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thing but smudges remained. He Don't mention it,' replied the laughed heartily over his meal, I can shopkeeper, thinking he had got tell you, and so enjoyed the whim- hold of a queer customer ; 'here's sical fancy, that it did him more your share—three-and-ninepence.' good than a dozen chops would Felix received it, and looked at have done. He was comically con- the shopkeeper with an odd smile cerned at the thought that he had on his lips. And when he was in eaten bone and all. 'I wonder it his room, paid the man the one he didn't stick in my throat and choke owed him by drawing caricatures me,' he said ; 'must be more care of him, and suddenly developed a ful next time.' The occasions were talent which, but for this small cirnot few on which he made light of cumstance, might have been hidden his reverses thus : he seasoned his under a bushel. With a fine sense bread-and-apples with many such of humour (which he was not afraid painted dishes, and amused him- of displaying under the shopkeepself sometimes by saying that his er's very nose, seeing that the man chop or his steak was underdone did not possess the discriminative or burnt up. He lived rarely dur- affection), Felix, the following day, ing these days : had pine-apples took to the shop a caricature of the when they were out of season, shopkeeper himself, in crayons, pears at a guinea apiece, grapes with which his patron was so tickled, from the hot-house, and every lux- not seeing the joke, that he bought ury he could think of. Then, it out of hand, and Felix was the going to the shop-window in which richer by a crown. The joke, howhis sketches had been exhibited, ever, told against Felix in a certain he saw that they were gone. It way, for the shopkeeper would have gave him a shock. He had put readily given more for it; but then what he considered to be a ridicu- Felix was conscientious, and did not lously low price upon them-ten set too high a price upon the man. shillings apiece. 'Perhaps he sold Felix dashed off a couple of other them for more,' thought Felix, and caricatures, and sold them likewise. entered the shop with a jaunty air. The scene of one was laid at a The shopkeeper gave him good- narrow luncheon-counter, which he day. It was best to get rid of had visited. There were three bar'em,' he said ; "they were blocking maids serving, but only the backs up the window, so I took an offer of their heads could be seen. There for them.'
is no need to say that this back “How much ?? asked Felix. view was imposing. The comic
‘Sketches are a drug,' said the ality of the sketch was in the faces shopkeeper, fencing.
of the eaters, with which the narrow 'I ought to have taken them to counter was lined. They were dea chemist, then,' observed Felix. picted eating their luncheons after
The shopkeeper stared; he had the fashion of their various temno sense of humour.
peraments. Some were solemn, 'I took seven-and-six for the some were farcical; the face of one pair,' said the shopkeeper, and then was buried in a pint-pot: all were defended himself without being ac- grotesque. The scene of the other cused, by adding, 'and a good price was a street on a rainy day. A too, I consider it.'
languid swell, six feet high, was Felix looked at the shopkeeper languidly holding an umbrella over with twinkling eyes.
his head, and a street Arab, two *Thank you, good sir,' he said ; feet and a half high, was running 'I owe you one.'
by his side, crying, 'Shall I 'old
yer umbrellar up, sir?' If Felix the circumstance of Charley lookhad been fertile in subjects, he ing for him after the play to shake might have done well in this line; hands with him had giaddened his but it was not every day that he heart—high up, eh? And only could get a new idea, and he was sixpence! You and I have been above copying old ones. Then in queerer places, haven't we, old came the incident of the fire, and boy?' the acceptance of his account of it And they fell-to again fishing up by the newspaper. He was fortun- pleasant memories from the past. ate in picking up other incidents, They were supping together in and made capital out of them. 'He Charley's room at the very hotel grew hopeful, and began to make which Felix had patronised when acquaintances. No money had ever he first came to London. been so sweet to him as the little “The waiter seems to know you, money he was earning.
Felix,' said Charley. About this time came a rare 'I was a lodger here once, and stroke of good fortune. Mention played the part of Grand Bashaw has been made of a friend with with twopence-ha'penny in my whom he had travelled abroad, and pocket. When my twopence-ha'who came home with him. Felix penny was spent, I fled.' was in the gallery of a theatre one 'An honourable retreat, I'll night, when he saw this friend in swear,' remarked Charley. the stalls. Their eyes met, and Felix twirled his cigar, and puffed they recognised each other. Felix out royally. made no sign, the chasm between “And now, old fellow, I must stalls and gallery was so deep and know all about you.' wide. But when the piece was over Felix told his friend all; of his Felix hurried to the door of the quarrel with his father, softening theatre, wondering if his friend that part of the story, and taking would try to find him out. By good much blame to himself; of his chance they met in the crowd; his quitting his home for ever and ever, friend had been hunting for him. never more to return, with his two· Felix, old fellow !
pence-ha'penny in his purse; of his • Charley, old boy !
coming to London to conquer the . I thought I wasn't mistaken, world; of his failure; of his funds Felix; but I was surprised to see running out; and of his taking to you up there!
the arts for a living. Only casually Felix smiled. "Funds low, old did he mention Lily, but his heart boy. Been long in London ? was so full of tenderness for her,
A month; can't tear myself that the few words he uttered reaway. Isn't it glorious? Come and specting her were rightly interhave some supper.'
preted by his friend. Nothing loth, for they really had Felix, you are in love.' been friends, Felix took Charley's Felix puffed away in silence, and arm, and they made a capital sup- looked into the fire. per, laughing and joking and quiz Come, old fellow,' continued zing as they had done in the old Charley, 'we used to have no setimes.
crets; we shared and shared, you But I say, old fellow,' said remember.' Charley, 'tell us about it. What's 'Well, Charley,' replied Felix, up?'
"I have kept no secret from you. 'I was, cried Felix merrily—he You know this one, at all events, was in the gayest of humours, for and you know it from me. But
don't let us talk about it; the odds 'If you are really serious,' said are that it will come to nothing.' Felix slowly, his colour rising, for One word only-rich ?'
he saw a great chance in the proPoor as I am.'
posal, 'and the Penny Whistle can And a lady ?
afforda special London correspond' A tender-hearted, pure-souled ent, I could send a capital two girl. “Right about face !"' which, columns every week, and I would in the old days, was a favourite cry take care to be on the look-out for with them when a subject was to anything special. Could it afford to be dismissed from their conver- a pound a week, Charley ?! sation.
A pound a week, old fellow! 'I borrowed some money of you cried Charley. “It's too little ! once, Felix.'
It is enough,' said Felix firmly; "You did, Charley, old boy- 'I could not accept more under the and paid it.'
circumstances. If the proprietors • Are you sure?'
write to me to that effect, I shall Felix laughed, rather boister- only be too happy to accept.' ously.
In a fortnight from that time • That won't do, old boy,' he Felix was engaged as London corsaid; 'no beating about the bush respondent at the sum fixed by between us two. The grog's con- himself. He ran to Old Wheels, foundedly strong. It must have and told the good news. He was been, for it made his eyes water. really beginning to open his oyster.
'Look here, Charley, I want money-badly; but I must earn it. Now, if you could help me to anything in the newspaper wayCharley broke in here with 'I
CHAPTER XXX. can, by Jove! You can do news
JIM PODMORE HAS A ‘ DAZE.' paper correspondence ? Felix nodded excitedly.
In the mean time, some of the Well,' continued Charley, en humble personages in our drama, thusiastically, 'down our way we've being fixed in certain grooves, rea newspaper, of course. What's an main there uneventfully, the only Englishman without a newspaper? changes that occur to them being Why, they start them in the Bush! marked by the hand of time. Mr. Now, between you and me--it Podmore continues in his situation mustn't go farther, mind—my dad on the railway, works as hard and is part proprietor, under the rose. as long hours as ever, comes home What a glorious thing it would be as tired as ever, but more often if we could get a London corre- now with a ' daze upon him, as he spondent, who moves in the best expresses it. This ‘daze'—he has society'-Charley winked, and Fe- no idea how he got hold of the lix responded -- who is hand-and- word-gives him terrible frights at glove with all the political nobs times, and causes him to be oband the literary swells ; who is be- livious of what passes around him. hind the scenes everywhere; who It never comes upon him but when knows all the news, and can serve he is dead-beat, when what is known it up piping hot and spicy! Now, as a fair day's work is turned into then, what do you say? The Penny a foul day's work by the abominWhistle is only a weekly, and we able system which coins large divicould only spare two columns to dends out of its servants' health, our London Special.'
and which taxes their strength so unfairly as to bring old age upon —often—thinking of it—with the men long before it is naturally due. perspiration-a running down me.' Jim Podmore is fearful to speak of Mrs. Podmore does her best to this ‘daze' to any one, for if it were comfort him, but she cannot sugknown to the officers of the com- gest a cure for Jim's ' daze.' You pany, short shrift would be his por- see old woman,' he says, 'it tion. Such a sympathetic affection wouldn't do—for me— to fall all as humanity holds no place in the even—and be laid up-for a week schemes and calculations of railway or two. That might do me good directors. Given so much blood - but it wouldn't do. Where's the and bone and muscle: how much money—to come from? We couldn't strain can they bear? This ascer- lay our hands-on a spare half a tained, apply the strain to its ut crown—to save our lives.' Which most, until blood, bone, and muscle was a fact. Capital, in the majority can no longer bear it, and fail, na- of instances, pays labour just such turally, to perform their task. Then a sum for its blood, bone, and throw aside, and obtain fresh. Jim muscle as is barely sufficient to live Podmore would not thus have ex- upon ; every farthing flies away for pressed it, but the conclusion at urgent necessities without which which he had arrived is the same labour would starve, with which it as the conclusion here set down. barely manages to preserve its The only person who knows of his health. The result is that labour fast-growing infirmity is his wife. grows inevitably into a state of He confides to her the various pauperism : hence workhousesstages of this daze;' how he goes which are not known in the world's to work of a morning pretty fresh, new lands. May they never be and how, when his fair day's work known! They are plague-spots, is being turned into a foul day's poisonous to the healthful blood work by the directors' strain, he of cities. begins to tire. “I seem to-fall However, until a change for the asleep--gradually,' he says, “al- worse comes, this small family of though I hear-everything about three, Mr. and Mrs. Podmore and me. All the wear and tear-of the their little Pollypod, live in their day—all the noise-all the slam- one room, and are more often ming and shouting—all the whist. happy there than otherwise. Felix ling and puffing-seem to get into frequently pays them visits, and the middle—of my head-and buzz learns from Jim and Mrs. Podmore there—as if they was bees. And so many particulars concerning the I go off— with this buzzing. Then railway system of overworking its I jump up-in a fright- just in servants, which he works up with time, old woman! — to shift the good effect in his newspaper letters points—but I'm all of a tremble- and in other ways. Felix likes to and feel fit to die. Then I fall off get hold of a good public grievance, -into a daze again and the buz- and has already learnt how to make zing goes on-in my head. Then capital of it. But, indeed, he could Snap-good old dog!—(Snap licks not write earnestly on any matter the hand that pats its head) ' pulls in which his sympathies were not at my trousers-sometimes—and in some way engaged. Pollypod wakes me. Suppose I shouldn't- enjoys herself greatly; she and rouse myself in time—some time Lizzie are firm friends, and the conor other — and something was to sequence is that she often accomoccur! What then, old woman? panies Lily to Lizzie's house in the I wake up—in the middle of a night country,' and spends the day there.
Old Wheels likes Lily to take the must be set up for David Sheldrake, child with her; and, apart from her otherwise he might be taken for a fondness for Pollypod, Lily is glad fool for parting with his money so to please her grandfather in this freely to a young fellow for whom way.
he cared no more than for the The Gribbles, senior and junior, snuff of a candle. David Sheldrake go on as usual. Gribble junior knew every trick of the game he maintains his ground, and is even was playing. Madly infatuated as prospering a little in his umbrella he was with Lily, he was too comhospital, which is generally pretty pletely a man of the world to throw full of patients. He 'keeps mov away the sums of money he ading' with his tongue, and is continu- vanced to Alfred from time to time. ally rattling away complacently on But the fact of it was, he got it all this subject and that. He likes back; what he gave with one hand Felix, who indeed is a favourite he received with the other. He with them all, but he has contracted made an express stipulation with an inveterate dislike to Mr. Shel- Alfred that Con Staveley should be drake, and never loses an opportu- the medium of all the young felnity of saying an ill word concern low's racing speculations; so that ing that gentleman. Gribble senior no sooner did David Sheldrake keeps his chandler's shop open, lend, than Con Staveley swallowed. but the trade continues to fall off Therefore, although in the aggrewofully, and the old shopkeeper gate Alfred owed David Sheldrake is more rampant than ever on the a large sum of money, the astute subject of coöperative stores, which David was really very little out of he declares will be the ruin of the pocket. He was aware that, in other country.
ways, Alfred was more extravagant Alfred grows more and more in- than his earnings at Messrs. Tickle fatuated with racing; he meets with and Flint warranted; but where he reverse after reverse, adopts system got the money from to supply these after system, discovers continually extravagances was no business of new methods of winning infallibly, David Sheldrake's. Alfred did not is buoyed-up and elated one day get it from him. But in Alfred's with the prospect of winning a moments of remorse, when he was great sum, and groans with despair pouring into David Sheldrake's ears the next day when the result is made accounts of his misfortunes, of how known. Of course he does not he was trapped by this tipster or dealways lose; he wins small sums ceived by that prophet, or swindled occasionally, but they are like rain- in some other way, many a chance drops in the sea. Week after week expression of terror escaped from passes, month after month flies by, him, of which David Sheldrake and he is sinking lower and lower. made good use in his reflectionsDavid Sheldrake stands his friend putting this and that together until still; still supplies him with money he had arrived at the truth, and and takes his signature for the knew for a certainty that Alfred amount, and, what with letters and was robbing his employers. He documents and information of how held in his hand Alfred's safety; matters stand with Alfred at the a word from him would be the office of his employers, Messrs. young fellow's destruction; and the Tickle and Flint, holds such a power which this gave him over dangerous power over the infatu- Lily was so complete that he would ated young man as can crush him not have parted with it upon easy at any moment. Here a defence terms. He never failed of impress