Mrs lirripers legacy, p.1
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       Mrs. Lirriper's Legacy, p.1
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           Charles Dickens
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Mrs. Lirripers Legacy

  Transcribed from the 1894 Chapman and Hall "Christmas Stories" edition byDavid Price, email



  Ah! It's pleasant to drop into my own easy-chair my dear though a littlepalpitating what with trotting up-stairs and what with trotting down, andwhy kitchen stairs should all be corner stairs is for the builders tojustify though I do not think they fully understand their trade and neverdid, else why the sameness and why not more conveniences and fewerdraughts and likewise making a practice of laying the plaster on toothick I am well convinced which holds the damp, and as to chimney-potsputting them on by guess-work like hats at a party and no more knowingwhat their effect will be upon the smoke bless you than I do if so much,except that it will mostly be either to send it down your throat in astraight form or give it a twist before it goes there. And what I saysspeaking as I find of those new metal chimneys all manner of shapes(there's a row of 'em at Miss Wozenham's lodging-house lower down on theother side of the way) is that they only work your smoke into artificialpatterns for you before you swallow it and that I'd quite as soon swallowmine plain, the flavour being the same, not to mention the conceit ofputting up signs on the top of your house to show the forms in which youtake your smoke into your inside.

  Being here before your eyes my dear in my own easy-chair in my own quietroom in my own Lodging-House Number Eighty-one Norfolk Street StrandLondon situated midway between the City and St. James's--if anything iswhere it used to be with these hotels calling themselves Limited butcalled unlimited by Major Jackman rising up everywhere and rising up intoflagstaffs where they can't go any higher, but my mind of those monstersis give me a landlord's or landlady's wholesome face when I come off ajourney and not a brass plate with an electrified number clicking out ofit which it's not in nature can be glad to see me and to which I don'twant to be hoisted like molasses at the Docks and left there telegraphingfor help with the most ingenious instruments but quite in vain--beinghere my dear I have no call to mention that I am still in the Lodgings asa business hoping to die in the same and if agreeable to the clergypartly read over at Saint Clement's Danes and concluded in Hatfieldchurchyard when lying once again by my poor Lirriper ashes to ashes anddust to dust.

  Neither should I tell you any news my dear in telling you that the Majoris still a fixture in the Parlours quite as much so as the roof of thehouse, and that Jemmy is of boys the best and brightest and has ever hadkept from him the cruel story of his poor pretty young mother Mrs. Edsonbeing deserted in the second floor and dying in my arms, fully believingthat I am his born Gran and him an orphan, though what with engineeringsince he took a taste for it and him and the Major making Locomotives outof parasols broken iron pots and cotton-reels and them absolutely agetting off the line and falling over the table and injuring thepassengers almost equal to the originals it really is quite wonderful.And when I says to the Major, "Major can't you by _any_ means give us acommunication with the guard?" the Major says quite huffy, "No madam it'snot to be done," and when I says "Why not?" the Major says, "That isbetween us who are in the Railway Interest madam and our friend the RightHonourable Vice-President of the Board of Trade" and if you'll believe memy dear the Major wrote to Jemmy at school to consult him on the answer Ishould have before I could get even that amount of unsatisfactoriness outof the man, the reason being that when we first began with the littlemodel and the working signals beautiful and perfect (being in general aswrong as the real) and when I says laughing "What appointment am I tohold in this undertaking gentlemen?" Jemmy hugs me round the neck andtells me dancing, "You shall be the Public Gran" and consequently theyput upon me just as much as ever they like and I sit a growling in myeasy-chair.

  My dear whether it is that a grown man as clever as the Major cannot givehalf his heart and mind to anything--even a plaything--but must get intoright down earnest with it, whether it is so or whether it is not so I donot undertake to say, but Jemmy is far out-done by the serious andbelieving ways of the Major in the management of the United GrandJunction Lirriper and Jackman Great Norfolk Parlour Line, "For" says myJemmy with the sparkling eyes when it was christened, "we must have awhole mouthful of name Gran or our dear old Public" and there the youngrogue kissed me, "won't stump up." So the Public took the shares--ten atninepence, and immediately when that was spent twelve Preference at oneand sixpence--and they were all signed by Jemmy and countersigned by theMajor, and between ourselves much better worth the money than some sharesI have paid for in my time. In the same holidays the line was made andworked and opened and ran excursions and had collisions and burst itsboilers and all sorts of accidents and offences all most regular correctand pretty. The sense of responsibility entertained by the Major as amilitary style of station-master my dear starting the down train behindtime and ringing one of those little bells that you buy with the littlecoal-scuttles off the tray round the man's neck in the street did himhonour, but noticing the Major of a night when he is writing out hismonthly report to Jemmy at school of the state of the Rolling Stock andthe Permanent Way and all the rest of it (the whole kept upon the Major'ssideboard and dusted with his own hands every morning before varnishinghis boots) I notice him as full of thought and care as full can be andfrowning in a fearful manner, but indeed the Major does nothing by halvesas witness his great delight in going out surveying with Jemmy when hehas Jemmy to go with, carrying a chain and a measuring-tape and driving Idon't know what improvements right through Westminster Abbey and fullybelieved in the streets to be knocking everything upside down by Act ofParliament. As please Heaven will come to pass when Jemmy takes to thatas a profession!

  Mentioning my poor Lirriper brings into my head his own youngest brotherthe Doctor though Doctor of what I am sure it would be hard to say unlessLiquor, for neither Physic nor Music nor yet Law does Joshua Lirriperknow a morsel of except continually being summoned to the County Courtand having orders made upon him which he runs away from, and once wastaken in the passage of this very house with an umbrella up and theMajor's hat on, giving his name with the door-mat round him as SirJohnson Jones, K.C.B. in spectacles residing at the Horse Guards. Onwhich occasion he had got into the house not a minute before, through thegirl letting him on the mat when he sent in a piece of paper twisted morelike one of those spills for lighting candles than a note, offering methe choice between thirty shillings in hand and his brains on thepremises marked immediate and waiting for an answer. My dear it gave mesuch a dreadful turn to think of the brains of my poor dear Lirriper'sown flesh and blood flying about the new oilcloth however unworthy to beso assisted, that I went out of my room here to ask him what he wouldtake once for all not to do it for life when I found him in the custodyof two gentlemen that I should have judged to be in the feather-bed tradeif they had not announced the law, so fluffy were their personalappearance. "Bring your chains, sir," says Joshua to the littlest of thetwo in the biggest hat, "rivet on my fetters!" Imagine my feelings whenI pictered him clanking up Norfolk Street in irons and Miss Wozenhamlooking out of window! "Gentlemen," I says all of a tremble and ready todrop "please to bring him into Major Jackman's apartments." So theybrought him into the Parlours, and when the Major spies his own curly-brimmed hat on him which Joshua Lirriper had whipped off its peg in thepassage for a military disguise he goes into such a tearing passion thathe tips it off his head with his hand and kicks it up to the ceiling withhis foot where it grazed long afterwards. "Major" I says "be cool andadvise me what to do with Joshua my dead and gone Lirriper's own youngestbrother." "Madam" says the Major "my advice is that you board and lodgehim in a Powder Mill, with a handsome gratuity to the proprietor whenexploded." "Major" I says "as a
Christian you cannot mean your words.""Madam" says the Major "by the Lord I do!" and indeed the Major besidesbeing with all his merits a very passionate man for his size had a badopinion of Joshua on account of former troubles even unattended byliberties taken with his apparel. When Joshua Lirriper hears thisconversation betwixt us he turns upon the littlest one with the biggesthat and says "Come sir! Remove me to my vile dungeon. Where is mymouldy straw?" My dear at the picter of him rising in my mind dressedalmost entirely in padlocks like Baron Trenck in Jemmy's book I was soovercome that I burst into tears and I says to the Major, "Major take mykeys and settle with these gentlemen or I shall
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