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I am a struggling man--the phrase will be well understood, for the class to which I belong is a large one--and I reside in a neighbourhood which is neither very poor nor very fashionable. I have, of course, my friends and acquaintances, and among the most intimate of the former is a family of the name of Melladew. Mr. Melladew is a reader in a printing-office in which a weekly newspaper is printed. Mrs. Melladew, with the assistance of one small servant, manages the home. They had two daughters, twins, eighteen years of age, named respectively Mary and Elizabeth. These girls were very beautiful, and were so much alike that they were frequently mistaken for one another. Mrs. Melladew has told me that when they were very young she was compelled to make some distinguishing mark in their dress to avoid confusion in her recognition of them, such as differently coloured socks or pieces of ribbon. The home of the Melladews was a happy one, and the sisters loved each other sincerely. They were both in outdoor employment, in the establishments of a general linendraper and a fashionable dressmaker. Mary was in the employment of the linendraper--Limbird's, in Regent Street. It is a firm of wide repute, and employs a great number of hands, some of whom sleep in the house. This was the case with Mary Melladew, who went to her work on Monday morning and did not return home until Saturday night. Elizabeth, or Lizzie as she was always called, was employed by Madame Michel, in Baker Street. She went to her work at half-past eight every morning and returned home at half-past seven every night. The printing-office in which Mr. Melladew is engaged employs two readers, a night reader and a day reader. Mr. Melladew is the day reader, his hours being from nine in the morning till seven in the evening. But on Saturdays he has a much longer spell; he is due in the office at eight in the morning, and he remains until two or three hours past midnight--a stretch of eighteen or nineteen hours. By that time all the work for the Sunday edition of the weekly newspaper is done, and the outside pages are being worked off on the steam presses. Now, upon the Saturday morning on which, so far as I am concerned, the enthralling interest of my story commences, certain important events had occurred in my career and in that of Mr. Melladew. Exactly one month previous to that day, the firm in which I had been employed for a great many years had given me a month's notice to leave. My dismissal was not caused by any lapse of duty on my part; it was simply that business had been for some time in a bad state, and that my employers found it necessary to reduce their staff. Among those who received notice to quit, I, unfortunately, was included. Therefore, when I rose on Saturday morning I was in the dismal position of a man out of work, my time having expired on the day before. This was of serious importance to me. With Mr. Melladew the case was different. In what unexpectedly occurred to him there was bright sunshine, to be succeeded by black darkness.

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