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thing was that the wind blew harder at night since Ned went to sea; and a boy was in more danger than a grown man, and a third mate like John.
And so it proved ; for one night when the wind blew a new hayrick of his father's across three parishes, it blew Edward's body ashore on the west coast.
Soon after this, a neighbouring earl, who had the year before paid off a mortgage on his lands, proceeded in natural process to enlarge his borders; and while there was plenty that had formerly belonged to the family to repurchase, somehow or another took it into his head to begin with what seemed far more difficult of attainment. But John Boxall was willing enough to part with his small patrimony—for he was sick of it-provided he had a good sum of ready money, and the house with its garden and a paddock, by way of luck-penny, secured to him for his own life and that of his wife. This was easily arranged. But the late yeoman moped more than ever, and died within a twelvemonth, leav.
ing his money to his wife. As soon as he was laid in his natural inheritance of land cubical, his widow went up to London to her son Richard, who was by this time the chief manager of the business of Messrs. Blunt and Baker. To him she handed over her money to use for the advantage of both. Paying her a handsome percentage, he invested it in a partnership in the firm, and with this fresh excitement to his energies, soon became, influentially, the principal man in the company.
The two other partners were both old men, and neither had a son or near relative whom he might have trained to fill his place. So in the course of a few years, they, speaking commercially, fell asleep, and in the course of a few more, departed this life, commercially and otherwise. It was somewhat strange, however, that all this time Richard Boxall had given his mother no written acknowledgment of the money she had lent him, and which had been the foundation of his fortune. A man's faults are sometimes the simple reverses of his virtues, and not the results of his vices.
When his mother came first to London, he had of course taken her home to his house and introduced her to his wife, who was a kind and even warm-hearted woman. But partly from prudence, partly from habit, Mrs. Boxall senior would not consent to be the permanent guest of Mrs. Bosall junior, and insisted on taking a lodging in the neighbourhood. It was not long, however, before she left the first and betook herself to a second, nor long again before she left the second and betook herself to a third. For her nature was like a fresh bracing wind, which, when admitted within the precincts of a hothouse where everything save the fire is neglected, proves a most unwelcome presence, yea, a dire dismay. Indeed, admirably as she had managed and borne with her own family, Mrs. Boxall was quite unfitted to come into such habitual contact with another household as followed from her occupying a part of the same dwelling. Her faith in what she had tried with success herself, and her repugnance to whatever she had not been accustomed to, were such that her troublesomeness when she became familiar was equal to the good-nature which at first so strongly recommended her. Hence her changes of residence were frequent.
Up to the time when he became a sleeping partner, Mr. Blunt had resided in Guild Courtthat is, the house-door was in the court, while the lower part of the house, forming the offices of the firm, was entered from what was properly a lane, though it was called Bagot-street. As soon as mother and son heard that Mr. Blunt had at length bought a house in the country, the same thought arose in the mind of eachmight not Mrs. Boxall go and live there? The house belonged to the firm, and they could not well let it, for there was more than one available communication between the two portions of the building, although only one of them was now fit for use-a door, namely, by which Mr. Blunt passed immediately from the glass-partitioned part of the counting-house to the foot of the oak-staircase already described; while they used two of the rooms in the house as places of
deposit for old books, letters, and papers for which there was no accommodation in the part devoted to active business. Hence nothing better could be devised than that Mrs. Boxall, senior, should take up her abode in the habitable region. This she made haste to do, accompanied by a young servant.
With her she soon quarrelled, however, and thereafter relied upon the ministrations of a charwoman. The door between the house and the counting-house was now locked, and the key of it so seldom taken from the drawer of Mr. Boxall, that it came to be regarded almost as a portion of the wall. So much for the inner connexion of Guild-court and Bagot-street.
Some years after Mrs. Boxall removed to London, Cecil Burton, her daughter's husband, died. They had lived from hand to mouth, as so many families of uncertain income are compelled to do, and his unexpected death left his wife and child without the means of procuring immediate necessaries. Inheriting the narrowness and prejudices of his descent and of his social position to a con