My Lady's Money
OLD Lady Lydiard sat meditating by the fireside, with three letters lying open on
Time had discolored the paper, and had turned the ink to a brownish hue. The
letters were all addressed to the same person--"THE RT. HON. LORD
LYDIARD"--and were all signed in the same way--"Your affectionate cousin,
James Tollmidge." Judged by these specimens of his correspondence, Mr.
Tollmidge must have possessed one great merit as a letter-writer--the merit of
brevity. He will weary nobody's patience, if he is allowed to have a hearing. Let
him, therefore, be permitted, in his own high-flown way, to speak for himself.
First Letter.--"My statement, as your Lordship requests, shall be short and to the
point. I was doing very well as a portrait-painter in the country; and I had a wife
and children to consider. Under the circumstances, if I had been left to decide for
myself, I should certainly have waited until I had saved a little money before I
ventured on the serious expense of taking a house and studio at the west end of
London. Your Lordship, I positively declare, encouraged me to try the experiment
without waiting. And here I am, unknown and unemployed, a helpless artist lost
in London--with a sick wife and hungry children, and bankruptcy staring me in the
face. On whose shoulders does this dreadful responsibility rest? On your
Second Letter.--"After a week's delay, you favor me, my Lord, with a curt reply. I
can be equally curt on my side. I indignantly deny that I or my wife ever
presumed to see your Lordship's name as a means of recommendation to sitters
without your permission. Some enemy has slandered us. I claim as my right to
know the name of that enemy."