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ever ventured to speak or write to him he would
commit an assault on the spot. The cad told
this to me in confidence, and I gave him half-
a-crown. Perks whispered to his neighbours
whenever I came in, and also whenever I went
out. I saw by the movement of his lips that
he was using the word blackball. I resolved
to cut that mode of conveyance, and always
drove into London in my little pony chaise.

I heard one day by mere accidentit was
in the railway year, and I was provisional
committee-man on fifteen of the finest lines in
Englandthat there was a deficiency of
members in the Blenkinsop, a most respectable
club at the West end, not so showy as the
Megæra, but perhaps of more real importance,
for there were several Irish members of
Parliament on the lists, and a Knight of the
Tower and Sword took the chief management
in committee. I had applications without end
from high and low for shares in my different
lines; and as several were dated from the
Blenkinsop, I had now no difficulty in obtaining
admission. I should have been received
with acclamation, I believe, if I had walked
in with an apron, and a packet of tea under
my arm. It was a delightful club. You did
as you likedyou read the papers, or wrote
your letters, and nobody interfered with you
in the morning I mean, for the members were
principally attorneys, and government clerks,
and stockbrokers, and others whose avocations
occupied them till dinner-time. I made
acquaintance, however, with a very broad-
brimmed white hat, and peculiar looking gold
headed cane on the stand in the hall. They
belonged to an earlin fact the only earl who
belonged to the cluband it was so pleasant,
when old Joggs came to dine with me, to say,
"His lordship is going to dine in the club
His lordship's hatHis lordship's stick."
Old Joggs used to gaze with the most
exaggerated rapture at these appendages of
nobility, and say: "Let me look a little
longer on his lordship's canelet me take
another glance at his lordship's hat." Joggs
was a humourist, and I have observed all
humourists are vulgar.

Time passed on very happily; and I was
quite contented with the club: it was
rather stupid, but immensely respectable.
Why then did I leave it? I did not leave it
it left meand this is how it occurred.

I was in Paris for two months last summer,
which is a most agreeable town, and the
Tuileries gardens delightful; but the vin
ordinaire a little sour,—and there was
forwarded to me a letter from the club secretary
demanding instant payment of six pound
fourteen, as per resolution of general meeting;
or if not, the Knight of the Tower and
Sword would call another meeting and get
the recusants expelled. I got into cold
perspirations all through the Luxembourg gallery
all through the avenues of Versaillesat
the thought of being expelled from my club! It
sounded like being cashiered from the army.
I took advice from all the English I encountered
at Meurice's; they were unanimous that
the club had no right to tax its members
because the committee had got into debt; but
the fear of Peckham-rye was before my eyes;
I thought of that insolent fellow, Perks, and
all he would say if I was really expelled, and
so I sent in my six pound fourteenand my

Now, what do you think of my resignation
not being accepted when it was sent in?
No, not a bit of it. The Knight of the
Tower and Sword passed a resolution
that retiring members shouldn't be allowed
to retire till they had paid twelve guineas
more; and that, as he had effected an
amalgamation with another club, a subscription
of twenty guineas would be required of
members choosing to continue of the united
society. What was the other club which they
asked me to join? The Megæra!

Am I to pay twenty guineas for the privilege
of being frowned at by Perks, bullied by
Boggle, the barrister, and mixed up with a
set of fellows who blackballed me on such a
paltry plea? I wish I had never joined the
Blenkinsop at all, for how can I proceed?
Shall I pay twelve pound twelve for the
privilege of retiring, or twenty guineas for
the privilege of going on? I was not alone in
Paris; no, there was a person with menot
my sister, but worth fifty sistersin short, I
am engaged to be married, and intended at all
events to give up my club, like Hercules, as
the riddle says, but I hate impositionI won't
pay the retiring fine I can't bear to tell
Ethelinda I have been expelledit is worse
than being blackballed; and what with taxes
for going and taxes for staying, not to mention
the Russian bear, I believe I shall be impoverished
to a degree that will prevent my wedding.
And after all, I did not make the acquaintance
of a single lord; for the noble earl was
removed one morning with his hat and stick
and conveyed to a lunatic asylum. Such is
the result of my club experience, and if it has
the effect of putting one single reader (as the
generality of prefaces observes) on his guard
against unconstitutional exactions, the author's
object will be fully gained. In any case, the
twelve pound twelve, and the twenty guineas
he will never pay, never! Never!

    published Weekly in HOUSEHOLD WORDS.

On Wednesday, the 29th of March will be published, in
Household Words, the First Portion of a New Work
of Fiction, called

                          HARD TIMES.

                 BY CHARLES DICKENS.

The publication of this Story will be continued in
                 HOUSEHOLD WORDS
from Week to Week, and completed in Five Months.

Price of each Weekly Number of HOUSEHOLD WORDS
(containing, besides, the usual variety of matter),
Twopence; or Stamped Threepence.
DICKENS, is published also in Monthly Parts and in
Half-yearly Volumes.

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