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the Moorish archway as mysteriously as it had

I hastened up to the front door, and found
in the box a little bit of paper. This was the
squib which the enemy had flung into our
peaceful camp- the firebrand which was to
consume us and our hopes. Why, oh, why,
was it not accompanied with a smell of
sulphur, as is usual on such occasions!

Need I say that I allude to the CENSUS

Let me here pause and solicit the laugh of
any Turk or Russian whose eye this interesting
letter chances to meet. The tender female
who may be exposed to present her back to
the knout, or her neck to the bowstring, will
solace herself with the thought that not even
the ingenuity of Eastern despots has hit upon
the expedient of making her give her real age.
Where is this to stop? It is not long since
the tradesmen and domestic servants of
Camberwell rejoiced in the knowledge of the
exact state of my income. They now gloat
over the age of my wife. But I anticipate.

On the morning of the thirty-first, there was
of course a family council held, to decide how
the tyrannical mandate of the Government
could be best avoided or complied with. That
we should ourselves first sign, and so submit
the real age of my Helen to the inquisitive
glance of the servants, was not to be dreamt
of. It may be mentioned in confidence, that
she has for some time worn a luxurious crop
of some other lady's ringlets; and, that the
theory is that her age goes back, while mine
advances, like the male and female in the
barometer. But though availing herself of
the well-known privilege of the sex to retail
small fibs, as occasion may require, she
would yet scorn to misinform the Government
on an important particular. Besides, these
trifling discrepancies between fact and fiction,
are not for the kitchen. I, accordingly,
transmitted the document to the lower regions.

Days passed on. A fat man with red hair
kept continually calling, and still the paper
was not filled up. At last a polite message
was sent to me, to the effect that if it failed
to be ready by that time next day, the Government
was prepared to put every engine at
their command in play. I should be dragged
before two myrmidons of justice. There was
no help for it, and so I summoned up the
servants in a body. After considerable persuasion
on my part, aided by a few threats on
that of my wife, we succeeded in extracting
from them a confession of their respective
ages. Gaspar was twenty-two; the house-
maid was nineteen; the cook was twenty-five,
and the nurse was thirty. " Thirty!"
exclaimed my wife. " Yes, ma'am, just turned
thirty," she replied, unabashed. It may be
remarked, that my own impression is, that the
page is seventeen; Sarah twenty-seven;
cook thirty-one; and as for the last-named old
woman, if she ever sees forty-eight again, it
will be in her dreams. However, that was no
business of ours. For our own part, it is
needless to say that we were above such petty
deception. So, signing our correct ages (forty-
seven for myself, and thirty-nine for my wife)
I delivered the paper into the hands of the
red-haired man in the hall, and saw him place
it, amongst others, carefully in his pocket.
"See him to the gate, Charles," said Mrs. S.
But I had my slippers on, and did not like to
venture on the gravel. Oh, the fatal result
of disobedience! Young men, take warning
by me and obey your wives, as you are sworn
to do, in all things!

Not to detain you too long, sir, about five
minutes afterwards, my wife, in the course
of her perambulations, happening to catch
the sound of suppressed laughter in the
kitchen, had the following scraps of conversation
involuntarily forced upon her ear.
"Thirty-nine! " exclaimed the page in great
glee; " why I heerd her tell Mrs. Jones the
other day, at dinner, as she was thirty-one.
Ha! ha! ha! " " Oh, the wanity of them
old women! " put in the nurse. " The 'air on
her 'ead must be false," laughed the cook.
"Mrs. Pry give me a shilling to take round
the paper to her when it was signed," exclaimed
the red-haired fiend, " and I 'm a going now."
And then came another peal of " ha! ha! ha!"
excruciating to hear.

It is needless to say that these wretches
all received one month's notice on the spot,
but the effects of this disastrous incident are
not so easily enumerated. During the
remainder of the month the page has been
frequently seen to look at my wife, and then touch
his head and grin at the cook during prayers;
the lips of the nurse have been observed to
form themselves into the sound of "thirty-
nine," as she stood conversing with an
acquaintance at the gate. Mrs. Pry smirks
odiously when we meet at church. Even the
demure little curate has commenced talking
to my wife about certain extra spiritual
exertions which she ought to enter upon " at
her time of life." The miscreants have
departed, and a new batch of servants has
replaced them, but the same malicious grin
flits over the faces of the new-comers. They
have heard the tale with a thousand
embellishments; it will be transmitted in the
kitchen from generation to generation, ready
to pop out whenever there is a little tiff or
quarrel with the powers above. The draper's
apprentice says that dark-coloured ribbons are
most suitable for " elderly " ladies. Our life
is rendered miserable, and all on account of
the odious and tyrannical CENSUS PAPER. If
you will exert yourself to show, Sir, that we
are not living under a free government so long
as this monstrous abuse is hovering over the
heads of our families, ready to burst every ten
years and scatter ruin in its path, I shall
not regret having poured my complaint into
your friendly ear. Meanwhile, I can add no
more, but remain your very disconsolate
friend and subscriber.