round the room with suppressed
steps, ever and anon singing to himself in a

" The loveliest lady that ever was seen,
Is still the Lady Crinoline."

' A few minutes afterwards a knock at the door
was heard and the monthly nurse entered. She
held something in her embrace; but he could
not see what. He looked down pryingly into
her arms, and at the first glance thought that it
was his umbrella. But then he heard a little
pipe, and he knew that it was his child.

' We will not intrude further on the first inter-
view between Macassar and his heir.'

" And so ends the romantic history of Crino-
line and Macassar," said Mrs. Woodward ; " and
I'm sure, Charley, we are all very much obliged
to you for the excellent moral lessons you have
given us."

" I'm so delighted with it," said Katie ; " I do
so Kke that Macassar."

" So do I," said Linda yawning ; " and the old
man with the thin gray hair."


" Come girls ; its nearly one o'clock, and we'll
go to bed," said the mother. " Uncle Bat has
been asleep these two hours."

And so they went off to their respective



All farther conversation in the drawing-room
was forbidden for that night. Mrs. Woodward
would have willingly postponed the reading of
Charley's story so as to enable Katie to go to
bed after the accident, had she been able to do
so. But she was not able to do so without an

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Online LibraryAnthony TrollopeThe three clerks : a novel (Volume 2) → online text (page 8 of 18)