at Jaw-leyford, and a man to look after him, if you like; so now, don’t say nay -- your time shall be ours -- we shall be at home all the rest of the winter, and I flatter myself, if you once come down, you will be inclined to repeat your visit; at least, I hope so.’

There are two common sayings; one, ‘that birds of a feather flock together;’ the other, ‘that two of a trade never agree;’ which often seem to us to contradict each other in the actual intercourse of life. Humbugs certainly have the knack of drawing together, and yet they are always excellent friends, and will vouch for the goodness of each other in a way that few straightforward men think it worth their while to adopt with regard to indifferent people Indeed, humbugs are not always content to defend their absent brother humbugs when they hear them abused, but they will frequently lug each other in neck and crop, apparently for no other purpose than that of proclaiming what excellent fellows they are, and see if anybody will take up the cudgels against them.

Mr Sponge, albeit with a considerable cross of the humbug himself, and one who perfectly understood the usual worthlessness of general invitations, was yet so taken with Mr Jawleyford’s hail fellow-well- met, earnest sort of manner, that, adopting the convenient and familiar solution in such matters, that there is no rule without an exception, concluded that Mr Jawleyford was the exception, and really meant what he said.

Independently of the attractions offered by hunting, which were both strong and cogent, we have said there were two young ladies, to whom fame attached the enormous fortunes common in cases where there is a large property and no sons. Still Sponge was a wary bird, and his experience of the worthlessness of most general invitations made him think it just possible that it might not suit Mr Jawleyford to receive him now, at the particular time he wanted to go; so after duly considering the case, and also the impressive nature of the invitation, so recently given, too, he determined not to give Jawleyford the chance of refusing him, but just to say he was coming, and drop down upon him before he could say ‘no.’ Accordingly, he penned the following epistle:

Bantam Hotel, Bond Street, London

DEAR JAWLEYFORD -- I purpose being with you tomorrow, by the express train, which I see, by Bradshaw, arrives at Lucksford a quarter to three. I shall only bring two hunters and a hack, so perhaps you could oblige me by taking them in for the short time I shall stay, as it would not be convenient for me to separate them. Hoping to find Mrs Jawleyford and the young ladies well, I remain, dear sir,

Yours very truly,


To -- Jawleyford, Esq., Jawleyford Court, Lucksford.

Curse the fellow!’ exclaimed Jawleyford, nearly choking himself with a fish bone, as he opened and read the foregoing at breakfast. ‘Curse the fellow!’ he repeated, stamping the letter under foot, as though he would crush it to atoms. ‘Who ever saw such a piece of impudence as that!’

‘What’s the matter, my dear?’ enquired Mrs Jawleyford, alarmed lest it was her dunning jeweller writing again.

Matter!’ shrieked Jawleyford, in a tone that sounded through the thick wall of the room, and caused the hobbling old gardener on the terrace to peep in at the heavy-mullioned window. ‘Matter!’ repeated he, as though he had got his coup de grace; ‘look there,’ added he, handing over the letter.

‘Oh, my dear,’ rejoined Mrs Jawleyford, soothingly, as soon as she saw it was not what she expected. ‘Oh, my dear, I’m sure there’s nothing to make you put yourself so much out of the way.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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