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He sat conspicuously on the side-scenes of the theatre, directing and controlling the applauses of the audience; and boasted that he had taught Hallam how to deliver the most favourite passages in his best character. He also became a politician; and at the great contested election between Cruger, Livingston, Delancey, Lispenard, and Bayard, manfully espoused the side which he understood to be the genteel one, and which, luckily for him, proved to be the successful and hospitable one.
Though now circulating freely in elegant society, it cannot be disguised that when Mr. Oques made any direct matrimonial demonstrations, towards the only daughter or grand-daughter of some wealthy burgher, the whole family at once assumed a distant and chilling air towards the aspiring lover. If, after this, he could force his way, on a winter's evening, into the snug, oakwainscoated, little back parlour, with which the rich merchants of New-York were then contented, he was received with a silent and solemn courtesy. In spite of his gorgeous apparel, the young heiress would scarcely lift her eyes from her knitting, or answer more than yes or no, to his gayest remarks or softest inquiries. At the least pause, the old lady would observe, from her elbow chair on the right-hand of the sparkling,
crackling hickory fire, “ het kleed maka den man;"! or else in her other vernacular, that “ fine feathers make fine birds, but they would not make the pot boil.” Whereupon the grave father would take his pipe from his mouth, and, after pouring out a volume of smoke, add in oracular Dutch, “ Spoedige Klimmers vallen schielyck.'**
What Mr. Oques was worth, or how he came to be worth a dollar, in capital or credit, remained as great a mystery as ever. He happened, indeed, to draw a prize of two hundred pounds in the City-Hall Lottery, which accident he treated as a bagatelle. I do believe it did not come amiss, though it took place in the midst of his apparent prosperity. His tailor, who was naturally of an inquisitive temper, was perhaps most uneasy in his mind, in trying to find out the cause of his patron's sudden elevation. All his indirect hints or leading questions on this topic, were met by Mr. Oques with such fearful dignity, that Vince dreaded the loss of his custom too much to venture any further interrogatories. Not the less, in his inmost soul, did he determine to solve the enigma.
To the early inquiries made of him concerning
*“Hasty climbers have sudden falls."
this new Adonis, Mr. Vince had answered that Mr. Hoaks was a cash customer. When further questioned where the cash came from, he replied that “Mr. Hoaks 'as a rich hunkle in 'Olland," &c. ; and he insinuated very broadly, that a match was on the carpet between our hero and seventeen different heiresses. All these excursions of the tailor's extemporaneous fancy became rumours,
which were magnified, mystified, and multiplied; and though, like the heads of the Lernean Hydra, they were crushed, one after another, by the Herculean club of truth, yet other little and big reports sprung up in their places, all of similar burden, that somehow or other, Tevas Oaks had got to be somebody.
As, however, Mr. Vince obtained custom, he grew less scrupulous in his conversations about the history, ways and means of him who might be called his founder; particularly as the latter began to treat him with a certain degree of distance, passed him often in the street without recognition, and grew less punctual in his visits to his shop. Vince now began to shrug up his shoulders, or give a knowing wink, when pressed upon the subject of Mr. Oques's resources. a horrible deed was about to be done, which removed all his scruples of conscience at betraying or injuring his benefactor. At first, with a
mixed sensation of incredulous wonder and alarm, and afterwards with unsophisticated indignation, he learned that Matthew, who had not called at his shop for six days, had bought two ready made French suits, and ordered a brocade dress of lilac, worked with rosebuds, and a pair of peagreen and yellow satin breeches, of the newly arrived Mr. Peter Tims, from Cheapside, who had opened his shop in Broad-street, near the Exchange.
The barriers that held in his curiosity were now carried away. In Indian phrase the silver chain of friendship was snapt asunder. A sense of merit neglected, genius unappreciated, patronage slighted, possessed the soul of the artist. He compared Tevas to the wiper in the fable, wowed rewenge, and determined to votch Mr. Hoaks.
He had for some time past noted that this gentleman was never visible on a Friday after dinner, and did not appear until towards noon the next day. It happened to be on a Friday that he learned the news of Tevas's flagrant apostacy. As soon as the Dutch clock sounded the hour of two, he announced to his journeyman, (for he had now the honour of having so important personage in his shop,) that he intended to walk into the country. He then planted himself at
the window, and began to watch the in-goings and out-goings at the door of the city tavern. It would doubtless be amusing could I record his mental observations on those whom he did and those whom he did not know, as they severally entered or left the hotel : but this I leave to the reader's imagination. Two hours passed away and Tevas did not appear. At one time Vince had made up his mind to despatch a note, requesting the honour of seing Mr. Oques on business of importance. But indignant pride and insulted friendship forbade this step. On a sudden a figure caught his eye, wrapped in a gold-corded crimson roquelaire, which he had a right to know, since he had himself given it its form and pressure. It belonged to Mr. Oques, and though the wearer walked with a stooping and slouching gait, Vince lost not a moment in throwing a brown cloak over his shoulders, and scudding rapidly and guiltily across the street, and down a narrow lane leading to the river, after the object of his curiosity. He lost sight of him very mysteriously ere he came to the water's edge, but again caught a glimpse of his own workmanship at a small distance, and taking the liberty of passing through a garden which bordered on the present Greenwich-street, he was enabled to dog the roquelaire along the shore till he was quite