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beautiful cousin of yours. Unless you are in league,
and this looks fearfully like it."

"If you scream, Mary," says I, "we shall have
the neighbours in, and reality will be disclosed."
She adopted my hint, because she felt its value,
and dropped her tone. But this was what she
proceeded, so far as tears would let her,—and the
story did look grasping to an amount of alarm.

It was the invicious acts by which that
smooth-faced viper, Mings, had availed himself
of our compact with a vengeance! During the
past three months, by hook or by crook, he had
extracted (the free list as presumption) Bonnets
from the Emporium to the tune of two a week,
in addition to all he had partaken of at our cost
grog not having been touched on in the above,
when business hours was over, and we would
assume our two cigars, and interchange on
subjects of art and aristocracy. What had Mings done
with the bonnets, which had been the victims of
his predatory covetousness? What, indeed?

"And you have writ," I faltered to my wife,
"to Mings, enjoining future temperance?"

"I believe you, Timothy," said she—"and
his feet in our tea and muffins he won't set
again soon. Upwards of thirty pounds' worth
of good bonnets gone, as if any of their Orbs
merited such a plunder." And on this, though
my partner had reduced her voice prudentially,
Nature and Vexation triumphed. She went off on
the spot; and to bring her to, and to get her to
our home, unseen, unsuspected, and the whole
circumstances undreamed-of by envious eyes, that
is always lurking what secrets they can pick
up, was a task to distance giant nerve. It was
effectuated though; but if my hair that night had
turned white, as Cleopatra's did while wooing
the asp, on the eve of execution, what mortal
could have found it improper?

The bolt was shot, however. Ominous silence
pervaded all. Mings and the Emporium were
two:—and as coincidential, I should say, that,
during that very week, the Orb of Fashion
fluttered to the close of its existence, and its spirit
took wing to some other sphere.

I avoided coping with the familiar haunts for
a few daysbecause Mings, I knew, was equal to
the production of any sensation, gain and revenge
being his sole object. A riot in the Arcade would
not have conduced to the predominance we had
ever maintained. Then, for that week, the
onerous duties of my separate professionone
hour a butterfly gay deceiver of the Court of
Spainthe next a melancholy Faust brooding
over the crucibles on his anvilwas absorbing:
not to speak of home vicissitudes, possibly to be
ascribed to past reserves of reality. For many
days, ere our boy entered this mortal
hemisphere, she was ailing and low; and if ever
female was actuated by jealousy on that, or any
similarly posthumous occasion, my wife was.
To soothe cost me many anxious moments of
care;—and retrospections of lighter days of
fancy and freedom, now exiled for ever.

But when the hour of danger was past, since
not a syllable had been breathed from the
Emporium, and as Mings, that cruellest of crocodiles,
had not turned up (quenched for ever was
my hopes, by recent disruptions), I wended my
way thither to the familiar place of dear hopes
and recollections, one Tuesday evening. I
thought the officials glared scornfully as I
passed, and this was borne out by the public
sarcasmatic expression of the vicinity. My
heart drooped. When a storm is a-going to
descend, some parties, especially them of a
delicate cast, is acquainted beforehand.

I reached the beloved precincts. The spells
of decease pervaded them. The shutters was
up. No light, no sound, no bonnets. On the
exterior side was a placard, thus:

being interrupted by her Confinement, the
lovers of Real Bonnets are directed to the
Parthenion of French and Female Taste, No. 17, seven
doors lower down on the opposite side. The
Parthenion is conducted by Mademoiselle Claire, the
primum mobile of Mrs. Wignett's establishment.

Mrs. Wignett's friends will be glad to hear that
her recovery is proceeding most salubriously.

And so myself and partner were shut up a
second time by that Mings.


WHAT clever fellows the rising generation of
boys ought to be when they grow up! What
splendid opportunities they are having
compared to those which fell in the way of the boys
of the last age! The familiar playthings of the
boys of to-day are the applications of arts and
sciences, which the last generation scarcely
dreamed of, and which the most thoughtful
men of the time spent their whole lives, and
sometimes broke their hearts, in the endeavour
to fathom and discover. All these problems
of science and art, then so hopelessly meshed
and knotted, the boys of this day can unloose
familiar as the laces of their Balmoral boots
I will not say garters, for in these advanced and
elastic times such adjuncts of dress have
become obsolete, even for the purposes of metaphor
The Shakespeare of the future will not
have such simple things as garters to deal with
when he wishes to show how easily some
accomplished modern can unloose the Gordian
knot. Henceforth, Puck and his girdle will be
a fool to the Atlantic telegraph. But as to
these modern boysboys who are born,
christened, breeched, and married, and set up
in life all in a trice!—those boys take away my
breath. I wonder sometimes if they can
possibly be of the same genus as the boys with
whom I associated when I myself was a boy.
I paid a visit lately to a gentleman in the
country, and in going over the house to view its
lions I was shown into a room where my host's
boys printed a weekly newspaper for their own
amusement! There were all the appliances of a
printing-office: cases, galleys, rules, imposing
stones, and presses; and two young gentlemen,
whose united ages, probably, did not amount to
five-and-twenty, were so far familiar with their