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henceforward interdicted to him. Monsieur the
Commissary of Police said as much. The
commissary came forward, unbuttoned his
waistcoat and showed his tricolored scarf beneath.
To the powdered footmen he threw the significant
words "A la porte!" So it was to the door with
him. Turn him out! Send him packing! There
was some little scuffling and scraping along the
floor, and there was some little snarling and
sputtering, as he was half-dragged, half-pushed
through the sumptuous saloons he was to behold
never more. A few of the players turned,
looked, shrugged their shoulders, grinned, took
snuff, and went on backing the red or the black.
They got Blunt out without much difficulty,
though he kicked a good deal, and tried to bite
one of the lacqueys. They bundled him down
stairs, and flung his hat after him: detaining his
stick as a lethal weapon capable of working

"And thank your stars, my brave," remarked
the footman who gave him his final shove into
the Rue de Richelieu, "that we do not send for
the sergents de ville, and have you taken to the
nearest post. I think you would be grateful,
even for a bed at the guard-house."

"Curse you!" cried the wretched old man,
gathering up all his sobriety and all his strength.
"Curse you and your thieving crew! Take that!"
And he hit outhe had been a bruiser in his
youthand caught the menial cleverly under the

The Frenchman, to whom kicking and caning
were tangible entities, but who did not understand
fisticuffs, set up a dismal yell; but before
he had recovered himself sufficiently to cry "A
la garde! à la garde!" Blunt had staggered away,
and was beyond pursuit.

The miserable old fellow was haunted by a
vague impression that he had some money about
him somewhere; but in what place he tried,
desperately, vainly, to remember. He turned
out his pockets, and pulling off his hat, searched
the lining. But his efforts were fruitless. He
began to cry, and was a sorry sight to see.


THE greatest curse of this land is not, as
some imagine drink, but debt. There are many
persons in a position to declare that, among all
their acquaintances, they do not know a drunkard.
I believe, however, there is not one who does not
know several persons who are in debt, and who
suffer great misery in consequence. In whatever
rank of society you move, from the very
highest down to the very lowest, you cannot
live long without becoming acquainted with
men and women who are a trouble to themselves,
and to their friends, through owing money. So
completely does insolvency pervade society, that
those who are not in debt are almost as much
victims to the consequences as those who are.
What does it avail me that I pay on the nail for
everything, and owe no man anything, when I
have relatives, and friends, and acquaintances
who are in debt to every one with whom they
deal? They come and carry off the money I
have saved by my prudence and economy; they
come and vex my heart with distresses, which,
in my own case, I have taken infinite pains to
avoid. They make their debts my debts, and
their troubles my troubles. I might almost as
well have incurred debt and trouble for myself.

I have lost all patience with these people, and
I intend now to read them a lecture. I trust it
may do them good.

To begin with, then: The great majority
of them are persons who have no business
to be in debt at all. I make no doubt whatever
that the credit system is essential to
the conduct of wholesale business, that the
great commercial machine could not get on
without it. But I am sure that its extension
to the minor dealings of society is the source
of a vast amount of misery and wretchedness,
that can in no way be attributed to the
freaks of fortune, or the chances of life. There
are many excuses for the failure of a merchant,
liable to the fluctuations and losses incidental to
trade; there is every excuse for the insolvency
of a man with an inadequate salary, and an
intolerably large family. But there is no excuse
whatever for the thousands of middle-class
people, with fixed incomes of considerable
amount, who are constantly in debt and
difficulty, and who only manage to scramble
through life by making compromises with their
creditors, by "going through the court," or by
evading their liabilities altogether. It is among
this moderately well-to-do middle class that
the greatest amount of embarrassment is to be
found, and it mainly arises from the indolent
and thoughtless habitfor it is nothing but a
habitof obtaining goods upon credit.

It may be laid down as a principle, that the
man who takes credit and the man who gives it
both place themselves at a disadvantage. You
are in debt to your butcher, and, as a
consequence, the butcher is in debt to the salesman.
The butcher sues you and the salesman sues the
butcher. You are both in a mess, both unhappy.
A ready-money transaction would have saved
both of you. The butcher would have got more
for his money, and so would you. Every one
who is accustomed to pay on the nail is aware
that he gets his goods considerably cheaper than
those who take credit. A loaf of bread bought
and paid for at the counter costs, say sixpence-
halfpenny. If it be put down in the book it is
charged a penny or twopence more. Ready
money also commands a choice, and full weight,
which credit does not. There is, perhaps, no
great choice in loaves; but there is great variety
in sirloins of beef and legs of mutton. If you
run a bill with a butcher he sends you what he
likes, charges you smartly for credit, and possibly
takes advantage of you in the matter of weight.
Perhaps you are a very genteel person, and
consider it beneath your dignity to go about to
butchers and bakers chaffering for joints of meat
and loaves of bread. Well; if your income be