'It was a specimen of what she had to expect. It would do her good. It would dispel the romance of the affair.' The red-nosed daughters also administered the kindest comfort. 'Perhaps he'd come,' they said. The sketchy nephew hinted that he might have fallen off a bridge. The wrath of Mr Spottletoe resisted all the entreaties of his wife. Everybody spoke at once, and Miss Pecksniff, with clasped hands, sought consolation everywhere and found it nowhere, when Jinkins, having met the postman at the door, came back with a letter, which he put into her hand.
Miss Pecksniff opened it, uttered a piercing shriek, threw it down upon the ground, and fainted away.
They picked it up; and crowding round, and looking over one another's shoulders, read, in the words and dashes following, this communication:
'CLIPPER SCHOONER, CUPID
'EVER INJURED MISS PECKSNIFF--Ere this reaches you, the undersigned will be--if not a corpse--on the way to Van Dieman's Land. Send not in pursuit. I never will be taken alive!
'The burden--300 tons per register--forgive, if in my distraction, I allude to the ship--on my mind--has been truly dreadful. Frequently --when you have sought to soothe my brow with kisses--has self- destruction flashed across me. Frequently--incredible as it may seem--have I abandoned the idea.
'I love another. She is Another's. Everything appears to be somebody else's. Nothing in the world is mine--not even my Situation--which I have forfeited--by my rash conduct--in running away.
'If you ever loved me, hear my last appeal! The last appeal of a miserable and blighted exile. Forward the inclosed--it is the key of my desk--to the office--by hand. Please address to Bobbs and Cholberry--I mean to Chobbs and Bolberry--but my mind is totally unhinged. I left a penknife--with a buckhorn handle--in your work-box. It will repay the messenger. May it make him happier than ever it did me!
'Oh, Miss Pecksniff, why didn't you leave me alone! Was it not cruel, CRUEL! Oh, my goodness, have you not been a witness of my feelings--have you not seen them flowing from my eyes--did you not, yourself, reproach me with weeping more than usual on that dreadful night when last we met--in that house--where I once was peaceful-- though blighted--in the society of Mrs Todgers!
'But it was written--in the Talmud--that you should involve yourself in the inscrutable and gloomy Fate which it is my mission to accomplish, and which wreathes itself--e'en now--about in temples. I will not reproach, for I have wronged you. May the Furniture make some amends!
'Farewell! Be the proud bride of a ducal coronet, and forget me! Long may it be before you know the anguish with which I now subscribe myself--amid the tempestuous howlings of the--sailors,
They thought as little of Miss Pecksniff, while they greedily perused this letter, as if she were the very last person on earth whom it concerned. But Miss Pecksniff really had fainted away. The bitterness of her mortification; the bitterness of having summoned witnesses, and such witnesses, to behold it; the bitterness of knowing that the strong-minded women and the red-nosed daughters towered triumphant in this hour of their anticipated overthrow; was too much to be borne. Miss Pecksniff had fainted away in earnest.
What sounds are these that fall so grandly on the ear! What darkening room is this!
And that mild figure seated at an organ, who is he! Ah Tom, dear Tom, old friend!
Thy head is prematurely grey, though Time has passed thee and our old association, Tom. But, in those sounds with which it is thy wont to bear the twilight company, the music of thy heart speaks out--the story of thy life relates itself.
Thy life is tranquil, calm, and happy, Tom. In the soft strain which ever and again comes stealing back upon the ear, the memory of thine old love may find a voice perhaps; but it is a pleasant, softened, whispering memory, like that in which we sometimes hold the dead, and does not pain or grieve thee, God be thanked.