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Morleena Kenwigs
by [?]

The family who went by the designation of “The Kenwigses” were the wife and olive branches of one Mr. Kenwigs, a turner in ivory, who was looked upon as a person of some consideration where he lodged, inasmuch as he occupied the whole of the first floor, comprising a suite of two rooms. Mrs. Kenwigs too, was quite a lady in her manners, and of a very genteel family, having an uncle, Mr. Lillyvick, who collected a water-rate, and who she fondly hoped, would make her children his heirs. Besides which distinction, the two eldest of her little girls went twice a week to a dancing-school in the neighborhood, and had flaxen hair tied with blue ribbons, hanging in luxuriant pigtails down their backs, and wore little white trousers with frills round the ankles;–for all of which reasons Mr. and Mrs. Kenwigs, and the four olive Kenwigses, and the baby, were considered quite important persons to know.

Upon the eighth anniversary of Mrs. Kenwigs’ marriage to Mr. Kenwigs, they entertained a select party of friends, and on that occasion, after supper had been served, the group gathered by the fireside; Mr. Lillyvick being stationed in a large arm-chair, and the four little Kenwigses disposed on a small form in front of the company, with their flaxen tails towards them, and their faces to the fire; an arrangement which was no sooner perfected than Mrs. Kenwigs was overpowered by the feelings of a mother, and fell upon Mr. Kenwigs’ shoulder, dissolved in tears.

“They are so beautiful!” she said, sobbing. “I can–not help it, and it don’t signify! Oh, they’re too beautiful to live–much too beautiful!”

On hearing this alarming presentiment of their early death, all four little girls raised a hideous cry, and, burying their faces in their mother’s lap simultaneously, screamed until the eight flaxen tails vibrated; Mrs. Kenwigs meanwhile clasping them alternately to her bosom, with attitudes expressive of distraction.

At length, however, she permitted herself to be soothed, and the little Kenwigses were distributed among the company, to prevent the possibility of Mrs. Kenwigs being again overcome by the blaze of their united beauty, after which, Morleena, the eldest olive branch–whose name had been composed by Mrs. Kenwigs herself for the especial benefit of her daughter–danced a dance. It was a very beautiful figure, comprising a great deal of work for the arms, and was received with unbounded applause, as were the various accomplishments displayed by others of the party. The affair was proceeding most successfully when Mr. Lillyvick took offence at a remark made by Mr. Kenwigs, and sat swelling and fuming in offended dignity for some minutes, then burst out in words of indignation. Here was an untoward event! The great man,–the rich relation–who had it in his power to make Morleena an heiress, and the very baby a legatee–was offended. Gracious powers, where would this end!

“I am very sorry, sir,” said Mr. Kenwigs humbly, but the apology was not accepted, and Mr. Lillyvick continued to repeat; “Morleena, child, my hat! Morleena, my hat!” until Mrs. Kenwigs sunk back in her chair, overcome with grief, while the four little girls (privately instructed to that effect) clasped their uncle’s drab shorts in their arms, and prayed him to remain.

“Mr. Lillyvick,” said Kenwigs, “I hope for the sake of your niece that you won’t object to being reconciled.”

The collector’s face relaxed, as the company added their entreaties to those of their host. He gave up his hat and held out his hand.

“There, Kenwigs,” he said. “And let me tell you at the same time, to show you how much out of temper I was, that if I had gone away without another word, it would have made no difference respecting that pound or two which I shall leave among your children when I die.”

“Morleena Kenwigs,” cried her mother, in a torrent of affection; “go down upon your knees to your dear uncle and beg him to love you all his life through, for he’s more an angel than a man, and I’ve always said so.”