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IS there any law in England which will
protect me from Mrs. Badgery?

I am a bachelor, and Mrs. Badgery is a
widow. Let nobody rashly imagine that I
am about to relate a common-place grievance,
because I have suffered that first sentence to
escape my pen. My objection to Mrs. Badgery
is, not that she is too fond of me, but
that she is too fond of the memory of her
late husband. She has not attempted to
marry me; she would not think of marrying
me, even if I asked her. Understand, therefore,
if you please, at the outset, that my
grievance in relation to this widow lady is a
grievance of an entirely new kind.

Let me begin again. I am a bachelor of a
certain age. I have a large circle of acquaintance;
but I solemnly declare that the late
Mr. Badgery was never numbered on the
list of my friends. I never heard of him in
my life; I never knew that he had left a
relict; I never set eyes on Mrs. Badgery
until one fatal morning when I went to see
if the fixtures were all right in my new

My new house is in the suburbs of London.
I looked at it, liked it, took it. Three times
I visited it before I sent my furniture in.
Once with a friend, once with a surveyor,
once by myself, to throw a sharp eye, as I
have already intimated, over the fixtures.
The third visit marked the fatal occasion on
which I first saw Mrs. Badgery. A deep
interest attaches to this event, and I shall go
into details in describing it.

I rang at the bell of the garden-door. The
old woman appointed to keep the house
answered it. I directly saw something
strange and confused in her face and manner.
Some men would have pondered a little and
questioned her. I am by nature impetuous
and a rusher at conclusions. "Drunk," I
said to myself, and walked on into the house
perfectly satisfied.

I looked into the front parlour. Grate all
right, curtain-pole all right, gas chandelier
all right. I looked into the back parlour
ditto, ditto, ditto, as we men of business say.
I mounted the stairs. Blind on back window
right? Yes; blind on back window right.
I opened the door of the front drawing-room
and there, sitting in the middle of the bare
floor, was a large woman on a little campstool!
She was dressed in the deepest
mourning, her face was hidden by the thickest
crape veil I ever saw, and she was groaning
softly to herself in the desolate solitude of my
new unfurnished house.

What did I do? Do! I bounced back
into the landing as if I had been shot, uttering
the national exclamation of terror and
astonishment: "Hullo!" (And here I
particularly beg, in parenthesis, that the printer
will follow my spelling of the word, and not
put Hillo, or Halloa, instead, both of which
are base compromises which represent no
sound that ever yet issued from any Englishman's
lips.) I said, "Hullo!" and then I
turned round fiercely upon the old woman
who kept the house, and said "Hullo!"

She understood the irresistible appeal that
I had made to her feelings, and curtseyed,
and looked towards the drawing-room, and
humbly hoped that I was not startled or put
out. I asked who the crape-covered woman
on the camp-stool was, and what she wanted
there. Before the old woman could answer,
the soft groaning in the drawing-room ceased,
and a muffled voice, speaking from behind
the crape veil, addressed me reproachfully,
and said:

"I am the widow of the late Mr. Badgery."

What did I say in answer?  Exactly the
words which, I flatter myself, any other
sensible man in my situation would have said.
And what words were they?   These two:

"Oh, indeed!"

"Mr. Badgery and myself were the last
tenants who inhabited this house," continued
the muffled voice. "Mr. Badgery died here."
The voice ceased, and the soft groans began

It was perhaps not necessary to answer
this; but I did answer it. How? In one


"Our house has been long empty,"
resumed the voice, choked by sobs. "Our
establishment has been broken up. Being
left in reduced circumstances, I now live in
a cottage near; but it is not home to me.
This is home. However long I live, wherever