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these matters for us and tell them in a freshwater
way, so as to get attention. Dorothy,
by what I read, seems to have put down my
statement very well: I thank her for it: but
it was not to be expected she could altogether
take the brine out of my language. So no
more at present.

Only, ladies and gentlemen, when you are
thinking -- and not without need -- about your
national defences, I ask you whether these
things, though of a common sort, aren't worth
considering? You live in an island, you know.
You must have sailors. How can you keep
'em off so!


THE quiet old town of Abbeylands was on
the eve of going to sleep; several of the oillamps
had retired from public life after
winking in a mysterious manner to their
companions to follow their example; the
shops in the High Street had already put
up their shutters; the rain was falling in
torrents; the chimney tops were veering in all
directions, as if performing a demoniac polka
with the inconstant wind; a miserable wet
night, about ten o'clock, and not a soul
stirring. The three policemen had gone home;
the thieves, if there were any, were afraid
of catching cold; the surgeon had just returned
from a country visit and was putting
up his horse in the little stable behind his
house; waiters at the Pigeon's Arms were
flying about in all directions with suppers,
and slippers, and cigars, and brandies and
waters; and far away from the coffee-room
not in a private apartment, seven shillings and
sixpence a day -- but in a low, dingy, little
bed-room, which served him for parlour and
all, a young man was standing with his arms
folded across his breast and looking into a
trunk which he had recently opened. " A stock
in trade," he said, " from which something
may be made after all!

"Yes, from that small box may be evoked
powers as tremendous as the genie's in the
Arabian Nightswealthhappinessrevenge
and that's the best of all!"

Nothing was visible to account for
these glowing anticipations, The contents
seemed of the ordinary kind -- clothes -- not
many, nor very splendid in material; only
among them were mixed up pieces of apparel
belonging properly to the softer sex:
crumpled-up bonnets, worn-out old shawls,
faded cotton gowns. Poor fellow! he was
perhaps bringing down presents to an aunt.
They couldn't be very expensive ones, but the
kindness of the remembrance would make up
for want of value. " Hark! ten o'clock!"
he said, as the Abbey clock struck the hour.
"I must be off, or the old rascal will have
shut up shop." He buttoned his coat, threw
a sporting looking horse-cloth over his shoulders,
and emerged into the dusky street. "I
saw it," he said, " at the corner of the staircase.
If the villain hasn't moved it, all will go
well. If he has, how can I describe it without
exciting suspicion?"

One shop was open in the cross-road at the
top of the main street. A great glaring lamp
still nourished in front of the window; under
it, and sheltered by a sort of verandah that
projected over half the pavement, was standing
a deal table with two chairs on the top of
it: on them were various articles of crockery-
ware, useful and ornamental; a small swing
glass marked in chalk two shillings and sixpence;
and, between the chairs, a little pile of
books, the lowest being The Whole Duty of
Man and the highest The Wandering Jew.
Inside of the dark recess, where innumerable
goods were piled up on both sides of a narrow
passage, sat a man with a pen behind his ear; a
ledger lay before him, which he might perhaps
have been able to read, if he had felt so inclined,
with the aid of a very thin and dirty farthing
candle, which was stuck into an ink bottle;
but his studies lay in another direction. He
was absorbed in thought. "After all," he
thought, " what good has it done me?  It
isn't so great sum when all's told. Two
hundred and thirty pounds wouldn't ruin the ,
Bank of England. It ruined George Evans,
though," he began again. " His father should
have kept his papers better. If the man was
fool enough to lend me the money, and lost
my note of hand, what business is it of mine,
that his son must lose the whole of it? Did
I make the law? If they had brought me
my acknowledgment, wouldn't the money
have been paid? The lad has given up
pestering me with his letters. I hope never
to hear of him again; besides, the Statute of
Limitations makes it also safe, and the money
by this time would all have been spent; for I
hear he has turned a reprobate, and gone on
the stage. This is a wicked world, and
theatres are the schools of Satan. Amen!"

This ejaculation was uttered aloud, and was
considered by the utterer of it - the worthy
Mr. Benson, pawnbroker and second-hand
furniture merchant - the bond and seal of all
religious observations. It was heard by the
young man in the horse-cloth wrapper.

"I'm glad you're not shut up, sir," he said,
going through the narrow gangway to the
end of the room. " I want to do a little
business with you."

"A watch? " said Mr. Benson, opening a
little drawer, in which lay a number of square
tickets of dirty paper.

"No; I don't happen to have such a thing,"
replied the visitor. " I come to buy something.
As I passed the shop to-day, I saw a
piece of furniture I require; a narrow case,
with drawers in it, of oak I think it was.
Ah! there it is, just under the staircase."

"Of oak indeed! you may say of the very
finest oak that ever grew in clay. Why, that
oak would fetch a large price, independent of
the great convenience of the drawers. I paid a
pretty sum for it at Farmer Merriwood's

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