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The picture was truly brilliant—'twas dazzling. The dreamy, delicious vision of" large profits " hovering in the vista, stamped the artist as a mastermind, and proved, alas! too tempting. The maggot bit—Davie was completely fascinated. He felt his heart literally bound towards Crummy, and could scarce refrain from hugging him before the whole room!
Here was a means displayed, by which he could not only recover his lost ground, but might, ultimately, become a wealthy man,—by which he might raise his name, the name of Dixon Davie, to proud distinction in his country's annals, as a philanthropist, a benefactor of his species, and a millionaire!
He felt perfectly awe-stricken with the profundity of the bare thought.
Songs had no charm, jokes no further zest, for him, that night. Mechanically he replenished his oft-drained goblet, until the solemn booming of the morning gun warned the hilarious crew that 'twas time to part.
At the host's gate they all separated, with the exception of Mr. Crummy, who volunteered to see Davie home. This meritorious and friendly act performed, and an invite from Davie to breakfast with him at eleven, given and accepted, after numerous protestations of mutual respect and esteem, Mr. Crummy waved a last adieu, and Davie sought the sanctuary of his couch,
Mr. Crummy was punctuality itself. As the hall clock struck the hour of eleven, he reported himself " present" at his friend's abode. The ceremonM of an introduction to Mrs. D. and family gone through in due form, Mr. Crummy seated himself at the breakfasttable, with an air conscious of conquest, and vowed he had "the appetite of a hunter."
"Vent, vidi, vici!" thought Mr. Crummy, when Mrs. D. bestowed upon him one of her most honied smiles, in return for his flattering approval of her coffee, her kulleah jogooranth curry, and khubab thickah mahee.
The meal despatched, the friends retreated to the elysium of their cheroots, and a further converse upon the allabsorbing topic of the previous night.
Now, had Davie at any period entertained the slightest scruples, the most remote suspicions of Mr. Crummy's straightforwardness and veracity, they must have all dissolved, like his Manilla, into " thin and empty air," while scrutinising the result of that gentleman's labours to promote the manufacture of an indigenous article; these same labours consisting of several sheers of foolscap, covered with abstruse calculations and estimates, wherein every conceivable item appeared in detail. Wages, wear and tear, outlay, stock, rent, fittings, tools, machinery, and so forth, were each canvassed in their turn; and when, at length, Mr. Crummy drew his friend's most particular attention to a pro forma working of the scheme, and with his finger pointed out the suppository profit as exceeding one hundred and twenty per cent. nett,.,at the same time observing—"Black' and white, you know, Mr. Davie, cannot err,"— Davie capitulated without reserve, and tendered his hand in token he was satisfied.
At dinner, which he had assented to stay and partake of, Mr. Crummy, conjecturing the influence a " sleeping partner" usually possesses, resolved to adopt the initiative, and forthwith announced the compact to Mrs. D., with stringent admonitions, however. "not to breathe a syllable of it to a soul"! Such delicate attention merited reciprocating. The fair Olivia, shrewd as she was, appreciated her guest's candour, without fathoming his drift. His finessing proved infinitely beyond her depth. Mr. Crummy had his re•ward.
The Davies' stay at Bazeerghur being limited, it was decided to commence operations without delay. Provided with a couple of letters of introduction,—the one addressed to Davie's men of business at the Presidency, Messrs. Swan, Wanter, & Co., wafered, the other, containing the usual paraphrases—Mr. Dixon Davie—esteem it a personal favour— any little attention—intimate friend Mr. Peter Crummy—visiting your good city—pressiNg business—&c., &c., &c, and a cheque for three thousand rupees, payable to bearer, directed to his banker Mr. Stuts, open,—with these valuable missives stowed away in his waistcoat pocket, Mr. Crummy mounted the mailcart, en route for ;his last words
conveying a faithful promise that " (D. V.) he would write the moment he reached his destination." The fourth day after Mr. Crummy's departure, Davie "thought he might hear from him"; but when the post peon passed without the semblance of a halt, he consoled himself with the reflection that "'twas just possible Crummy had been prevented fulfilling his promise, and the mails were so irregular." The fifth day, he "fully expected a letter"; the sixth day he was "anxious" ; the seventh, "astounded," when his butler handed him the newspaper, and answered his query that " that was all."
"What can have happened?" exclaimed Davie, shuddering with a presentiment of evil. "This silence is incomprehensible; I cannot understand it, for the life of me." "My love !" appealing to his wife—" hadn't I better drop a line to Swan, think you?" "I'll do it at once." "I've strange misgivings about the fellow, d'ye know, and fear I've been somewhat precipitate."
To say that Mrs. Davie did not participate in her husband's feelings would be simply unnatural. She did feel alarmed, but having no ostensible excuse to offer, no palliative ready at hand, she remained silent ;conceiving this the wisest course, in her husband's present highly excited state.
While Davie was occupied writing to his agent, Mrs. D. took up the paper. It was a common practice of hers—she "so liked" to read tire news. Skimming through the advertisements, those* short descriptive paragraphs, the petty on dits of the day, the arrivals, departures, and general orders, she turned the
page; good gracious! did her
eyes deceive her—was she dreaming? "Wh-a-t's this?" she gasped forth: "Davie, Davie! quick ;—look here! There, there, dear, where my finger is!" Davie seized the paper with convulsive grip, and, under the head " Shipping Intelligence," read as follows :— "Departures.
"27th instant.—Pomegranate, B.B., T. Jones, Master, to Melbourne Port, Australia.
"Passengers.—Mr. and Mrs. Gone ; Augustus Stare, Esq. ;Mr. Tomkins, five children, and Native servant ; Peter Crummy, Esq.
The paper dropped from his hands. He saw himself victimised—regularly sold,-—and for the life of him could but faintly gasp forth the four monosyllables, " Help me to bed!"
That night Davie was almost delirious.
The old adage—" It never rains but it pours"—just occurs to me as being essentially applicable to the case of my unfortunate friend. Davie, however, experienced a species of deluge when, a couple of mornings afterwards, he read the following matter-of-fact communication from Messrs. Dewsnap & Allnutt, general merchants, dealers, and shopmen, commission agents, army agents, outfitters' agen>ts, news agents, and a whole host of other heterogeneous agencies, conceivable only to men of business in the East—a class of mortals, by the way, far wiser in their generation than their alchymical prototypes, iu that, to all intents and purposes, they do possess the idiosyncrasy for mysteriously amalgamating crude materials to the touch of true metal :—
Dear Sir,—Under the favourable and valued auspices of our mutual friend Mr. Swan, of Swan & Co., of this, we have had the pleasure to lay before your Mr. Crummy samples of such stock as we generally keep on hand, and with which he did us the courtesy to express himself highly pleased.
It affords us much gratification to add, that we have been enabled to complete Mr. C.'s indent in full, and at his own figure, notwithstanding the late rise our market has experienced in piece goods of all descriptions.
Annexed please find invoice, amounting to Rs. 4,362-5-4, for which we shall feel much obliged by a remittance at your early convenience.
Always, dear Sir, yours very faithfully,
Dixon Davie, Esq.,
&c., &c, &c.,
P.S.—The goods were delivered from our godowns direct to Mr. Crummy for transmission, hence the absence of forwarding charges. D. & A.
Confusion worse confounded; here was a pretty kettle of fish!
Davie's running commentary of expletives while reading over this epistle a second time, for the edification of his wife, were ludicrous to a degree. In the excess of his rage, he committed all sorts of absurdities. He sent his servants flying here, there, and everywhere, with the most incongruous orders; talked of instantly setting off in pursuit of" the squinting, hypocritical villain"—" the ruffian robber of his children"! He would " advertise him, if it cost thousands—the curly-headed monster of iniquity,—that he would"! "Only to think of him—the viper—the loathsome viper," that he now " would not touch with a pitch-fork" !" The reptile who had crawled into his confidence, and then—stung him"!
Davie bellowed like a bull. "Oh!" sobbed he, " that I had never left home; that I had never set foot in this blackguard hole. But its all your fault, Mrs. D.—its all your doing : you would have me get leave, you would come to Bazeerghur—to show off, forsooth! —Ah me!" It eventually turned out, that, on the evening of his quitting, the object of Davie's special and implacable hate, ingenious Mr. Crummy, had resigned his seat in the mail-cart a couple of stages distant from Bazeerghur, " in consequence," as he had told the driver, "of feeling too ill to proceed any further."
Entering the Travellers' Bungalow, with anything but the air of a sick man nevertheless, Mr. Crummy ordered "lights, brandy, and hot water, to be brought as quickly as possible." The "materials," as they are called in Ireland, for concocting a brew, being placed before him, Mr. Crummy deliberately closed the door of his apartment, drew a chair close to the table, and sat down.
Having ascertained that the water was warm enough for his purpose, Mr. Crummy poured out about two-thirds of a tumbler-full, very carefully, and paused for an instant, as though to watch the effect it would have upon the glass. He then inserted his finger and thumb into his waistcoat pocket, and drew forth the two letters which Davie had given him. The open one he carelessly threw upon the table, as being cognisant of its contents ; the other, the sealed letter, he placed upon the tumbler .of hot water, with the address uppermost. This little. manoeuvre performed, Mr. Crummy lit a
cheroot, and for the space of abont five minutes remained perfectly still, with his eyes intently fixed upon the glass and its novel cover. At the end of thai period, he took up the letter, and gently inserting the blade of his pen-knife underneath the fold, artfully raised the moist wafer, without at all effacing the impression.
Mr. Crummy was evidently no novice in his present calling. On the contrary, he performed his work systematically, and with all the ease and expedition of a regular accomplished artiste. He first read Davie's despatch throughout, from beginning to end, slowly, as thongh desirous of impressing every word well upon his memory ; and then, to make certain more sure, he copied it into his private memorandum-book. This done. he refolded the, letter, applied his finger to the stamp with a slight pressnre. examined it, and, satisfied it wonld defy detection, playfully jerked it on to its fellow, with much the same nonchalance as a saucy school-boy in thr street would jerk a nut-shell at an old woman's bonnet, after extracting the kernel.
Throwing the water out of the tnmbler, as though contaminated by its late use, Mr. Crummy helped himself to a stiff" double-header" of raw spirit, drank it off at a draught, and spran? up from his chair a new man. He called hastily for the servant, settled his little bill without a murmur, inquire! about a " vehicle on," and finding none to be had for love or money, contented himself with the messman's pony's!
far as , where he engaged a crazy.
used up phaeton and pair to convey hin the remainder of his journey. » On reaching the Presidency, Mr. Crummy's first question was " whether any vessels were about sailing, where to?"
Finding that one, the jPomegrauati. "with splendid poop accommodation for first-class passengers, and carrying an experienced surgeon," would start for Melbourne in two days, Mr. Crnmmy dropped a polite note to her commander, Captain Jones, stating that "he should be happy to engage n berth in his ship, and if Captain J. favonred him with a call at 10 A. M. the following day at the Imperial Hotel, « would have much pleasure in handing him the passage-money."
Mr. Crummy lost no time in waiting upon Mr. Stuts at his banking-house, lie whiled away a quarter of an hour very agreeably with the old gentleman, whom he found to be remarkably chatty and civil, got his order cashed, and made his adieus, leaving an impression upon the banker's mind that he was, without exception, one of the ugliest, but, at the same time, best informed men he had. ever been in the habit of meeting.
"And now for the grand coup de main," thought Mr. Crummy, as he wended his way to Messrs. Swan & Co.'s office. He was lucky enough to find one of the partners within, and disengaged.
After putting some half-dozen leading questions, so as to fish out the actual state of the market, a few mjnutes sufficed Mr. Crummy to explaiujthe nature of his business,—Davie, the egregious simpleton, in his over-excess of zeal for secresy, having omitted to do so in his letter, choosing rather that Mr. Crummy himself should "disclose the particulars,"—a fatal mistake, to ascertain the existence or otherwise of which, had caused that unscrupulous individual to follow in the wake of a certain Privy Councillor, whilom Postmaster General of Great Britain, and surreptitiously inform himself, as the reader is aware.
Mr. Crummy was on his metal. "The plain fact of the matter is, my dear Sir," said he, drawing his fingers through his hair, possibly to relax its stiffness to a gentler wave—" to be strictly candid with you : my friend Davie has private advices from up-country that a capital* thing may be done just now. A large body of troops, fresh from the field, are
quartered at , and others are
hourly expected. There's not a yard of cloth to be had in any of the bazars there, and all the sepoys are crying out for dhotwrs! Now; with your valuable aid, I trust to be able to write Davie this very evening, if you can so arrange it, that some hundreds of pieces are on their way thitherwards ; and when I pledge you my word that you halve the profits, which will be something prodigious, I flatter myself I may
count upon your immediate and cordial co-operation!" (Oh! Crummy, Crummy !)
The initials "P.C." affixed to an entry in the order-book of Messrs. Dewsnap & Allnutt, confirming a purchase in the name of Dixon Davie, of " sundry hundred waist-cloths for present delivery, payment cash on receipt of invoice," and Mr. Crummy's anxieties were nearly at an end. On the goods reaching him, he readily effected their transfer to an accommodating Banian, changed his rupees into sovereigns, closed with Captain Jones for his passage, and, two days afterwards, was safely ensconced in the cuddy of the good ship Pomegranate, bowling along through the water with a tea-knot breeze.
That Mr. Crummy was not ungrateful, let his final act prior to "going aboard" bear witness. If only as evincing his deep forethought and consideration for Davie's welfare, it is worth recording.
Mr. Crummy penned a letter to his friend Bob Huffton (at whose quarters he had met Davie), giving a partial version of his proceedings, and concluding—
"My blessing to the utile et dulci old cock Davie! Though / prefer the sweets, advise him by all means to stick to the Hieing part of the affair. Nothing like it, Bob ; 'tis the finest trade going. Suggest that there's not the slightest occasion for his wearing the willow, though he may sing ' All round my Hat' to the tune of Rs. 4,362-5-4 (including the hundred for the road) that I've borrowed, and promise to pay the very first time I shall be caught napping!
"Yes, I'm sailing for away, far away; alas ! Davie, thou'lt have no one left to chouse thee now that I'm upon the sea!
"Still, in moments of hilarity, do, pray, remember, that there's no song in the ' Warbler' to beat 'All round my hat.'"
JJEnvoy.—With the reader's permission, we will now suffer Davie to retire a while, to recover his equilibrium of temperament; and trust that, by the time he makes his Second AppearAnck, he will have paid his money, and look somewhat pleasanter.
STRANGE ADVENTURES IN THE POONA GRAVEYARD.
By F.J.S.A. Can the material world communicate with the immaterial; or, in other words, can the living hold any intercourse with the dead ?—was a question which perplexed me for many years. In endeavouring to solve it, I had passed two years of my life roving about old Continental libraries, and had spent many an hour poring over the musty volumes of Agrippa, Metastasio, and Locke, without obtaining any satisfactory solution. In India, my studies, from want of materials, had necessarily been interrupted; but my mind still often reverted to the subject, and loved to think it might succeed in passing the bounds of the finite, and peer into the infinite. How I succeeded, I am about to relate ; but, before doing so, I must request that the reader will believe me implicitly when I say that I am not going to describe any fiction, but a reality, which makes me shudder whenever I revert to it—which makes my blood run cold through my body whenever I conjure up the terrible vision of the past, yet compels me to describe it in all its horrible details. The remembrance of that fearful night can never, never be effaced from my mind, nor force from me the conviction that the world of spirits is only rer moved from ours by a very thin veil, but that a world of trouble is in store for him who dares to lift it.
One rainy day in the month of October, I had sat alone in my bungalow, pondering on the question which puzzled me so much, and the shades of night had enveloped the earth in gloom, without my being any nearer to the solution of the question. Although several years have now passed, I yet remember distinctly, that on extinguishing the light in my room previous to getting into bed, my thoughts were as intently fixed upon the subject as ever. The night was one of those close, steamy ones of the monsoon, and I found it impossible to go to sleep. After tossing about for two hours or so, I got up, relit my lamp, and, taking down my Locke from the book-shelf, rend in
tently the chapter on "Our Ideas of Substance." From that I dived into the one on "Identity and Diversity''; till at last I got into a drowsy state, in which I was neither awake nor asleep. I do not know what could have possessed me to do so, but I got Up, put on an old pea-coat, and strolled out.
The night was far from a cheering one ; clouds charged with rain obscured the sky, and everything was enveloped in such a complete darkness, That it was impossible to see anything more than three yards' distance" from one, except when fitful flashes of lightning lit up the country around with a ghastly light. I supposed I must have wandered upwards of an hour, heedless of where I was going, when a flash of lightning revealed to me that I was close to the Poona graveyard, behind the Neutral Lines. I was on the point of retracing my steps, when I felt a heavy hand on my shoulder. Turning round suddenly, I found myself in front of a tall figure, enveloped in a large cloak, with a felt hat drawn over the brows. So astonished was I at the man appearing so suddenly and noiselessly before me, that it was some time before I recovered myself sufficiently to ask him who he was. In reply, he said, in a croaking, hollow voice, looking at me fixedly in the face, and keeping his hand on my shoulder,—
"I can reveal all you want. Meet me tomorrow night at twelve near the solitary tombstone close to the churchyard, and you shall know all." I" niv surprise, I hesitated to answer. On this he said—" You dare not'" Stung by this, I replied—"Not at all! I will meet you there tomorrow night: but how came you to know the object ot my research?" "Never mind how I came to know it," he answered: "tomorrow you shall know all'" A flW' of lightning at this moment lit up the country, and I was enabled to get a better look at the person who bad addressed me. The face was long a"d shrunken ; so much so, that the bones seemed as if they were on the point of bursting through their parchment-!""' covering of skin. The eyes, black as jet, had a fixed appearance, and did not seem capable of turning either to the, right or to the left. Once only had I