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[-240-] 

CHAPTER CCIX.

ALDERMAN SNIFF.  TOMLINSON AND GREENWOOD.

    IT was eleven o'clock in the forenoon of the day following the incidents just related.
    [-241-] 

The scene is Mr. Tomlinson's office in Tokenhouse Yard.
    The stock-broker was seated at his desk. His manner was nervous, and his countenance expressive of anxiety: he had, indeed, passed a sleepless night,  for he saw in the conduct of the Resurrection Man the renewal of a system of extortion which was not likely to cease so long as there was a secret to be hushed up.
    The careful aspect of the stock-broker was not, however, noticed by Mr. Alderman Sniff, who was lounging against the mantel, with his back to the fire, and expatiating on his own success in life  a favourite subject with this civic functionary, who considered "success" to be nothing more nor less than the accumulation of money from a variety of schemes and representations so nearly allied to downright swindling, that it was impossible to say what a jury would have thought of them had they come under the notice of a criminal tribunal.
    "But how have you managed to do it all!" asked Tomlinson, by way of saying something  although his thoughts were far removed from the topic of Mr. Alderman Sniff's discourse.
    "You see I began life with plenty of money," returned the Alderman: "I mean I had a decent fortune at the death of my father, which took place when I was about two-and-twenty. But that soon went; and I was glad to accept an offer to go out to India. On my arrival at Madras I was inducted into a situation as clerk in a mercantile establishment; and there I was making some little money, when I was foolish enough to issue a prospectus for the 'General Boa-Constrictor Killing and Wild Beast Extirpation Joint-Stock Company,'  a project which was not so well relished as I could have wished. My employers discharged me; and, deeply disgusted with the ignorance of the English settlers and the natives, who could not understand the magnitude of my designs, I came back to England. My trip to India was, however, very useful to me; for, on my return to this country, I lived splendidly on the Deccan Prize Money for four years."
    "Lived on the Deccan Prize Money!" exclaimed Tomlinson: "why  what claim had you to any of it?"
    "None," replied Mr. Sniff; "I never was in the Deccan in my life. But I declared that I had claims [-242-] to I can't remember how many lacs of rupees; and it was very easy to obtain loans from friends and get bills cashed on the strength of the assertion. Of course this had an end: the settlement of the Deccan Prize Money affairs was interminable; but the facility for procuring cash on the strength of it was not equally lasting. However,  as I just now observed,  I lived comfortably on my alleged claims for four years; and then I started the 'Universal Poor Man's Corn-Plaster and Blister Gratuitous Distribution Society.' I got several philanthropic and worthy men to join me in this laudable undertaking: we took splendid offices in King Street, Cheapside; and the enterprise progressed wonderfully. How well I remember our first annual meeting at Exeter Hall! The great room was crowded to excess. I was the Secretary, and it was my duty to read the Report of the Committee. That document had been drawn up in most pathetic language by some poor devil of an author whom I employed for the purpose; and it produced a wonderful effect. It was really quite touching to see how the ladies  poor dear creatures  wept tears of the most refreshing philanthropy, when I enumerated the blessings which this Society had conferred upon vast numbers of individuals. Nine thousand six hundred and sixty-seven Corn-Plasters and eleven thousand two hundred and fourteen Blisters had been distributed gratuitously, during the year, to as many poor suffering creatures, who had all been thereby cured of corns previously deemed inveterate, and of chest-complaints that until then had received no medical attention. The Report dwelt upon the gratitude of thousands of poor families for the relief thus dispensed, and congratulated the members of the Society on the claims they possessed to the applause of the whole Christian world. Subscriptions rained in upon me in perfect torrents; and there was not a tearless eye throughout that vast hall."
    "How was it that so excellent an institution became extinct!" asked Tomlinson, awaking from his reverie when the Alderman paused.
    "I really can scarce tell you," was the reply. "Whether it was that the public thought there could not possibly be any more corns to cure or pulmonary complaints to heal,  or whether it was in consequence of a proposition which I made, in an unlucky hour, to extend the benefits of the Society to the poor savages in the islands of the Pacific,  I can't say: it is, however, certain that the subscribers were very 'backward in coming forward' at the third annual meeting; and so the institution dwindled into nothing. I had, nevertheless, saved some little money; and I was not long idle. My next spec was 'The Metropolitan Poor Family's Sunday Dinner Gratuitous Baking Association.' You perceive that I am fond of dealing in humane and philanthropic enterprises. My idea was to establish numerous baking-houses all over London and to cook the poor man's Sunday joint and potatoes for him, the Society reserving to itself the dripping, which being sold, and the profits added to the voluntary subscriptions received from the charitable, would support these most useful institutions. At the end of a year, however, I was compelled to dissolve the Association, after having gone to the expense of building no less than sixty enormous ovens in as many different parts of London."
    "How came that project to fail," asked Tomlinson, "when it was calculated to benefit so many poor families!"
    "Simply because so few of those poor families ever had any Sunday dinners to cook at all," replied Alderman Sniff. "Nevertheless, the subscriptions which were received paid all the outlay, and remunerated me for my trouble. I therefore met with some little encouragement in all I did for the benefit of my fellow-creatures; and, more than that," added the philanthropist, slapping his left breast, "I enjoyed the approval, Mr. Tomlinson, of my conscience."
    The stock-broker sighed:  not that he envied any inward feelings which Mr. Alderman Sniff could have experienced as the results of the speculations referred to; but the thoughts occasioned by the mere mention of the word "Conscience" aroused painful emotions in the breast of James Tomlinson.
    "While I was thus engaged in the behoof of the poorer classes of the community," continued Alderman Sniff, "I was gaining influence with my fellow citizens. I became the Treasurer of no end of charitable institutions, was elected Churchwarden of my parish, and soon became Deputy of the Ward. Fortunately my parish, as you well know, is governed by a Select Vestry  properly consisting of three individuals; but as two of the last-elected trio have died, and as I have ever stedfastly and successfully opposed the nomination of other parishioners to replace the deceased, we have now a Select Vestry of One. This gentleman is my most intimate friend; and it would do your heart good to see the parochial solemnity and official dignity with which he annually proposes me to himself as a candidate for the place of Churchwarden, and then proceeds to second the nomination, put the question, lift up his hand, and declare me duly elected without a dissentient voice. In due time I was chosen Alderman of the Ward; and every thing has gone well with me. I have been eminently successful. My 'British Marble Company' was a glorious hit, as you well know."
    "Yes  a glorious hit for you," said Tomlinson, with a faint smile. "You yourself were Managing Director, and you sold your quarry  or rather your supposed quarry  to yourself;  you were Auditor and Secretary, and consequently examined and passed your own accounts;  you were also the Treasurer, and paid yourself. You had the best of it in every way."
    "Come, Mr. Tomlinson," exclaimed Sniff, chuckling audibly, "I allowed you to reap a decent profit on the shares which you sold; so you need not complain."
    "Oh! I do not complain," observed the stockbroker. "But how do you get on with the accounts of your parish?"
    "Mr. Tomlinson," said the Alderman, almost sternly, "I never will give any accounts at all to those refractory parishioners of mine. The Select Vestry of One has met regularly every year, and resolved himself into a Committee to investigate my accounts  and that is sufficient. And, after all," added the civic functionary, sinking his voice to a mysterious whisper, "even if the accounts were produced,  although they run over such a long period of years, you might put them all into your waist coat-pocket without finding it stick out more than it now does with your small French watch."*[-*The readers must not for a moment suppose that we intend Mr. Sniff to be a type of all the city aldermen. Far from it. There are some excellent, honourable, and talented men amongst the civic body. Mr. Sniff is as different from what Sir Peter Laurie is, or Mr. Harmer was, as light differs from darkness. There are, however, some individuals wearing civic gowns, who are a disgrace to the great city of which they have the unaccountable effrontery to remain magistrates.-]
    [-243-] With these words, Mr. Alderman Sniff, who had merely looked in to have a chat and talk of himself to one with whom there was no necessity to maintain any secrecy in respect to his antecedents,  Mr. Alderman Sniff retired.
    A few minutes afterwards Mr. Greenwood was introduced.
    "My dear Tomlinson," he said, "I am quite delighted to find you within. I have made a hit, and shall retrieve myself with ease. The ten thousand pounds which Holmesford lent me are now twenty thousand."
    "You are a lucky fellow," observed Tomlinson, with a sigh. "Adversity has no effect upon you; whereas with me  "
    "Why  what is the matter now?" interrupted Greenwood. "Always complaining?"
    "I have good cause for annoyance," returned the stock-broker. "That precious acquaintance of yours  "
    "Who?" demanded Greenwood, sharply.
    "The lunatic-asylum keeper, as your friend Chichester supposed him to be  but the resurrectionist, thief, extortioner, villain, and perhaps murderer, as I take him to be," said Tomlinson,  "that scoundrel Tidkins, in a word, has discovered poor old Michael's address, and menaces me."
    "Ah!" said Greenwood, coolly; "it is your own fault: you should have got Martin out of the way  even if you had painted him black, shipped him to the United States, and sold him as a slave."
    "Ridiculous!" cried Tomlinson, sternly. "I never will cease to be a friend  a grateful friend  to that poor old man."
    "Well," observed Greenwood, after a pause, "I can do you a service in this respect. I was at Rottenborough yesterday  amongst my intelligent and independent constituents; and I learnt that the situation of porter to the workhouse in that truly enlightened town is vacant. Now, if  "
    "Enough of this, Greenwood!" exclaimed Tomlinson. "I was wrong to mention the old man's name to you.  What can I do for you this morning? Have you made up your mind to take the loan which my friend consented to advance to you about a month ago, and which you  "
    "Which I declined then, and decline now," said Greenwood, hastily  as if the allusion awoke unpleasant reminiscences in his mind.
    "I never could understand your conduct on that evening," observed Tomlinson, in his quiet manner: "you came at the appointed hour to terminate the business: the money was ready  the deed was prepared  my friend was here,  and when you put your hand into your pocket for the securities, you turned on your heel and bolted off like a shot."
    "Yes  yes," said Greenwood, with increased impatience; "I had lost my pocket-book. But  "
    "And have you found it since?" asked the stockbroker.
    "I have. But I do not require the loan," returned Greenwood, shortly. "So far from that, I wish you to lay out these seven thousand pounds for me in a particular speculation which I will explain to you. I have prepared the way for certain success, but cannot appear in it myself."
    Greenwood then counted the Bank notes upon the table for the sum named, and gave Tomlinson the necessary instructions for the disposal of the amount.
    "Any news to-day?" he asked, when this business was concluded.
    "Here is a second edition of The Times with another Telegraphic Despatch from Castelcicala," said Tomlinson. "I know you are interested in the affairs of that country, by the way you have lately spoken to me on the subject."
    "Yes:  I am  I am indeed," exclaimed Greenwood, earnestly, as he seized the paper, in which the following article appeared in a bold type:  
    
    "CASTELCICALA.
    "PROCLAMATION OF ALBERTO I.  FORMATION OF THE NEW MINISTRY.
    
    "The French Government have received the following Telegraphic Despatch from Toulon:  
    
    "'The Alessandro steamer has just arrived from Montoni. THE MARQUIS 0F ESTELLA proclaimed the GRAND DUKE ALBERTO I. in the evening of the 24th, instead of in the morning of that day, which was his original intention. This was merely occasioned by the delay of the Marquis in entering the capital. The Marquis has formed the following Ministry:  
    
    "Prime Minister, and Minister of Foreign Affairs,
SIGNOR GAETANO.
    "Minister of the Interior, SIGNOR TERLIZZI.
    "Minister of War, COLONEL COSSARIO.
    "Minister of Marine, ADMIRAL CONTARINO.
    "Minister of Finance, SIGNOR VIVIANI.
    "Minister of Justice, BARON MANZONI.
    "Minister of Commerce, CHEVALIER GRACHIA."'
    
    The Times newspaper, commenting upon this Administration, reminded its readers that Signors Gaetano and Terlizzi were the Chiefs of the Provisional Committee of Government during the Revolution in Castelcicala; that Colonel Cossario was the second in command of the glorious army that had achieved Castelcicalan freedom; that Signor Viviani was the well-known banker of Pinalla and that the Chevalier Grachia was the nephew of the deceased general of that name.
    "Thus is it that Richard can now make a Ministry in a powerful State!" murmured Greenwood to himself. "Oh! what a sudden elevation  what a signal rise! And I  "
    "What are you muttering about to yourself, Greenwood?" asked Tomlinson.
    "Ah!" cried the Member of Parliament, suddenly, and without heeding the stock-broker's question,  for his eyes; wandering mechanically over the surface of the paper which he held in his hand, had settled upon a paragraph that excited the liveliest emotions of surprise:  "who could have believed it? Oh! now I recall to mind a thousand circumstances which should have made me suspect the truth!"
    "The truth of what?" demanded Tomlinson.
    "That Count Alteroni and Prince Alberto were one and the same person," exclaimed Greenwood ~ and he is now the Grand Duke of Castelcicala!"
    [-244-] "Then you have had the pleasure of including a sovereign-prince amongst the number of your victims," observed the stock-broker, coolly.
    Greenwood made no reply, but remained plunged in a deep reverie, the subject of which was the brilliant destiny that appeared to await Richard Markham.
    As soon as he had taken his leave, Tomlinson also began musing; but it was upon a far different topic!
    "Oh! what a hollow-hearted wretch is that Greenwood!" he said within himself: "and how would he have treated Michael Martin, had the poor old man been dependent upon him! Greenwood would indeed be capable of sending him to the United States as a slave, were such a course practicable. Ah!  the United States!" cried Tomlinson, aloud, as a sudden idea was created in his mind by the mention of the name of that glorious Republic "and why should not Michael Martin visit the States  and with me too? Yes! I am wearied of London,  wearied of this city where all hearts seem to be eaten up with selfishness,  wearied of supporting the weight of that secret which the merest accident may reveal, and which places me at the mercy of that ferocious extortioner! Oh! if that secret were discovered  if it were ascertained that Michael Martin was really in London,  he would be dragged before the tribunals  and I must either appear against him as a witness, or proclaim his innocence and thereby sacrifice myself! No  no  I could not do either:  never  never! I know that I am weak  vacillating  timid! But God also knows how unwillingly I have departed from the ways of rectitude  how many bitter tears have marked the paths of my duplicity! And now I will be firm  yes, firm to commit one last crime! Oh! I will prove myself a worthy pupil of my great master Greenwood! He shall be amply repaid," continued the stock-broker, bitterly, "for all the kind lessons he has given me in the school of dishonour  yes, and repaid, too, in his own coin. Seven thousand pounds  added to my own little stock,  this will be a sufficient fund wherewith to begin an honourable avocation in another clime. Yes  America is the country for me! There I can begin the world again as a new man  and perhaps I may retrieve myself even in my own estimation!"
    Tomlinson's resolution was now irrevocably fixed.
    He would emigrate to the United States, accompanied by his faithful old clerk!
    Greenwood's money should constitute the principal resource to which he must trust as the basis whereon to establish a fortune in the place of the one he had lost.
    Nor did he hesitate a moment  weak, timid, and vacillating as he was in ordinary circumstances  to self-appropriate those funds thus entrusted to him.
    He had no sympathy for Greenwood;  and, moreover, he had many an act of insolence on the part of that individual  many an instance of oppression, to avenge. Ere the failure of the bank, Greenwood had taken advantage of his necessities to wring from him enormous interest for loans advanced, and had, moreover, made him his instrument in defrauding the Italian prince. Since the establishment of the office in Tokenhouse Yard, Greenwood had continued to use Tomlinson as a tool so long as his own fortunes had remained prosperous;  and even latterly  since the condition of Greenwood's finances had levelled some of those barriers which the necessities of the one and the wealth of the other had originally raised between them,  even latterly, the manner of the Member of Parliament towards the fallen banker had been that of patronage and superiority. Then the frequent and heartless allusions which Greenwood made to the poor old clerk, rankled deeply in the mind of Tomlinson; and all these circumstances armed that naturally weak and timid man with a giant strength of mind when he contemplated the possibility of at length punishing Greenwood for a thousand insults.
    Tomlinson was not naturally a vindictive man:   persons of his quiet and timid disposition seldom are. But there are certain affronts which, when oft repeated and dwelt upon in their aggregate, form a motive power that will arouse the most enduring and the weakest mind to action  especially, too, when accident throws a special opportunity of vengeance in the way.
    James Tomlinson was a strange compound of good and bad qualities  the latter arising from his constitutional want of nerve, and his deficiency in moral energy. Had he been mentally resolute he would have proved a good and great man The conflicting elements of his character were signally demonstrated on this occasion, when he had determined to fly from the country.
    Having given his clerks positive orders that he was not to be interrupted for some hours, he sealed up in different parcels the small sums of money which his various clients had placed in his hands to purchase scrip or other securities, and addressed the packets to those to whom the sums respectively belonged,  omitting, however, Greenwood in this category. He next computed the salaries due to his clerks, and set apart the amount required to liquidate those obligations also. These duties being accomplished, he locked all the parcels up in one of the drawers of his writing-table, and placed the key in his pocket. Greenwood's deposit he secured about his person.
    When it grew dusk in the evening, he repaired to the lodging which Michael Martin occupied in Bethnal Green.
    As soon as Tomlinson had made known his scheme to the old man  (but, of course, without betraying the fact of his intention to self-appropriate Greenwood's money)  Michael took a huge pinch of snuff, and reflected profoundly for some minutes.
    "And what's the meaning of this all of a sudden?" demanded the ex-cashier at length.
    Tomlinson explained, with great frankness, that. the Resurrection Man had by some means discovered the secret of Michael's abode, and was again playing the part of an extortioner. He, moreover, expressed his invincible dislike for a city where he had experienced such painful reverses; and declared his resolution of no longer living in such a state of suspense and anxiety as he was kept in by the constant dread of an exposure in respect to his faithful old clerk.
    "You need not leave London on that account," said Martin, gruffly: "I have long made up my mind how to act in ease of detection."
    "Howl" asked Tomlinson, 'with a foreboding shudder.
    "I should put an end to my life," returned the old man, filling his nose with snuff. "I am well [-245-] aware that you would not have the courage to appear against me in a court of justice and boldly accuse me of having embezzled your funds  "
    "The courage!" exclaimed Tomlinson, wiping away a tear: "no  nor the heart! My good faithful old friend  "
    "Well  well: don't be childish, now," said Michael, who was obliged to take several pinches of snuff to conceal his own emotions: "if you are really desirous to leave England and go to America, I will accompany you. Of course I will  you know I will," he added, more hastily than he was accustomed to speak.
    "There is no time for delay," said Tomlinson rejoiced at this assent which he had wrung from his faithful servitor. "We will repair to Dover this very night, and thence proceed to France. The distance from Calais to Havre is not very great and from the latter port ships are constantly sailing for America."
    "Let me proceed alone to Havre," said old Martin; "and you can follow me openly and at your leisure."
    "No," replied Tomlinson; "that would only be to compromise your safety, perhaps. We will part no more."
    The advice of the stock-broker was acted upon, and the fugitives succeeded in leaving the kingdom in safety.
    But that night the Resurrection Man vainly awaited the arrival of James Tomlinson.
    And on the following day, Mr. Greenwood discovered, to his cost, that the effects of those lessons of duplicity and dishonour which he had inculcated in respect to the stock-broker, practically redounded upon himself!    

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