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SKETCH OF A RICH OLD MATT)

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SKETCH OF A RICH OLD MATT) It was a raw, chilly afternoon, late in Ootober, with a sharp wind howling down the streets of Manchester, and a steady rain pattering upon the marble balconies of one of the first hotels—just the sort of day when incipient "blues" hover in the atmosphere, and in- fluenzas lie in wait at every street corner. Nobody likes such weather, and Miss Tryphena Crowfoot liked it least of all. She sat bolt upright in front of the genially blazing fire of the coffee-room, with her two feet braced on the fender, and her brown merino dress turned back, lest the heat should mar its dye, perfectly unconscious that she was the object of considerable suppressed amusement to the elegantly attired belles who were yawning over their novels and fancy work at the various windows. Miss Tryphena didn't care a pin for the opinions of her friends; as long as she was satisfied with the brown merino dress, and the full- blown roses in her stiff cap, what signified their ideas ? MIBB Tryphena's philosophy was the correct system— more's the pity it has so few followers in this world of ours. "Dear me," sighed Miss Crowfoot, adjusting her spectacles upon the bridge of her high Roman nose, I never was so put to it to keep awake in all my born days. I'd rather do a day's washin' than be sitting here, trying to be genteel. If I was a man, I oould roll up my trowser-legs, and put on an old hat, and go out walkin'; but I aint, and so I've jest got to make the best on't. To-morrow I'll go out to Mott- ram and see my relations, if it rains pitchforks: see if I don't! And Miss Tryphena shook her cap-strings bellige- rently at the fire, with a yawn that was like the report of a cannon. Still I don't feel jest exactly sure about it," she pondered, slowly unfolding a crumpled letter, that had lain in her capacious pocket all the morning. My fST- •' Melissa Smith never remembered nothin about her dear cousin, until her grandfather's cousin left me that < £ 5,000. She never saw me, and never would ha' cared to see me as long as I was makm shirts, or doing other bits of needlework to keep me from starvifig; but she's growed wonderful affectionate all of a sudden. After all," went on Miss Tryphena, suddenly softening, "mebbe I'm a mis- judgin' of Melissa all this time. P'r'aps the money don't make no difference, and 'tain't for me to turn ag'in my own flesh and blood. I'm an old maid, to be sure, but there is a kind of a hungry feelin' in my heart once in a while, and I don't say but what I might get very fond of Melissa's gals after a while. Then there's Mary Ann married and settled just beyond she hain't written to me, but I don't believe but what she'd be jest as glad to see her mother's sister's darter. Anyhow, I'll start to Mottram to- morrow, and take a look round. I wonder if the weather ain't holdin' up a bit ? Miss Crowfoot rose from the low velvet chair, and strode across to one of the windows like a grenadier in petticoats. "My goodness gracious! she ejaculated suddenly, shooting out of the room like a brown merino meteor, and clattering down the carpeted stairs with an energy that made the waiters stare. And the next minute she had returned, towing in a meek, bedraggled female, whose dripping skirts and limp bonnet-striags put one irresistibly in mind of a moulting hen. "There, Eebeccy Jones!" bawled Miss Tryphena, dragging forward a chair, "sit down and dry your feet. Who d ha' thought o' seein' you in this quarter 2 I J an(^ wa'n't it a real Providence I ketched hold of yon when you was gettin' into that 'ere omni- bus? Where did you come from ? and where was you agom ? and what be you doin' P and how's the rheu- matiz ? IJ Mrs. Jones gave a faint gasp, as if bewildered by « 5? P lG1^y Miss Crowfoot's questions, "but*" T6ry kind> TryPheny>" she muttered, Kind!" echoed the old maid, picking buisily away at the-knot m her friend's bonnet strings. "Well I like that! Aint I your own stepmother's uncle's granddarter ? T"j £ 8' s £ hed Mrs. Jones, "I am aware of that, Trypheny, but I m drefful poor, and Binoe the rheu- matics has been so bad- «. ''I know ctcapitallinamenc.» ■ i_ eagerly. "Jest you take ripa< *^T5erra? and^mash 'em up, and strain the joioe—Stop! don't I email Bomethm burnin' ? In her enthusiasm on the subject of ripe elder. berries, Miss Tryphena had inconsiderately backed into the fender, thereby causing the skirts of the brown merino dress to hiss and blacken in a most ominous manner. As an effeotual remedy, Miss Tryphena sat promptly down on the Wilton hearth- rug. "There-I'm clean put out, aint I, Bebeooy ? Well, now it is the luckiest thing I happened to see you just now." "If you could make it oonvenient to let a poor widdy.woman have a couple a shillings," experimented Mrs. Jones, hesitatingly. "I'm poorer'n Job's cat-I be, Trypheny, sure's the world Miss Tryphena dived suddenly down into a capacious calico pocket that she wore under her merino dress. and hauled up a crown. "There, Rebeccy Jones. And now, I'll tell you what, I'm going to Mottram to-morrow, and you shall go with me." Mrs. Jones shook her head despondingly. "No, Trypheny. I can't go where folks isn't glad to see me." But Melissa Smith and Mary Ann Dodd will be glad to see Y011." "I don't know nothin' about Mary Ann—she's a poor oarpenter's wife with lots o' children, and I v > g £ ttlere-but I wrote to Melissa askm if she couldn't help me a little, and Mrs. Jones relapsed into weak tears. Well, I am beat!" exelaimed Miss Crowfoot. I didn't suppose Melissa was that kind o' gal. No nor I won't believe it now, unless I see it with my'own 6yes!" You needn't be afeard, Trypheny," whined Mrs. Jones, spitefully. You're rich—and Melissy always had a drefful worldly eperit." Tryphena turned sharply round. Did you ever see Melissa Smith F" "Not since she was a little gal, but I've always heerd- No matter what you've heerd," said the old maid, meditatively, jerking at her cap-ribbons. "Eebeccy Jones, I've an idea Would you like to earn a sove- reign, and have a nice little trip in the country to boot?" What do you mean ?" Miss Crowfoot drew her chair close to Mrs. Jones, and a whispered colloquy ensued-a miniature council in.a triumphant plan of the campaign. i, ,,1'' said Misa Tryphena, emphaticallv. And 111 help you," ehimed in her friend,"lugu- briously. The frosty glare of sunset had just died away when two females were seen to emerge from an omnibus just outside the village of Mottram. One of these had stopped at the door of a pretty.looking villa, and was listening to the conversation within. Put on the tea-kettle, Cerinthia," said the land. ladyjbo her eldest girl, who was dawdling over a bit of soiled embroidery. I guess there is cold pork enough for supper, ain't there ? Miss Cerinthia put aside her embroidery with a petulant shrug of her shoulders, and was just about to obey the maternal behests, when a sharp click of the knocker startled her into something like anima- tion. ■'Good gracious!" ejaculated Mrs. Smith, "I do believe that's the parson's wife come to tea, and nothin' but pork and cold hasty puddin' in the house! Don't ask her to take off her things, Cerinthia. Make believe you s'pose she's only come to call." And Mrs. Smith recennoitred through the crack of the partially opened door, as Cerinthia went to answer the summons. stood without, in a brown merino dress, she waaf°^Ie^ve^ ^onne^' nodding with plumes, while bag, and bSdbm0rearme<i with aa nmbrella, travelling whlfVa^dSS?/ Smith?" she asked, in some- cousin—come f7omVrwfc- l m mover's she's enjoying pretty tolVW° payj ^r 1 ^ope The parlour doorflew box," and Mrs. Smith fia il 0 we?dr.er" relative. ted the arms of her "MY dearest cousin! what « But why didn't you write, and let!! 860 ycm! ftllioJ Ton m*,t b. j&J"-Uj* « th. come in and warm yourself! Cerinthia & a wM«L S aside) mix up some biscuit directly, and tftfi to catch the little yellow chicken, and open aW S marmalade, and got out tne best ohina—quick Meanwhile the new-comer had established herself in a comfortable rocking-chair beside the fire. Well, I didn't s'pose you'd be so glad to see me, Melissy." My dearest cousin, if you only knew how my heart warms to the sound of a relative's voice Ahem!" said the visitor. I do hope you haven't taken eold," pursued Mrs. Smith, with smiling solicitude. "I'll have a fire made in your bedroom at once, and extra blankets put on the bed. Sit a little closer to the fire, Tryphena, won't yon ? Mr. Smith will be so delighted!" Mrs. Smith's voice, pitched on rather a high key of the gamut of affection, was distinctly audible among the low-branched lilac bushes whose leafless fingers brushed the very window panes, and a curious smile came over the countenance of a plainly-dressed woman who was leaning against the sturdy brown stems, with her keen grey eyes just on a level with the lowest pane. "A warm welcome!" murmured the shabby stranger, stooping to pick a rusty-looking bundle from the ground. "Now let us see whether her heart will warm to the sound of the people's voices who don't possess money!" She tapped softly at the door, as she spoke. Mrs. Smith, who was crossing the entry with a pair of flannel-lined slippers, stopped to open it. What's wanting?" she demanded, rather sharply. We never give anything to strolling vagrants." "I ain't no vagrant, Melissa Smith," spoke up the applicant, with some indignation. "I'm your own cousin, and I've walked two miles afoot, to see if you couldn't keep me over night, for-It Mrs. Smith's face hardened into polar frigidity. I can do nothing for you," she said, coldly. I thought I had already answered your begging letter. Mr. Smith has all he can do to provide for his own family, without adopting a dozen poor relations." She was about to close the door, when the stranger put her hand pleadingly on Mrs. Smith's arm. Don't be hard on me, Melissy. I only want a meal o' victuals, and a night's lodging." "I don't keep a tavern," responded Mrs. Smith, drily, withdrawing her wrist from the appealing touch, and shutting the door abruptly in the flushed face of the shabby pleader. She stood a moment on the doorstep, where the chill radiance of the new moon was beginning to shed a faint lustre, and then turned away, murmuring to her- self, "I never could have believed it! Laws, bless us all, and I was so near being deceived by her smooth words! She strode briskly along the solitary winding road, with an almost masculine firmness, and decision of step. "I hope Mary Ann don't live far," she muaed; for there's black frost in the air, and I'm afraid of the rheumatiz. There's the house now." A cheerful star of red light shone out beyond some clustering poplars, whose skeleton forms glimmered indistinctly through the dusk, and the next moment the tired traveller was knocking at the door of a humble tenement, several degrees lower down in the scale of architecture than Mrs. Smith's fine house. A plump, rosy-faced woman came to the door, shad- ing a candle with one hand. "Mary Ann P That's my name," said the rosy matron, holding back two eager little boys; but I declare I can't tell who you are ? "Haven't you never heard of your mother's cousin, Eebecca Jones ?" 11 Why, you don't tell me you're my cousin! Come in, come in!" chirped the little woman. "Why, your hands are as cold as ioe! She led her guest into a low-ceiled room, with a gay little carpet on the floor, and a little round table, spread for the evening meal, while a comfortable fire roared and crackled merrily on the hearth. Well now, cousin Eebecca, I am glad to see you," said Mrs. Dodd, throwing a fresh log on the fire. And you're just in time for supper, too. I wish I had some- thing nicer than bread and cheese and cold pudding for you; bat we're not rich folks, and there's a good many mouths to feed. However, you're as welcome aa flowers in May, and-" I received no such welcome at Melissy's," said the visitor, with tears fairly shining on her eyelashes. "Oh, well," said Mrs. Dadd, b-oja&y helping to move the Bfaabby shawl and crushed bonnet," Melissy's different from me in Botie things, and besides, Mellissy's expecting grand company—our rich cousin from York, you know." Is not she coming to see you too ?" I don't know exactly-perhaps she'll think we're not fine enough. Not but what I'd be glad to see my own cousin," added Mrs. Dodd, her bright face catch- ing an added glow from the firelight, but Dodd says to me, says he, 'Don't write to ask her, for she'll think, may be, we're courtin' her for the money's sake.' And Dodd's a dreadful independent feelin' man." There was a strange mist in the grey eyes that followed Mrs. Dodd's oheerful,1 bustling movements around the room. Will you have a little more sugar in your coffee, cousin Tryphena F" smilingly demanded Mrs. Smith, as she sat at the breakfast table next morning. Are you quite sure it is agreeable to your taste ? It's very nice, thankee," said her guest, nervously sipping the fragrant beverage, and feeling a little inward quaking as the moment of denouement: drew near. But, Melissa Have another muffin, do, or an egg," interrupted Mrs. Smith. I beg your pardon—what were you about to observe ?" Why," stammered the stranger, I was going to say you'd made a little mistake about my name." About your name ? repeated Mrs. Smith, with her cup suspended half way on its journey to her mouth. Yes. It ain't Trypheny-it's-" What ? Rebecca Jones burst out the impostor, feeling that further dissembling would be in vain. "What?" shrieked Mrs. Smith, growing yellow around the mouth. Do you mean to say that you are not Tryphena Crowfoot?" i< 4,nfver Ba-fid 1 ^a9'" doggedly returned Eebecca. .tSuti you allowed me to believe I can't help what you believed. Trypheny Crow. foot came on in the omnibus with me as far as the village, and she said she calc'lated to call on you in the course of the evenin', but there wa'nt no one come in, so I s'posed she'd changed her mind, and Mrs. Smith started to her feet, upsetting the coffee- pot, and strewing fragments of broken china round her on the floor. Leave my house this instant, you impostor-you base deceiver How dared you thus mislead me." You needn't be quite so fierce, Melissa," said Mrs. Jones, sulkily looking round for her bonnet. "I guess I'm just as much your cousin as Trypheny Crow- foot, if I hain't got a lot o' money." "Wretch!" ejaculated Mrs. Smith. "As if I cared-" There's one comfort, though," added Rebecca, with a sort of malicious pleasure in her relative's discom- fiture, "if Trypheny didn't stop in here, she's gone on to Mary Ann Dodd's to stay. Mary Ann's folks '11 stand a pretty good ohance o' gettin' Trypheny's money, and I dare say they deserve it more'n some people I could mention. Good bye, cousin Melissy." And Rebecca Jones, having cast her barbed arrow, walked out of the house with her nose high in the air, to report progress to her major-general. Great was the amazement of Mrs. Dodd to discover that she was entertaining her rich relation unawares, still greater the amusement of Miss Tryphena Crow- foot, as she heard the details of Rebecca Jones's abrupt dismissal. "I guess," shrewdly added Rebecca, "Melissa'11 give you a different sort o' welcome now, if you'll go back there, Trypheny." Thank you," said Tryphena, resolutely seaming a stitch in the blue yarn sock she was knitting, "I'm quite comfortable where I be." Mrs. Melissa. Smith was left mourning in meta- phorical sackcloth and ashes for her dead chance at the golden hopes of Tryphena Crowfoot's money. —•

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