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[-174-]

CHAPTER CXC.

TWO OF OUR OLD ACQUAINTANCES.

WE must again transport our readers to the great metropolis of England.
    It was late in the evening of the 24th of January, 1841,  with Byron, we "like to be particular in dates,"  that a man, of herculean form, weather-beaten countenance, and whose age was apparently somewhat past forty, was passing down Drury Lane.
    He was dressed like a labourer, with a smock frock and a very broad-brimmed straw hat, which was slouched as much as possible over his face.
    Passing into Blackmoor Street, he continued his way towards Clare Market; whence he turned abruptly into Clements' Lane, and entered a public-house on the right hand side of this wretched scene of squalor and poverty.
    No one possessing the least feeling of compassion for the suffering portion of the industrious millions  (and how large is that portion!)  can pass along the miserable thoroughfare called Clements' Lane without being shocked at the internal misery which the exterior appearance of many of the dwellings bespeaks. There is ever a vile effluvium in that narrow alley  a miasma as of a crowded churchyard!
    Entering the parlour of the public-house, the man with the weather-beaten countenance and slouched hat was immediately recognised by a lad seated apart from the other inmates of the room.
    This youth was about eighteen or nineteen years of age, very short in stature, but well made. On a former occasion we have stated that his countenance was effeminate and by no means bad-looking; his eyes were dark and intelligent; his teeth good; and his voice soft and agreeable. His manners were superior to his condition; and his language was singularly correct for one who was almost entirely self-taught, and who had filled menial employments since his boyhood.
    He was dressed in a blue jacket and waistcoat, and dark brown trousers; and that attire, together with a boy's cap, contributed towards the extreme youthfulness of his appearance.
    A pint of porter stood, untouched, upon a table at which he was sitting.
    The man with the weather-beaten countenance proceeded to take his seat next to this lad: he then rang the bell, and having ordered some liquor and a pipe, entered into conversation with his young companion.
    "Have you heard any thing more of that villain Tidkins, Harry?" asked the man.
    "Nothing more since I saw you yesterday morning, Jem," replied Holford. "I have lost all trace of him."
    "But are you sure that it was him you saw the day before yesterday?" demanded Crankey Jam  for he was the individual with the weather-beaten countenance and slouched hat.
    "Don't you think I know him well enough, after all I have told you concerning him?" said Henry Holford, smiling. "When you and I accidentally met for the first time, the day before yesterday, in this parlour, and when in the course of the conversation that sprang up between us, I happened to mention the name of Tidkins, I saw how you fired  how you coloured  how agitated you became. What injury has he done you, that you are so bitter against him?"
    "I will tell you another time, Harry," answered Crankey Jem. "My history is a strange one - and you shall know it all. But I must find out the lurking-hole of this miscreant Tidkins. You say he was well dressed?"
    "As well as a private person can be," answered Holford. "But did the Resurrection Man put on the robes of the greatest monarch in the world, he could not mitigate the atrocious expression of his cadaverous  hang-dog countenance. I confess that I am afraid of that man:  yes  I am afraid of him!"
    "He was well-dressed, and was stepping into a cab at the stand under the Charterhouse wall, you said?" observed Crankey Jem.
    "Yes  and he said, 'To the Mint  Borough,"' replied Holford "those were his very words  and. away the cab went."
    "And you have since been to see if you could recognise the cab, and pump the cab-man?" continued Jem.
    "By your request I have done so," answered Holford; "and my researches have been altogether un-[-175-]successful. I could not find the particular cab which he took."
    "Why didn't you question the waterman and the drivers?" asked Jem.
    "So I did; but I could glean nothing. Now if you really want to find the Resurrection Man, I should advise you to go over to the Mint, and hunt him out amongst the low public-houses in that district. Depend upon it," added Holford, "he has business there; for he is not a man to run about in cabs for nothing."
    "The fact is, Harry," returned Jem, " that it doesn't suit my schemes to look after Tidkins myself. He would only get out of my way; and  as I have missed my aim once  I must take care to thrust home the next time I fall in with him."
    "You mean to say that you have poniarded him once, and that he escaped death?" whispered Holford.
    "Yes: but I will tell you all about it presently, Harry," said Crankey Jem; 'and then, perhaps, you will be induced to assist me in hunting out the Resurrection Man."
    "I certainly have an old score to settle with him," returned Holford; "for  as I told you  he once laid a plot against my life. To-night you shall tell me how you came to be so bitter against him: tomorrow night I will visit the Mint, and make the inquiries you wish concerning him; and the night afterwards I must devote to particular business of my own."
    "And what particular business can such a younker as you have in hand?" asked Crankey Jem, with as much of a smile as his grim countenance could possibly relax itself into.
    "I now and then visit a place where I can contemplate, at my ease, a beautiful lady  without even my presence being suspected," answered Holford, in a mysterious tone.
    "A beautiful lady! Are you in love with her, then?" demanded Crankey Jem.
    "The mere idea is so utterly absurd  so extravagant - so preposterous," replied Holford, "that my lips dare not speak an affirmative. To acknowledge that I love this lady of whom I speak, would be almost a crime - an atrocity  a diabolical insult,  so highly is she placed above me! And yet," he added mournfully, "the human heart has strange susceptibilities  will indulge in the idlest phantasies! My chief happiness is to gaze upon this lady  and my blood boils when I behold him on whom all her affection is bestowed."
    "She is married, then!" said Crankey Jem, interrogatively.
    "Yes  married to one who is handsome and young, and who perhaps loves her all the more because he owes so much  -so very much to her! But I actually shudder  I feel alarmed  I tremble, while I thus permit my tongue to touch upon such topics,  topics as sacred as a religion  as holy as a worship."
    "You have either indulged in some very foolish and most hopeless attachment, Harry," said his companion; "or else your wits are going a-wool-gathering."
    "May be both your remarks apply to me," muttered Holford, a cloud passing over his countenance. "But - no - no: I am in the perfect possession of my senses  my intellects are altogether unimpaired. it is a fancy  a whim of my mine to introduce myself into the place I before alluded to, and, from my concealment, contemplate the lady of whom I have spoken. It gives me pleasure to look upon her  I know not why. Then  when I am alone - I brood upon her image, recall to mind all I have heard her say or seen her do, and ponder on her features - her figure - her dress  her whole appearance, until I become astonished at myself  alarmed at my own presumption  terrified at my own thoughts. For weeks and weeks  nay, for months  I remain away from the place where she often dwells;  but at length some imperceptible and unknown impulse urges me thither; I rove about the neighbourhood, gazing longingly upon the building;  I endeavour to tear myself away  I cannot;  then I ascend the wall  I traverse the garden  I enter the dwelling  I conceal myself  I behold her again  him also,  and my pleasures and my tortures are experienced all over again!"
    "You're a singular lad," said Crankey Join, eyeing the youth with no small degree of astonishment, and some suspicion that he was not altogether right in his upper storey. "But who is this lady that you speak of? and why are you so frightened even to think of her? A cat may look at a king  aye, and think of him too, for that matter. Human nature is human nature; and one isn't always answerable for one's feelings."
    "There I agree with you, Jem," said Holford. "I have often struggled hard against that impulse which urges me towards the place where the lady dwells  but all in vain!"
    "Who is she, once more!" demanded Jem.
    "That is a secret  never to be revealed," answered Harry.
    Crankey Jem had commenced an observation in reply, when one of the persons who were sitting drinking at another table, suddenly struck up a chant in so loud and boisterous a tone that it completely drowned the voice of Holford's companion: -
    
    FLARE UP
    
    Flare up, I say, my jolly friends,
    And pass the bingo gaily:  
    Who cares a rap if all this ends
    Some morn at the Old Bailey?
    "A short life and a merry one"
    Should be our constant maxim;
    And he's a fool that gives up fun
    Because remorse attacks him.
    
    Here Ned has forks so precious fly,
    And Bill can smash the flimsies;* [*pass fictitious bank-notes]
    No trap to Tom could e'er come nigh.
    For he so fleet of limbs is.
    Bob is the best to crack a crib,
    And Dick to knap a fogle;* [*Handkerchief]
    And I can wag my tongue so glib
    A beak would wipe his ogle.
    
    Who are so happy then as we  
    Each with such useful knowledge!
    For Oxford University
    Can't beat the Floating College.* [*The Hulks]
    To parish prigs one gives degrees,
    To lumber-lags* [*transports] the latter:
    But I would sooner cross the seas,
    Than in a humbox* [*pulpit] patter.* [*preach]
    
    Each state in life has its mishaps:  
    Kings fear a revolution;
    The knowing covey dreads the traps  
    And both an execution.
    Death will not long pass any by  
    Each chance is duly raffled;
    What matters whether we must die
    In bed or on the scaffold!
    
    [-176-] Flare up, I say, then, jolly friends,
    And pass the bingo gaily;
    Who cares a rap if all this ends
    Some morn at the Old Bailey?
    A short life and a merry one"
    Should be our constant maxim;
    And he's a fool that gives up fun
    Because remorse attacks him."
    
    "Now let us be moving, young sprig," said Crankey Jem, when the song was brought to a conclusion. "You shall come with me to my lodging, where we'll have a bit of supper together; and then I'll tell you my story; it is a strange one, I can assure you."
    Holford rose, and followed Crankey Jem from the public-house.
    The latter led the way to a court in Drury Lane; and introduced the lad into a small back chamber, which was tolerably neat and comfortable.
    On a table near the window, were small models of ships, executed with considerable taste; various tools; blocks of wood, not yet shaped; paint-pots, brushes, twine, little brass cannon and anchors,  in a word, all the articles necessary for the miniature vessels which are seen in the superior toy-shops.
    "That is the way I get my living, Harry," said Jem, pointing towards the work-table. "I have been a sad fellow in my time: but if any one who has gone through all I have suffered, doesn't change, I don't know who the devil would. Sit down, Harry  the fire will soon blaze up."
    Jem stirred the fire, and then busied himself to spread a small round table standing in the middle of the room, with some cold meat, a substantial piece of cheese, and a quartern loaf. He also produced from his cupboard a bottle of spirits, and when there was a good blaze in the grate, he placed the kettle to boil.
    "You have got every thing comfortable enough here, Jem," said Holford, when these preparations were concluded.
    "Yes; I can earn a good bit of money when I choose," was the answer. "But I waste a great deal of time in making inquiries after Tidkins  yes, and in brooding on my vengeance, as you, Harry, do upon your love."
    "Love!" ejaculated Holford. "My God! if you only knew of whom you were speaking!"
    "Well  well," cried Join, laughing; "I see it is a sore point - I won't touch on it any more. So now fall to, and eat, Harry. You're sincerely welcome. Besides, you can and will serve me, I know, in ferretting out this villain Tidkins. If you behave well, I'll teach you how to make those pretty ships; and you can earn six times as much at that work, as ever you will obtain as pot-boy at a public."
    "Oh! if you would really instruct me, Jem, in your business," exclaimed Holford, "how much I should be obliged to you! The very name of a pot-boy is odious to my ears. Yes  I will serve you faithfully and truly, Jem," continued the lad: "I will go over to the Mint to-morrow evening; and if Tidkins is there, you shall know where."
    "That's what I call business, Harry," said Jem. "Serve me in this  and you can't guess all I'll do for you."
    They ate their supper with a good appetite. Jem  who was somewhat methodical after a fashion  cleared away the things, and placed two clean tumblers and a bowl full of sugar upon the table.
    When the grog was duly mixed and "every thing was comfortable," as the man termed it, he commenced his truly remarkable history, which we have corrected and improved as to language, in the following manner.    

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