Nervous look—The bookseller’s wife—The last stake—Terms—God forbid!—Will you come to tea?—A light heart.
On arriving at the bookseller’s shop, I cast a nervous look at the window, for the purpose of observing whether the paper had been removed or not. To my great delight the paper was in its place; with a beating heart I entered, there was nobody in the shop; as I stood at the counter, however, deliberating whether or not I should call out, the door of what seemed to be a back-parlour opened, and out came a well-dressed lady-like female, of about thirty, with a good-looking and intelligent countenance. ‘What is your business, young man?’ said she to me, after I had made her a polite bow. ‘I wish to speak to the gentleman of the house,’ said I. ‘My husband is not within at present,’ she replied; ’what is your business?’ ‘I have merely brought something to show him,’ said I, ’but I will call again.’ ’If you are the young gentleman who has been here before,’ said the lady, ’with poems and ballads, as, indeed, I know you are,’ she added, smiling, ’for I have seen you through the glass door, I am afraid it will be useless; that is,’ she added with another smile, ’if you bring us nothing else.’ ’I have not brought you poems and ballads now,’ said I, ’but something widely different; I saw your advertisement for a tale or a novel, and have written something which I think will suit; and here it is,’ I added, showing the roll of paper which I held in my hand. ‘Well,’ said the bookseller’s wife, ’you may leave it, though I cannot promise you much chance of its being accepted. My husband has already had several offered to him; however, you may leave it; give it me. Are you afraid to intrust it to me?’ she demanded somewhat hastily, observing that I hesitated. ‘Excuse me,’ said I, ’but it is all I have to depend upon in the world; I am chiefly apprehensive that it will not be read.’ ‘On that point I can reassure you,’ said the good lady, smiling, and there was now something sweet in her smile. ’I give you my word that it shall be read; come again to-morrow morning at eleven, when, if not approved, it shall be returned to you.’
I returned to my lodging, and forthwith betook myself to bed, notwithstanding the earliness of the hour. I felt tolerably tranquil; I had now cast my last stake, and was prepared to abide by the result. Whatever that result might be, I could have nothing to reproach myself with; I had strained all the energies which nature had given me in order to rescue myself from the difficulties which surrounded me. I presently sank into a sleep, which endured during the remainder of the day, and the whole of the succeeding night. I awoke about nine on the morrow, and spent my last threepence on a breakfast somewhat more luxurious than the immediately preceding ones, for one penny of the sum was expended on the purchase of milk.