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[-407-]

CHAPTER CCLIV.

FURTHER MISFORTUNES.

    GREENWOOD 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, moneymaking persons.
    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 contemptuous scoffs!
    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 capitalist!
    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 intrigue.
    "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 an atrocity.
    "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 pavement.
    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 him!"
    "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 ithn't Gweenwood!"
    "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 Sir Cherry.
    "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 Bartholomew's?"
    "Quite out of the quethtion!" exclaimed Sir Cherry.
    "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 lightning.
    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 carelessness.
    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-]

 bed, 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 Hospital.
    "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 Ward.
    "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 conversation."
    "No, sir  I will not," was the answer.
    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 father."
    "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 his departure.

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