Is it creditable to that very respectable academical abstraction, that
indefatigable pioneer to the march of intellect, (which some imagine
to be the rogues' march,) the schoolmaster
, notwithstanding his ubiquity,
and his being lately abroad on his travels, that the medical
faculty, with all their appliances of pill and book, have not up
to this hour been able to devise a remedy for a very common-place
disorder, so feelingly enunciated in that touching and eloquent exclamation,
"I really don't know what to do with myself!" or to ascertain
in what category of diseases incident to humanity it is to be
placed? Like hydrophobia, it has baffled the ingenuity of the faculty,
who summarily disposed of the evil between two feather-beds;
and, though no effectual remedy has been devised for this pet
malady, a feather-bed, or an easy-chair, has been found to operate as
a sedative. One thing is clear; that, of all the ills that flesh or spirit
is heir to, this interesting disorder possesses as respectable a degree
of obstinacy and virulency as ever humanity had to cope with.
Talk of being dunned for your own or anybody else's debt; talk of
a favourite horse or dog falling sick just as you are ready to mount,
and the scent reeking hot on the stubble; of being bored, no matter
with what; talk—even if one is put to that—of the devil; and what
are all these petty annoyances to that sublime of blue-devilism to
which a poor devil is reduced, when, in his extremity, he reposes
his hands on his "fair round belly," or thrusts them to the very bottom
of his breeches' pockets, with not a cross there to keep the devil
out, and feelingly exclaims, "I really don't know what to do with
myself!" One may double the corner on a dun, or stop his mouth
for three months together with a promissory note, though at the
end of that period it may be as fructifying as any note of admiration;
or, at worst, pay him and be d—d to him, and there's an end.
That biped Shank's mare is a very respectable animal, which you may
borrow; or any body else's who may be disposed to lend. In case of
a bore, you may retaliate, and perforate in your turn. You may defy
the devil, though backed with this world, and his own, and the flesh to
boot. But when that ne plus ultra of blue-devilism attacks you, what's
the remedy? I don't know—do you? but this I know; that it is the
most rascally, &c. &c. &c. kind of malady, will be generally admitted.
Your poor devil at the East-end, and your devil-may-care fellow of
the West-end, are equally honoured by its visitation; while your happy,
active middle-man, who stands aloof from either end, sturdily bids
it defiance, and slams the door in its face. Under the influence of
this visitor it is that sundry pious pilgrimages are made to the foot of
Waterloo or Blackfriars' bridges, to steal out of life through an archway,
unless the dear enthusiast is interrupted by a meddling officious
waterman, and his senses gently wooed back by the resuscitating
apparatus and warm blankets of the Humane Society. Will Sprightly,
with four thousand a-year unincumbered, doesn't know what
to do with himself, and straightway falls to the agreeable occupation
of encumbering it, and, when it will bear no more, he finds he
cannot bear himself, and incontinently flies from one state of suspense
to another, and hangs himself; or, should the ruling passion be
strong in death, and he is desirous even then to cut a figure, why, he
cuts his throat; or, the report of a pistol will give you a pretty correct
intimation of his whereabouts, and his probable occupation.
"Temporary insanity" is uniformly the verdict of your "crowner's
'quest" on such occasions; even a physician of any repute will honestly
state on ordinary occasions, particularly when the patient has
the benefit of his skill and experience in helping him to leave this
wicked world, that he died of such and such a disorder, and will manfully
state the name of the disorder, and the world gives him credit
for his skill and integrity. Would gentlemen serving upon "crowners'
'quests" imitate this heroic example, instead of recording the foolish
verdict of "temporary insanity," they would say, "The deceased didn't
know what to do with himself!" This would be intelligible, and the faculty
might stumble upon a remedy; but "temporary insanity" is
too transitory, too fugitive to be grappled with, too vague and indefinite
in its very name ever to do any good, and the patient is generally
"past all surgery" before one suspects he is attacked with insanity,
be it ever so temporary or evanescent: but in honestly recording
that "he didn't know what to do with himself, and thereby came by
his death," it would be but doing justice to that interesting malady.
Thus it could be easily observed in all its stages, from its incipient
symptoms at the gaming or any other well-garnished table, where it
sometimes takes its rise, through all its phases and evolutions, till the
malady comes to a head, and a man blows out his brains. The disease,
through each of these changes, might be stayed in its progress,
and society might be benefited by the honesty of the verdict.
Shade of the "mild Abernethy!" how many thousands of thy patients
laboured under this disorder! and how often did thy sagacious
and provident spirit turn the halter into a skipping-rope, and, in order
that thy patients should live, insist upon a few mouthfuls the less!
To a feeling very near akin to this, Tom Binks found himself reduced,
as, about twelve at noon, he flung himself into an easy-chair,
and sought, from the appliances of its downy cushions, a lenitive for
his wounded spirit. His feet on the fender, the fire gently stirred,
the curtains still undrawn and shutting out the garish sun, his eye
fixed on the glowing landscape formed by the fantastic combination
of the embers in the grate, the corners of his fine mouth drawn down
in hopeless despondency, as if nothing on earth could elevate them,
his hands clasped over his knees, he sat, not knowing what to do with
The room in which Binks sat was small, but elegant; pictures
of the most costly description covered the walls,—the most exquisite
that owned him or anybody else as master; gold and silver had done
their work. On the polished surface of the tables were thrown the
most amusing works of the day, the last new novel, the lively magazine,
the gay album, the serious review, all exhibiting on the same
board like so many brethren of the Ravel family, in the most alluring
and seductive shapes; but they exhibited in vain. With all these
elements of happiness around him, what could Binks sigh for? With
easy possessions, he was the most uneasy of human beings. Did he
play, fortune was always in the best humour with him: in the billiard-room
the ball bounded from his cue to its destination; in the
field his shot was unerring, and the papers regularly chronicled the
murder, or the music, of his gun: no man stood better with ins and
outs; his maiden speech was said to be shy, simply because it was
maiden, but full of promise. With the ladies he was whatever he or
they pleased; but now you could "brain him with my lady's fan" as
he sits vegetating, or cogitating, on a pile of cushions, his breakfast
scarcely touched, and hardly sensible of his shaggy friend that lay
couched at his feet, with his snout buried in the hearth-rug, and his
bloodshot eye occasionally wandering in search of a regard from his
At an early age Binks had contrived to run through half the Continent
and his fortune together; he had travelled from "Dan to
Beersheba," and all was barren; and, at twenty-three, the gay Binks
had serious notions that this was not the best of all possible worlds,
and that that world, commonly known as the other, to distinguish it
from this, might hold out a store of enjoyment of higher zest and
relish than the common-place realities of this. Whether he should
wait for his turn when the passage to it might become quite natural,
or force his way vi et armis, that is, with a pistol in hand, (for some
folks will be impatient, and enter in at a breach,) was a matter that
sorely perplexed him. Tired of this hum-drum life, which a man of
common activity can exhaust of its most stimulating excitements in a
few years, was it surprising that he wished for another? But the doubt
that it was a better, would sometimes intrude itself, and agitate the
very powder in the pan of the pistol that lay before him on the breakfast
table. Now that the murder is out, it must be confessed that
Binks had a notion of shooting himself.
What heroic resolves he then made! What a noble contempt for
this world he then exhibited as he resolutely eyed the pistol, curiously
scanned its silver mounting, saw that the powder was in the
pan, looked anxiously around to see that none intruded, or should deprive
him of the honour of falling by his own hand: still he hesitated;
he lifted the deadly weapon with one hand, and with the other a
volume of Shakspeare, which opened at the play of Hamlet, and, by
the hasty glance which he threw on it, he perceived that "the Eternal
had set his canon 'gainst self-slaughter," and Binks was perplexed.
It became now a matter not so much of life and death as of simple
calculation; on one side there was a pistol for, and on the other
a canon 'gainst self-slaughter. In this state of indecision, thus sorely
beset with adverse arguments, what did Binks do? Why, he acted
somewhat like a sensible man; he yielded to the heavier weight of
metal,—the great-gun of Shakspeare carried it; and he consented to
live, drew the charge, lest he should return to it, (for he knew his
man,) and made up his mind that Shakspeare was a sensible fellow.
Have you ever felt as if your very heart-strings were tugged at by
wild horses, when the infernal host of blues, marshalled by the devil
himself, have taken the field against your peace, and that you don't
know what to do with yourself?
"Throw but a stone, the giant dies."
Very good; but a pebble of such potency is not always at hand, particularly
in a drawing-room. Do something, no matter what: go into
the open air; there's your window invitingly open, and, provided it is
not too far from the ground, 'tis but a step in advance to the shock
that may rouse you. Turn financier,—chancellor of your own exchequer;
there's your tailor's bill lying on the table, wooing you to analyze
its soft items; give it a first reading, and pass it. What a relief,
on such occasions, is the presence of any living creature!—your sleek
tabby,—no,—that fellow doesn't know what to do with himself neither.
Your playful little Italian grey-hound, whose playfulness is the
very poetry of motion. And Binks found no relief in these gentle appliances.
There he lies, flung upon his ottoman, and dallying with
its downy cushions, with his foot of almost feminine symmetry coquetting
with his morocco slipper, jerking it off and on according to the
intensity of the fit. Ponto stands before him. Noble dog, Ponto!
He, too, has his turn at the slipper, and seizes it in his huge mouth,
and gambols round the room with it, and now crouches with it before
his master, and earnestly looks at him, and those two eyes of his
suggest a double-barrelled gun, and this puts a pistol into his head,
and there it was at hand, lying on the table, just ready for a charge.
"Mr. Cently," said a servant, half-opening the door; and Binks indolently
extended the forefinger of his jewelled hand to his visitor.
"Very glad to see you, Cently; this mortgage, I suppose—"
"Is over due, Mr. Binks,—must redeem, though. I shan't let it
out of the family. The sum is large—hard to get—bad times. Fine
dog that—bulls and bears are very sulky to-day on 'Change.—Dear
me, a murderous-looking pistol that, sir—muzzle to muzzle—then
brains against the wall."
"Provided he has them," said Binks.
"Every man has a little—quality's the thing. I have to meet Scrip
in the City at two—no time to lose, sir;" and Binks, who was made
aware of the necessity of a visit to the City, to arrange the terms of
a loan, put himself under the plastic hands of Bedo, and in a few
minutes the pair were rolling towards the City in Cently's carriage,
which thundered along, scarcely waiting to take the necessary turns,
and narrowly escaped running down several old women of both
sexes, till they came to Charing-Cross.
"Money is scarce in these times," said Cently, as a sprinkling of
cabs and omnibuses impeded their course; "broad acres are fine
things. I mustn't let them go. The sum is large—ten per cent."
All this, and a few other equally interesting particulars, were lost
upon the abstract Binks, who was quietly lolling back in the carriage,
and exercising his optics and calculating powers on the size, number,
and colours of the tom-cats as they sunned themselves on the
gutters, or held attic intercourse with one another, between May-fair
"You understand me," continued Cently; "let me see; how many
thousands? I think it cannot be under fourscore,—great amount that!"
"Not quite so many," said Binks; "I only counted sixty, and I'm
correct to a tail; bet you a rump and dozen on it."
"On what, sir?"
"On the cats, Cently."
"Ha! ha! Very facetious, Mr. Binks; but I'm not joking.
"You bore me, Cently. Set me down here. Go, and do the needful;
and when all's ready to sign and seal, you'll find me here;" and
Binks alighted from the carriage, and ascended the stairs of the Mansion-house,
which was then alive with sounds and sights of gladness:
a kind of fancy-fair was being held there for the benefit of some
charitable institution, and the Úlite of the North, and wealth of the
East and West ends were combined in the holy cause of charity. He
entered, and mingled with the gay groups that promenaded the hall,
which was converted into a bazaar, where beauty and bijouterie lured
the careless purchaser,—where a thousand soft things were said and
handled, and the angel of charity spread her wings over a scene
where streamed and flaunted many a silken banner, and pointed to
every little stand. "Happy country!" thought Binks, "that, amid all
the anxieties and contentions of commerce and politics, remembers
in these noble institutions the cause of the widow and the orphan.
This must be the surest mart for beauty when she's found at a
stand in the sacred cause of charity. Here the thoughtless forget
themselves, and think of others; here the merchant is generous, and
forgets his change."
"I ain't a-going to be done out of my half-crown that way neither,
ma'am," said a burly little personage in top-boots and perspiration to
a lovely girl who presided at a stand, and who was trying to lure a
supplementary half-crown, the balance of a half-sovereign, which,
after much grumbling, he consented to pay for a shaking mandarin.
The thorough-bass in which this was uttered roused Binks from his
reverie, and, on looking round, he beheld the lovely girl in playful
yet earnest contention for the half-crown, which the fat little man
finally surrendered to a few persuasive looks, and good-humouredly
pocketed his shaking mandarin and his chagrin together, and marched
Binks approached, and as she raised her eyes from the gay assortment
before her, still animated with the pious contention in which she
was engaged, they encountered those of Binks, who was riveted to
the spot gazing at the beautiful creature that stood before him. He
turned over a few articles, and became at once deeply immersed in
the gay little miscellany before him. She would show everything.—Yes,—the
articles were of the best description; and Binks felt those
taper fingers, as they tossed them about, as if they were busy with his
heart-strings; and the perverse Binks asked twenty different questions,
and got as many answers eloquent and sweet: and then there
were looks lustrous and shy, and blushes deep and enchanting; and
she would go on expatiating on the beauty of her bijouterie, and he
would stand absorbed and drinking in the sweet sound of a voice that
was modulated with the sweetest harmony,—and she would help him
to a pair of gloves. Binks took several pairs. The first he tried on
were very perverse,—too tight; and the fairest hands in the City
would distend them, and she would help to draw them on; and then
their palms would meet, and their fingers seek one another, and the
taper finger of the sweet girl and the jewelled hand of Binks would
be imprisoned unconsciously for a few seconds in the same glove.
"I shall take the whole," said he, and Julia (for that was her
name) was delighted; and Binks was asking for more, and pulled out,—not
his purse, but the disappointed hand that was seeking for it.—The
purse was not there.
No doubt it was that very civil gentleman that rubbed against him
as he was stepping out of the carriage, and apologised. Here was a
grab at heart-strings and purse-strings together. He drew out a box
set with brilliants,—it would stand him at a pinch,—and took a small
one from the stand, and he would exchange boxes. And this was
love,—love at first sight,—which we would match all the world over
with any at second sight.
"Oh, love! no habitant of earth art thou."
Henceforth shalt thou take thy stand at a bazaar, and we shall bare
our bosom to thy shafts, provided they be tipped with a little charity,
and drawn in the holy cause of a benevolent institution! The hours
lingered on as if they too had come to a stand, the evening stole on
apace, group after group vanished from the bazaar, and Binks and
Julia were still in sweet and endearing communion with each other.
The evening was chilly, and he would help on her splendid cachmere;
and the loveliest arm in the City leant on Binks as he led her down
the steps of the Mansion-house. The evening was fine, and he would
see her home; and both wondered to find themselves at her father's
door. And then there was a sweet good-night, and kind looks, and
gentle pressings of the hand, and promises to meet again.
"Want a coach, sir?" said a heavy-coated, slouched-hat brother of
the cab to Binks, as he stood wondering at himself, his adventure, and
the fairy figure that a smart servant in livery had just closed the door
"Yes—no,—I—I'll walk, friend,—the night's fine;" which healthy
resolution he was induced to take from certain reminiscences, and his
purse, though absent, was thought of with regret.
And Binks trod his perilous way through the "palpable obscure" of
the City with buoyant spirits, as if a pinion lifted every limb, notwithstanding
a little plebeian pressure from without through Cheapside,
as often as he forgot his own side of the way; and he entered his
club the happiest dog that ever moonlight, or its rival luminary gas-light,
shone upon, and surrendered himself to the intoxicating influence
of the only draught of pure pleasure he ever quaffed.
Julia Deering was the only daughter of a rather comfortable trader,
a man well to do in the world,—that is, in the City. Business—business
was at once his solace and his pride, and any pursuit or avocation
in life of which that bustling noun-substantive was not the principal
element, was an abomination in his sight. The West-end, he
thought, had no business where it stood. He looked upon it as
a huge fungus, the denizens thereof good for nothing; and lords—no
matter of what creation—he looked upon with the most supreme contempt.
Julia was his only child, and, next his business, the sole
object of his solicitude. She grew into loveliness and womanhood
amid the smoke and seclusion of her father's premises; and, though
turned of "quick seventeen," yet he thought that her settlement in
the world, like the settlement of an account with an old house in the
City, might take place at any time. Any hint to the contrary, whether
through the eloquent and suggestive looks of the maiden herself,
or the unequivocal assiduity of City beaux, was sure to make the old
Julia, with a world of sense, had a spice of romance about her. She
loved the West-end, or anything pertaining to it, as much as her
father hated it. A noble mirror in her little boudoir, as she toyed
and coquetted with her budding beauties before it, frequently hinted
that she might be a fine lady; which could only come to pass by her
becoming the wife of something like a lord. City beaux were her
aversion. They looked at her through stocks, and she often wished
their necks in them.
Many were the stolen visits to the City which Binks made to see
his young betrothed. His suit prospered,—Julia was everything he
could wish; but as fathers will be in the way on such occasions,—how
can they be so hard-hearted?—and as something like his consent
was deemed necessary, Binks, through the medium of a friend, had
the old man's sentiments sounded on the subject; and a decided
refusal, couched in no very flattering terms, was the result. "I cannot
disguise from you," said Julia one evening to Binks, after he had
communicated to her the disastrous intelligence, "that there is much
to encounter in my father's disposition. He is old and wealthy, with
only myself to inherit it; and—would you believe it?—he has the
greatest aversion to a man of rank, and thinks superior manners and
accomplishments only a cover to heartlessness and deceit; and, what
is strange, he has repeatedly said he will never consent to my union
with anybody as long as he is in anything like health,—in short, till
he is no longer able to protect me himself."
"That is strange indeed!" said Binks, as he hung with the tenderest
rapture on the confiding frankness and simplicity of his fair companion;
"your father's objections are no less serious than strange."
"Can nothing," inquired Julia despondingly, "be done to get over
them?" Had Echo been present, she would have said, "Get over
"There can, there can," said Binks with transport; "I have it.
So long as your father is in good health, he will never give his consent
to your marriage. Now he is old: and suppose he can be persuaded
that he looks ill,—such things, you know, are done,—and contrive
that he shall keep his bed for a few days; and then,—and then,
my dear girl, let the affair be again pressed upon him." And Binks
met the ingenuous blush and smile of his young betrothed as she
acquiesced with an embrace, in which was blended more heartfelt
rapture than ever he experienced in the dissipated round of tumultuous
and exciting pleasures.
"The times are certainly very bad, Julia," said old Deering to his
daughter, as they were at breakfast one morning together; "I never
recollect them so bad;" and he helped himself to a large slice of ham.
"They may be bad, pa," said the daughter; "but you mustn't take
it so much to heart. Everybody notices how ill you look since the
firm of Dobody and Sons went."
The old man suspended a piece of ham, that he had impaled on a
fork, midway between his mouth and plate; and, planting his right
hand on his thigh, he looked earnestly at the girl.
"What connexion, hussey, has that failure with my looks or my
books either? As long as I can keep both free from blotches, I don't
care a fig for what the world says. But I do believe, girl, that I am
not as well as either of us could wish,—I am fallen off in my appetite.
I could finish my ham,—three slices,—and a few eggs; but I am a
little changed, Julia. Hussey, you've a sharp eye; and to notice it!"
"Lord! pa," said the insidious Julia, "all your acquaintance notice
it. Mr. Coserly was the first to notice it."
"And what did the rascal say?"
"Why, pa, he said nothing; but there was a great deal in that.
When certain people say little or nothing, they mean a great deal;
and when there is a great deal of meaning in what one does not say,
why, it's a very dangerous thing; isn't it, pa?"
"Very true, child, very true. But what can we have for dinner
to-day, Julia? I expect an old friend of mine, Mr. Tibbs over the
way; a very proper, industrious, well-to-do-in-the-world kind of man
is honest Dick Tibbs. He owes me a trifle,—but that is nothing between
us. He is none of your West-end chaps,—no lack-silver spendthrift,—no
hair-lipped, hair-brained scamp, with all his fortune on his
back, like a pedlar and his wallet.—Another cup of tea, Julia.—As I
was saying, honest Dick Tibbs is——' But what's the matter with
the girl? Why, there's the tea running out of the urn these last two
minutes about the floor. Why, Julia, what is the matter? Ah! I
see how it is—I thought as much. Ye're a cunning pair. But not
yet a while, Julia; time enough, girl,—time enough. When your
dear mother was——"
"I—I—wo-o-on't be Mrs. Ti-i-bbs for all that, pa," hysterically
sobbed Julia; "I won't be married——"
"That's a dear love!" whimpered the old man; "don't think of
marrying him yet until I'm——. But I'm pretty strong yet. I'll
live, so I will, till—ugh!—ugh!—these rheumatics—as long as—Deuce
take this old cough!"
"As long as God pleases, pa; as long as God pleases," said Julia;
and she slid her arm coaxingly round her father's neck, and wiped
away the perspiration that stood like whip-cord upon his brow;
and he fell to musing on the girl's words, and left his breakfast
In the course of that week, through the industry of his daughter,
the old man was plagued wherever he went with condolence and
inquiries about his health, which he heard with all the petulance
and irritability of a miser upon whose hoards an unexpected demand
is to be made. He accordingly dosed himself with physic,
gorged himself at his meals, and took such peculiar pains to preserve
his health after this fashion as would have deprived any other person
A circumstance at length occurred that bade fair to supersede the
necessity of Julia's pious artifice, and to produce ill looks in abundance
in the old man. A house with which he was connected failed,
and involved him in its ruin. This was a blow that smote the old
man to the heart, and he sank under it. Everything was surrendered
to the creditors; and his house, with its splendid furniture, was
submitted to the hammer of the auctioneer.
On the morning of that day a note was put into Binks' hands; it
was from Julia, and to the effect "that as her father's ruin left her
no alternative but to share his lot, she could not, under such circumstances,
think of involving him in their ruin, and begged he would
think no further of the matter."
"Poor girl!" said Binks, as he gazed on the note that told so
briefly of so much calamity. What a real bonÔ-fide misfortune was,
crushing and accumulating, and, as it were, breaking the man's heart
within him, he had no idea of, except what the pathetic in a novel,
or the chapter of accidents in a newspaper, furnished. These things
were well enough to read, and to talk about, at a clear fire-side; but
for a substantial display of energetic and effective sympathy, by succouring
the distressed, it was what he did not think himself capable
of. A second time, however, he mastered his indolence, and drove
to Julia's house.
What a situation was it in, and what a sight did it present! If
there is in this world a scene more harrowing to human feeling than
another, 'tis that presented by one's house on the eve of an auction,—a
scene of "confusion worse confounded." The tossing about and
displacing, by strange hands, of articles that from time and association
have become part and parcel of ourselves, linked with a thousand
sweet recollections, and the innocent display of which was a
source of dearest household pleasure, now parcelled and ticketed out,
and catalogued, for the curious and malevolent hands and eyes of
strangers! Our dearest and holiest places of privacy intruded upon;
our sweet little nooks and haunts, which are, as it were, set apart for
the most favoured of our household gods, and where only the footsteps
of tenderest love should be heard, now echoing and teeming
with strange sounds and sights!
What a sad volume, and in boards too, is a piece of carpeting
piled in a corner of a room, revealing the unsightly seams of the
naked floor; and "the decent clock," with its hands either broken
or pointed to the wrong hour! The bleak and cheerless hearth,
every brick of which was an object for the vacant and listless gaze of
a pensive abstraction, the scene of sweet gambols and merry gossipings,
all are sad mementos of the "base uses" to which the iron
hand of necessity will convert objects dear to us from the sweetest
Elevated in his pulpit, the eloquent Mr. Touchem, the auctioneer,
presided; and, seated beside him, the very picture of broken-heartedness,
was old Deering, bent, and leaning forward on his gold-headed
cane, his eye vacant and listless, looking at every article
with the curiosity of a child, speaking not a word, and only betraying
his interest in the scene by a sympathetic stamp of his cane
on the floor whenever the nervous and grating click of the auctioneer's
hammer on his desk announced the sale of some favourite
article. There was one lot only which he showed any anxiety to possess,
and as the porter handed it round, the old man's countenance
gleamed with pleasure as his eye wistfully followed it: it was the representation
of a little spaniel worked in worsted, and the joint work
of Julia and his deceased wife.
"Rascal!" exclaimed the old man, as the porter somewhat roughly
rubbed the dust off it, "be tender of the poor thing. That's Julia's.
I—I bid for that; I bid five pounds for that," said the old man, in a
voice scarcely articulate with emotion.
"Six pounds," said a voice in the crowd.
"Who bids against me?" muttered old Deering, as he ran his eye
over the group whence the voice issued. "It was the work of my
poor child's hands, and of her dear departed mother. Another
pound for it, Mr. Auctioneer."
The same voice bid against him.
The old man raised himself in his chair, gazed wistfully and imploringly
in the direction of the voice, and sank back in sullen resignation
in his chair.
"Going for eight pounds—once—twice—the last time!" and the
sharp and sudden click of the auctioneer's hammer, as it fell, came
with a harsh grating sound on the ear of the old man, as he groaned,
and muttered something between a curse and an entreaty.
Old Deering, notwithstanding the utter ruin of his fortune, still
continued, from sheer force of habit, to frequent his old haunts; and
his drooped and wasted figure, with his well-known tops and gold-headed
cane, might be seen loitering about the purlieus of the Exchange,
inquiring the price of stocks with as much anxiety as ever,
and wondering at the ill-manners of some persons who, from his
rambling and incoherent expressions, looked upon him as somewhat
crazed. He was in truth so.
This was the time for the active benevolence of Binks to show
itself; for, except when his indolence stood in the way, he had a
heart. He saw Julia, and gave her the most decided assurances
of his unaltered attachment, as the old man's malady threatened to
become serious. He privately purchased a neat little cottage outside
town, and had all the furniture (for he attended the auction, and
arranged that every article of it should be bought in,) conveyed to it.
He took particular care—for he consulted Julia on the details—that
the disposition of the furniture in the new house should, as
nearly as circumstances would permit, be exactly the same as in
the house in town. Her father's easy-chair, pictures, books, the
pianoforte,—for almost every article had been preserved by the management
of Binks,—were put into something like their accustomed
places; and little Fidelio, the object of contention at the auction,
looked quite as brisk as ever, enshrined in his glass-case over the mantelpiece,
not a whit the worse for having his jacket dusted. Change
of air, and absence from the scene of his former activity, was suggested
as the best remedy for the malady of the old man.
To this little cottage Julia and her father drove one day, on pretence
of looking for a suitable residence, such as became their altered
circumstances. This little cottage struck his fancy, and he
expressed a wish to see it. A very agreeable young man showed
them over the house. The more he examined it, the more he liked
it; every thing in it was so like what he once had.
"Why, Julia, this is your pianoforte! let me hear you play; I'll
know it among a thousand;" and Julia played "sweet home" for
him,—an air her father always liked. His eye glistened as she played;
it reminded him of better days and his old house in the City, and
he dropped into his easy-chair. "And Fidelio, the little spaniel!
Why, how is this, Julia?—And this gentleman?" and he looked alternately
at Binks and Julia. "Ah, hussey! I see how it is; but it's
an odd way of coming together."
And Binks was happy—happy as the day was long. Julia and
he were married. The gay Binks, like another Hercules, gave up
his club when he married, and was content with his love in a cottage,
with no other interruption to his happiness than the occasional pettishness
of the old man, who could never well forgive Binks for outbidding
him for Fidelio at the auction. And the malady of not knowing
what to do with himself never afterwards attacked him, now that
the odds were two to one against it.