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"You are very good," said Mr. Pouncer; "but if you will have no objection, Mr. Bolderby, we will come at once to business."
"Certainly, sir; business, Mr. Pouncer, must be attended to," said Mr. Bolderby, with the same air of satisfaction at having said something rather good.
"Well, then, to come to the point at once, Mr. Bolderby, I wish to sink £10,000 in an annuity on my own life, and I want to know what you will give me for that sum."
"Well, Mr. Pouncer," said Mr. Bolderby, "you must be aware that the price of an annuity is regulated by the circumstances of the case-the age of the party, the state of his health; in fact, the probabilities of his life."
"Yes, exactly, Mr. Bolderby; but my object in coming to you, in preference to an annuity office, is just to get rid of all that bother. My age is fifty-three-there is the certificate of my birth-and as far as my health and probabilities of life as you call them, you must judge from what you see of me;" and the stranger stood up to let Mr. Bolderby have a good view of him at all points.
"Well, really, Mr. Pouncer, this is rather a precipitate way of doing business, and
"Very well, Mr. Bolderby," said the stranger, rising, "if you are not prepared to do business with me, I must apply to your neighbour, Mr. Mortimer, who will perhaps be more ready to
"Stay, stay, one moment, I beg," said Mr. Bolderby; "oblige me by resuming your seat, Mr. Pouncer, while I make a rough calculation."
Mr. Bolderby figured for a few moments on his blotting pad, and, then addressing his visitor, said "What do you say to five per cent., Mr. Pouncer?"
"Oh ridiculous! absurd! monstrous !" exclaimed that gentleman, rising, and putting on his hat, "monstrous, monstrous! I won't take less than fifteen per cent., not a farthing."
"Well, well, my dear sir, don't go yet," begged Mr. Bolderby, as he saw his client moving towards the door, "let us talk the matter over; let us see if we cannot ineet each other. Now, what do you say to
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Bolderby," interposed the stranger, “but, before you proceed any further, can you let me have some liquor? Talking, you know, is dry work."
"By all means, my dear sir," said Bolderby, "let me offer you a glass of wine."
"Excuse me, Mr. Bolderby," said the client, "but I prefer brandy, if it is the same thing to you."
"Quite the same, my dear sir," said Bolderby, fetching a bottle of brandy and a glass from a cupboard. "Now help yourself, Mr. Pouncer."
Mr. Pouncer did help himself. He poured out and tossed off two brimming glasses of brandy one after the other, Mr. Bolderby looking on in blank amazement. Having filled his glass a third time, the eccentric client observed, "Half a pint or from that to a pint of brandy every morning before breakfast, Mr. Bolderby, is pretty well. Couldn't get on without it. Some folks are all of a titter-totter, sir, until they get their brandy. Pretty good brandy that of yours. But now to business. You were about to observe, Mr. Bolderby,"
"I was about to observe," said that gentleman, "that is to say, I was about to advance my offer to-to nine per cent."
"I won't take it, Mr. Bolderby, there!" and Mr. Pouncer put a practical mark of admiration to the word "there!" by swallowing a third glass of brandy.
"Half a pint of brandy, or from that to a pint, every morning before
breakfast," thought Mr. Bolderby to himself, "if he carry on that game, he is not likely to want his annuity very long."
"Well, Mr. Pouncer, let us say ten per cent."
"No-no," ,"exclaimed the client, impatiently, "I won't take ten per cent., I won't take twelve per cent., I won't take twelve and a half, nor twelve and three quarters-I'll take nothing less than fifteen," and Mr. Pouncer dashed out another glass of brandy, with so reckless and unsteady a hand that half of it went over Mr. Bolderby's docketted papers. The client swallowed a fourth glass of brandy, and again protested that he would accept nothing less than fifteen per cent. Mr. Bolderby begged of him to be reasonable ten per cent. was a fair offer, a very fair offer. The client insisted, in a very thick voice, that it was not a fair offer; and at last put on his hat, and staggered towards the door, declaring that he would apply to Mr. Bolderby's rival, Mr. Mortimer. Mr. Bolderby followed him with the offer of another one per cent., but the client declined to listen to anything less than his terms, and bade Mr. Bolderby good morning. As Mr. Pouncer was evidently the worse for the brandy he had taken, Mr. Bolderby stood at the open door to see him mount his horse. After many blundering attempts, Mr. Pouncer got into the saddle; but he was scarcely in it before he was out of it again-over the horse's back, and sprawling at his full length in the street. Mr. Bolderby ran to assist him, and finding him apparently little the worse, though in a fair way of breaking his neck in the course of the day, made an advance of one per cent. on the spot.
"There, you had better come back, Mr. Pouncer, I'll give you fourteen per cent., fourteen per cent is a good offer," said Mr. Bolderby, coaxingly. "Fourteen per cent. be blessed," growled Mr. Pouncer, as he made a fresh attempt to mount his steed on the wrong side. The client was again unlucky, for he no sooner reached the saddle than he tumbled off a second time. Mr. Bolderby, assisted by Polly Phemah, who was now on the spot, with a select but excited audience of females with house brooms in their hands, raised the client to a sitting position on the pavement, and anxiously inquired if he had hurt himself much. The client replied, "nothing to speak of he had only broken his ribs, or his spine, or something," upon which Mr. Bolderby whispered quite confidentially to the client that he was prepared to meet his figure, and give him fifteen per cent. The client then allowed himself to be led back to Mr. Bolderby's office, where, after partaking of another glass of brandy, the little matter of the annuity was arranged to his satisfaction.
Mr. Pouncer eventually took his departure for Fairley Lodge, apparently by no means secure of his seat on the back of his mettlesome grey mare; and Mr. Bolderley was left to his reflections. The first thing Mr. Bolderby did on closing the door on his new client was to call his servant, "Polly!— Polly Phemah!"
"Here I am, sur!"
"Now, Polly Phemah, answer me-Did you ever know anybody who drank brandy?"
"Shure an' I've known a many, sur, and whisky too."
"Yes, Polly Phemah," said her master, "but did you ever know any one who drank brandy, who made a practice-you understand me—of drinking brandy before breakfast 2"
"Ah, an' now you remind me," said Polly, "my ould master-leastwise, he wasn't ould in himself like-but a master I had when I first went to sarvice, Mr. O'Grady was his name
"Well, well, Polly Phemah, did he drink brandy before breakfast?" "Faith, an' he did, sur, every morning."
"And how much did he take, Polly Phemah-half a pint ?
"Ah, and sometimes a pint, sur.'
"Sometimes a pint, eh?" said Mr. Bolderby, rubbing his hands. "Now, what came of him, Polly Phemah? what came of him?"
"He died, sur, died in the flower of his youth of dreadlum trimblins, rest his soul."
"Died, eh? died of delirium tremens. Ah, yes, yes, of course-died, died, died;" and Mr. Bolderby repeated the words in tones of savage satisfaction. "Very good, Polly Phemah, that will do ;" and Mr. Bolderby retreated to his room, repeating the words, "died, died, died—delirium tremens-flower of his youth."
Mr. Bolderby sat down that evening in his office to make a calculation. The proposition was-how long is a man, of fifty years of age, who drinks brandy every morning before breakfast, and otherwise indulges in excesses, likely to live! After consulting various statistical books, including some teetotal tracts on the effects of alcohol, Mr. Bolderby came to the conclusion that the life of a person, such as he had in view, was not worth five years' purchase at the most. "Give him five years at the best," said Mr. Bolderby to himself, "and I shall make a little fortune by him." With this comfortable reflection, Mr. Bolderby rolled into his bed that night, to dream of retiring in five years time, taking Fairley Lodge, and being returned as member of Parliament for his native borough.
Six months after the events past related, as Mr. Bolderby was sitting down one morning to his labours of the day, Polly Phemah appeared before him to say that a gentleman wanted to see him.
"Show him in, Polly Phemah."
The gentleman, on making his appearance, proved to be Mr. Pouncer, looking as hale and hearty as his dearest friends could have wished to see him.
"How do you do, Mr. Bolderby. The first half yearly portion of my annuity, I find, is due, and being in town, I thought I would just call and receive it."
"Certainly, Mr. Pouncer; pray take a chair. I hope I see you well, Mr. Pouncer."
"Never felt better in my life, Mr. Bolderby."
"Health is a great blessing," observed Mr. Bolderby.
"It is indeed, Mr. Bolderby; and no one has greater cause to be thankful for it than I have."
"Glad to hear it, I'm sure, Mr. Pouncer," said Mr. Bolderby, abstractedly proceeding to write out a cheque. “There, Mr. Pouncer, I think you will find that quite right."
"Thank you, Mr. Bolderby, it is quite quite right," said the client, putting the cheque in his pocket.
"And now, Mr. Pouncer," said Mr. Bolderby, in his agreeable tone, "allow me to offer you some refreshment."
"Thank you, no, Mr. Bolderby, I really do not require anything, I —" "Don't say no, my dear sir," urged Mr. Bolderby; "do take somethinga glass of wine now, or a glass of brandy."
"Oh dear no," protested Mr. Pouncer, with a slight look of horror, "I never drink brandy; in fact, I never take anything of that kind, not even a glass of beer, before dinner."
"Why, how is that?" said Mr. Bolderby, in a confused manner; "I thought you were partial to brandy; the last time you were here, you may remember, you
"True, true, Mr. Bolderby," said the client, with the greatest effrontery, "but I did not come to receive an annuity on that occasion, but to buy one; and I can assure you, Mr. Bolderby, I made myself very ill that day in order to drive a good bargain. Good morning, Mr. Bolderby, good morning; I hope to have the pleasure of calling upon you for my halfyearly allowance for many years to come. All fair, you know, in love, war, and annuities."
Now I, the relater of this true story, am not going to defend Mr. Pouncer, or to say that the loose morality of the lawyer was a whit less loose than that of the client; but,-where's the use of argument in such a case! it is twenty years since Mr. Pouncer bought his annuity of Mr. Bolderby, and the artful client still continues to call regularly every half year for his cheque, proving, by his hale and hearty appearance, that it is likely to be yet many years before Mr. Bolderby will be allowed to forget POUNCER'S ANNUITY.
The angel of evil
Rejoiced o'er my cradle of sorrow;
And bade me have hope in To-morrow!
Vaunting manhood soon came,
Cast a deeper shade over my sorrow;
Now feeble with age,
To earth's eye, the last page
Of life's volume seems darkest in sorrow;
Is the triumph o'er death,
And Hope reigns triumphant To-morrow!
BY D. GARROW.
"Wide let the venturous sea-bird roam,
Touch with white breast the whiter foam,
And shriek before the rising blast."
THOSE who have ventured to trespass upon the waves of the ocean, and speculate upon the waters of the deep, are more observant in their habits of the objects which are continually presenting themselves to their eyes, than those individuals who, at a general glance, whilst roaming in the footsteps of the land, comprehend a more multiplied sphere of incidental scenes and occurrences, than the widely-diffused space of ocean is ready or able to afford.
There is a continued sameness experienced in the mariner's life. His choice is a sorry one, although his intentions are directed to some useful end or enterprise, which lie quite uncertain as to the perfection of their accomplishment. During his oceanic pilgrimage he is quite shut out from the mixed society of the world; his lot is cast to wander awhile upon an untrodden waste; his thoughts are as wandering as his way is doubtful; his reflections are homeward; his prospects seaward; and he is constrained to fill up the vacancy of his time by attending to, and amusing his mind with, such aerial or floating features as may occasionally present themselves to his notice, in the course of his voyaging career.
And thus it is that "ships' logs" become the types of imparting information to an inquiring world, that is ever thirsting after knowledge, which truth and experience combined can alone supply.
Circumnavigators have done much to enlighten the dark schools of longenduring ignorance, and have, by their persevering and perilous exertions, whilst penetrating into the mysterious chambers of the vasty deep, afforded a ready key to unlock and throw open the doors of instruction to the susceptibility of the human mind.
From the above remarks I am led to convey a few reminiscent facts, founded upon self-experience, as may relate to oceanic birds. Incidents transpire on board-ship, which, whilst many altogether overlook them, are nevertheless by some neither unheeded nor neglected.
On my voyage to the East Indies, in the merchant-ship Coldstream, thirty-years ago, it was in the fall of the year (for we weighed anchor off Gravesend on the 9th of September, 1826, and anchored in Madras Roads on the 9th of January following, 1827), I had occasion to witness a large variety of marine birds. On entering the long-rolling sea of the Bay of Biscay, a very interesting looking stranger, of comparatively minute dimensions, settled, in an apparently exhausted state, on the rigging of the ship. This little maritime adventurer, upon being captured and examined, proved to be a green canary bird, which had, there can be no doubt, been compelled by adverse winds to migrate beyond the prescribed limits of its own safety, and was necessitated to take shelter and seek a refuge in the first asylum open for its preservation. I was informed that these little delicate songsters assume a green plumage in their natural state, and that the flaming yellow livery, which their persons represent in this, our own country, is produced by change of climate alone. Be this as it may, this feathered vocalist was kept on board for a few days, but appeared impatient of restraint, and when the ship lay off the Cape de Verd islands it took its departure, and winged its way to the African shore.