mistakably than Mr. Merdle did that he was never at home. At last he met the chief butler, the sight of which splendid retainer always finished him. Extinguished by this great creature, he sneaked to his dressing-room, and there remained shut up until he rode out to dinner, with Mrs. Merdle, in her own handsome chariot. At dinner, he was envied and flattered as a being of might, was Treasuried, Barred, and Bishoped, as much as he would; and an hour after midnight came home alone, and being instantly put out again in his own hall, like a rushlight, by the chief butler, went sighing to bed.


CHAPTER XXXIV
A SHOAL OF BARNACLES

MR. HENRY GOWAN and the dog were established frequenters, of the cottage, and the day was fixed for the wedding. There was to be a convocation of Barnacles on the occasion; in order that that very high and very large family might shed as much lustre on the marriage, as so dim an event was capable of receiving.

To have got the whole Barnacle family together, would have been impossible for two reason. Firstly, because no building could have held all the members and connections of that illustrious house. Secondly, because wherever there was a square yard of ground in British occupation under the sun or moon, with a public post upon it, sticking to that post was a Barnacle. No intrepid navigator could plant a flag-staff upon any spot of earth, and take possession of it in the British name, but to that spot of earth, so soon as the discovery was known, the Circumlocution Office sent out a Barnacle and despatch-box. Thus the Barnacles were all over the world, in every direction -- despatch- boxing the compass.

But, while the so-potent art of Prospero himself would have failed in summoning the Barnacles from every speck of ocean and dry land on which there was nothing (except mischief) to be done, and anything to be pocketed, it was perfectly feasible to assemble a good many Barnacles. This Mrs. Gowan applied herself to do; calling on Mr. Meagles frequently, with new additions to the list, and holding conferences with that gentleman when he was not engaged (as he generally was at this period) in examin-

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