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females-no less than six-knock at Mrs. Sibbles's door. I know they wanted that monster, 'cause I seen 'em afterwards in the room that him and his wife occupies, and I could just get a peep at his head as he was a-talking to 'em. There was never more than two there at a time. His poor wife was out of the way,
of course, or he wouldn't have had 'em there." “Decidedly not,” exclaimed Mrs. Chatterly. “Decidedly not,” repeated Mrs. Croaker.
Well,” continued Mrs. Twaddle, “I think it was last Tuesday night, I was just going past Mrs. Sibble's door, for a pint of porter for Twaddle (his riglar allowance for supper), when I heard the most awful noises a-coming from Mrs. Sibble's first pair front. I was rather curious to know what it was all about, though I know'd Twaddle was in a great hurry, so I listened for a few minutes, and I heard the dreadfullest, the most abusive language that a man could make use of, come out of his mouth. His poor wife was a-sobbing and acrying, fit to break her heart. Oh, dear me, thought I, that man wili murder that poor woman before he's done! Well, I stepped across to the other side of the street, and I saw the monster walking up and down the room, seemingly in a great rage, and lifting up his hand, and shaking his fist as if he was going to strike at the poor harmless and innocent thing."
“Oh! why, Mrs. Twaddle, didn't you get a police ?” asked Mrs. Chatterly.
“I thought of doing so, ma'am, but I thought I might as well get the porter for Twaddle first. Howsomever, when I came back with it, they was all quiet, so I went home, and heard no more about 'em that night.”
“Oh, the ugly brute !” exclaimed Mrs. Chatterly. "Is he very ugly, ma'am ? " inquired Mrs. Croaker. “Horrid. His face bespeaks his brutality. I never heard of such a cross, ugly, malicious-looking being in all my born days before. His eyes, and his mouth, and his nose are uncommon ugly. And such legs !”
“Are they ugly, too, ma'am ?”
“ Just wish you to see em,” replied Mrs. Chatterly. “They are quite crooked; and I'm pretty nearly certain that he has a hump on his back, but couldn't pretend to be sure on that particular point."
“Lor, Mrs. Chatterly, what a monster !” said Mrs. Croaker. "I wonder how his wife could ever have taken a fancy to him.”
“And she the tidiest, sweetest, most interesting looking young woman,” observed Mrs. Chatterly, “as ever I clapped my eyes on."
“More's the pity,” remarked Mrs. Twaddle, shaking her head. “She's far too good for him.”
“She's worth a thousand on him, ma'am," said Mrs. Chatterly.
How long the conversation on this interesting subject might have been continued, had an interruption not taken place, it would be rather difficult to say. The cause of the interruption was a dirty, slatternly looking little girl, who came to inform Mrs. Twaddle, that tea and Mr. Jonas Twaddle were waiting for her. Had the refreshing beverage not been taken into consideration, there is every reason to suppose that Mr. Jonas Twaddle might have continued waiting for at least an hour or two longer. The party was thus broken up, and Mrs. Twaddle and Mrs. Croaker repaired to their respective residences.
Mrs. Croaker, as well as the other two loquacious ladies, likewise lived in Devonshire Street, and they all three took in lodgers (c'est à dire, cheated them) to assist to pay the houserent. The individuals who are so much spoken of in the foregoing discussion had lately become inmates of Mrs. Sibble's house; and certainly some very curious scenes had been enacted in their apartments, since they took possession of them. Whether they were such as to justify the remarks of Mrs. Chatterly and her friends, will be seen in the sequel.
A few days after the important conference to which we have just alluded, Mrs. Chatterly and Mrs. Twaddle, with very ominous and horror-fraught countenances, again met to hold further converse on the subject that occupied their attention at their last interview. The discussion, on this occasion, took place at the house of Mrs. Twaddle. When Mrs. Chatterly entered the room of that lady, she was in a state of great agitation, indeed quite in a flutter. Her kind, sympathising friend, Mrs. Twaddle, observed it, and said,
“I'm glad you've come, Mrs. Chatterly. How is all this horrid business to end ? "
“I really don't know, Mrs. Twaddle. I never got a wink of sleep till four o'clock this morning." “I've had none-none at all. Couldn't sleep, for the life of
I never got such a fright in all my days afore.” "I wanted to come out to see what it was all about, but Chatterly wouldn't let me. You could see every thing, Mrs. Twaddle ?"
“I saw it all, ma'am, from first to last.” “How did it begin ? ”
Why, I first heard an uproar about ten o'clock. They were then evidently quarrelling, and he was calling her the most
shocking names, using the most violent language, and threatening all sorts o’horrid things. I says to Twaddle, What a shame there is no body to call in a police !' Well, ma'am, about an hour afterwards, Mrs. Sibble's little girl ran out, and presently returned with a policeman. They went into the house, and then we heard a tremendous scuffle, somebody swearing dreadful, and poor Mrs. Sibble a-crying and wringing of her hands in the greatest possible agitation. I thought of running across to her, but a crowd began to gather round the door, and Jonas thought I should be better in the house. In a short time the policeman dragged the wretch to the door, and then a fierce and dreadful struggle ensued. The policeman and him was thrown upon the pavement: but in a minute or two the policeman got upon his legs again, and sprung bis rattle, and then a lot of fresh men arrived, and soon succeeded in dragging the brute away.”
“And a good job, too,” said Mrs. Chatterly. “I was so glad when it was all over. Have you never spoken to Mrs. Sibble, to advise her to set him off ? '
“Never once had an opportunity,” replied Mrs. Twaddle; “but I mean to go over this morning, to talk to her upon the subject.”
“Oh, marm !” exclaimed Mrs. Twaddle's servant, rushing into the room at this part of the conversation, with horror and fear depicted upon her countenance. “Oh, marm!”
“Well, what is it, Betsy ?” inquired Mrs. Twaddle. “Lor, how you frighten one, coming in, in that way!
Oh, marm!” said the servant. “Gracious me! why don't you speak ? ” “ There's—there's" “ Well, who is it?"
“There's that horrible man, the monster, as lives over the way, at the door, and he wishes to-to speak to you," stammered out the servant.
The ladies immediately changed colour. “ To me?” screamed out Mrs. Twaddle. "To you, marm !” emphatically asseverated the servant. “Goodness, gracious, what's to be done?” exclaimed Mrs. Chatterly.
Say-say I am not in,” said Mrs. Twaddle, recovering from the shock occasioned by the appalling announcement.
“Knows all about it, marm; told him you was in,” rejoined Betsy.
“ I wouldn't meet him for the world,” ejaculated Mrs. Chatterly.
“Oh, don't disturb yourself, dear,” said Mrs. Twaddle; "he
can't eat us. Well, Betsy,” she continued, addressing herself to the servant, “I am uncommon vexed that you told him I was in, but, as it cannot now be helped, I suppose I must hear what the brute has to say.”
“Somebody must have bailed him out,” observed Mrs. Chatterly.
“It looks very like it,” said Mrs. Twaddle.
A little, thin, meagre-looking man, dressed in a very shabby suit of black, and rather under five feet in height, entered the
His air denoted him to be exceedingly timid and nervous. He was in no way deformed; but, on the contrary, very symmetrically and compactly made. The expression of his countenance was mild to a degree, and unusually good-natured.
The ladies exchanged significant looks, as thougb they doubted his identity.
“ Have I the honour of beholding Mrs. Twaddle ? " said the intruder, making a low bow.
“My name is Twaddle," replied that lady, drawing herself up.
“Mine is Fly,” said the intruder, “Narcissus Fly ;” and he looked at the ladies, as though the mere mention of the fact would ensure their approbation. “I am lodging with Mrs. Sibble,” pursued Mr. Narcissus
“She requested me to ask you, if you would favour her with your company at the police-office, this morning, as she does not like to go alone."
“To the police office !” exclaimed Mrs. Twaddle.
“ To the police-office, ma'am," replied Mr. Narcissus Fly. “She has to go there, in consequence of the uproar that took place in her house last night, occasioned by her nephew, who was intoxicated.” Mrs. Twaddle looked at her friend with astonishment.
If I can be of any service to Mrs. Sibble,” she replied, “I shall be happy to be so.”
“While I am here,” said Mr. Fly, “I may as well try to do a little business on my own account. I am stage manager, ladies, at the Theatre, and my benefit is to take place next Monday night, when a new farce that my wife and I have been rehearsing together for the last fortnight, at our lodgings, will be performed; and I shall be very glad if you will oblige me by taking a few tickets."
“What is the name of the farce ?” asked Mrs. Chatterly. “ The BRUTAL HUSBAND, ma'am,” modestly replied Mr. Fly. A new light, simultaneously with the announcement of the
new farce, broke in upon the loquacious and scandal-loving females. Mr. Fly then was as innocent as that harmless insect of the whole of the grave offences that had been laid to his charge. The ladies who were in the habit of calling upon him were, doubtless, actresses who came to consult him respecting their
parts. Mrs. Twaddle again looked at her friend, and receiving a confirmatory nod, said,
“Well, Mr. Fly, you may send us a couple of pit tickets.”
the money in the course of the day,” added Mrs. Twaddle.
“At your convenience, ma'am,” said Mr. Fly, who wishing the ladies good morning, departed.
“ Well, what a mistake!” said Mrs. Twaddle.
said he was very ugly.” “Oh, I never seen him afore, ma'am; but, as all them cruel brutes are horrid ugly, I concluded he was such.”
If we possess, or are supposed to possess, but one weak point; if aught of mystery shroud our simplest actions; how many Chatterlys and Twaddles are there, ever ready to misconstrue our conduct and motives, and make us a thousand times worse than we really are.
If but one false step have been taken, one little indiscretion committed, how many such are there, ever ready to swell the catalogue of human vices, paint the weaknesses of humanity in their most odious and distorted colours, and brand the unfortunate victim of their slander and calumny with the worst of stigmas, and even with the appellation of Man MONSTER.
August, 1848.-VOL. LII.-NO, CCVIII.