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morning, to ask after the little Prymes, but the joke caused so many rows and quarrels, that we have given it up ?”

“Where is he?" asked Mr. Phipps, with a glance round the office. “In the Secretary's private room.

But hush ! here he comes." The three clerks hastily retreated to their several desks, and began writing with great apparent diligence; yet vigilantly watching every movement of the nervous and fidgety Mr. Pryme, who entered the room with an uneven step, looking rather fushed and excited, and vigorously rubbing his bald head with his silk handkerchief. Perhaps he noticed that he was observed, for he looked uneasily and suspiciously from one clerk to the other; but each face preserved a demure gravity, and the little, stout, bald, florid gentleman repaired to his own place. The Morning Post, damp and still unfolded, was lying on his desk: he took it up, dried it at the fire, and began to read--but the next minute he laid down the paper, and seizing the poker made several plunges at the coals, as often against the bars as between them, till the metal rang again. Then he resumed the Post—but quickly relinquished it-quite unable to fix his attention on the type-an incompetence perfectly astounding to the other clerks, who considered reading the newspaper as a regular and important part of the official duties.

By Jove,” whispered Mr. Phipps to Mr. Grimble, whom he had approached under the pretence of delivering a document, “he cannot Post the news any more than his ledger.”

Mr. Grimble acquiesced with a grave nod and a grimace; and Mr. Phipps returning to his desk, a silence ensued, so profound that the scratching of the pens at work on the paper was distinctly audible. The little bald cashier himself had begun to write, and for some minutes was occupied so quietly that curiosity gave way to business, and the three clerks were absorbed in their calculations, when a sudden noise caused them to look up. Mr. Pryme had jumped from his high stool, and was in the act of taking down his hat from its peg. He held it for a while in his hand, as if in deep deliberation, then suddenly clapped it on his head, but as hastily took it off again—thrust the Morning Post into the crown, and restored the beaver to its place on the wall. The next moment he encountered the eye of Phipps—a suspicion that he was watched seemed to come across him, and his uneasiness increased. He immediately returned to his desk, and began to turn over the leaves of an account-book-but with unnatural haste, and it was evident that although his eyes were fixed on the volume, his thoughts were elsewhere, for by degrees he went off into a revery, only rousing now and then to take huge pinches of snuff. At last, suddenlywaking up, he pulled out his watch-pored at it-held it up to his ear-replaced it in his fob, and with a glance at his hat, began drawing on his gloves. Perhaps he would have gone off—if Mr. Grimble had not crossed over from his desk, and placed an open book before him, with a request for his signature. The little bald, florid man, without removing his glove, attempted to write his name, but his hand trembled so that he could hardly guide the pen. However, he tried to carry off the matter as a joke-but his laugh was forced, and his voice had the quavering huskiness of internal agitation.

“Ha! ha!-rather shaky—too much wine last night-eh, Mr. Grimble ?"

The latter made no reply, but as he walked off with the book under his arm, and his back towards Mr. Pryme, he bestowed a deliberate wink on each of his associates, and significantly imitated with his own hand the aspen-like motion he had just observed. The others responded with a look of intelligence, and resumed their labours: but the tall, dark man fell into a fit of profound abstraction, during which he unconsciously scribbled on his blotting-paper, in at least a score of places, the word EMBEZZLEMENT.


“And do you really mean to say, Mr. Author, that so respectable a bald man had actually appropriated the public money ?"

Heaven forbid, madam. My health is far too infirm, and my modesty much too delicate to allow me to undertake, offhand, the work of twelve men; and who sometimes are not strong enough, the whole team, to draw a correct inference. As yet, Mr. Pryme only labours under suspicion, and a very hard labour it is to be sentenced to before conviction. But permit me to ask, do you really associate baldness with respectability ?

“Of course, sir. All bald men are respectable.” It is indeed a very general impression—so much so, that were I a criminal, and anxious to propitiate a Judge and Jury at my trial, I would have my head shaved beforehand as clean as a monk's. And yet it is a strange prepossession, that we should connect guilt with a fell of bair, and innocence with a bare sconce ! Why, madam, why should we conceive a bald man to be less delinquent than another ?

“I suppose, sir, because he has less for a catch-pole to lay hold of ?

Thank you, ma'am! The best reason I have heard for a prejudice in all my life!


The little bald, florid man, in the mean time, continued his nervous and fidgety evolutions—worrying the fire, trying on his hat and gloves, snuffing vehemently, coughing huskily, and winking perpetually-now scurrying through folios—then drumming the devil's tattoo on his desk, and moreover, under pretence of mending his pens, had slashed half-a-dozen of them to pieces—when he received a fresh summons to the Secretary's room.

The moment the door closed behind him, the two clerks, Phipps and Trent, darted across to Mr. Grimble, who silently exhibited to them the shaky autograph of the agitated cashier. They then adjourned to the fire, where a pause of profound cogitation ensued; the Junior intensely surveying his bright boots-Mr. Phipps industriously nibbling the top of his pen-while Mr. Grimble kept assiduously breaking the bituminous bubbles, which exuded from the burning coals, with the point of the poker.

“It is very extraordinary !" at last muttered Mr. Phipps. “Very,” chimed in the Junior Clerk.

Mr. Grimble silently turned his back on the fire, and fixed his gaze on the ceiling, with his mouth firmly compressed, as if meaning to signify, “ that whatever he might think, he would say nothing"- in case of any thing happening to Mr. Pryme, he was the next, in point of seniority, for the vacant place, and delicacy forbade his being the first to proclaim his suspicions.

" You don't think he is going off, do you ?" inquired Mr. Phipps.

Mr. Grimble turned his gaze intently on the querist as though he would look him through-hemm’d—but said nothing.

“I mean off his head."
“Oh, I thought you meant off to America.”

It was now Mr. Phipps's turn to look intently at Mr. Grimble, whose every feature he scrutinized with the studious interest of a Lavater.

“ Why you surely don't mean to say—"
" do.”
“ What that he has-"
“ Yes.”
“ Is it possible!"

Mr. Grimble gave three distinct and deliberate nods, in reply to which, Mr. Phipps whistled a long phe-e-e-e-e-ew!

All this time the Junior had been eagerly listening to the mysterious conference, anxiously looking from one speaker to the other, till the hidden meaning suddenly revealed itself to his mind, and with the usual indiscretion of youth he immediately gave it utterance.

Why then, Grimble, old Pryme will be transported, and you will walk into his shoes."

Mr. Grimble frowned severely, and laid one forefinger on his lips, while with the other he pointed to the door. But Mr. Pryme was still distant in the Secretary's private room.

“Well, I should never have thought it !" exclaimed Mr. Phipps. “ He was so regular in his habits, and I should say very moderate in his expenses. He was never given to dress (the young clerk laughed at the idea), and certainly never talked like a gay man with the other sex (the Junior laughed again). I don't think he gambled, or had any connexion with the turt? To be sure he may have dabbled a little in the Alley—or perhaps in the Discounting line."

To each of these interrogative speculations Mr. Grimble responded with a negative shake of the head, or a doubtful shrug of the shoulders, till the catalogue was exhausted, and then, with his eyes cast upward, uttered an emphatic “ God knows !"

“ But have you any proof of it ?" asked Mr. Phipps.

“ None whatever--not a particle. Only what I may call a strong a very strong presentiment."

And as if to illustrate its strength, Mr. Grimble struck a blow with the poker that smashed a large Staffordshire coal into shivers.

“ 'Then there may be nothing wrong after all!" suggested the goodnatured Mr. Phipps. “And really Mr. Pryme has always seemed so respectable, so regular, and so correct in business~"

* So did Fauntleroy, and the rest of them;" muttered Mr. Grimble, " or they would never have been trusted. However, it's a comfort to think that he has no children, and that the capital punishment for such offences has been abolished.”

“I can hardly believe it !" ejaculated Mr. Phipps.

· My dear fellow," said the young clerk,“ there is no mistake about it. I was watching him when the messenger came to fetch him to the secretary, and he started and shook as if he had expected a policeman.”

Mr. Phipps said no more, but retreated to his place, and with his elbows on his desk, and his head between his hands, began sorrowfully to ruminate on the ruin and misery impending over the unfortunate cashier. He could well appreciate the nervous alarm and anxiety of the wretched man, liable at any moment to detection, with the consequent disgrace, and a punishment scarcely preferable to death itself. His memory reminded him that Mr. Pryme had done him various services, while his imagination pictured his benefactor in the most distressing situations in the station-house---at Bow-street-in Newgate-at the bar of the Old Baily-in a hulk-in a convict-ship, with the common herd of the ruffianly and the depraved—and finally toiling in life-long labour in a distant land. And as he dwelt on these dreadful and dreary scenes, the kind-hearted Phipps himself became quite unhinged : his own nerves began to quiver, whilst his muscles sympathizing with the mental excitement, prompted him to such restless activity, that he was soon almost as fidgety and perturbed as the object of his commiseration.

Oh! that the guilty man, forewarned of danger by some providential inspiration, might have left the office never to return ! But the hope was futile : the door opened—the doomed Mr. Pryme hastily entered

- went to his own desk, unbuttoned his waistcoat, and clutching his bewildered bald head with one fevered hand, began with the other to turn over the leaves of a journal, without perceiving that the book was upside down.

“ Was there ever," thought Phipps,“ such an infatuation! He has evidently cause for alarm, and yet lingers about the fatal spot."

How he yearned to give him a hint that his secret was known-to say to him, “Go!-Fly! ere it be too late! Seek some other country where you may live in freedom and repent.”

But, alas ! the eyes of Grimble and Trent were upon him, and above all the stern figure of inexorable Duty rose up before him, and melting the wax of Silence at the flaming sword of Justice, imposed a seal upon

his lips.


“Gracious Goodness !" exclaims Female Sensibility,“ and will the dear fresh-coloured bald little gentleman be actually transported to Botany Bay !"

My dear Miss—a little patience. A criminal before such a consummation has to go through more processes than a new pin. First, as Mrs. Glasse says of her hare, he has to be caught, then examined, committed, and true-billed-arraigned, convicted, and sentenced, Next, he must, perhaps, be cropped, washed, and clothed-hulked and

shipped, and finally, if he does not die of sea-sickness, or shipwreck, or get eaten by the natives, he may toil out his natural term in Australia, as a stone-breaker, a cattle-keeper, or a domestic servant !

“ Dear me, how dreadful! And for a man, perhaps, like Mr. Pryme, of genteel habits and refined notions, accustomed to all the luxuries of life, and every delicacy of the season. I should really like to set on foot a little private subscription, for providing him with the proper comforts in prison and a becoming outfit for his voyage.”

My dear young lady, I can appreciate your inotives and do honour to your feelings. But before you go round with your book among relations, acquaintance, and strangers, soliciting pounds, shillings, and pence, from people of broad, middling, and narrow incomes, just do me the favour to look into yonder garret, exposed to us by the magic of the Devil on Two Sticks, and consider that respectable young woman, engaged at past midnight, by the light of a solitary rushlight, in making shirts at three-halfpence a piece, and shifts for nothing. Look at her hollow eyes, her withered cheeks, and emaciated frame, for it is a part of the infernal bargain that she is to lose her own health and find her own needles and thread. Reckon, if you can, the thousands of weary stitches it will require to sew, not gussets and seams, but body and soul together : and perhaps, after all her hard sewing, having to sue a shabby employer for the amount of her pitiful earnings. Estimate, if you may, the terrible wear and tear of head and heart, of liver and lungs. Appraise, on oath, the value of youth wasted, spirits outworn, prospects blasted, natural affections withered in the bud, and all blissful hopes annihilated except those beyond the grave

“ What! by that horrid, red-faced, bald-pated, undersized little monster!"

No, Miss—but by a breach of trust on the part of a banker of genteel habits and refined notions; accustomed to all the luxuries of life, and every delicacy of the season.

“Oh, the abominable villain! And did he ruin himself as well as the poor lady?"

“ And was transported ?"
" What to Botany ?"

No, Miss. To the loveliest part of Sussex, where he is condemned to live in a commodious Cottage Residence, with pleasure-ground and kitchen-garden annexed--capital shooting and fishing, and within reach of two packs of hounds!

“Shameful! Scandalous !-why it's no punishment at all."

No, Miss. And then to think of the hundreds and thousands of emigrants-English, Scotch, and Irish-who for no crime but poverty, are compelled to leave their native country—the homes and hearths of their childhood—the graves of their kindred—the land of their fathers, and to settle—if settling it may be called-in the houseless woods and wildernesses of a foreign clime.

“Oh, shocking! shocking! But if I was the government the wicked fraudulent bankers and trust-breakers should be sent abroad

Why shouldn't they be punished with passage money and grants

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