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" What! not at the ball, Clotilda ?” asked her husband.
“No! I had a bad headache,” she replied, " and Maurice has promised to take charge of his sisters. But I have come to tell you that I have been thinking over his marriage with Mina Berkenrode, and have altered my mind on that subject. In short, I shall withdraw my opposition to the match."
The friends looked at each other in astonishment.
“By the bye,” she continued, " here is a key I found some time ago ; I think it must belong to you.”
“Well, Clotilda," said her husband, striving to hide his confusion as he took the key, “this is good news about the marriage
“Suppose you and your friend celebrate it by a supper. There is a herring pie in the house, and you need not fear that it is poisoned."
She left the room. Brounker looked foolish, and Van Grote rubbed his hands as he exclaimed, “ Caught in your own trap! He who digs a pit for his enemy shall fall into it himself.”'
“ Nevertheless,” replied Brounker, “ I think I have got well out of mine."
SHALL I, WASTING IN DESPAIR.
If she be not so to me,
What care I how fair she be?
Be she meeker, kinder than
If she be not so to me,
What care I how kind she be?
If she be not such to me,
What care I how good she be?
For if she be not for me,
That I hunger may remove :
On the dresser see it lie,
Oh, the charming white and red !
it fed :
On the table spread the cloth,
Let the knives be sharp and clean :
Let them each be fresh and green :
A REMARKABLY GOOD MANAGER.
“Sir," said Mr. Praggles, the prompter, putting his head into the manager's sanctum,“ sir ! Please, sir !"
“Well, Praggles," inquired the manager, solemnly, 16 what is it?"
“It's the ladies and gentlemen, sir, which is anxious to know when the treasury is a-going to open, sir.”'
“ Bear them,” said the manager, with sudden irritation, “ to the lowest dun- No! Tell them I am engaged with a gentleman on business of the greatest importance."
The prompter withdrew-promptly. The manager was left alone. Yes, alone i The gentleman with whom he was transacting important business was-not to define too nicely—a fiction. The manager was alone-alone with his difficulty. And it was a difficulty :-a difficulty that would have taxed the financial abilities of a Gladstone. For to quote the remarkable words of Mrs. Brown—"Samson was a strong man and Solomon a wise one, but they could neither of them pay two pounds when they had only thirty shillings to do it with.” And this was Saturday, and the ladies and gentlemen connected with the Royal Asterisk Theatre were waiting for the treasury to pay their salaries, and the treasury was empty-cleaned out to its last sixpence.
Now Mr. Choopy, the manager, on whose privacy we have so unceremoniously intruded, was not a Samson. He had never been The Strong Man of a booth, though he had in youth, in the character of Mr. Merriman, invited the rustic public to “ Walk up! walk up !" and see the huge Anaconda of the Indian Ocean, and the Platypus Savages from Central Africa, who had only one foot, but that was as big as an ordinary umbrella, and was used by them “ as such."
Nor was Mr. Choopy altogether a Solomon. So it is no great wonder that he was puzzled. He was at his wits' end—and that was some distance, for he was a long-headed fellow, if not the entire Solomon. But he couldn't contrive to pay the salaries of a whole company with "nothing at all. He had once contrived to satisfy their claims with half-a-sovereign, and that was ingenious you'll admit, but now he hadn't a tenth part of that sum even.
I will tell you briefly how he contrived to pay his whole company with half-a-sovereign. He summoned them singly into his sanctum. The first who arrived was Mountvillyar (real name Maggett), the tragedian. Mountvillyar was the most magnificent and dressy man in the company; he had a glossy black wig and a real crimson velvet waistcoat, not to mention a diamond ring which he never parted with—not even under the pressure of the most straitened circumstances, because it being paste he could realize nothing on it.
“My dear M.,” said Choopy, “I cannot conceal from myself that your genius is wasted—and I have made arrangements with one of the leading dramatists of the day to write a tragedy, in which you will have an opportunity, and that is all you need, to take the metropolis by storm."
Mountvillyar blushed crimson as his waistcoat with joy.
“ By the way, M., my boy," continued Choopy, " things have been deuced bad, and I shan't be able to pay you till to-night. I suppose you don't inind ? And, in the meantime, in case you should require any small change-why, here's half-a-sov."
Mountvillyar accepted the instalment gladly.
" You'll not mention the tragedy, M., my boy,” said Choopy. “Don't talk about it in the theatre-it might make 'em jealous, you know. But a man of your histrionic talent must have an opening, and you shall, my boy, you shall! By the way, he added, seeing Mountvillyar making towards the door, " I may as well pay you the whole lot at once-save confusion, you know. Let's have that half-sov. back !"
And with that he took it out of the tragedian's unresisting hand, and politely hustled him out of the
Blibber, the low comedian, was the next, and with him Choopy enacted the same scene-substituting in his case a screaming farce for the tragedy. Then came Swingle, the walking gentleman, and with him too the same little game was played with equal success, and so on with the whole company, until there were but two left.
Jack Bliffle and Tom Rudgway had yet to be satisfied. They were very humble members of the company, indeed, and the only bait Choopy could have thrown to their vanity would have been to have promised to bring out a drama in which the whole dialogue consisted of such sentences as “My lord, your carriage waits.” “Dinner is served in the banquet-hall." “Did my lady call ?" "My lord, a messenger without bids me deliver this into your hands.” However, Choopy attempted in some sort of way to cajole Jack Bliffle, and obtain the half-sovereign back; for that