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want a bit o' seed whilst I've a crust o' bread.” So saying, Mr. Tapbox covered the cage up still closer, and stepped on by the side of Abbot.
To his astonishment the young linendraper found Abel had gone to bed, as Mrs. Tweek reported, “poorly,” but under the emollient and curative influence of a brandy posset of perfect Tweek compounding, and so, strangely relieved by this absence, he dismissed the housekeeper, and tapped gently at the door of what was ambitiously styled “the young ladies' parlour;" a dull mean Place, eight feet by six; in the little pinched grate burnt a starveling fire, whilst on the long deal uncovered table was spread the night meal of bread and butter and small beer. Fifteen women sitting there, but veritably not the bright heart of one; only tired hands, dull hair, sunken eyes, pale faces, even the natural grace of woman in her dress forgotten. Labour had crushed even the vanity of adornment 1 But Kitty Merrily’s gray hair—for she was forty, and had lived twenty years in that dull house—absolutely brightened, and her heart shone in her eyes, when Abbot, leading her into the little patterned, booked, and tin-boxed parlour, talked long and confidentially to her of many things, and how over the barrenness of that night had come a consciousness of error and a purpose of good. “Oh ' Mr. Abbot,” spoke the little woman, “I fear you have not known us, nor how we desire to serve in a wiser better spirit, and give and receive back something better than service, something better than money.”
The curative effect of the brandy posset was a delirious fever by the morrow's dawn. A fever, too, so malignant, that it spread like wildfire through the house, disabling many hands, and leaving unconditioned liberty to the peculiarities of Tweek and Twigg. And now shone forth the bright spirit of Kitty Merrily, so good a nurse, so rare a housekeeper, that she might have served a long apprenticeship in both offices; with such wonderful result, too, that Tweek items were found to have been multiplied by an arithmetic peculiarly their own, so that on the trifling error of seven legs of veal for four, and ten shoulders of mutton for seven, she was dismissed one morning to concoct possets in whatever part of her blessed Majesty's dominions she might please. Well! the old man was very bad, so bad that his life hung on a thread ; and Mr. Twigg was taken very bad, and in such a state of delirium that he called incessantly for out-and-out, which, of course, was not given, and seven others were very bad, yet Kitty hovered over all.
The dilemma, however, with regard to the business, was very great, so Mr. Tapbox with his bright heart was called into counsel. ... “Well, sir,” said Tapbox, “never mind pride and bits o' bickering o' things that'll come now quite straight; go to Bobbin's, and see Mr. Bloomforth; he's the one; he'll just do for the bisnis what Miss Kitty does for the house, put a heart in 't ; and, bliss ye, sir, Bobbin's a dear creeture as you haven't seen the virtues of, 'cause o' the shutting up.”
Well! a portion of the new times had come truly over the soul of Abbot Clothyard; and so, at the closing hour of Bobbin, he set forth to the next street: a private door opened into a wide hall, and there Bobbin, in his best black satin waistcoat, stepped forth to meet him. Clearly something was in the wind, by the little man's dress and bright spirits.
“Happy to see you, Mr. Clothyard happy to see you. Better late than never! has has Knew conviction would come at last. Good cause never dies.” But Abbot looked grave, and stated his business. “Well,” answered little Bobbin, now grave too, “this progressive movement is teaching us that the divinest part of Christianity lies in action, as you're learning I know by your coming here; and so, sir, if Bloomforth's agreeable, you're welcome to his services to put things right; but as for parting with him, that can't be, sir; he knows everything, he does everything; and as for an examble to my young men, he's worth his hundred a year, if only for that ; for an honest heart has Matthew Bloomforth. But step this way, sir, step this way.” And verily little Mr. Bobbin did step before, and opening the door of a handsome well-lighted room, did show to Abbot the spirit of advance in action. Young men, young women, preparing the music for a concert presently to begin, under a Hullah-master, already with bow in hand, and music before him. And there, on the long handsome table, were pretty drawings, and books and delicate feminine work, and best and brightest, pretty faces, laughing eyes, trim dresses, fairy collars, shining hair, and such taper waists, that, * * * but I mustn't go on or I shall be putting on my hat, and off to Bobbin's in a trice. And there, too, sat worthy little Mrs. Bobbin, with not a bit of pride, though she had dined with the Lord Mayor, and had a gold chain worth thirty guineas; and there was little Bobbin all anxiety to begin his solfaying in a Rabelais' spirit. “Little concert of this sort twice a week,” said the little man, rubbing his hands; “and it's wonderful, as Mrs. Bobbin says, how my voice improves.”
“But I don't see Bloomforth.” “No, he's gone to Blossom Cottage, Somers Town, to see his sister Isabella.” At this piece of information, young Clothyard resolved to take a cab, and proceed there. “Do sir, do sir,” said Mr. Bobbin, merrily, as he parted with him at the door, “and see such a pearl as a duke might set in the front of his coronet, and look a king straight in the face, and be the richer man.” Well! there, in that trim little parlour, was found the grave and happy brother, beside that pretty Isabella Mr. Bobbin had whispered of, not a bit overpraised by-the-bye for her beauty, whilst her honest truthful mind, her industry as a music teacher, her listening ear for Matthew's wise thoughtful lessons, were a covenant with heaven that beauty should be fitly nurtured by the purer soul! ” “ ” At once was Matthew ready to serve ; not one syllable of reproach did he utter; and after (to him) an extraordinary hour of enjoyment, Abbot Clothyard returned with Bloomforth to town; it was to bear bright memory of that pretty face, whilst Matthew watched the old man's fevered bed. Need it be said, what wonders this Spirit of Advance achieves | Need it be said that it is sunlight on the human heart, warming into sentient life divinest seeds of good, that, at the smallest care, the least caressing hand, are ready to burst forth in amplest luxuriance, and by their rare and upward springing tenderness, deck forth the dull drear round of daily life, and show it as a garnished Paradise of human charity and love With Kitty in the house, with Bloomforth in the business, with honest little Bobbin to say a word or two, things progressed swimmingly. Mr. Twigg got better, though under interdict of “out-and-out;” old Abel, after weeks of bed, was removed to Devonshire, as the only means left of recovery, there to think over, in a wiser spirit, that money was not the only god for man to pay a reverence to, and these thoughts paved the way for the change he should return to. For presently Abbot Clothyard was seen each evening going with a quick step towards Blossom Cottage, and its bloom ; speculations in “twills” forgotten in bright eyes, and the ear made listening for the tune the world's great spirit plays | And so in some few months there was talk of a wedding, for which Bobbin volunteered a dress of the richest white satin “And so, dear love,” whispered Isabella, the very evening before the marriage, “I must tell you Matthew has been paying masters to teach me many things, and I have been attentive, indeed I have : for I not only wish to be to you, dear Abbot, a thoughtful worthy wife, but what Matthew says all women ought to be, thoughtful teachers of the social graces, and progressively humanise all they have to govern. Do you think so?” Well! there was no answer, though a pretty tangible reward | But I mustn't specify it, or I should have to put on my hat, as I was very near doing awhile ago! This is the first of September; and on the wet page, reader, behold the picture of Messrs. Clothyards' Progress, painted by one who tries to hold the brush of Hogarth, and copy in the spirit of its only masters, Tom Fielding and Tobias Smollett. May, it draw for you, here and elsewhere, some humanising pictures, as free from cant and false sentiment as they shall boldly teac PROGREss in a spirit of mercy and truth for all things. * Up at the twinkle of six, have gone the shutters wrought out of iron, in the form of Venetian blinds, and stretching over the broad mass of rich plated glass, and harmonising with the massive granite-pointed building, that is the very pride of the Ward of Cheap. And now let us step in through the private door, that swings back with a deal of reverence for the occasion, with little Bobbin in a very prime Genoa velvet waistcoat, and Mrs. Bobbin in her gold chain and most extraordinary satin dress. Well, now, Mr. Twigg—his nose not quite so red as it used to be—ushers us up the wide rich carpeted staircase, and we smell the scent of flowers, and hear happy voices on our way. But just one glimpse of daily things before we see the holiday fruit of glorious progress. Here is the handsome parlour which the thirty young ladies call their own, where Isabella's foot rarely steps, then only as a friend's. See its piano, its drawings, its books, its vases of roses on this bright August day, and delicate baskets with fairy work in them—only look 1 and near at hand, through this passage, -a. large sleeping gallery, where, on each side the whole way down, leaving the lofty roof free, are stalls, or compact little rooms, yet sacred to each owner, with all comforts, with many graces, with air, with light, that send fever and sickness far away. * * * Here, on this side the building, which Mr. Twigg steps to, we see the young men's room, not quite so fairy-like as the ladies', as one would suppose, as it has grave books on shelves and tables, and maps, and drawings, and newspapers, without one ounce of tickling sentiment or aiming low in them, nor small digressions on elephants or serpents, nor suggestive remarks on Timbuctoo, or probability of an increase of sun at the North Pole, but good stout strong food, such as advance hungers for; good stout beef and ale, and not flimsy kickshaws' Now, into this room, where all meet twice a-week; see, it is decked out for this holiday, and only through this door, and here is the drawing-room. Whilst we have been lingering away, tea and coffee have been served; and now on the table is placed rich fruit and wine; and what can that be that rustles among the leaves and ‘peaches, and looks down upon the purple grapes, and flutters, and dips into the finger-glasses 2 why, it's Tit, that no longer droops around a parish coffin, but is an especial favourite with everybody, and left to chirp how and when he pleases, for Mr. Twigg has altered his opinion. Ay! and this very first of September is fourth wedding-day, and here she comes on old Abel's arm ; and as he's now infirm he has a large chair placed for him, and he takes a threeyear-old young Master Abbot on his knee, and Isabella has the baby, and Kitty Merrily the little rosebud between ; and now come in all the young ladies in whitest dresses, and led by Abbot Clothyard; and presently, with a deal of mystery, Tapbox throws open the door, and bearing in both hands a tray cunningly covered, precedes the Messrs. Clothyards' young men; and now Bloomforth steps forward and uncovers the tray, whereupon is shown to the astonished eyes of Abel, Abbot, and Isabella a rich silver tea service, and Mr. Bobbin, who has been a long while in the secret, lifts up the tea-pot, and reads for the good of the public what is clearly engraved thereon: “From the Employed to the Employers, to testify that they can appreciate a spirit of beneficence and friendly thoughts for their advance.” Bless us, what a bumper Abbot now pours forth ! how richly he feels paid for all his thoughts, his care, and some self-sacrifice? How old Bobbin nips his hand, and says, “Ay! Mr. Clothyard, this is the sort of thing,” whilst the tears stream down his eyes; Isabella blushes, and looks towards Kitty, and they at old Abel ; he, however, takes a pinch of snuff, for a good deal of the matter he can't quite comprehend,-he clings yet in secret heart to many old things, though he never speaks of them—Isabella has won upon his heart too much for that “Well, gentlemen,” speaks Mr. Tapbox, who has been favoured with a glass of wine, as he stands with the tray, “if I may say my mind, it’s this: my 'pinion is, that a very small pinched-up Clothyard heart went into that here tea-pot, to come out, as it has