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J. C. (John Collis) Snaith.

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held up my head again had I given up that eminent nobleman to the
ignoble usages I have suggested. I foresaw this calamity; let me take
the credit therefore of its aversion."

"You gave it away without receiving a farthing for it!" cries Cynthia
aghast. "Oh, what a folly, Jack! Had we it now we could make thirty
shillings of it at any dealer's."

"I know, I know!" says I triumphantly, "I grant that; therefore do you
not more clearly see how finely I have acted by my grandfather?"

"Burn me if I do," says Cynthia. "Jack, what a fool thou art! For I
see never a thing of value left in the place; or stay, we might put
that pair of old iron pistols in a case and raise a loaf of bread on
them. I suppose that on the floor is the one with which you tried to
take your life, and as the one other's cocked, I suppose that's loaded
too."

"Tried to take my life," says I. "Cynthia, what words are these?"

"A truce to dissimulation, if you please," says Cynthia tartly, "for
feather-headed fellow that you are, yet do no better at it than any of
the other arts and sciences at which you have tried and failed."

I turned to the table and began sorting a handful of cards to cover my
confusion. A clever woman is the devil! Cynthia, to add a sting to
her speech, picked up the discharged pistol from the carpet,
ostentatiously searched for its case, and put it in. She then took up
the other.

"Is this loaded, or is it not?" she asked.

"No, it's not loaded," says I. "Pull down the trigger and put it in
too."

"Then, if it's not loaded, why was it cocked?" The question was
decidedly disconcerting. I was by no means willing to go into the
details of that matter, and therefore hesitated to find a reason.

"You don't know whether it's loaded or not," says Cynthia, sternly.

"Most certainly I do. Have I not said that it is not loaded?"

"And have I not said," says the impudent Cynthia, "that you don't know
whether it's loaded or not?"

"But, my dear child," says I, "have I not positively said that the
thing's not loaded?"

"Oh yes, I admit that," says the provoking creature. "But you must
admit too, sir, that I have more faith in my own judgment than I have
in yours. I say again that you don't know whether that pistol is
loaded or whether it is not."

"I'll lay you two to one in hundreds that I do," says I hotly.

"Would not a case of iron pistols against the sum of twelvepence
halfpenny be more appropriate in the circumstances?" says Cynthia.

"I believe you are right there," says I.

Cynthia then presented the pistol at the wall and a strange thing
happened. The room was filled with a reverberating crash, and when the
smoke that arose had lifted a little it was discovered that a large
mirror had been shivered into a thousand pieces.

"There," says Cynthia triumphantly.

As for me, I stood aghast for a moment, perfectly at a loss to explain
the pistol's strange behaviour. Then I suddenly broke out into a fit
of uncontrollable laughter; the admirable François had loaded them both.

It was then the turn of Cynthia to stand aghast.

"I hope your misfortunes have not deprived you of your reason," says
she, more tartly than ever; and added, "I knew all along that you
didn't know whether it was loaded or not."

"Come, come!" says I, keenly anxious, you may be sure, to change the
topic. "We have already tarried here over-long. I will tell you the
whole story in a more convenient place and season. If we don't go at
once, I am afraid we shall not go at all."

"True," says Cynthia, seating herself again on the couch with the most
deliberate and provoking coolness.

"What new whimsey is this?" says I, utterly nonplussed.

"I think, my Lord Tiverton," says Cynthia, with remarkable gravity,
"that you have overlooked an important particular."

"Which? What?" says I.

"Nay, my lord," says she, "I am the last person in the world to remind
you."

That might be true enough so far as it went, but the pretty roguish
chit composed her features and her person into such an affectation of
solemnity, and there was such a saucy twinkle in her eyes too, that all
the words in the English tongue could not have spoken more plainly than
she did without uttering any. It is, I suppose, one of the highest
gifts of her sex, though to be sure, would it were exercised more!

"Dammy," says I, "you mean - er - er; you mean that I must ask you to
marry me."

Instead of replying at once, she bent down and picked up half-a-dozen
cards from the floor, arranged them in the shape of a fan, and held
them in front of her eyes.

"La," says she, "your lordship is too kind. Pray ascribe my blushes to
my country breeding."

"Pah!" says I, "we have not the time for play-acting now. The moment
is very ill-chosen."

"Oh, I grant you that," says she, "but as you will allow that it was
none of my choosing, why should I forego the peculiar privileges that
my sex have ever derived from this position? No, as I'm a woman, I
will have this thing carried through in the most proper and approved
manner. Ods lud, sir! what notions have you got! I will be coy if I
choose, or haughty, or easy, or gracious, or mocking, or disdainful,
just as my mood is and as I've a mind to be. Now then, my lord, down
on to your noble knees, and pour forth your foolish speeches that are
meant to be so grand, which you must forget in the middle, whereon you
will descend out of a rather turgid poetry into a bald and somewhat
blasphemous prose. For I will have your lordship to know that I will
be wooed as a woman, else I will not be wooed at all. Down, down on to
your knees, my lord, and up, up with your apostrophes."

"What a consummate folly is this," says I, "when at any moment we may
be ta'en."

But the pretty little fool sat as demure as a mouse, not relaxing a lip
or twitching an eyebrow, i' faith as adorable a picture of a person as
any I've seen off a painted canvas. There was that tantalizing air
about her which at once invited, yet forbade; that aroused that which
it denied. I vow nothing could have been more taking than the sight of
little Cynthia sitting there as straight as any arrow that ever Cupid
shot, her knees and heels together, and her hands spread out with the
palms turned down, and her dainty toes peeping from underneath her
petticoat. Indeed, so was I worked on by her graces and airs that I
was like to forget the grim pass in which we were involved. Nay, I
gradually began to solicit her in a formal manner; a piece of behaviour
that contributed as much to her whimsical pleasure as it did to my
embarrassment. And when in accents of undying regard, I came to ask
for her hand in exchange for my heart and fortune, she was so charmed
with the natural fervour with which I did it, that she stopped me
imperiously, in the middle of much passion, and says: "I would have
your lordship go over again that splendid passage that you have just
uttered, that hath the fine swearing and the great humility in it. I
never heard anything choicer; Mr. Betterton never surpassed it."

And when I had humoured her as much as she wished and that was not
until I was thirsty and hot, and she was somewhat weary of keeping the
strict attitude that she thought best suited to receive my addresses
in, says she: "I declare, sir, you have pleased me vastly. You are as
good a suitor as any of them all. Mr. Waring never wooed me half so
well. As for Mr. Stokes, and Colonel Regan, and Sir John Dufty, and my
lord Viscount Brighouse, you compare very well with them too. You have
not the fine brawny pease-and-bacon appearance of Sir John, it is true,
nor is your voice so rich and noble as the Colonel's, begorra, nor is
your nose so well curved as Mr. Stoke's, nor have you a pretty little
lisp like my lord Viscount, but in the sum-total of your attributes you
do very fairly well. And therefore as your lordship's fortune is so
considerable, and you have already gained the approbation of my father,
I think the only course open to me - Oh, Jack, listen! What in the name
of heaven is that?"

"You may well ask," says I. "One, two, three, four, five probably or
more, according to their boots on the stairs, gentlemen from Bow Street
come to wait upon us."

"Oh, what shall we do!" says poor Cynthia, clapping her hands.

"Keep very calm, child, and carefully heed what I say. They will not
molest you; I am their game. But I doubt gravely whether I shall fall
to them at present. My way lies through that window and along the
tiles, and whilst they follow, you will simply go downstairs and walk
out at the front door. Go as swiftly as you can down to Piccadilly to
the gates of Hyde Park. And if I am not already come there before you,
wait till I arrive. It is to be considered, of course, that I may have
more difficulty than I apprehend in slipping these fellows."

Here the door was roughly taken and the next instant so heavy a blow
was delivered against it as partly drove in one of the panels. I had
just time to run into the adjoining chamber for a hat and a
riding-cloak, to plant a kiss between brave little Cynthia's brows, and
abjure her not to be afraid, when the door was driven in, and three or
four ugly wretches came tumbling one upon another pell-mell into the
room.




CHAPTER III

INTRODUCES A MERITORIOUS HEBREW

I had hardly time to open the window ere they were recovered of their
entry and on their feet. Seeing what I was about to attempt they made
a rush, but I did not bear youth and vigour in my limbs for nothing.
With a quickness that I'll warrant would have done no discredit to a
cat, I had poised myself on the precarious sill, and had twisted myself
into a favourable position for reaching the roof. It was easily in
reach, as this chamber very happily was at the top of the house. I had
barely taken a firm hold on the iron gutter that ran along the edge of
the tiles, before I had drawn up one knee, and was in the act of
dragging up the other as fast as I could, when it was seized by a hand
from the room below. Luckily for me, I had a firm enough hold of the
roof to get some little purchase for my imprisoned leg, whereby I was
enabled to deal my adversary a pretty smart kick in the teeth, which
sent him cursing back into the room. Thereupon I scrambled
willy-nilly, hands and knees, on to the tiles. Not one moment too
soon, however. My pursuers evidently numbered fleet and active fellows
among them. Their blood was up too. For scarcely had I gone ten yards
along the edge of the tiles, moving on all-fours for safety, ere
another fellow was also in possession of the roof. This was not at all
to my liking, and a good deal outside my calculations, since I had not
expected that these clumsy Bow Street runners would attempt to follow
me in this fashion.

My pursuer gave a view-halloa and followed me so fast that I realized
at once that at this game Jack was like to be as good as his master.
Perchance the fellow was better schooled in this mode of procedure than
I, for he was clattering behind me, preparing to grab my heels before I
could take my bearings. I did not know where I was, and had not the
least idea as to how I should get away. But one thing was plain. I
had embarked on so bold a course that the moment there was a limit to
my daring all would be lost. Therefore, hearing the Bow Street
gentleman wheezing and grunting a yard or two behind me, I stopped and
rose to my feet, and turned round so suddenly as considerably to
endanger my own safety and to take him entirely unawares. And I sent
my fist such a crack in his eye, that only a miracle saved him from
toppling over the parapet into the middle of Jermyn Street, twenty feet
beneath.

While Mr. Catchpole sprawled and wallowed with his arms and legs
outstretched striving to save himself from falling over the brink, and
howling to his mates, whose heads were just showing above the gutter,
to come to his assistance, I took the occasion to alter my tactics.
Instead of crawling along the edge, I began climbing up in a vertical
direction. And my pursuer being but a runner from Bow Street after
all, had been considerably cooled in his zeal, and accordingly allowed
me rather more of elbow room, whilst his companions, of whom two more
had now come upon the top, observing the nature of his accident, were
in no such hurry as he had been to come by one themselves.

I mounted painfully enough as high as the chimney pots, not without
some damage to the skin of my hands and knees, and a good deal of
slipping and sliding. A game of hide-and-seek followed. Reaching the
opposite slope of the roofs, which concealed me and put me farthest
away from the enemy, I crept as swiftly as I could from chimney-stack
to chimney-stack with ever a keen eye for a means of getting down again
into the street. Some yards ahead I saw that the straight line of the
tiles was broken by a dormer window. I made to this for here was the
very chance that I desired. Alas! when I reached it I found it secured
from within. I had no time in which to break a pane of glass in the
hope that I might put my hand through and discover the fastenings. A
couple of the traps had already found out in which direction I had
gone, and were even now standing on the apex, and beckoning to the
others. I moved away to another dormer window a few yards further on.
It too was fast, but looking ahead I saw, greatly to my relief, that a
third was standing open. My satisfaction had a short life, however.
For scarcely had I made two yards towards it ere I observed a thing
that in my haste I had overlooked. The line of the houses ended
abruptly; the open window belonged to another row. Between ran an
alley or a narrow street, wide enough to make me pause in my career.
Hard pressed as I was, I must confess that I had no fancy to attempt a
leap so precarious. I turned to go back, but the enemy had followed so
smartly on my heels that I saw in a glance that there was no chance of
retreating by the way I had come. My only hope lay in a forward
direction; I could not possibly retire. Nor must I hesitate an instant
either. The closer I came to this gulf in the houses the more
desperate it looked, but my resolve was already taken. A drowning man
clutches at a straw.

Impeded as I was with a cumbersome riding-coat, I could not hope to
make the leap successfully. Hastily pulling it off, therefore, I
folded it up in some rude fashion, for I could not afford to lose it,
and pitched it over a space between the houses. It landed in safety
well over the immediate brink. The traps, apprehending the nature of
the feat I was about to attempt, were coming along the roof with
wonderful expedition. Indeed, they are almost within an arm's-length
of me when I started on the run to make the leap. With teeth set, and
it must be confessed some little sickness of anticipation in my spirit,
I ran as hard as I could, and hurled myself into the air with a
despairing energy. That I covered the gulf and landed with my knees on
the coat I had cast across, I have always ascribed to that benevolent
Providence that hath such a jealous regard for the worthless. And in
sooth when I had actually arrived there it was one of the greatest
wonders in the world that I did not fall back again in the recoil, or
did not begin to roll sideways and so tumble over the lower edge. But
somehow I recovered my balance before either of these calamities
happened. Then I felt that I might breathe again.

There was precious little to fear that the men from Bow Street would be
bold enough to follow me. For when I came to contemplate, now as you
may believe with no little satisfaction, the magnitude of the hazard
intervening between us, it cost me a shudder in despite of my
complacency. And as in their case it was not a life and death matter
on which line of the roofs they happened to stand, and they had no
thoughts of adorable little Cynthia to spur them on to these great
risks, I think they may be pardoned for giving back before that which I
with so many sweats and misgivings had accomplished. Nor do I lay any
unction to myself, since I am sure that had I stood in their shoes, or
had I played for a lesser stake, I would have had none of such risks
either. Nay, I am not altogether clear in my mind that had I not been
heated by the fine excitements of the hue and cry I should have been
wrought up to do it as it was. There can be little doubt, I think,
that the chase makes a much nobler and more adventurous creature of the
fox than ever consists with his vulgar and common character.

Seeing my pursuers had halted on the opposite brink, and were
presenting such a helpless and bewildered appearance as plainly showed
they had no stomach for a similar deed, I was able to resume my riding
coat at my ease, and even to engage in a few words of conversation as I
did so. Says I:

"Certainly, gentlemen, I think you are well advised in not seeking to
come over. 'Pon my soul I would not have come over myself had you not
pressed me so hard! Here is a guinea to drink my health, and now I
will wish you good afternoon!"

Such is the power of habit that I fumbled in several pockets in search
of a gold piece to toss them, ere I recollected the bankrupt condition
in which I stood. Perforce I had to be content with a bow and a
lifting of the hat, whereupon I went my way along the roof while they
were left at the end of their wits to discover a means by which they
might circumvent me.

I had not an instant of time to lose, however, if I was to make good my
escape. There were doubtless persons in the street below who had had a
keen eye for these proceedings. No sooner would they see in which
direction the cat was to jump than they would act accordingly.
Therefore it behoved me to be as bold and as quick as ever. The open
dormer window offered the readiest mode of egress. I made to it at
once, and peering within saw that the chamber, a bedroom, was very
happily empty. I had no difficulty in squeezing my body through the
narrow opening and so came into the room. Having done this, I securely
fastened the window to present a further obstacle to my enemies. The
great thing that lay before me now was to make my way downstairs as
cautiously as I could, and to slip out of the house without attracting
the attention of its occupants, or of those of my foes who might be
lurking about in the street. But much address was required to perform
all this successfully, as you will readily understand.

First I opened the door of the bed-chamber with noiseless care, and
then groped my way through the gloom and strangeness of the place to
the stairs. And mighty rickety and full of noises they were when I
found them. They began so sheer and abruptly, and so close to the
bed-room door, that in spite of my caution, I was on them long ere I
thought I was, and as a consequence nearly pitched headlong down their
whole length. Mercifully I recovered my balance in the nick of time,
but not before, as it seemed to my nervous ears, I had set up an
intolerable clatter that appeared to echo and re-echo through every
room of the house. Step by step, I crept down the stairs, and paused
to listen on every one. It was so dark that I had to be very tenacious
of the walls. But fortune was still on my side. There seemed not a
soul in all the house, nor could I hear a sound. Yet every step I
descended the place grew darker and darker; there was not so much as a
glimmer of light from a door or a window to be discerned; while the
walls were so close about me that when I stretched out my hands I could
feel them on either side. Presently I ceased to descend, whereon much
shuffling of my feet ensued, and I concluded that this was some kind of
a landing. More shuffling and gingerly manoeuvring followed, and then
the stairs began again, and the place grew darker than ever. The
darkness became so great that I could not see my hand before my face;
and as I had not the means about me to procure a light, nor would have
dared to employ them had they been in my possession, I began to marvel
where in the world I was coming to.

At last the stairs ended altogether, and on pushing carefully forward,
my nose suddenly came against an unexpected obstacle. Running my hands
over it, I judged it to be a door. I put my ear to the wood, but
listen as I might I could hear no sound. Whither it led or what lay
behind it I had not the vaguest notion, nor was there a speck of light
by which I might make a guess. But when the handle of the door came
into my fist, I decided not to flinch the situation whatever it might
present. A bold course had been my salvation hitherto; come what might
I would continue in it. Therefore, I cautiously turned the handle, and
opened the door an inch at a time, I daresay I had got it about five
inches apart when it was rudely grasped from the other side, and flung
wide open in my face. A Jew stood before me, as true a child of Israel
as ever I set eyes on. He cast up his hands and gurgled in his anger
and surprise.

"Why, what the deffil!" says he at last.

"How do you do, sir," says I, cordially holding out my hand. "Proud to
meet you, sir, infernally proud to meet you."

Although I had hoped that my air and tone were the very pattern of
affability, I doubt if this Hebrew thought them so; or even if he did,
he hardly seemed to think they became me in the circumstances as
handsomely as I had hoped they would. For he gurgled and cackled, his
tawny countenance grew redder and redder, his hands trembled, and he
contorted his body into a truly fantastic shape. Meantime I gazed past
him to see whence he had emerged, in the hope that I might get some
clue as to what would be the best line of conduct to adopt. To my
infinite pleasure I saw that I had come upon the threshold of a
pawnbroker's shop, since a truly miscellaneous collection of articles
lay scattered about it, whilst the character and nation of my
inquisitor alone warranted the theory. Yet in an instant was my
satisfaction turned to anger, for there, staring into my very eyes with
all the meditative grandeur he had of yore, was that learned nobleman,
my grandfather. It was well for M. François that he was not at that
moment within my reach.

"What do you do here?" says the Jew, having discovered his tongue at
last. "Do you think I do not know? You haf come to rob my house.
Benjamin, bring your blunderbush. In broad daylight, too. O heaven,
what effrontery!"

"My dear Mr. Moses," says I winningly, "what words are these?
Effrontery - rob your house; to conceive that I, the best friend your
tribe ever had or for that matter ever will have, should be thus
accosted by you! I am here as a client, sir; and to conceive that you
of all men should deny a client when he takes these monstrous pains to
come to you in privacy!"

Mr. Moses was a good deal reassured by my address. But after all his
race are a good deal too tenacious to be put off so lightly. He
demanded to know in what manner I had come there and he did it so
boisterously too, and in a fashion so calculated to attract the
attention of persons in the street that I judged it wisest to make a
clean breast of how matters stood with me.

"Well, Mr. Moses," says I, "if you must know I am that great benefactor
of your tribe, Lord Tiverton. My lodgings are about six doors up the
street, and they have been visited this afternoon by the dirtiest set
of minions from Bow Street as ever I saw. And so hard was I put to it
to clear them that I took to the housetops, whereupon, seeing your
dormer window open, I gave them the slip by climbing into it, and here
I am. And mark you, my dear Mr. Moses, I would not so honour the
dormer windows of all and sundry, no, rabbit me an I would. For I am
mighty particular as to whose hands I would accept an obligation from.
But if a friend cannot take a benefaction from a friend, then who in
all the world is one to take it from? As Flaccus himself has said."

Mr. Moses, you may be sure, was mollified indeed.

"I am sure I beg your lordship's pardon," says he. "A thousand times
most humbly I am sure I do. Benjamin, put by your blunderbush; and
withdraw the curtains across the window, sirrah, for I have seen the
traps walking up and down the street, and peering here and there and
everywhere this last ten minutes; yes, that I have. Is there any
particular in which I can serve your lordship?"

"Yes, by thunder, that you can!" says I. "I must get away from here
unknown as quickly as you might count ten. The traps are still about


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