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“You see, Mr. Sharpe," began Simkin, “We are in an unpleasant affair; and your friends, Messrs. Wilson and Co., having recommended us to you, we wish to explain that—"
“Now, my dear Simkin, you should begin at the beginning,” interrupted Soft; “Mr. Simkin should have told you, Sir, that for many years past we have carried on the business of — "
“Excuse me, Soft: we did not begin that business till 1811; but I will take it up from the very commencement. I will begin at the beginning, as Soft says. In the year 1808, we were engaged in an adventure-".
“Indeed, Simkin, you are wrong; I was not in the firm in 1808; and besides, that adventure had nothing to do with it!”
“I am not going to speak about the wools, Soft."
“Well, you know best, Simkin; but unless you tell how it has all happened, I am sure Mr. Sharpe will not understand our case: but tell it your own way."
“Thank ye, Soft; you're always a kind fellow. So, Mr. Sharpe, as I was saying, in the year 1808, we first became acquainted with Shycocke.”
“No, indeed, Simkin: I must interrupt you there; for you are quite out. Shycocke arrived at Bristol, in the Twin Brothers, as supercargo, in June, 1809.”
“I believe you're right, Soft: you always are. Yes: Shycocke arrived in 1809, with Jetters of credit from Puncheon, Lees, and Co.”
“ They were the shippers, Simkin.”
“ They were: do you remember the captain's name?”
“I think it was Hobbs.”
I saw no end to this, and took the liberty of edging in a word.
“Pray, gentleman, has Mr. Dobbs, or Hobbs, anything to do with your present embarrassment?”
“Embarrassment, Mr. Sharpe !” exclaimed Soft.
“Did you say embarrassed ?" asked Simkin.
“We are by no means embarrassed, Sir!" indignantly cried both together.
" You mistake me; I thought you spoke of some unpleasant affair.”
“Yes,” said Simkin: “and a very unpleasant affair it is: isn't it, Soft ?”
“It is indeed; and one we are by no means used to—” answered the partner.
“Pray, what is it, gentlemen ?” and this plain question, rather abruptly put, surprised them into a plain answer.
“ An attorney's letter,” replied Simkin, in a most lugubrious tone.
“ It is indeed,” hysterically added Soft; “it is an attorney's letter, begging your pardon, Mr. Sharpe.”
“Well, gentlemen, there is no great harm in that: here is a score of them (pointing to my desk), and you might eat them for any harm they would do you. Let me read it.”
Mr. Simkin drew out his pocket-book, with as much solemnity as I have seen a reverend antiquarian produce a venerable Hebrew manuscript, and unfolded its various clasps, with the same gravity that the said antiquarian would slowly unroll the interminable vellum from its silver rollers; whilc poor Soft eyed the proceeding with a fixedness of gaze, that argued intense horror of the contents. I could scarcely forbear laughing outright at the awful delibera
tion with which the letter of Messrs. Snappit and Smart was submitted to my inspection.
“Read it, Mr. Sharpe,” said Simkin, with impressive dignity.
“ Only read it, Sir," echoed Soft, with trem. bling eagerness.
“ Manchester, January 21, 1827. GENTLEMEN,
We are peremptorily instructed by our respectable clients, Messrs. Lomax and Co., of this place, to demand payment of the sum of £173. 58. 2d., being the invoice price of the cottons consigned to your house at New York, in the month of May, 1825; and to inform you that unless the same is forthwith paid, together with 6s. 8d. for the costs of the application, we shall proceed against you, without further notice.
We are, Gentlemen,
SNAPPIT & SMART.”
“Forthwith, Sir! what do you say to that?”
“ And without further notice, too!” half sobbed out Soft.
“ Well but, gentlemen, I suppose you purchased the cottons ?”
“Did we buy them, Soft?” “I think not indeed, my dear Simpkin.” “ Then who did ? were they bought at all ?” “ There it is, Mr. Sharpe! there it is !” “ There is where the shoe pinches, Sir!”
“It's all along of that rascal Shycocke. I was coming to him, when Soft interrupted me.”
“Ay: 'tis all his doing, Simkin.”
I foresaw another duet; but beginning to understand iny new friends, I perceived that the only way to cut short the matter, was to cross-examine them for myself; and soon arrived at the simple fact, that this Shycocke was a great rogue, that had been carying on trade on his own account, but in the name of his employers, who had placed their foreign establishment at New York entirely under his care. But here was the difficulty: they had rashly confided to this agent powers so ample, that it was scarcely possible to contend that the goods had been supplied on his credit, and