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The only return for the slippers was a Shih. Ying Shih, or as it is more usually polite note. Then Janet worked a pair of denominated Shih, is one of the twentybraces so beautifully, that it seemed a pity eight stellar divisions determined by a, b, to put coat and waistcoat over them. The and other stars in Pegasus, extending north braces had no more effect than the slippers. and south from Cygnus to Piscis Australis, Single curates have plenty of presents from and east and west seventeen degrees, and ladies, and think very little of them. As the comprising parts of our signs Capricornus curate failed, we tried the doctor. The girls and Aquarius. The Emperor Chuen Kuh persuaded themselves that they were not is said to have reigned seventy-eight years, well. The doctor called often enough, and from B.C. 2513 to 2436, and to have sent in plenty of physic--for he had a large died in his ninety-fifth year; and from family-besides a carriage and pair—to modern computations-I believe by M. keep; but his calls did not lead to any Bailly, the French astronomer—it has been introductions. We were thoroughly baffled ascertained that a conjunction of the five and mortified. I believe at that time I planets actually did take place about the would have joined a Red Republican re- time and within the limits indicated--that is, volution for making everybody equal. on the 29th of September, 2449 B.C., being

the sixty-fifth year of Chuen Kuh. Should TABLE TALK.

this, on further investigation, prove correct,

it will afford a strong presumption of the A

MOST remarkable book, which cannot authenticity of the early Chinese annals, as

fail to have much interest for others be there is no appearance of their astronomers sides professed astronomers, has lately been having been at any time able to compute published. It is entitled “Observations on the places of the planets so far back, and Comets, from B.C. 611 to A.D. 1640," and is the account is found in works published by Mr. John Williams, assistant secretary of long before any intercourse with Europeans the Royal Astronomical Society. The por- had taken place." tion of the book most interesting to general readers will be the introductory remarks on

IS HAS

ASSERTED by Professor subjects which have occurred relating to Edwards, that guano-which for years has Chinese astronomy. If we may trust the been so extensively imported for certain antiquity of the books from which the infor- qualities of land—is not composed of the mation is gained—and Mr. Williams sees excreta of birds. The recent researches of no reason to consider them less trustworthy Dr. Habel tend to support this view; for than the early histories of any countries when the portions of guano which are inthe Chinese possessed considerable astro-soluble in acids are submitted to chemical nonical knowledge in very ancient times. and microscopic examination, they are found It must, however, be borne in mind that the to consist of skeleton remains of animals of correctness of the account given entirely de- marine origin, and frequently of animals to be pends upon the degree of credence to be found alive in the neighbouring seas. It is placed in the “Shoo King”-one of their stated that ships riding at anchor round the five classical works—which is considered by guano-producing islands frequently pull up the Chinese as their most ancient book, the guano with their anchors. This is strong and we know it was revised by Confucius evidence against the old-fashioned excreta about the sixth century B.C. Its antiquity theory. The new conjectural proposition is not only believed in by the Chinese them- endeavours to account for the existence of selves, but by some of the best European the masses of guano in the Chincha Islands scholars, and is borne out by its archaic | by the action of heat, or chemical action, or style and construction. Mr. Williams men- both together working the necessary changes tions several tests by which the accuracy of for the conversion of the animal remains these accounts may be verified. One of the into the well-known fertilizing substance of most interesting is the following:“In the commerce.

-" Chinese annals it is recorded that in the reign of Chuen Kuh, the grandson of Hwang The authors of the articles in ONCE A WEEK reserie Te, in the spring of the year, on the first day

to themselves the right of translation.

Terms of Subscription for ONCE A WEEK, free by of the first moon, a conjunction of the five

post:-Weckly Numbers for Six Months, 5s. 5d.; planets occurred in the heavens in Ying Monthly Parts, 55. 8d.

BEEN

.

NEW SERIES.

No. 218.

March 2, 1872.

Price 2d.

A MATTER-OF-FACT STORY.

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READY-MONEY MORTIBOY. not, suggested the condition of such helpless

impecuniosity, that he turned quite red in

the face, and gasped. His breath was getCHAPTER THE SIXTEENTH. ting rather short.

Presently he went on complaining again. WAS about this “At night I see coffins, and dream of time Mr. Mor-funerals and suicides. It's a dreadful thing tiboy took to to have a funeral going on all night long. sending for his I think, my dear, if I had the property off lawyer three or my mind, I should be better. If it was safe, four times a- and in good hands, I should be very much week. After easier: if it was still growing, lighter in my each interview mind. Dick is very good. He sits with me he would be every evening. But he can't be with me more nervous, when I am asleep, you know, Lucy; and more shaken these dreams haunt me." than before. The old man passed his hand across his He kept the brow, and sighed heavily. He could not reason of these bear even to think of death; and here was visits a secret death staring him in the face every night.

-even from “I know I ought to make a will,” he went Ghrimes. But to Lucy Heathcote—with on to his patient listener, Lucy, who did not whom he spoke more frankly of himself repeat things—as he very well knew. I than to any other human being—the old man ought to; but I can't, my dear. There's told some of his perplexities.

such a lot of money, and so many people; “I am getting old, my dear, and I am get- and after one is gone, one will be abused for ting shaky. I've a deal to trouble and worry not doing what was right; and-and-I me.”

haven't the heart to divide it, my dear. It's “But there is Cousin Dick, uncle." such a shame to cut Property up, and split

“Yes, there's Dick. But it is all my pro- it into pieces.” perty that's on my mind. I always intended “Can't you take advice, uncle?" to do something for you two, my dear-al- "I don't trust to anybody, Lucy. They're ways."

all thinking of themselves—all of them.” “Never mind that now, uncle."

This, as if he had been himself the most “And perhaps I ought for the young Mel- disinterested of mankind. liships as well; though why for them I don't “There's Mr. Ghrimes. You trust him, know. And I'm ill, Lucy. Sometimes I uncle?” think I am going to die. And-and-I try "Well-yes—I trust him. But then he's to read-the-Bible at night, my dear; but well paid for it, you see.” it's no use—it's no use. All the property is Ghrimes got £200 a-year for work which on my mind, and I can think of nothing a London employer would have considered else."

cheap at five times that sum. “Shall I read to you, uncle?”

“And you trust Cousin Dick?” “No, child !--nonsense !-certainly not,” “Yes," said the old man, brightening up he replied, angrily. "I'm not a Pauper." a little. “I do trust Dick. I trust my boy.

Being "read to," whether you liked it or He is a great comfort to me—a great com

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VOL. IX.

NO. 218.

“ Steak

fort. But it is not only the division of the ran riot in dreams of unbounded wealth to Property, Lucy—think of the Awful Probate be made in distant countries—dreams which duty! There's a waste of money—there's a Dick could have turned to good use had it sacrifice: a most iniquitous tax, a tax upon not been for the want of nerve which had prudence! I'm not so well off as I ought fallen upon his father after Mr. Melliship's to be, my dear—not so well as my poor death. father thought I should be; but I've done Between eight and nine, the old man, pretty well. And the probate duty is a ter- who shows signs of having taken as much rible thing to think of it's really appalling. gin and water as he can well carry, rises to Two per cent on money left to your son! go to bed. Dick lights his candle, and Thousands will be lost! Dear me! dear me! watches the tall, thin figure of his fatherThousands !"

stooping now and bent-climbing the stairs. These confidences were for Lucy Heath- He heaves a great sigh of relief, and closes cote alone, with whom the old man felt him the double doors which connect the kitchen, self safe. No talk of property to Dick; no built out at the back, with the rest of the confessions to his son; no asking of advice; house. no offers of money. So far from giving or “What has the old woman got for me?" lending, Mr. Mortiboy received from his says Dick, unlocking a cupboard. son, every Saturday morning, a sovereign in again. Well, where's the gridiron?” payment for a week's board, and two shil- The economical principles on which Mr. lings and threepence for a bottle of gin. Mortiboy's household was conducted geneWhile pocketing the money, the parent rally left his son an excessively hungry man never failed to remind Dick of the cheap- at nine o'clock; and, by private arrangement ness of his board, and the fact that he was with old Hester, materials for supper were charged nothing at all for bed and lodging. always secretly made for him. · He always added, solemnly, that it gave Dick deftly cooks the steak, drinks a pint him great pleasure to entertain his son, even of stout, and producing a bottle of brandy at a loss.

from the recesses of the cupboard, mixes a As for their evenings together, they were glass of grog, and smokes a pipe before always alike. A single candle lighted the going to bed. kitchen where they sat: the father in a “It's infernal hard work," he sighed to Windsor arm-chair, with his bottle of gin at himself; "and something ought to come of his elbow, and a long pipe in his mouth; it-or what the devil shall I do with Lathe son opposite him, with a short pipe and fleur?" another bottle. Between them a deal table. Then came a letter from that gentleman. As Dick grew tired of telling stories, he Bad news, of course: had been to Paris; used sometimes to beguile the hours by done capitally with his System for a bit. showing his father tricks with the cards. Turn of luck; not enough capital; was Mr. Mortiboy, senior, did not approve of cleaned out. Would his partner send him games of chance. They gave no opening more money, or would he run up to town, for the prudent employment of capital, and and bring him some ? risked Property. Nor did he approve of so- He afterwards explained that the System called games of skill, such as whist; because was working itself out like a mathematical the element of chance entered so largely into problem, but that he had been beguiled by them, that, as he argued, not the richest man the beaux yeux of the Countess de Parabère was safe. Put his admiration was excessive —in whose house was the play—and weakly when Dirik-feigning, for the sake of effect, allowed her to stand behind his chair. Dick that his father was a credulous and sim- quite understood the significance of this pla person-showed how thousands might folly, and forbore to make any remark. Bad be won by the turning up of a certain luck, indeed, affected his spirits but slightly, card; telling which card had been touched; and he was too well acquainted with his making cards hide themselves in pockets, partner to blame him for those indiscretions and drawers, and so forth. These feats of which the wisest and strongest of men may skill, with the stories which he loved to hear fall into. over and over again, like a child, rekindled Out of the thousand pounds they brought and inflamed Mr. Mortiboy's imagination, to England, only one hundred remained. previously as good as dead, so that his fancy | Lafleur, in three months, had had eight hundred; Polly nearly a hundred; and a hun- some money, Dick—if it is only a few hundred remained in the bank. Dick, in this dreds. Can't you get his signature to a blank crisis, drew out fifty, and went up to town cheque? or-or-copy his signature?” with it.

“No-quite impossible. He hardly ever Lafleur was in his lodgings in Jermyn- draws a cheque; and Ghrimes would know street, sitting at work on his System-an in- at once.” fallible method of breaking the banks. He “Cannot the respectable Ghrimes be had a pack of cards, and a paper covered squared? No? Ah! Are there no rents with calculations. Occasionally he tested that you can receive ?" his figures, and always, as it appeared, with "None. Ghrimes has a system, I tell satisfactory results. At present he was with you.” out a shilling—having lost the last in an at- “Is there nothing in the house, Dick?” tempt to win a little money at pool, at which Dick started. The man had touched on he had met with provokingly bad luck. a secret thought. Something in the house?

“I have brought you something to carry Yes—there was something. There was the on with for the present,” said Dick, "and press in his father's bed-room, the keys of we must talk about the future."

which were always in old Ready-money's Lafleur counted the money, and locked it possession. There were gold cups and silup.

ver cups in it; plate of all kinds; jewellery “Permit me to remind my Dick," he said, and diamonds; and there was, he knew, at in his softest accents, “that the three months least one bag of gold. Something in the are nearly up."

house? He looked fixedly at Lafleur with“I know," replied Dick, gloomily. out answering

“Let us go and dine. You can sleep here Lafleur lighted another cigarette; and, to-night, if you like. There is a spare room. crossing his legs with an easy smile, asked And we can have a little game of cards." casually

They dined: they came back: they had a “Is it money, Dick ?” little game of cards. At midnight, Lafleur Dick's face fushed, and his eyebrows turned his chair to the fire, and lighting a contracted. Somehow, he had got out of cigarette, looked at his friend with an ex- sympathy with the old kind of life. pression of inquiry.

“I don't know, for certain. I think there Après, my Richard.”

is money. Gold and silver things, diamonds Dick stood before the fire in silence for and pearls. No one knows the existence a little.

of the bureau but myself. But I will not “ Look here, Lafleur. Did I ever break do it, Lafleur. I cannot do it. The risk is a promise?”

too great." “Never, Dick. Truthful James was a fool “Then you shall not do it, my partner. to you."

I will do it." “Very well, then. Now, listen to me." He went to his desk, and took out a little

He told how his father was falling into bottle, which he placed in Dick's hands. dotage; how he held tighter than ever to his “I suppose,” he said, "that you do not money; how the old man grew every day know the admirable and useful properties more fond of him; and how he must, at all of morphia. This delightful Auid--which hazards, contrive to hold on.

contains no alcohol, like laudanum—will “The property is worth half a million at send your aged parent into so profound least, Lafleur. Think of that, man. Think a slumber, that his son may safely abstract of five hundred thousand pounds-two and his keys for an hour or so, and give them to a-half million dollars—twelve and a half mil- me. I should only borrow the gold, for the lion francs! The old man keeps such a grip rest would be dangerous. The risk of the upon it that I can touch nothing. Makes me affair, if properly conducted, would be simply pay him a pound a-week for my grub. But nothing. Or, another method, as the cookery I must hold on. It would be madness to books say. Let us get an impression of the cross or anger him now. You must wait, keys in wax. That you can do easily. I Lafleur."

know a locksmith-a gentle and amiable “I will wait, certainly. Make your three German, in Soho—whose only desires are to months six, if you like-or nine, or twelve. live blamelessly, and to drink the blood of Only, how are we to live meantime? Get me kings. He will make me a key. You will then, on a certain night, make all arrange- “Good! I'll administer the morphia, and ments for my getting into the house." get the key for an impression. To-day is “Is that stuff harmless?”

the first: we had better say in about a fort"Perfectly. You shall take some to-night, night." if you like."

“Say this day fortnight, unless you write “Lafleur, I will have no violence." anything to the contrary—the fourteenth.” “Did you ever see me hurt any one?” The pair, sitting at the table, with pen

“No, by gad!” cried Dick, with a laugh. cil and paper, arranged their plans quickly “But you've sometimes stood by, and seen enough. In half an hour, Lafleur put the me hurt people.”

papers in his pocket, and clapped his partner It had indeed been Dick's lot to get all on the back. Dick, however, was gloomy. the fighting, though it was hardly delicate to He was planning to rob his father the second remind his partner of the fact.

time, and he remembered that the first had “It is true,” he said, with a slight flush. not been lucky. Like all gamblers, he was “There are many gentlemen in the United superstitious. States and elsewhere who bear about them While his son was preparing to rob him, the marks of your skill. I will not harm Mr. Mortiboy, senior, was lying sleepless in your father, Dick. As for the money, it will his bed, with a new determination in his be all yours some day, you know. And he head keeping him awake. can't spend it."

“I'll do it,” he said to himself—“I'll do "I don't want to hear arguments about it. Battiscombe and Ghrimes may say whattaking it," said Dick. "I want it, and you ever they like, and Lyddy may think what

” want it, and that's enough. But I will not she likes. Dick is the proper person to have run any risk, if I can help it. Good hea- my property. He won't waste and squander. vens, man! think of letting half a million He won't be got over by sharks. He knows slip through your fingers for want of a little how to improve and take care of it. I can patience.”

trust Dick." “My dear Dick, I will manage perfectly In this world, to be believed is to be sucfor you. Make me a plan of the house. Get cessful; and old Mr. Mortiboy believed in

. me a bed, because I am a commercial tra- Dick. veller. Let me have a map of the roads “What a son,” he said, “to be proud of: between the station and the house."

what a fine son! Thank God for My Son “There are two stations. You can arrive Dick!" at nine-thirty, despatch your business, and take the night train by the other station to

CHAPTER THE SEVENTEENTH. Crewe, at eleven-thirty."

O need of morphia to get at the keys; “Better and better. Now for the plan.” for, the very next night, Mr. Mortiboy

With pen and paper, Dick proceeded to dropped them out of his pocket as he rose construct a plan and sketch of his father's to go to bed. They lay on the chair; and house. The bed-room was one of three his son, after dutifully escorting his sire to rooms on the first floor, the other two being the foot of the stairs, went back, and took empty. At the back of the house was a an impression of them. The operation took window opening on the garden. Old Hester him three minutes and a half; and he then slept in a garret at the top; Dick himself mounted to his father's bed-room, and gave in Aunt Susan's room, on the second floor. back the bunch. Neither was likely to hear any little noise “A very dangerous thing," said Mr. Morbelow.

tiboy—"a most dangerous thing: a thing I “My father never locks his door, in case have never done before. A blessed chance, of fire,” said Dick, completing his plans. Dick, that it was you who picked them up. “All you will have to do is to walk in, and A Providence-quite." open the press which stands here, where I A Providence-perhaps; because dispenmark it in black lines. You must not make sations of all sorts happen. It is not fair to a mistake about the door, because the other lay all the good things at the feet of Provirooms are locked. And don't take out a dence, and none of the bad. Dick put his single thing except the money. When shall wax impressions in a cough-lozenge box, it be?"

and sent them to Lafleur, who briefly ac“As soon as we can get the key made." knowledged their receipt.

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