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66 GOING WITH A WET SAIL."
knew was to take place: so a bungler would have made no preparations for any contretemps that might occur; when, as will be seen, there would have been, as sailors say, “the devil to pay, and no pitch hot:” but let what could occur, Nickem was, like Lothario, “ equal to both, and armed for either field.” The horse was reported sold: the gentleman came for the balance of his sixty pounds: now, though the keep and commission came to a round sum, Nickem thought, as the gentleman was going away, he might as well try for a pound or two more: so says, “I was forced, Sir, to a little exceed your directions, but I thought you would not like to lose the sale of your horse for two pounds; so I took fifty-eight: if you object to it, it shall be immediately taken out of my commission, as of course I had no right to exceed your orders; but I did for the best.” The gentleman, with the liberality of one, replies, “ Oh no, Mr. Nickem ; I do not wish that: pay me the balance, and I am satisfied: you were quite right, as I must go this afternoon." So far nothing could be better. If the gentleman was satisfied, Nickem was perfectly so: and thus we may suppose the matter concluded. We have seen how Nickem has behaved, and acquitted himself while it was all fair weather: let us now see how presence of mind and properly-taken precaution will serve him when a storm seems likely to burst on his devoted head.
The gentleman, while they were changing horses at the first stage, happened to see another on his lately sold nag, and, as a man naturally might do, went up to his old servant, patted him, and said to the rider, “ You have bought a horse lately mine: I congratulate you on your purchase; he is an excellent horse : 378
THREATENING A STORM. I am glad to see him in such good hands, and as from going away I was obliged to sell him so much under his value, I am glad a gentleman has got him." -“I like your horse exceedingly,” replies the purchaser; “ but I think I gave as much as his fair value for him.” –“I assure you,” replied the first owner, “ I gave ninety for him six months since, and consider him worth it, and you have him at fifty-eight.” – “Excuse me, Sir," said the purchaser, “ I gave eighty guineas for him.” — “ Eighty!” cried the former : “ and did you buy him at Nickem's ?" — "I did," says the purchaser. — “ Then,” replies the seller, "you must allow Mr. Nickem is neither more nor less than a robber and a scoundrel !”
“Now, Sir!” says the coachman. — “ No,” replies the gentleman, “I shall not go on.” — "Right!” cries the guard — exit mail. – The gentleman orders a chaise“ directly.”—“Hostler, if you please, Sir.” — “ Porter, Sir, if you please.” — “Go on, boy:” and now exit post-chaise. — “ The French swore terribly in Flanders," says Corporal Trim. (I dare say they did, for I have heard them swear pretty well in their own country,) but that was with a kind of shut teeth grating sacré sound, quite unlike the fine round volume of sound with which the oaths came from the mouth of our vengeful gentleman: the chaise could not hold them, so he opened the windows, and they escaped on each side like soap-and-water bubbles from a boy's tobacco-pipe. The current of air one might think during the ten miles might have cooled the gentleman, but it did not, or his anger. The curses bestowed on the well-known Obadiah were tolerably particular and multifarious; but they were few in number and mild in import to those fulminated against the culprit
A CALM COMING ON. Nickem. He was to be exposed, prosecuted to the utmost rigour of the law, thrashed; (only some doubts arose on the practicability of this latter mode of vengeance;) but in his own yard he should be convicted before all present : in short, God knows what was not to be done. But, ah, what simple circumstances often turn aside the greatest resolves! Up came the smoking horses to Nickem's gate, out jumped the gentle. man, swelled by the pent-up passions he prepared to give vent to. There stood the supposed convicted felon, but with no apparent conscious feelings of fear or repentance in his countenance, no downcast look, no visible trepidation of manner: he saw the gentleman coming: the bland and seeming honest smile of Nickem, though it made no difference in his irate customer's resolves, lowered the heat of his passion from 110 degrees to 50 of Fahrenheit: so he spake temperately. “Pray, Mr. Nickem, how do you account for your conduct respecting my horse?” — Nickem : “In what way, Sir?” — Seller: “Why, I met the gentleman this day who bought, and gave eighty guineas for him, when, as you know, you told me you sold him at fifty-eight.” — Nick: “I don't wonder at your being angry, Sir, at all; I have been out of humour with myself ever since I sold him: I sold him to as great a vagabond as any in town; and you might just as well, and much better, have had the eighty guineas as him: but you shall see I am not to blame. Mr. Meddler," says Nickem (addressing the latter, who I need not say was always as much at hand as Nickem's whip), “ do you happen to have the receipt about you that you took for the chestnut horse ?” -“I don't know, I am sure,” says Meddler; “if I havn't, I have it at home.” His well-used pocket-book comes out, 380
CLEAR AND SATISFACTORY EVIDENCE.
and out of that (after a good deal of apparent search) comes a paper:
"Received of Mr. Michael Meddler fifty-eight pounds for a chestnut gelding, warranted sound, sold for Thumas Tobedone, Esq.; for N. Nickem, GREGORY GOBETWEEN.”
“That is satisfactory, certainly, Mr. Nickem,” says the gentleman: “ then it appears the horse was sold twice?” — “ Just so, Sir," says Nickem: “this fellow had not the horse two hours before in comes the gentleman you saw, and he stuck him for eighty: of course I could say nothing; he had a right to get what he chose after buying the horse. If I had been lucky enough to have waited, I should have got it for you. I could have knocked my head against the wall. I did not like to mention it to you, as it would do no good; and as I know how I felt, I thought it no use to annoy you by telling you of it!"
Where are now all the convictions, the law-proceedings, the threatened exposures! There is the proof of as fair a transaction as possible. The gentleman even feels it due to say something in extenuation of his doubts of its fairness, and ends by saying in part apology, “ You must allow, Nickem,” (no Mr. now – we don't always Mister honest fellows,)“ it did at first look odd !” Nickem allows it did look odd: the gentleman was not aware of how many odd things are done in some repositories !
The wisest, and indeed the only thing our defeated friend can now do is to go and make himself as comfortable as he can for the evening, and again take his place by the next day's mail. Having discussed his cutlet, and being now placidly taking his wine and an olive, he takes out his pencil and tablets, and just
makes out the Dr. and contra Cr. state of his account so far as relates to this said horse. Nickem does the same thing, the statement of each being about as follows:
T. TOBEDONE'S ACCOUNT.
NICKEM'S ACCOUNT. £ s. d.
£ s. d. To difference between £90
| To difference-nioney paid for, and £58 in price of horse 32 0 0 and price sold, Tobedone's Paid Nickem commission - 2 18 0 horse - - - - 26 0 0 Keep three weeks - - 3 3 o Commission .
- 2 18 0 Removing shoes (Mem, never
| By ball and shoes - - 0 3 0 removed) - - - 0 2 0 Profit three weeks' livery -- 0 18 0 A diuretic (never given) · 0 1 0 Nagsman and helper at
£29 190 Nickem's . - . 0 12 6 Paid Meddler £5 . . 5 0 0 Mail-fare forfeited . . 2 0 0 Chaise 15s., boy 38., hostler 1s., porter 1s. - - 1 0 0 Loss - £41 16 6
Net Profit - £24 19 0
“This will do for me,” cries Nick, rubbing his hands : he is right; and it will do for the gentleman if he only goes on in the same way. But by-and-by we will try to put him in a better. We may in all cases guard against a rogue to a great degree: in many, we may effectually do so: but though a man may be a man of education, sense, and talent, if he pits himself against a thorough-paced rogue, on the score of detection, in nineteen cases in twenty, the practised low cunning and self-possession of the latter will beat the other hollow.
I have mentioned the manufacturing of corns as a part of the business of such an establishment as Nick's. I can assure my readers that the manufacture of letters and notes to suit particular occasions, and represented as coming from different persons, is quite as frequent a practice. The executive part of this note and letter department is carried on by the clerk, occasionally assisted by a “Mr. Meddler,” of