as plainly as bolts could speak, " Safe ! safe ! "
" Come up stairs, Tick ; we must see the old year out," said Doubledot. " It
wants but a quarter to 12 ; and Dick you can go."
" Thank'ee sir," answered Dick, and he dived under the counter for his little seal-skin
cap, and red worsted comforter,"
THE LAST YEAR'S BALANCE. 129
" Yes, sir," and he popped up again like a Jack in the box.
" Wait a few minutes go in the counting-house I think I want you for some-
thing," said Mr. Doubledot, as he and Tick left by a little door that opened into the
Dick sighed and thought of his mother who was sitting up for him, and wished him-
self under his calico sheet and three horse-rugs. " What does he want with me at this
time ? " thought Dick, as he seated himself in the chair lately occupied by the portly
person of his master. He put his heels upon the hobs, and as both of his shoes had
holes in the bottom, the fire soon crept into the very cold soles of his feet.
"Hard work, this," thought Dick, "for four shillings a- week, and find oneself.
Mine 's rayther a small basin, and so it need be," and he glanced at a little white bundle
that lay by the side of his seal-skin cap. " Eight hundred and ever so many more
pounds, and all made in a year ; well, as sure as my name 's "
" Dick," said a female voice. It was Mary, the housemaid, who had brought some-
thing smoking in a large tea-cup.
"What's that, Mary?"
" A drop of egg-hot," replied the girl. " Cook and me have been making ourselves
comfortable, and we thought you were a-cold, and would like a little too. Here ! "
Dick took the cup with a grin ; and, as he sniffed it, he thought he had never
smelled anything so comfortable in his life. Before he could say more than " This is
prime," Mr. Doubledot's bell summoned Mary up stairs.
Dick sipped and sipped the pleasant beverage in the cup, and edged himself close
to the fire ; and then he sipped again until he felt his eyes begin to twinkle, and the
cold to steal out of his breeches pockets and up the back of his jacket, and through the
holes in his shoes, until at last he became as warm as a toast.
" Well," thought Dick, "if I were a master tallyman, and had eight hundred and
ever so many more pounds, I 'd have such stuff as this three times a day. La ! what a
lot of egg-hot is locked up in that iron chest, and nobody allowed to drink it ; " and then
he sipped again, until he had not more than a teaspoonful left at the bottom of the cup.
The fire and the tipple were too much for Dicky, tired as he was, and he went off
into a good snoring sleep. Then he began to dream. New year's eve has a patent
for dreams. He fancied to his great surprise that he saw he was exactly like his
master, Mr. Doubledot ; and yet he could see himself, Dicky Drugget, inside of this
wonderful fancy dress. " What' s all this about ?" said Dicky ; "I've dropped into a
good thing, I have especially if I 'm to have the eight hundred and nobody knows how
many pounds." As he spoke, he saw a large key hopping along the floor, and then on
to a chair, and then into the large key-hole in the iron chest. It turned itself round,
and the great bolts rattled as they did before ; and the ledgers, and the journals, and
the day-books lump'd, lump'd out, clambered on to the desks, and then laid themselves
quietly down on the mahogany.
" There'll be a row in the morning," thought Dicky.
' ' What for ? " said a voice, which sounded exactly like Tick 's. " You 're master here. ' '
Dick looked round, and there, sure enough, was old Philip Tick, but in such a funny
costume. His trousers seemed of sprigged muslin, and his waistcoat of russia leather,
all scored about with strips of parchment like the sides of a ledger. His coat was
trimmed all over with bits of ribbon ; and his whiskers were made of blonde, and
stuffed full of fancy flowers. Dicky was sorely puzzled, and speechless for some
time : but Tick at length broke the silence :
130 THE LAST YEAR'S BALANCE.
" I Ve come to show you the balance of the past year the eight hundred and ever
so many pounds," said the visionary Tick; the ledgers, and the journals, and the day-
books, seemed to open of themselves, and Dick saw the names of the customers, and
the long list of articles placed under them. As he looked, he saw several little
cramped 6s turn over and make themselves into 9s, and round Os shoot out and
change into 6s, whilst poor paltry Is split themselves and became 11s.
Tick then took a small piece of sponge, and deliberately wiped out the pence
columns one after the other.
" What are you doing ! " said Dick.
" Wiping out the overcharge," replied Tick ; and now that I've finished, there go
ever so many odd pounds, master."
Dick didn't like it he thought he (Tick) was a little bit of a rascal.
" And now let us look to folio one," said Tick. " Folio one,
To a superior Victoria Shawl Q 16
4 Pair of Blonde Whiskers 040
10 yards of Gros de Naples Silk 200
5 , 1 Pair of open worked Cotton Stockings . . ..036
Total . . .336
and now look at the lady."
Dick looked in the direction that Tick indicated, and there he saw Mrs. Drabble
dressed out in her three pounds three and sixpenny worth of tawdry finery. She was
in a dreadful pucker, and well she might be, for the tally-man was on the stairs, and
Mrs. Drabble had not a shilling in the house. As the newspaper gentlemen say, the
scene which ensued is more easily imagined than described, but it ended by Mrs.
Drabble fainting into a washing-tub that stood on the floor, and the tally-man declaring
that he would make " her husband dub up in a week."
" And he'll be as good as his word," said Tick ; "he don't care about turning them
into the street, and sowing discord between man and wife. True, he tempted the
woman to buy bargains and useless things but what then ? Such doings make your
eight hundred pounds, master."
Dick felt satisfied he was a rascal.
And so Tick went on from folio to folio, and poor Dick saw quarrelling where there
should have been peace, and heard angry revilings where only words of comfort should
have been spoken.
" Well, Master," said Tick, " have you seen enough of the last year's balance ?
Don't you think you are to be envied, and your wealth coveted ? Is not money so
gained better than sleeping under a calico sheet and three horse rugs, and having holes
in your shoes, and four shillings a-week and finding yourself ? "
" No no !" gasped Dick, " I'm sure it 's not."
" 0, you 're sure it 's not ? " said Tick. " Then the sooner these books go to rest
again the better ;" and then the ledgers, and the journals, and the day-books lump'd
back again to their iron resting-place.
Tick too shrunk down until the chest seemed big enough to make him a very
handsome mansion, and as he stood between the two massy doors he said :
" Dicky Drugget, be a good boy, and never envy any man his wealth until you
know how he gets it. Wiser folks than you, Dicky, very often grow dissatisfied with
AFTERWARDS HARLEQUIN. 131
roast beef because somebody else eats venison ; but if they knew how hard the venison
is to digest from being bought with dirty money, they would thank their stars that they
had such a friend as a confiding butcher. Good night, Dicky, don't you forget the
Last Year's Balance."
Tick stepped into the chest, and the doors flew together with much the same noise
as that produced by knocking down a shovel, a poker, and a pair of tongs,
on an iron fender, a feat which Dick Drugget performed at his master's counting-house
exactly as the clock on the stairs struck One.
Hi To, the crown prince of China, who lived an amazing number of ages before the
first Egyptian Pyramid was so much as thought of, and who was learned not only in all
the arts and sciences, but even knew a sixth part of his own language, so great were
his accomplishments this Hi To, I say, deemed himself singularly happy, when his
father, the King Twang Shun, told him that there was a genius in the family. For
mark, the noble sovereign did not mean by a genius one of those, sauntering never- thrive
sort of chaps, whp wandered about Pekin, penning indifferent verses, and singing them
to still more indifferent tunes, without any ostensible means of getting the wherewith to
employ their chop-sticks or fill their tea-pots ; but he meant a supernatural friend, who
would drop from the clouds, or spring from the ground to preserve any member of the
royal family, who might fall into an awful scrape, and, indeed, would look after the
interests of the dynasty generally.
Hi To, fortified by this piece of friendly intelligence, became exceedingly adven-
turous, for he expected that, come what would, his unknown friend, the gem'us, would
turn up in time to save him from utter destruction. Therefore did he set out to deliver
Alacapata, the lovely Indian princess, who was confined in a castle of polished steel by
the fell magician, Fee-faw-fum, without anything like fear or trembling, and not only
went many thousand miles on foot, accompanied by his comical squire, Ho-ho-ho, to the
said polished castle, but elbowed his way most manfully through a whole mob of dragons,
griffins, cat-a-mountains, <fcc., <fec., with the most perfect sang froid, though his squire
would not unfrequently shout out "Ho-mi-hi," which in Chinese indicates great
Matters certainly did not look very prosperous, when Hi To, after having entered the
castle, was seized, in the midst of a very affectionate interview with the princess, by the
abominable magician ; for the magician not only deprived him of all power of resist-
ence, but drawing out a large scimitar, made unequivocal preparations for cutting off
his head, while two very ill-looking persons, with cats' heads upon their shoulders,
amused themselves by whipping the poor squire round and round, with a couple of live
Nevertheless, the gallant Hi To did not lose heart, for he knew that his father's
veracity was quite unquestionable, and saw that this was the very moment for the genius
to appear and show the value of his friendship. And he did not deceive himself, for, first
of all, a few musical notes were heard, which caused the magician to drop his scimitar
and turn pale, and the two feline gentry to desist from their pleasant recreation. Then
one of the chairs very gracefully formed itself into a glittering star, from which stepped
a little person, with very long flaxen hair, and short petticoats, who informed Hi To that
he was the long-expected genius, communicating the information in the prettiest lisp that
can be conceived.
Now when the genius said that he should now receive the reward of his ruler, Hi To
expected, at least, that he and the fair princess would be put into a flying chariot, and
conveyed safe back to China. But no such notion crossed the mind of the genius, who
uttering some doggrel rhymes with an air as if he was pronouncing something marvel-
lously sublime, ordered our hero to convert himself into " Harlequin." The folks of our
day, who are in the habit of seeing Christmas pantomimes, would have understood the
meaning of the order at once, though they might have felt some difficulty in compliance.
But that was not the case in the ancient days of the Chinese empire, and the puzzled Hi To
was just o-oino: fro ask the genius to express his wishes more clearly, when he found all his
clothes pulled over his head, and whirled down a hole in the ground, by some invisible
agency, leaving him attired in a tight, motley, glittering suit, which he did not recollect to
have put on in the morning. A sort of case, exceedingly hot and disagreeable, fell at the
same time over his face, and, as if impelled by mere energy, not his own, he began
capering about with the most extraordinary gestures. The princess, he observed, had
also changed her costume, and completely quitting that air of modest reserve which had
so charmed him when first he beheld her, came tripping coquettishly towards him, rested
AFTERWARDS HARLEQUIN. 133
one of her feet on his knee, and familiarly supporting herself on his shoulder with her
hand, raised the other foot to a considerable height in the air. The fate of the squire
and the magician was still more extraordinary. The clothes of the former, together
with his proper face, blew up through the ceiling, leaving him with a very wide grinning
mouth, and a strange triangular bloom upon his cheeks. The magician had shrunk to a
very decrepit old man, with a singularly red face and white beard, and the celerity with
which the squire, in his altered form, revenged himself upon his former enemy by trip-
ping up his heels and kicking him, shocked the better feelings of Hi To. He was just
going to ask the genius the meaning of all this, when he found that he was deprived of
the power of speech. The genius, after placing in his hand a piece of white board,
with the assurance that it would rescue him in times of peril, retired as he had come,
through the chair-back.
Now Prince Hi To had been famous for his oratorical powers, and had always enter-
tained the most violent dislike of dancing, which he contended was the most unmanly,
irrational, and contemptible art in the universe. Hence his feelings towards the genius
for having stopped his mouth, and given such restless activity to his heels ; for he cut
capers, and jumped, and made pirouettes without ceasing, even of the most indignant
kind. What should put it into the head of the genius to change him into a new shape,
when his old shape was co'mely, to say the least of it ? If the genius could do nothing
more than make fools of friends and enemies alike, why did he not suffer him to be deca-
pitated in peace ? The genius was unquestionably the most malicious, or the most
bungling genius that had ever existed.
All he saw heightened his disgust. The manners of the Princess, who flung her
limbs about in the most extraordinary manner, were not at all consonant with his notions
of propriety ; and he observed with pain, that, notwithstanding the squabbles and
bickerings of the squire and the magician, there was a kind of secret understanding
between them. The squire had entirely lost that respectful demeanour for which he
had been so much distinguished, made hideous grimaces in his royal master's face, and
even went so far as to seize him by the wrists, and shake him violently, shouting out
with idiotic joy " Oh, crikey ! now I Ve got him ! " He certainly repelled him for a
minute by several smart blows with the board, when his ears were regaled by the
lamentable cry of "Here 's a go ! " but altogether the nuisance became so intolerable,
that, recollecting the virtue of his talisman, he struck it against the wall, in hopes of
deliverance, assistance, or indeed anything but the re-appearance of the genius, whom
he silently cursed from the bottom of his heart.
No sooner was the wall struck, than down fell the castle with a loud clattering
noise, not a bit like that of steel, and the whole party found themselves on the sea-
shore near a large vessel, not in the smallest degree resembling a junk. The Prince
led the Princess, not without repugnance, on board this vessel, and performed a voyage
which seemed to occupy about half a minute, but which really must have lasted an
enormous number of ages. Yes, the Assyrian, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman
empires must all have risen and fallen during the time of that voyage, the Norman
conquest, the crusades, the thirty years' war, the French revolution, and the passing of
the Reform Bill, must all have taken place, for Hi To had not left the ship for many
seconds before he tripped into Cheapside, just as it exists at the present moment.
Wonderful ship that could cut through space and time with equal celerity !
Prince Hi To had not been many minutes in Cheapside with his fidgetty fair one,
than a hideous cry of " Here we are ! " announced the presence of the detestable squire
VOL. i. NO. vi. T
134 FLORENCE PRESERVED; OR, THE FEARFUL PAS.
and magician, whom he thought he had left in India. A series of persecutions similar
to those he had already undergone commenced, in which he constantly availed himself
of the assistance of his bit of board, changing potato-cans into caravans, turning houses
upside down, and doing all sorts of vulgar magic, greatly at variance with his better
taste. Often was he grievously afflicted, when, striking a wall, a placard would sud-
denly appear, inscribed with an execrable pun. He had detested puns in his own
country, he had made his royal father issue a decree against them, and yet, now if he
made use of his talisman, these hideous perversions of language would force themselves
upon his sight. What refined intellect could bear to see a grocer's shop suddenly shut
itself up, with the absurdity " Done to a T " upon the shutters ? Yet did this happen
to our hero, and he felt himself not quite irresponsible in the production of the hateful
joke. Neither did he feel any happiness when he discovered a new property of hardness
in his head, which enabled him to jump through a stone wall, without the slightest
personal detriment. No ! he capered through the world a sad and solemn man,
persecuted by his squire, still more persecuted by his own thoughts, and scarcely less
by his inamorata, whose ceaseless bounds and jumps worried him to the utmost. He
despised the power he possessed, he despised himself, and he execrated the genius who
had given him such a sorry reward.
One day, in a dark forest, he was deprived of his talisman by his unwearied perse-
cutors, and in his despair and weariness, he almost hoped they would knock him on the
head. But the preserving genius again presented himself, and told him that his trials
were over, and that he should now be really happy. The forest vanished ; but in what
did the promised happiness consist ? Why he found himself standing on his head on a
tall pole, with a firework going oft 7 full in his face, and forming the words, " Victoria
and Albert," in characters of flame. A loud explosion caused the whole scene to
disappear, and his joy was unbounded, when he found himself safe in his bed, and
perceived that all his adventures had been but a frightful dream.
The first thing he did was to run to his father, and say, " Father, it is all very well
to have a genius in one's family, but if I look to one for assistance may I be sawn in
half between two planks, like the man who last slopped hot tea upon your royal foot."
FLORENCE PRESERVED; OR, THE FEARFUL PAS.
A TALE OF ARTIFICIAL LIFE.
IN the solitude of his library, immersed in objectless thought, and gazing on vacancy,
the Right Honourable the Earl of Blazonfield was standing with his back to the fire.
Erect and lofty stood his Lordship, with his legs apart, and a coat-tail reposing on
How long the noble Earl's reverie might have lasted, it is as impossible as it is
bootless to say. He was suddenly roused from it by a cautious tap at the door, in
answer whereto he condescended to say " Come in."
A liveried domestic noiselessly and reverently approached, bearing a three-cornered
note on a silver salver. The Earl of Blazonfield, with his usual deliberation, opened
and read it ; and then, in a stately tone, said to the menial " Inform her Ladyship
that I am at leisure." The man, with a low obeisance, withdrew.
.. The communication which his Lordship had thus received was from his noble
FLORENCE PRESERVED; OR, THE FEARFUL PAS. 135
Countess, who had despatched it from her boudoir to solicit that she might be allowed
to intrude on her Lord's privacy for a few moments.
The Earl received his lady on her entrance into the library with the most dignified
courtesy, politely begging her to be seated. With the usual acknowledgments, she
acceded to the civil request.
"And now," said the nobleman, "may I be permitted to ask your Ladyship's
pleasure ? "
" Pardon me, my Lord," answered Lady Blazonfield, " the occasion which has com-
pelled me to seek your Lordship is aught but pleasurable."
" How, my Lady ! " the Earl had nearly exclaimed ; but he was not certain
whether she was serious or joking or, if joking, whether or not she was taking, that
liberty at his expense. The expression of his surprise, therefore, was simply phy-
"Lord Blazonfield," said the Countess, "I have to request your perusal of this
document ; ' ' and she handed him a letter. Her lips, as she spoke, were rather com-
pressed, and her voice slightly indicated subdued emotion.
His Lordship, with a magnificent bow, received the missive ; and then, with his
double eye-glass, proceeded to inspect the envelope. Having done so, he observed,
turning his eyes on her Ladyship " This, I perceive, is addressed to the Lady
" To your Lordship's and my eldest daughter," said the Countess, quietly, but with
stern emphasis. "Read it, Lord Blazonfield. The seal, you will perceive, is broken."
The Earl, resuming his eye-glass, brought it to bear upon the interior of the
epistle. Its contents must have moved him powerfully ; for as the first line met his
sight, he gave an actually perceptible start. As he read on, too, his eyes expanded,
and his eyebrows rose, until they had reached the highest degree of dilatation and
altitude of which they were respectively capable. In this state of countenance, with
the eye-glass evidently trembling in one hand, and the letter in the other, he stood,
when he had done reading, and gazed upon Lady Blazonfield, whose flashing orbs met
his enlarged ones, whilst a decided frown ruffled her brow of marble.
Well might the letter have agitated the lofty pair ; for it began with " My dearest
Florence," and ended with "Everlastingly Yours Alfred Bailey." Intermediate
between these portions of it, there was actually a proposal of marriage !
Where found you this, my Lady ? " demanded the thunderstruck Peer.
" In the Conservatory," replied the Peeress, "where I have every reason to believe
it was this morning dropped, after having been the object of the most objectionable
So far was the noble Earl carried away by his feelings, that he actually gave
utterance to as many as two or three of those ejaculations in which ordinary persons
express themselves when excited. It was awful to behold the nobleman thus sunk in
the father. But suddenly a bright thought crossed his brain if we may attribute so
common an organ to such a nobleman as his Lordship and he exclaimed, " Lady
^Blazonfield, it is possible that this may be a hoax."
" A hoax, my Lord," replied the Countess, " do you conceive that anybody could
have such presumption? "
" Is not that," said his Lordship, " more probable than a supposition so derogatory
as any other would be to our daughter ? "
" True," assented Lady Blazonfield.
136 FLORENCE PRESERVED; OR, THE FEARFUL PAS.
" We can decide this point at once." So saying, the Earl despatched a domestic
to request the attendance of Lady Florence in the library. " She is not yet aware,"
continued the nobleman, "that the Duke of Dumfries has made proposals for her
"We will therefore," said Lady Blazonfield, "begin by announcing that cir-
cumstance to her."
" Her reception of that intelligence in a becoming spirit will prove that our
apprehensions were unfounded," observed his Lordship.
" Truly ! " exclaimed the indignant Countess. But here entered the Lady
"Florence," said his Lordship, addressing his beautiful daughter, "I have to
apprize you of a distinguished honour which has been conferred upon our family."
" You don't say so ! How, Papa ?" inquired the lively Florence.
" In your person, Florence. You are to know that no less an individual than his
Grace the Duke of Dumfries has formally solicited your hand."
" I wish his Grace may get it," was the reply of Florence.
The Earl stared considerably on hearing these words. A peculiarity in their tone
seemed to puzzle him. "Yes;" he pursued. " Of course you wish he may get it.
So do I. The proposal of his Grace, then, is accepted."
" My Lord," said Florence, " you misunderstand me."
" Hey ? What ? How !" ejaculated her noble father.
"I won't have the Duke of Dumfries," said the high-born, but plain-spoken young
" Lady Florence Blazonfield !" exclaimed the Countess, with horror.
" Not have the Duke of Dumfries !" echoed the Earl, as soon as he could recover
his utterance. " The oldest Duke in the Peerage !"
" Old enough," said the Lady Florence, "to stand towards me in your venerated