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Important to All.



Houses Unfit for Human Habitation.

A Refreshing Assault.

Sweethearts' Quarrel at Ynyshir.


[No title]




THE FIRST FLOOR LODGER. By SAFADDAN, Tom Morgan and his wife Priscilia seemed to be the most unfortunate people alive. Every- thing they touched seemed doomed to failure. They had seen their little ones die, one by one, of fever or accident, or, worse still, by the slow waste of the "decline," as folks called consump- tion in those days. Yet Tom had deserved happiness and success, if ever a man had done so. He had tried every. thing, and had borne disappointment bravely. Now, at last, he found himself out of work, and dependent upon Priscilla. And Priscilla. did not forget to let him know it. Poverty and the petty worries of life had sharpened her tongue as well as her features, but Tom forgave a great deal for the sake of the happy old days of the country, before he had been compelled to migrate to the dusty town, and live in the company of thousands as poor and miserable as himself. This last trial of enforced idleness took all heart out of him. He looked only for death to end it all. Priscilla. in her little shop, serving small articles of household use to people even pcorer than themselves, might live somehow, and she would do better without him. He slow- ly rose, put on his hat, and left the house by the back-door. He was filled with a feeling of rest- lessness aad despair, and knew not what to do. He wandered along the riverside; so far that he found by and bye he had left the town behind him, and was once again in the sweet pure air of the country. Again he heard the lark sing- ing somewhere in the sunshine above him, a Way landrail rattled now and again in the country. Again he heard the lark singing some meadow, and a cuckoo questioned the world per. sistently as he wandered along the edge of a plantation. It was paradise regained to Tom. How he longed once more for the dear old life of the country, from which he was exiled for ever. The sun sank lower and lower, and lit up the west with ereat splashes of gold and crimson. Tom looked OH delighted. Slowly the glory fadea, and with it drooped Tom's spirit. He must return to Priscilla, whose last cruel taunt still stung him. Never! he would end it all here, in the quiet country, in the oaJm river that swept majestically seaward before him. He sat down on a bank and buried his face in his hands. "Friend," said a voice near him, "what's the matter? Nothing much, I hope." Tom looked up at him keenly, but said nothing.The stranper seemed affable enough, with an easy, happy ex- passion, and a merry twinkle in his eye. He was fairly well dressed in black cloth of fault- less fit, and his features were almost classic in regularity of outline. It would have been im- possible to tell his age precisely. To Tom he looked like a man of fifty, A good-natured old fellow, with the heart and spirits of a boy-a. typical .'old boy' in fact. Tom, naturally communicative and sociable, was soon chatting amiably with the stranger as they walked slowly townwards. The stranger wanted quiet and cheap lodgings, and Tom had thought of Priscilla's desire to let their first- floor to a suitable gentleman—of the respectable clerk family—just like the lodgers of her neigh- bours. As they entered, Priscilla's voice ran" harshly, "Where can you say you've been wasting your time?" But before Tom could reply, Priscilla had divined the presence of the stranger, for she could scarecely see him in the dimly lighted kitchen. Tom introduced her to Mr Smith, an actor, who desired to see her first floor before going elsewhere. Priscilla received him graciously, and, in the fashion of house-proud womanhood all the world over, apologised to him for every real speck of dust and a hundred imaginary ones, which she flecked off the furniture of the first floor room. "Madame," said Mr Smith with a sweet smile, and a courtly, deferential air, which at once won her soul, "it is perfection. The ivy round this window is Nature, dear old Nature, defyir- the smoke and dust of Commerce. It will be an in- spiration for me!" And soon the matter was settled, and Mr Smith deposited his little black bag, his only luggage, ia his room, and stood at the window cheerfully humming an operatic air. • • • • *«% With the advent of the first-floor lodger, pro- perity had certainly come to the Morgans. Mr Smith came and went,and was always so sociable and pleasant that his hosts grew quite attached to him. He must have been a retired actor, for he seemed not to work at all; life was a joy to him He could afford to smoke cigars-and good ones too—an extravagance at which Tom and Pris- cilia marvelled. His distinguished manner and easy circumstances made many friends for him amonst the neighbours; and when he left the house of a morning he distributed his smiles and cheery remarks 'like a prince," as Priscilla put 1-1 One day Tom ventured to sound him on the question of employment. "I am willing to work," said Tom, shamefully, "but I have really tried everything and failed." Mr Smith smiled good-humouredly. "A man willing to work and unable to get work even as a favour! My dear Tom, work is a delusion. You know the old saying, "Only fools and don. keys work.' Who ever made money by work? Nobody! The true way to get rich is to set other fellows working and charge them for the privilege, so to speak. The blessedness of labour is all nonsense. Those who talk most about it work least the world over. I may help you a little perhaps. As he spoke he observed a look of utter sur- prise on Tom's face at this new philosophy of life. The result was that Tom took Mr Smith's card with him to the City and got employment, not receiving any salary, but working on the profit- sharing system. Sometimes there were no pro- fits to share; for things went up and down in a strange manner. Now Tom had two pounds a week, and now fifty, whilst occasionally his colleagues made a call upon him for some un- expected deficiency. Tom soon found that whilst his partners were straightforward enough with each other, they were relentless in their doings with outsiders. There are many things in Tom's business that he disliked, some that he almost abhorred, but the thought of his former poverty silenced any murmur in his mind. It was all business, honest enough as far as the law was concerned, though it often savoured of smartness. It was always sanctified by the name of business. There were many smart strokes of business-too man, for Tom to be perfectly happy. Bv and bye Tom, too, caught the infection completely. One doee not like to be considered a. fool in any path of life, and Tom soon proved himself as "smart" and successful as his colleagues, to their no small surprise; for they had, long arro, set him down as an ass, the strangely honest ass, whose open face and pleasant, unworldly smile, was a treasure to them in their business ,though it made their own faces appear more hungry and cunning by contrast. Gradually Tom's eyes, too, grew redrimmed and anxious, and his face as- sumed the eager, alert look of the business man. Prosperity had not spoiled him, he flattered himself. He threw his earnings into Priscilla's lap, just as he had always done. and Priscilla shed tears over them. So he always proceeded, until at length the gold coins became banknotes. How Priscilla gloated over them and revelled in their crisp rustle. She still kept on her little shop, and Mr Smith still held possession of the first-floor, chatting with them now and again with the easy familiarity of an old friend. It was surprising what a world of wisdom emanated from him. He was their confidant and adviser always—really and truly, a guide, philosopher, and friend. He would sometimes rally Priscilia on her property. She affected to resent this frivolity; but, it was an open secret that the Morgans had bought the ol dshop and a cottage adjoining, and some malicious persons did not hesitate to say Priscilla. meant to acquire the whole street—if she lived long enough. There were some grounds for this charge, of course, just as there are for every exaggeration. Priscilla, always careful of money, was growing penurious and miserly. Tom's attention was called to this infirmity in a rather unpleasant manner. He wanted some ready cash, and asked Priscilia for it. She declined to part with it, and nothing could induce her to relax her -rip upon it. Tom looked at her and sighed. He was morti- fied beyond measure, and from that day he seemed to possess new energy. He toogreater interest than ever in his business, but he kept some money for himself. When it reached a certain sum he had mentally fixed upon, some, thing would happen. Success still flowed on like a steady stream, until at length he saw before him the quay where he would land and live the life of his choice. He astonished his partners by severing his connection with them, demanding even that the firm of Sykes, Morgan, and Whin- stone should no longer contain his name. As he walked homeward tliat evening, full of pleasant thoughts and dreams for the future, he casually met Mr Smith, his first-floor lodger. That gentleman smiled as graciously as ever, but somehow Tom would have been flad to avoid him. The truth was he had grown almost to hate him. Had it not been for the fact that he knew him to be the founder of his fortunes he would long since have compelled him to quit the first floor apartments; but a sense of gratitude, joined to Priscilla's upbraid in?s. had kent him silent. Sc 1..(:£;)-1; up & peer iJ1; ol eivilitj w- wards Mr Smith, however, as they walked to- gether through the gloomy street which led to the little shop. There was a crowd in the street when they arrived, and a cry of "Fire! Fire!" thrilled Tom's heart. The little shop was on fire! Tom rushed onwards, anxious for Priscilla. When he reached the door, he was thrust back rather unceremo- niously by some firemen. They had just rescued Priscilla from the flames, and were about to convey her away o nan ambulance covered with rugs. She had been badly burned. Tom forced his way to her, and took her hand It was charred and shrivelled. "I went back for my money," she said, hoarsely. She had lost her life for it! Strangely enough, Mr Smith disappeared from that day. What became of him was a mystery. When calmness returned to Tom, he sought first of all the de cottage of his childhood, where the same familiar cherry tree still grew in the centre of the garden. Then he supplied the village with pure water, and smiled with pleasure to think for how small a sum such a priceless boon could be bestowed. Then he busied himself with providing a village library and news-room and purchasing a large, flat meadow for allotments. He became, in fact, a little Providence in the place. Many an invalid blessed him for seaside sojourns, and many a young man ought to have thanked him for timely assistance. In the end he died a comparatively poor man. "Never mind," said Tom to his old friend the minister, "I think my money is all well invested, as the first-floor lodger used to say.