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of his master, like a very saint ; but this might be only their prejudiced supposition—there was no evidence on the subject. IIowerer, a poor widow, who had put a few score pounds into Sampson Ilooks' hands, came one day for her interest. Sampson was not at home, but Mrs. Sampson had the poor woman into the parlour, kindly inquired her business, lamented that Mr. Hooks would not be at home that day, and asked the poor woman, who had thus come a long and weary way for a disappointment, to have some refreshment. While the poor woman ate, and lamented her hard case to have to come and go so far for nothing, she found Mrs. IIooks so tender and sympathising, that she begged of her as a great favour to pay her the interest herself, to save an old woman another long journey. The poor woman, to convince her that all was right, drew out the note, and handed it to Mrs. IIooks. The lady looked at it, declared that for what she knew of such things it might be right or wrong, but that she never ventured to meddle with such matters. As the poor widow went on to relate many of her own domestic affairs and troubles, Mrs. Ilooks laid the note on her work-table, and as soon as the poor woman had done wiping her eyes on her apron-for she had opened up a whole history of her life's past and present trialsshe folded
and returned it to her. The widow came again in a few days, found Sampson Hooks luckily this time at home, and presented her note. What, however, was her astonishment, when Mr. IIooks put on a very strange look, and said, “ Truly, good woman, here is a promissory note ; but who promises, or what I have to do with this note, is more than I can tell, for here is no name to it.”
“ No name !” said the poor woman ; “no name! Oh, Lord bless you, dear sir, why do you like to frighten a poor body so ? Here is your own honest name to it, just as you wrote it !”
“I tell you, woman, that what I say is true! See here, there is no name whatever; and who and what you are is quite unknown to me.
I have no recollection of you, and must believe that you arc an impudent impostor. Go, get away with you. Go, as fast as you can !”
“No name !-you don't know me!-you !-great God! what do
you mean ?” exclaimed the poor woman, turning as white as a sheet, and trembling till she could not rise without holding fast by the chair.
Hooks held thc note angrily open before her ; and when she
had gazed at it, and saw that really there was no name, she dropped senselessly into the chair. When she recovered from her swoon, she found herself laid on the sofa, and Mr. and Mrs. Hooks were busily sprinkling her with water, and in a great bustle, but there was no servant present.
As soon as the widow looked up, and with a heavy sigh, and tears that began to gush forth in torrents, attempted to rise, Sampson Hooks said in a flurried way
“ There is some mistake, good woman ; there must be some great mistake.
I don't understand it; you have come to a wrong place, or have brought a wrong paper. Compose yourself, and make what haste you can home, and see whether you have not another paper somewhere."
" Oh no, no! the Lord above knows !” exclaimed the poor woman, wringing her hands in her apron, wetting it through and through with her tears, and trembling every joint—"The Lord above knows I have no other paper than this! This is my
little all-my all in this world ; it is the saving of a life. Oh, sir, sir ! don't kill me with fright! You know me—you know the paper—you have paid me the interest these years ! See, it's all written on the back ; it is in your own hand! Oh, worthy, worthy sir, do take pity on me!”
But what !—but why!—there is no name, I tell you !” said Mr. Hooks.
Oh, the name was there when I was here only a few days
The good lady here saw it ; and she knows that she read your name aloud, and said, “Yes, that's my dear Sampson's own name, sure enough. “ Oh, you wicked woman ! you
false tongue, you!
Oh, how dare you say such a thing !” exclaimed Mrs. Sampson Hooks. I read the name ! I
say it was my dear Sampson's name ! Woman, I say, how dare you utter such a falsehood before God!
“ Before God and man I dare utter it !” now cried the poor woman, who seemed at once to recover her strength, to lose her trembling, and to stand a head taller, and looked no longer the same, but a woman in the prime of life, and with a figure and face full of fire. Such was the change which indignation can make sometimes in the weakest and most timid creature.
“ I tell you !” she exclaimed, advancing to Mrs. Hooks, “I tell you, woman-for I have as much right to woman you as you
have to woman me!-I tell you that there's guillery* here, and I've a notion, madam, it's your doing, too. Didn't you read the name? Didn't you say it was your own dear Sampson's name, and that it always did you good to see it? Deny it if you dare ! And so, mister,” said she, turning passionately to Sampson IIooks, pay me! pay me now, without more ado, or depend upon it worse will come of it. May me, I say, or I'll blow you far and wide, and make your name stink from here all the way
to Lunnun! Pay me, or
" Softly, softly, good woman," now said Mr. Sampson Hooks, in his blandest and yet most commanding tone.
"Let me advise you to moderate yourself. I say tliere must be some mistake ; if you are sure that this is the paper that you had here but a few days ago, and that my name then stood on it, by what unaccountable circumstance can it have been removed ? IIare you no person at home who can have done this?”
No, I have not a soul ; there is not a soul who can have come into my chamber where I keep this note. No, no!”
" Then, can it have been a rat, or a mouse, or a moth ?”
“ A rat! a mouse! a moth !" cried the enraged widow. there ; does a rat, a mouse, a moth, gnaw an edge like that?” showing the place where the name had been most cleanly cut away.
she continuel, a woman's cyc can tell how that was done better than a man's can. That has been cut, and with scissors, too ; no knife leaves an edge like that! There's guillery, I tell you, and I'll venture to tell you, too, when it was done. It was done when the lady had it at her work-table ; and the lady did it herself.” “ What! Jezebel-huzzy-abominablo woman !
Do you say that I cut away the name ?” The widow nodded short and fiercely at her.
Oh, do you hear and bear that, Alr. 1Iooks?” began his wife, sinking away into violent hysterics.
“ Woman-woman !" cried IIooks, catching his wife in his arms, see what
have done! You have killed the dear innocent ! You have killed her by your wicked lies! Oh, never did she hear such language before in all her days ! Poor, dear innocent, who would not hurt a fly, a gnat, a
Mr. Hooks was confused by his terror for his wife, and in his hurry rung tho
as I tell you,
bell with one hand, as he supported Mrs. Hooks to the sofa with the other. Scarcely, however, had he donc so, when he became sensible that he had not taken a wary step, and turning to the widow, who gazed on the scene with a savage indifference, “ Good woman,” said he, “ be discreet; preserve delicacy before the servants ; all will be right, no doubt.”
But no sooner did the vindictive widow see two or three servants in the room, than, regardless of the hysteries of Mrs., and the flurry of Mr. Ilooks, she raised her voice, and held aloft the mutilated document.
Pay me, then, I say,” cried she, “and let me go ! Do you think that God's curse will not alight on such as you, that can rob a poor widow of her all ?”
“ Woman !” cried Sanıpson Ilooks, in a voice of thunder,
cease your slanderous, insane lies! I say, begone, and if you have anything to say to me, come another day. You have surely done enough now.”
· No, nor half enough,” said the immoveable woman ; “not a quarter enough ; you have cut off your name from your own note ! You have cheated me of my all, and I will speak. Ay, I will shout it at the top of the street, and through the whole country,
don't “ Put out the mad woman!” cried Sampson IIooks, in a fury, quite losing that mild suavity which he had so many years maintained ; and the servants, who had stood staring and drinking in the strange words with astonishment, at length went up to her, and taking her by the arms, showed her the door.
Ay, go indeed! Yes, go will I,” shouted she ; “ but I will make you glad to give me my money again, yet !” And with great strides she marched off, and at the first house she reached in the village she began vehemently to relate her wrongs. This was glorious fuel to the fire of the villagers ; they soon ran together; the woman, vehemently, and with tears, and vows of vengeance, detailed what had just taken place ; and in less than a quarter of an hour the news was over the whole village. Men, women, and children, all rushed into the street. The tailor left his shopboard with his breeches knees unbuttoned, his stockings half-down his leg, and a skein of thread round his neck. The smith's bellows ceased to blow, and the red-hot iron was left to cool on the anvil. The carter stopped his team, and the village street was full of eager groups, who were all at once talking, listening,
and gesticulating, as if about to execute some great vengeance. The poor woman was stopped every few yards to relate over and over again the story ; she was taken into a house to have something to refresh her, and the crowd besieged the door as if there were some great wonder to be seen within-an angel with a broken wing or so. All declared that the wickedness of these tyrants would soon be properly exposed, and a dozen or more of the sympathising villagers accompanied the poor widow down the lane on her homeward way, exhorting her to have legal advice, and to “ trouble” old Sampson ; though it would have required a much more learned man in the law than any of them were, to tell exactly how.
And what, then, was the real state of this case ? Could the IIooks have been guilty of this great crime ? Was this mystery; indeed, cleared up? Inother anecdote which has yet to be related will best answer all these questions.
There was once a poor man-oh, how often has this been the fate of scores of poor men at once ; or in how many instances, where, as by an infatuation, they have been, for a whole country round, in the habit of putting their hard-earned mite, before the days of savings-banks, into the hands of some fair-faced scoundrel, who at once has stopped or run off—it was all the same to them-and their all was gone for ever! There was a poor man who had put his money-it was a good sum for a poor man, it was a hundred poundsinto the hands of Mr. Sampson IIooks, on his note of hand. The interest had been paid duly and to the day, for five long years. The poor man was secure in his confidence, as if his money had been in “Lunnun Bank.” IIe came at length on his halfyearly day, and Mr. Hooks paid up his interest, and was particularly civil; but on settling the payment on the back of the note, he observed that the paper was become much worn—it was actually in pieces at the folds; and he told the poor man that he had better leave it a few days and he would have it carefully copied for him on a new piece of paper. The man, in true country faith and simplicity, readily complied, nay thanked Mr. Hooks cordially for his obliging behaviour. He came a week or two afterwards for his new note, and was shown into Mr. Sampson Hooks? presence.
“Well my good fellow,” said Mr. Sampson, who sat at his desk, with a tremendous heap of papers before him ; "and pray
what is your wish with me?''