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had been insulted by those wealthy citizens who once considered themselves
honoured by his notice; and that he might have borne, because he was man
of the world enough to know that poverty is a crime in the eyes of plodding,
But to be made the jest of a couple of despicable
adventurers — to be jeered at by two knaves for whom he entertained
the most sovereign contempt, because their rascalities had been conducted on a
scale of mean swindling rather than in the colourable guise of financial
enterprise, — to be laughed at and mocked by such men as those,
because they happened to have good clothes upon their backs, — Oh!
this was a crushing — an intolerable insult!
The unhappy Greenwood felt it most keenly: he writhed
beneath the sharp lash of that bitter sarcasm which had been hurled against his
shabby appearance; — he groaned under the scourge of those
Sanguine as his disposition naturally was, — confident
as he ever felt in his own talents for intrigue and scheming, — he
was now suddenly cast down; and hope fled from his soul.
Not for worlds would he have risked the chance of
receiving farther insult that day, by calling at the counting-house of another
And now he fled from the City with a species of
loathing, — as much depressed by disappointment as he had been
elated by hope when he entered it a few hours previously.
He crossed Blackfriars' Bridge, turned into Holland
Street, and thence entered John Street, where he knocked timidly at the door of
a house of very mean appearance.
A stout, vulgar-looking woman, with carrotty hair,
tangled as a mat, overshadowing a red and bloated face, thrust her head out of
the window on the first floor.
"Well?" she cried, in an impertinent tone.
"Will you have the kindness to let me in, Mrs.
Brown?" said Greenwood, calling to his aid all that blandness of manner
which had once served him as a powerful auxiliary in his days of extensive
"That depends," was the abrupt reply.
"Have you brought any money with you?"
"Mrs. Brown, I cannot explain myself in the
street," said the unhappy man, who saw that a storm was impending.
"Please to let me in — and — "
"Come — none of that gammon"
shouted the landlady of the house, for the behoof of all her neighbours who were
lounging at their doors. "Have you brought me one pound seventeen and
sixpence — yes or no? 'Cos, if you haven't, I shall just put up a
bill to let my lodgings — and you may go about your business."
"But, Mrs. Brown — "
"Don't Mrs. Brown me'" interrupted the woman,
hanging half way out of the window, and [-408-]
gesticulating violently. "It's my opinion as you wants to do me brown — and
that's all about it."
"What is it, dear Mrs. Brown?" inquired a
woman, with a child in her arms, stepping from the door of the adjoining
dwelling to the kerb-stone, and looking up at the window.
"What is it?" vociferated Greenwood's
landlady, who only required such a question as the one just put to her in order
to work herself into a towering passion: "what is it? Why, would you
believe it, Mrs. Sugden, that this here swindling feller as tries to look so
much like the gentleman, but isn't no-think more than a Swell-Mob's-man — and
that was my rale opinion of him all along — comes here, as
you know, Mrs. Sugden, and hires my one-pair back for seven and sixpence
a-week — "
"Shameful!" cried Mrs. Sugden, darting a look
of fierce indignation upon the miserable Greenwood.
"So it were, ma'am," continued Mrs. Brown, now
literally foaming at the mouth: "and though he had his clean pair of calico
sheets every fortnight and a linen piller-case which my husband took out o' pawn
on purpose to make him comfortable — "
Dis-graceful!" ejaculated Mrs. Sugden, casting up
her eyes to heaven, as if she could not have thought the world capable of such
"And then arter all, that feller there runs up one
pound seventeen and six in no time — going tick even for the
blacking of his boots and his lucifers — "
Greenwood stayed to linear no more: he perceived that
all hope of obtaining admission to his lodging was useless; and he accordingly
stole off, followed by the abuse of Mrs. Brown, the opprobrious epithets of Mrs.
Sugden, and the scoffs of half-a-dozen of the neighbours
It was now four o'clock in the afternoon: and Greenwood
found himself retracing his way over Blackfriars' Bridge, without knowing
whither he was going — or without even having any place to go to.
He was literally homeless — homeless!
His few shirts and other necessaries were left behind at
the lodging which had just been closed against him; and a few halfpence in his
pocket, besides the garments upon his back, were all his worldly possessions.
"And has it come to this?" he thought within
himself, as he hurried over the bridge, not noticing the curiosity excited on
the part of the crowd by his strange looks and wildness of manner: "has it
come to this at length? Homeless — and a beggar! — a
wretched wanderer in this great city where I once rode in my carriage! Oh! my
God — I deserve it all!"
And he hurried franticly along — hell raging
in his bosom.
At length it suddenly struck him that he was
gesticulating violently in the open street and in the broad day-light; and he
was overwhelmed with a sense of deep shame and profound humiliation.
He rushed across Bridge Street, with the intention of
plunging into one of those lanes leading to-wards Whitefriars; when a cry of
alarm resounded in his ears — and in another moment he was knocked
down by a cabriolet that was driving furiously along.
The wheel passed over his right leg; and a groan of
agony escaped him.
The vehicle instantly stopped: the livery servant behind
sprang to the ground; and, with the aid of a policeman who came up to the spot
the instant the accident occurred, the domestic raised Greenwood from the
But an agonising cry, wrung from him by the excruciating
pain which he felt in his right leg, showed that he was seriously injured; and
the policeman said, "We must take him to the hospital."
There were two gentlemen in the cabriolet; and one of
them, leaning out, said, "What's the matter with the fellow — smite
"Yeth — what ith it all about,
poleethman?" demanded the other gentleman, also thrusting forward his head.
Greenwood recognised their voices, and turned his face
towards them in an imploring manner: but he suffered too acutely to speak.
"My gwathtiouth! Tlimilackth," cried Sir
Cherry Bounce, who was one of the inmates of the cab: "may I die if it
"So it is, Cherry — strike me!"
ejaculated the Honourable Major Dapper. "Here, policeman I see that he's
taken proper care of — in the hospital — "
"Yeth — in the hothpital," echoed
"Hold your tongue, Cherry — you're a
fool," cried the Major. "And, policeman, if you want to communicate
with me upon the subject — I mean, if any thing should happen to the
poor devil, you know — you can call or write. Here's my card — and
here's a guinea for yourself."
"Thanke'e, sir," returned the officer:
"but won't you be so kind as to give him a lift in your cab as far as Saint
"Quite out of the quethtion!" exclaimed Sir
"Oh! quite," said the Honourable Major Smilax
Dapper. "We are engaged to dine at the house of some friends with whom Lady
Bounce — that's this gentleman's wife — is staying; and
we are late as it is. You must get a stretcher, policeman — strike
me! Now then, John!"
"All right, sir!" cried the servant, springing
up behind the vehicle.
And away went the cabriolet with the rapidity of
In the meantime a crowd had collected; and amongst the
spectators thus assembled were two individuals who seemed to take a more than
common interest in the painful scene.
One was Filippo, who happened to be passing at the
moment: but he kept behind the crowd, so that Greenwood might not perceive him.
The other was the hump-back Gibbet, whom accident
likewise made a witness of the event, and who, observing the cruel indifference
with which the gentlemen in the cab had treated a misfortune caused by
themselves, felt suddenly interested in behalf of the victim of their
The policeman procured a stretcher; and, with the aid of
two or three of the idlers whom the accident had collected to the spot, he
conveyed Greenwood to Saint Bartholomew's Hospital.
Filippo hurried rapidly away the moment he saw his late
master removed in the manner described but Gibbet, who, we should observe, was
clad in deep mourning, walked by the side of the procession.
Greenwood fainted, through excessive pain, while he was
being conveyed to the hospital; and when he came to himself again, he was lying
in a narrow [-409-]
upon a hard mattress stretched on an iron framework, while the house-surgeon was
setting his leg, which had been broken.
The room was long and crowded with beds, in each of
which there was a patient; for this was the Casualty Ward of Saint Bartholomew's
"And how did this occur, then?" said the
housesurgeon to the police-officer, who was standing by.
"Two gentlemen in a cab, coming along Bridge
Street, capsized the poor feller," was the answer. "They told me who
they was — one a Sir, so I suppose a Barrow-Knight — — and
t'other, whose card I've got, is a Honourable and a Major. If they hadn't had
handles to their names I shouldn't have let 'em go off so quiet as I did, after
knocking down a feller creatur' through sheer carelessness."
"Well, well," said the surgeon, impatiently:
"I suppose you know your duty. The leg is set — it's a simple
fracture — and there's no danger. Mrs. Jubkins!"
"Yes, sir," said a nurse, stepping forward.
"The new patient must be kept very quiet,
Mrs.Jubkins," continued the house-surgeon, behind whom stood two
assistants, termed dressers, and smelling awfully of rum and tobacco: "and
if any casualty that's likely to be noisy should come in to-night, don't put it
into this ward, Mrs. Jubkins. I shall visit this leg the first thing in the
morning before I see the Collar-Bone that came in just now By the by, Mrs.
Jubkins, how's the Eye this evening?"
"The Eye, sir, has been calling out for somethink
to eat this last three hours, sir," replied the head nurse of the Casualty
"And the Ribs, Mrs. Jubkins, that came in this
morning — how do you get on there?"
"The Ribs, sir," answered the nurse, somewhat
indignantly, "has done nothing but curse and swear ever since you left at
noon. It's quite horrible, sir."
"A bad habit, Mrs. Jubkins — a very bad
habit," said the surgeon "swearing neither mends nor helps matters.
But damn the fallow — he can't be so very bad, either."
"In course not, sir," observed the nurse.
"But what am I to do with the Nose, sir?"
[-410-] "Let the Nose
put his feet into hot water as usual."
The surgeon then felt Greenwood's pulse, gave Mrs.
Jubkins a few necessary directions, and was about to proceed to the next ward to
visit a Brain, which also had a compound fracture of the arm, when he suddenly
espied Gibbet near the head of the new patient's bed.
"Well, my good fellow," said the surgeon;
"and what do you want?"
"Please, sir," answered Gibbet, "I merely
came in — I scarce know why — but I saw the
accident — and I thought that if this poor gentleman would like to
send a message to any friend — "
"Oh! yes, I should indeed!" murmured
Greenwood, in a faint and yet earnest tone.
"Well — you can settle that matter
between you," said the surgeon: "only, my good fellow," he added,
speaking to Gibbet, "you must not hold the patient too long in
"No, sir — I will not," was the
The surgeon, the nurse, and the dressers moved away: the
policeman had already taken his departure; and Greenwood was therefore enabled
to speak without reserve to the kind-hearted humpback who had manifested so
generous an interest in his behalf.
And now behold Gibbet- — the late hangman's
son — leaning over the pallet of the once fashionable, courted, and
influential George Montague Greenwood.
"I am so weak — so ill in mind and
body," said the latter, in a very faint and low tone, "that I cannot
devote words to tell you how much I feel your kindness."
"Don't mention that, sir," interrupted
Gibbet. "Inform me as briefly as possible how I can serve you."
"I will," continued Greenwood. "If you
would proceed to a mansion near Lower Holloway, called Markham Place — "
"Markham Place!" said Gibbet, with a start.
"Yes — do you know it?"
"It was my intention to call there this very
evening. The Prince of Montoni has been my greatest benefactor — "
"Oh! how fortunate!" murmured Greenwood.
"Then you know that there is a young lady named Miss Monroe — "
"Yes, sir: she lives at the Place, with her
"And it is to her that I wish a message
conveyed," said Greenwood. "Seek an opportunity to deliver that
message to her alone; — and on no account, I implore you, let the
Prince-nor any inmate of that house save Miss Monroe — learn what
has occurred to me."
"Your wishes shall be faithfully complied with. But
the message — "
"Oh! it is brief," interrupted Greenwood, with
a sad smile, which was not, however, altogether devoid of bitterness: "tell
her — whisper in her ear that an accident has brought me hither, and
that I am desirous to see her to-morrow. And — assure her, my good
friend," he added, after a short pause, "that I am In no danger — for
she might be uneasy."
"Your instructions shall be fulfilled to the
letter," replied Gibbet.
Greenwood expressed his thanks; and the humpback took
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