Struggles and Trials
Our friends at Brompton were meanwhile passing their Christmas after their fashion and in a manner by no means too cheerful.
Out of the hundred pounds a year, which was about the amount of her income, the Widow Osborne had been in the habit of giving up nearly three-fourths to her father and mother, for the expenses of herself and her little boy. With 120l. more, supplied by Jos, this family of four people, attended by a single Irish servant who also did for Clapp and his wife, might manage to live in decent comfort through the year, and hold up their heads yet, and be able to give a friend a dish of tea still, after the storms and disappointments of their early life. Sedley still maintained his ascendency over the family of Mr. Clapp, his ex-clerk. Clapp remembered the time when, sitting on the edge of the chair, he tossed off a bumper to the health of “Mrs. S—, Miss Emmy, and Mr. Joseph in India,” at the merchant’s rich table in Russell Square. Time magnified the splendour of those recollections in the honest clerk’s bosom. Whenever he came up from the kitchen-parlour to the drawing-room and partook of tea or gin-and-water with Mr. Sedley, he would say, “This was not what you was accustomed to once, sir,” and as gravely and reverentially drink the health of the ladies as he had done in the days of their utmost prosperity. He thought Miss ‘Melia’s playing the divinest music ever performed, and her the finest lady. He never would sit down before Sedley at the club even, nor would he have that gentleman’s character abused by any member of the society. He had seen the first men in London shaking hands with Mr. S—; he said, “He’d known him in times when Rothschild might be seen on ‘Change with him any day, and he owed him personally everythink.”
Clapp, with the best of characters and handwritings, had been able very soon after his master’s disaster to find other employment for himself. “Such a little fish as me can swim in any bucket,” he used to remark, and a member of the house from which old Sedley had seceded was very glad to make use of Mr. Clapp’s services and to reward them with a comfortable salary. In fine, all Sedley’s wealthy friends had dropped off one by one, and this poor ex-dependent still remained faithfully attached to him.