Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

to a particular hat-peg, took off a good hat that was hanging there, tried it on, hung his own hat in its place, and hung that hat on another peg nearly opposite to me. I then felt quite certain that he was the thief, and would come back by-and-bye.

"When they were all upstairs, the gentleman came in with the great-coat. I showed him where to hang it, so that I might have a good view of it; and he went away; and I lay under the sofa on my chest, for a couple of hours or so waiting.

"At last, the same young man come down. He walked across the room, whistling-stopped and listened-took another walk and whistled--stopped again, and listenedthen began to go regularly round the pegs, feeling in the pockets of all the coats. When he came to THE great-coat, and felt the pocket-book, he was so eager and so hurried that he broke the strap in tearing it open. As he began to put the money in his pocket, I crawled out from under the sofa, and his eyes met mine.

"My face, as you may perceive, is brown now, but it was pale at that time, my health not being good; and looked as long as a horse's. Besides which, there was a great draught of air from the door, underneath the sofa, and I had tied a handerchief round my head; so what I looked like, altogether, I don't know. He turned blue-literally blue-when he saw me crawling out, and I couldn't feel surprised at it.

"I am an officer of the Detective Police,' said I, 'and have been lying here, since you first came in this morning I regret, for the sake of yourself and your friends, that you should have done what you have; but this case is complete. You have the pocketbook in your hand and the money upon you; and I must take you into custody!'

"It was impossible to make out any case in his behalf, and on his trial he pleaded guilty. How or when he got the means I don't know; but while he was awaiting his sentence, he poisoned himself in Newgate."

We inquired of this officer, on the conclusion of the foregoing anecdote, whether the time appeared long, or short, when he lay in that constrained position under the sofa?

"Why, you see, Sir,' he replied, ' if he hadn't come in, the first time, and I had not been quite sure he was the thief, and would return, the time would have seemed long. But, as it was, I being dead-certain of my man, the time seemed pretty short.'

9 19

The Way I made my Fortune.

THREE

HREE of us were sitting in a small room, and complaining of the hardships of our destiny.

"Without money one can do nothing," said George; "were I to hit upon a speculation that would have done honour to a Rothschild, coming from a pauper like myself, no one would think it worth attending to."

"I," said Albert, "have actually finished a work which would establish my reputation as an author, if I could only find a bookseller to buy it."

"I have petitioned my employer for an increase of salary," I exclaimed, anxious to contribute to the chorus of lamentation;" and he told me that for forty louis a year he could get more clerks than he wanted."

"It would not so much matter," said George, thoughtfully, "if besides being poor, we did not seem poor. Could one of us only be thought rich-_—_—_—_"}

"What is the use of the shadow without the substance ?" I asked.

Of every use," said Albert. "I agree with George-the shadow sometimes makes the substance. The next best thing to capital is credit."

"Especially," returned George," the credit of having a good fortune. Have none of us a rich uncle in India ?"

66

"A cousin of mine went to Jamaica or Martinique, I forget which," I said, innocently," and he never came back.” "Capital that is all one requires," exclaimed George, we will conjure up this cousin of yours-or could we not kill him? Yes; James Meran, of Martinique, deceased, leaving a sugar plantation, a hundred negroes, and a fortune of a hundred thousand louis to his well-beloved cousin, Louis Meran."

;

We laughed at the joke, and I thought no more of it but George and Albert-slightly excited by the fumes of a bowl of punch which I had sent for to do honour to the testator-lost no time in concocting and afterwards publishing a full account in a local newspaper, of the fortune that had been left me.

The next day, sundry friends dropped in to compliment me. Of course, I endeavoured to undeceive them, but they would not take a denial. In vain I assured them it was a hoax; it was of no use. Several people remembered my cousin James very well, and had seen him at Nantes before he embarked in 1789. Among others came my tailor, to whom I owed a small sum which it was not quite convenient for me to pay at that moment. No doubt the rumour of my cousin's decease had sharpened his memory. I wished my two friends at a place that shall be nameless.

"Good morning, Mr. Mayer: I suppose you are come for those fifty francs ?"

"I hope, sir, you don't think I came for such a trifle as that. No, sir; I came to take your orders for a suit of mourning."

"A suit of mourning?"

!

"Yes, sir; cousin's mourning. Dark bronze frock, for morning wear, black trowsers and waistcoat."

"At the present moment, Mr. Mayer"

"I hope, sir, I have done nothing to forfeit your patronage ?"

"But, I repeat, I have received no money at all."

"I hope, sir, you won't mention such a thing; there is no sort of hurry," exclaimed the tailor; who busily employed himself in taking my measure with slips of paper.

After all, my wardrobe did want some additions, and I said nothing more.

66

My dear sir," said the next visitor, "I have a very great favour to request of you. Buy my house. You are very rich; you must be on the look-out for safe and lucrative investments. Sixty thousand francs are nothing for you-a mere fraction of your income. With me the case is different. I thought Mr. Felix had made up his mind to purchase the premises, and now I hear he has changed his intention. What is to become of me? I have heavy demands to meet, and I don't know where the money is to come from."

66

I, buy your house? Why, it would be madness to think of such a thing."

"Madness? no such thing; you could not find a better investment anywhere. In two years, with trifling repairs, it will be worth double its present value; you will never see such a good opportunity again. Say' done,' and I'm off." And he was off, without leaving me time to put in a

word.

Two hours after, in walked Mr. Felix, evidently not in the best of tempers.

"Really, sir," he began," you have taken me quite by surprise. That house is indispensable to me; I reckoned on it as if it were mine, and only offered fifty thousand francs because the owner is embarrassed, and I felt sure that he would be obliged to take them. With you sir, the case

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »