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ingly. “And Freddy is a good specimen of his class. He pays his bills and goes to church, and really talks rather amusingly sometimes.”
“How well one knows the kind of man!” exclaimed Arthur. “Fellows, whose small selves are sufficent for them; and whose blood is ‘very snow broth.' Happy, perhaps, for them that it is so." These words were added in a low tone, but Helen heard and noted them.
Johnnie Paulett, meantime, was examining Arthur Brandreth with curiosity. He had himself arrived at an age when the passions of many men have subsided into the "snow broth” state, so evidently envied by his friend. But, though his hair was thinned by the every day living of some fifty years, and though his once strikingly handsome face and figure had lost something of their comeliness and symmetry, yet Johnnie's blood had not cooled down as yet, nor had the mercury in his temperament sensibly fallen.
He was one of the most popular of men in a certain “set,” and that “set” was not the least agreeable to be found in the World of Pleasure. He had much wit, and was anything but shy in using it, and was blest with the high spirits which generally make a man a welcome companion. It is true that there were careful fathers and watchful husbands who occasionally manifested symptoms of a desire to keep him at a distance; but what cared Johnnie for such exceptions? He had enough, and to spare, of fun and frolic; and for more years than many men can boast he had enjoyed life to the utmost.
But now we must turn to the reverse of the picture. Johnnie had a mind and a heart, and they had been
wasted; he had great talents, and they had been misapplied; and proud, independent feelings, which had nearly gone down in the wreck of life, never to be recovered. He had been brought up to no profession, having been cursed on his entrance into life with just so many thousands as render the choice of one not a matter of absolute necessity. Those thousands had rapidly dwindled away: and now, with the years of half-a-century over his head, there remained of his small fortune but little more than was sufficient to pay the subscriptions to his clubs, and to defray his travelling expenses from the house of one “great man to that of another.
The ruin staring him in the face had, apparently, but little effect on Johnnie's spirits.
“At thirty he suspected himself a fool,
Knew it at forty, and did not change his plan."
He had never been known to say an ill-natured thing of man or woman; and the world, who deserved censure, appreciated this forbearance in his early age. But even wit palls upon the pampered; and goodnature grows to be called by some other name, when the power to return hospitality is not equal to the will, and when the obliged one (?) can only offer to his friends that which gold, or worth of gold, should never buy.
Helen had a true regard, and esteem, for Johnnie. With her he was his better self the man who was meant for higher things – the true friend and judicious counsellor. There was something that was analogous in their characters which drew them together, and few were more warmly esteemed in Mrs. Vaughan's
pleasant house, than the nearly wearied man of the world, whose talents and advantages had been so utterly thrown away.
“You must come and see me,” said Helen, addressing Arthur Brandreth, as they stood waiting for her carriage to be called. “I have so much to talk about, so much to tell, that it would interest you to know.'
Arthur accepted the invitation with alacrity, and "Good nights" having been exchanged, the two friends, arm-in-arm, sauntered clubwards.
“What a sunny creature that is,” said Paulett, with something like a sigh. “What a misfortune it is, that one never knows the right woman at the right time. Twenty years ago, if I had met with her, I might have had a chance of success, and then why, perhaps I should not be reduced to grinning through a horse-collar for my dinner, as is the case with me now.”
"Some to whom Heaven in wit has been profuse,
Want as much more to turn it into use,'
muttered Brandreth. “But, my dear old fellow," added he, "what is the use of looking back? We all have the present, and we all may
have a future. You have been picking straws for years, on Life's surface; you should have gone deeper had you wanted pearls. It is not too late to seek them now.”
“And start for Ceylon or Madagascar, eh? By Jove, I'd go there or anywhere else to make money. Could I get a pearl-fishery? what fun it would be! and I am
so confoundedly tired of that painted old
“What a boy you are still,” said his friend, they stood together on the steps of the T— Club. "I wish I were as young in heart and feeling!”
The gaslight flashed upon these two faces, the one so thin and world-worn, and the other (despite his words) so full of hopeful energy; and, as they stood there, the pale, full moon looked calmly down upon the sleeping city. Hushed seemed its millions of human animalculæ, and gone to rest its busy multitudes; but to thousands within its precincts night brought no calm: for the wounds of sin and sorrow fester everywhere, and the physicians that are abroad are powerless to heal.
END OF VOL. I.