mousseline de laine dress, of any description whatever, is worth more
than 1s. 8d.
"To prevent disappointment,
ladies should make an early call."
The above, with the usual
abundant sprinkling of italics, capitals, and full-faced type, was the
only new advertisement in the columns of The Muttonhole Gazette, on
the morning of the 29th of February 18—. "Who are Snooks & Grubb?"
inquired the old ladies of the village. "Who are Snooks & Grubb?"
echoed the young ladies, who, after studying the Hymeneal record, also
glanced at the advertisement.
Snooks & Grubb, two
enterprising young men who had served their apprenticeships in one of the
London warehouses at Edinburgh, had decided on connecting themselves in
business, and astonishing the natives of some country town with a
collection of goods, obtained on credit from some of the Manchester
houses, who are accustomed to take such risk upon themselves. Muttonhole
happened to be the place pitched upon; and so rapidly was their migration
effected, and the business of "opening" performed, that, until they were
ready for customers, not one knew that such a thing was in contemplation.
What! commence business without making six months’ preparatory talk! The
thing was preposterous and unprecedented. But they succeeded,
nevertheless. The young women had become tired of shop-worn commodities,
especially when sold by a crusty old benedict; and the temptation of new
goods, and two young bachelors, were irresistible.
Awful was the alarm created
in Muttonhole by the new shop. Old Mr Maddox, the proprietor of the old
shop, stopped taking in The Muttonhole Gazette, because he liked an
"independent press,"and the Gazette had had the impudence to
publish the advertisements of Snooks & Grubb, to his manifest injury.
The star of the young firm
had been for some days ascendant, and after a good day’s work, both
parties waited in the back parlour of the shop, as if each had something
to tell the other, with which it would not answer to trust any walls but
their own. Each made awkward work of his communication; but ii will be as
well to leave unrecorded their stammering preface, and merely state, that
each had come to the resolution of taking unto himself a sleeping
In a few days, The
Muttonhole Gazette put forth the following:—
Glasgow, on the 4th inst., Ferdinando Augustus Snooks, Esq., to Miss
Anna Matilda, eldest daughter of Hugo Groat, Esq., merchant.
"At Edinburgh, Mr John
Grubb, to Miss Mary Tidd."
The effect of this
announcement upon the weak nerves of the inhabitants of Muttonhole was
astounding. The old ladies were indignant that this news burst upon the
community without giving them even a nibble of it in advance of the
general promulgation; and the unengaged young ladies, each of whom had
secretly, and in her own mind appropriated one of the firm to herself,
began to think of returning their patronage to Mr Maddox. Things began to
look squally, when, as is often the case in emergencies, a something was
found to stem the current, and save the falling fortunes of the house of
Snooks & Grubb. This was nothing more or less than their giving a "blow
out," to which all the elite of Muttonhole and its vicinity were
It was over. The party had
broken up. Old Maddox, who had lingered the last of the guests, as if
determined to do his full share in eating out the substance of the young
men, had at last taken his hat. Mr and Mrs Snooks sat alone.
"My dear," said the lady,
"I do not see why you should have invited all that canaille to our
"Policy, Anna Matilda. I
wish to become popular with the Muttonhole people."
"Well, Mr Snooks, I don’t
like to be bored to death. I hope you have not so soon forgot my standing
in society. My father was never anxious to please the rabble."
"Mrs Snooks, I hope you have not so
far forgot my interest as to stand in the way of my business. The distant
jingle of your father’s gold will not support us here.
* * * * *
"John," said Mrs Grubb to her
husband, as they walked home, "I am afraid I have done you no credit
to-night: you know I always told you I was unused to society."
"Why, Mary, I thought
to-night you succeeded to admiration, particularly with the mothers and
"Oh, yes! and I have a
great many pressing invitations to visit them. But I am dreadfully afraid
of Mrs Snooks. She came and sat by me to-night, and said something about
the ‘Great Unknown.’ I didn’t make any answer; and then she said, that
Waverley alone is enough to set him up. What did she mean, John? Is there
to be another shop in the village?"
Grubb gently explained her
mistake to her. It was a bitter evening in conclusion for both parties;
one had to drive away his wife’s hysterics with sal volatile, and
promises of indulgence; the other to console an intelligent though
uncultivated mind, for the lack of that information, which one evening had
convinced her was all essential to her creditable appearance.
On the morrow, Mrs Anna
Matilda Snooks went back to the house of her father, to recover, as she
said, from the effects of an excessive infliction of rusticity. The simple
Mary Grubb grew daily in the good graces of the dwellers in Muttonhole.
The minister’s wife thought it a pity "she had been neglected," but
declared her an intelligent woman, nevertheless. Some others might make
the same remark, but all loved her; and, through her popularity, the tide
set sadly against the warehouse of Mr Maddox. At the end of a few weeks
Mrs Snooks returned.
"My dear," said she to her
husband, "I have brought you a present."
"You have brought yourself,
Anna Matilda, for which I thank you before opening this package, lest you
should accuse me of selfishness in thanking you afterwards." The direction
was in the counting-house-hand of Mr Groat. Snooks broke the seal, and
found documents possessing him of a large landed property, and a check for
several thousands. "Anna Matilda, after the unthinking remark I made a few
weeks since, I cannot except of this."
"Mr Snooks—Mr Snooks!"
There was something
hysterical in her tone, and Snooks hastily interrupted her by saying,
"Allow me at least to secure this to you. I"—
"No, no! take it as I offer
Poor Snooks, he pleased his wife
alternately with volatile and sugared words; the latter of the remedies
brought her to, because they imported an acceptance of her father’s gift.
It is said of his Satanic Majesty, and the wight who accepts his favours,
that the latter becomes bound to him. I do not intend to compare Mrs
Snooks to the devil, but her present was the purchase money of—the
inexpressibles Snooks was sold to her from that day.
* * * * *
"Those people pay a great deal of
attention to your partner’s wife, Mr Snooks."
"They would pay you the
same, if you would accept it."
"But I shall not. Who can
endure to drink tea out of earthen-cups, and hear disquisitions upon
coals, bread, stocking-yarn, the price of eggs, and the quantity of
potatoes requisite to dine a family of thirteen? I cannot, Mr Snooks!"
"Mrs Grubb does."
"Mrs Grubb! It is her
element, the hateful ignorant creature. I desire you will not ask her or
her husband to the house again."
"He is my partner, my
"Your partner! I don’t see
why you need such a partner. You can hire a good clerk cheaper, and not be
obliged to court him and his ignorant wife. I wish you would discharge
him, Mr Snooks. I don’t like the idea of finding Grubb capital to
A few days afterwards saw the
following announcement in the first column of
The Muttonhole Gazette:—
"DISSOLUTION OF COPARTNERY.—The business
heretofore carried on under the name of Snooks & Grubb was this day
dissolved by mutual consent.
"P. FLETCHER, witness. F. A.
"G. AULD, witness. JOHN
"By mutual consent;"
yes, "mutual" is the word when a strong man kicks a weaker out of doors.
Agreeable to this
arrangement, Mr Grubb and his poor ignorant wife, after making their round
of calls, with light hearts, and a purse, which honest gains had pretty
well ballasted, stepped into the Muttonhole omnibus, which was to convey
them away from that romantic village. Every one who knew them regretted
their departure, except Mrs Snooks and Mr Maddox. Indeed, the latter had
reason to be pleased; for Grubb’s withdrawal would, he knew, be for his
own immediate benefit. And he was right. The tide soon turned into its old
channel, and old Maddox saw, with delight, all the old faces back to his
counter, with the exception of perhaps a few, who trimmed their bonnets
like Mrs Snooks, and esteemed it an honour to get a nod from her. In
proportion as business lessened, she, thinking the dowry she had brought
inexhaustible, doubled her expenses. She figured in the walks around
Muttonhole in dresses which would have attracted notice, for their
expensive quality, even in the streets of Edinburgh, and crowds of the
family connexions, and the family connexions’ connexions of the Groats,
settled on Snooks to rusticate, devouring his substance like a swarm of
It was not long, therefore,
ere old Maddox had the satisfaction of reading, in the public journals,
"The creditors of F.A.
Snooks, draper in Muttonhole, are requested to attend a meeting in the
Town Hall, on Friday, the 21st at two o’clock precisely."
* * * * *
Years had passed. Two persons met in the Trongate of
Glasgow. There was a look of uncertain recognition.
A hearty shaking of hands followed.
"How is your wife, Grubb?"
"Well. She has become acquainted with Mr Waverley."
"And mine has forgotten her hysterics."
The four met on the following Sunday at the country
residence of Mr Grubb, who had, by industry, become possessed of
considerable property. Snooks also, taught wisdom by his reverses, had
retrieved his pecuniary affairs. The husbands came in from the garden
together, where they had been walking for an hour.
"Ladies," said Snooks, "we have enetered again into
co-partnership. Anna Matilda, do you think you can invite that hateful Mrs
Grubb to my house?"
"Mary!" said Grubb, "are you afraid of Mrs Snooks