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two fierce hatreds that stood betwixt us and
happiness, we left the accomplishment of our
wishes to time and fortune, and went on
hoping and loving.

One evening, at supper-timefor which
meal we had the heel of a Dutch cheese, a
loaf of seconds bread, and a pint of small
beerI noticed that my Uncle Collerer looked
more malignant and sullen than usual. He
spoke little, and bit his food as if he had a
spite against it. When supper was over, he
went to an old worm-eaten bureau in which
he was wont to keep documents of value;
and, taking out a bundle of papers, untied
and began to read them. I took little heed of
that; for his favourite course of evening reading
was bonds and mortgage deeds; and on
every eve of bills of exchange falling due he
would spend hours in poring over the acceptances
and endorsements, and even in bed
he would lie awake half the night moaning
and crooning lest the bills should not be paid
on the morrow. After carefully reading and
sorting these papers, he tossed them over to
me, and left the room without a word. Then
I heard him going up stairs to the top of the
house, where my room was.

I opened the packet with trembling hands
and a beating heart. I found every single
letter I had written to Mary Morbus. The
room seemed to turn round. The white sheet
I held and the black letters dancing on it were
all I could see. All beyondthe room, the
house, the worldwas one black unutterable
gulf of darkness. I tried to read a linea
line I had known by heart for months; but,
to my scared senses, it might as well have
been Chaldee. Then my uncle's heavy step
was heard on the stairs.

He entered the room, dragging after him
a small black portmanteau in which I kept
all that I was able to call my own. "I happen
to have a key that opens this," he said,
"and have read every one of the fine
love-letters that silly girl has sent you. But I
have been much more edified by the perusal
of yours, which I only received from your
good uncle Morbusstrangle him!—last night.
I'm a covetous hunks, am I? You live in
hopes, do you? Hope told a flattering tale,
my young friend. I've only two words to
say to you," continued my uncle, after a few
minutes' composed silence on his part, and of
blank consternation on mine. "All your rags
are in that trunk. Either give up Mary
Morbus now and for ever, and write a
letter to her here in my presence to that
effector turn out into the street and never
show your face here again. Make up your
mind quickly, and for good." He then filled
his pipe and lighted it.

Whilst he sat composedly smoking his pipe,
I was employed in making up my wretched
mind. Love, fear, interest, avaricecursed
avaricealternately gained ascendancy within
me. At length there came a craven inspiration
that I might temporise; that by
pretending to renounce Mary, and yet secretly
assuring her of my constancy, I might play
a double game, and yet live in hopes of
succeeding to my uncle's wealth. To my
shame and confusion, I caught at this coward
expedient, and signified my willingness to do
as my uncle desired.

"Write then," he resumed, flinging me a
sheet of letter-paper and a pen. "I will
dictate."

I took the pen; and following his dictation wrote,
I scarcely can tell what now; but
I suppose some abject words to Mary, saying
that I resigned all claim to her hand.

"That'll do very nicely, nephew," said my
uncle, when I had finished. "We needn't
fold it, or seal it, or post it, becausehe, he,
he!—we can deliver it on the spot." We
were in the front parlour, which was
separated from the back room by a pair of folding-
doors. My uncle got up, opened one of these;
and, with a mock bow, ushered in my Uncle
Morbus and my cousin Mary.

"A letter for you, my dear," grinned the
old wretch; " a letter from your true love.
Though I dare say you'll have no occasion to
read it, for you must have heard me. I speak
plain enough, though I am asthmatic, and
can't last longcan't last longeh, nephew?"
This was a quotation from one of my own
letters.

When Mary took the letter from my uncle,
her hand shook as with the palsy. But, when
I besought her to look at me and passionately
adjured her to believe that I was yet
true to her, she turned on me a glance of
scornful incredulity; and, crushing the
miserable paper in her hand, cast it
contemptuously from her.

"You marry my daughter," my Uncle
Morbus piped forth—"you?" Your father
couldn't pay two-and-twopence in the pound.
He owed me money, he owes me money to
this day. Why ain't there laws to make sons
pay their fathers' debts? You marry my
daughter! Do you think I'd have your
father's sondo you think I'd have your
uncle's nephew for my son-in-law?" I could
see that the temporary bond of union between
my two uncles was already beginning to
loosen; and a wretched hope sprang up within
me.

"Get out of my house, you and your niece,
too!" cried my Uncle Collerer. "You've
served my turn, and I've served yours. Now,
go!"

I could hear the two old men fiercely, yet
feebly, quarrelling in the passage, and Mary
weeping piteously without saying a word.
Then the great street door was banged to,
and my uncle came in, muttering and panting.
"I hope you are satisfied now, uncle," I
said.

"Satisfied!" he cried with a sort of shriek,
catching up the great earthen jar, with the
leaden top, in which he kept his tobacco, as
though he meant to fling it at me. "Satisfied!

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