Persons and Things in General

MR. and Mrs. John Harmon’s first delightful occupation was, to set all matters right that had strayed in any way wrong, or that might, could, would, or should, have strayed in any way wrong, while their name was in abeyance. In tracing out affairs for which John’s fictitious death was to be considered in any way responsible, they used a very broad and free construction; regarding, for instance, the dolls’ dressmaker as having a claim on their protection, because of her association with Mrs. Eugene Wrayburn, and because of Mrs. Eugene’s old association, in her turn, with the dark side of the story. It followed that the old man, Riah, as a good and serviceable friend to both, was not to be disclaimed. Nor even Mr. Inspector, as having been trepanned into an industrious hunt on a false scent. It may be remarked, in connexion with that worthy officer, that a rumour shortly afterwards pervaded the Force, to the effect that he had confided to Miss Abbey Potterson, over a jug of mellow flip in the bar of the Six Jolly Fellowship Porters, that he “didn’t stand to lose a farthing” through Mr. Harmon’s coming to life, but was quite as well satisfied as if that gentleman had been barbarously murdered, and he (Mr. Inspector) had pocketed the government reward.

In all their arrangements of such nature, Mr. and Mrs. John Harmon derived much assistance from their eminent solicitor, Mr. Mortimer Lightwood; who laid about him professionally with such unwonted despatch and intention, that a piece of work was vigorously pursued as soon as cut out; whereby Young Blight was acted on as by that transatlantic dram which is poetically named An Eye-Opener, and found himself staring at real clients instead of out of window. The accessibility of Riah proving very useful as to a few hints towards the disentanglement of Eugene’s affairs, Lightwood applied himself with infinite zest to attacking and harassing Mr. Fledgeby: who, discovering himself in danger of being blown into the air by certain explosive transactions in which he had been engaged, and having been sufficiently flayed under his beating, came to a parley and asked for quarter. The harmless Twemlow profited by the conditions entered into, though he little thought it. Mr. Riah unaccountably melted; waited in person on him over the stable yard in Duke Street, St James’s, no longer ravening but mild, to inform him that payment of interest as heretofore, but henceforth at Mr. Lightwood’s offices, would appease his Jewish rancour; and departed with the secret that Mr. John Harmon had advanced the money and become the creditor. Thus, was the sublime Snigworth’s wrath averted, and thus did he snort no larger amount of moral grandeur at the Corinthian column in the print over the fireplace, than was normally in his (and the British) constitution.

Mrs. Wilfer’s first visit to the Mendicant’s bride at the new abode of Mendicancy, was a grand event. Pa had been sent for into the City, on the very day of taking possession, and had been stunned with astonishment, and brought-to, and led about the house by one ear, to behold its various treasures, and had been enraptured and enchanted. Pa had also been appointed Secretary, and had been enjoined to give instant notice of resignation to Chicksey, Veneering, and Stobbles, for ever and ever. But Ma came later, and came, as was her due, in state.

The carriage was sent for Ma, who entered it with a bearing worthy of the occasion, accompanied, rather than supported, by Miss Lavinia, who altogether declined to recognize the maternal majesty. Mr. George Sampson meekly followed. He was received in the vehicle, by Mrs. Wilfer, as if admitted to the honor of assisting at a funeral in the family, and she then issued the order, “Onward!” to the Mendicant’s menial.

“I wish to goodness, Ma,” said Lavvy, throwing herself back among the cushions, with her arms crossed, “that you’d loll a little.”

“How!” repeated Mrs. Wilfer. “Loll!”

“Yes, Ma.”

“I hope,” said the impressive lady, “I am incapable of it.”

“I am sure you look so, Ma. But why one should go out to dine with one’s own daughter or sister, as if one’s under-petticoat was a blackboard, I do not understand.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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