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- Justice in the By-Ways - 33/64 -


takes her by the hand and introduces her to a bevy of nicely- conditioned, and sleek-looking gentlemen, whose exactly-combed mutton chop whiskers, smoothly-oiled hair, perfectly-tied white cravats, cloth so modest and fashionable, and mild, studious countenances, discover their profession. Sister Scudder, motioning Lady Swiggs aside, whispers in her ear: "They are all very excellent young men. They will improve on acquaintance. They are come up for the clergy." They, in turn, receive the distinguished stranger in a manner that is rather abrupt than cold, and ere she has dispensed her stately courtesy, say: "how do you do marm," and turn to resume with one another their conversation on the wicked world. It is somewhat curious to see how much more interested these gentry become in the wicked world when it is afar off.

Tea very weak, butter very strong, toast very thin, and religious conversation extremely thick, make up the repast. There is no want of appetite. Indeed one might, under different circumstances, have imagined Sister Scudder's clerical boarders contesting a race for an extra slice of her very thin toast. Not the least prominent among Sister Scudder's boarders is Brother Singleton Spyke, whom Mrs. Swiggs recognizes by the many compliments he lavishes upon Sister Slocum, whose absence is a source of great regret with him. She is always elbow deep in some laudable pursuit. Her presence sheds a radiant light over everything around; everybody mourns her when absent. Nevertheless, there is some satisfaction in knowing that her absence is caused by her anxiety to promote some mission of good: Brother Spyke thus muses. Seeing that there is come among them a distinguished stranger, he gives out that to-morrow evening there will be a gathering of the brethren at the "House of the Foreign Missions," when the very important subject of funds necessary to his mission to Antioch, will be discussed. Brother Spyke, having levelled this battery at the susceptibility of Mrs. Swiggs, is delighted to find some fourteen voices chiming in-all complimenting his peculiar fitness for, and the worthy object of the mission. Mrs. Swiggs sets her cup in her saucer, and in a becoming manner, to the great joy of all present, commences an eulogium on Mr. Spyke. Sister Slocum, in her letters, held him before her in strong colors; spoke in such high praise of his talent, and gave so many guarantees as to what he would do if he only got among the heathen, that her sympathies were enlisted-she resolved to lose no time in getting to New York, and, when there, put her shoulder right manfully to the wheel. This declaration finds her, as if by some mysterious transport, an object of no end of praise. Sister Scudder adjusts her spectacles, and, in mildest accents, says, "The Lord will indeed reward such disinterestedness." Brother Mansfield says motives so pure will ensure a passport to heaven, he is sure. Brother Sharp, an exceedingly lean and tall youth, with a narrow head and sharp nose (Mr. Sharp's father declared he made him a preacher because he could make him nothing else), pronounces, with great emphasis, that such self-sacrifice should be written in letters of gold. A unanimous sounding of her praises convinces Mrs. Swiggs that she is indeed a person of great importance. There is, however, a certain roughness of manner about her new friends, which does not harmonize with her notions of aristocracy. She questions within herself whether they represent the "first families" of New York. If the "first families" could only get their heads together, the heathen world would be sure to knock under. No doubt, it can be effected in time by common people. If Sister Slocum, too, would evangelize the world-if she would give the light of heaven to the benighted, she must employ willing hearts and strong hands. Satan, she says, may be chained, subdued, and made to abjure his wickedness. These cheering contemplations more than atone for the cold reception she met at the house of Sister Slocum. Her only regret now is that she did not sell old Cicero. The money so got would have enabled her to bestow a more substantial token of her soul's sincerity.

Tea over, thanks returned, a prayer offered up, and Brother Spyke, having taken a seat on the sofa beside Mrs. Swiggs, opens his batteries in a spiritual conversation, which he now and then spices with a few items of his own history. At the age of fifteen he found himself in love with a beautiful young lady, who, unfortunately, had made up her mind to accept only the hand of a clergyman: hence, she rejected his. This so disturbed his thoughts, that he resolved on studying theology. In this he was aided by the singular discovery, that he had a talent, and a "call to preach." He would forget his amour, he thought, become a member of the clergy, and go preach to the heathen. He spent his days in reading, his nights in the study of divine truths. Then he got on the kind side of a committee of very excellent ladies, who, having duly considered his qualities, pronounced him exactly suited to the study of theology. Ladies were generally good judges of such matters, and Brother Spyke felt he could not do better than act up to their opinions. To all these things Mrs. Swiggs listens with delight.

Spyke, too, is in every way a well made-up man, being extremely tall and lean of figure, with nice Saxon hair and whiskers, mild but thoughtful blue eyes, an anxious expression of countenance, a thin, squeaking voice, and features sufficiently delicate and regular for his calling. His dress, too, is always exactly clerical. If he be cold and pedantic in his manner, the fault must be set down to the errors of the profession, rather than to any natural inclination of his own. But what is singular of Brother Spyke is, that, notwithstanding his passion for delving the heathen world, and dragging into Christian light and love the benighted wretches there found, he has never in his life given a thought for that heathen world at his own door-a heathen world sinking in the blackest pool of misery and death, in the very heart of an opulent city, over which it hurls its seething pestilence, and scoffs at the commands of high heaven. No, he never thought of that Babylon of vice and crime-that heathen world pleading with open jaws at his own door. He had no thought for how much money might be saved, and how much more good done, did he but turn his eyes, go into this dark world (the Points) pleading at his feet, nerve himself to action, and lend a strong hand to help drag off the film of its degradation. In addition to this, Brother Spyke was sharp enough to discover the fact that a country parson does not enjoy the most enviable situation. A country parson must put up with the smallest salary; he must preach the very best of sermons; he must flatter and flirt with all the marriageable ladies of his church; he must consult the tastes, but offend none of the old ladies; he must submit to have the sermon he strained his brain to make perfect, torn to pieces by a dozen wise old women, who claim the right of carrying the church on their shoulders; he must have dictated to him what sort of dame he may take for wife;--in a word, he must bear meekly a deal of pestering and starvation, or be in bad odor with the senior members of the sewing circle. Duly appreciating all these difficulties, Brother Spyke chose a mission to Antioch, where the field of his labors would be wide, and the gates not open to restraints. And though he could not define the exact character of his mission to Antioch, he so worked upon the sympathies of the credulous old lady, as to well-nigh create in her mind a resolve to give the amount she had struggled to get and set apart for the benefit of those two institutions ("the Tract Society," and "The Home of the Foreign Missions"), all to the getting himself off to Antioch.

CHAPTER XXI.

MR. SNIVEL PURSUES HIS SEARCH FOR THE VOTE-CRIBBER.

WHILE Mrs. Swiggs is being entertained by Sister Scudder and her clerical friends in New York, Mr. Snivel is making good his demand on her property in Charleston. As the agent of Keepum, he has attached her old slaves, and what few pieces of furniture he could find; they will in a few days be sold for the satisfaction of her debts. Mrs. Swiggs, it must be said, never had any very nice appreciation of debt-paying, holding it much more legitimate that her creditors accept her dignity in satisfaction of any demand they chanced to have against her. As for her little old house, the last abode of the last of the great Swiggs family,--that, like numerous other houses of our "very first families," is mortgaged for more than it is worth, to Mr. Staple the grocer. We must, however, turn to Mr. Snivel.

Mr. Snivel is seen, on the night after the secret interview at the Charleston Hotel, in a happy mood, passing down King street. A little, ill-featured man, with a small, but florid face, a keen, lecherous eye, leans on his arm. They are in earnest conversation.

"I think the mystery is nearly cleared up, Keepum" says Snivel.

"There seems no getting a clue to the early history of this Madame Montford, 'tis true. Even those who introduced her to Charleston society know nothing of her beyond a certain period. All anterior to that is wrapped in suspicion," returns Keepum, fingering his massive gold chain and seals, that pend from his vest, then releasing his hold of Mr. Snivel's arm, and commencing to button closely his blue dress coat, which is profusely decorated with large gilt buttons. "She's the mother of the dashing harlot, or I'm no prophet, nevertheless," he concludes, shaking his head significantly.

"You may almost swear it-a bad conscience is a horrid bore; d-n me, if I can't see through the thing. (Mr. Snivel laughs.) Better put our female friends on their guard, eh?"

"They had better drop her as quietly as possible," rejoins Mr. Keepum, drawing his white glove from off his right hand, and extending his cigar case.

Mr. Snivel having helped himself to a cigar, says: "D-n me, if she didn't faint in my arms last night. I made a discovery that brought something of deep interest back to her mind, and gave her timbers such a shock! I watched, and read the whole story in her emotions. One accustomed to the sharps of the legal profession can do this sort of thing. She is afraid of approaching this beautiful creature, Anna Bonard, seeing the life she lives, and the suspicions it might create in fashionable society, did she pursue such a course to the end of finding out whether she be really the lost child of the relative she refers to so often. Her object is to find one Mag Munday, who used to knock about here, and with whom the child was left. But enough of this for the present." Thus saying, they enter the house of the old antiquary, and finding no one but Maria at home, Mr. Snivel takes the liberty of throwing his arms about her waist. This done, he attempts to drag her across the room and upon the sofa. "Neither your father nor you ever had a better friend," he says, as the girl struggles from his grasp, shrinks at his feet, and, with a look of disdain, upbraids him for his attempt to take advantage of a lone female.

"High, ho!" interposes Keepum, "what airs these sort of people put on, eh? Don't amount to much, no how; they soon get over them, you know. A blasted deal of assumption, as you say. Ha, ha, ha! I rather


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