THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
THE DISRUPTION A TALE OF TRYING TIMES. CHAPTER XlX.—Continued. Mrs, Renshaw and Stiffriggs had found the bank shut, and in returning through the crowded streets she was so anxious about her money that she frequently put her hand down to her side to assure herself that all was safe. Her excessive solicitude on this point had attracted the attention of two accomplished pick-pockets who were on the watch for a victim. Their plan of operations was soon concerted and immediately carried into effect. One of them contrived to jostle rudely e gainst Mr. Stimpertcm with a swaggering air of well-assumed insolence. As had been foreseen, the honest farmer resented the shock so warmly as to forget for a moment every proper precaution, and even Mrs. Renshaw was thrown off her guard. While she and Stiffriggs thus had their temper ruffled and their attention diverted by one of the lightfingered gentleman, the other dexterously cut through the lady’s gown and the strings of her pocket, without disturbing her by the operation any more than if she had been mesmerised. The attistcs had no sooner got clear off with the booty than it was missed by the owner, and she raised a shout that alarmed the whole neighborhood, and set the criminal officers immediately on the alert. She, however, had no hope of ever recovering her money, but bewailed its loss like one mournjng the death of the dearest friend. It . was no enviable task that Stiffriggs had to perfor in taking her home, for she was a sorely distressed woman, and tried to distress everybody near her with her doleful lamentations. ‘My siller !O, my weel-hained pickle siller ! I’ve lost at ance what took me years to gather. O, I’ll never, never get abune’t! ’ she exclaimed, as often as her sobs would permit her to speak. The condolences of Stiffriggs were not of a very consolatary kind. He exerted himself earnestly to recover the money, but made very light of its loss, great as was the sum. ‘it was trash,’ he said, ‘ mere trash ; no worth a thocht compared wi’ mony a thing, such as health or peace o’ mind, that may be ta’en frae us ony day o’ oor lives. Instead o’ losing the siller, ye might ha’e lost your life, or the life, or the best leg that belangs to ye just as sillily.’ But Mrs. Renshaw viewed the matter in another light, and estimated her loss very differently. She vexed herself by calculating how many silk gowns —-how many shawls — how much thread lace —hew many dozens of silver spoons—what grand crystal and china- how much rich furniture, and how many good milk cows the money might have bought Viewed in this light the misfortune appeared to her to be almost insupportable. She was whining and sobbing over it when her nephew entered, and without any tantalising delay stated the circumstance which had induced him to call on her, though uninvited, and produced the stolen pocket. At sight of it she was struck dumb with surprise and joy, and before she could utter a word clutched the precious articles and re-, lieveu nei iccUi»go-»iA-.tpjirc— She did not take time- to thank her nephew till she had emptied the pocket of its entire contents, and -counted the money, note by note, to make sure that she had it all again. Before she had well completed this process, or fully recovered her composure, a violent ring of the door bell was heard, and, when the door was opened, in came Dr. Snapperdudgeon and a porter carrying his portmanteau. The Doctor’s first words were— ‘ Well, Mrs. M‘Glunchagain, I hope you have my apartments ready ? ’ ‘ Your apartments, sir ! Ye ken ye ha’e nae apartments bespoken here. Every corner o’ the house is filled, and Mrs. Renshaw frae your ain parish, has been twa days in the rooms ye used to occupy. She had them trysted weeks before, and she has to be here yet for a week to come.’ The Doctor did not stand to hear Mrs. M'Glunchagain to an end, but walked immediately into the ■ parlor where Mrs. Renshaw, her nephew, Mr. Stimperton, and his sister, were sealed. He looked round him on the company which he' intruded on with an affectation of surprise, and shook hands with them all, as if he had come on the most civil erand imaginable, though his greeting to Mr. Duncanson was somewhat cold and constrained. It will be recollected that the Doctor had arrived-in Edinburgh two days before with Mr. M'Cheatrie, the lawyer, but for some temporary convenience he had taken up his quarters with his legal friend in an inn, .instead of going to his old private lodgings. He had, however, found living in a hotel too ex pensive, or no longer convenient, and with characteristic unreasonableness, resolved on claiming accomniodation in Mrs. M'Glunchagain’s house as a right. He had made up his mind on having the very rooms he had formerly occupied, though aware that his own neighbor and parishioner, Mrs. Renshaw, was in actual possession of them. He knew that there was not a shadow of justice in insisting on her removal, and that she would not easily find another suitable place when the town was so overcrowded with strangers. No matter; out she must bundle, since such was the will and pleasure of the. Rev. Dr. Snapperdudgeon. And if the lady had not in this instance had ‘a man body ’ to protect her she might have had a good deal to complain of as an ‘ ijhused lone woman,’ for the Doctor was in one of his most imperious moods.
‘ I had no thought of seeing so many of my own folks here/ said the Doctor; ‘but there has been some mistake. I shall be sorry if you are at a loss, Mrs. Renshaw, but can’t help it. The rooms are mine—always mine when I’m in Edinburgh—and this is not a time to give them up even to friends.’ * What do you say, Doctor ? ’ exclaimed Mrs. Renshaw, both in a panic and a passion. 1 Ye surly dinna mean to say that I’m to flit and leave the rooms to you after I had them sae lang trysted, and have been in them since Monday ? ’ ‘ I don’t care how long you have been here. The rooms are mine The landlady knows well enough that they are always kept for||me when I’m to be in town, and if she has made a mistake this time I shan’t suffer by it.
Besides, there need not be any words 1 about it, for I distinctly engaged the rooms for the present occasion when I was last here.’
£ 0 Doctor!’ exclaimed Mrs. M'Glunchagain, ‘hoo can ye say that, when ye ken very weel ye never said a word to me on the subject ? ’ ‘ Do you doubt my word, woman ? ’ shouted the Doctor, with volcanic fury, and continued—‘ I might not mention to you perhaps my intention of returning at this time, but I told the servant maid. Send Griselda here instantly.’ When Griselda entered he said—- ‘ Do you mind of my going away the last time I was here ? ’
‘ Yes, sir,’ she replied. ‘ Well, did I say anything to you in :he lobby there, just as I. was leaving he house?’
‘ Yes, sir, ye clappit my back, and
you ‘ Speak to the point, you slut ! What did I say to you about returning soon again ? ’ ‘ Ou, I’m a slut, am I ? If ye werena a minister I wad ca’ ye a nasty auld blaguard, and maybe no misca’ ye either. As for what ye said aboot cornin’ back I dinna mind it, and I dinna want to mind, for I wish ye wad never darken this door. Slut! truly, that’s a name to ca’ me ! ’ ‘ Ay, you don’t mind, don’t you ? Well, I’ll perhaps take you before those who will make you mind, but m the meantime get about your business.’ ‘ Ye- had better slip awa’ ben the house, too,’ said Stiffriggs to the ladies and Mr. Duncanson, ‘ for I think the Doctor and me will settle this business best oursel’s.’ ‘ You, Stiraperton,’ said the Doctor contemptuously. ‘ What have you to do with it? You don’t mean to say surely that you and Mrs. Renshaw are living together here like man and wife? If there’s any connection of that kind between you, it is high time that I had both of you before my session—that’s all.’
‘ Wad ye offer for to go for to insinuate onything against my character, Dr. Snapperdudgeon ?’ exclaimed, or rather screamed, Mrs. Renshaw, in the highest state of excitement. ‘ I daur you, sir ; I defy you to say black is the white o’ my e’e.’ ‘ Hoot toots, woman! dinna put yoursel’in a way about naething. I’ll speak to the Doctor quietly, and let him see he’s wrang, so just step ye a’ ben beside the landlady awee,’ said Stiffriggs, and, with 3 gentle compulsion, he pushed Mrs. Renshaw, his sister, and Mr. Duncanson into the adjoining room. As he shut the door, the Doctor started to his feet from the arm-chair in which he had been making himself quite at home, and said— ‘ I’ll not be left with you, Stiffriggs, without witnesses.’ He then rung the bell violently, but no one answered; so, in spite of all he could do, he was left in the situation against which he had protested so vehemently. ‘ What in the worl’ are ye fear’d for, Doctor ?’ said the burly farmer. ‘Ye sureiy canna think I wad lay hands on my ain minister ?’ ‘ I have no faith in you, sir. I don’t know what you might do.’ ‘ Ye’ve surely taucht me ill and set me nae great example, since ye dinna think yoursel’ safe beside me without -wltn *
‘I want none of your insolence, Ringan,’ said the Doctor, assuming calmness, though ready to burst with rage. ‘lf you wish to show your respect for me as your minister, you can’t do better than just leave this house instantly, and take your friends with you.’ ‘ I never said I was awn you mucklc respect; ye ken yoursel’ it’s no a great deal ye deserve at my hand.,: I’ve seldom had a richt opportunity of telling ye my mind, but I maun tell you a bit b’t noo, since we’re by oursel’s.’ ‘ I’ll not hear a word. Get out of my lodgings. You have no business here. I’ll not submit to be molested and insulted. Nay, don’t come near me, for I know you’re a violent, ungovernable man.’ • ■
‘ And I ken ye’re a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and that’s ten times waur. Ye’re a disgrace to your profession —a wasp in the honey, a curse to your parish, and an eye-sore- to the gude auld Kirk o’ Scotland. Ye’re drunkensome,. quarrelsome, greedy, revengefu’, unreasonable, unfaithfu’, tyrannical, and low-minded, and as far out. o’ your place in a Christian congregation as a sow in a tulip garden.’ ‘ Stand back, I say, sir, at your peril! I don’t care for your railing, though, if I had witnesses, I would make it 4 'cost you something. But I’ll not trust myself within arm’s-length of such, a savage.’
‘ Deed, Doctor, I daresay ye!re richt there, for the auld man is strong within me when I’m provokit, and ye havena helpit me muckle to keep , him doun. It’s very true that I Have a fashion o’redding matters wi’ the strong hand when they’ll no 'redd otherwise, sae I gi’e you fair warning, Doctor, to keep put o’ rqy reach sipce ye’ve, raised my corruption.’ Saying this, ! the stalwart farmer madie another stride towards the terrified Churchman, who, thinking it unsafe to remain a moment longer, made a hasty exit, muttering vows of vengeance as he left the house. ! fcoNOLPD^D.]
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 192, 15 November 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 192, 15 November 1880
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