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HE drop scene, as it rises slowly before the tale of life which the following pages contain, opens to view the breakfast-room of a west-end mansion. The rich simplicity of ornament and the massive style of furniture bespeak the wealth and luxury of its owner. The windows, which reach from ceiling to floor, open upon a garden large for its situation so near the heart of commerce; and a row of trees planted around it, with closely grown branches and abundant foliage, shuts out the sight of neighbouring buildings, so that, were it not for the ceaseless hum from the busy streets without, one might have thought oneself many a mile from the metropolis.

The hour is about nine, and the remains of breakfast are still unremoved. The inmates of the room



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