Near Derby, on the way towards Darley-grove, there is a cottage which formerly belonged to one Maurice Robinson. The jessamine which now covers the porch was planted by Ellen, his wife: she was an industrious, prudent, young woman; liked by all her neighbours, because she was ready to assist and serve them, and the delight of her husband's heart; for she was sweet-tempered, affectionate, constantly clean and neat, and made his house so cheerful that he was always in haste to come home to her, after his day's work. He was one of the manufacturers employed in the cotton works at Derby; and he was remarkable for his good conduct and regular attendance at his work.
Things went on very well in every respect, till a relation of his, Mrs. Dolly Robinson, came to live with him. Mrs. Dolly had been laundry-maid in a great family, where she learned to love gossiping, and tea-drinkings, and where she acquired some taste for shawls and cherry-brandy. She thought that she did her young relations a great favour by coming to take up her abode with them, because, as she observed, they were young and inexperienced; and she, knowing a great deal of the world, was able and willing to advise them; and besides, she had had a legacy of some hundred pounds left to her, and she had saved some little matters while in service, which might make it worth her relations' while to take her advice with proper respect, and to make her comfortable for the rest of her days.
Ellen treated her with all due deference, and endeavoured to make her as comfortable as possible; but Mrs. Dolly could not be comfortable unless, besides drinking a large spoonful of brandy in every dish of tea, she could make each person in the house do just what she pleased. She began by being dissatisfied because she could not persuade Ellen that brandy was wholesome, in tea, for the nerves; next she was affronted because Ellen did not admire her shawl; and, above all, she was grievously offended because Ellen endeavoured to prevent her from spoiling little George.
George was, at this time, between five and six years old; and his mother took a great deal of pains to bring him up well: she endeavoured to teach him to be honest, to speak the truth, to do whatever she and his father bid him, and to dislike being idle.
Mrs. Dolly, on the contrary, coaxed and flattered him, without caring whether he was obedient or disobedient, honest or dishonest. She was continually telling him that he was the finest little fellow in the world; and that she would do great things for him, some time or another.
What these great things were to be the boy seemed neither to know nor care; and, except at the moments when she was stuffing gingerbread into his mouth, he seemed never to desire to be near her: he preferred being with William Deane, his father's friend, who was a very ingenious man, and whom he liked to see at work.
William gave him a slate, and a slate pencil; and taught him how to make figures, and to cast up sums; and made a little wheel-barrow for him, of which George was very fond, so that George called him in play "King Deane." All these things tended to make Mrs. Dolly dislike William Deane, whom she considered as her rival in power.
One day, it was George's birthday, Mrs. Dolly invited a party, as she called it, to drink tea with her; and, at tea-time, she was entertaining the neighbours with stories of what she had seen in the great world. Amongst others, she had a favourite story of a butler, in the family where she had lived, who bought a ticket in the lottery when he was drunk, which ticket came up a ten thousand pound prize when he was sober; and the butler turned gentleman, and kept his coach directly.
One evening, Maurice Robinson and William came home, after their day's work, just in time to hear the end of this story; and Mrs. Dolly concluded it by turning to Maurice, and assuring him that he must put into the lottery and try his luck: for why should not he be as lucky as another? "Here," said she, "a man is working and drudging all the days of his life to get a decent coat to put on, and a bit of bread to put into his child's mouth; and, after all, may be he can't do it; though all the while, for five guineas, or a guinea, or half-a-guinea even, if he has but the spirit to lay out his money properly, he has the chance of making a fortune without any trouble. Surely a man should try his luck, if not for his own, at least for his children's sake," continued Mrs. Dolly, drawing little George towards her, and hugging him in her arms. "Who knows what might turn up! Make your papa buy a ticket in the lottery, love; there's my darling; and I'll be bound he'll have good luck. Tell him, I'll be bound we shall have a ten thousand pound prize at least; and all for a few guineas. I'm sure I think none but a miser would grudge the money, if he had it to give."
As Mrs. Dolly finished her speech, she looked at William Deane, whose countenance did not seem to please her. Maurice was whistling, and Ellen knitting as fast as possible. Little George was counting William Deane's buttons. "Pray, Mr. Deane," cried Mrs. Dolly, turning full upon him, "what may your advice and opinion be? since nothing's to be done here without your leave and word of command, forsooth. Now, as you know so much and have seen so much of the world, would you be pleased to tell this good company, and myself into the bargain, what harm it can do anybody, but a miser, to lay out a small sum to get a good chance of a round thousand, or five thousand, or ten thousand, or twenty thousand pounds, without more ado?"
As she pronounced the words five thousand, ten thousand, twenty thousand pounds, in a triumphant voice, all the company, except Ellen and William, seemed to feel the force of her oratory.
William coolly answered that he was no miser, but that he thought money might be better laid out than in the lottery; for that there was more chance of a man's getting nothing for his money than of his getting a prize; that when a man worked for fair wages every day, he was sure of getting something for his pains, and with honest industry, and saving, might get rich enough in time, and have to thank himself for it, which would be a pleasant thing: but that if a man, as he had known many, set his heart upon the turning of the lottery wheel, he would leave off putting his hand to any thing the whole year round, and so grow idle, and may be, drunken; "and then," said William, "at the year's end, if he have a blank, what is he to do for his rent, or for his wife and children, that have nothing to depend upon but him and his industry?"
Here Maurice sighed, and so did Ellen, whilst William went on and told many a true story of honest servants, and tradesmen, whom he had known, who had ruined themselves by gaming and lotteries.
"But," said Maurice, who now broke silence, "putting into the lottery, William, is not gaming, like dice or cards, or such things. Putting into the lottery is not gaming, as I take it."
"As I take it, though," replied William, "it is gaming. For what is gaming but trusting one's money, or somewhat, to luck and hap-hazard? And is there not as much hap-hazard in the turning of the wheel as in the coming up of the dice, or the dealing of the cards?"
"True enough; but somebody must get a prize," argued Maurice.
"And somebody must win at dice or cards," said William, "but a many more must lose; and a many more, I take it, must lose by the lottery than by any other game; else how would they that keep the lottery gain by it, as they do? Put a case. If you and I, Maurice, were this minute to play at dice, we stake our money down on the table here, and one or t'other takes all up. But, in the lottery, it is another affair; for the whole of what is put in does never come out."
This statement of the case made some impression upon Maurice, who was no fool; but Mrs. Dolly's desire that he should buy a lottery ticket, was not to be conquered by reason: it grew stronger and stronger the more she was opposed. She was silent and cross during the remainder of the evening; and the next morning, at breakfast, she was so low that even her accustomed dose of brandy, in her tea, had no effect.
Now Maurice, besides his confused hopes that Mrs. Dolly would leave something handsome to him or his family, thought himself obliged to her for having given a helping hand to his father, when he was in distress; and therefore he wished to bear with her humours, and to make her happy in his house. He knew that the lottery ticket was uppermost in her mind, and the moment he touched upon that subject she brightened up. She told him she had had a dream; and she had great faith in dreams: and she had dreamed, three times over, that he had bought number 339 in the lottery, and that it had come up a ten thousand pound prize!
"Well, Ellen," said Maurice, "I've half a mind to try my luck; and it can do us no harm, for I'll only put off buying the cow this year."
"Nay," said Mrs. Dolly, "why so? may be you don't know what I know, that Ellen's as rich as a Jew? She has a cunning little cupboard, in the wall yonder, that I see her putting money into every day of her life, and none goes out."
Ellen immediately went and drew back a small sliding oak door in the wainscot, and took out a glove, in which some money was wrapped; she put it altogether in her husband's hand, saying, with a good-humoured smile, "There is my year's spinning, Maurice: I only thought to have made more of it before I gave it you. Do what you please with it."
Maurice was so much moved by his wife's kindness, that he at the moment determined to give up his lottery scheme, of which, he knew, she did not approve. But, though a good-natured, well-meaning man, he was of an irresolute character; and even when he saw what was best to be done, had not courage to persist. As he was coming home from work, a few days after Ellen had given him the money, he saw, in one of the streets of Derby, a house with large windows finely illuminated, and read the words:
"Lottery-office of Fortunatus, Gould, and Co." At this office was sold the fortunate ticket, which came up on Monday last a twenty thousand pound prize. Ready money paid for prizes immediately on demand. The
still in the wheel. None but the brave deserve a prize."
Whilst Maurice was gazing at this and other similar advertisements, which were exhibited in various bright colours in this tempting window, his desire to try his fortune in the lottery returned; and he was just going into the office to purchase a ticket, when luckily he found that he had not his leathern purse in his pocket. He walked on, and presently brushed by some one; it was William Deane, who was looking very eagerly over some old books, at a bookseller's stall. "I wish I had but money to treat myself with some of these," said William: "but I cannot; they cost such a deal of money, having all these prints in them."
"We can lend you,--no, we can't neither," cried Maurice, stopping himself short; for he recollected that he could not both lend his friend money to buy the books and buy a lottery ticket. He was in great doubt which he should do; and walked on with William, in silence. "So, then," cried he at last, "you would not advise me to put into the lottery?"
"Nay," said William laughing, "it is not for me to advise you about it, now; for I know you are considering whether you had best put it into the lottery or lend me the money to buy these books. Now, I hope you don't think I was looking to my own interest in what I said the other day; for I can assure you, I had no thoughts of meeting with these books at that time, and did not know that you had any money to spare."
"Say no more about it," replied Maurice. "Don't I know you are an honest fellow, and would lend me the money if I wanted it? You shall have it as soon as ever we get home. Only mind and stand by me stoutly, if Mrs. Dolly begins any more about the lottery."
Mrs. Dolly did not fail to renew her attacks; and she was both provoked and astonished when she found that the contents of the leathern purse were put into the hands of William Deane.
"Books, indeed! To buy books forsooth! What business had such a one as he with books?" She had seen a deal of life, she said, and never saw no good come of bookish bodies; and she was sorry to see that her own darling, George, was taking to the bookish line, and that his mother encouraged him in it. She would lay her best shawl, she said, to a gauze handkerchief, that William Deane would, sooner or later, beggar himself, and all that belonged to him, by his books and his gimcracks; "and if George were my son," continued she, raising her voice, "I'd soon cure him of prying and poring into that man's picture-books, and following him up and down with wheels and mechanic machines, which will never come to no good, nor never make a gentleman of him, as a ticket in the lottery might and would."
All mouths were open at once to defend William. Maurice declared he was the most industrious man in the parish; that his books never kept him from his work, but always kept him from the alehouse and bad company; and that, as to his gimcracks and machines, he never laid out a farthing upon them but what he got by working on holidays, and odd times, when other folks were idling or tippling. His master, who understood the like of those things, said, before all the workmen at the mills, that William Deane's machines were main clever, and might come to bring in a deal of money for him and his.
"Why," continued Maurice, "there was Mr. Arkwright, the man that first set a going all our cotton frames here, was no better than William Deane, and yet came at last to make a power of money. It stands to reason, any how, that William Deane is hurting nobody, nor himself neither; and, moreover, he may divert himself his own way, without being taken to task by man, woman, or child. As to children, he's very good to my child; there's one loves him," pointing to George, "and I'm glad of it: for I should be ashamed, so I should, that my flesh and blood should be in any ways disregardful or ungracious to those that be kind and good to them."
Mrs. Dolly, swelling with anger, repeated in a scornful voice, "Disregardful, ungracious! I wonder folks can talk so to me! But this is all the gratitude one meets with, in this world, for all one does. Well, well! I'm an old woman, and shall soon be out of people's way; and then they will be sorry they did not use me better; and then they'll bethink them that it is not so easy to gain a friend as to lose a friend; and then--"
Here Mrs. Dolly's voice was stopped by her sobs; and Maurice, who was a very good-natured man, and much disposed to gratitude, said he begged her pardon a thousand times, if he had done any thing to offend her; and declared his only wish was to please and satisfy her, if she would but tell him how. She continued sobbing, without making any answer, for some time: but at last she cried, "My ad--my ad--my ad-vice is never taken in any thing!"
Maurice declared he was ready to take her advice, if that was the only way to make her easy in her mind. "I know what you mean, now," added he: "you are still harping upon the lottery ticket. Well, I'll buy a ticket this day week, after I've sold the cow I bought at the fair. Will you have done sobbing, now, cousin Dolly?"
"Indeed, cousin Maurice, it is only for your own sake I speak," said she, wiping her eyes. "You know you was always a favourite of mine from your childhood up; I nursed you, and had you on my knee, and foretold often and often you would make a fortune, so I did. And will you buy the ticket I dreamed about, hey?"
Maurice assured her that, if it was to be had, he would. The cow was accordingly sold the following week, and the ticket in the lottery was bought. It was not, however, the number about which Mrs. Dolly had dreamed, for that was already purchased by some other person. The ticket Maurice bought was number 80; and, after he had got it, his cousin Dolly continually deplored that it was not the very number of which she dreamed. It would have been better not to have taken her advice at all than to have taken it when it was too late.
Maurice was an easy-tempered man, and loved quiet; and when he found that he was reproached for something or other whenever he came into his own house, he began to dislike the thought of going home after his day's work, and loitered at public-houses sometimes, but more frequently at the lottery-office. As the lottery was now drawing, his whole thoughts were fixed upon his ticket; and he neglected his work at the manufactory. "What signify a few shillings wages, more or less?" said he to himself. "If my ticket should come up a prize, it makes a rich man of me at once."
His ticket at last was drawn a prize of five thousand pounds! He was almost out of his senses with joy! He ran home to tell the news. "A prize! a prize, Dolly!" cried he, as soon as he had breath to speak.
"That comes of taking my advice!" said Dolly.
"A five thousand pound prize! my dear Ellen," cried he, and down he kicked her spinning-wheel.
"I wish we may be as happy with it as we have been without it, Maurice," said Ellen; and calmly lifted her spinning-wheel up again.
"No more spinning-wheels!" cried Maurice; "no more spinning! no more work! We have nothing to do now but to be as happy as the day is long. Wife, I say, put by that wheel."
"You're a lady now; and ought to look and behave like a lady," added Mrs. Dolly, stretching up her head, "and not stand moping over an old spinning-wheel."
"I don't know how to look and behave like a lady," said Ellen, and sighed: "but I hopes Maurice won't love me the less for that."
Mrs. Dolly was for some time wholly taken up with the pleasure of laying out money, and "preparing," as she said, "to look like somebody." She had many acquaintances at Paddington, she said, and she knew of a very snug house there, where they could all live very genteel.
She was impatient to go thither, for two reasons; that she might make a figure in the eyes of these acquaintances, and that she might get Maurice and little George away from William Deane, who was now become more than ever the object of her aversion and contempt; for he actually advised his friend not to think of living in idleness, though he had five thousand pounds. William moreover recommended it to him to put his money out to interest, or to dispose of a good part of it in stocking a farm, or in fitting out a shop. Ellen, being a farmer's daughter, knew well the management of a dairy; and, when a girl, had also assisted in a haberdasher's shop, that was kept in Derby by her uncle; so she was able and willing, she said, to assist her husband in whichever of these ways of life he should take to.
Maurice, irresolute and desirous of pleasing all parties, at last said, it would be as well, seeing they were now rich enough not to mind such a journey, just to go to Paddington and look about 'em; and if so be they could not settle there in comfort, why still they might see a bit of London town, and take their pleasure for a month or so; and he hoped William Deane would come along with them, and it should not be a farthing out of his pocket.
Little George said every thing he could think of to persuade his King Deane to go with them, and almost pulled him to the coach door, when they were setting off; but William could not leave his master and his business. The child clung with his legs and arms so fast to him that they were forced to drag him into the carriage.
"You'll find plenty of friends at Paddington, who'll give you many pretty things. Dry your eyes, and see! you're in a coach!" said Mrs. Dolly.
George dried his eyes directly, for he was ashamed of crying; but he answered, "I don't care for your pretty things. I shall not find my good dear King Deane any where;" and, leaning upon his mother's lap, he twirled round the wheel of a little cart, which William Deane had given him, and which he carried under his arm as his greatest treasure.
Ellen was delighted to see signs of such a grateful and affectionate disposition in her son, and all her thoughts were bent upon him; whilst Mrs. Dolly chattered on about her acquaintance at Paddington, and her satisfaction at finding herself in a coach once again. Her satisfaction was not, however, of long continuance; for she grew so sick that she was obliged, or thought herself obliged, every quarter of an hour, to have recourse to her cordial bottle. Her spirits were at last raised so much, that she became extremely communicative, and she laid open to Maurice and Ellen all her plans of future pleasure and expense.
"In the first place," said she, "I am heartily glad now I have got you away from that cottage that was not fit to live in; and from certain folks that shall be nameless, that would have one live all one's life like scrubs, like themselves. You must know that when we get to Paddington, the first thing I shall do shall be to buy a handsome coach." "A coach!" exclaimed Maurice and Ellen, with extreme astonishment.
"A coach, to be sure," said Mrs. Dolly. "I say a coach."
"I say we shall be ruined, then," said Maurice; "and laughed at into the bargain."
"La! you don't know what money is," said Mrs. Dolly. "Why haven't you five thousand pounds, man? You don't know what can be done with five thousand pounds, cousin Maurice."
"No, nor you neither, cousin Dolly; or you'd never talk of setting up your coach."
"Why not, pray? I know what a coach costs as well as another. I know we can have a second-hand coach, and we need not tell nobody that it's second-hand, for about a hundred pounds. And what's a hundred pounds out of five thousand?"
"But if we've a coach, we must have horses, must not we?" said Ellen, "and they'll cost a hundred more."
"Oh, we can have job horses, that will cost us little or nothing," said Mrs. Dolly.
"Say £150. a-year," replied Maurice; "for I heard my master's coachman telling that the livery-keeper in London declared as how he made nothing by letting him have job horses for £150. a-year."
"We are to have our own coach," said Dolly, "and that will be cheaper, you know."
"But the coach won't last for ever," said Ellen; "it must be mended, and that will cost something."
"It is time enough to think of that when the coach wants mending," said Mrs. Dolly; who, without giving herself the trouble of calculating, seemed to be convinced that every thing might be done for five thousand pounds. "I must let you know a little secret," continued she. "I have written, that is, got a friend to write, to have the house at Paddington taken for a year; for I know it's quite the thing for us, and we are only to give fifty pounds a-year for it: and you know that one thousand pounds would pay that rent for twenty years to come."
"But then," said Ellen, "you will want to do a great many other things with that thousand pounds. There's the coach you mentioned; and you said we must keep a footboy, and must see a deal of company, and must not grudge to buy clothes, and that we could not follow any trade, nor have a farm, nor do any thing to make money; so we must live on upon what we have. Now let us count, and see how we shall do it. You know, Maurice, that William Deane inquired about what we could get for our five thousand pounds, if we put it out to interest?"
"Ay; two hundred a-year, he said."
"Well, we pay fifty pounds a-year for the rent of the house, and a hundred a-year we three and the boy must have to live upon, and there is but fifty pounds a-year left."
Mrs. Dolly, with some reluctance, gave up the notion of the coach; and Ellen proposed that five hundred pounds should be laid out in furnishing a haberdasher's shop, and that the rest of their money should be put out to interest, till it was wanted. "Maurice and I can take care of the shop very well; and we can live well enough upon what we make by it," said Ellen.
Mrs. Dolly opposed the idea of keeping a shop; and observed that they should not, in that case, be gentlefolks. Besides, she said, she was sure the people of the house she had taken would never let it be turned into a shop.
What Mrs. Dolly had said was indeed true. When they got to Paddington, they found that the house was by no means fit for a shop; and as the bargain was made for a year, and they could not get it off their hands without considerable loss, Ellen was forced to put off her prudent scheme. In the mean time she determined to learn how to keep accounts properly.
There was a small garden belonging to the house, in which George set to work; and though he could do little more than pull up the weeds, yet this kept him out of mischief and idleness; and she sent him to a day-school, where he would learn to read, write, and cast accounts. When he came home in the evenings, he used to show her his copy-book, and read his lesson, and say his spelling to her, while she was at work. His master said it was a pleasure to teach him, he was so eager to learn; and Ellen was glad that she had money enough to pay for having her boy well taught. Mrs. Dolly, all this time, was sitting and gossiping amongst her acquaintance in Paddington. These acquaintance were people whom she had seen when they visited the housekeeper in the great family where she was laundry-maid; and she was very proud to show them that she was now a finer person than even the housekeeper, who was formerly the object of her envy. She had tea-drinking parties, and sometimes dinner parties, two or three in a week; and hired a footboy, and laughed at Ellen for her low notions, and dissuaded Maurice from all industrious schemes; still saying to him, "Oh, you'll have time enough to think of going to work when you have spent all your money."
Maurice, who had been accustomed to be at work for several hours in the day, at first thought it would be a fine thing to walk about, as Mrs. Dolly said, like a gentleman, without having any thing to do; but when he came to try it, he found himself more tired by this way of life than he had ever felt himself in the cotton-mills at Derby. He gaped and gaped, and lounged about every morning, and looked a hundred times at his new watch, and put it to his ear to listen whether it was going, the time seemed to him to pass so slowly. Sometimes he sauntered through the town, came back again, and stood at his own door looking at dogs fighting for a bone; at others, he went into the kitchen, to learn what there was to be for dinner, and to watch the maid cooking, or the boy cleaning knives. It was a great relief for him to go into the room where his wife was at work: but he never would have been able to get through a year in this way without the assistance of a pretty little black horse, for which he paid thirty guineas. During a month he was very happy in riding backwards and forwards on the Edgeware-road: but presently the horse fell lame; it was discovered that he was spavined and broken-winded; and the jockey from whom Maurice bought him was no where to be found. Maurice sold the horse for five guineas, and bought a fine bay for forty, which he was certain would turn out well, seeing he paid such a good price for him; but the bay scarcely proved better than the black. How he managed it we do not know, but it seems he was not so skilful in horses as in cotton-weaving; for at the end of the year he had no horse, and had lost fifty guineas by his bargains.
Another hundred guineas were gone, nobody in the family but himself knew how: but he resolved to waste no more money and began the new year well, by opening a haberdasher's shop in Paddington. The fitting up this shop cost them five hundred pounds; it was tolerably stocked, and Ellen was so active, and so attentive to all customers, that she brought numbers to Maurice Robinson's new shop. They made full twelve per cent, upon all they sold; and, in six months, had turned three hundred pounds twice, and had gained the profit of seventy-two pounds. Maurice, however, had got such a habit of lounging, during his year of idleness, that he could not relish steady attendance in the shop: he was often out, frequently came home late at night, and Ellen observed that he sometimes looked extremely melancholy; but when she asked him whether he was ill, or what ailed him, he always turned away, answering, "Nothing--nothing ails me. Why do ye fancy any thing ails me?" Alas! it was no fancy. Ellen saw too plainly, that something was going wrong: but as her husband persisted in silence, she could not tell how to assist or comfort him.
Mrs. Dolly in the mean time was going on spending her money in junketing. She was, besides, no longer satisfied with taking her spoonful of brandy in every dish of tea; she found herself uncomfortable, she said, unless she took every morning fasting a full glass of the good cordial recommended to her by her friend, Mrs. Joddrell, the apothecary's wife. Now this good cordial, in plain English, was a strong dram. Ellen, in the gentlest manner she could, represented to Mrs. Dolly that she was hurting her health, and was exposing herself, by this increasing habit of drinking; but she replied with anger, that what she took was for the good of her health; that everybody knew best what agreed with them; that she should trust to her own feelings; and that nobody need talk, when all she took came out of the apothecary's shop, and was paid for honestly with her own money.
Besides what came out of the apothecary's shop, Mrs. Dolly found it agreed with her constantly to drink a pot of porter at dinner, and another at supper; and always when she had a cold, and she had often a cold, she drank large basins full of white wine whey, "to throw off her cold," as she said.
Then by degrees, she lost her appetite, and found she could eat nothing, unless she had a glass of brandy at dinner. Small beer, she discovered, did not agree with her; so at luncheon time she always had a tumbler full of brandy and water. This she carefully mixed herself, and put less and less water in every day, because brandy, she was convinced, was more wholesome for some constitutions than water; and brandy and peppermint, taken together, was an infallible remedy for all complaints, low spirits included.