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immediately he took both my hands into his, and
said with fervour:

"Have no fears, Hoblush. You must be
taken care of. For two mortal hours last
night I lay awake thinking of you. I have
the very thing for you in my eye. There is,"
continued my excellent guide, philosopher,
and friend, in easy, narrative tones, "near to
the coast of one of the adjacent counties, an
agreeable and salubrious parish known as
Duckings-cum-Shampoo. Hither repair, in the
summer season, a highly select and fashionable
company, for the sake of the agreeable society,
as for the healthful and invigorating properties
of the sea-bathing. The emoluments of
the parish are, I regret to say, no more than
sixty-five or seventy pounds a-year; but— "

Here the good bishop paused, fixing his
eyes upon me; while the Reverend Alfred
Hoblush, with a sickened heart, felt that unless
there was some extravagant counterpoise in
the episcopal But, he must decline those
parochial duties as too burdensome for a
person of feeble health.

"But," continued Doctor Bridles, his eyes
still on me, "there is within the limits of my
diocese another parish, Tepidstonean
exceedingly comfortable thinga snug,
compact thing; the incumbent of which is verging
on eighty, and, I grieve to say, much broken.
I am informed," adds the bishop, confidentially,
"that he hath coughed away one
entire lung, together with the major part of
another. The reversion of Tepidstone is
yours, Hoblush!"

I was out of myself with delight. I could
have embraced his knees.

"But," adds he again, fixing me once more
with his eyes, and making me rise from that
mental genuflection; "But," adds his lordship
lifting the weight once more out of
the scales; "But," the Bishop goes on,
"you must in the meantime go into that
other vineyard and work diligently. It may
perhaps be some solace to you in your
banishment to learn that my nieces, the
Misses Bridles, are now residing at Duckings-
cum-Shampoo. They are young and unprotected
things. You shall know them: visit
them: be intimate with them. Your characters
will, I know, assimilate. Yes, I am
convinced," adds Doctor Bridles, reflectively,
"he will come at last to have the run of the
housethe run of the house. Heaven bless
you, Hoblush! Good young man! Those
muffins are excellent."

Within one week from that date I was
inducted into Duckings-cum-Shampoo. But
for the fact, that my poor heart was still
seamed and scarredits wounds being as yet
barely closedI should have noted with pain
that it was a damp, dismal-looking place,
made up of a few scalded edifices, with a
market-cross in the centre; about which
country folk transacted their business on
the proper days.

"It was more lively than it looked," said
the housekeeper left by the predecessor, and
who was good enough to take me on in his

There was a quiet austerity of manner
about that person, which put aside, of course,
the absurd notion I had formed of introducing
the steady elderly female who had worked
for me at Saint Stylites. So, to the steady
elderly female I had to write by early post,
and say that the Reverend Alfred Hoblush
was grieved to be obliged to deny himself
the services of so invaluable a domestic. The
housekeeper who had taken me on, continued
meanwhile to impart (what I believe are
termed by the fast school of the day)
wrinkles, of the traits and manners of the
population of the new parish: a pot'o'graphic
pictur' o' the sawciety! as the engaging
woman put it.

Of which there were the usual country
town constituents; the social structure of
such places, being usually built upon more or
less the same lines. I had dim suspicions
overshadowing me that a solicitor with neat
brass door-plate would play the protagonist,
or the leading man's part, in the great whirl
of country town life, and I found it as I
had anticipated. It had struck me as being
just on the bounds of possibility that there
might also be a person who had studied
medicine in early life, displaying his brass-plate,
and deriving abundant emoluments
from attendance on a dispensary, from practice
among country families. Strange to
say, I was right here, too. And further,
growing bold enough to imagine that
where there is monopoly, there will be,
most likely, competition, I conjured up a
phantom of my brain, in the shape of a smart
London practitioner, of manners most
insinuating, driving a new light coach against
the heavy, slow-going, stage-waggon of the
established mediciner; and I found that I
had made a good guess. There was a gentleman
connected with the excise interest, who
had served in his youth, and was hailed
captain. There were many single ladies, too,
who had successfully resisted all efforts to
force them from that superior vantage
ground; and there were a few who had once
enjoyed the blessings of the more heavenly
state, but whose companions had gone on
before them to celestial mansions.

It may be thought, perhaps, that there is
here a tone of unbecoming levity scarcely in
keeping with that heart bowed down which
Reverend Alfred Hoblush was bearing about
within him. But think, for an instant, of
the sickened spirit going forth with a mask of
wreathed smiles on, nay, mingling with the
crew of revellers, and quaffing the flowing
bowl with many a quip and crank; shrieking
even with artificial laughter, and all the while
writhing internally under the ravages of a
hideous cancer. Bear this picture in mind
when weighing Reverend Alfred Hoblush in