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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMemoirs Of Mr. Charles J. Yellowplush - MISS SHUM'S HUSBAND - Chapter III
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Memoirs Of Mr. Charles J. Yellowplush - MISS SHUM'S HUSBAND - Chapter III Post by :rich_55 Category :Long Stories Author :William Makepeace Thackeray Date :April 2012 Read :655

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Memoirs Of Mr. Charles J. Yellowplush - MISS SHUM'S HUSBAND - Chapter III

If ever a young kipple in the middlin classes began life with a chance of happiness, it was Mr. and Mrs. Frederic Altamont. There house at Cannon Row, Islington, was as comfortable as house could be. Carpited from top to to; pore's rates small; furnitur elygant; and three deomestix: of which I, in course, was one. My life wasn't so easy as in Mr. A.'s bachelor days; but, what then? The three W's is my maxum: plenty of work, plenty of wittles, and plenty of wages. Altamont kep his gig no longer, but went to the city in an omlibuster.

One would have thought, I say, that Mrs. A., with such an effeckshnut husband, might have been as happy as her blessid majisty. Nothing of the sort. For the fust six months it was all very well; but then she grew gloomier and gloomier, though A. did everythink in life to please her.

Old Shum used to come reglarly four times a wick to Cannon Row, where he lunched, and dined, and teed, and supd. The pore little man was a thought too fond of wine and spirits; and many and many's the night that I've had to support him home. And you may be sure that Miss Betsy did not now desert her sister: she was at our place mornink, noon, and night; not much to my mayster's liking, though he was too good-natured to wex his wife in trifles.

But Betsy never had forgotten the recollection of old days, and hated Altamont like the foul feind. She put all kind of bad things into the head of poor innocent missis; who, from being all gayety and cheerfulness, grew to be quite melumcolly and pale, and retchid, just as if she had been the most misrable woman in the world.

In three months more, a baby comes, in course, and with it old Mrs. Shum, who stuck to Mrs.' side as close as a wampire, and made her retchider and retchider. She used to bust into tears when Altamont came home: she used to sigh and wheep over the pore child, and say, "My child, my child, your father is false to me;" or, "your father deceives me;" or "what will you do when your pore mother is no more?" or such like sentimental stuff.

It all came from Mother Shum, and her old trix, as I soon found out. The fact is, when there is a mistry of this kind in the house, its a servant's DUTY to listen; and listen I did, one day when Mrs. was cryin as usual, and fat Mrs. Shum a sittin consolin her, as she called it: though, heaven knows, she only grew wuss and wuss for the consolation.

Well, I listened; Mrs. Shum was a-rockin the baby, and missis cryin as yousual.

"Pore dear innocint," says Mrs. S., heavin a great sigh, "you're the child of a unknown father and a misrable mother."

"Don't speak ill of Frederic, mamma," says missis; "he is all kindness to me."

"All kindness, indeed! yes, he gives you a fine house, and a fine gownd, and a ride in a fly whenever you please; but WHERE DOES ALL HIS MONEY COME FROM? Who is he--what is he? Who knows that he mayn't be a murderer, or a housebreaker, or a utterer of forged notes? How can he make his money honestly, when he won't say where he gets it? Why does he leave you eight hours every blessid day, and won't say where he goes to? Oh, Mary, Mary, you are the most injured of women!"

And with this Mrs. Shum began sobbin; and Miss Betsy began yowling like a cat in a gitter; and pore missis cried, too--tears is so remarkable infeckshus.

"Perhaps, mamma," wimpered out she, "Frederic is a shop-boy, and don't like me to know that he is not a gentleman."

"A shopboy," says Betsy, "he a shopboy! O no, no, no! more likely a wretched willain of a murderer, stabbin and robing all day, and feedin you with the fruits of his ill-gotten games!"

More crying and screechin here took place, in which the baby joined; and made a very pretty consort, I can tell you.

"He can't be a robber," cries missis; "he's too good, too kind, for that: besides, murdering is done at night, and Frederic is always home at eight."

"But he can be a forger," says Betsy, "a wicked, wicked FORGER. Why does he go away every day? to forge notes, to be sure. Why does he go to the city? to be near banks and places, and so do it more at his convenience."

"But he brings home a sum of money every day--about thirty shillings--sometimes fifty: and then he smiles, and says it's a good day's work. This is not like a forger," said pore Mrs. A.

"I have it--I have it!" screams out Mrs. S. "The villain--the sneaking, double-faced Jonas! he's married to somebody else he is, and that's why he leaves you, the base biggymist!"

At this, Mrs. Altamont, struck all of a heap, fainted clean away. A dreadful business it was--hystarrix; then hystarrix, in course, from Mrs. Shum; bells ringin, child squalin, suvvants tearin up and down stairs with hot water! If ever there is a noosance in the world, it's a house where faintain is always goin on. I wouldn't live in one,--no, not to be groom of the chambers, and git two hundred a year.

It was eight o'clock in the evenin when this row took place; and such a row it was, that nobody but me heard master's knock. He came in, and heard the hooping, and screeching, and roaring. He seemed very much frightened at first, and said, "What is it?"

"Mrs. Shum's here," says I, "and Mrs. in astarrix."

Altamont looked as black as thunder, and growled out a word which I don't like to name,--let it suffice that it begins with a D and ends with a NATION; and he tore up stairs like mad.

He bust open the bedroom door; missis lay quite pale and stony on the sofy; the babby was screechin from the craddle; Miss Betsy was sprawlin over missis; and Mrs. Shum half on the bed and half on the ground: all howlin and squeelin, like so many dogs at the moond.

When A. came in, the mother and daughter stopped all of a sudding. There had been one or two tiffs before between them, and they feared him as if he had been a hogre.

"What's this infernal screeching and crying about?" says he. "Oh, Mr. Altamont," cries the old woman, "you know too well; it's about you that this darling child is misrabble!"

"And why about me, pray, madam?"

"Why, sir, dare you ask why? Because you deceive her, sir; because you are a false, cowardly traitor, sir; because YOU HAVE A WIFE ELSEWHERE, SIR!" And the old lady and Miss Betsy began to roar again as loud as ever.

Altamont pawsed for a minnit, and then flung the door wide open; nex he seized Miss Betsy as if his hand were a vice, and he world her out of the room; then up he goes to Mrs. S. "Get up," says he, thundering loud, "you lazy, trolloping, mischsef-making, lying old fool! Get up, and get out of this house. You have been the cuss and bain of my happyniss since you entered it. With your d----d lies, and novvle rending, and histerrix, you have perwerted Mary, and made her almost as mad as yourself."

"My child! my child!" shriex out Mrs. Shum, and clings round missis. But Altamont ran between them, and griping the old lady by her arm, dragged her to the door. "Follow your daughter, ma'm," says he, and down she went. "CHAWLS, SEE THOSE LADIES TO THE DOOR," he hollows out, "and never let them pass it again." We walked down together, and off they went: and master locked and double-locked the bedroom door after him, intendin, of course, to have a tator-tator (as they say) with his wife. You may be sure that I followed up stairs again pretty quick, to hear the result of their confidence.

As they say at St. Stevenses, it was rayther a stormy debate. "Mary," says master, "you're no longer the merry greatful gal I knew and loved at Pentonwill: there's some secret a pressin on you-- there's no smilin welcom for me now, as there used formly to be! Your mother and sister-in-law have perwerted you, Mary: and that's why I've drove them from this house, which they shall not re-enter in my life."

"O, Frederic! it's YOU is the cause, and not I. Why do you have any mistry from me? Where do you spend your days? Why did you leave me, even on the day of your marridge, for eight hours, and continue to do so every day?"

"Because," says he, "I makes my livelihood by it. I leave you, and don't tell you HOW I make it: for it would make you none the happier to know."

It was in this way the convysation ren on--more tears and questions on my missises part, more sturmness and silence on my master's: it ended for the first time since their marridge, in a reglar quarrel. Wery difrent, I can tell you, from all the hammerous billing and kewing which had proceeded their nupshuls.

Master went out, slamming the door in a fury; as well he might. Says he, "If I can't have a comforable life, I can have a jolly one;" and so he went off to the hed tavern, and came home that evening beesly intawsicated. When high words begin in a family drink generally follows on the genlman's side; and then, fearwell to all conjubial happyniss! These two pipple, so fond and loving, were now sirly, silent, and full of il wil. Master went out earlier, and came home later; missis cried more, and looked even paler than before.

Well, things went on in this uncomfortable way, master still in the mopes, missis tempted by the deamons of jellosy and curosity; until a singlar axident brought to light all the goings on of Mr. Altamont.

It was the tenth of January; I recklect the day, for old Shum gev me half a crownd (the fust and last of his money I ever see, by the way): he was dining along with master, and they were making merry together.

Master said, as he was mixing his fifth tumler of punch and little Shum his twelfth or so--master said, "I see you twice in the City to-day, Mr. Shum."

"Well, that's curous!" says Shum. "I WAS in the City. To-day's the day when the divvydins (God bless 'em) is paid; and me and Mrs. S. went for our half-year's inkem. But we only got out of the coach, crossed the street to the Bank, took our money, and got in agen. How could you see me twice?"

Altamont stuttered and stammered and hemd, and hawd. "O!" says he, "I was passing--passing as you went in and out." And he instantly turned the conversation, and began talking about pollytix, or the weather, or some such stuff.

"Yes, my dear," said my missis, "but how could you see papa TWICE?" Master didn't answer, but talked pollytix more than ever. Still she would continy on. "Where was you, my dear, when you saw pa? What were you doing, my love, to see pa twice?" and so forth. Master looked angrier and angrier, and his wife only pressed him wuss and wuss.

This was, as I said, little Shum's twelfth tumler; and I knew pritty well that he could git very little further; for, as reglar as the thirteenth came, Shum was drunk. The thirteenth did come, and its consquinzes. I was obliged to leed him home to John Street, where I left him in the hangry arms of Mrs. Shum.

"How the d--," sayd he all the way, "how the d-dd--the deddy-- deddy--devil--could he have seen me TWICE?"

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It was a sad slip on Altamont's part, for no sooner did he go out the next morning than missis went out too. She tor down the street, and never stopped till she came to her pa's house at Pentonwill. She was clositid for an hour with her ma, and when she left her she drove straight to the City. She walked before the Bank, and behind the Bank, and round the Bank: she came home disperryted, having learned nothink.And it was now an extraordinary thing that from Shum's house for the next ten days there was nothing but expyditions into
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But who was this genlmn with a fine name--Mr. Frederic Altamont? or what was he? The most mysterus genlmn that ever I knew. Once I said to him on a wery rainy day, "Sir, shall I bring the gig down to your office?" and he gave me one of his black looks and one of his loudest hoaths, and told me to mind my own bizziness, and attend to my orders. Another day,--it was on the day when Miss Mary slapped Miss Betsy's face,--Miss M., who adoared him, as I have said already, kep on asking him what was his buth,
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