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“Augusta set her teeth and endured in silence(Frontispiece) “ And to think that all this comes out of the brains of chaps like you”.

23 Mr. Meeson tearing his Will

41 Pompadour Hall

45 The Street where Augusta lived .

51 Augusta gently listed the sheet, revealing the sweet face of little Jeannie in her coffin”.

67 "A mighty vessel steamed majestically out of the mouth of the Thames"

73 The Kangaroo at Sea

93 “She's going !-by George, she's going !” said the seaman

Johnnie “Right into this beautiful fjord they sailed

119 “Nothing but the white wave-horses, across which the black cormorants steered their swift, unerring fight "

147 O Auntie ! Auntie !” Dick sang out in high glee, "here's a big ship coming sailing along”

155 St. Michael

163 Down went the books with a crash and a bang, and, carried away by their weight, down went Mr. Addison"

239 “ Augusta turned her back to the Judge, in order that he might examine what was written on it"

249 "Just as the men came up, she got away somehow, and stood looking very foolish”.



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VERYBODY who has any connection with

Birmingham will be acquainted with the vast publishing establishment still known by the

short title of “Meeson's,” which is perhaps the most remarkable institution of the sort in Europe. There are—or rather there were, at the date of the beginning of this history—three partners in Meeson's—Meeson himself, the managing partner; Mr. Addison, and Mr. Roscoe—and people in Birmingham used to say that there were others interested in the affair, for Meeson's was a company.

However this may be, Meeson & Co. were undoubtedly a commercial marvel. The firm employed more than two thousand hands; and its works, lit throughout with the electric light, cover two

a quarter of land. One hundred commercial travellers, at three pounds a week and a commission, went forth east and west, and north and south, to sell the books of Meeson (which were largely religious in their nature) in all lands; and five-andtwenty tame authors (who were illustrated by thirteen tame artists) sat-at salaries, ranging from one to five hundred a year—in vault-like hutches in the basement, and week by week poured out that hat-work * for which Meeson's was justly famous. Then there were editors and vice-editors, and heads of the various departments, and sub-heads, and financial secretaries, and readers, and many managers; but what their names were no man knew, because at Meeson's all the employés of the great house were known by numbers ; personalities and personal responsibility being the abomination of the firm. Nor was it allowed to any one having dealings with these items ever to see the same number twice, presumably for fear lest the number should remember that he was a man and a brother, and his heart should melt towards the unfortunate, and the financial interests of Meeson's should suffer. In short, Meeson's was an establishment created for and devoted to money-making, and the fact was kept studiously and even insolently before the eyes of everybody connected with it—which was, of course, as it should be, in this happy land

acres and

, of commerce. After all that has been written, the reader will not be surprised to learn that the partners in Meeson's were rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Their palaces would have been a wonder even in ancient Babylon, and would have excited admiration in the corruptest and most luxurious days of Rome. Where could one see such horses, such carriages, such galleries of sculpture, or such collections of costly gems as at the palatial halls of Messrs. Meeson, Addison, and Roscoe ?

“And to think," as the mighty Meeson himself would say, with a lordly wave of his right hand, to some asto

* Hat-work, it is perhaps necessary to explain, is work with no head in it.

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