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"What?"

"Stuffed! " saith the Executioner mournfully."

The Banker shrieked.

"Stuffed!" repeats the man, laconically
pointing to a bird in a glass case, to prevent
there being any mistake in Sutherland's mind
as to the nature of the operation he is to be
called upon to undergo.

The Executioner now lays his hand
significantly on poor Sutherland's collar, and looks
into his face as if to inquire if he had any
particular or peculiar fancy as to the mode in
which he would like to go through the
preparatory operation of being killed.

"I have brought the straw," he says, " and
two assistants are without. The Empress
cannot wait; and we have not got your
measure for the glass case yet."

The Banker looks the very picture of
abject misery; but Britons in foreign comedies,
are always ready to buy everything,
and the Banker had lived long enough in
Russia to know the value of a bribe. He
therefore offers one so considerable, that his
grim visitor is touched, and endeavours to
lull his sense of duty to sleep by a sophistry.

"I was told, indeed, to have you stuffed,"
he reasons, "and got ready for the Empress;
but nothing was said about time, so I don't
mind giving you half-an-hour if you can
satisfy these gentlemenand he turns to his
associates.

It is briefly done. The Banker pays like
a man whose life depends on his liberality
we suppose several millionsfor the
Executioner remarks that he cannot forget that
a groom in England frequently receives
several thousands sterling a year; this is
a very prevalent idea among the Frankish
and Teutonic nations of the Continent.
We once heard a Spanish general assert,
in a large assembly, that the usual pay of
an English ensign was five hundred pounds
a month, an idea doubtless derived from some
Iberian dramatist; and therefore a public
functionary like the Executioner must be remunerated
proportionably higher. The enormous
pecuniary sacrifice gets for Sutherland some
half-hour's respite; which he wisely uses
by flying to the British Ambassador, Sir
Bifstik, and awaits the result with great
anguish.

Sir Bifstik goes to the Empress. He is
admitted. He asks if Her Majesty be aware
of the position of a British subject named
Sutherland?

"Excellent man," says Her Majesty, " No!
What is it?"

Sir Bifstik bows low at the tones of the
Imperial voice, and now begins to explain
himself with something more than diplomatic
haste; thinking, perhaps, that already
the fatal straw may be filling the Banker's
members.

Imperial Catherine does not, of course,
consider the putting to death of a mere Scotch
Banker, and making him in reality what
some of his brethren are sometimes called
figurativelya man of strawworth this
fuss; and sets the ambassador down in her
mind as a person of wild republican ideas,
who ought to be recalled as soon as possible
by his Government, and placed under proper
surveillance; but nevertheless, she causes
some enquiries to be made, and learns that
it is in consequence of her having ordered
"Sutherland " to be stuffed that he is
probably then undergoing that operation.

Sir Bifstik expresses such horror and
consternation at this intelligence, that the
Empress believes his mind to be disordered.

"What possible consequence can the
accidental stuffing of a Scotch banker be to you,
milor? " she saith.

"' The ac-ci-den-t-al stuff-ings of a Scotcher
Bankers!" in a German idiom not generally
used by our nobility, gasps Sir Bifstik,
mechanically, with pale lips and bristling
hair.

"Take him away! He is mad! " screams
the Empress, thinking that no sane person
could be concerned about such a trifling affair,
and in another moment the most sacred of
international laws would have been violated
(on the stage), and Great Britain insulted by
profane hands being laid on the person of her
ambassador, when all at once a light breaks
over the mind of Her Majesty; the recalling
of something forgotten. She exclaims, with a
Russian nonchalance quite cheering to behold,
"Oh, I remember; now it is easily explained.
My poor little dog (I had forgotten him too)
died yesterday, and I wished his body to be
preserved. Cher chien! His name was the
same as that of the Banker, I think. Alas!
that cruel Death should take my dog!"

"But Mr. Sutherland has, perhaps, already
been murdered! " gasps the ambassador. " I
pray that your Majesty will lose no time in
having him released, should he be still alive!"

"Ah, true! I never thought of that;"
returns the Empress.

The order is finally issued and Sutherland
rescued, just as the Executioner, grown
angry at his unreasonable remonstrances,
resolves to delay no longer in executing the
Imperial commands. To put the coup-de-
grace on the comic agony of the poor banker,
his immense red crop of hair has, in that
half hour of frightful uncertainty, turned
white as snow!


Now ready, Price 5s. 6d., neatly Bound in Cloth,
THE FIRST VOLUME
OF
HOUSEHOLD WORDS.
Publishing Monthly, Price 2d., Stamped, 3d.

THE HOUSEHOLD NARRATIVE
OF
CURRENT EVENTS.
This Monthly Supplement of Household Words, containing
a history of the previous month, is issued regularly with the
Magazines.


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