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of course, and we may get a little merry afterwards. Bless your soul,” and Twiggers smiled blandly, “I shall be as delighted in seeing your name added to the firm, as you will be in becoming one of us. Goodbye, God bless you.” The speaker quitted the office, waving his hand to the clerk, and leaving the intellect of the latter as foggy as the street outside. A little scrubby boy alone remained to sweep the office. “Please, Mr. Dodypol, I shall make you all over dust,” said the lad, respectfully. “Oh—yes—Ah, dear me,” replied Dodypol, thoughtfully, and muttering that it was very strange, and that he couldn't comprehend it, he took his hat and left the boy to his vocation. The fog was as dense as ever, and how he got home, he never rightly knew ; but in his greater perplexity about matters at the office, it . seemed comparatively easy to him to find his way. Certainly the links that were moving about—like will-o'-the-wisps hurrying to a rendezvous—made the task less difficult than it would have proved an hour earlier, for the streets were partially lighted by the evershifting glare of flambeaux. Before five o'clock he was snugly seated in his little Islington parlour, and listening with patience to his landlady's experience of London fogs since the year of grace 1791, being the precise year in which her memory began to chronicle events. Tea finished, he reached a book from his scantily-furnished shelves, and commenced to read. For the fiftieth time he had become interested in the “Adventures of Tom Jones, a Foundling,” when his landlady announced a visitor. Ben Rawlings, his fellow of the desk, and nearly as old as himself; hair a little grizzled, but not entirely grey, as Ben used to boast. “Dodypol, I am glad to see you,” said Ben, with much warmth of feeling. “We got alarmed about you this afternoon ; thought some accident must have happened to you in the fog. What a fog it was ' But it's cleared off now.” “Got alarmed about me,” said Dodypol. “Yes, as you didn't return to the office after dinner, and accidents are likely to happen in such a fog,” said Rawlings. “Didn't return to the office " " echoed his friend. “What do you mean : I came back, certainly.” “You came back,” Rawlings replied, returning Dodypol's look of astonishment. “I wasn't out of the office once during the afternoon ; and I am a newly-breeched boy, if you made your appearance amongst us, after you went out to get your dinner.” “As surely as that you are now sitting in that chair,” said Dodypol, solemnly, “and I am speaking to you, sitting where I do, mind, I say, as surely as that we are now seated face to face, and talking in a friendly manner, I was at the office when we broke up. More. I was the last person in the office, except the boy, and he was sweeping it when I left.” “My dear Dodypol, what can be the matter with you? The boy hasn't been there at all this afternoon. He had a halfholiday given him, because his mother is ill. I locked the office up myself, and remained half-an-hour after all the rest had gone, to sort some papers before I quitted it.” “The fog has done it all,” murmured Dodypol, completely staggered by his friend's positive manner, “or the ale;” he added, internally, “or the ale.” “You are certainly not yourself, to-night,” observed Rawlings, musing. “No, I can't be, now I think of it,” assented Dodypol, blankly, “for Twiggers said something about adding my name to the firm, it sounded as if I was to become a partner. I am certainly not myself—you are right, my friend.” “Tell me,” said Rawlings, coaxingly.—“You are a sober man, and a very little indulgence might play the devil with you— did you take anything stronger than usual with your dinner to-day ?” “I don't think I did—I had my usual glass of ale—it didn't seem stronger than what I am accustomed to take—it might have been,” answered Dodypol. “That was it—deleterious stuff, tavern ale. That did it, my friend. You hav'n't been to the office—you have been dreaming,” said Rawlings. “It may be as you say,” assented Dodypol, regarding his fellow clerk with a rueful countenance. “It must be so—take my word for it,” and Rawlings laughed gently, but seemed to sympathise with his friend's perplexity. Dodypol was not so easily convinced. How long it was before he fell asleep that night! How be lay tossing in his bed, and pondering the events of that afternoon : A dream | What marvellous distinctness of incident for a dream : Was the fog on his way homewards a dream 2. Were the links, erratic
planets traversing the mist, a dream ? Was the office lighted up, at an earlier hour than usual, a dream 3 Were Twiggers's bland smile, and familiar “God bless you” at leave-taking, a dream 2 No–no—no–Rawlings was the dream, if he had dreamt at all. The next morning afforded no elucidation. At the office, every one, Twiggers included, assured him that he was labouring under a delusion, in supposing that he had returned to his desk during the fog. . He had, of course, to endure much bantering, which he underwent good-humouredly enough. “If you didn't fall asleep in the tavern parlour, and dream it all,” observed Rawlings, as they walked together along Cheapside on their way homewards, “you must have mistaken some other office for ours—that might happen in a fog.” “But the name,” replied Dodypol. “How should they have known my name at another office? Unless, indeed -> “ Unless what?” said Rawlings, noting that his companion had suddenly become sad and thoughtful, “unless what?” “D'ye think that romance writers invent all their incidents?” inquired Dodypol, waking as from a brief fit of abstraction; “or do they ever borrow from real life? Somebody—Byron, isn't it?— says that “truth is stranger than fiction.' Now, is that true, Rawlings, eh?” “Come home with me,” said the other, abruptly, laying his hand on his friend's arm, “and take a cup of tea in the old elbowchair you know so well, and I will relate it.” “Relate what?” asked Dodypol, at fault. “Why—a romance of real life that I picked up to-day in the strangest manner,” replied Rawlings, with emotion. “A romance which, strange as any fiction, is true as the work-a-day world around us. Come and hear it. I have an interest in getting you home along with me; I have, indeed.” The speaker's voice had grown husky, of a sudden. Complaining that his eyes watered, he said it was the wind,-and that his eyes were weak. Pausing, as though he would admire a magnificent salver in a jeweller's window, he drew forth his handkerchief, to rid them of the unpleasant moisture. “This romance,” said Dodypol, when he had rejoined him, “I. am eager to hear it told.” “Not more eager than I am to tell it,” replied Rawlings. “It’ mayn't interest you much. I believe that it will, but it mayn't. . Though if I know my old friend's heart, after an intercourse of thirty years—How much younger we were thirty years ago, eh?— it will draw real tears from your eyes, that are not plagued as mine are, with this troublesome rheum?” They talked of trivial, common-place subjects over their tea, not as suggesting the least degree of interest to their minds, but from a design, as it might seem, to cheat themselves of any premature reference to the subject which had brought them together. Perhaps, too, to conceal from each other a sadder mood than was congenial with a host's duties, and the atmosphere of a friend's house. But the meal of sobriety once finished, the room set in order by a tidy waiting-maid, and the fire replenished, Rawlings said to his companion,-“This romance, that I promised you, may, as I said, fail to interest you, though I think that unlikely;-it may fail to move you, I think that unlikely also: but one thing I am sure of, it will leave you either a better or a worse man. I have known you for thirty years, I say better—better decidedly.” “But how, my dear friend, can it influence me in either direction? Why must I necessarily become either worse or better?” inquired Dodypol. “The story may have a moral,” said Rawlings. “True, and you mean to test my disposition according to the application I make of it?” “It may appeal to the sympathies, to the affections.” “True again,_and you would probe my heart therewith ?” “It may—it is likely to excite either the worst or best passions of our nature.” “Which do you call the worst and best!” “Forgiveness of deep injuries is certainly among the best— unrelenting estrangement, or animosity, indulged after the repentance of the person who has wronged us, is its opposite.” “True—most true." “Romances, even if they be entirely fictitious, if they inculcate a sound moral—not expressed at the end, in the formal manner of the old fable books, but left to the good sense of the reader to deduce from the progress of the story, may afford a test of character. But the narration of a romance of real life, as it is called, when the sympathies that are elicited may be shown in actual operation at the will of the sympathising listener, is far more useful as such a test. Say, that I should tell you a tale of touching distress, now being endured by a human being, a man made in your likeness and mine,—not two streets off, and you were to express no sorrow—no sympathy, and it being in your power to afford him relief, you neglected to do so? Say that, for instance—” “Your story,” replied Dodypol, “would have left me a worse man than I was before I heard it.” “Exactly so; and the tale I am about to relate-no fiction, mark, but real as an ill-spent life, and real also, I thank God, as subsequent remorse, this tale will leave you either better or worse, as you receive it. Shall I go on?” “By all means: I will abide the test.” “There were two brothers—twins,” commenced the narrator. “Were or are?” asked Dodypol, interrupting him. “I said were, I must tell the story my own way,+torothers, who having reached to years of adolescence, had been models of fraternal love, had never—it is much to say—given each other one harsh word; and, inasmuch as the joys and cares, hopes and sorrows of one were fully shared by the other, there seemed to exist but one common being, one heart, one centre of affection for these two individuals, whom, for the sake of distinction, we will name, in homely fashion, Luke and Paul. “A brief story need not be long in the telling. It was on the day following their two-and-twentieth birth-da -> “You have said nothing of the parents of these twin brothers,” interrupted Dodypol. “Tell me something of them.” “I know nothing of them, and the interest of the story is not marred by my ignorance. It was on the day succeeding their twenty-second birth-day that Paul entrusted his brother with a secret, telling him that it gave him great pain to have seemed to slight his confidence by withholding anything from his knowledge, and that he could not bear to do so any longer. The secret that he revealed was his approaching marriage. Far from being annoyed at the unusual reserve, Luke congratulated him on his prospects of happiness, and desired to be introduced to the bride expectant, a request the other proudly complied with. Fatal introduction! The wanton woman recalled her plighted troth from Paul, and, three weeks afterwards, eloped with Luke—” “No, by Heaven,” exclaimed Dodypol, in great agitation, o was not wanton. A better creature never broke the world's read.