Tears started to the young man’s eyes on beholding the change, and it was with difficulty he could command himself sufficiently to make the inquiries he desired to do respecting the former owner of the house. As he entered the shop, a tall portly personage advanced to meet him, whom he at once recognised as the present proprietor. Mr. Kneebone was attired in the extremity of the mode. A full-curled wig descended half-way down his back and shoulders; a neckcloth of “right Mechlin” was twisted round his throat so tightly as almost to deprive him of breath, and threaten him with apoplexy; he had lace, also, at his wrists and bosom; gold clocks to his hose, and red heels to his shoes. A stiff, formally-cut coat of cinnamon-coloured cloth, with rows of plate buttons, each of the size of a crown piece, on the sleeves, pockets, and skirts, reached the middle of his legs; and his costume was completed by the silver-hilted sword at his side, and the laced hat under his left arm.
Bowing to the stranger, the woollen-draper very politely requested to know his business.
“I’m almost afraid to state it,” faltered the other; “but, may I ask whether Mr. Wood, the carpenter, who formerly resided here, is still living?”
“If you feel any anxiety on his account, Sir, I’m happy to be able to relieve it,” answered Kneebone, readily. “My good friend, Owen Wood,—Heaven preserve him!—is still living. And, for a man who’ll never see sixty again, he’s in excellent preservation, I assure you.”
“You delight me with the intelligence,” said the stranger, entirely recovering his cheerfulness of look.
“I began to fear, from his having quitted the old place, that some misfortune must have befallen him.”
“Quite the contrary,” rejoined the woollen-draper, laughing good-humouredly. “Everything has prospered with him in an extraordinary manner. His business has thriven; legacies have unexpectedly dropped into his lap; and, to crown all, he has made a large fortune by a lucky speculation in South-Sea stock,—made it, too, where so many others have lost fortunes, your humble servant amongst the number—ha! ha! In a word, Sir, Mr.