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233 V, 'The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices'Published in <em>Household Words</em><span>, Vol. XVI, No. 397, 31 October 1857, pp. 409-416.</span>Dickens, Charles and Wilkie Collins<em>Dickens Journals Online,</em> <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1857-10-31">1857-10-31</a><span>Scanned material from&nbsp;<em>Dickens Journals Online</em>,&nbsp;</span><a href="" id="LPNoLPOWALinkPreview" contenteditable="false" title=""></a><span>. A</span><span>vailable under CC BY licence.</span><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Short+story">Short story</a>1857-10-31-The_Lazy_Tour_of_Two_Idle_Apprentices_No5<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=93&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=%3Cem%3EHousehold+Words%3C%2Fem%3E"><em>Household Words</em></a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=94&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Periodical">Periodical</a>18571031Two of the many passengers by a certain late Sunday evening train, Mr. Thomas Idle and Mr. Francis Goodchild, yielded up their tickets at a little rotten platform (converted into artificial touch-wood by smoke and ashes), deep in the manufacturing bosom of Yorkshire. A mysterious bosom it appeared, upon a damp, dark, Sunday night, dashed through in the train to the music of the whirling wheels, the panting of the engine, and the part-singing of hundreds of third-class excursionists, whose vocal efforts &quot;bobbed arayound&quot; from sacred to profane, from hymns, to our transatlantic sisters the Yankee Gal and Mairy Anne, in a remarkable way. There seemed to have been some large vocal gathering near to every lonely station on the line. No town was visible, no village was visible, no light was visible; but, a multitude got out singing, and a multitude got in singing, and the second multitude took up the hymns, and adopted our transatlantic sisters, and sang of their own egregious wickedness, and of their bobbing arayound, and of how the ship it was ready and the wind it was fair, and they were bayound for the sea, Mairy Anne, until they in their turn became a getting-out multitude, and were replaced by another getting-in multitude, who did the same. And at every station, the getting-in multitude, with an artistic reference to the completeness of their chorus, incessantly cried, as with one voice while scuffling into the carriages, &quot;We mun aa&#039; gang toogither!&quot; The singing and the multitudes had trailed off as the lonely places were left and the great towns were neared, and the way had lain as silently as a train&#039;s way ever can, over the vague black streets of the great gulfs of towns, and among their branchless woods of vague black chimneys. These towns looked, in the cinderous wet, as though they had one and all been on fire and were just put out—a dreary and quenched panorama, many miles long. Thus, Thomas and Francis got to Leeds; of which enterprising and important commercial centre it may be observed with delicacy, that you must either like it very much or not at all. Next day, the first of the Race-Week, they took train to Doncaster. And instantly the character, both of travellers and of luggage, entirely changed, and no other business than race-business any longer existed on the face of the earth. The talk was all of horses and &quot;John Scott.&quot; Guards whispered behind their hands to station-masters, of horses and John Scott. Men in cut-away coats and speckled cravats fastened with peculiar pins, and with the large bones of their legs developed under tight trousers, so that they should look as much as possible like horses&#039; legs, paced up and down by twos at junction-stations, speaking low and moodily of horses and John Scott. The young clergyman in the black strait-waistcoat, who occupied the middle seat of the carriage, expounded in his peculiar pulpit-accent to the young and lovely Reverend Mrs. Crinoline, who occupied the opposite middle-seat, a few passages of rumour relative to &quot;Oartheth, my love, and Mithter John Eth-cott.&quot; A bandy vagabond, with a head like a Dutch cheese, in a fustian stable-suit, attending on a horse-box and going about the platforms with a halter hanging round his neck like a Calais burgher of the ancient period much degenerated, was courted by the best society, by reason of what he had to hint, when not engaged in eating straw, concerning &quot;t&#039;harses and Joon Scott.&quot; The engine-driver himself, as he applied one eye to his large stationary double-eye-glass on the engine, seemed to keep the other open, sideways, upon horses and John Scott. Breaks and barriers at Doncaster station to keep the crowd off; temporary wooden avenues of ingress and egress, to help the crowd on. Forty extra porters sent down for this present blessed Race-Week, and all of them making up their betting-books in the lamp-room or somewhere else, and none of them to come and touch the luggage. Travellers disgorged into an open space, a howling wilderness of idle men. All work but race-work at a stand-still; all men at a stand-still. &quot;Ey my word! Deant ask noon o&#039; us to help wi&#039;t&#039; luggage. Bock your opinion loike a mon. Coom! Dang it, coom, t&#039;harses and Joon Scott!&quot; In the midst of the idle men, all the fly horses and omnibus horses of Doncaster and parts adjacent, rampant, rearing, backing, plunging, shying—apparently the result of their hearing of nothing but their own order and John Scott. Grand Dramatic Company from London for the Race-week. Poses Plastiques in the Grand Assembly Room up the Stable-Yard at seven and nine each evening, for the Race-Week. Grand Alliance Circus in the field beyond the bridge, for the Race-Week. Grand Exhibition of Aztec Lilliputians, important to all who want to be horrified cheap, for the Race-Week. Lodgings, grand and not grand, but all at grand prices, ranging from ten pounds to twenty, for the Grand Race-Week! Rendered giddy enough by these things, Messieurs Idle and Goodchild repaired to the quarters they had secured beforehand, and Mr. Goodchild looked down from the window into the surging street. &quot;By heaven, Tom!&quot; cried he, after contemplating it, &quot;I am in the Lunatic Asylum again, and these are all mad people under the charge of a body of designing keepers!&quot; All through the Race-Week, Mr. Goodchild never divested himself of this idea. Every day he looked out of window, with something of the dread of Lemuel Gulliver looking down at men after he returned home from the horse-country; and every day he saw the Lunatics, horse-mad, betting-mad, drunken-mad, vice-mad, and the designing Keepers always after them. The idea pervaded, like the second colour in shot-silk, the whole of Mr. Goodchild&#039;s impressions. They were much as follows: Monday, mid-day. Races not to begin until to-morrow, but all the mob-Lunatics out, crowding the pavements of the one main street of pretty and pleasant Doncaster, crowding the road, particularly crowding the outside of the Betting Rooms, whooping and shouting loudly after all passing vehicles. Frightened lunatic horses occasionally running away, with infinite clatter. All degrees of men, from peers to paupers, betting incessantly. Keepers very watchful, and taking all good chances. An awful family likeness among the Keepers, to Mr. Palmer and Mr. Thurtell. With some knowledge of expression and some acquaintance with heads (thus writes Mr. Goodchild), I never have seen anywhere, so many repetitions of one class of countenance and one character of head (both evil) as in this street at this time. Cunning, covetousness, secresy, cold calculation, hard callousness and dire insensibility, are the uniform Keeper characteristics. Mr. Palmer passes me five times in five minutes, and, as I go down the street, the back of Mr. Thurtell&#039;s skull is always going on before me. Monday evening. Town lighted up; more Lunatics out than ever; a complete choke and stoppage of the thoroughfare outside the Betting Rooms. Keepers, having dined, pervade the Betting Rooms, and sharply snap at the moneyed Lunatics. Some Keepers flushed with drink, and some not, but all close and calculating. A vague echoing roar of &quot;t&#039;harses &quot; and &quot;t&#039;races&quot; always rising in the air, until midnight, at about which period it dies away in occasional drunken songs and straggling yells. But, all night, some unmannerly drinking-house in the neighbourhood opens its mouth at intervals and spits out a man too drunk to be retained: who there-upon makes what uproarious protest may be left in him, and either falls asleep where he tumbles, or is carried off in custody. Tuesday morning, at daybreak. A sudden rising, as it were out of the earth, of all the obscene creatures, who sell &quot;correct cards of the races.&quot; They may have been coiled in corners, or sleeping on door-steps, and, having all passed the night under the same set of circumstances, may all want to circulate their blood at the same time; but, however that may be, they spring into existence all at once and together, as though a new Cadmus had sown a race-horse&#039;s teeth. There is nobody up, to buy the cards; but, the cards are madly cried. There is no patronage to quarrel for; but, they madly quarrel and fight. Conspicuous among these hyænas, as breakfast-time discloses, is a fearful creature in the general semblance of a man: shaken off his next-to-no legs by drink and devilry, bare-headed and bare-footed, with a great shock of hair like a horrible broom, and nothing on him but a ragged pair of trousers and a pink glazed-calico coat—made on him—so very tight that it is as evident that he could never take it off, as that he never does. This hideous apparition, inconceivably drunk, has a terrible power of making a gong-like imitation of the braying of an ass: which feat requires that he should lay his right jaw in his begrimed right paw, double himself up, and shake his bray out of himself, with much staggering on his next-to-no legs, and much twirling of his horrible broom, as if it were a mop. From the present minute, when he comes in sight holding up his cards to the windows, and hoarsely proposing purchase to My Lord, Your Excellency, Colonel, the Noble Captain, and Your Honorable Worship—from the present minute until the Grand Race-Week is finished, at all hours of the morning, evening, day, and night, shall the town reverberate, at capricious intervals, to the brays of this frightful animal the Gong-Donkey. No very great racing to-day, so no very great amount of vehicles: though there is a good sprinkling, too: from farmers&#039; carts and gigs, to carriages with post-horses and to fours-in-hand, mostly coming by the road from York, and passing on straight through the main street to the Course. A walk in the wrong direction may be a better thing for Mr. Goodchild to-day than the Course, so he walks in the wrong direction. Everybody gone to the races. Only children in the street. Grand Alliance Circus deserted; not one Star-Rider left; omnibus which forms the Pay-Place, having on separate panels Pay here for the Boxes, Pay here for the Pit, Pay here for the Gallery, hove down in a corner and locked up; nobody near the tent but the man on his knees on the grass, who is making the paper balloons for the Star young gentlemen to jump through to-night. A pleasant road, pleasantly wooded. No labourers working in the fields; all gone &quot;t&#039;races.&quot; The few late wenders of their way &quot;t&#039;races,&quot; who are yet left driving on the road, stare in amazement at the recluse who is not going &quot;t&#039;races.&quot; Roadside inn-keeper has gone &quot;t&#039;races.&quot; Turnpike-man has gone &quot;t&#039;races.&quot; His thrifty wife, washing clothes at the toll-house door, is going &quot;t&#039;races&quot; to-morrow. Perhaps there may be no one left to take the toll to-morrow; who knows? Though assuredly that would be neither turnpike-like, nor Yorkshire-like. The very wind and dust seem to be hurrying &quot;t&#039;races,&quot; as they briskly pass the only wayfarer on the road. In the distance, the Railway Engine, waiting at the town-end, shrieks despairingly. Nothing but the difficulty of getting off the Line, restrains that Engine from going &quot;t&#039;races,&quot; too, it is very clear. At night, more Lunatics out than last night and more Keepers. The latter very active at the Betting Rooms, the street in front of which is now impassable. Mr. Palmer as before. Mr. Thurtell as before. Roar and uproar as before. Gradual subsidence as before. Unmannerly drinking house expectorates as before. Drunken negro-melodists, Gong-donkey, and correct cards, in the night. On Wednesday morning, the morning of the great St. Leger, it becomes apparent that there has been a great influx since yesterday, both of Lunatics and Keepers. The families of the tradesmen over the way are no longer within human ken; their places know them no more; ten, fifteen, and twenty guinea-lodgers fill them. At the pastry-cook&#039;s second-floor window, a Keeper is brushing Mr. Thurtell&#039;s hair—thinking it his own. In the wax-chandler&#039;s attic, another Keeper is putting on Mr. Palmer&#039;s braces. In the gunsmith&#039;s nursery, a Lunatic is shaving himself. In the serious stationer&#039;s best sitting-room, three Lunatics are taking a combination-breakfast, praising the (cook&#039;s) devil, and drinking neat brandy in an atmosphere of last midnight&#039;s cigars. No family sanctuary is free from our Angelic messengers—we put up at the Angel—who in the guise of extra waiters for the grand Race-Week, rattle in and out of the most secret chambers of everybody&#039;s house, with dishes and tin covers, decanters, soda-water bottles, and glasses. An hour later. Down the street and up the street, as far as eyes can see and a good deal farther, there is a dense crowd; outside the Betting Rooms it is like a great struggle at a theatre door—in the days of theatres; or at the vestibule of the Spurgeon temple—in the days of Spurgeon. An hour later. Fusing into this crowd, and somehow getting through it, are all kinds of conveyances, and all kinds of foot-passengers; carts, with brick-makers and brick-makeresses jolting up and down on planks; drags, with the needful grooms behind, sitting crossed-armed in the needful manner, and slanting themselves backward from the soles of their boots at the needful angle; postboys, in the shining hats and smart jackets of the olden time, when stokers were not; beautiful Yorkshire horses, gallantly driven by their own breeders and masters. Under every pole, and every shaft, and every horse, and every wheel as it would seem, the Gong-donkey—metallically braying, when not struggling for life, or whipped out of the way. By one o&#039;clock, all this stir has gone out of the streets, and there is no one left in them but Francis Goodchild. Francis Goodchild will not be left in them long; for, he too is on his way &quot;t&#039;races.&quot; A most beautiful sight, Francis Goodchild finds &quot;t&#039;races&quot; to be, when he has left fair Doncaster behind him, and comes out on the free course, with its agreeable prospect, its quaint Red House oddly changing and turning as Francis turns, its green grass, and fresh heath. A free course and an easy one, where Francis can roll smoothly where he will, and can choose between the start, or the coming-in, or the turn behind the brow of the hill, or any out-of-the-way point where he lists to see the throbbing horses straining every nerve, and making the sympathetic earth throb as they come by. Francis much delights to be, not in the Grand Stand, but where he can see it, rising against the sky with its vast tiers of little white dots of faces, and its last high rows and corners of people, looking like pins stuck into an enormous pin-cushion—not quite so symmetrically as his orderly eye could wish, when people change or go away. When the race is nearly run out, it is as good as the race to him to see the flutter among the pins, and the change in them from dark to light, as hats are taken off and waved. Not less full of interest, the loud anticipation of the winner&#039;s name, the swelling, and the final, roar; then, the quick dropping of all the pins out of their places, the revelation of the shape of the bare pin-cushion, and the closing-in of the whole host of Lunatics and Keepers, in the rear of the three horses with bright-coloured riders, who have not yet quite subdued their gallop though the contest is over. Mr. Goodchild would appear to have been by no means free from lunacy himself at &quot;t&#039;races,&quot; though not of the prevalent kind. He is suspected by Mr. Idle to have fallen into a dreadful state concerning a pair of little lilac gloves and a little bonnet that he saw there. Mr Idle asserts, that he did afterwards repeat at the Angel, with an appearance of being lunatically seized, some rhapsody to the following effect: &quot;O little lilac gloves! And O winning little bonnet, making in conjunction with her golden hair quite a Glory in the sunlight round the pretty head, why anything in the world but you and me! Why may not this day&#039;s running—of horses, to all the rest: of precious sands of life to me—be prolonged through an everlasting autumn-sunshine, without a sunset! Slave of the Lamp, or Ring, strike me yonder gallant equestrian Clerk of the Course, in the scarlet coat, motionless on the green grass for ages! Friendly Devil on Two Sticks, for ten times ten thousand years, keep Blink-Bonny jibbing at the post, and let us have no start! Arab drums, powerful of old to summon Genii in the desert, sound of yourselves and raise a troop for me in the desert of my heart, which shall so enchant this dusty barouche (with a conspicuous excise-plate, resembling the Collector&#039;s door-plate at a turnpike), that I, within it, loving the little lilac gloves, the winning little bonnet, and the dear unknown-wearer with the golden hair, may wait by her side for ever, to see a Great St. Leger that shall never be run!&quot; Thursday morning. After a tremendous night of crowding, shouting, drinking-house expectoration, Gong-donkey, and correct cards. Symptoms of yesterday&#039;s gains in the way of drink, and of yesterday&#039;s losses in the way of money, abundant. Money-losses very great. As usual, nobody seems to have won; but, large losses and many losers are unquestionable facts. Both Lunatics and Keepers, in general very low. Several of both kinds look in at the chemist&#039;s while Mr. Goodchild is making a purchase there, to be &quot;picked up.&quot; One red-eyed Lunatic, flushed, faded, and disordered, enters hurriedly and cries savagely, &quot;Hond us a gloss of sal volatile in wather, or soom dommed thing o&#039;thot sart!&quot; Faces at the Betting-Rooms very long, and a tendency to bite nails observable. Keepers likewise given this morning to standing about solitary, with their hands in their pockets, looking down at their boots as they fit them into cracks of the pavement, and then looking up whistling and walking away. Grand Alliance Circus out, in procession; buxom lady-member of Grand Alliance, in crimson riding-habit, fresher to look at, even in her paint under the day sky, than the cheeks of Lunatics or Keepers. Spanish Cavalier appears to have lost yesterday, and jingles his bossed bridle with disgust, as if he were paying. Re-action also apparent at the Guildhall opposite, whence certain pickpockets come out handcuffed together, with that peculiar walk which is never seen under any other circumstances—a walk expressive of going to jail, game, but still of jails being in bad taste and arbitrary, and how would you like it if it was you instead of me, as it ought to be! Mid-day. Town filled as yesterday, but not so full; and emptied as yesterday, but not so empty. In the evening, Angel ordinary where every Lunatic and Keeper has his modest daily meal of turtle, venison, and wine, not so crowded as yesterday, and not so noisy. At night, the theatre. More abstracted faces in it, than one ever sees at public assemblies; such faces wearing an expression which strongly reminds Mr. Goodchild of the boys at school who were &quot;going up next,&quot; with their arithmetic or mathematics. These boys are, no doubt, going up to-morrow with their sums and figures. Mr. Palmer and Mr. Thurtell in the boxes O. P. Mr. Thurtell and Mr. Palmer in the boxes P. S. The firm of Thurtell, Palmer, and Thurtell, in the boxes Centre. A most odious tendency observable in these distinguished gentlemen to put vile constructions on sufficiently innocent phrases in the play, and then to applaud them in a Satyr-like manner. Behind Mr. Goodchild, with a party of other Lunatics and one Keeper, the express incarnation of the thing called a &quot;gent.&quot; A gentleman born; a gent manufactured. A something with a scarf round its neck, and a slipshod speech issuing from behind the scarf; more depraved, more foolish, more ignorant, more unable to believe in any noble or good thing of any kind, than the stupidest Bosjesman. The thing is but a boy in years, and is addled with drink. To do its company justice, even its company is ashamed of it, as it drawls its slang criticisms on the representation, and inflames Mr. Goodchild with a burning ardour to fling it into the pit. Its remarks are so horrible, that Mr. Goodchild, for the moment, even doubts whether that is a wholesome Art, which sets women apart on a high floor before such a thing as this, though as good as its own sisters, or its own mother—whom Heaven forgive for bringing it into the world! But, the consideration that a low nature must make a low world of its own to live in, whatever the real materials, or it could no more exist than any of us could without the sense of touch, brings Mr. Goodchild to reason: the rather, because the thing soon drops its downy chin upon its scarf, and slobbers itself asleep. Friday Morning. Early fights. Gong-donkey, and correct cards. Again, a great set towards the races, though not so great a set as on Wednesday. Much packing going on too, upstairs at the gunsmith&#039;s, the wax-chandler&#039;s, and the serious stationer&#039;s; for there will be a heavy drift of Lunatics and Keepers to London by the afternoon train. The course as pretty as ever; the great pincushion as like a pincushion, but not nearly so full of pins; whole rows of pins wanting. On the great event of the day, both Lunatics and Keepers become inspired with rage; and there is a violent scuffling, and a rushing at the losing jockey, and an emergence of the said jockey from a swaying and menacing crowd, protected by friends, and looking the worse for wear; which is a rough proceeding, though animating to see from a pleasant distance. After the great event, rills begin to flow from the pincushion towards the railroad; the rills swell into rivers; the rivers soon unite into a lake. The lake floats Mr. Goodchild into Doncaster, past the Itinerant personage in black, by the way-side telling him from the vantage ground of a legibly printed placard on a pole that for all these things the Lord will bring him to judgment. No turtle and venison ordinary this evening; that is all over. No Betting at the rooms; nothing there but the plants in pots, which have, all the week, been stood about the entry to give it an innocent appearance, and which have sorely sickened by this time. Saturday. Mr. Idle wishes to know at breakfast, what were those dreadful groanings in his bedroom doorway in the night? Mr. Goodchild answers, Nightmare. Mr. Idle repels the calumny, and calls the waiter. The Angel is very sorry—had intended to explain; but you see, gentlemen, there was a gentleman dined down stairs with two more, and he had lost a deal of money, and he would drink a deal of wine, and in the night he &quot;took the horrors,&quot; and got up; and as his friends could do nothing with him he laid himself down, and groaned at Mr. Idle&#039;s door. &quot;And he DID groan there,&quot; Mr. Idle says; &quot;and you will please to imagine me inside, &#039;taking the horrors&#039; too!&quot; So far, the picture of Doncaster on the occasion of its great sporting anniversary, offers probably a general representation of the social condition of the town, in the past as well as in the present time. The sole local phenomenon of the current year, which may be considered as entirely unprecedented in its way, and which certainly claims, on that account, some slight share of notice, consists in the actual existence of one remarkable individual, who is sojourning in Doncaster, and who, neither directly nor indirectly, has anything at all to do, in any capacity whatever, with the racing amusements of the week. Ranging throughout the entire crowd that fills the town, and including the inhabitants as well as the visitors, nobody is to be found altogether disconnected with the business of the day, excepting this one unparalleled man. He does not bet on the races, like the sporting men. He does not assist the races, like the jockeys, starters, judges, and grooms. He does not look on at the races, like Mr. Goodchild and his fellow-spectators. He does not profit by the races, like the hotel-keepers and the trades-people. He does not minister to the necessities of the races, like the booth-keepers, the postilions, the waiters, and the hawkers of Lists. He does not assist the attractions of the races, like the actors at the theatre, the riders at the circus, or the posturers at the Poses Plastiques. Absolutely and literally, he is the only individual in Doncaster who stands by the brink of the full-flowing race-stream, and is not swept away by it in common with all the rest of his species. Who is this modern hermit, this recluse of the St. Leger-week, this inscrutably ungregarious being, who lives apart from the amusements and activities of his fellow-creatures? Surely, there is little difficulty in guessing that clearest and easiest of all riddles. Who could he be, but Mr. Thomas Idle? Thomas had suffered himself to be taken to Doncaster, just as he would have suffered himself to be taken to any other place in the habitable globe which would guarantee him the temporary possession of a comfortable sofa to rest his ankle on. Once established at the hotel, with his leg on one cushion and his back against another, he formally declined taking the slightest interest in any circumstance whatever connected with the races, or with the people who were assembled to see them. Francis Goodchild, anxious that the hours should pass by his crippled travelling-to the personal appearance of the horse. I protest against the conventional idea of beauty, as attached to that animal. I think his nose too long, his forehead too low, and his legs (except in the case of the cart-horse) ridiculously thin by comparison with the size of his body. Again, considering how big an animal he is, I object to the contemptible delicacy of his constitution. Is he not the sickliest creature in creation? Does any child catch cold as easily as a horse? Does he not sprain his fetlock, for all his appearance of superior strength, as easily as I sprained my ankle? Furthermore, to take him from another point of view, what a helpless wretch he is! No fine lady requires more constant waiting-on than a horse. Other animals can make their own toilette: he must have a groom. You will tell me that this is because we want to make his coat artificially glossy. Glossy! Come home with me, and see my cat,—my clever cat, who can groom herself! Look at your own dog! See how the intelligent creature curry-combs himself with his own honest teeth! Then, again, what a fool the horse is, what a poor, nervous fool! He will start at a piece of white paper in the road as if it was a lion. His one idea, when he hears a noise that he is not accustomed to, is to run away from it. What do you say to those two common instances of the sense and courage of this absurdly overpraised animal? I might multiply them to two hundred, if I chose to exert my mind and waste my breath, which I never do. I prefer coming at once to my last charge against the horse, which is the most serious of all, because it affects his moral character. I accuse him boldly, in his capacity of servant to man, of slyness and treachery. I brand him publickly, no matter how mild he may look about the eyes, or how sleek he may be about the coat, as a systematic betrayer, whenever he can get the chance, of the confidence reposed in him. What do you mean by laughing and shaking your head at me?&quot; &quot;Oh, Thomas, Thomas! &quot; said Goodchild. &quot;You had better give me my hat; you had better let me get you that physic.&quot; &quot;I will let you get anything you like, including a composing draught for yourself,&quot; said Thomas, irritably alluding to his fellow-apprentice&#039;s inexhaustible activity, &quot;if you will only sit quiet for five minutes longer, and hear me out. I say again the horse is a betrayer of the confidence reposed in him; and that opinion, let me add, is drawn from my own personal experience, and is not based on any fanciful theory whatever. You shall have two instances, two overwhelming instances. Let me start the first of these by asking, what is the distinguishing quality which the Shetland Pony has arrogated to himself, and is still perpetually trumpeting through the world by means of popular report and books on Natural History? I see the answer in your face: it is the quality of being Sure-Footed. He professes to have other virtues, such as hardiness and strength, which you may discover on trial; but the one thing which he insists on your believing, when you get on his back, is that he may be safely depended on not to tumble down with you. Very good. Some years ago, I was in Shetland with a party of friends. They insisted on taking me with them to the top of a precipice that overhung the sea. It was a great distance off, but they all determined to walk to it except me. I was wiser then than I was with you at Carrock, and I determined to be carried to the precipice. There was no carriage road in the island, and nobody offered (in consequence, as I suppose, of the imperfectly-civilised state of the country) to bring me a sedan-chair, which is naturally what I should have liked best. A Shetland pony was produced instead. I remembered my Natural History, I recalled popular report, and I got on the little beast&#039;s back, as any other man would have done in my position, placing implicit confidence in the sureness of his feet. And how did he repay that confidence? Brother Francis, carry your mind on from morning to noon. Picture to yourself a howling wilderness of grass and bog, bounded by low stony hills. Pick out one particular spot in that imaginary scene, and sketch me in it, with outstretched arms, curved back, and heels in the air, plunging headforemost into a black patch of water and mud. Place just behind me the legs, the body, and the head of a sure-footed Shetland pony, all stretched flat on the ground, and you will have produced an accurate representation of a very lamentable fact. And the moral device, Francis, of this picture will be to testify that when gentlemen put confidence in the legs of Shetland ponies, they will find to their cost that they are leaning on nothing but broken reeds. There is my first instance—and what have you got to say to that?&quot; &quot;Nothing, but that I want my hat,&quot; answered Goodchild, starting up and walking restlessly about the room. &quot;You shall have it in a minute,&quot; rejoined Thomas. &quot;My second instance &quot;— (Goodchild groaned, and sat down again)—&quot;My second instance is more appropriate to the present time and place, for it refers to a race-horse. Two years ago an excellent friend of mine, who was desirous of prevailing on me to take regular exercise, and who was well enough acquainted with the weakness of my legs to expect no very active compliance with his wishes on their part, offered to make me a present of one of his horses. Hearing that the animal in question, had started in life on the turf, I declined accepting the gift with many thanks; adding, by way of explanation, that I looked on a race-horse as a kind of embodied hurricane, upon which no sane man of my character and companion as lightly as possible, suggested that his sofa should be moved to the window, and that he should amuse himself by looking out at the moving panorama of humanity, which the view from it of the principal street presented. Thomas, however, steadily declined profiting by the suggestion. &quot;The farther I am from the window,&quot; he said, &quot;the better, Brother Francis, I shall be pleased. I have nothing in common with the one prevalent idea of all those people who are passing in the street. Why should I care to look at them ?&quot; &quot;I hope I have nothing in common with the prevalent idea of a great many of them, either,&quot; answered Goodchild, thinking of the sporting gentlemen whom he had met in the course of his wanderings about Doncaster. &quot;But, surely, among all the people who are walking by the house, at this very moment, you may find—&quot; &quot;Not one living creature,&quot; interposed Thomas, &quot;who is not, in one way or another, interested in horses, and who is not, in a greater or less degree, an admirer of them. Now, I hold opinions in reference to these particular members of the quadruped creation, which may lay claim (as I believe) to the disastrous distinction of being unpartaken by any other human being, civilised or savage, over the whole surface of the earth. Taking the horse as an animal in the abstract, Francis, I cordially despise him from every point of view.&quot; &quot;Thomas,&quot; said Goodchild, &quot;confinement to the house has begun to affect your biliary secretions. I shall go to the chemist&#039;s and get you some physic.&quot; &quot;I object,&quot; continued Thomas, quietly possessing himself of his friend&#039;s hat, which stood on a table near him,—&quot;I object, first, habits could be expected to seat himself. My friend replied that, however appropriate my metaphor might be as applied to race-horses in general, it was singularly unsuitable as applied to the particular horse which he proposed to give me. From a foal upwards this remarkable animal had been the idlest and most sluggish of his race. Whatever capacities for speed he might possess he had kept so strictly to himself, that no amount of training had ever brought them out. He had been found hopelessly slow as a racer, and hopelessly lazy as a hunter, and was fit for nothing but a quiet, easy life of it with an old gentleman or an invalid. When I heard this account of the horse, I don&#039;t mind confessing that my heart warmed to him. Visions of Thomas Idle ambling serenely on the back of a steed as lazy as himself, presenting to a restless world the soothing and composite spectacle of a kind of sluggardly Centaur, too peaceable in his habits to alarm anybody, swam attractively before my eyes. I went to look at the horse in the stable. Nice fellow! he was fast asleep with a kitten on his back. I saw him taken out for an airing by the groom. If he had had trousers on his legs I should not have known them from my own, so deliberately were they lifted up, so gently were they put down, so slowly did they get over the ground. From that moment I gratefully accepted my friend&#039;s offer. I went home; the horse followed me—by a slow train. Oh, Francis, how devoutly I believed in that horse! how carefully I looked after all his little comforts! I had never gone the length of hiring a man-servant to wait on myself; but I went to the expense of hiring one to wait upon him. If I thought a little of myself when I bought the softest saddle that could be had for money, I thought also of my horse. When the man at the shop afterwards offered me spurs and a whip, I turned from him with horror. When I sallied out for my first ride, I went purposely unarmed with the means of hurrying my steed. He proceeded at his own pace every step of the way; and when he stopped, at last, and blew out both his sides with a heavy sigh, and turned his sleepy head and looked behind him, I took him home again, as I might take home an artless child who said to me, &quot;If you please, sir, I am tired.&quot; For a week this complete harmony between me and my horse lasted undisturbed. At the end of that time, when he had made quite sure of my friendly confidence in his laziness, when he had thoroughly acquainted himself with all the little weaknesses of my seat (and their name is Legion), the smouldering treachery and ingratitude of the equine nature blazed out in an instant. Without the slightest provocation from me, with nothing passing him at the time but a pony-chaise driven by an old lady, he started in one instant from a state of sluggish depression to a state of frantic high spirits. He kicked, he plunged, he shied, he pranced, he capered fearfully. I sat on him as long as I could, and when I could sit no longer, I fell off. No, Francis! this is not a circumstance to be laughed at, but to be wept over. What would be said of a Man who had requited my kindness in that way? Range over all the rest of the animal creation, and where will you find me an instance of treachery so black as this? The cow that kicks down the milking-pail may have some reason for it; she may think herself taxed too heavily to contribute to the dilution of human tea and the greasing of human bread. The tiger who springs out on me unawares has the excuse of being hungry at the time, to say nothing of the further justification of being a total stranger to me. The very flea who surprises me in my sleep may defend his act of assassination on the ground that I, in my turn, am always ready to murder him when I am awake. I defy the whole body of Natural Historians to move me, logically, off the ground that I have taken in regard to the horse. Receive back your hat, Brother Francis, and go to the chemist&#039;s, if you please; for I have now done. Ask me to take anything you like, except an interest in the Doncaster races. Ask me to look at anything you like, except an assemblage of people all animated by feelings of a friendly and admiring nature towards the horse. You are a remarkably well-informed man, and you have heard of hermits. Look upon me as a member of that ancient fraternity, and you will sensibly add to the many obligations which Thomas Idle is proud to owe to Francis Goodchild.&quot; Here, fatigued by the effort of excessive talking, disputatious Thomas waved one hand languidly, laid his head back on the sofa-pillow, and calmly closed his eyes. At a later period, Mr. Goodchild assailed his travelling companion boldly from the impregnable fortress of common sense. But Thomas, though tamed in body by drastic discipline, was still as mentally unapproachable as ever on the subject of his favourite delusion. The view from the window after Saturday&#039;s breakfast is altogether changed. The tradesmen&#039;s families have all come back again. The serious stationer&#039;s young woman of all work is shaking a duster out of the window of the combination breakfast-room; a child is playing with a doll, where Mr. Thurtell&#039;s hair was brushed; a sanitary scrubbing is in progress on the spot where Mr. Palmer&#039;s braces were put on. No signs of the Races are in the streets, but the tramps and the tumble-down carts and trucks laden with drinking-forms and tables and remnants of booths, that are making their way out of the town as fast as they can. The Angel, which has been cleared for action all the week, already begins restoring every neat and comfortable article of furniture to its own neat and comfortable place. The Angel&#039;s daughters (pleasanter angels Mr. Idle and Mr. Goodchild never saw, nor more quietly expert in their business, nor more superior to the common vice of being above it), have a little time to rest, and to air their cheerful faces among the flowers in the yard. It is market-day. The market looks unusually natural, comfortable, and wholesome; the market-people too. The town seems quite restored, when, hark! a metallic bray—The Gong-donkey! The wretched animal has not cleared off with the rest, but is here, under the window. How much more inconceivably drunk now, how much more begrimed of paw, how much more tight of calico hide, how much more stained and daubed and dirty and dung-hilly, from his horrible broom to his tender toes, who shall say! He cannot even shake the bray out of himself now, without laying his cheek so near to the mud of the street, that he pitches over after delivering it. Now, prone in the mud, and now backing himself up against shop-windows, the owners of which come out in terror to remove him; now, in the drinking-shop, and now in the tobacconist&#039;s, where he goes to buy tobacco, and makes his way into the parlor, and where he gets a cigar, which in half-a-minute he forgets to smoke; now dancing, now dozing, now cursing, and now complimenting My Lord, the Colonel, the Noble Captain, and Your Honorable Worship, the Gong-donkey kicks up his heels, occasionally braying, until suddenly, he beholds the dearest friend he has in the world coming down the street. The dearest friend the Gong-donkey has in the world, is a sort of Jackall, in a dull mangy black hide, of such small pieces that it looks as if it were made of blacking bottles turned inside out and cobbled together. The dearest friend in the world (inconceivably drunk too) advances at the Gong-donkey, with a hand on each thigh, in a series of humorous springs and stops, wagging his head as he comes. The Gong-Donkey regarding him with attention and with the warmest affection, suddenly perceives that he is the greatest enemy he has in the world, and hits him hard in the countenance. The astonished Jackall closes with the Donkey, and they roll over and over in the mud, pummelling one another. A Police Inspector, supernaturally endowed with patience, who has long been looking on from the Guildhall-steps, says to a myrmidon, &quot;Lock &#039;em up! Bring &#039;em in!&quot; Appropriate finish to the Grand Race Week. The Gong-donkey, captive and last trace of it, conveyed into limbo, where they cannot do better than keep him until next Race Week. The Jackall is wanted too, and is much looked for, over the way and up and down. But, having had the good-fortune to be undermost at the time of the capture, he has vanished into air. On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Goodchild walks out and looks at the Course. It is quite deserted; heaps of broken crockery and bottles are raised to its memory; and correct cards and other fragments of paper are blowing about it, as the regulation little paper-books, carried by the French soldiers in their breasts, were seen, soon after the battle was fought, blowing idly about the plains of Waterloo. Where will these present idle leaves be blown by the idle winds, and where will the last of them be one day lost and forgotten? An idle question, and an idle thought; and with it Mr. Idle fitly makes his bow, and Mr. Goodchild his, and thus ends the Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices.
232 IV, 'The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices'Published in <em>Household Words</em>, Vol. XVI, No. 394, 24 October 1857, pp. 385-393.Dickens, Charles and Wilkie Collins<em>Dickens Journals Online</em>,<a href=""></a> <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1857-10-10">1857-10-10</a>Scanned material from&nbsp;<em>Dickens Journals Online</em>, <a href="" id="LPNoLPOWALinkPreview" contenteditable="false" title=""></a>. Available under CC-BY licence.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Short+story">Short story</a>1857-10-24-The_Lazy_Tour_of_Two_Idle_Apprentices_No4<span>Dickens, Charles and Wilkie Collins. No.IV 'The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices'.</span><span>&nbsp;</span><em>Dickens Search</em><span>. Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig.&nbsp;</span><span>Accessed [date].&nbsp;</span><a href=""></a><span>.</span><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=93&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=%3Cem%3EHousehold+Words%3C%2Fem%3E"><em>Household Words</em></a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=94&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Periodical">Periodical</a>1857-10-24When Mr. Goodchild had looked out of the Lancaster Inn-window for two hours on end, with great perseverance, he began to entertain a misgiving that he was growing industrious. He therefore set himself next, to explore the country from the tops of all the steep hills in the neighbourhood. He came back at dinner-time, red and glowing, to tell Thomas Idle what he had seen. Thomas, on his back reading, listened with great composure, and asked him whether he really had gone up those hills, and bothered himself with those views, and walked all those miles? &quot;Because I want to know,&quot; added Thomas, &quot;what you would say of it, if you were obliged to do it?&quot; &quot;It would be different, then,&quot; said Francis. &quot;It would be work, then; now, it&#039;s play.&quot; &quot;Play!&quot; repeated Thomas Idle, utterly repudiating the reply. &quot;Play! Here is a man goes systematically tearing himself to pieces, and putting himself through an incessant course of training, as if he were always under articles to fight a match for the champion&#039;s belt, and he calls it Play! Play!&quot; exclaimed Thomas Idle, scornfully contemplating his one boot in the air. &quot;You can&#039;t play. You don&#039;t know what it is. You make work of everything.&quot; The bright Goodchild amiably smiled. &quot;So you do,&quot; said Thomas.&quot; I mean it. To me you are an absolutely terrible fellow. You do nothing like another man. Where another fellow would fall into a footbath of action or emotion, you fall into a mine. Where any other fellow would be a painted butterfly, you are a fiery dragon. Where another man would stake a sixpence, you stake your existence. If you were to go up in a balloon, you would make for Heaven; and if you were to dive into the depths of the earth, nothing short of the other place would content you. What a fellow you are, Francis!&quot; The cheerful Goodchild laughed. &quot;It&#039;s all very well to laugh, but I wonder you don&#039;t feel it to be serious,&quot; said Idle. &quot;A man who can do nothing by halves appears to me to be a fearful man.&quot; &quot;Tom, Tom,&quot; returned Goodchild, &quot;if I can do nothing by halves, and be nothing by halves, it&#039;s pretty clear that you must take me as a whole, and make the best of me.&quot; With this philosophical rejoinder, the airy Goodchild clapped Mr. Idle on the shoulder in a final manner, and they sat down to dinner. &quot;By the bye,&quot; said Goodchild, &quot;I have been over a lunatic asylum too, since I have been out.&quot; &quot;He has been,&quot; exclaimed Thomas Idle, casting up his eyes, &quot;over a lunatic asylum! Not content with being as great an Ass as Captain Barclay in the pedestrian way, he makes a Lunacy Commissioner of himself—for nothing!&quot; &quot;An immense place,&quot; said Goodchild, &quot;admirable offices, very good arrangements, very good attendants; altogether a remarkable place.&quot; &quot;And what did you see there?&quot; asked Mr. Idle, adapting Hamlet&#039;s advice to the occasion, and assuming the virtue of interest, though he had it not. &quot;The usual thing,&quot; said Francis Goodchild, with a sigh. &quot;Long groves of blighted men-and-women-trees; interminable avenues of hopeless faces; numbers, without the slightest power of really combining for any earthly purpose; a society of human creatures who have nothing in common but that they have all lost the power of being humanly social with one another.&quot; &quot;Take a glass of wine with me,&quot; said Thomas Idle, &quot;and let us be social.&quot; &quot;In one gallery, Tom,&quot; pursued Francis Goodchild, &quot;which looked to me about the length of the Long Walk at Windsor, more or less—&quot; &quot;Probably less,&quot; observed Thomas Idle. &quot;In one gallery, which was otherwise quite clear of patients (for they were all out), there was a poor little dark-chinned, meagre man, with a perplexed brow and a pensive face, stooping low over the matting on the floor, and picking out with his thumb and fore-finger the course of its fibres. The afternoon sun was slanting in at the large end-window, and there were cross patches of light and shade all down the vista, made by the unseen orders were so, in that excellent hotel), the door opened, and One old man stood there. He did not come in, but stood with the door in his hand. &quot;One of the six, Tom, at last!&quot; said Mr. Goodchild, in a surprised whisper.— &quot;Sir, your pleasure?&quot; &quot;Sir, your pleasure?&quot; said the One old man. &quot;I didn&#039;t ring.&quot; &quot;The Bell did,&quot; said the One old man. He said BELL, in a deep strong way, that would have expressed the church Bell. &quot;I had the pleasure, I believe, of seeing you, yesterday?&quot; said Goodchild. &quot;I cannot undertake to say for certain,&quot; was the grim reply of the One old man. &quot;I think you saw me? Did you not?&quot; &quot;Saw you?&quot; said the old man. &quot;O yes, I saw you. But, I see many who never see me.&quot; A chilled, slow, earthy, fixed old man. A cadaverous old man of measured speech. An old man who seemed as unable to wink, as if his eyelids had been nailed to his forehead. An old man whose eyes— two spots of fire—had no more motion than if they had been connected with the back of his skull by screws driven through it, and rivetted and bolted outside, among his grey hair. The night had turned so cold, to Mr. Goodchild&#039;s sensations, that he shivered. He remarked lightly, and half apologetically, &quot;I think somebody is walking over my grave.&quot; &quot;No,&quot; said the weird old man, &quot;there is no one there.&quot; Mr. Goodchild looked at Idle, but Idle lay with his head enwreathed in smoke. &quot;No one there?&quot; said Goodchild. &quot;There is no one at your grave, I assure you,&quot; said the old man. He had come in and shut the door, and he now sat down. He did not bend himself to sit, as other people do, but seemed to sink bolt upright, as if in water, until the chair stopped him. &quot;My friend, Mr. Idle,&quot; said Goodchild, extremely anxious to introduce a third person into the conversation. &quot;I am,&quot; said the old man, without looking at him,&quot; at Mr. Idle&#039;s service.&quot; &quot;If you are an old inhabitant of this place,&quot; Francis Goodchild resumed: &quot;Yes.&quot; —&quot;Perhaps you can decide a point my friend and I were in doubt upon, this morning. They hang condemned criminals at the Castle, I believe?&quot; &quot;I believe so,&quot; said the old man. &quot;Are their faces turned towards that noble prospect?&quot; &quot;Your face is turned,&quot; replied the old man, &quot;to the Castle wall. When you are tied up, you see its stones expanding and contracting violently, and a similar expansion and contraction seem to take place in your own head and breast. Then, there is a rush of fire and an earthquake, and the Castle springs into the air, and you tumble down a precipice.&quot; His cravat appeared to trouble him. He put his hand to his throat, and moved his neck from side to side. He was an old man of a swollen character of face, and his nose was immoveably hitched up on one side, as if by a little hook inserted in that nostril. Mr. Goodchild felt exceedingly uncomfortable, and began to think the night was hot, and not cold. &quot;A strong description, sir,&quot; he observed. &quot;A strong sensation,&quot; the old man rejoined. Again, Mr. Goodchild looked to Mr. Thomas Idle; but, Thomas lay on his back with his face attentively turned towards the One old man, and made no sign. At this time Mr. Goodchild believed that he saw two threads of fire stretch from the old man&#039;s eyes to his own, and there attach themselves. (Mr. Goodchild writes the present account of his experience, and, with the utmost solemnity, protests that he had the strongest sensation upon him of being forced to look at the old man along those two fiery films, from that moment.) &quot;I must tell it to you,&quot; said the old man, with a ghastly and a stony stare. &quot;What?&quot; asked Francis Goodchild. &quot;You know where it took place. Yonder!&quot; Whether he pointed to the room above, or to the room below, or to any room in that old house, or to a room in some other old house in that old town, Mr. Goodchild was not, nor is, nor ever can be, sure. He was confused by the circumstance that the right fore-finger of the One old man seemed to dip itself in one of the threads of fire, light itself, and make a fiery start in the air, as it pointed somewhere. Having pointed somewhere, it went out. &quot;You know she was a Bride,&quot; said the old man. &quot;I know they still send up Bride-cake,&quot; Mr. Goodchild faltered. &quot;This is a very oppressive air.&quot; &quot;She was a Bride,&quot; said the old man. &quot;She was a fair, flaxen-haired, large-eyed girl, who had no character, no purpose. A weak, credulous, incapable, helpless nothing. Not like her mother. No, no. It was her father whose character she reflected. &quot;Her mother had taken care to secure everything to herself, for her own life, when, the father of this girl (a child at that time) died—of sheer helplessness; no other disorder—and then He renewed the acquaintance that had once subsisted between the mother and Him. He had been put aside for the flaxen-haired, large-eyed man (or non-entity) with Money. He could overlook that for Money. He wanted compensation in Money. &quot;So, he returned to the side of that woman the mother, made love to her again, danced attendance on her, and submitted himself to her whims. She wreaked upon him every whim she had, or could invent. He bore it. And the more he bore, the more he wanted compensation in Money, and the more he was resolved to have it. &quot;But, lo! Before he got it, she cheated him. In one of her imperious states, she froze, and never thawed again. She put her hands to her head one night, uttered a cry, stiffened, lay in that attitude certain hours, and died. And he had got no compensation from her in Money, yet. Blight and Murrain on her! Not a penny. &quot;He had hated her throughout that second pursuit, and had longed for retaliation on her. He now counterfeited her signature to an instrument, leaving all she had to leave, to her daughter—ten years old then—to whom the property passed absolutely, and appointing himself the daughter&#039;s Guardian. When He slid it under the pillow of the bed on which she lay, He bent down in the deaf ear of Death, and whispered: &#039;Mistress Pride, I have determined a long time that, dead or alive, you must make me compensation in Money.&#039; &quot;So, now there were only two left. Which two were, He, and the fair flaxen-haired, large-eyed foolish daughter, who afterwards became the Bride. &quot;He put her to school. In a secret, dark, oppressive, ancient house, he put her to school with a watchful and unscrupulous woman. &#039;My worthy lady,&#039; he said,&#039; here is a mind to be formed; will you help me to form it?&#039; She accepted the trust. For which she, too, wanted compensation in Money, and had it. &quot;The girl was formed in the fear of him, and in the conviction, that there was no escape from him. She was taught, from the first, to regard him as her future husband—the man who must marry her— the destiny that overshadowed her—the appointed certainty that could never be evaded. The poor fool was soft white wax in their hands, and took the impression that they put upon her. It hardened with time. It became a part of herself. Inseparable from herself, and only to be torn away from her, by tearing life away from her. &quot;Eleven years she lived in the dark house and its gloomy garden. He was jealous of the very light and air getting to her, and they kept her close. He stopped the wide chimneys, shaded the little windows, left the strong-stemmed ivy to wander where it would over the house-front, the moss to accumulate on the untrimmed fruit-trees in the red-walled garden, the weeds to over-run its green and yellow walks. He surrounded her with images of sorrow and desolation. He caused her to be filled with fears of the place and of the stories that were told of it, and then on pretext of correcting them, to be left in it in solitude, or made to shrink about it in the dark. When her mind was most depressed and fullest of terrors, then, he would come out of one of the hiding-places from which he overlooked her, and present himself as her sole resource. &quot;Thus, by being from her childhood the one embodiment her life presented to her of power to coërce and power to relieve, power to bind and power to loose, the ascendency over her weakness was secured. She was twenty-one years and twenty-one days old, when he brought her home to the gloomy house, his half-witted, frightened, and submissive Bride of three weeks. &quot;He had dismissed the governess by that time— what he had left to do, he could best do alone—and they came back, upon a rainy night, to the scene of her long preparation. &#039;She turned to him upon the threshhold, as the rain was dripping from the porch, and said: &quot;&#039;O sir, it is the Death-watch ticking for me!&#039; &quot;&#039;Well!&#039; he answered. &#039;And if it were?&#039; &quot;&#039;O sir!&#039; she returned to him, &#039;look kindly on me, and be merciful to me! I beg your pardon. I will do anything you wish, if you will only forgive me!&#039; &quot;That had become the poor fool&#039;s constant song: &#039;I beg your pardon,&#039; and &#039;Forgive me!&#039; &quot;She was not worth hating; he felt nothing but contempt for her. But, she had long been in the way, and he had long been weary, and the work was near its end, and had to be worked out. &quot;&#039;You fool,&#039; he said. &#039;Go up the stairs!&#039; &quot;She obeyed very quickly, murmuring, &#039;I will do anything you wish!&#039; When he came into the Bride&#039;s Chamber, having been a little retarded by the heavy fastenings of the great door (for they were alone in the house, and he had arranged that the people who attended on them should come and go in the day), he found her withdrawn to the furthest corner, and there standing pressed against the paneling as if she would have shrunk through it: her flaxen hair all wild about her face, and her large eyes staring at him in vague terror. &quot;&#039;What are you afraid of? Come and sit down by me.&#039; &quot;&#039;I will do anything you wish. I beg your pardon, sir. Forgive me!&#039; Her monotonous tune as usual. &quot;&#039;Ellen, here is a writing that you must write out to-morrow, in your own hand. You may as well be seen by others, busily engaged upon it. When you have written it all fairly, and corrected all mistakes, call in any two people there may be about the house, and sign your name to it before them. Then, put it in your bosom to keep it safe, and when I sit here again to-morrow night, give it to me.&#039; &quot;&#039;I will do it all, with the greatest care. I will do anything you wish.&#039; &quot;&#039;Don&#039;t shake and tremble, then.&#039; &quot;&#039;I will try my utmost not to do it—if you will only forgive me!&#039; &quot;Next day, she sat down at her desk, and did as she had been told. He often passed in and out of the room, to observe her, and always saw her slowly and laboriously writing: repeating to herself the words she copied, in appearance quite mechanically, and without caring or endeavouring to comprehend them, so that she did her task. He saw her follow the directions she had received, in all particulars; and at night, when they were alone again in the same Bride&#039;s Chamber, and he drew his chair to the hearth, she timidly approached him from her distant seat, took the paper from her bosom, and gave it into his hand. &quot;It secured all her possessions to him, in the event of her death. He put her before him, face to face, that he might look at her steadily; and he asked her, in so many plain words, neither fewer nor more, did she know that? &quot;There were spots of ink upon the bosom of her white dress, and they made her face look whiter and her eyes look larger as she nodded her head. There were spots of ink upon the hand with which she stood before him, nervously plaiting and folding her white skirts. &quot;He took her by the arm, and looked her, yet more closely and steadily, in the face. &#039;Now, die! I have done with you.&#039; &quot;She shrunk, and uttered a low, suppressed cry. &quot;&#039;I am not going to kill you. I will not endanger my life for yours. Die!&#039; &quot;He sat before her in the gloomy Bride&#039;s Chamber, day after day, night after night, looking the word at her when he did not utter it. As often as her large unmeaning eyes were raised from the hands in which she rocked her head, to the stern figure, sitting with crossed arms and knitted forehead, in the chair, they read in it, &#039;Die!&#039; When she dropped asleep in exhaustion, she was called back to shuddering consciousness, by the whisper, &#039;Die!&#039; When she fell upon her old entreaty to be pardoned, she was answered, &#039;Die!&#039; When she had out-watched and out-suffered the long night, and the rising sun flamed into the sombre room, she heard it hailed with, &#039;Another day and not dead?—Die!&#039; &quot;Shut up in the deserted mansion, aloof from all mankind, and engaged alone in such a struggle without any respite, it came to this—that either he must die, or she. He knew it very well, and concentrated his strength against her feebleness. Hours upon hours he held her by the arm when her arm was black where he held it, and bade her Die! &quot;It was done, upon a windy morning, before sunrise. He computed the time to be half-past four; but, his forgotten watch had run down, and he could not be sure. She had broken away from him in the night, with loud and sudden cries—the first of that kind to which she had given vent—and he had had to put his hands over her mouth. Since then, she had been quiet in the corner of the paneling where she had sunk down; and he had left her, and had gone back with his folded arms and his knitted forehead to his chair. &quot;Paler in the pale light, more colourless than ever in the leaden dawn, he saw her coming, trailing herself along the floor towards him—a white wreck of hair, and dress, and wild eyes, pushing itself on by an irresolute and bending hand. &quot;&#039;O, forgive me! I will do anything. O, sir, pray tell me I may live!&#039; &quot;&#039;Die!&#039; &quot;&#039;Are you so resolved? Is there no hope for me?&#039; &quot;&#039;Die!&#039; &quot;Her large eyes strained themselves with wonder and fear; wonder and fear changed to reproach; reproach to blank nothing. It was done. He was not at first so sure it was done, but that the morning sun was hanging jewels in her hair—he saw the diamond, emerald, and ruby, glittering among it in little points, as he stood looking down at her—when he lifted her and laid her on her bed. &quot;She was soon laid in the ground. And now they were all gone, and he had compensated himself well. &quot;He had a mind to travel. Not that he meant to waste his Money, for he was a pinching man and liked his Money dearly (liked nothing else, indeed), but, that he had grown tired of the desolate house and wished to turn his back upon it and have done with it. But, the house was worth Money, and Money must not be thrown away. He determined to sell it before he went. That it might look the less wretched and bring a better price, he hired some labourers to work in the overgrown garden; to cut out the dead wood, trim the ivy that drooped in heavy masses over the windows and gables, and clear the walks in which the weeds were growing mid-leg high. &quot;He worked, himself, along with them. He worked later than they did, and, one evening at dusk, was left working alone, with his bill-hook in his hand. One autumn evening, when the Bride was five weeks dead. &quot;&#039;It grows too dark to work longer,&#039; he said to himself, &#039;I must give over for the night.&#039; &quot;He detested the house, and was loath to enter it. He looked at the dark porch waiting for him like a tomb, and felt that it was an accursed house. Near to the porch, and near to where he stood, was a tree whose branches waved before the old bay-window of the Bride&#039;s Chamber, where it had been done. The tree swung suddenly, and made him start. It swung again, although the night was still. Looking up into it, he saw a figure among the branches. &quot;It was the figure of a young man. The face looked down, as his looked up; the branches cracked and swayed; the figure rapidly descended, and slid upon its feet before him. A slender youth of about her age, with long light brown hair. &quot;&#039;What thief are you?&#039; he said, seizing the youth by the collar. &quot;The young man, in shaking himself free, swung him a blow with his arm across the face and throat. They closed, but the young man got from him and stepped back, crying, with great eagerness and horror, &#039;Don&#039;t touch me! I would as lieve be touched by the Devil!&#039; &quot;He stood still, with his bill-hook in his hand, looking at the young man. For, the young man&#039;s look was the counterpart of her last look, and he had not expected ever to see that again. &quot;&#039;I am no thief. Even if I were, I would not have a coin of your wealth, if it would buy me the Indies. You murderer!&#039; &quot;&#039;What!&#039; &quot;&#039;I climbed it,&#039; said the young man, pointing up into the tree, &#039;for the first time, nigh four years ago. I climbed it, to look at her. I saw her. I spoke to her. I have climbed it, many a time, to watch and listen for her. I was a boy, hidden among its leaves, when from that bay-window she gave me this!&#039; &quot;He showed a tress of flaxen hair, tied with a mourning ribbon. &quot;&#039;Her life,&#039; said the young man, &#039;was a life of mourning. She gave me this, as a token of it, and a sign that she was dead to every one but you. If I had been older, if I had seen her sooner, I might have saved her from you. But, she was fast in the web when I first climbed the tree, and what could I do then to break it!&#039; &quot;In saying those words, he burst into a fit of sobbing and crying: weakly at first, then passionately. &quot;&#039;Murderer! I climbed the tree on the night when you brought her back. I heard her, from the tree, speak of the Death-watch at the door. I was three times in the tree while you were shut up with her, slowly killing her. I saw her, from the tree, lie dead upon her bed. I have watched you, from the tree, for proofs and traces of your guilt. The manner of it, is a mystery to me yet, but I will pursue you until you have rendered up your life to the hangman. You shall never, until then, be rid of me. I loved her! I can know no relenting towards you. Murderer, I loved her!&#039; &quot;The youth was bare-headed, his hat having fluttered away in his descent from the tree. He moved towards the gate. He had to pass—Him—to get to it. There was breadth for two old-fashioned carriages abreast; and the youth&#039;s abhorrence, openly expressed in every feature of his face and limb of his body, and very hard to bear, had verge enough to keep itself at a distance in. He (by which I mean the other) had not stirred hand or foot, since he had stood still to look at the boy. He faced round, now, to follow him with his eyes. As the back of the bare light-brown head was turned to him, he saw a red curve stretch from his hand to it. He knew, before he threw the bill-hook, where it had alighted—I say, had alighted, and not, would alight; for, to his clear perception the thing was done before he did it. It cleft the head, and it remained there, and the boy lay on his face. &quot;He buried the body in the night, at the foot of the tree. As soon as it was light in the morning, he worked at turning up all the ground near the tree, and hacking and hewing at the neighbouring bushes and undergrowth. When the laborers came, there was nothing suspicious, and nothing was suspected. &quot;But, he had, in a moment, defeated all his precautions, and destroyed the triumph of the scheme he had so long concerted, and so successfully worked out. He had got rid of the Bride, and had acquired her fortune without endangering his life; but now, for a death by which he had gained nothing, he had evermore to live with a rope around his neck. &quot;Beyond this, he was chained to the house of gloom and horror, which he could not endure. Being afraid to sell it or to quit it, lest discovery should be made, he was forced to live in it. He hired two old people, man and wife, for his servants; and dwelt in it, and dreaded it. His great difficulty, for a long time, was the garden. Whether he should keep it trim, whether he should suffer it to fall into its former state of neglect, what would be the least likely way of attracting attention to it? &quot;He took the middle course of gardening, himself, in his evening leisure, and of then calling the old serving-man to help him; but, of never letting him work there alone. And he made himself an arbour over against the tree, where he could sit and see that it was safe. &quot;As the seasons changed, and the tree changed, his mind perceived dangers that were always changing. In the leafy time, he perceived that the upper boughs were growing into the form of the young man—that they made the shape of him exactly, sitting in a forked branch swinging in the wind. In the time of the falling leaves, he perceived that they came down from the tree, forming tell-tale letters on the path, or that they had a tendency to heap themselves into a church-yard-mound above the grave. In the winter, when the tree was bare, he perceived that the boughs swung at him the ghost of the blow the young man had given, and that they threatened him openly. In the spring, when thesap was mounting in the trunk, he asked himself, were the dried-up particles of blood mounting with it: to make out more obviously this year than last, the leaf-screened figure of the young man, swinging in the wind? &quot;However, he turned his Money over and over, and still over. He was in the dark trade, the gold-dust trade, and most secret trades that yielded great returns. In ten years, he had turned his Money over, so many times, that the traders and shippers who had dealings with him, absolutely did not lie—for once—when they declared that he had increased his fortune, Twelve Hundred Per Cent. &quot;He possessed his riches one hundred years ago, when people could be lost easily. He had heard who the youth was, from hearing of the search that was made after him; but, it died away, and the youth was forgotten. &quot;The annual round of changes in the tree had been repeated ten times since the night of the burial at its foot, when there was a great thunder-storm over this place. It broke at midnight, and raged until morning. The first intelligence he heard from his old serving-man that morning, was, that the tree had been struck by Lightning. &quot;It had been riven down the stem, in a very surprising manner, and the stem lay in two blighted shafts: one resting against the house, and one against a portion of the old red garden-wall in which its fall had made a gap. The fissure went down the tree to a little above the earth, and there stopped. There was great curiosity to see the tree, and, with most of his former fears revived, he sat in his arbour—grown quite an old man—watching the people who came to see it. &quot;They quickly began to come, in such dangerous numbers, that he closed his garden-gate and refused to admit any more. But, there were certain men of science who travelled from a distance to examine the tree, and, in an evil hour, he let them in—Blight and Murrain on them, let them in! &quot;They wanted to dig up the ruin by the roots, and closely examine it, and the earth about it. Never, while he lived! They offered money for it. They! Men of science, whom he could have bought by the gross, with a scratch of his pen! He showed them the garden-gate again, and locked and barred it. &quot;But, they were bent on doing what they wanted to do, and they bribed the old serving-man—a thankless wretch who regularly complained when he received his wages, of being underpaid—and they stole into the garden by night with their lanterns, picks, and shovels, and fell to at the tree. He was lying in a turret-room on the other side of the house (the Bride&#039;s Chamber had been unoccupied ever since), but he soon dreamed of picks and shovels, and got up. &quot;He came to an upper window on that side, whence he could see their lanterns, and them, and the loose earth in a heap which he had himself disturbed and put back, when it was last turned to the air. It was found! They had that minute lighted on it. They were all bending over it. One of them said, &#039;The skull is fractured;&#039; and another,&#039; See here the bones;&#039; and another, &#039;See here the clothes;&#039; and then the first struck in again, and said, &#039;A rusty bill-hook!&#039; &quot;He became sensible, next day, that he was already put under a strict watch, and that he could go nowhere without being followed. Before a week was out, he was taken and laid in hold. The circumstances were gradually pieced together against him, with a desperate malignity, and an appalling ingenuity. But, see the justice of men, and how it was extended to him! He was further accused of having poisoned that girl in the Bride&#039;s Chamber. He, who had carefully and expressly avoided imperilling a hair of his head for her, and who had seen her die of her own incapacity! &quot;There was doubt for which of the two murders he should be first tried; but, the real one was chosen, and he was found Guilty, and cast for Death. Bloodthirsty wretches! They would have made him Guilty of anything, so set they were upon having his life. &quot;His money could do nothing to save him, and he was hanged. I am He, and I was hanged at Lancaster Castle with my face to the wall, a hundred years ago!&quot; At this terrific announcement, Mr. Goodchild tried to rise and cry out. But, the two fiery lines extending from the old man&#039;s eyes to his own, kept him down, and he could not utter a sound. His sense of hearing, however, was acute, and he could hear the clock strike Two. No sooner had he heard the clock strike Two, than he saw before him Two old men! Two. The eyes of each, connected with his eyes by two films of fire: each, exactly like the other: each, addressing him at precisely one and the same instant: each, gnashing the same teeth in the same head, with the same twitched nostril above them, and the same suffused expression around it. Two old men. Differing in nothing, equally distinct to the sight, the copy no fainter than the original, the second as real as the first. &quot;At what time,&quot; said the Two old men, &quot;did you arrive at the door below?&quot; &quot;At Six.&quot; &quot;And there were Six old men upon the stairs!&quot; Mr. Goodchild having wiped the perspiration from his brow, or tried to do it, the Two old men proceeded in one voice, and in the singular number: &quot;I had been anatomised, but had not yet had my skeleton put together and re-hung on an iron hook, when it began to be whispered that the Bride&#039;s Chamber was haunted. It was haunted, and I was there. &quot;We were there. She and I were there. I, in the chair upon the hearth; she, a white wreck again, trailing itself towards me on the floor. But, I was the speaker no more. She was the sole speaker now, and the one word that she said to me from midnight until dawn was, &#039;Live!&#039; &quot;The youth was there, likewise. In the tree outside the window. Coming and going in the moonlight, as the tree bent and gave. He has, ever since, been there; peeping in at me in my torment; revealing to me by snatches, in the pale lights and slatey shadows where he comes and goes, bare-headed—a bill-hook, standing edgewise in his hair. &quot;In the Bride&#039;s Chamber, every night from midnight until dawn—one month in the year excepted, as I am going to tell you—he hides in the tree, and she comes towards me on the floor; always approaching; never coming nearer; always visible as if by moonlight, whether the moon shines or no; always saying, from midnight until dawn, her one word, &#039;Live!&#039; &quot;But, in the month wherein I was forced out of this life—this present month of thirty days—the Bride&#039;s Chamber is empty and quiet. Not so my old dungeon. Not so the rooms where I was restless and afraid, ten years. Both are fitfully haunted then. At One in the morning, I am what you saw me when the clock struck that hour—One old man. At Two in the morning, I am Two old men. At Three, I am Three. By Twelve at noon, I am Twelve old men, One for every hundred per cent of old gain. Every one of the Twelve, with Twelve times my old power of suffering and agony. From that hour until Twelve at night, I, Twelve old men in anguish and fearful foreboding, wait for the coming of the executioner. At Twelve at night, I, Twelve old men turned off, swing invisible outside Lancaster Castle, with Twelve faces to the wall! &quot;When the Bride&#039;s Chamber was first haunted, it was known to me that this punishment would never cease, until I could make its nature, and my story, known to two living men together. I waited for the coming of two living men together into the Bride&#039;s Chamber, years upon years. It was infused into my knowledge (of the means I am ignorant) that if two living men, with their eyes open, could be in the Bride&#039;s Chamber at One in the morning, they would see me sitting in my chair. &quot;At length, the whispers that the room was spiritually troubled, brought two men to try the adventure. I was scarcely struck upon the hearth at midnight (I come there as if the Lightning blasted me into being), when I heard them ascending the stairs. Next, I saw them enter. One of them was a bold, gay, active man, in the prime of life, some five and forty years of age; the other, a dozen years younger. They brought provisions with them in a basket, and bottles. A young woman accompanied them, with wood and coals for the lighting of the fire. When she had lighted it, the bold, gay, active man accompanied her along the gallery outside the room, to see her safely down the staircase, and came back laughing. &quot;He locked the door, examined the chamber, put out the contents of the basket on the table before the fire—little recking of me, in my appointed station on the hearth, close to him—and filled the glasses, and ate and drank. His companion did the same, and was as cheerful and confident as be: though he was the leader. When they had supped, they laid pistols on the table, turned to the fire, and began to smoke their pipes of foreign make. &quot;They had travelled together, and had been much together, and had an abundance of subjects in common. In the midst of their talking and laughing, the younger man made a reference to the leader&#039;s being always ready for any adventure; that one, or any other. He replied in these words: &quot;&#039;Not quite so, Dick; if I am afraid of nothing else, I am afraid of myself.&#039; &quot;His companion seeming to grow a little dull, asked him, in what sense? How? &quot;&#039;Why, thus,&#039; he returned. &#039;Here is a Ghost to be disproved. Well! I cannot, answer for what my fancy might do if I were alone here, or what tricks my senses might play with me if they had me to themselves. But, in company with another man, and especially with you, Dick, I would consent to outface all the Ghosts that were ever told of in the universe.&#039; &quot;&#039;I had not the vanity to suppose that I was of so much importance to-night,&#039; said the other. &quot;&#039;Of so much,&#039; rejoined the leader, more seriously than he had spoken yet, &#039;that I would, for the reason I have given, on no account have undertaken to pass the night here alone.&#039; &quot;It was within a few minutes of One. The head of the younger man had drooped when he made his last remark, and it drooped lower now. &quot;&#039;Keep awake, Dick!&#039; said the leader, gaily. &#039;The small hours are the worst.&#039; &quot;He tried, but his head drooped again. &quot;&#039;Dick!&#039; urged the leader. &#039;Keep awake!&#039; &quot;&#039;I can&#039;t,&#039; he indistinctly muttered. &#039;I don&#039;t know what strange influence is stealing over me. I can&#039;t.&#039; &quot;His companion looked at him with a sudden horror, and I, in my different way, felt a new horror also; for, it was on the stroke of One, and I felt that the secondwatcher was yielding to me, and that the curse was upon me that I must send him to sleep. &quot;&#039;Get up and walk, Dick!&#039; cried the leader. Try!&#039; &quot;It was in vain to go behind the slumberer&#039;s chair and shake him. One o&#039;clock sounded, and I was present to the elder man, and he stood transfixed before me. &quot;To him alone, I was obliged to relate my story, without hope of benefit. To him alone, I was an awful phantom making a quite useless confession. I foresee it will ever be the same. The two living men together will never come to release me. When I appear, the senses of one of the two will be locked in sleep; he will neither see nor hear me; my communication will ever be made to a solitary listener, and will ever be unserviceable. Woe! Woe! Woe!&quot; As the Two old men, with these words, wrung their hands, it shot into Mr. Goodchild&#039;s mind that he was in the terrible situation of being virtually alone with the spectre, and that Mr. Idle&#039;s immoveability was explained by his having been charmed asleep at One o&#039;clock. In the terror of this sudden discovery which produced an indescribable dread, he struggled so hard to get free from the four fiery threads, that he snapped them, after he had pulled them out to a great width. Being then out of bonds, he caught up Mr. Idle from the sofa and rushed down stairs with him. &quot;What are you about, Francis?&quot; demanded Mr. Idle. &quot;My bedroom is not down here. What the deuce are you carrying me at all for? I can walk with a stick now. I don&#039;t want to be carried. Put me down.&quot; Mr. Goodchild put him down in the old hall, and looked about him wildly. &quot;What are you doing? Idiotically plunging at your own sex, and rescuing them or perishing in the attempt?&quot; asked Mr. Idle, in a highly petulant state. &quot;The One old man!&quot; cried Mr. Goodchild, distractedly,—&quot;and the Two old men!&quot; Mr. Idle deigned no other reply than &quot;The One old woman, I think you mean,&quot; as he began hobbling his way back up the staircase, with the assistance of its broad balustrade. &quot;I assure you, Tom,&quot; began Mr. Goodchild, attending at his side, &quot;that since you fell asleep—&quot; &quot;Come, I like that!&quot; said Thomas Idle, &quot;I haven&#039;t closed an eye!&quot; With the peculiar sensitiveness on the subject of the disgraceful action of going to sleep out of bed, which is the lot of all mankind, Mr. Idle persisted in this declaration. The same peculiar sensitiveness impelled Mr. Goodchild, on being taxed with the same crime, to repudiate it with honourable resentment. The settlement of the question of The One old man and The Two old men was thus presently complicated, and soon made quite impracticable. Mr. Idle said it was all Bride-cake, and fragments, newly arranged, of things seen and thought about in the day. Mr. Goodchild said how could that be, when he hadn&#039;t been asleep, and what right could Mr. Idle have to say so, who had been asleep? Mr. Idle said he had never been asleep, and never did go to sleep, and that Mr. Goodchild, as a general rule, was always asleep. They consequently parted for the rest of the night, at their bedroom doors, a little ruffled. Mr. Goodchild&#039;s last words were, that he had had, in that real and tangible old sitting-room of that real and tangible old Inn (he supposed Mr. Idle denied its existence?), every sensation and experience, the present record of which is now within a line or two of completion; and that he would write it out and print it every word. Mr. Idle returned that he might if he liked—and he did like, and has now done it.
231, 'The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices'Published in <em>Household Words,</em> Vol. XVI, No. 394, 17 October 1857, pp. 361-367.Dickens, Charles and Wilkie Collins<em>Dickens Journals Online, </em><a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1857-10-17">1857-10-17</a>Scanned material from <em>Dickens Journals Online,</em> Available under CC BY licence.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Short+story">Short story</a>1857-10-17-The_Lazy_Tour_of_Two_Idle_Apprentices_No3<span>Dickens, Charles and Wilkie Collins. No.III 'The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices'.</span><span>&nbsp;</span><em>Dickens Search</em><span>. Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig.&nbsp;</span><span>Accessed [date].&nbsp;</span><a href=""></a><span>.</span><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=93&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=%3Cem%3EHousehold+Words%3C%2Fem%3E"><em>Household Words</em></a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=94&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Periodical">Periodical</a>1857-10-17The Cumberland Doctor&#039;s mention of Doncaster Races, inspired Mr. Francis Goodchild with the idea of going down to Doncaster to see the races. Doncaster being a good way off, and quite out of the way of the Idle Apprentices (if anything could be out of their way, who had no way), it necessarily followed that Francis perceived Doncaster in the race-week to be, of all possible idlenesses, the particular idleness that would completely satisfy him. Thomas, with an enforced idleness grafted on the natural and voluntary power of his disposition, was not of this mind ; objecting that a man compelled to lie on his back on a floor, a sofa, a table, a line of chairs, or anything he could get to lie upon, was not in racing condition, and that he desired nothing better than to lie where he was, enjoying himself in looking at the flies on the ceiling. But, Francis Goodchild, who had been walking round his companion in a circuit of twelve miles for two days, and had begun to doubt whether it was reserved for him ever to be idle in his life, not only overpowered this objection, but even converted Thomas Idle to a scheme he formed (another idle inspiration), of conveying the said Thomas to the sea-coast, and putting his injured leg under a stream of salt-water. Plunging into this happy conception head-foremost, Mr. Goodchild immediately referred to the county-map, and ardently discovered that the most delicious piece of sea- coast to be found within the limits of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, The Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands, all summed up together, was Allonby on the coast of Cumberland. There was the coast of Scotland opposite to Allonby, said Mr. Goodchild with enthusiasm; there was a fine Scottish mountain on that Scottish coast; there were Scottish lights to be seen shining across the glorious Channel, and at Allonby itself there was every idle luxury (no doubt), that a watering-place could offer to the heart of idle man. Moreover, said Mr. Goodchild, with his finger on the map, this exquisite retreat was approached by a coach-road, from a railway- station called Aspatria—a name, in a manner, suggestive of the departed glories of Greece, associated with one of the most engaging and most famous of Greek women. On this point, Mr. Goodchild continued at intervals to breathe a vein of classic fancy and eloquence exceedingly irksome to Mr. Idle, until it appeared that the honest English pronunciation of that Cumberland country shortened Aspatria into &quot;Spatter.&quot; After this supplementary discovery, Mr. Goodchild said no more about it. By way of Spatter, the crippled Idle was carried, hoisted, pushed, poked, and packed, into and out of carriages, into and out of beds, into and out of tavern resting-places, until he was brought at length within sniff of the sea. And now, behold the apprentices gallantly riding into Allonby in a one-horse fly, bent upon staying in that peaceful marine valley until the turbulent Doncaster time shall come round upon the wheel, in its turn among what are in sporting registers called the &quot;Fixtures&quot; for the month. &quot;Do you see Allonby ? &quot; asked Thomas Idle. &quot;I don&#039;t see it yet,&quot; said Francis, looking out of window. &quot;It must be there,&quot; said Thomas Idle. &quot;I don&#039;t see it,&quot; returned Francis. &quot;It must be there,&quot; repeated Thomas Idle, fretfully. &quot;Lord bless me!&quot; exclaimed Francis, drawing in his head, &quot;I suppose this is it!&quot; &quot;A watering-place,&quot; retorted Thomas Idle, with the pardonable sharpness of an invalid, &quot;can&#039;t be five gentlemen in straw-hats, on a form on one side of a door, and four ladies in hats and falls, on a form on another side of a door, and three geese in a dirty little brook before them, and a boy&#039;s legs hanging over a bridge (with a boy&#039;s body I suppose on the other side of the parapet), and a donkey running away. What are you talking about?&quot; &quot;Allonby, gentlemen,&quot; said the most comfortable of landladies, as she opened one door of the carriage; &quot;Allonby, gentlemen,&quot; said the most attentive of landlords, as he opened the other. Thomas Idle yielded his arm to the ready Goodchild, and descended from the vehicle. Thomas, now just able to grope his way along, in a doubled-up condition, with the aid of two thick sticks, was no bad embodiment of Commodore Trunnion, or of one of those many gallant Admirals of the stage, who have all ample fortunes, gout, thick-sticks, tempers, wards, and nephews. With this distinguished naval appearance upon him, Thomas made a crab-like progress up a clean little bulk-headed staircase, into a clean little bulk-headed room, where he slowly deposited himself on a sofa, with a stick on either hand of him, looking exceedingly grim. &quot;Francis,&quot; said Thomas Idle, &quot;what do you think of this place?&quot; &quot;I think,&quot; returned Mr. Goodchild, in a glowing way, &quot;it is everything we expected.&quot; &quot;Hah!&quot; said Thomas Idle. &quot;There is the sea,&quot; cried Mr. Goodchild, pointing out of window; &quot;and here,&quot; pointing to the lunch on the table, &quot;are shrimps. Let us— &quot; here Mr. Goodchild looked out of window, as if in search of something, and looked in again,—&quot;let us eat &#039;em.&quot; The shrimps eaten and the dinner ordered, Mr. Goodchild went out to survey the watering-place. As Chorus of the drama without whom Thomas could make nothing of the scenery, he by-and-bye returned, to have the following report screwed out of him. In brief, it was the most delightful place ever seen. &quot;But,&quot; Thomas Idle asked, &quot;where is it?&quot; &quot;It&#039;s what you may call generally up and down the beach, here and there,&quot; said Mr. Goodchild, with a twist of his hand. &quot;Proceed,&quot; said Thomas Idle. It was, Mr. Goodchild went on to say, in cross-examination, what you might call a primitive place. Large? No, it was not large. Who ever expected it would be large? Shape? What a question to ask! No shape. What sort of a street? Why, no street. Shops? Yes, of course (quite indignant). How many? Who ever went into a place to count the shops? Ever so many. Six? Perhaps. A library? Why, of course! (indignant again). Good collection of books? Most likely couldn&#039;t say had seen nothing in it but a pair of scales. Any reading-room? Of course, there was a reading-room. Where? Where! why, over there. Where was over there? Why, there! Let Mr. Idle carry his eye to that bit of waste-ground above high water-mark, where the rank grass and loose stones were most in a litter; and he would see a sort of a long ruinous brick loft, next door to a ruinous brick outhouse, which loft had a ladder outside, to get up by. That was the reading-room, and if Mr. Idle didn&#039;t like the idea of a weaver&#039;s shuttle throbbing under a reading-room, that was his look out. He was not to dictate, Mr. Goodchild supposed (indignant again), to the company. &quot;By-the-bye,&quot; Thomas Idle observed; &quot;the company?&quot; Well! (Mr. Goodchild went on to report) very nice company. Where were they? Why, there they were. Mr. Idle could see the tops of their hats, he supposed. What? Those nine straw hats again, five gentlemen&#039;s and four ladies&#039;? Yes, to be sure. Mr. Goodchild hoped the company were not to be expected to wear helmets, to please Mr. Idle. Beginning to recover his temper at about this point, Mr. Goodchild voluntarily reported that if you wanted to be primitive, you could be primitive here, and that if you wanted to be idle, you could be idle here. In the course of some days, he added, that there were three fishing-boats, but no rigging, and that there were plenty of fishermen who never fished. That they got their living entirely by looking at the ocean. What nourishment they looked out of it to support their strength, he couldn&#039;t say; but, he supposed it was some sort of Iodine. The place was full of their children, who were always upside down on the public buildings (two small bridges over the brook), and always hurting themselves or one another, so that their wailings made more continual noise in the air than could have been got in a busy place. The houses people lodged in, were nowhere in particular, and were in capital accordance with the beach; being all more or less cracked and damaged as its shells were, and all empty—as its shells were. Among them, was an edifice of destitute appearance, with a number of wall-eyed windows in it, looking desperately out to Scotland as if for help, which said it was a Bazaar (and it ought to know), and where you might buy anything you wanted—supposing what you wanted, was a little camp-stool or a child&#039;s wheelbarrow. The brook crawled or stopped between the houses and the sea, and the donkey was always running away, and when he got into the brook he was pelted out with stones, which never hit him, and which always hit some of the children who were upside down on the public buildings, and made their lamentations louder. This donkey was the public excitement of Allonby, and was probably supported at the public expense. The foregoing descriptions, delivered in separate items, on separate days of adventurous discovery, Mr. Goodchild severally wound up, by looking out of window, looking in again, and saying, &quot;But there is the sea, and here are the shrimps—let us eat &#039;em.&quot; There were fine sunsets at Allonby when the low flat beach, with its pools of water and its dry patches, changed into long bars of silver and gold in various states of burnishing, and there were fine viewsl—on fine days—of the Scottish coast. But, when it rained at Allonby, Allonby thrown back upon its ragged self, became a kind of place which the donkey seemed to have found out, and to have his highly sagacious reasons for wishing to bolt from. Thomas Idle observed, too, that Mr. Goodchild, with a noble show of disinterestedness, became every day more ready to walk to Maryport and back, for letters; and suspicions began to harbour in the mind of Thomas, that his friend deceived him, and that Maryport was a preferable place. Therefore, Thomas said to Francis on a day when they had looked at the sea and eaten the shrimps, &quot;My mind misgives me, Goodchild, that you go to Maryport, like the boy in the story-book, to ask it to be idle with you.&quot; &quot;Judge, then,&quot; returned Francis, adopting the style of the story-book, &quot;with what success. I go to a region which is a bit of water-side Bristol, with a slice of Wapping, a seasoning of Wolverhampton, and a garnish of Portsmouth, and I say, &#039;Will you come and be idle with me?&#039; And it answers, &#039;No; for I am a great deal too vaporous, and a great deal too rusty, and a great deal too muddy, and a great deal too dirty altogether; and I have ships to load, and pitch and tar to boil, and iron to hammer, and steam to get up, and smoke to make, and stone to quarry, and fifty other disagreeable things to do, and I can&#039;t be idle with you.&#039; Then I go into jagged up-hill and down-hill streets, where l am in the pastrycook&#039;s shop at one moment, and next moment in savage fastnesses of moor and morass, beyond the confines of civilisation, and I say to those murky and black-dusky streets, &#039;Will you come and be idle with me?&#039; To which they reply, &#039;No, we can&#039;t, indeed, for we haven&#039;t the spirits, and we are startled by the echo of your feet on the sharp pavement, and we have so many goods in our shop-windows which nobody wants, and we have so much to do for a limited public which never comes to us to be done for, that we are altogether out of sorts and can&#039;t enjoy ourselves with any one.&#039; So I go to the Post-office, and knock at the shutter, and I say to the Post-master, &#039;Will you come and be idle with me?&#039; To which he rejoins, &#039;No, I really can&#039;t, for I live, as you may see, in such a very little Post-office, and pass my life behind such a very little shutter, that my hand, when I put it out, is as the hand of a giant crammed through the window of a dwarf&#039;s house at a fair, and I am a mere Post-office anchorite in a cell much too small for him, and I can&#039;t get out, and I can&#039;t get in, and I have no space to be idle in, even if I would.&#039; So, the boy,&quot; said Mr. Goodchild, concluding the tale, &quot;comes back with the letters after all, and lives happy never afterwards.&quot; But it may, not unreasonably, be asked—while Francis Goodchild was wandering hither and thither, storing his mind with perpetual observation of men and things, and sincerely believing himself to be the laziest creature in existence all the time—how did Thomas Idle, crippled and confined to the house, contrive to get through the hours of the day? Prone on the sofa, Thomas made no attempt to get through the hours, but passively allowed the hours to get through him. Where other men in his situation would have read books and improved their minds, Thomas slept and rested his body. Where other men would have pondered anxiously over their future prospects, Thomas dreamed lazily of his past life. The one solitary thing he did, which most other people would have done in his place, was to resolve on making certain alterations and improvements in his mode of existence, as soon as the effects of the misfortune that had overtaken him had all passed away. Remembering that the current of his life had hitherto oozed along in one smooth stream of laziness, occasionally troubled on the surface by a slight passing ripple of industry, his present ideas on the subject of self-reform, inclined him—not as the reader may be disposed to imagine, to project schemes for a new existence of enterprise and exertion—but, on the contrary, to resolve that he would never, if he could possibly help it, be active or industrious again, throughout the whole of his future career. It is due to Mr. Idle to relate that his mind sauntered towards this peculiar conclusion on distinct and logically-producible grounds. After reviewing, quite at his ease, and with many needful intervals of repose, the generally-placid spectacle of his past existence, he arrived at the discovery that all the great disasters which had tried his patience and equanimity in early life, had been caused by his having allowed himself to be deluded into imitating some pernicious example of activity and industry that had been set him by others. The trials to which he here alludes were three in number, and may be thus reckoned up: First, the disaster of being an unpopular and a thrashed boy at school; secondly, the disaster of falling seriously ill; thirdly, the disaster of becoming acquainted with a great bore. The first disaster occurred after Thomas had been an idle and a popular boy at school, for some happy years. One Christmas-time, he was stimulated by the evil example of a companion, whom he had always trusted and liked, to be untrue to himself, and to try for a prize at the ensuing half-yearly examination. He did try, and he got a prize—how, he did not distinctly know at the moment, and cannot remember now. No sooner, however, had the book—Moral Hints to the Young on the Value of Time—been placed in his hands, than the first troubles of his life began. The idle boys deserted him, as a traitor to their cause. The industrious boys avoided him, as a dangerous interloper; one of their number, who had always won the prize on previous occasions, expressing just resentment at the invasion of his privileges by calling Thomas into the play-ground, and then and there administering to him the first sound and genuine thrashing that he had received in his life. Unpopular from that moment, as a beaten boy, who belonged to no side and was rejected by all parties, young Idle soon lost caste with his masters, as he had previously lost caste with his school-fellows. He had forfeited the comfortable reputation ot being the one lazy member of the youthful community whom it was quite hopeless to punish. Never again did he hear the head-master say reproachfully to an industrious boy who had committed a fault, &quot;I might have expected this in Thomas Idle, but it is inexcusable, sir, in you, who know better.&quot; Never more, after winning that fatal prize, did he escape the retributive imposition, or the avenging birch. From that time, the masters made him work, and the boys would not let him play. From that time his social position steadily declined, and his life at school became a perpetual burden to him. So, again, with the second disaster. While Thomas was lazy, he was a model of health. His first attempt at active exertion and his first suffering from severe illness are connected together by the intimate relations of cause and effect. Shortly after leaving school, he accompanied a party of friends to a cricket-field, in his natural and appropriate character of spectator only. On the ground it was discovered that the players fell short of the required number, and facile Thomas was persuaded to assist in making up the complement. At a certain appointed time, he was roused from peaceful slumber in a dry ditch, and placed before three wickets with a bat in his hand. Opposite to him, behind three more wickets, stood one of his bosom friends, filling the situation (as he was informed) of bowler. No words can describe Mr. Idle&#039;s horror and amazement, when he saw this young man—on ordinary occasions, the meekest and mildest of human beings—suddenly contract his eyebrows, compress his lips, assume the aspect of an infuriated savage, run back a few steps, then run forward, and, without the slightest previous provocation, hurl a detestably hard ball with all his might straight at Thomas&#039;s legs. Stimulated to preternatural activity of body and sharpness of eye by the instinct of self preservation, Mr. Idle contrived, by jumping deftly aside at the right moment, and by using his bat (ridiculously narrow as it was for the purpose) as a shield, to preserve his life and limbs from the dastardly attack that had been made on both, to leave the full force of the deadly missile to strike his wicket instead of his leg; and to end the innings, so far as his side was concerned, by being immediately bowled out. Grateful for his escape he was about to return to the dry ditch, when he was peremptorily stopped, and told that the other side was &quot;going in,&quot; and that he was expected to &quot;field.&quot; His conception of the whole art and mystery of &quot;fielding,&quot; may be summed up in the three words of serious advice which he privately administered to himself on that trying occasion—avoid the ball. Fortified by this sound and salutary principle, he took his own course, impervious alike to ridicule and abuse. Whenever the ball came near him, he thought of his shins, and got out of the way immediately. &quot;Catch it!&quot; &quot;Stop it!&quot; &quot;Pitch it up!&quot; were cries that passed by him like the idle wind that he regarded not. He ducked under it, he jumped over it, he whisked himself away from it on either side. Never once, throughout the whole innings did he and the ball come together on anything approaching to intimate terms. The unnatural activity of body which was necessarily called forth for the accomplishment of this result threw Thomas Idle, for the first time in his life, into a perspiration. The perspiration, in consequence of his want of practice in the management of that particular result of bodily activity, was suddenly checked; the inevitable chill succeeded; and that, in its turn, was followed by a fever. For the first time since his birth, Mr. Idle found himself confined to his bed for many weeks together, wasted and worn by a long illness, of which his own disastrous muscular exertion had been the sole first cause. The third occasion on which Thomas found reason to reproach himself bitterly for the mistake of having attempted to be industrious, was connected with his choice of a calling in life. Having no interest in the Church, he appropriately selected the next best profession for a lazy man in England—the Bar. Although the Benchers of the Inns of Court have lately abandoned their good old principles, and oblige their students to make some show of studying, in Mr. Idle&#039;s time no such innovation as this existed. Young men who aspired to the honourable title of barrister were, very properly, not asked to learn anything of the law, but were merely required to eat a certain number of dinners at the table of their Hall, and to pay a certain sum of money; and were called to the Bar as soon as they could prove that they had sufficiently complied with these extremely sensible regulations. Never did Thomas move more harmoniously in concert with his elders and betters than when he was qualifying himself for admission among the barristers of his native country. Never did he feel more deeply what real laziness was in all the serene majesty of its nature, than on the memorable day when he was called to the bar, after having carefully abstained from opening his law-books during his period of probation, except to fall asleep over them. How he could ever again have become industrious, even for the shortest period, after that great reward conferred upon his idleness, quite passes his comprehension. The kind benchers did everything they could to show him the folly of exerting himself. They wrote out his probationary exercise for him, and never expected him even to take the trouble of reading it through when it was written. They invited him, with seven other choice spirits as lazy as himself, to come and be called to the bar, while they were sitting over their wine and fruit after dinner. They put his oaths of allegiance, and his dreadful official denunciations of the Pope and the Pretender so gently into his mouth, that he hardly knew how the words got there. They wheeled all their chairs softly round from the table, and sat surveying the young barristers with their backs to their bottles, rather than stand up, or adjourn to hear the exercises read. And when Mr. Idle and the seven unlabouring neophytes, ranged in order, as a class, with their backs considerately placed against a screen, had begun, in rotation, to read the exercises which they had not written, even then, each Bencher, true to the great lazy principle of the whole proceeding, stopped each neophyte before he had stammered through his first line, and bowed to him, and told him politely that he was a barrister from that moment. This was all the ceremony. It was followed by a social supper, and by the presentation, in accordance with ancient custom, of a pound of sweetmeats and a bottle of Madeira, offered in the way of needful refreshment, by each grateful neophyte to each beneficent Bencher. It may seem inconceivable that Thomas should ever have forgotten the great do-nothing principle instilled by such a ceremony as this; but it is, nevertheless, true, that certain designing students of industrious habits found him out, took advantage of his easy humour, persuaded him that it was discreditable to be a barrister and to know nothing whatever about the law, and lured him, by the force of their own evil example, into a conveyancer&#039;s chambers, to make up for lost time, and to qualify himself for practice at the Bar. After a fortnight of self- delusion, the curtain fell from his eyes; heresumed his natural character, and shut up his books. But the retribution which had hitherto always followed his little casual errors of industry followed them still. He could get away from the conveyancer&#039;s chambers, but he could not get away from one of the pupils, who had taken a fancy to him,—a tall, serious, raw-boned, hard-working, disputatious pupil, with ideas of his own about reforming the Law of Real Property, who has been the scourge of Mr. Idle&#039;s existence ever since the fatal day when he fell into the mistake of attempting to study the law. Before that time his friends were all sociable idlers like himself. Since that time the burden of bearing with a hard-working young man has become part of his lot in life. Go where he will now, he can never feel certain that the raw-boned pupil is not affectionately waiting for him round a corner, to tell him a little more about the Law of Real Property, Suffer as he may under the infliction, he can never complain, for he must always remember, with unavailing regret, that he has his own thoughtless industry to thank for first exposing him to the great social calamity of knowing a bore. These events of his past life, with the significant results that they brought about, pass drowsily through Thomas Idle&#039;s memory, while he lies alone on the sofa at Allonby and elsewhere, dreaming away the time which his fellow-apprentice gets through so actively out of doors. Remembering the lesson of laziness which his past disasters teach, and bearing in mind also the fact that he is crippled in one leg because he exerted himself to go up a mountain, when he ought to have known that his proper course of conduct was to stop at the bottom of it, he holds now, and will for the future firmly continue to hold, by his new resolution never to be industrious again, on any pretence whatever, for the rest of his life. The physical results of his accident have been related in a previous chapter. The moral results now stand on record; and, with the enumeration of these, that part of the present narrative which is occupied by the Episode of The Sprained Ankle may now perhaps be considered, in all its aspects, as finished and complete. &quot;How do you propose that we get through, this present afternoon and evening?&quot; demanded Thomas Idle, after two or three hours of the foregoing reflections at Allonby. Mr. Goodchild faultered, looked out of window, looked in again, and said, as he had so often said before, &quot;There is the sea, and here are the shrimps;—let us eat &#039;em!&quot; But, the wise donkey was at that moment in the act of bolting: not with the irresolution of his previous efforts which had been wanting in sustained force of character, but with real vigor of purpose: shaking the dust off his mane and hind-feet at Allonby, and tearing away from it, as if he had nobly made up his mind that he never would be taken alive. At sight of this inspiring spectacle, which was visible from his sofa, Thomas Idle stretched his neck and dwelt upon it rapturously. &quot;Francis Goodchild,&quot; he then said, turning to his companion with a solemn air, &quot; this is a delightful little Inn, excellently kept by the most comfortable of landladies and the most attentive of landlords, but—the donkey&#039;s right!&quot; &quot;The words, &quot;There is the sea, and here are the—,&quot; again trembled on the lips of Goodchild, unaccompanied however by any sound. &quot;Let us instantly pack the portmanteaus,&quot; said Thomas Idle, &quot; pay the bill, and order a fly out, with instructions to the driver to follow the donkey!&quot; Mr. Goodchild, who had only wanted encouragement to disclose the real state of his feelings, and who had been pining beneath his weary secret, now burst into tears, and confessed that he thought another day in the place would be the death of him. So, the two idle apprentices followed the donkey until the night was far advanced. Whether he was recaptured by the town-council, or is bolting at this hour through the United Kingdom, they know not. They hope he may be still bolting; if so, their best wishes are with him. It entered Mr. Idle&#039;s head, on the borders of Cumberland, that there could be no idler place to stay at, except by snatches of a few minutes each, than a railway station. &quot; An intermediate station on a line—a junction—anything of that sort,&quot; Thomas suggested. Mr. Goodchild approved of the idea as eccentric, and they journeyed on and on, until they came to such a station where there was an Inn. &quot;Here,&quot; said Thomas, &quot; we may be luxuriously lazy; other people will travel for us, as it were, and we shall laugh at their folly.&quot; It was a Junction-Station, where the wooden razors before mentioned shaved the air very often, and where the sharp electric-telegraph bell was in a very restless condition. All manner of cross-lines of rails came zig-zaging into it, like a Congress of iron vipers; and, a little way out of it, a pointsman in an elevated signal-box was constantly going through the motions of drawing immense quantities of beer at a public-house bar. In one direction, confused perspectives of embankments and arches were to be seen from the platform; in the other, the rails soon disentangled themselves into two tracks, and shot away under a bridge, and curved round a corner. Sidings were there, in which empty luggage- vans and cattle-boxes often butted against each other as if they couldn&#039;t agree; and warehouses were there, in which great quantities of goods seemed to have taken the veil (of the consistency of tarpaulin), and to have retired from the world without any hope of getting back to it. Refreshment-rooms were there; one, for the hungry and thirsty Iron Locomotives where their coke and water were ready, and of good quality, for they were dangerous to play tricks with; the other, for the hungry and thirsty human Locomotives, who might take what they could get, and whose chief consolation was provided in the form of three terrific urns or vases of white metal, containing nothing, each forming a breastwork for a defiant and apparently much-injured woman. Established at this Station, Mr. Thomas Idle and Mr. Francis Goodchild resolved to enjoy it. But, its contrasts were very violent, and there was also an infection in it. First, as to its contrasts. They were only two, but they were Lethargy and Madness. The Station was either totally unconscious, or wildly raving. By day, in its unconscious state, it looked as if no life could come to it,—as if it were all rust, dust, and ashes—as if the last train for ever, had gone without issuing any Return-Tickets—as if the last Engine had uttered its last shriek and burst. One awkward shave of the air from the wooden razor, and everything changed. Tight office-doors flew open, panels yielded, books, newspapers, travelling-caps and wrappers broke out of brick walls, money chinked, conveyances oppressed by nightmares of luggage came careering into the yard, porters started up from secret places, ditto the much-injured women, the shining bell, who lived in a little tray on stilts by himself, flew into a man&#039;s hand and clamoured violently. The pointsman aloft in the signal-box made the motions of drawing, with some difficulty, hogsheads of beer. Down Train! More beer. Up Train! More beer. Cross Junction Train! More beer. Cattle Train! More beer. Goods Train! Simmering, whistling, trembling, rumbling, thundering. Trains on the whole confusion of intersecting rails, crossing one another, bumping one another, hissing one another, backing to go forward, tearing into distance to come close. People frantic. Exiles seeking restoration to their native carriages, and banished to remoter climes. More beer and more bell. Then, in a minute, the Station relapsed into stupor as the stoker of the Cattle Train, the last to depart, went gliding out of it, wiping the long nose of his oil-can with a dirty pocket-handkerchief. By night, in its unconscious state, the station was not so much as visible. Something in the air, like an enterprising chemist&#039;s established in business on one of the boughs of Jack&#039;s beanstalk, was all that could be discerned of it under the stars. In a moment it would break out, a constellation of gas. In another moment, twenty rival chemists, on twenty rival beanstalks, carne into existence. Then, the Furies would be seen, waving their lurid torches up and down the confused perspectives of embankments and arches—would be heard, too, wailing and shrieking. Then, the Station would be full of palpitating trains, as in the day; with the heightening difference that they were not so clearly seen as in the day, whereas the station walls, starting forward under the gas, like a hippopotamus&#039;s eyes, dazzled the human locomotives with the sauce-bottle, the cheap music, the bedstead, the distorted range of buildings where the patent safes are made, the gentleman in the rain with the registered umbrella, the lady returning from the ball with the registered respirator, and all their other embellishments. And now, the human locomotives, creased as to their countenances and purblind as to their eyes, would swarm forth in a heap, addressing themselves to the mysterious urns and the much-injured women; while the iron locomotives, dripping fire and water, shed their steam about plentifully, making the dull oxen in their cages, with heads depressed, and foam hanging from their mouths as their red looks glanced fearfully at the surrounding terrors, seem as though they had been drinking at half-frozen waters and were hung with icicles. Through the same steam would be caught glimpses of their fellow-travellers, the sheep, getting their white kid faces together, away from the bars, and stuffing the interstices with trembling wool. Also, down among the wheels, of the man with the sledge-hammer, ringing the axles of the fast night-train; against whom the oxen have a misgiving that he is the man with the pole-axe who is to come by-and-bye, and so the nearest of them try to back, and get a purchase for a thrust at him through the bars. Suddenly, the bell would ring, the steam would stop with one hiss and a yell, the chemists on the beanstalks would be busy, the avenging Furies would bestir themselves, the fast night-train would melt from eye and ear, the other trains going their ways more slowly would be heard faintly rattling in the distance like old-fashioned watches running down, the sauce-bottle and cheap music retired from view, even the bedstead went to bed, and there was no such visible thing as the Station to vex the cool wind in its blowing, or perhaps the autumn lightning, as it found out the iron rails. The infection of the Station was this:—When it was in its raving state, the Apprentices found it impossible to be there, without labouring under the delusion that they were in a hurry. To Mr. Goodchild, whose ideas of idleness were so imperfect, this was no unpleasant hallucination, and accordingly that gentleman went through great exertions in yielding to it, and running up and down the platform, jostling everybody, under the impression that he had a highly important mission somewhere, and had not a moment to lose. But, to Thomas Idle, this contagion was so very unacceptable an incident of the situation, that he struck on the fourth day, and requested to be moved. &quot;This place fills me with a dreadful sensation,&quot; said Thomas, &quot;of having something to do. Remove me, Francis.&quot; &quot;Where would you like to go next? &quot; was the question of the ever-engaging Goodchild. &quot;I have heard there is a good old Inn at Lancaster, established in a fine old house: an Inn where they give you Bride-cake every day after dinner,&quot; said Thomas Idle. &quot; Let us eat Bride-cake without the trouble of being married, or of knowing anybody in that ridiculous dilemma.&quot; Mr. Goodchild, with a lover&#039;s sigh, assented. They departed from the Station in a violent hurry (for which, it is unnecessary to observe, there was not the least occasion), and were delivered at the fine old house at Lancaster, on the same night. It is Mr. Goodchild&#039;s opinion, that if a visitor on his arrival at Lancaster could be accommodated with a pole which would push the opposite side of the street some yards farther off, it would be better for all parties. Protesting against being required to live in a trench, and obliged to speculate all day upon what the people can possibly be doing within a mysterious opposite window, which is a shop-window to look at, but not a shop-window in respect of its offering nothing for sale and declining to give any account whatever of itself, Mr. Goodchild concedes Lancaster to be a pleasant place. A place dropped in the midst of a charming landscape, a place with a fine ancient fragment of castle, a place of lovely walks, a place possessing staid old houses richly fitted with old Honduras mahagony, which has grown so dark with time that it seems to have got something of a retrospective mirror-quality into itself, and to show the visitor, in the depths of its grain, through all its polish, the hue of the wretched slaves who groaned long ago under old Lancaster merchants. And Mr. Goodchild adds that the stones of Lancaster do sometimes whisper, even yet, of rich men passed away—upon whose great prosperity some of these old doorways frowned sullen in the brightest weather—that their slave-gain turned to curses, as the Arabian Wizard&#039;s money turned to leaves, and that no good ever came of it, even unto the third and fourth generations, until it was wasted and gone. It was a gallant sight to behold, the Sunday procession of the Lancaster elders to Church—all in black, and looking fearfully like a funeral without the Body—under the escort of Three Beadles. &quot;Think,&quot; said Francis, as he stood at the Inn window, admiring, &quot;of being taken to the sacred edifice by three Beadles! I have, in my early time, been taken out of it by one Beadle; but, to be taken into it by three, O Thomas, is a distinction I shall never enjoy!&quot;
230, 'The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices'<span>Published in&nbsp;</span><em>Household Words</em><span>, Vol. XVI, No. 394, 10 October 1857, pp. 337-349.</span>Dickens, Charles and Wilkie Collins<em>Dickens Journals Online</em>, <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1857-10-10">1857-10-10</a><span>Scanned material from&nbsp;<em>Dickens Journals Online</em>,&nbsp;</span><a href="" id="LPNoLPOWALinkPreview" contenteditable="false" title=""></a><span>. A</span><span>vailable under CC BY licence.</span><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Short+story">Short story</a>1857-10-10-The_Lazy_Tour_of_Two_Idle_Apprentices_No2<span>Dickens, Charles and Wilkie Collins. No.II 'The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices'.</span><span>&nbsp;</span><em>Dickens Search</em><span>. Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig.&nbsp;</span><span>Accessed [date].&nbsp;</span><a href=""></a><span>.</span><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=93&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=%3Cem%3EHousehold+Words%3C%2Fem%3E"><em>Household Words</em></a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=94&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Periodical">Periodical</a>18571010The dog-cart, with Mr. Thomas Idle and his ankle on the hanging seat behind, Mr. Francis Goodchild and the Innkeeper in front, and the rain in spouts and splashes everywhere, made the best of its way back to the little Inn; the broken moor country looking like miles upon miles of Pre-Adamite sop, or the ruins of some enormous jorum of antediluvian toast-and-water. The trees dripped;the eaves of the scattered cottages dripped; the barren stone-walls dividing the land, dripped; the yelping dogs dripped; carts and waggons under ill-roofed penthouses, dripped; melancholy cocks and hens perching on their shafts, or seeking shelter underneath them, dripped; Mr. Goodchild dripped; Francis Idle dripped; the Innkeeper dripped; the mare dripped; the vast curtains of mist and cloud that passed before the shadowy forms of the hills, streamed water as they were drawn across the landscape. Down such steep pitches that the mare seemed to be trotting on her head, and up such steep pitches that she seemed to have a supplementary leg in her tail, the dog-cart jolted and tilted back to the village. It was too wet for the women to look out, it was too wet even for the children to look out; all the doors and windows were closed, and the only sign of life or motion was in the rain-punctured puddles. Whisky and oil to Thomas Idle&#039;s ankle, and whisky without oil to Francis Goodchild&#039;s stomach, produced an agreeable change in the systems of both: soothing Mr. Idle&#039;s pain, which was sharp before, and sweetening Mr. Goodchild&#039;s temper, which was sweet before. Portmanteaus being then opened and clothes changed, Mr. Goodchild, through having no change of outer garments but broadcloth and velvet, suddenly became a magnificent portent in the Innkeeper&#039;s house, a shining frontispiece to the Fashions for the month, and a frightful anomaly in the Cumberland village. Greatly ashamed of his splendid appearance, the conscious Goodchild quenched it as much as possible, in the shadow of Thomas Idle&#039;s ankle, and in a corner of the little covered carriage that started with them for Wigton- a most desirable carriage for any country, except for its having a flat roof and no sides; which caused the plumps of rain accumulating on the roof to play vigorous games of bagatelle into the interior all the way, and to score immensely. It was comfortable to see how the people coming back in open carts from Wigton market made no more of the rain than if it were sunshine; how the Wigton policeman taking a country walk of half-a-dozen miles (apparently for pleasure), in resplendent uniform, accepted saturation as his normal state; how clerks and schoolmasters in black, loitered along the road without umbrellas, getting varnished at every step; how the Cumberland girls, coming out to look after the Cumberland cows, shook the rain from their eyelashes and laughed it away; and how the rain continued to fall upon all, as it only does fall in hill countries. Wigton market was over, and its bare booths were smoking with rain all down the street. Mr. Thomas Idle, melo-dramatically carried to the Inn&#039;s first floor, and laid upon three chairs (he should have had the sofa, if there had been one), Mr. Goodchild went to the window to take an observation of Wigton, and report what he saw to his disabled companion. &quot;Brother Francis, brother Francis,&quot; cried Thomas Idle. &quot;What do you see from the turret?&quot; &quot;I see,&quot; said Brother Francis, &quot;what I hope and believe to be one of the most dismal places ever seen by eyes. I see the houses with their roofs of dull black, their stained fronts, and their dark-rimmed windows, looking as if they were all in mourning. As every little puff of wind comes down the street, I see a perfect train of rain let off along the wooden stalls in the market-place and exploded against me. I see a very big gas-lamp in the centre which I know, by a secret instinct, will not be lighted to-night. I see a pump, with a trivet underneath its spout whereon to stand the vessels that are brought to be filled with water. I see a man come to pump, and he pumps very hard, but no water follows, and he strolls empty away.&quot; &quot;Brother Francis, brother Francis,&quot; cried Thomas Idle, &quot;what more do you see from the turret, besides the man and the pump, and the trivet and the houses all in mourning and the rain?&quot; &quot;I see,&quot; said Brother Francis, &quot;one, two, three, four, five, linen-drapers&#039; shops in front of me. I see a linen-draper&#039;s shop next door to the right—and there are five more linen- drapers&#039; shops down the corner to the left. Eleven homicidal linen-drapers&#039; shops within a short stone&#039;s throw, each with its hands at the throats of all the rest! Over the small first-floor of one of these linen-drapers&#039; shops appears the wonderful inscription, BANK.&quot; &quot;Brother Francis, brother Francis,&quot; cried Thomas Idle, &#039;&#039;what more do you see from the turret, besides the eleven homicidal linen-drapers&#039; shops, and the wonderful inscription &#039;Bank&#039; on the small first floor, and the man and the pump and the trivet and the houses all in mourning and the rain?&quot; &quot;I see,&quot; said Brother Francis, &quot;the depository for Christian Knowledge, and through the dark vapour I think I again make out Mr. Spurgeon looming heavily. Her Majesty the Queen, God bless her, printed in colours, I am sure I see. I see the Illustrated London News of several weeks ago, and I see a sweetmeat shop—which the proprietor calls a &#039;Salt Warehouse&#039;—with one small female child in a cotton bonnet looking in on tip-toe, oblivious of rain. And I see a watchmaker&#039;s, with only three great pale watches of a dull metal hanging in his window, each in a separate pane.&quot; &quot;Brother Francis, brother Francis,&quot; cried Thomas Idle, &quot;what more do you see of Wigton, besides these objects, and the man and the pump and the trivet and the houses all in mourning and the rain?&quot; &quot;I see nothing more,&quot; said Brother Francis, &quot;and there is nothing more to see, except the curlpaper bill of the theatre, which was opened and shut last week (the manager&#039;s family played all the parts), and the short, square, clunky omnibus that goes to the railway, and leads too rattling a life over the stones to hold together long. O yes! Now, I see two men with their hands in their pockets and their backs towards me.&quot; &quot;Brother Francis, brother Francis,&quot; cried Thomas Idle, &quot;what do you make out from the turret, of the expression of the two men with their hands in their pockets and their backs towards you?&quot; &quot;They are mysterious men,&quot; said brother Francis, &quot;with inscrutable backs. They keep their backs towards me with persistency. If one turns an inch in any direction, the other turns an inch in the same direction, and no more. They turn very stiffly, on a very little pivot, in the middle of the market- place. Their appearance is partly of a mining, partly of a ploughing, partly of a stable, character. They are looking at nothing—very hard. Their backs are slouched, and their legs are curved with much standing about. Their pockets are loose and dog&#039;s-eared, on account of their hands being always in them. They stand to be rained upon, without any movement of impatience or dissatisfaction, and they keep so close together that an elbow of each jostles an elbow of the other, but they never speak. They spit at times, but speak not. I see it growing darker and darker, and still I see them, sole visible population of the place, standing to be rained upon with their backs towards me, and looking at nothing very hard.&quot; &quot;Brother Francis, brother Francis,&quot; cried Thomas Idle, &quot;before you draw down the blind of the turret and come in to have your head scorched by the hot gas, see if you can, and impart to me, something of the expression of those two amazing men.&quot; &quot;The murky shadows,&quot; said Francis Goodchild, &quot;are gathering fast; and the wings of evening, and the wings of coal, are folding over Wigton. Still, they look at nothing very hard, with their backs towards me. Ah! Now, they turn, and I see—&quot; &quot;Brother Francis, brother Francis,&quot; cried Thomas Idle, &quot;tell me quickly what you see of the two men of Wigton!&quot; &quot;I see,&quot; said Francis Goodchild, &quot;that they have no expression at all. And now the town goes to sleep, undazzled by the large unlighted lamp in the market-place; and let no man wake it.&quot; At the close of the next day&#039;s journey, Thomas Idle&#039;s ankle became much swollen and inflamed. There are reasons which will presently explain themselves for not publicly indicating the exact direction in which that journey lay, or the place in which it ended. It was a long day&#039;s shaking of Thomas Idle over the rough roads, and a long day&#039;s getting out and going on before the horses, and fagging up hills, and scouring down hills, on the part of Mr. Goodchild, who in the fatigues of such labours congratulated himself on attaining a high point of idleness. It was at a little town, still in Cumberland, that they halted for the night—a very little town, with the purple and brown moor close upon its one street; a curious little ancient market-cross set up in the midst of it; and the town itself looking, much as if it were a collection of great stones piled on end by the Druids long ago, which a few recluse people had since hollowed out for habitations. &quot;Is there a doctor here?&quot; asked Mr. Goodchild, on his knee, of the motherly landlady of the little Inn: stopping in his examination of Mr. Idle&#039;s ankle, with the aid of a candle. &quot;Ey, my word!&quot; said the landlady, glancing doubtfully at the ankle for herself; &quot;there&#039;s Doctor Speddie.&quot; &quot;Is he a good Doctor?&quot; &quot;Ey!&quot; said the landlady, &quot;I ca&#039; him so. A&#039; cooms efther nae doctor that I ken. Mair nor which, a&#039;s just THE doctor heer.&quot; &quot;Do you think he is at home?&quot; Her reply was, &quot;Gang awa&#039;, Jock, and bring him.&quot; Jock, a white-headed boy, who, under pretence of stirring up some bay salt in a basin of water for the laving of this unfortunate ankle, had greatly enjoyed himself for the last ten minutes in splashing the carpet, set off promptly. A very few minutes had elapsed when he showed the Doctor in, by tumbling against the door before him and bursting it open with his head. &quot;Gently, Jock, gently,&quot; said the doctor as he advanced with a quiet step. &quot;Gentlemen, a good evening. I am sorry that my presence is required here. A slight accident, I hope? A slip and a fall? Yes, yes, yes. Carrock, indeed? Hah! Does that pain you, sir? No doubt, it does. It is the great connecting ligament here, you see, that has been badly strained. Time and rest, sir! They are often the recipe in greater cases,&quot; with a slight sigh, &quot;and often the recipe in small. I can send a lotion to relieve you, but we must leave the cure to time and rest.&quot; This he said, holding Idle&#039;s foot on his knee between his two hands, as he sat over against him. He had touched it tenderly and skilfully in explanation of what he said, and, when his careful examination was completed, softly returned it to its former horizontal position on a chair. He spoke with a little irresolution whenever he began, but afterwards fluently. He was a tall, thin, large-boned, old gentleman, with an appearance at first sight of being hard- featured; but, at a second glance, the mild expression of his face and some particular touches of sweetness and patience about his mouth, corrected this impression and assigned his long professional rides, by day and night, in the bleak hill-weather, as the true cause of that appearance. He stooped very little, though past seventy and very grey. His dress was more like that of a clergyman than a country doctor, being a plain black suit, and a plain white neck-kerchief tied behind like a band. His black was the worse for wear, and there were darns in his coat, and his linen was a little frayed at the hems and edges. He might have been poor—it was likely enough in that out-of-the-way spot-or he might have been a little self-forgetful and eccentric. Anyone could have seen directly, that he had neither wife nor child at home. He had a scholarly air with him, and that kind of considerate humanity towards others which claimed a gentle consideration for himself. Mr. Goodchild made this study of him while he was examining the limb, and as he laid it down, Mr. Goodchild wishes to add that he considers it a very good likeness. It came out in the course of a little conversation, that Doctor Speddie was acquainted with some friends of Thomas Idle&#039;s and had, when a young man, passed some years in Thomas Idle&#039;s birthplace on the other side of England. Certain idle labours, the fruit of Mr. Goodchild&#039;s apprenticeship, also happened to be well known to him. The lazy travellers were thus placed on a more intimate footing with the Doctor than the casual circumstances of the meeting would of themselves have established; and when Doctor Speddie rose to go home, remarking that he would send his assistant with the lotion, Francis Goodchild said that was unnecessary, for, by the Doctor&#039;s leave, he would accompany him, and bring it back. (Having done nothing to fatigue himself for a full quarter of an hour, Francis began to fear that he was not in a state of idleness.) Doctor Speddie politely assented to the proposition of Francis Goodchild, &quot;as it would give him the pleasure of enjoying a few more minutes of Mr. Goodchild&#039;s society than he could otherwise have hoped for,&quot; and they went out together into the village street. The rain had nearly ceased, the clouds had broken before a cool wind from the north-east, and stars were shining from the peaceful heights beyond them. Doctor Speddie&#039;s house was the last house in the place. Beyond it, lay the moor, all dark and lonesome. The wind moaned in a low, dull, shivering manner round the little garden, like a houseless creature that knew the winter was coming. It was exceedingly wild and solitary. &quot;Roses,&quot; said the Doctor, when Goodchild touched some wet leaves overhanging the stone porch; &quot;but they get cut to pieces.&quot; The Doctor opened the door with a key he carried, and led the way into a low but pretty ample hall with rooms on either side. The door of one of these stood open, and the Doctor entered it, with a word of welcome to his guest. It, too, was a low room, half surgery and half parlor, with shelves of books and bottles against the walls, which were of a very dark hue. There was a fire in the grate, the night being damp and chill. Leaning against the chimney-piece looking down into it, stood the Doctor&#039;s Assistant. A man of a most remarkable appearance. Much older than Mr. Goodchild had expected, for he was at least two-and-fifty; but, that was nothing. What was startling in him was his remarkable paleness. His large black eyes, his sunken cheeks, his long and heavy iron-grey hair, his wasted hands, and even, the attenuation of his figure, were at first forgotten in his extraordinary pallor. There was no vestige of color in the man. When he turned his face, Francis Goodchild started as if a stone figure had looked round at him. &quot;Mr. Lorn,&quot; said the Doctor. &quot;Mr. Goodchild.&quot; The Assistant, in a distraught way—as if he had forgotten something—as if he had forgotten everything, even to his own name and himself—acknowledged the visitor&#039;s presence, and stepped further back into the shadow of the wall behind him. But, he was so pale that his face stood out in relief against the dark wall, and really could not be hidden so. &quot;Mr. Goodchild&#039;s friend has met with an accident, Lorn,&quot; said Doctor Speddie. &quot;We want the lotion for a bad sprain.&quot; A pause. &quot;My dear fellow, you are more than usually absent to-night. The lotion for a bad sprain.&quot; &quot;Ah! yes! Directly.&quot; He was evidently relieved to turn away, and to take his white face and his wild eyes to a table in a recess among the bottles. But, though he stood there, compounding the lotion with his back towards them, Goodchild could not, for many moments, withdraw his gaze from the man. When he at length did so, he found the Doctor observing him, with some trouble in his face. &quot;He is absent,&quot; explained the Doctor, in a low voice. &quot;Always absent. Very absent.&quot; &quot;Is he ill?&quot; &quot;No, not ill.&quot; &quot;Unhappy?&quot; &quot;I have my suspicions that he was,&quot; assented the Doctor, &quot;once.&quot; Francis Goodchild could not but observe that the Doctor accompanied these words with a benignant and protecting glance at their subject, in which there was much of the expression with which an attached father might have looked at a heavily afflicted son. Yet, that they were not father and son must have been plain to most eyes. The Assistant, on the other hand, turning presently to ask the Doctor some question, looked at him with a wan smile as if he were his whole reliance and sustainment in life. It was in vain for the Doctor in his easy chair, to try to lead the mind of Mr. Goodchild in the opposite easy chair, away from what was before him. Let Mr. Goodchild do what he would to follow the Doctor, his eyes and thoughts reverted to the Assistant. The Doctor soon perceived it, and, after falling silent, and musing in a little perplexity, said: &quot;Lorn!&quot; &quot;My dear Doctor.&quot; &quot;Would you go to the Inn, and apply that lotion? You will show the best way of applying it, far better than Mr. Goodchild can.&quot; &quot;With pleasure.&quot; The Assistant took his hat, and passed like a shadow to the door. &quot;Lorn!&quot; said the Doctor, calling after him. He returned. &quot;Mr. Goodchild will keep me company till you come home. Don&#039;t hurry. Excuse my calling you back.&quot; &quot;It is not,&quot; said the Assistant, with his former smile, &quot;the first time you have called me back, dear Doctor.&quot; With those words he went away. &quot;Mr. Goodchild,&quot; said Doctor Speddie, in a low voice, and with his former troubled expression of face, &quot;I have seen that your attention has been concentrated on my friend.&quot; &quot;He fascinates me. I must apologise to you, but he has quite bewildered and mastered me.&quot; &quot;I find that a lonely existence and a long secret,&quot; said the Doctor, drawing his chair a little nearer to Mr. Goodchild&#039;s, &quot;become in the course of time very heavy. I will tell you something. You may make what use you will of it, under fictitious names. I know I may trust you. I am the more inclined to confidence to-night, through having been unexpectedly led back, by the current of our conversation at the Inn, to scenes in my early life. Will you please to draw a little nearer?&quot; Mr. Goodchild drew a little nearer, and the Doctor went on thus: speaking, for the most part, in so cautious a voice, that the wind, though it was far from high, occasionally got the better of him. When this present nineteenth century was younger by a good many years than it is now, a certain friend of mine, named Arthur Holliday, happened to arrive in the town of Doncaster, exactly in the middle of the race-week, or, in other words, in the middle of the month of September. He was one of those reckless, rattle-pated, open-hearted, and open-mouthed young gentlemen, who possess the gift of familiarity in its highest perfection, and who scramble carelessly along the journey of life making friends, as the phrase is, wherever they go. His father was a rich manufacturer, and had bought landed property enough in one of the midland counties to make all the born squires in his neighbourhood thoroughly envious of him. Arthur was his only son, possessor in prospect of the great estate and the great business after his father&#039;s death; well supplied with money, and not too rigidly looked after, during his father&#039;s lifetime. Report, or scandal, whichever you please, said that the old gentleman had been rather wild in his youthful days, and that, unlike most parents, he was not disposed to be violently indignant when he found that his son took after him. This may be true or not. I myself only knew the elder Mr. Holliday when he was getting on in years; and then he was as quiet and as respectable a gentleman as ever I met with. Well, one September, as I told you, young Arthur comes to Doncaster, having decided all of a sudden, in his hare-brained way, that he would go to the races. He did not reach the town till towards the close of the evening, and he went at once to see about his dinner and bed at the principal hotel. Dinner they were ready enough to give him; but as for a bed, they laughed when he mentioned it. In the race-week at Doncaster, it is no uncommon thing for visitors who have not bespoken apartments, to pass the night in their carriages at the inn doors. As for the lower sort of strangers, I myself have often seen them, at that full time, sleeping out on the doorsteps for want of a covered place to creep under. Rich as he was, Arthur&#039;s chance of getting a night&#039;s lodging (seeing that he had not written beforehand to secure one) was more than doubtful. He tried the second hotel, and the third hotel, and two of the inferior inns after that; and was met everywhere by the same form of answer. No accommodation for the night of any sort was left. All the bright golden sovereigns in his pocket would not buy him a bed at Doncaster in the race-week. To a young fellow of Arthur&#039;s temperament, the novelty of being turned away into the street, like a penniless vagabond, at every house where he asked for a lodging, presented itself in the light of a new and highly amusing piece of experience. He went on, with his carpet-bag in his hand, applying for a bed at every place of entertainment for travellers that he could find in Doncaster, until he wandered into the outskirts of the town. By this time, the last glimmer of twilight had faded out, the moon was rising dimly in a mist, the wind was getting cold, the clouds were gathering heavily, and there was every prospect that it was soon going to rain. The look of the night had rather a lowering effect on young Holliday&#039;s good spirits. He began to contemplate the houseless situation in which he was placed, from the serious rather than the humorous point of view; and he looked about him, for another public-house to enquire at, with something very like downright anxiety in his mind on the subject of a lodging for the night. The suburban part of the town towards which he had now strayed was hardly lighted at all, and he could see nothing of the houses as he passed them, except that they got progressively smaller and dirtier, the farther he went. Down the winding road before him shone the dull gleam of an oil lamp, the one faint, lonely light that struggled ineffectually with the foggy darkness all round him. He resolved to go on as far as this lamp, and then, if it showed him nothing in the shape of an Inn, to return to the central part of the town and to try if he could not at least secure a chair to sit down on, through the night, at one of the principal Hotels. As he got near the lamp, he heard voices; and, walking close under it, found that it lighted the entrance to a narrow court, on the wall of which was painted a long hand in faded flesh-colour, pointing, with a lean forefinger, to this inscription:— THE TWO ROBINS. Arthur turned into the court without hesitation, to see what The Two Robins could do for him. Four or five men were standing together round the door of the house which was at the bottom of the court, facing the entrance from the street. The men were all listening to one other man, better dressed than the rest, who was telling his audience something, in a low voice, in which they were apparently very much interested. On entering the passage, Arthur was passed by a stranger with a knapsack in his hand, who was evidently leaving the house. &quot;No,&quot; said the traveller with the knap-sack, turning round and addressing himself cheerfully to a fat, sly-looking, bald-headed man, with a dirty white apron on, who had followed him down the passage. &quot;No, Mr. Landlord, I am not easily scared by trifles; but, I don&#039;t mind confessing that I can&#039;t quite stand that.&quot; It occurred to young Holliday, the moment he heard these words, that the stranger had been asked an exorbitant price for a bed at The Two Robins; and that he was unable or unwilling to pay it. The moment his back was turned, Arthur, comfortably conscious of his own well-filled pockets, addressed himself in a great hurry, for fear any other benighted traveller should slip in and forestall him, to the sly-looking landlord with the dirty apron and the bald head. &quot;If you have got a bed to let,&quot; he said, &quot;and if that gentleman who has just gone out won&#039;t pay you your price for it, I will.&quot; The sly landlord looked hard at Arthur. &quot;Will you, sir?&quot; he asked, in a meditative, doubtful way. &quot;Name your price,&quot; said young Holliday, thinking that the landlord&#039;s hesitation sprang from some boorish distrust of him. &quot;Name your price, and I&#039;ll give you the money at once, if you like?&quot; &quot;Are you game for five shillings?&quot; enquired the landlord, rubbing his stubbly double chin, and looking up thoughtfully at the ceiling above him. Arthur nearly laughed in the man&#039;s face; but thinking it prudent to control himself, offered the five shillings as seriously as he could. The sly landlord held out his hand, then suddenly drew it back again. &quot;You&#039;re acting all fair and above-board by me,&quot; he said: &quot;and, before I take your money, I&#039;ll do the same by you. Look here, this is how it stands. You can have a bed all to yourself for five shillings; but you can&#039;t have more than a half-share of the room it stands in. Do you see what I mean, young gentleman?&quot; &quot;Of course I do,&quot; returned Arthur, a little irritably. &quot;You mean that it is a double-bedded room, and that one of the beds is occupied?&quot; The landlord nodded his head, and rubbed his double chin harder than ever. Arthur hesitated, and mechanically moved back a step or two towards the door. The idea of sleeping in the same room with a total stranger, did not present an attractive prospect to him. he felt more than half-inclined to drop his five shillings into his pocket, and to go out into the street once more. &quot;Is it yes, or no?&quot; asked the landlord. &quot;Settle it us quick as you can, because there&#039;s lots of people wanting a bed at Doncaster tonight, besides you.&quot; Arthur looked towards the court, and heard the rain falling heavily in the street outside. He thought he would ask a question or two before he rashly decided on leaving the shelter of The Two Robins. &quot;What sort of a man is it who has got the other bed?&quot; he inquired. &quot;Is he a gentleman? I mean, is he a quiet, well-behaved person?&quot; &quot;The quietest man I ever came across,&quot; said the landlord, rubbing his fat hands stealthily one over the other. &quot;As sober as a judge, and as regular as clock-work in his habits. It hasn&#039;t struck nine, not ten minutes ago, and he&#039;s in his bed already. I don&#039;t know whether that comes up to your notion of a quiet man: it goes a long way ahead of mine, I can tell you.&quot; &quot;Is he asleep, do you think?&quot; asked Arthur. &quot;I know he&#039;s asleep,&quot; returned the landlord. &quot;And what&#039;s more, he&#039;s gone off so fast, that I&#039;ll warrant you don&#039;t wake him. This way, sir,&quot; said the landlord, speaking over young Holiday&#039;s shoulder, as if he was addressing some new guest who was approaching the house. &quot;Here you are,&quot; said Arthur, determined to be beforehand with the stranger, whoever he might be. &quot;I&#039;ll take the bed.&quot; And he handed the five shillings to the landlord, who nodded, dropped the money carelessly into his waistcoat-pocket, and lighted a candle. &quot;Come up and see the room,&quot; said the host of The Two Robins, leading the way to the staircase quite briskly, considering how fat he was. They mounted to the second-floor of the house. The landlord half opened a door, fronting the landing, then stopped, and turned round to Arthur. &quot;It&#039;s a fair bargain, mind, on my side as well as on yours,&quot; he said. &quot;You give me five shillings, I give you in return a clean, comfortable bed; and I warrant, beforehand, that you won&#039;t be interfered with, or annoyed in any way, by the man who sleeps in the same room with you.&quot; Saying those words, he looked hard, for a moment, in young Holliday&#039;s face, and then led the way into the room. It was larger and cleaner than Arthur had expected it would be. The two beds stood parallel with each other—a space of about six feet intervening between them. They were both of the same medium size, and both had the same plain white curtains, made to draw, if necessary, all round them. The occupied bed was the bed nearest the window. The curtains were all drawn round this, except the half curtain at the bottom, on the side of the bed farthest from the window. Arthur saw the feet of the sleeping man raising the scanty clothes into a sharp little eminence, as if he was lying flat on his back. He took the candle, and advanced softly to draw the curtain—stopped half way, and listened for a moment—then turned to the landlord. &quot;He is a very quiet sleeper,&quot; said Arthur. &quot;Yes,&quot; said the landlord, &quot;very quiet.&quot; Young Holliday advanced with the candle, and looked in at the man cautiously. &quot;How pale he is!&quot; said Arthur. &quot;Yes,&quot; returned the landlord, &quot;pale enough, isn&#039;t he?&quot; Arthur looked closer at the man. The bed-clothes were drawn up to his chin, and they lay perfectly still over the region of his chest. Surprised and vaguely startled, as he noticed this, Arthur stooped down closer over the stranger; looked at his ashy, parted lips; listened breathlessly for an instant; looked again at the strangely still face, and the motionless lips and chest; and turned round suddenly on the landlord, with his own cheeks as pale for the moment as the hollow cheeks of the man on the bed. &quot;Come here,&quot; he whispered, under his breath. &quot;Come here, for God&#039;s sake! The man&#039;s not asleep—he is dead!&quot; &quot;You have found that out sooner than I thought you would,&quot; said the landlord composedly. &quot;Yes, he&#039;s dead, sure enough. He died at five o&#039;clock to-day.&quot; &quot;How did he die? Who is he?&quot; asked Arthur, staggered for the moment by the audacious coolness of the answer. &quot;As to who is he,&quot; rejoined the landlord, &quot;I know no more about him than you do. There are his books and letters and things, all sealed up in that brown paper parcel, for the Coroner&#039;s inquest to open tomorrow or next day. He&#039;s been here a week, paying his way fairly enough, and stopping indoors, for the most part, as if he was ailing. My girl brought him up his tea at five to-day; and as he was pouring of it out, he fell down in a faint, or a fit, or a compound of both, for anything I know. We could not bring him to- and I said he was dead. And the doctor couldn&#039;t bring him to- and the doctor said he was dead. And there he is. And the Coroner&#039;s inquest&#039;s coming as soon as it can. And that&#039;s as much as I know about it.&quot; Arthur held the candle close to the man&#039;s lips. The flame still burnt straight up, as steadily as ever. There was a moment of silence; and the rain pattered drearily through it against the panes of the window. &quot;If you haven&#039;t got nothing more to say to me,&quot; continued the landlord, &quot;I suppose I may go. You don&#039;t expect your five shillings back, do you? There&#039;s the bed I promised you, clean and comfortable. There&#039;s the man I warranted not to disturb you, quiet in this world for ever. If you&#039;re frightened to stop alone with him, that&#039;s not my look out. I&#039;ve kept my part of the bargain, and I mean to keep the money. I&#039;m not Yorkshire, myself, young gentleman; but I&#039;ve lived long enough in these parts to have my wits sharpened; and I shouldn&#039;t wonder if you found out the way to brighten up yours, next time you come among us.&quot; With these words, the landlord turned towards the door, and laughed to himself softly, in high satisfaction at his own sharpness. Startled and shocked as he was, Arthur had by this time sufficiently recovered himself to feel indignant at the trick that had been played on him, and at the insolent manner in which the landlord exulted in it. &quot;Don&#039;t laugh,&quot; he said sharply, &quot;till you are quite sure you have got the laugh against me. You shan&#039;t have the five shillings for nothing, my man. I&#039;ll keep the bed.&quot; &quot;Will you?&quot; said the landlord. &quot;Then I wish you a good night&#039;s rest.&quot; With that brief farewell, he went out, and shut the door after him. A good night&#039;s rest! The words had hardly been spoken, the door had hardly been closed, before Arthur half-repented the hasty words that had just escaped him. Though not naturally over-sensitive, and not wanting in courage of the moral as well as the physical sort, the presence of the dead man had an instantaneously chilling effect on his mind when he found himself alone in the room—alone, and bound by his own rash words to stay there till the next morning. An older man would have thought nothing of those words, and would have acted, without reference to them, as his calmer sense suggested. But Arthur was too young to treat the ridicule, even of his inferiors, with contempt—too young not to fear the momentary humiliation of falsifying his own foolish boast, more than he feared the trial of watching out the long night in the same chamber with the dead. &quot;It is but a few hours,&quot; he thought to himself, &quot;and I can get away the first thing in the morning.&quot; He was looking towards the occupied bed as that idea passed through his mind, and the sharp angular eminence made in the clothes by the dead man&#039;s upturned feet again caught his eye. He advanced and drew the curtains, purposely abstaining, as he did so, from looking at the face of the corpse, lest he might unnerve himself at the outset by fastening some ghastly impression of it on his mind. He drew the curtain very gently, and sighed involuntarily as he closed it. &quot;Poor fellow,&quot; he said, almost as sadly as if he had known the man. &quot;Ah, poor fellow!&quot; He went next to the window. The night was black, and he could see nothing from it. The rain still pattered heavily against the glass. He inferred, from hearing it, that the window was at the back of the house; remembering that the front was sheltered from the weather by the court and the buildings over it. While he was still standing at the window—for even the dreary rain was a relief, because of the sound it made; a relief, also, because it moved, and had some faint suggestion, in consequence, of life and companionship in it—while he was standing at the window, and looking vacantly into the black darkness outside, he heard a distant church-clock strike ten. Only ten! How was he to pass the time till the house was astir the next morning? Under any other circumstances, he would have gone down to the public-house parlour, would have called for his grog, and would have laughed and talked with the company assembled as familiarly as if he had known them all his life. But the very thought of whiling away the time in this manner was now distasteful to him. The new situation in which he was placed seemed to have altered him to himself already. Thus far, his life had been the common, trifling, prosaic, surface-life of a prosperous young man, with no troubles to conquer, and no trials to face. He had lost no relation whom he loved, no friend whom he treasured. Till this night, what share he had of the immortal inheritance that is divided amongst us all, had lain dormant within him. Till this night, Death and he had not once met, even in thought. He took a few turns up and down the room—then stopped. The noise made by his boots on the poorly carpeted floor, jarred on his ear. He hesitated a little, and ended by taking the boots off, and walking backwards and forwards noiselessly. All desire to sleep or to rest had left him. The bare thought of lying down on the unoccupied bed instantly drew the picture on his mind of a dreadful mimicry of the position of the dead man. Who was he? What was the story of his past life? Poor he must have been, or he would not have stopped at such a place as The Two Robins Inn—and weakened, probably, by long illness, or he could hardly have died in the manner which the landlord had described. Poor, ill, lonely,—dead in a strange place; dead, with nobody but a stranger to pity him. A sad story: truly, on the mere face of it, a very sad story. While these thoughts were passing through his mind, he had stopped insensibly at the window, close to which stood the foot of the bed with the closed curtains. At first he looked at it absently; then he became conscious that his eyes were fixed on it; and then, a perverse desire took possession of him to do the very thing which he had resolved not to do, up to this time—to look at the dead man. He stretched out his hand towards the curtains; but checked himself in the very act of undrawing them, turned his back sharply on the bed, and walked towards the chimney-piece, to see what things were placed on it, and to try if he could keep the dead man out of his mind in that way. There was a pewter inkstand on the chimney-piece, with some mildewed remains of ink in the bottle. There were two coarse china ornaments of the commonest kind and there was a square of embossed card, dirty and fly-blown, with a collection of wretched riddles printed on it, in all sorts of zig-zag directions, and in variously coloured inks. He took the card, and went away, to read it, to the table on which the candle was placed; sitting down, with his back resolutely turned to the curtained bed. He read the first riddle, the second, the third, ail in one corner of the card—then turned it round impatiently to look at another. Before he could begin reading the riddles printed here, the sound of the church-clock stopped him. Eleven. He had got through an hour of the time, in the room with the dead man. Once more he looked at the card. It was not easy to make out the letters printed on it, in consequence of the dimness of the light which the landlord had left him—a common tallow candle, furnished with a pair of heavy old-fashioned steel snuffers. Up to this time, his mind had been too much occupied to think of the light. He had left the wick of the candle unsnuffed, till it had risen higher than the flame, and had burnt into an odd pent-house shape at the top, from which morsels of the charred cotton fell off, from time to time, in little flakes. He took up the snuffers now, and trimmed the wick. The light brightened directly, and the room became less dismal. Again he turned to the riddles; reading them doggedly and resolutely, now in one corner of the card, now in another. All his efforts, however, could not fix his attention on them. He pursued his occupation mechanically, deriving no sort of impression from what he was reading. It was as if a shadow from the curtained bed had got between his mind and the gaily printed letters—a shadow that nothing could dispel. At last, he gave up the struggle, and threw the card from him impatiently, and took to walking softly up and down the room again. The dead man, the dead man, the hidden dead man on the bed! There was the one persistent idea still haunting him. Hidden! Was it only the body being there, or was it the body being there, concealed, that was preying on his mind? He stopped at the window, with that doubt in him; once more listening to the pattering rain, once more looking out into the black darkness. Still the dead man! The darkness forced his mind back upon itself, and set his memory at work, reviving, with a painfully-vivid distinctness the momentary impression it had received from his first sight of the corpse. Before long the face seemed to be hovering out in the middle of the darkness, confronting him through the window, with the paleness whiter, with the dreadful dull line of light between the imperfectly-closed eyelids broader than he had seen it—with the parted lips slowly dropping farther and farther away from each other—with the features growing larger and moving closer, till they seemed to fill the window and to silence the ram, and to shut out the night. The sound of a voice, shouting below stairs, woke him suddenly from the dream of his own distempered fancy. He recognised it as the voice of the landlord. &quot;Shut up at twelve, Ben,&quot; he heard it say. &quot;I&#039;m off to bed.&quot; He wiped away the damp that had gathered on his forehead, reasoned with himself for a little while, and resolved to shake his mind free of the ghastly counterfeit which still clung to it, by forcing himself to confront, if it was only for a moment, the solemn reality. Without allowing himself an instant to hesitate, he parted the curtains at the foot of the bed, and looked through. There was the sad, peaceful, white face, with the awful mystery of stillness on it, laid back upon the pillow. No stir, no change there! He only looked at it for a moment before he closed the curtains again—but that moment steadied him, calmed him, restored him—mind and body to himself. He returned to his old occupation of walking up and down the room; persevering in it, this time, till the clock struck again. Twelve. As the sound of the clock-bell died away, it was succeeded by the confused noise, down stairs, of the drinkers in the tap-room leaving the house. The next sound, after an interval of silence, was caused by the barring of the door, and the closing of the shutters, at the back of the Inn. Then the silence followed again, and was disturbed no more. He was alone now—absolutely, utterly, alone with the dead man, till the next morning. The wick of the candle wanted trimming again. He took up the snuffers—but paused suddenly on the very point of using them, and looked attentively at the candle—then back, over his shoulder, at the curtained bed—then again at the candle. It had been lighted, for the first time, to show him the way up stairs, and three parts of it, at least, were already consumed. In another hour it would be burnt out. In another hour—unless he called at once to the man who had shut up the Inn, for a fresh candle—he would be left in the dark. Strongly as his mind had been affected since he had entered the room, his unreasonable dread of encountering ridicule, and of exposing his courage to suspicion, had not altogether lost its influence over him, even yet. He lingered irresolutely by the table, waiting till he could prevail on himself to open the door, and call, from the landing, to the man who had shut up the Inn. In his present hesitating frame of mind, it was a kind of relief to gain a few moments only by engaging in the trifling occupation of snuffing the candle. His hand trembled a little, and the snuffers were heavy and awkward to use. When he closed them on the wick, he closed them a hair&#039;s breadth too low. In an instant the candle was out, and the room was plunged in pitch darkness. The one impression which the absence of light immediately produced on his mind, was distrust of the curtained bed—distrust which shaped itself into no distinct idea, but which was powerful enough, in its very vagueness, to bind him down to his chair, to make his heart beat fast, and to set him listening intently. No sound stirred in the room but the familiar sound of the rain against the window, louder and sharper now than he had heard it yet. Still the vague distrust, the inexpressible dread possessed him, and kept him in his chair. He had put his carpet-bag on the table, when he first entered the room; and he now took the key from his pocket, reached out his hand softly, opened the bag, and groped in it for his travelling writing-case, in which he knew that there was a small store of matches. When he had got one of the matches, he waited before he struck it on the coarse wooden table, and listened intently again, without knowing why. Still there was no sound in the room but the steady, ceaseless, rattling sound of the rain. He lighted the candle again, without another moment of delay; and, on the instant of its burning up, the first object in the room that his eyes sought for was the curtained bed. Just before the light had been put out, he had looked in that direction, and had seen no change, no disarrangement of any sort, in the folds of the closely-drawn curtains. When he looked at the bed, now, he saw, hanging over the side of it, a long white hand. It lay perfectly motionless, midway on the side of the bed, where the curtain at the head and the curtain at the foot met. Nothing more was visible. The clinging curtains hid everything but the long white hand. He stood looking at it unable to stir, unable to call out; feeling nothing, knowing nothing; every faculty he possessed gathered up and lost in the one seeing faculty. How long that first panic held him he never could tell afterwards. It might have been only for a moment; it might have been for many minutes together. How he got to the bed—whether he ran to it headlong, or whether he approached it slowly—how he wrought himself up to unclose the curtains and look in, he never has remembered, and never will remember to his dying day. It is enough that he did go to the bed, and that he did look inside the curtains. The man had moved. One of his arms was outside the clothes; his face was turned a little on the pillow; his eyelids were wide open. Changed as to position, and as to one of the features, the face was otherwise, fearfully and wonderfully unaltered. The dead paleness and the dead quiet were on it still. One glance showed Arthur this—one glance, before he flew breathlessly to the door, and alarmed the house. The man whom the landlord called &quot;Ben,&quot; was the first to appear on the stairs. In three words, Arthur told him what had happened, and sent him for the nearest doctor. I, who tell you this story, was then staying with a medical friend of mine, in practice at Doncaster, taking care of his patients for him, during his absence in London; and I, for the time being, was the nearest doctor. They had sent for me from the Inn, when the stranger was taken ill in the afternoon; but I was not at home, and medical assistance was sought for elsewhere. When the man from The Two Robins rang the night-bell, I was just thinking of going to bed. Naturally enough, I did not believe a word of his story about &quot;a dead man who had come to life again.&quot; However, I put on my hat, armed myself with one or two bottles of restorative medicine, and ran to the Inn, expecting to find nothing more remarkable, when I got there, than a patient in a fit. My surprise at finding that the man had spoken the literal truth was almost, if not quite, equalled by my astonishment at finding myself face to face with Arthur Holliday as soon as I entered the bedroom. It was no time then for giving or seeking explanations. We just shook hands amazedly; and then I ordered everybody but Arthur out of the room, and hurried to the man on the bed. The kitchen fire had not been long out. There was plenty of hot water in the boiler, and plenty of flannel to be had. With these, with my medicines, and with such help as Arthur could render under my direction, I dragged the man, literally, out of the jaws of death. In less than an hour from the time when I had been called in, he was alive and talking in the bed on which he had been laid out to wait for the Coroner&#039;s inquest. You will naturally ask me, what had been the matter with him; and I might treat you, in reply, to a long theory, plentifully sprinkled with, what the children call, hard words. I prefer telling you that, in this case, cause and effect could not be satisfactorily joined together by any theory whatever. There are mysteries in life, and the conditions of it, which human science has not fathomed yet; and I candidly confess to you, that, in bringing that man back to existence, I was, morally speaking, groping hap-hazard in the dark. I know (from the testimony of the doctor who attended him in the afternoon) that the vital machinery, so far as its action is appreciable by our senses, had, in this case, unquestionably stopped; and I am equally certain (seeing that I recovered him) that the vital principle was not extinct. When I add, that he had suffered from a long and complicated illness, and that his whole nervous system was utterly deranged, I have told you all I really know of the physical condition of my dead-alive patient at the Two Robins Inn. When he &quot;came to,&quot; as the phrase goes, he was a startling object to look at, with his colourless face, his sunken cheeks, his wild black eyes, and his long black hair. The first question he asked me about himself, when he could speak, made me suspect that I had been called in to a man in my own profession. I mentioned to him my surmise; and he told me that I was right. He said he had come last from Paris, where he had been attached to a hospital. That he had lately returned to England, on his way to Edinburgh, to continue his studies; that he had been taken ill on the journey; and that he had stopped to rest and recover himself at Doncaster. He did not add a word about his name, or who he was: and, of course, I did not question him on the subject. All I inquired, when he ceased speaking, was what branch of the profession he intended to follow. &quot;Any branch,&quot; he said bitterly, &quot;which will put bread into the mouth of a poor man.&quot; At this, Arthur, who had been hitherto watching him in silent curiosity, burst out impetuously in his usual good-humoured way: &quot;My dear fellow!&quot; (everybody was &quot;my dear fellow&quot; with Arthur) &quot;now you have come to life again, don&#039;t begin by being down-hearted about your prospects. I&#039;ll answer for it, I can help you to some capital thing in the medical line or, if I can&#039;t, I know my father can.&quot; The medical student looked at him steadily. &quot;Thank you,&quot; he said coldly. Then added, &quot;May I ask who your father is?&quot; &quot;He&#039;s well enough known all about this part of the country,&quot; replied Arthur. &quot;He is a great manufacturer, and his name is Holliday.&quot; My hand was on the man&#039;s wrist during this brief conversation. The instant the name of Holliday was pronounced I felt the pulse under my fingers flutter, stop, go on suddenly with a bound, and beat afterwards, for a minute or two, at the fever rate. &quot;How did you come here?&quot; asked the stranger, quickly, excitably, passionately almost. Arthur related briefly what had happened from the time of his first taking the bed at the inn. &quot;I am indebted to Mr. Holliday&#039;s son then for the help that has saved my life,&quot; said the medical student, speaking to himself, with a singular sarcasm in his voice. &quot;Come here!&quot; He held out, as he spoke, his long, white, bony right hand. &quot;With all my heart,&quot; said Arthur, taking the hand cordially. &quot;I may confess it now,&quot; he continued, laughing, &quot;Upon my honour, you almost frightened me out of my wits.&quot; The stranger did not seem to listen. His wild black eyes were fixed with a look of eager interest on Arthur&#039;s face, and his long bony fingers kept tight hold of Arthur&#039;s hand. Young Holliday, on his side, returned the gaze, amazed and puzzled by the medical student&#039;s odd language and manners. The two faces were close together; I looked at them; and, to my amazement, I was suddenly impressed by the sense of a likeness between them—not in features, or complexion, but solely in expression. It must have been a strong likeness, or I should certainly not have found it out, for I am naturally slow at detecting resemblances between faces. &quot;You have saved my life,&quot; said the strange man, still looking hard in Arthur&#039;s face, still holding tightly by his hand. &quot;If you had been my own brother, you could not have done more for me than that.&quot; He laid a singularly strong emphasis on those three words &quot;my own brother,&quot; and a change passed over his face as he pronounced them—a change that no language of mine is competent to describe. &quot;I hope I have not done being of service to you yet,&quot; said Arthur. &quot;I&#039;ll speak to my father, as soon as I get home.&quot; &quot;You seem to be fond and proud of your father,&quot; said the medical student. &quot;I suppose, in return, he is fond and proud of you?&quot; &quot;Of course, he is!&quot; answered Arthur, laughing. &quot;Is there anything wonderful in that? Isn&#039;t your father fond—&quot; The stranger suddenly dropped young Holliday&#039;s hand, and turned his face away. &quot;I beg your pardon,&quot; said Arthur. &quot;I hope I have not unintentionally pained you. I hope you have not lost your father?&quot; &quot;I can&#039;t well lose what I have never had,&quot; retorted the medical student, with a harsh mocking laugh. &quot;What you have never had!&quot; The strange man suddenly caught Arthur&#039;shand again, suddenly looked once more hard in his face. &quot;Yes,&quot; he said, with a repetition of the bitter laugh. &quot;You have brought a poor devil back into the world, who has no business there. Do I astonish you? Well! I have a fancy of my own for telling you what men in my situation generally keep a secret. I have no name and no father. The merciful law of Society tells me I am Nobody&#039;s Son! Ask your father if he will be my father too, and help me on in life with the family name.&quot; Arthur looked at me, more puzzled than ever. I signed to him to say nothing, and then laid my fingers again on the man&#039;s wrist. No! In spite of the extraordinary speech that he had just made, he was not, as I had been disposed to suspect, beginning to get light-headed. His pulse, by this time had fallen back to a quiet, slow beat, and his skin was moist and cool. Not a symptom of fever or agitation about him. Finding that neither of us answered him, he turned to me, and began talking of the extraordinary nature of his case, and asking my advice about the future course of medical treatment to which he ought to subject himself. I said the matter required careful thinking over, and suggested that I should submit certain prescriptions to him the next morning. He told me to write them at once, as he would, most likely, be leaving Doncaster, in the morning, before I was up. It was quite useless to represent to him the folly and danger of such a proceeding as this. He heard me politely and patiently, but held to his resolution, without offering any reasons or any explanations, and repeated to me, that if I wished to give him a chance of seeing my prescription, I must write it at once. Hearing this, Arthur volunteered the loan of a travelling writing-case, which, he said, he had with him; and, bringing it to the bed, shook the notepaper out of the pocket of the case forthwith in his usual careless way. With the paper, there fell out on the counterpane of the bed a small packet of sticking-plaster, and a little water-colour drawing of a landscape. The medical student took up the drawing and looked at it. His eye fell on some initials neatly written, in cypher, in one corner. He started, and trembled; his pale face grew whiter than ever; his wild black eyes turned on Arthur, and looked through and through him. &quot;A pretty drawing,&quot; he said, in a remarkably quiet tone of voice. &quot;Ah! and done by such a pretty girl,&quot; said Arthur. &quot;Oh, such a pretty girl! I wish it was not a landscape—I wish it was a portrait of her!&quot; &quot;You admire her very much?&quot; Arthur, half in jest, half in earnest, kissed his hand for answer. &quot;Love at first sight!&quot; he said, putting the drawing away again. &quot;But the course of it doesn&#039;t run smooth. It&#039;s the old story. She&#039;s monopolised as usual. Trammelled by a rash engagement to some poor man who is never likely to get money enough to marry her. It was lucky I heard of it in time, or I should certainly have risked a declaration when she gave me that drawing. Here, doctor! Here is pen, ink, and paper all ready for you.&quot; &quot;When she gave you that drawing? Gave it. Gave it.&quot; He repeated the words slowly to himself, and suddenly closed his eyes. A momentary distortion passed across his face, and I saw one of his hands clutch up the bedclothes and squeeze them hard. I thought he was going to be ill again, and begged that there might be no more talking. He opened his eyes when I spoke, fixed them once more searchingly on Arthur, and said, slowly and distinctly, &quot;You like her, and she likes you. The poor man may die out of your way. Who can tell that she may not give you herself as well as her drawing, after all?&quot; Before young Holliday could answer, he turned to me, and said in a whisper, &quot;Now for the prescription.&quot; From that time, though he spoke to Arthur again, he never looked at him more. When I had written the prescription, he examined it, approved of it, and then us both by abruptly wishing us good night. I offered to sit up with him, and he shook his head. Arthur offered to sit up with him, and he said, shortly, with his face turned away, &quot;No.&quot; I insisted on having somebody left to watch him. He gave way when he found I was determined, and said he would accept the services of the waiter at the inn. &quot;Thank you, both,&quot; he said, as we rose to go. &quot;I have one last favour to ask—not of you, doctor, for I leave you to exercise your professional discretion—but of Mr. Holliday.&quot; His eyes, while he spoke, still rested steadily on me, and never once turned towards Arthur. &quot;I beg that Mr. Holliday will not mention to any one—least of all to his father —the events that have occurred, and the words that have passed, in this room. I entreat him to bury me in his memory, as, but for him, I might have been buried in my grave. I cannot give my reasons for making this strange request. I can only implore him to grant it.&quot; His voice faltered for the first time, and he hid his face on the pillow. Arthur, completely bewildered, gave the required pledge. I took young Holliday away with me, immediately afterwards, to the house of my friend; determining to go back to the inn, and to see the medical student again before he had left in the morning. I returned to the inn at eight o&#039;clock, purposely abstaining from waking Arthur, who was sleeping off the past night&#039;s excitement on one of my friend&#039;s sofas. A suspicion had occurred to me, as soon as I was alone in my bedroom, which made me resolve that Holliday and the stranger whose life he had saved should not meet again, if I could prevent it. I have already alluded to certain reports, or scandals, which I knew of, relating to the early life of Arthur&#039;s father. While I was thinking, in my bed, of what had passed at the Inn—of the change in the student&#039;s pulse when he heard the name of Holliday; of the resemblance of expression that I had discovered between his face and Arthur&#039;s; of the emphasis he had laid on those three words, &quot;my own brother;&quot; and of his incomprehensible acknowledgment of his own illegitimacy—while I was thinking of these things, the reports I have mentioned suddenly flew into my mind, and linked themselves fast to the chain of my previous reflections. Something within me whispered, &quot;It is best that those two young men should not meet again.&quot; I felt it before I slept; I felt it when I woke; and I went as I told you, alone to the Inn the next morning. I had missed my only opportunity of seeing my nameless patient again. He had been gone nearly an hour when I inquired for him. I have now told you everything that I know for certain, in relation to the man whom I brought back to life in the double-bedded room of the Inn at Doncaster. What I have next to add is matter for inference and surmise, and is not, strictly speaking, matter of fact. I have to tell you, first, that the medical student turned out to be strangely and unaccountably right in assuming it as more than probable that Arthur Holliday would marry the young lady who had given him the water-colour drawing of the landscape. That marriage took place a little more than a year after the events occurred which I have just been relating. The young couple came to live in the neighbourhood in which I was then established in practice. I was present at the wedding, and was rather surprised to find that Arthur was singularly reserved with me, both before and after his marriage on the subject of the young lady&#039;s prior engagement. He only referred to it once when we were alone, merely telling me, on that occasion, that his wife had done all that honour and duty required of her in the matter, and that the engagement had been broken off with the full approval of her parents. I never heard more from him than this. For three years he and his wife lived together happily. At the expiration of that time, the symptoms of a serious illness first declared themselves in Mrs. Arthur Holliday. It turned out to be a long, lingering, hopeless malady. I attended her throughout. We had been great friends when she was well, and we became more attached to each other than ever when she was ill. I had many long and interesting conversations with her in the intervals when she suffered least. The result of one of those conversations I may briefly relate, leaving you to draw any inferences from it that you please. The interview to which I refer, occurred shortly before her death. I called one evening, as usual, and found her alone, with a look in her eyes which told me that she had been crying. She only informed me at first, that she had been depressed in spirits; but, by little and little, she became more communicative, and confessed to me that she had been looking over some old letters, which had been addressed to her, before she had seen Arthur, by a man to whom she had been engaged to be married. I asked her how the engagement came to be broken off. She replied that it had not been broken off, but that it had died out in a very mysterious way. The person to whom she was engaged— her first love, she called him—was very poor, and there was no immediate prospect of their being married. He followed my profession, and went abroad to study. They had corresponded regularly, until the time when, as she believed, he had returned to England. From that period she heard no more of him. He was of a fretful, sensitive temperament; and she feared that she might have inadvertently done or said something that offended him. However that might be, he had never written to her again; and, after waiting a year, she had married Arthur. I asked when the first estrangement had begun, and found that the time at which she ceased to hear anything of her first lover exactly corresponded with the time at which I had been called in to my mysterious patient at The Two Robins Inn. A fortnight after that conversation, she died. In course of time, Arthur married again. Of late years, he has lived principally in London, and I have seen little or nothing of him. I have many years to pass over before I can approach to anything like a conclusion of this fragmentary narrative. And even when that later period is reached, the little that I have to say will not occupy your attention for more than a few minutes. Between six and seven years ago, the gentleman to whom I introduced you in this room, came to me, with good professional recommendations, to fill the position of my assistant. We met, not like strangers, but like friends—the only difference between us being, that I was very much surprised to see him, and that he did not appear to be at all surprised to see me. If he was my son, or my brother I believe he could not be fonder of me than he is; but he has never volunteered any confidences since he has been here, on the subject of his past life. I saw something that was familiar to me in his face when we first met; and yet it was also something that suggested the idea of change. I had a notion once that my patient at the Inn might be a natural son of Mr. Holliday&#039;s; I had another idea that he might also have been the man who was engaged to Arthur&#039;s first wife; and I have a third idea, still clinging to me, that Mr. Lorn is the only man in England who could really enlighten me, if he chose, on both those doubtful points. His hair is not black, now, and his eyes are dimmer than the piercing eyes that I remember, but, for all that, he is very like the nameless medical student of my young days—very like him. And, sometimes, when I come home late at night, and find him asleep, and wake him, he looks, in coming to, wonderfully like the stranger at Doncaster, as he raised himself in the bed on that memorable night! The doctor paused. Mr. Goodchild who had been following every word that fell from his lips, up to this time, leaned forward eagerly to ask a question. Before he could say a word, the latch of the door was raised, without any warning sound of footsteps in the passage outside. A long, white, bony hand appeared through the opening, gently pushing the door, which was prevented from working freely on its hinges by a fold in the carpet under it. &quot;That hand! Look at that hand, Doctor!&quot; said Mr. Goodchild, touching him. At the same moment, the doctor looked at Mr. Goodchild, and whispered to him, significantly: &quot;Hush! he has come back.&quot;
229 I, 'The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices'<span>Published in&nbsp;</span><em>Household Words</em><span>, Vol. XVI, No. 393, 3 October 1857, pp. 313-319.</span>Dickens, Charles and Wilkie Collins<em>Dickens Journals Online, </em><a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1857-10-03">1857-10-03</a><span>Scanned material from&nbsp;<em>Dickens Journals Online</em>,&nbsp;</span><a href="" id="LPNoLPOWALinkPreview" contenteditable="false" title=""></a><span>. A</span><span>vailable under CC BY licence.</span><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Short+story">Short story</a>1857-10-03-The_Lazy_Tour_of_Two_Idle_Apprentices_No1Dickens, Charles and Wilkie Collins. No.I 'The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices'.<span>&nbsp;</span><em>Dickens Search</em><span>. Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig.&nbsp;</span>Accessed [date]. <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=93&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=%3Cem%3EHousehold+Words%3C%2Fem%3E"><em>Household Words</em></a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=94&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Periodical">Periodical</a>18571003In the autumn month of September, eighteen hundred and fifty-seven, wherein these presents bear date, two idle apprentices, exhausted by the long hot summer and the long hot work it had brought with it, ran away from their employer. They were bound to a highly meritorious lady (named Literature), of fair credit and repute, though, it must be acknowledged, not quite so highly esteemed in the City as she might be. This is the more remarkable, as there is nothing against the respectable lady in that quarter, but quite the contrary; her family having rendered eminent service to many famous citizens of London. It may be sufficient to name Sir William Walworth, Lord Mayor under King Richard the Second, at the time of Wat Tyler&#039;s insurrection, and Sir Richard Whittington: which latter distinguished man and magistrate was doubtless indebted to the lady&#039;s family for the gift of his celebrated cat. There is also strong reason to suppose that they rang the Highgate bells for him with their own hands. The misguided young men who thus shirked their duty to the mistress from whom they had received many favors, were actuated by the low idea of making a perfectly idle trip, in any direction. They had no intention of going anywhere, in particular; they wanted to see nothing, they wanted to know nothing, they wanted to learn nothing, they wanted to do nothing. They wanted only to be idle. They took to themselves (after HOGARTH), the names of Mr. Thomas Idle and Mr. Francis Goodchild; but, there was not a moral pin to choose between them, and they were both idle in the last degree. Between Francis and Thomas, however, there was this difference of character: Goodchild was laboriously idle, and would take upon himself any amount of pains and labour to assure himself that he was idle; in short, had no better idea of idleness than that it was useless industry. Thomas Idle, on the other hand, was an idler of the unmixed Irish or Neapolitan type; a passive idler, a born-and-bred idler, a consistent idler, who practised what he would have preached if he had not been too idle to preach; a one entire and perfect chrysolite of idleness. The two idle apprentices found themselves, within a few hours of their escape, walking down into the North of England. That is to say, Thomas was lying in a meadow, looking at the railway trains as they passed over a distant viaduct—which was his idea of walking down into the North; while Francis was walking a mile due South against time—which was his idea of walking down into the North. In the meantime the day waned, and the milestones remained unconquered. &quot;Tom,&quot; said Goodchild, &quot;The sun is getting low. Up, and let us go forward!&quot; &quot;Nay,&quot; quoth Thomas Idle, &quot;I have not done with Annie Laurie yet.&quot; And he proceeded with that idle but popular ballad, to the effect that for the bonnie young person of that name he would &quot;lay him doon and dee,&quot;— equivalent, in prose, to lay him down and die. &quot;What an ass that fellow was!&quot; cried Goodchild, with the bitter emphasis of contempt. &quot;Which fellow? &quot; asked Thomas Idle. &quot;The fellow in your song. Lay him doon and dee! Finely he&#039;d show off before the girl by doing that. A Sniveller! Why couldn&#039;t he get up, and punch somebody&#039;s head!&quot; &quot;Whose?&quot; asked Thomas Idle. &quot;Anybody&#039;s. Everybody&#039;s would be better than nobody&#039;s! If I fell into that state of mind about a girl, do you think I&#039;d lay me doon and dee? No, sir,&quot; proceeded Goodchild, with a disparaging assumption of the Scottish accent, &quot;I&#039;d get me oop and peetch into somebody. Wouldn&#039;t you ?&quot; &quot;I wouldn&#039;t have anything to do with her,&quot; yawned Thomas Idle. &quot;Why should I take the trouble?&quot; &quot;It&#039;s no trouble Tom, to fall in love,&quot; said Goodchild, shaking his head. &quot;It&#039;s trouble enough to fall out of it, once you&#039;re in it,&quot; retorted Tom. &quot;So I keep out of it altogether. It would be better for you, if you did the same.&quot; Mr. Goodchild, who is always in love with somebody, and not unfrequently with several objects at once, made no reply. He heaved a sigh of the kind which is termed by the lower orders &quot;a bellowser,&quot; and then, heaving Mr. Idle on his feet (who was not half so heavy as the sigh), urged him northward. These two had sent their personal baggage on by train: only retaining, each a knapsack. Idle now applied himself to constantly regretting the train, to tracking it through the intricacies of Bradshaw&#039;s Guide, and finding out where it was now—and where now—and where now—and to asking what was the use of walking, when you could ride at such a pace as that. Was it to see the country? If that was the object, look at it out of carriage-windows. There was a great deal more of it to be seen there, than here. Besides, who wanted to see the country? Nobody. And, again, who ever did walk? Nobody. Fellows set off to walk, but they never did it. They came back and said they did, but they didn&#039;t. Then why should he walk? He wouldn&#039;t walk. He swore it by this milestone! It was the fifth from London, so far had they penetrated into the North. Submitting to the powerful chain of argument, Goodchild proposed a return to the Metropolis, and a falling back upon Euston Square Terminus. Thomas assented with alacrity, and so they walked down into the North by the next morning&#039;s express, and carried their knapsacks in the luggage-van. It was like all other expresses, as every express is and must be. It bore through the harvested country, a smell like a large washing-day, and a sharp issue of steam as from a huge brazen tea-urn. The greatest power in nature and art combined, it yet glided over dangerous heights in the sight of people looking up from fields and roads, as smoothly and unreally as a light miniature plaything. Now, the engine shrieked in hysterics of such intensity, that it seemed desirable that the men who had her in charge should hold her feet, slap her hands, and bring her to; now, burrowed into tunnels with a stubborn and undemonstrative energy so confusing that the train seemed to be flying back into leagues of darkness. Here, were station after station, swallowed up by the press without stopping; here, stations where it fired itself in like a volley of cannon-balls, swooped away four country-people with nosegays and three men of business with portmanteaus, and fired itself off again, bang, bang, bang! At long intervals were uncomfortable refreshment rooms, made more uncomfortable by the scorn of Beauty towards Beast, the public (but to whom she never relented, as Beauty did in the story, towards the other Beast), and where sensitive stomachs were fed, with a contemptuous sharpness occasioning indigestion. Here, again, were stations with nothing going but a bell, and wonderful wooden razors set aloft on great posts, shaving the air. In these fields, the horses, sheep, and cattle were well used to the thundering meteor, and didn&#039;t mind; in those, they were all set scampering together, and a herd of pigs scoured after them. The pastoral country darkened, became coaly, became smoky, became infernal, got better, got worse, improved again, grew rugged, turned romantic; was a wood, a stream, a chain of hills, a gorge, a moor, a cathedral town, a fortified place, a waste. Now, miserable black dwellings, a black canal, and sick black towers of chimneys; now, a trim garden, where the flowers were bright and fair; now, a wilderness of hideous altars all a-blaze; now, the water meadows with their fairy rings; now, the mangy patch of unlet building ground outside the stagnant town, with the larger ring where the Circus was last week. The temperature changed, the dialect changed, the people changed, faces got sharper, manner got shorter, eyes got shrewder and harder; yet all so quickly, that the spruce guard in the London uniform and silver lace, had not yet rumpled his shirt-collar, delivered half the dispatches in his shining little pouch, or read his newspaper. Carlisle! Idle and Goodchild had got to Carlisle. It looked congenially and delightfully idle. Something in the way of public amusement had happened last month, and something else was going to happen before Christmas; and, in the meantime there was a lecture on India for those who liked it—which Idle and Goodchild did not. Likewise, by those who liked them, there were impressions to be bought of all the vapid prints, going and gone, and of nearly all the vapid books. For those who wanted to put anything in missionary boxes, here were the boxes. For those who wanted the Reverend Mr. Podgers (artist&#039;s proofs, thirty shillings), here was Mr. Podgers to any amount. Not less gracious and abundant, Mr. Codgers, also of the vineyard, but opposed to Mr. Podgers, brotherly tooth and nail. Here, were guide-books to the neighbouring antiquities, and eke the Lake country, in several dry and husky sorts; here, many physically and morally impossible heads of both sexes, for young ladies to copy, in the exercise of the art of drawing; here, further, a large impression of Mr. SPURGEON, solid as to the flesh, not to say even something gross. The working young men of Carlisle were drawn up, with their hands in their pockets, across the pavements, four and six abreast, and appeared (much to the satisfaction of Mr. Idle) to have nothing else to do. The working and growing young women of Carlisle, from the age of twelve upwards, promenaded the streets in the cool of the evening, and rallied the said young men. Sometimes the young men rallied the young women, as in the case of a group gathered round an accordion-player, from among whom a young man advanced behind a young woman for whom he appeared to have a tenderness, and hinted to her that he was there and playful, by giving her (he wore clogs) a kick. On market morning, Carlisle woke up amazingly, and became (to the two Idle Apprentices) disagreeably and reproachfully busy. There were its cattle market, its sheep market, and its pig market down by the river, with raw-boned and shock-headed Rob Roys hiding their Lowland dresses beneath heavy plaids, prowling in and out among the animals, and flavouring the air with fumes of whiskey. There was its corn market down the main street, with hum of chaffering over open sacks. There was its general market in the street too, with heather brooms on which the purple flower still flourished, and heather baskets primitive and fresh to behold. With women trying on clogs and caps at open stalls, and &quot;Bible stalls&quot; adjoining. With &quot;Doctor Mantle&#039;s Dispensary for the cure of all Human Maladies and no charge for advice,&quot; and with Doctor Mantle&#039;s &quot;Laboratory of Medical, Chemical, and Botanical Science&quot;—both healing institutions established on one pair of trestles, one board, and one sun-blind. With the renowned phrenologist from London, begging to be favoured (at sixpence each) with the company of clients of both sexes, to whom, on examination of their heads, he would make revelations &quot;enabling him or her to know themselves.&quot; Through all these bargains and blessings, the recruiting serjeant watchfully elbowed his way, a thread of War in the peaceful skein. Likewise on the walls were printed hints that the Oxford Blues might not be indisposed to hear of a few fine active young men; and that whereas the standard of that distinguished corps is full six feet, &quot;growing lads of five feet eleven&quot; need not absolutely despair of being accepted. Scenting the morning air more pleasantly than the buried majesty of Denmark did, Messrs. Idle and Goodchild rode away from Carlisle at eight o&#039;clock one forenoon, bound for the village of Heske, Newmarket, some fourteen miles distant. Goodchild (who had already begun to doubt whether he was idle: as his way always is when he has nothing to do), had read of a certain black old Cumberland hill or mountain, called Carrock, or Carrock Fell; and had arrived at the conclusion that it would be the culminating triumph of Idleness to ascend the same. Thomas Idle, dwelling on the pains inseparable from that achievement, had expressed the strongest doubts of the expediency, and even of the sanity, of the enterprise; but Goodchild had carried his point, and they rode away. Up hill and down hill, and twisting to the right, and twisting to the left, and with old Skiddaw (who has vaunted himself a great deal more than his merits deserve; but that is rather the way of the Lake country), dodging the apprentices in a picturesque and pleasant manner. Good, weather-proof, warm, peasant houses, well white-limed, scantily dotting the road. Clean children coming out to look, carrying other clean children as big as themselves. Harvest still lying out and much rained upon; here and there, harvest still unreaped. Well cultivated gardens attached to the cottages, with plenty of produce forced out of their hard soil. Lonely nooks, and wild; but people can be born, and married, and buried in such nooks, and can live and love, and be loved, there as elsewhere, thank God! (Mr. Goodchild&#039;s remark.) By-and-by, the village. Black, coarse-stoned, rough-windowed houses; some with outer staircases, like Swiss houses; a sinuous and stony gutter winding up hill and round the corner, by way of street. All the children running out directly. Women pausing in washing, to peep from doorways and very little windows. Such were the observations of Messrs. Idle and Goodchild, as their conveyance stopped at the village shoemaker&#039;s. Old Carrock gloomed down upon it all in a very ill-tempered state; and rain was beginning. The village shoemaker declined to have anything to do with Carrock. No visitors went up Carrock. No visitors came there at all. Aa&#039; the world ganged awa&#039; yon. The driver appealed to the Innkeeper. The Inn-keeper had two men working in the fields, and one of them should be called in, to go up Carrock as guide. Messrs. Idle and Goodchild, highly approving, entered the Innkeeper&#039;s house, to drink whiskey and eat oakcake. The Innkeeper was not idle enough—was not idle at all, which was a great fault in him—but was a fine specimen of a north- country man, or any kind of man. He had a ruddy cheek, a bright eye, a well-knit frame, an immense hand, a cheery outspeaking voice, and a straight, bright, broad look. He had a drawing-room, too, up-stairs, which was worth a visit to the Cumberland Fells. (This was Mr. Francis Goodchild&#039;s opinion, in which Mr. Thomas Idle did not concur.) The ceiling of this drawing-room was so crossed and re-crossed by beams of unequal lengths, radiating from a centre in a corner, that it looked like a broken star-fish. The room was comfortably and solidly furnished with good mahogany and horsehair. It had a snug fire-side, and a couple of well-curtained windows, looking out upon the wild country behind the house. What it most developed was, an unexpected taste for little ornaments and nick-nacks, of which it contained a most surprising number. They were not very various, consisting in great part of waxen babies with their limbs more or less mutilated, appealing on one leg to the parental affections from under little cupping-glasses; but, Uncle Tom was there, in crockery, receiving theological instructions from Miss Eva, who grew out of his side like a wen, in an exceedingly rough state of profile propagandism. Engravings of Mr. Hunt&#039;s country-boy, before and after his pie were on the wall, divided by a highly coloured nautical piece, the subject of which had all her colors (and more) flying, and was making great way through a sea of a regular pattern, like a lady&#039;s collar. A benevolent elderly gentleman of the last century, with a powdered head, kept guard, in oil and varnish, over a most perplexing piece of furniture on a table; in appearance between a driving seat and an angular knife-box, but, when opened, a musical instrument of tinkling wires, exactly like David&#039;s harp packed for travelling. Everything became a nick-nack in this curious room. The copper tea-kettle, burnished up to the highest point of glory, took his station on a stand of his own at the greatest possible distance from the fire-place, and said, &quot;By your leave, not a kittle, but a bijou.&quot; The Staffordshire-ware butter-dish with the cover on, got upon a little round occasional table in a window, with a worked top, and announced itself to the two chairs accidentally placed there, as an aid to polite conversation, a graceful trifle in china to be chatted over by callers, as they airily trifled away the visiting moments of a butterfly existence, in that rugged old village on the Cumberland Fells. The very footstool could not keep the floor, but got upon the sofa, and therefrom proclaimed itself, in high relief of white and liver-colored wool, a favourite spaniel coiled up for repose. Though, truly, in spite of its bright glass eyes, the spaniel was the least successful assumption in the collection: being perfectly flat, and dismally suggestive of a recent mistake in sitting down, on the part of some corpulent member of the family. There were books, too, in this room; books on the table, books on the chimney-piece, books in an open press in the corner. Fielding was there, and Smollett was there, and Steele and Addison were there, in dispersed volumes; and there were tales of those who go down to the sea in ships, for windy nights; and there was really a choice of good books for rainy days or fine. It was so very pleasant to see these things in such a lonesome by-place—so very agreeable to find these evidences of a taste, however homely, that went beyond the beautiful cleanliness and trimness of the house—so fanciful to imagine what a wonder the room must be to the little children born in the gloomy village—what grand impressions of it those of them who became wanderers over the earth would carry away; and how, at distant ends of the world, some old voyagers would die, cherishing the belief that the finest apartment known to men was once in the Hesket-Newmarket Inn, in rare old Cumberland—it was such a charmingly lazy pursuit to entertain these rambling thoughts over the choice oat-cake and the genial whiskey, that Mr. Idle and Mr. Goodchild never asked themselves how it came to pass that the men in the fields were never heard of more, how the stalwart landlord replaced them without explanation, how his dog-cart came to be waiting at the door, and how everything was arranged without the least arrangement, for climbing to old Carrock&#039;s shoulders, and standing on his head. Without a word of inquiry, therefore, The Two Idle Apprentices drifted out resignedly into a fine, soft, close, drowsy, penetrating rain; got into the landlord&#039;s light dog-cart, and rattled off, through the village, for the foot of Carrock. The journey at the outset was not remarkable. The Cumberland road went up and down like other roads; the Cumberland curs burst out from backs of cottages and barked like other curs, and the Cumberland peasantry stared after the dog-cart amazedly, as long as it was in sight, like the rest of their race. The approach to the foot of the mountain resembled the approaches to the feet of most other mountains all over the world. The cultivation gradually ceased, the trees grew gradually rare, the road became gradually rougher, and the sides of the mountain looked gradually more and more lofty, and more and more difficult to get up. The dog-cart was left at a lonely farm-house. The landlord borrowed a large umbrella, and, assuming in an instant the character of the most cheerful and adventurous of guides, led the way to the ascent. Mr. Goodchild looked eagerly at the top of the mountain, and, feeling apparently that he was now going to be very lazy indeed, shone all over wonderfully to the eye, under the influence of the contentment within and the moisture without. Only in the bosom of Mr. Thomas Idle did Despondency now hold her gloomy state. He kept it a secret; but he would have given a very handsome sum, when the ascent began, to have been back again at the inn. The sides of Carrock looked fearfully steep, and the top of Carrock was hidden in mist. The rain was falling faster and faster. The knees of Mr. Idle—always weak on walking excursions—shivered and shook with fear and damp. The wet was already penetrating through the young man&#039;s outer coat to a bran new shooting-jacket, for which he had reluctantly paid the large sum of two guineas on leaving town; he had no stimulating refreshment about him but a small packet of clammy gingerbread nuts; he had nobody to give him an arm, nobody to push him gently behind, nobody to pull him up tenderly in front, nobody to speak to who really felt the difficulties of the ascent, the dampness of the rain, the denseness of the mist, and the unutterable folly of climbing, undriven, up any steep place in the world, when there is level ground within reach to walk on instead. Was it for this that Thomas had left London? London, where there are nice short walks in level public gardens,with benches of repose set up at convenient distances for weary travellers—London, where rugged stone is humanely pounded into little lumps for the road, and intelligently shaped into smooth slabs for the pavement! No! it was not for the laborious ascent of the crags of Carrock that Idle had left his native city and travelled to Cumberland. Never did he feel more disastrously convinced that he had committed a very grave error in judgment than when he found himself standing in the rain at the bottom of a steep mountain, and knew that the responsibility rested on his weak shoulders of actually getting to the top of it. The honest landlord went first, the beaming Goodchild followed, the mournful Idle brought up the rear. From time to time, the two foremost members of the expedition changed places in the order of march; but the rearguard never altered his position. Up the mountain or down the mountain, in the water or out of it, over the rocks, through the bogs, skirting the heather, Mr. Thomas Idle was always the last, and was always the man who had to be looked after and waited for. At first the ascent was delusively easy: the sides of the mountain sloped gradually, and the material of which they were composed was a soft spongy turf, very tender and pleasant to walk upon. After a hundred yards or so, however, the verdant scene and the easy slope disappeared, and the rocks began. Not noble, massive rocks, standing upright, keeping a certain regularity in their positions, and possessing, now and then, flat tops to sit upon, but little, irritating, comfortless rocks, littered about anyhow by Nature; treacherous, disheartening rocks of all sorts of small shapes and small sizes, bruisers of tender toes and trippers-up of wavering feet. When these impediments were passed, heather and slough followed. Here the steepness of the ascent was slightly mitigated; and here the exploring party of three turned round to look at the view below them. The scene of the moorland and the fields was like a feeble water-colour drawing half sponged out. The mist was darkening, the rain was thickening, the trees were dotted about like spots of faint shadow, the division-lines which mapped out the fields were all getting blurred together, and the lonely farm- house where the dog-cart had been left, loomed spectral in the grey light like the last human dwelling at the end of the habitable world. Was this a sight worth climbing to see? Surely—surely not! Up again—for the top of Carrock is not reached yet. The landlord, just as good-tempered and obliging as he was at the bottom of the mountain. Mr. Goodchild brighter in the eyes and rosier in the face than ever; full of cheerful remarks and apt quotations; and walking with a springiness of step wonderful to behold. Mr. Idle, farther and farther in the rear, with the water squeaking in the toes of his boots, with his two-guinea shooting-jacket clinging damply to his aching sides, with his over-coat so full of rain, and standing out so pyramidically stiff, in consequence, from his shoulders downwards, that he felt as if he was walking in a gigantic extinguisher—the despairing spirit within him representing but too aptly the candle that had just been put out. Up and up and up again, till a ridge is reached, and the outer edge of the mist on the summit of Carrock is darkly and drizzlingly near. Is this the top ? No, nothing like the top. It is an aggravating peculiarity of all mountains, that, although they have only one top when they are seen (as they ought always to be seen) from below, they turn out to have a perfect eruption of false tops whenever the traveller is sufficiently ill-advised to go out of his way for the purpose of ascending them. Carrock is but a trumpery little mountain of fifteen hundred feet, and it presumes to have false tops, and even precipices, as if it was Mont Blanc. No matter; Goodchild enjoys it, and will go on; and Idle, who is afraid of being left behind by himself, must follow. On entering the edge of the mist, the landlord stops, and says he hopes that it will not get any thicker. It is twenty years since he last ascended Carrock, and it is barely possible, if the mist increases, that the party may be lost on the mountain. Goodchild hears this dreadful intimation, and is not in the least impressed by it. He marches for the top that is never to be found, as if he was them Wandering Jew, bound to go on for ever, in defiance of everything. The landlord faithfully accompanies him. The two, to the dim eye of Idle, far below,look in the exaggerative mist, like a pair of friendly giants, mounting the steps of some invisible castle together. Up and up, and then down a little, and then up, and then along a strip of level ground, and then up again. The wind, a wind unknown in the happy valley, blows keen and strong; the rain-mist gets impenetrable; a dreary little cairn of stones appears. The landlord adds one to the heap, first walking all round the cairn as if he were about to perform an incantation, then dropping the stone on to the top of the heap with the gesture of a magician adding an ingredient to a cauldron in full bubble. Goodchild sits down by the cairn as if it was his study-table at home; Idle, drenched and panting, stands up with his back to the wind, ascertains distinctly that this is the top at last, looks round with all the little curiosity that is left in him, and gets, in return, a magnificent view of—Nothing! The effect of this sublime spectacle on the minds of the exploring party is a little injured by the nature of the direct conclusion to which the sight of it points—the said conclusion being that the mountain mist has actually gathered round them, as the landlord feared it would. It now becomes imperatively necessary to settle the exact situation of the farm-house in the valley at which the dog-cart has been left, before the travellers attempt to descend. While the landlord is endeavouring to make this discovery in his own way, Mr. Goodchild plunges his hand under his wet coat, draws out a little red morocco-case, opens it, and displays to the view of his companions a neat pocket-compass. The north is found, the point at which the farm-house is situated is settled, and the descent begins. After a little downward walking, Idle (behind as usual) sees his fellow-travellers turn aside sharply—tries to follow them—loses them in the mist—is shouted after, waited for, recovered—and then finds that a halt has been ordered, partly on his account, partly for the purpose of again consulting the compass. The point in debate is settled as before between Goodchild and the landlord, and the expedition moves on, not down the mountain, but marching straight forward round the slope of it. The difficulty of following this new route is acutely felt by Thomas Idle. He finds the hardship of walking at all, greatly increased by the fatigue of moving his feet straight forward along the side of a slope, when their natural tendency, at every step, is to turn off at a right angle, and go straight down the declivity. Let the reader imagine himself to be walking along the roof of a barn, instead of up or down it, and he will have an exact idea of the pedestrian difficulty in which the travellers had now involved themselves. In ten minutes more Idle was lost in the distance again, was shouted for, recovered as before; found Goodchild repeating his observation of the compass, and remonstrated warmly against the sideway route that his companions persisted in following. It appeared to the uninstructed mind of Thomas that when three men want to get to the bottom of a mountain, their business is to walk down it; and he put this view of the case, not only with emphasis, but even with some irritability. He was answered from the scientific eminence of the compass on which his companions were mounted, that there was a frightful chasm somewhere near the foot of Carrock, called The Black Arches, into which the travellers were sure to march in the mist, if they risked continuing the descent from the place where they had now halted. Idle received this answer with the silent respect which was due to the commanders of the expedition, and followed along the roof of the barn, or rather the side of the mountain, reflecting upon the assurance which he received on starting again, that the object of the party was only to gain &quot;a certain point,&quot; and, this haven attained, to continue the descent afterwards until the foot of Carrock was reached. Though quite unexceptionable as an abstract form of expression, the phrase &quot;a certain point&quot; has the disadvantage of sounding rather vaguely when it is pronounced on unknown ground, under a canopy of mist much thicker than a London fog. Nevertheless, after the compass, this phrase was all the clue the party had to hold by, and Idle clung to the extreme end of it as hopefully as he could. More sideway walking, thicker and thicker mist, all sorts of points reached except the &quot;certain point;&quot; third loss of Idle, third shouts for him, third recovery of him, third consultation of compass. Mr. Goodchild draws it tenderly from his pocket, and prepares to adjust it on a stone. Something falls on the turf—it is the glass. Something else drops immediately after—it is the needle. The compass is broken, and the exploring party is lost! It is the practice of the English portion of the human race to receive all great disasters in dead silence. Mr. Goodchild restored the useless compass to his pocket without saying a word, Mr. Idle looked at the landlord, and the landlord looked at Mr. Idle. There was nothing for it now but to go on blindfold, and trust to the chapter of chances. Accordingly, the lost travellers moved forward, still walking round the slope of the mountain, still desperately resolved to avoid the Black Arches, and to succeed in reaching the &quot;certain point.&quot; A quarter of an hour brought them to the brink of a ravine, at the bottom of which there flowed a muddy little stream. Here another halt was called, and another consultation took place. The landlord, still clinging pertinaciously to the idea of reaching the &quot;point,&quot; voted for crossing the ravine and going on round the slope of the mountain. Mr. Goodchild, to the great relief of his fellow-traveller, took another view of the case, and backed Mr. Idle&#039;s proposal to descend Carrock at once, at any hazard—the rather as the running stream was a sure guide to follow from the mountain to the valley. Accordingly, the party descended to the rugged and stony banks of the stream; and here again Thomas lost ground sadly, and fell far behind his travelling companions. Not much more than six weeks had elapsed since he had sprained one of his ancles, and he began to feel this same ancle getting rather weak when he found himself among the stones that were strewn about the running water. Goodchild and the landlord were getting farther and farther ahead of him. He saw them cross the stream and disappear round a projection on its banks. He heard them shout the moment after as a signal that they had halted and were waiting for him. Answering the shout, he mended his pace, crossed the stream where they had crossed it, and was within one step of the opposite bank, when his foot slipped on a wet stone, his weak ankle gave a twist outwards, a hot, rending, tearing pain ran through it at the same moment, and down fell the idlest of the Two Idle Apprentices, crippled in an instant. The situation was now, in plain terms, one of absolute danger. There lay Mr. Idle writhing with pain, there was the mist as thick as ever, there was the landlord as completely lost as the strangers whom he was conducting, and there was the compass broken in Goodchild&#039;s pocket. To leave the wretched Thomas on unknown ground was plainly impossible; and to get him to walk with a badly sprained ankle seemed equally out of the question. However, Goodchild (brought back by his cry for help) bandaged the ankle with a pocket-handkerchief, and assisted by the landlord, raised the crippled Apprentice to his legs, offered him a shoulder to lean on, and exhorted him for the sake of the whole party to try if he could walk. Thomas, assisted by the shoulder on one side, and a stick on the other, did try, with what pain and difficulty those only can imagine who have sprained an ankle and have had to tread on it afterwards. At a pace adapted to the feeble hobbling of a newly-lamed man, the lost party moved on, perfectly ignorant whether they were on the right side of the mountain or the wrong, and equally uncertain how long Idle would be able to contend with the pain in his ancle, before he gave in altogether and fell down again, unable to stir another step. Slowly and more slowly, as the clog of crippled Thomas weighed heavily and more heavily on the march of the expedition, the lost travellers followed the windings of the stream, till they came to a faintly-marked cart-track, branching off nearly at right angles, to the left. After a little consultation it was resolved to follow this dim vestige of a road in the hope that it might lead to some farm or cottage, at which Idle could be left in safety. It was now getting on towards the afternoon, and it was fast becoming more than doubtful whether the party, delayed in their progress as they now were, might not be overtaken by the darkness before the right route was found, and be condemned to pass the night on the mountain, without bit or drop to comfort them, in their wet clothes. The cart-track grew fainter and fainter, until it was washed out altogether by another little stream, dark, turbulent, and rapid. The landlord suggested, judging by the colour of the water, that it must be flowing from one of the lead mines in the neighbourhood of Carrock; and the travellers accordingly kept by the stream for a little while, in the hope of possibly wandering towards help in that way. After walking forward about two hundred yards, they came upon a mine indeed, but a mine, exhausted and abandoned; a dismal, ruinous place, with nothing but the wreck of its works and buildings left to speak for it. Here, there were a few sheep feeding. The landlord looked at them earnestly, thought he recognised the marks on them—then thought he did not—finally gave up the sheep in despair—and walked on, just as ignorant of the whereabouts of the party as ever. The march in the dark, literally as well as metaphorically in the dark, had now been continued for three-quarters of an hour from the time when the crippled Apprentice had met with his accident. Mr. Idle, with all the will to conquer the pain in his ankle, and to hobble on, found the power rapidly failing him, and felt that another ten minutes at most would find him at the end of his last physical resources. He had just made up his mind on this point, and was about to communicate the dismal result of his reflections to his companions, when the mist suddenly brightened, and began to lift straight ahead. In another minute, the landlord, who was in advance, proclaimed that he saw a tree. Before long, other trees appeared—then a cottage—then a house beyond the cottage, and a familiar line of road rising behind it. Last of all, Carrock itself loomed darkly into view, far away to the right hand. The party had not only got down the mountain without knowing how, but had wandered away from it in the mist, without knowing why—away, far down on the very moor by which they had approached the base of Carrock that morning. The happy lifting of the mist, and the still happier discovery that the travellers had groped their way, though by a very round-about direction, to within a mile or so of the part of the valley in which the farm-house was situated, restored Mr. Idle&#039;s sinking spirits and reanimated his failing strength. While the landlord ran off to get the dog-cart, Thomas was assisted by Goodchild to the cottage which had been the first building seen when the darkness brightened, and was propped up against the garden-wall, like an artist&#039;s lay-figure waiting to be forwarded, until the dog-cart should arrive from the farm-house below. In due time—and a very long time it seemed to Mr. Idle—the rattle of wheels was heard, and the crippled Apprentice was lifted into his seat. As the dog-cart was driven back to the inn, the landlord related an anecdote which he had just heard at the farm-house, of an unhappy man who had been lost, like his two guests and himself, on Carrock; who had passed the night there alone; who had been found the next morning, &quot;scared and starved;&quot; and who never went out afterwards, except on his way to the grave. Mr. Idle heard this sad story, and derived at least one useful impression from it. Bad as the pain in his ankle was, he contrived to bear it patiently, for he felt grateful that a worse accident had not befallen him in the wilds of Carrock.
228 1851 Christmas Number<span>Published in&nbsp;</span><em>Household Words,<span>&nbsp;</span></em><span>Vol. IV, Extra Christmas Number, 25 December 1851, pp. 1-24.</span>Dickens, Charles<em>Dickens Journals Online</em>, <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1851-12-25">1851-12-25</a><span>Scanned material from&nbsp;<em>Dickens Journals Online</em>,&nbsp;</span><a href="" id="LPNoLPOWALinkPreview" contenteditable="false" title=""></a><span>. A</span><span>vailable under CC BY licence.</span><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Christmas+Number">Christmas Number</a>1851-12-25-The_1851_Christmas_Number<ul> <li><strong>Charles Dickens. 'What Christmas Is, as e Grow Older' (No.1), pp. 1-3.</strong></li> <li>Richard H. Horne. 'What Christmas is to a Bunch of People' (No.2), pp. 3-7.</li> <li>Edmund Ollier. 'An Idyl for Christmas In-doors (No.3), pp. 7-8.</li> <li>Harriet Martineau. 'What Christmas is in Country Places' (No.4), pp. 8-11.</li> <li>George Augustus Sala. 'What Christmas is in the Company of John Doe' (No.5), pp. 11-16.</li> <li>Eliza Griffiths. 'The Orphan's Dream of Christmas' (No.6), pp. 16-17.</li> <li>Samuel Sidney. 'What Christmas is after a Long Absence' (No.7), pp. 17-20.</li> <li>Theodore Buckley. 'What Christmas is if you Outgrow it' (No.8), pp. 20-23.</li> <li>Richard H. Horne. 'The Round Game of the Christmas Bowl' (No.9), pp. 23-24.</li> </ul><span>Dickens, Charles et. al.&nbsp;</span><i>1851 Christmas Number<span>&nbsp;</span></i><span>(25 December 1851). </span><em>Dickens Search.</em><span> Edited by Emily Bell and Lydia Craig. Accessed [date]. <a href=""></a>.</span><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=93&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=%3Cem%3EHousehold+Words%3C%2Fem%3E"><em>Household Words</em></a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=94&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Periodical">Periodical</a>18511225Time was, with most of us, when Christmas Day encircling all our limited world like a magic ring, left nothing out for us to miss or seek; bound together all our home enjoyments, affections, and hopes; grouped every thing and every one around the Christmas fire; and made the little picture shining in our bright young eyes, complete. Time came, perhaps, all so soon! when our thoughts overleaped that narrow boundary when there was some one (very dear, we thought then, very beautiful, and absolutely perfect) wanting to the fulness of our happiness; when we were wanting too (or we thought so, which did just as well) at the Christmas hearth by which that some one sat; and when we intertwined with every wreath and garland of our life that some one&#039;s name. That was the time for the bright visionary Christmases which have long arisen from us to shew faintly, after summer rain, in the palest edges of the rainbow! That was the time for the beatified enjoyment of the things that were to be, and never were, and yet the things that were so real in our resolute hope that it would be hard to say, now, what realities achieved since, have been stronger! What! Did that Christmas never really come when we and the priceless pearl who was our young choice were received, after the happiest of totally impossible marriages, by the two united families previously at daggers-drawn on our account? When brothers and sisters in law who had always been rather cool to us before our relationship was effected, perfectly doted on us, and when fathers and mothers overwhelmed us with unlimited incomes? Was that Christmas dinner never really eaten, after which we arose, and generously and eloquently rendered honor to our late rival, present in the company, then and there exchanging friendship and forgiveness, and founding an attachment, not surpassed in Greek or Roman story, which subsisted until death? Has that same rival long ceased to care for that same priceless pearl, and married for money, and become usurious? Above all, do we really know, now, that we should probably have been miserable if we had won and worn the pearl, and that we are better without her? That Christmas when we had recently achieved so much fame; when we had been carried in triumph somewhere, for doing something great and good; when we had won an honored and ennobled name, and arrived and were received at home in a shower of tears of joy; is it possible that that Christmas has not come yet? And is our life here, at the best, so constituted that, pausing as we advance at such a noticeable mile-stone in the track as this great birthday, we look back on the things that never were, as naturally and full as gravely as on the things that have been and are gone, or have been and still are? If it be so, and so it seems to be, must we come to the conclusion, that life is little better than a dream, and little worth the loves and strivings that we crowd into it? No! Far be such miscalled philosophy from us, dear Reader, on Christmas Day! Nearer and closer to our hearts be the Christmas spirit, which is the spirit of active usefulness, perseverance, cheerful discharge of duty, kindness, and forbearance! It is in the last virtues especially, that we are, or should be, strengthened by the unaccomplished visions of our youth; for, who shall say that they are not our teachers to deal gently even with the impalpable nothings of the earth! Therefore, as we grow older, let us be more thankful that the circle of our Christmas associations and of the lessons that they bring, expands! Let us welcome every one of them, and summon them to take their places by the Christmas hearth. Welcome, old aspirations, glittering creatures of an ardent fancy, to your shelter underneath the holly! We know you, and have not outlived you yet. Welcome, old projects and old loves, however fleeting, to your nooks among the steadier lights that burn around us. Welcome, all that was ever real to our hearts; and for the earnestness that made you real, thanks to Heaven! Do we build no Christmas castles in the clouds now? Let our thoughts, fluttering like butterflies among these flowers of children, bear witness! Before this boy, there stretches out a Future, brighter than we ever looked on in our old romantic time, but bright with honor and with truth. Around this little head on which the sunny curls lie heaped, the graces sport, as prettily, as airily, as when there was no scythe within the reach of Time to shear away the curls of our first-love. Upon another girl&#039;s face near it placider—but smiling bright—a quiet and contented little face, we see Home fairly written. Shining from the word, as rays shine from a star, we see how, when our graves are old, other hopes than ours are young, other hearts than ours are moved; how other ways are smoothed; how other happiness blooms, ripens, and decays—no, not decays, for other homes and other bands of children, not yet in being nor for ages yet to be, arise, and bloom and ripen to the end of all! Welcome, everything! Welcome, alike what has been, and what never was, and what we hope may be, to your shelter underneath the holly, to your places &#039;round the Christmas fire, where what is sits open-hearted! In yonder shadow, do we see obtruding furtively upon the blaze, an enemy&#039;s face? By Christmas Day we do forgive him! If the injury he has done us may admit of such companionship, let him come here and take his place. If otherwise, unhappily, let him go hence, assured that we will never injure nor accuse him. On this day, we shut out Nothing! &quot;Pause,&quot; says a low voice. &quot;Nothing? Think!&quot; &quot;On Christmas Day, we will shut out from our fireside, Nothing.&quot; &quot;Not the shadow of a vast City where the withered leaves are lying deep?&quot; the voice replies. &quot;Not the shadow that darkens the whole globe? Not the shadow of the City of the Dead?&quot; Not even that. Of all days in the year, we will turn our faces towards that City upon Christmas Day, and from its silent hosts bring those we loved, among us. City of the Dead, in the blessed name wherein we are gathered together at this time, and in the Presence that is here among us according to the promise, we will receive, and not dismiss, thy people who are dear to us! Yes. We can look upon these children angels that alight, so solemnly, so beautifully, among the living children by the fire, and can bear to think how they departed from us. Entertaining angels unawares, as the Patriarchs did, the playful children are unconscious of their guests; but we can see them—can see a radiant arm around one favorite neck, as if there were a tempting of that child away. Among the celestial figures there is one, a poor mis-shapen boy on earth, of a glorious beauty now, of whom his dying mother said it grieved her much to leave him here, alone, for so many years as it was likely would elapse before he came to her—being such a little child. But he went quickly, and was laid upon her breast, and in her hand she leads him. There was a gallant boy, who fell, far away, upon a burning sand beneath a burning sun, and said, &quot;Tell them at home, with my last love, how much I could have wished to kiss them once, but that I died contented and had done my duty!&quot; Or there was another, over whom they read the words, &quot;Therefore we commit his body to the dark!&quot; and so consigned him to the lonely ocean and sailed on. Or there was another who lay down to his rest in the dark shadow of great forests, and, on earth, awoke no more. O shall they not, from sand and sea and forest, be brought home at such a time! There was a dear girl—almost a woman—never to be one—who made a mourning Christmas in a house of joy, and went her trackless way to the silent City. Do we recollect her, worn out, faintly whispering what could not be heard, and falling into that last sleep for weariness? O look upon her now! O look upon her beauty, her serenity, her changeless youth, her happiness! The daughter of Jairus was recalled to life, to die; but she, more blest, has heard the same voice, saying unto her, &quot;Arise for ever!&quot; We had a friend who was our friend from early days, with whom we often pictured the changes .&#039;that were to come upon our lives, and merrily imagined how we would speak, and walk, and think, and talk, when we came to be old. His destined habitation in the City of the Dead received him in his prime. Shall he be shut out from our Christmas remembrance? Would his love have so excluded us? Lost friend, lost child, lost parent, sister, brother, husband, wife, we will not so discard you! You shall hold your cherished places /in our Christmas hearts, and by our Christmas fires; and in the season of immortal hope, and on the birthday of immortal mercy, we will shut out Nothing! The winter sun goes down over town and village; on the sea it makes a rosy path, as if the Sacred tread were fresh upon the water. A few more moments, and it sinks, and night comes on, and lights begin to sparkle in the prospect. On the hill-side beyond the shapelessly- diffused town, and in the quiet keeping of the trees that gird the village-steeple, remembrances are cut in stone, planted in common flowers, growing in grass, entwined with lowly brambles around many a mound of earth. In town and village, there are doors and windows closed against the weather, there are flaming logs heaped high, there are joyful faces, there is healthy music of voices. Be all ungentleness and harm excluded from the temples of the Household Gods, but be those remembrances admitted with tender encouragement! They are of the time and all its comforting and peaceful reassurances; and of the history that reunited even upon earth the living and the dead; and of the broad beneficence and goodness that too many men have tried to tear to narrow shreds.;
227 1850 Christmas Number<span>Published in&nbsp;</span><em>Household Words,<span>&nbsp;</span></em><span>Vol. II, No. 39, 21 December 1850, pp. 289-312.</span>Dickens, Charles<em>Dickens Journals Online,</em> <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1850-12-21">1850-12-21</a><span>Scanned material from&nbsp;<em>Dickens Journals Online</em>,&nbsp;</span><a href="" id="LPNoLPOWALinkPreview" contenteditable="false" title=""></a><span>. A</span><span>vailable under CC BY licence.</span><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Christmas+Number">Christmas Number</a>1850-12-21-The_1850_Christmas_Number<ul> <li><strong>Charles Dickens. 'A Christmas Tree' (No.1), pp. 289-295.</strong></li> <li>William Blanchard Jerrold and William Henry (W.H.) Wills. 'Christmas in Lodgings' (No.2), pp. 295-298.</li> <li>James Hannay. 'Christmas in the Navy' (No.3), pp. 298-300.</li> <li>Charles Knight. 'A Christmas Pudding' (No.4), pp. 300-304.</li> <li>Frederick Knight Hunt. 'Christmas Among the London Poor and Sick' (No.5), pp. 304-305.</li> <li>Joachim Heyward Siddons ('J. Stocqueler'). 'Christmas in India' (No.6), pp. 305-306.</li> <li>Dr. Robert McCormick and Charles Dickens. 'Christmas in the Frozen Regions' (No.7), pp. 306-309.</li> <li>Samuel Sidney. 'Christmas Day in the Bush' (No.8), pp. 309-310.</li> <li>Richard H. Horne. 'Household Christmas Carols' (No.9), pp. 310-312.</li> </ul>Dickens, Charles et. al.&nbsp;<i>1850 Christmas Number </i>(21 December 1850).&nbsp;<em>Dickens Search.</em>&nbsp;Edited by Emily Bell and Lydia Craig. Accessed [date]. <a href=""></a><br /><a href="">1850-12-21-The_1850_Christmas_Number</a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=93&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=%3Cem%3EHousehold+Words%3C%2Fem%3E"><em>Household Words</em></a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=94&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Periodical">Periodical</a>18501221I have been looking on, this evening, at a merry company of children assembled round that pretty German toy, a Christmas Tree. The tree was planted in the middle of a great round table, and towered high above their heads. It was brilliantly lighted by a multitude of little tapers; and everywhere sparkled and glittered with bright objects. There were rosy-cheeked dolls, hiding behind the green leaves; there were real watches (with movable hands, at least, and an endless capacity of being wound up) dangling from innumerable twigs; there were French-polished tables, chairs, bedsteads, wardrobes, eight-day clocks, and various other articles of domestic furniture (wonderfully made, in tin, at Wolverhampton), perched among the boughs, as if in preparation for some fairy housekeeping; there were jolly, broad-faced little men, much more agreeable in appearance than many real men—and no wonder, for their heads took off, and showed them to be full of sugar-plums; there were fiddles and drums; there were tambourines, books, work-boxes, paint-boxes, sweetmeat-boxes, peep-show boxes, all kinds of boxes; there were trinkets for the elder girls, far brighter than any grown-up gold and jewels; there were baskets and pincushions in all devices; there were guns, swords, and banners; there were witches standing in enchanted rings of pasteboard, to tell fortunes; there were teetotums, humming-tops, needle-cases, pen-wipers, smelling-bottles, conversation cards, bouquet-holders; real fruit, made artificially dazzling with gold leaf; imitation apples, pears, and walnuts, crammed with surprises; in short, as a pretty child, before me, delightedly whispered to another pretty child, her bosom friend, &quot;There was everything, and more.&quot; This motley collection of odd objects, clustering on the tree like magic fruit, and flashing back the bright looks directed towards it from every side—some of the diamond-eyes admiring it were hardly on a level with the table, and a few were languishing in timid wonder on the bosoms of pretty mothers, aunts, and nurses—made a lively realisation of the fancies of childhood; and set me thinking how all the trees that grow and all the things that come into existence on the earth, have their wild adornments at that well-remembered time. Being now at home again, and alone, the only person in the house awake, my thoughts are drawn back, by a fascination which I do not care to resist, to my own childhood. I begin to consider, what do we all remember best upon the branches of the Christmas Tree of our own young Christmas days, by which we climbed to real life. Straight, in the middle of the room, cramped in the freedom of its growth by no encircling walls or soon-reached ceiling, a shadowy tree arises; and, looking up into the dreamy brightness of its top—for I observe, in this tree, the singular property that it appears to grow downward towards the earth—I look into my youngest Christmas recollections! All toys at first, I find. Up yonder, among the green holly and red berries, is the Tumbler with his hands in his pockets, who wouldn&#039;t lie down, but whenever he was put upon the floor, persisted in rolling his fat body about, until he rolled himself still, and brought those lobster eyes of his to bear upon me—when I affected to laugh very much, but in my heart of hearts was extremely doubtful of him. Close beside him is that infernal snuff-box, out of which there sprang a demoniacal Counsellor in a black gown, with an obnoxious head of hair, and a red cloth mouth, wide open, who was not to be endured on any terms, but could not be put away either; for he used suddenly, in a highly magnified state, to fly out of Mammoth Snuff-boxes in dreams, when least expected. Nor is the frog with cobbler&#039;s wax on his tail, far off; for there was no knowing where he wouldn&#039;t jump; and when he flew over the candle, and came upon one&#039;s hand with that spotted back—red on a green ground—he was horrible. The cardboard lady in a blue-silk skirt, who was stood up against the candlestick to dance, and whom I see on the same branch, was milder, and was beautiful; but I can&#039;t say as much for the larger cardboard man, who used to be hung against the wall and pulled by a string; there was a sinister expression in that nose of his; and when he got his legs round his neck (which he very often did), he was ghastly, and not a creature to be alone with. When did that dreadful Mask first look at me? Who put it on, and why was I so frightened that the sight of it is an era in my life? It is not a hideous visage in itself; it is even meant to be droll; why then were its stolid features so intolerable? Surely not because it hid the wearer&#039;s face. An apron would have done as much; and though I should have preferred even the apron away, it would not have been absolutely insupportable, like the mask? Was it the immovability of the mask? The doll&#039;s face was immovable, but I was not afraid of her. Perhaps that fixed and set change coming over a real face, infused into my quickened heart some remote suggestion and dread of the universal change that is to come on every face, and make it still? Nothing reconciled me to it. No drummers, from whom proceeded a melancholy chirping on the turning of a handle; no regiment of soldiers, with a mute band, taken out of a box, and fitted, one by one, upon a stiff and lazy little set of lazy-tongs; no old woman, made of wires and a brown-paper composition, cutting up a pie for two small children; could give me permanent comfort, for a long time. Nor was it any satisfaction to be shown the Mask, and see that it was made of paper, or to have it locked up and be assured that no one wore it. The mere recollection of that fixed face, the mere knowledge of its existence anywhere, was sufficient to awake me in the night all perspiration and horror, with &quot; O I know it&#039;s coming! O the mask!&quot; I never wondered what the dear old donkey with the panniers—there he is!—was made of, then! His hide was real to the touch, I recollect. And the great black horse with round red spots all over him—the horse that I could even get upon—I never wondered what had brought him to that strange condition, or thought that such a horse was not commonly seen at Newmarket. The four horses of no colour, next to him, that went into the waggon of cheeses, and could be taken out and stabled under the piano, appear to have bits of fur-tippet for their tails, and other bits for their manes, and to stand on pegs instead of legs, but it was not so when they were brought home for a Christmas present. They were all right, then; neither was their harness unceremoniously nailed into their chests, as appears to be the case now. The tinkling works of the music-cart, I did find out, to be made of quill tooth-picks and wire; and I always thought that little tumbler in his shirt sleeves, perpetually swarming up one side of a wooden frame, and coming down, head foremost, on the other, rather a weak-minded person—though good-natured; but the Jacob&#039;s Ladder, next him, made of little squares of red wood, that went flapping and clattering over one another, each developing a different picture, and the whole enlivened by small bells, was a mighty marvel and a great delight. Ah! The Doll&#039;s house!—of which I was not proprietor, but where I visited. I don&#039;t admire the Houses of Parliament half so much as that stone-fronted mansion with real glass windows, and door-steps, and a real balcony—greener than I ever see now, except at watering-places; and even they afford but a poor imitation. And though it did open all at once, the entire house-front (which was a blow, I admit, as cancelling the fiction of a staircase), it was but to shut it up again, and I could believe. Even open, there were three distinct rooms in it: a sitting-room and bedroom, elegantly furnished, and, best of all, a kitchen, with uncommonly soft fire-irons, a plentiful assortment of diminutive utensils— oh, the warming-pan!—and a tin man-cook in profile, who was always going to fry two fish. What Barmecide justice have I done to the noble feasts wherein the set of wooden platters figured, each with its own peculiar delicacy, as a ham or turkey, glued tight on to it, and garnished with something green, which I recollect as moss! Could all the Temperance Societies of these later days, united, give me such a tea-drinking as I have had through the means of yonder little set of blue crockery, which really would hold liquid (it ran out of the small wooden cask, I recollect, and tasted of matches), and which made tea, nectar. And if the two legs of the ineffectual little sugar-tongs did tumble over one another, and want purpose, like Punch&#039;s hands, what does it matter? And if I did once shriek out, as a poisoned child, and strike the fashionable company with consternation, by reason of having drunk a little teaspoon, inadvertently dissolved in too hot tea, I was never the worse for it, except by a powder! Upon the next branches of the tree, lower down, hard by the green roller and miniature gardening-tools, how thick the books begin to hang. Thin books, in themselves, at first, but many of them, and with deliciously smooth covers of bright red or green. What fat black letters to begin with! &quot; A was an archer, and shot at a frog.&quot; Of course he was. He was an apple-pie also, and there he is! He was a good many things in his time, was A, and so were most of his friends, except X, who had so little versatility, that I never knew him to get beyond Xerxes or Xantippe—like Y, who was always confined to a Yacht or a Yew Tree; and Z condemned for ever to be a Zebra or a Zany. But, now, the very tree itself changes, and becomes a bean-stalk—the marvellous bean-stalk up which Jack climbed to the Giant&#039;s house! And now, those dreadfully interesting, double-headed giants, with their clubs over their shoulders, begin to stride along the boughs in a perfect throng, dragging knights and ladies home for dinner by the hair of their heads. And Jack—how noble, with his sword of sharpness, and his shoes of swiftness! Again those old meditations come upon me as I gaze up at him; and I debate within myself whether there was more than one Jack (which I am loth to believe possible), or only one genuine original admirable Jack, who achieved all the recorded exploits. Good for Christmas time is the ruddy color of the cloak, in which—the tree making a forest of itself for her to trip through, with her basket—Little Red Riding-Hood comes to me one Christmas Eve, to give me information of the cruelty and treachery of that dissembling Wolf who ate her grandmother, without making any impression on his appetite, and then ate her, after making that ferocious joke about his teeth. She was my first love. I felt that if I could have married Little Red Riding-Hood, I should have known perfect bliss. But, it was not to be; and there was nothing for it but to look out the Wolf in the Noah&#039;s Ark there, and put him late in the procession on the table, as a monster who was to be degraded. O the wonderful Noah&#039;s Ark! It was not found seaworthy when put in a washing-tub, and the animals were crammed in at the roof, and needed to have their legs well shaken down before they could be got in, even there—and then, ten to one but they began to tumble out at the door, which was but imperfectly fastened with a wire latch—but what was that against it! Consider the noble fly, a size or two smaller than the elephant: the lady-bird, the butterfly—all triumphs of art! Consider the goose, whose feet were so small, and whose balance was so indifferent, that he usually tumbled forward, and knocked down all the animal creation. Consider Noah and his family, like idiotic tobacco-stoppers; and how the leopard stuck to warm little fingers; and how the tails of the larger animals used gradually to resolve themselves into frayed bits of string! Hush! Again a forest, and somebody up in a tree—not Robin Hood, not Valentine, not the Yellow Dwarf (I have passed him and all Mother Bunch&#039;s wonders, without mention), but an Eastern King with a glittering scimitar and turban. By Allah! two Eastern Kings, for I see another, looking over his shoulder! Down upon the grass, at the tree&#039;s foot, lies the full length of a coal-black Giant, stretched asleep, with his head in a lady&#039;s lap; and near them is a glass box, fastened with four locks of shining steel, in which he keeps the lady prisoner when he is awake. I see the four keys at his girdle now. The lady makes signs to the two kings in the tree, who softly descend. It is the setting-in of the bright Arabian Nights. Oh, now all common things become uncommon and enchanted to me! All lamps are wonderful; all rings are talismans. Common flower-pots are full of treasure, with a little earth scattered on the top; trees are for Ali Baba to hide in; beef-steaks are to throw down into the Valley of Diamonds, that the precious stones may stick to them, and be carried by the eagles to their nests, whence the traders, with loud cries, will scare them. Tarts are made, according to the recipe of the Vizier&#039;s son of Bussorah, who turned pastrycook after he was set down in his drawers at the gate of Damascus; cobblers are all Mustaphas, and in the habit of sewing up people cut into four pieces, to whom they are taken blindfold. Any iron ring let into stone is the entrance to a cave, which only waits for the magician, and the little fire, and the necromancy, that will make the earth shake. All the dates imported come from the same tree as that unlucky date, with whose shell the merchant knocked out the eye of the genie&#039;s invisible son. All olives are of the stock of that fresh fruit, concerning which the Commander of the Faithful overheard the boy conduct the fictitious trial of the fraudulent olive merchant; all apples are akin to the apple purchased (with two others) from the Sultan&#039;s gardener, for three sequins, and which the tall black slave stole from the child. All dogs are associated with the dog, really a transformed man, who jumped upon the baker&#039;s counter, and put his paw on the piece of bad money. All rice recals the rice which the awful lady, who was a ghoule, could only peck by grains, because of her nightly feasts in the burial-place. My very rocking-horse,—there he is, with his nostrils turned completely inside-out, indicative of Blood!—should have a peg in his neck, by virtue thereof to fly away with me, as the wooden horse did with the Prince of Persia, in the sight of all his father&#039;s Court. Yes, on every object that I recognise among those upper branches of my Christmas Tree, I see this fairy light! When I wake in bed, at daybreak, on the cold dark winter mornings, the white snow dimly beheld, outside, through the frost on the window-pane, I hear Dinarzade. &quot; Sister, sister, if you are yet awake, I pray you finish the history of the Young King of the Black Islands.&quot; Scheherazade replies, &quot;If my lord the Sultan will suffer me to live another day, sister, I will not only finish that, but tell you a more wonderful story yet.&quot; Then, the gracious Sultan goes out, giving no orders for the execution, and we all three breathe again. At this height of my tree I begin to see, cowering among the leaves—it may be born of turkey, or of pudding, or mince pie, or of these many fancies, jumbled with Robinson Crusoe on his desert island, Philip Quarll among the monkeys, Sandford and Merton with Mr. Barlow, Mother Bunch, and the Mask—or it may be the result of indigestion, assisted by imagination and over-doctoring—a prodigious nightmare. It is so exceedingly indistinct, that I don&#039;t know why it&#039;s frightful but I know it is. I can only make out that it is an immense array of shapeless things, which appear to be planted on a vast exaggeration of the lazy- tongs that used to bear the toy soldiers, and to be slowly coming close to my eyes, and receding to an immeasurable distance. When it comes closest, it is worst. In connection with it, I descry remembrances of winter nights incredibly long; of being sent early to bed, as a punishment for some small offence, and waking in two hours, with a sensation of having been asleep two nights; of the leaden hopelessness of morning ever dawning; and the oppression of a weight of remorse. And now, I see a wonderful row of little lights rise smoothly out of the ground, before a vast green curtain. Now, a bell rings—a magic bell, which still sounds in my ears unlike all other bells—and music plays, amidst a buzz of voices, and a fragrant smell of orange-peel and oil. Anon, the magic bell commands the music to cease, and the great green curtain rolls itself up majestically, and The Play begins! The devoted dog of Montargis avenges the death of his master, foully murdered in the Forest of Bondy; and a humorous Peasant with a red nose and a very little hat, whom I take from this hour forth to my bosom as a friend (I think he was a Waiter or an Hostler at a village Inn, but many years have passed since he and I have met), remarks that the sassigassity of that dog is indeed surprising; and evermore this jocular conceit will live in my remembrance fresh and unfading, overtopping all possible jokes, unto the end of time. Or now, I learn with bitter tears how poor Jane Shore, dressed all in white, and with her brown hair hanging down, went starving through the streets; or how George Barnwell killed the worthiest uncle that ever man had, and was afterwards so sorry for it that he ought to have been let off. Comes swift to comfort me, the Pantomime—stupendous Phenomenon!—when Clowns are shot from loaded mortars into the great chandelier, bright constellation that it is; when Harlequins, covered all over with scales of pure gold, twist and sparkle, like amazing fish; when Pantaloon (whom I deem it no irreverence to compare in my own mind to my grandfather) puts red-hot pokers in his pocket, and cries &quot;Here&#039;s somebody coming!&quot; or taxes the Clown with petty larceny, by saying &quot;Now, I sawed you do it!&quot; when Everything is capable, with the greatest ease, of being changed into Anything; and &quot;Nothing is, but thinking makes it so.&quot; Now, too, I perceive my first experience of the dreary sensation—often to return in after-life—of being unable, next day, to get back to the dull, settled world; of wanting to live for ever in the bright atmosphere I have quitted; of doting on the little Fairy, with the wand like a celestial Barber&#039;s Pole, and pining for a Fairy immortality along with her. Ah she comes back, in many shapes, as my eye wanders down the branches of my Christmas Tree, and goes as often, and has never yet stayed by me! Out of this delight springs the toy-theatre,—there it is, with its familiar proscenium, and ladies in feathers, in the boxes!—and all its attendant occupation with paste and glue, and gum, and water colors, in the getting-up of The Miller and his Men, and Elizabeth, or the Exile of Siberia. In spite of a few besetting accidents and failures (particularly an unreasonable disposition in the respectable Kelmar, and some others, to become faint in the legs, and double up, at exciting points of the drama), a teeming world of fancies so suggestive and all-embracing, that, far below it on my Christmas Tree, I see dark, dirty, real Theatres in the day-time, adorned with these associations as with the freshest garlands of the rarest flowers, and charming me yet. But hark! The Waits are playing, and they break my childish sleep! What images do I associate with the Christmas music as I see them set forth on the Christmas Tree? Known before all the others, keeping far apart from all the others, they gather round my little bed. An angel, speaking to a group of shepherds in a field; some travellers, with eyes uplifted, following a star; a baby in a manger; a child in a spacious temple, talking with grave men; a solemn figure, with a mild and beautiful face, raising a dead girl by the hand; again, near a city-gate, calling back the son of a widow, on his bier, to life; a crowd of people looking through the opened roof of a chamber where he sits, and letting down a sick person on a bed, with ropes; the same, in a tempest, walking on the water to a ship; again, on a sea-shore, teaching a great multitude; again, with a child upon his knee, and other children round; again, restoring sight to the blind, speech to the dumb, hearing to the deaf, health to the sick, strength to the lame, knowledge to the ignorant; again, dying upon a Cross, watched by armed soldiers, a thick darkness coming on, the earth beginning to shake, and only one voice heard. &quot; Forgive them, for they know not what they do!&quot; Still, on the lower and maturer branches of the Tree, Christmas associations cluster thick. School-books shut up; Ovid and Virgil silenced; the Rule of Three, with its cool impertinent enquiries, long disposed of; Terence and Plautus acted no more, in an arena of huddled desks and forms, all chipped, and notched, and inked; cricket-bats, stumps, and balls, left higher up, with the smell of trodden grass and the softened noise of shouts in the evening air; the tree is still fresh, still gay. If I no more come home at Christmas time, there will be girls and boys (thank Heaven!) while the World lasts; and they do! Yonder they dance and play upon the branches of my Tree, God bless them, merrily, and my heart dances and plays too! And I do come home at Christmas. We all do, or we all should. We all come home, or ought to come home, for a short holiday—the longer, the better—from the great boarding-school, where we are for ever working at our arithmetical slates, to take, and give a rest. As to going a visiting, where can we not go, if we will; where have we not been, when we would; starting our fancy from our Christmas Tree! Away into the winter prospect. There are many such upon the tree! On, by low-lying misty grounds, through fens and fogs, up long hills, winding dark as caverns between thick plantations, almost shutting out the sparkling stars; so, out on broad heights, until we stop at last, with sudden silence, at an avenue. The gate-bell has a deep, half-awful sound in the frosty air; the gate swings open on its hinges; and, as we drive up to a great house, the glancing lights grow larger in the windows, and the opposing rows of trees seem to fall solemnly back on either side, to give us place. At intervals, all day, a frightened hare has shot across this whitened turf; or the distant clatter of a herd of deer trampling the hard frost, has, for the minute, crushed the silence too. Their watchful eyes beneath the fern may be shining now, if we could see them, like the icy dewdrops on the leaves; but they are still, and all is still. And so, the lights growing larger, and the trees falling back before us, and closing up again behind us, as if to forbid retreat, we come to the house. There is probably a smell of roasted chestnuts and other good comfortable things all the time, for we are telling Winter Stories—Ghost Stories, or more shame for us—round the Christmas fire; and we have never stirred, except to draw a little nearer to it. But, no matter for that. We came to the house, and it is an old house, full of great chimneys where wood is burnt on ancient dogs upon the hearth, and grim Portraits (some of them with grim Legends, too) lower distrustfully from the oaken panels of the walls. We are a middle-aged nobleman, and we make a generous supper with our host and hostess and their guests—it being Christmas-time, and the old house full of company—and then we go to bed. Our room is a very old room. It is hung with tapestry. We don&#039;t like the portrait of a cavalier in green, over the fireplace. There are great black beams in the ceiling, and there is a great black bedstead, supported at the foot by two great black figures, who seem to have come off a couple of tombs in the old Baronial Church in the Park, for our particular accommodation. But, we are not a superstitious nobleman, and we don&#039;t mind. Well! we dismiss our servant, lock the door, and sit before the fire in our dressing-gown, musing about a great many things. At length we go to bed. Well! we can&#039;t sleep. We toss and tumble, and can&#039;t sleep. The embers on the hearth burn fitfully and make the room look ghostly. We can&#039;t help peeping out over the counterpane, at the two black figures and the cavalier— that wicked-looking cavalier—in green. In the flickering light, they seem to advance and retire: which, though we are not by any means a superstitious nobleman, is not agreeable. Well! we get nervous—more and more nervous. We say &quot;This is very foolish, but we can&#039;t stand this; we&#039;ll pretend to be ill, and knock up somebody.&quot; Well! we are just going to do it, when the locked door opens, and there comes in a young woman, deadly pale, and with long fair hair, who glides to the fire, and sits down in the chair we have left there, wringing her hands. Then, we notice that her clothes are wet. Our tongue cleaves to the roof of our mouth, and we can&#039;t speak; but, we observe her accurately. Her clothes are wet; her long hair is dabbled with moist mud; she is dressed in the fashion of two hundred years ago; and she has at her girdle a bunch of rusty keys. Well! there she sits, and we can&#039;t even faint, we are in such a state about it. Presently she gets up, and tries all the locks in the room with the rusty keys, which won&#039;t fit one of them; then, she fixes her eyes on the Portrait of the Cavalier in green, and says, in a low, terrible voice, &quot;The stags know it!&quot; After that, she wrings her hands again, passes the bedside, and goes out at the door. We hurry on our dressing-gown, seize our pistols (we always travel with pistols), and are following, when we find the door locked. We turn the key, look out into the dark gallery; no one there. We wander away, and try to find our servant. Can&#039;t be done. We pace the gallery till daybreak; then return to our deserted room, fall asleep, and are awakened by our servant (nothing ever haunts him) and the shining sun. Well! we make a wretched breakfast, and all the company say we look queer. After breakfast, we go over the house with our host, and then we take him to the Portrait of the Cavalier in green, and then it all comes out. He was false to a young housekeeper once attached to that family, and famous for her beauty, who drowned herself in a pond, and whose body was discovered, after a long time, because the stags refused to drink of the water. Since which, it has been whispered that she traverses the house at midnight (but goes especially to that room where the Cavalier in green was wont to sleep), trying the old locks with her rusty keys. Well! we tell our host of what we have seen, and a shade comes over his features, and he begs it may be hushed up; and so it is. But, it&#039;s all true; and we said so, before we died (we are dead now) to many responsible people. There is no end to the old houses, with resounding galleries, and dismal state-bed-chambers, and haunted wings shut up for many years, through which we may ramble, with an agreeable creeping up our back, and encounter any number of Ghosts, but, (it is worthy of remark perhaps) reducible to a very few general types and classes; for, Ghosts have little originality, and &quot;walk&quot; in a beaten track. Thus, it comes to pass, that a certain room in a certain old hall, where a certain bad Lord, Baronet, Knight, or Gentleman, shot himself, has certain planks in the floor from which the blood will not be taken out. You may scrape and scrape, as the present owner has done, or plane and plane, as his father did, or scrub and scrub, as his grandfather did, or burn and burn with strong acids, as his great-grandfather did, but, there the blood will still be—no redder and no paler—no more and no less—always just the same. Thus, in such another house there is a haunted door, that never will keep open; or another door that never will keep shut; or a haunted sound of a spinning-wheel, or a hammer, or a footstep, or a cry, or a sigh, or a horse&#039;s tramp, or the rattling of a chain. Or else, there is a turret-clock, which, at the midnight hour, strikes thirteen when the head of the family is going to die; or a shadowy, immovable black carriage which at such a time is always seen by somebody, waiting near the great gates in the stable- yard. Or thus, it came to pass how Lady Mary went to pay a visit at a large wild house in the Scottish Highlands, and, being fatigued with her long journey, retired to bed early, and innocently said, next morning, at the breakfast-table, &quot;How odd, to have so late a party last night, in this remote place, and not to tell me of it, before I went to bed!&quot; Then, every one asked Lady Mary what she meant? Then, Lady Mary replied, &quot;Why, all night long, the carriages were driving round and round the terrace, underneath my window!&quot; Then, the owner of the house turned pale, and so did his Lady, and Charles Macdoodle of Macdoodle signed to Lady Mary to say no more, and every one was silent. After breakfast, Charles Macdoodle told Lady Mary that it was a tradition in the family that those rumbling carriages on the terrace betokened death. And so it proved, for, two months afterwards, the Lady of the mansion died. And Lady Mary, who was a Maid of Honour at Court, often told this story to the old Queen Charlotte; by this token that the old King always said, &quot;Eh, eh? What, what? Ghosts, Ghosts? No such thing, no such thing!&quot; And never left off saying so, until he went to bed. Or, a friend of somebody&#039;s, whom most of us know, when he was a young man at college, had a particular friend, with whom he made the compact that, if it were possible for the Spirit to return to this earth after its separation from the body, he of the twain who first died, should reappear to the other. In course of time, this compact was forgotten by our friend; the two young men having progressed in life, and taken diverging paths that were wide asunder. But, one night, many years afterwards, our friend, being in the North of England, and staying for the night in an Inn, on the Yorkshire Moors, happened to look out of bed; and there, in the moonlight, leaning on a Bureau near the window, stedfastly regarding him, saw his old College friend! The appearance being solemnly addressed, replied, in a kind of whisper, but very audibly, &quot;Do not come near me. I am dead. I am here to redeem my promise. I come from another world, but may not disclose its secrets!&quot; Then, the whole form becoming paler, melted, as it were, into the moonlight, and faded away. Or, there was the daughter of the first occupier of the picturesque Elizabethan house, so famous in our neighbourhood. You have heard about her? No! Why, She went out one summer evening, at twilight, when she was a beautiful girl, just seventeen years of age, to gather flowers in the garden; and presently came running, terrified, into the hall to her father, saying, &quot;Oh, dear father, I have met myself!&quot; He took her in his arms, and told her it was fancy, but she said &quot;Oh no! I met myself in the broad walk, and I was pale and gathering withered flowers, and I turned my head, and held them up!&quot; And, that night, she died; and a picture of her story was begun, though never finished, and they say it is somewhere in the house to this day, with its face to the wall. Or, the uncle of my brother&#039;s wife was riding home on horseback, one mellow evening at sunset, when, in a green lane close to his own house, he saw a man, standing before him, in the very centre of the narrow way. &quot;Why does that man in the cloak stand there!&quot; he thought. &quot;Does he want me to ride over him?&quot; But the figure never moved. He felt a strange sensation at seeing it so still, but slackened his trot and rode forward. When he was so close to it, as almost to touch it with his stirrup, his horse shied, and the figure glided up the bank, in a curious, unearthly manner—backward, and without seeming to use its feet—and was gone. The uncle of my brother&#039;s wife, exclaiming, &quot;Good Heaven! It&#039;s my cousin Harry, from Bombay!&quot; put spurs to his horse, which was suddenly in a profuse sweat, and, wondering at such strange behaviour, dashed round to the front of his house. There, he saw the same figure, just passing in at the long french window of the drawing-room, opening on the ground. He threw his bridle to a servant, and hastened in after it. His sister was sitting there, alone. &quot;Alice, where&#039;s my cousin Harry?&quot; &quot;Your cousin Harry, John?&quot; &quot;Yes. From Bombay. I met him in the lane just now, and saw him enter here, this instant.&quot; Not a creature had been seen by any one; and in that hour and minute, as it afterwards appeared, this cousin died in India. Or, it was a certain sensible old maiden lady, who died at ninety-nine, and retained her faculties to the last, who really did see the Orphan Boy; a story which has often been incorrectly told, but, of which the real truth is this—because it is, in fact, a story belonging to our family—and she was a connexion of our family. When she was about forty years of age, and still an uncommonly fine woman (her lover died young, which was the reason why she never married, though she had many offers), she went to stay at a place in Kent, which her brother, an India-Merchant, had newly bought. There was a story that this place had once been held in trust, by the guardian of a young boy: who was himself the next heir, and who killed the young boy by harsh and cruel treatment. She knew nothing of that. It has been said that there was a Cage in her bed-room in which the guardian used to put the boy. There was no such thing. There was only a closet. She went to bed, made no alarm whatever in the night, and in the morning said composedly to her maid when she came in, &quot;Who is the pretty forlorn-looking child who has been peeping out of that closet all night? &quot; The maid replied by giving a loud scream, and instantly decamping. She was surprised; but, she was a woman of remarkable strength of mind, and she dressed herself and went down stairs, and closeted herself with her brother. &quot;Now, Walter,&quot; she said, &quot;I have been disturbed all night by a pretty, forlorn-looking boy, who has been constantly peeping out of that closet in my room, which I can&#039;t open. This is some trick.&quot; &quot;I am afraid not, Charlotte,&quot; said he, &quot;for it is the legend of the house. It is the Orphan Boy. What did he do?&quot; &quot;He opened the door softly,&quot; said she, &quot;and peeped out. Sometimes, he came a step or two into the room. Then, I called to him, to encourage him, and he shrunk, and shuddered, and crept in again, and shut the door.&quot; &quot;The closet has no communication, Charlotte,&quot; said her brother, &quot;with any other part of the house, and it&#039;s nailed up.&quot; This was undeniably true, and it took two carpenters a whole fore-noon to get it open, for examination. Then, she was satisfied that she had seen the Orphan Boy. But, the wild and terrible part of the story is, that he was also seen by three of her brother&#039;s sons, in succession, who all died young. On the occasion of each child being taken ill, he came home in a heat, twelve hours before, and said, Oh, Mamma, he had been playing under a particular oak-tree, in a certain meadow, with a strange boy—a pretty, forlorn-looking boy, who was very timid, and made signs! From fatal experience, the parents came to know that this was the Orphan Boy, and that the course of that child whom he chose for his little playmate was surely run. Legion is the name of the German castles, where we sit up alone to wait for the Spectre—where we are shown into a room, made comparatively cheerful for our reception—where we glance round at the shadows, thrown on the blank walls by the crackling fire—where we feel very lonely when the village innkeeper and his pretty daughter have retired, after laying down a fresh store of wood upon the hearth, and setting forth on the small table such supper-cheer as a cold roast capon, bread, grapes, and a flask of old Rhine wine— where the reverberating doors close on their retreat, one after another, like so many peals of sullen thunder—and where, about the small hours of the night, we come into the knowledge of divers supernatural mysteries. Legion is the name of the haunted German students, in whose society we draw yet nearer to the fire, while the schoolboy in the corner opens his eyes wide and round, and flies off the foot-stool he has chosen for his seat, when the door accidentally blows open. Vast is the crop of such fruit, shining on our Christmas Tree; in blossom, almost at the very top; ripening all down the boughs! Among the later toys and fancies hanging there—as idle often and less pure—be the images once associated with the sweet old Waits, the softened music in the night, ever unalterable! Encircled by the social thoughts of Christmas time, still let the benignant figure of my childhood stand unchanged! In every cheerful image and suggestion that the season brings, may the bright star that rested above the poor roof, be the star of all the Christian world! A moment&#039;s pause, O vanishing tree, of which the lower boughs are dark to me as yet, and let me look once more! I know there are blank spaces on thy branches, where eyes that I have loved, have shone and smiled; from which they are departed. But, far above, I see the raiser of the dead girl, and the Widow&#039;s Son; and God is good! If Age be hiding for me in the unseen portion of thy downward growth, O may I, with a grey head, turn a child&#039;s heart to that figure yet, and a child&#039;s trustfulness and confidence! Now, the tree is decorated with bright merriment, and song, and dance, and cheerfulness. And they are welcome. Innocent and welcome be they ever held, beneath the branches of the Christmas Tree, which cast no gloomy shadow! But, as it sinks into the ground, I hear a whisper going through the leaves. &quot;This, in commemoration of the law of love and kindness, mercy and compassion. This, in remembrance of Me!&quot;;
226 'George Silverman's Explanation' (<em>ATYR</em>)<span>Published in&nbsp;<em>All the Year Round</em></span><em>,<span>&nbsp;</span></em><span>vol. XIX, no. 462 (29 February 1868), pp. 276-281.</span>Dickens, Charles<em>Dickens Journals Online,</em> <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1868-02-29">1868-02-29</a><span>Scanned material from&nbsp;<em>Dickens Journals Online</em>,&nbsp;</span><a href="" id="LPNoLPOWALinkPreview" contenteditable="false" title=""></a><span>. A</span><span>vailable under CC BY licence.</span><a href=";advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&amp;advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=No.+III%2C+%27George+Silverman%27s+Explanation%27+%28%3Cem%3EAtlantic+Monthly%3C%2Fem%3E%29">No. III, 'George Silverman's Explanation' (<em>Atlantic Monthly</em>)</a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Short+story">Short story</a>1868-02-29-George_Silvermans_Explanation_3_ATYR<div class="element-set"> <div id="dublin-core-bibliographic-citation" class="element"> <div class="element-text five columns omega"> <p><span>Dickens, Charles. No. III 'George Silverman's Explanation' (</span><em>ATYR</em><span>).&nbsp;</span><em>Dickens Search</em><span>. Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig.&nbsp;</span><a href="[date].%20">Accessed [date].</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="element-set"> <div id="scripto-transcription" class="element"> <div class="field two columns alpha"></div> </div> </div><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=93&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=%3Cem%3EAll+the+Year+Round%3C%2Fem%3E"><em>All the Year Round</em></a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=94&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Periodical">Periodical</a>18680229SEVENTH CHAPTER. My timidity and my obscurity occasioned me to live a secluded life at College, and to be little known. No relative ever came to visit me, for I had no relative. No intimate friends broke in upon my studies, for I made no intimate friends. I supported myself on my scholarship, and read much. My College time was otherwise not so very different from my time at Hoghton Towers. Knowing myself to be unfit for the noisier stir of social existence, but believing myself qualified to do my duty in a moderate though earnest way if I could obtain some small preferment in the Church, I applied my mind to the clerical profession. In due sequence I took orders, was ordained, and began to look about me for employment. I must observe that I had taken a good degree, that I had succeeded in winning a good fellowship, and that my means were ample for my retired way of life. By this time I had read with several young men, and the occupation increased my income, while it was highly interesting to me. I once accidentally overheard our greatest Don say, to my boundless joy: &quot;That he heard it reported of Silverman that his gift of quiet explanation, his patience, his amiable temper, and his conscientiousness, made him the best of Coaches.&quot; May my &quot;gift of quiet explanation&quot; come more seasonably and powerfully to my aid in this present explanation than I think it will! It may be, in a certain degree, owing to the situation of my College rooms (in a corner where the daylight was sobered), but it is in a much larger degree referable to the state of my own mind, that I seem to myself, on looking back to this time of my life, to have been always in the peaceful shade. I can see others in the sunlight; I can see our boats&#039; crews and our athletic young men, on the glistening water, or speckled with the moving lights of sunlit leaves; but I myself am always in the shadow looking on. Not unsympathetically—GOD forbid!—but looking on, alone, much as I looked at Sylvia from the shadows of the ruined house, or looked at the red gleam shining through the farmer&#039;s windows, and listened to the fall of dancing feet, when all the ruin was dark, that night in the quadrangle. I now come to the reason of my quoting that laudation of myself above given. Without such reason: to repeat it would have been mere boastfulness. Among those who had read with me, was Mr. Fareway, second son of Lady Fareway, widow of Sir Gaston Fareway, Baronet. This young gentleman&#039;s abilities were much above the average, but he came of a rich family, and was idle and luxurious. He presented himself to me too late, and afterwards came to me too irregularly, to admit of my being of much service to him. In the end I considered it my duty to dissuade him from going up for an examination which he could never pass, and he left College without taking a degree. After his departure, Lady Fareway wrote to me representing the justice of my returning half my fee, as I had been of so little use to her son. Within my knowledge a similar demand had not been made in any other case, and I most freely admit that the justice of it had not occurred to me until it was pointed out. But I at once perceived it, yielded to it, and returned the money. Mr. Fareway had been gone two years or more and I had forgotten him, when he one day walked into my rooms as I was sitting at my books. Said he, after the usual salutations had passed: &quot;Mr. Silverman, my mother is in town here, at the hotel, and wishes me to present you to her.&quot; I was not comfortable with strangers, and I dare say I betrayed that I was a little nervous or unwilling. For said he, without my having spoken: &quot;I think the interview may tend to the advancement of your prospects.&quot; It put me to the blush to think that I should be tempted by a worldly reason, and I rose immediately. Said Mr. Fareway, as we went along: &quot;Are you a good hand at business?&quot; &quot;I think not,&quot; said I. Said Mr. Fareway then: &quot;My mother is.&quot; &quot;Truly?&quot; said I. &quot;Yes. My mother is what is usually called a managing woman. Doesn&#039;t make a bad thing, for instance, even out of the spendthrift habits of my eldest brother abroad. In short, a managing woman. This is in confidence.&quot; He had never spoken to me in confidence, and I was surprised by his doing so. I said I should respect his confidence, of course, and said no more on the delicate subject. We had but a little way to walk, and I was soon in his mother&#039;s company. He presented me, shook hands with me, and left us two (as he said) to business. I saw in my Lady Fareway, a handsome well-preserved lady of somewhat large stature, with a steady glare in her great round dark eyes that embarrassed me. Said my Lady: &quot;I have heard from my son, Mr. Silverman, that you would be glad of some preferment in the Church?&quot; I gave my Lady to understand that was so. &quot;I don&#039;t know whether you are aware,&quot; my Lady proceeded, &quot;that we have a presentation to a Living? I say we have, but in point of fact I have.&quot; I gave my Lady to understand that I had not been aware of this. Said my Lady: &quot;So it is. Indeed, I have two presentations; one, to two hundred a year; one, to six. Both livings are in our county: North Devonshire, as you probably know. The first is vacant. Would you like it?&quot; What with my Lady&#039;s eyes, and what with the suddenness of this proposed gift, I was much confused. &quot;I am sorry it is not the larger presentation,&quot; said my Lady, rather coldly, &quot;though I will not, Mr. Silverman, pay you the bad compliment of supposing that you are, because that would be mercenary. And mercenary I am persuaded you are not.&quot; Said I, with my utmost earnestness: &quot;Thank you, Lady Fareway, thank you, thank you! I should be deeply hurt if I thought I bore the character.&quot; &quot;Naturally,&quot; said my Lady. &quot;Always detestable, but particularly in a clergyman. You have not said whether you would like the Living?&quot; With apologies for my remissness or indistinctness, I assured my Lady that I accepted it most readily and gratefully. I added that I hoped she would not estimate my appreciation of the generosity of her choice by my flow of words, for I was not a ready man in that respect when taken by surprise, or touched at heart. &quot;The affair is concluded,&quot; said my Lady. &quot;Concluded. You will find the duties very light, Mr. Silverman. Charming house; charming little garden, orchard, and all that. You will be able to take pupils. By the bye!—No. I will return to the word afterwards. What was I going to mention, when it put me out?&quot; My Lady stared at me, as if I knew. And I didn&#039;t know. And that perplexed me afresh. Said my Lady, after some consideration: &quot;Oh! Of course. How very dull of me! The last incumbent—least mercenary man I ever saw—in consideration of the duties being so light and the house so delicious, couldn&#039;t rest, he said, unless I permitted him to help me with my correspondence, accounts, and various little things of that kind; nothing in themselves, but which it worries a lady to cope with. Would Mr. Silverman also, like to—? Or shall I—?&quot; I hastened to say that my poor help would be always at her ladyship&#039;s service. &quot;I am absolutely blessed,&quot; said my Lady, casting up her eyes (and so taking them off of me for one moment), &quot;in having to do with gentlemen who cannot endure an approach to the idea of being mercenary!&quot; She shivered at the word. &quot;And now as to the pupil.&quot; &quot;The—?&quot; I was quite at a loss. &quot;Mr. Silverman, you have no idea what she is. She is,&quot; said my Lady, laying her touch upon my coat sleeve, &quot; I do verily believe, the most extraordinary girl in this world. Already knows more Greek and Latin than Lady Jane Grey. And taught herself! Has not yet, remember, derived a moment&#039;s advantage from Mr. Silverman&#039;s classical acquirements. To say nothing of mathematics, which she is bent upon becoming versed in, and in which (as I hear from my son and others) Mr. Silverman&#039;s reputation is so deservedly high!&quot; Under my Lady&#039;s eyes, I must have lost the clue, I felt persuaded; and yet I did not know where I could have dropped it. &quot;Adelina,&quot; said my Lady, &quot;is my only daughter. If I did not feel quite convinced that I am not blinded by a mother&#039;s partiality; unless I was absolutely sure that when you know her, Mr. Silverman, you will esteem it a high and unusual privilege to direct her studies; I should introduce a mercenary element into this conversation, and ask you on what terms—&quot; I entreated my Lady to go no further. My Lady saw that I was troubled, and did me the honour to comply with my request. EIGHTH CHAPTER. Everything in mental acquisition that her brother might have been, if he would; and everything in all gracious charms and admirable qualities that no one but herself could be; this was Adelina. I will not expatiate upon her beauty. I will not expatiate upon her intelligence, her quickness of perception, her powers of memory, her sweet consideration from the first moment for the slow-paced tutor who ministered to her wonderful gifts. I was thirty then; I am over sixty now; she is ever present to me in these hours as she was in those, bright and beautiful and young, wise and fanciful and good. When I discovered that I loved her, how can I say. In the first day? In the first week? In the first month? Impossible to trace. If I be (as I am) unable to represent to myself any previous period of my life as quite separable from her attracting power, how can I answer for this one detail! Whensoever I made the discovery, it laid a heavy burden on me. And yet, comparing it with the far heavier burden that I afterwards took up, it does not seem to me, now, to have been very hard to bear. In the knowledge that I did love her, and that I should love her while my life lasted, and that I was ever to hide my secret deep in my own breast, and she was never to find it, there was a kind of sustaining joy, or pride, or comfort, mingled with my pain. But later on—say a year later on—when I made another discovery, then indeed my suffering and my struggle were strong. That other discovery was—? These words will never see the light, if ever, until my heart is dust; until her bright spirit has returned to the regions of which, when imprisoned here, it surely retained some unusual glimpse of remembrance; until all the pulses that ever beat around us shall have long been quiet; until all the fruits of all the tiny victories and defeats achieved in our little breasts shall have withered away. That discovery was, that she loved me. She may have enhanced my knowledge, and loved me for that; she may have overvalued my discharge of duty to her, and loved me for that; she may have refined upon a playful compassion which she would sometimes show for what she called my want of wisdom according to the light of the world&#039;s dark lanterns, and loved me for that; she may—she must—have confused the borrowed light of what I had only learned, with its brightness in its pure original rays; but she loved me at that time, and she made me know it. Pride of family and pride of wealth put me as far off from her in my Lady&#039;s eyes as if I had been some domesticated creature of another kind. But they could not put me further from her than I put myself when I set my merits against hers. More than that. They could not put me, by millions of fathoms, half so low beneath her as I put myself when in imagination I took advantage of her noble trustfulness, took the fortune that I knew she must possess in her own right, and left her to find herself in the zenith of her beauty and genius, bound to poor rusty plodding Me. No. Worldliness should not enter here, at any cost. If I had tried to keep it out of other ground, how much harder was I bound to try to keep it from this sacred place. But there was something daring in her broad generous character that demanded at so delicate a crisis to be delicately and patiently addressed. After many and many a bitter night (O I found I could cry, for reasons not purely physical, at this pass of my life!) I took my course. My Lady had in our first interview unconsciously over-stated the accommodation of my pretty house. There was room in it for only one pupil. He was a young gentleman near coming of age, very well connected, but what is called a poor relation. His parents were dead. The charges of his living and reading with me were defrayed by an uncle, and he and I were to do our utmost together for three years towards qualifying him to make his way. At this time he had entered into his second year with me. He was well-looking, clever, energetic, enthusiastic, bold; in the best sense of the term, a thorough young Anglo-Saxon. I resolved to bring these two together. NINTH CHAPTER. Said I, one night, when I had conquered myself: &quot;Mr. Granville:&quot; Mr. Granville Wharton his name was: &quot;I doubt if you have ever yet so much as seen Miss Fareway.&quot; &quot;Well, sir,&quot; returned he, laughing, &quot;you see her so much yourself, that you hardly leave another fellow a chance of seeing her.&quot; &quot;I am her tutor, you know,&quot; said I. And there the subject dropped for that time. But I so contrived, as that they should come together shortly afterwards. I had previously so contrived as to keep them asunder, for while I loved her—I mean before I had determined on my sacrifice—a lurking jealousy of Mr. Granville lay within my unworthy breast. It was quite an ordinary interview in the Fareway Park; but they talked easily together for some time; like takes to like, and they had many points of resemblance. Said Mr. Granville to me, when he and I sate at our supper that night: &quot;Miss Fareway is remarkably beautiful, sir, and remarkably engaging. Don&#039;t you think so?&quot;—&quot;I think so,&quot; said I. And I stole a glance at him, and saw that he had reddened and was thoughtful. I remember it most vividly, because the mixed feeling of grave pleasure and acute pain that the slight circumstance caused me, was the first of a long, long series of such mixed impressions under which my hair turned slowly grey. I had not much need to feign to be subdued, but I counterfeited to be older than I was, in all respects (Heaven knows, my heart being all too young the while!), and feigned to be more of a recluse and bookworm than I had really become, and gradually set up more and more of a fatherly manner towards Adelina. Likewise, I made my tuition less imaginative than before; separated myself from my poets and philosophers; was careful to present them in their own light, and me, their lowly servant, in my own shade. Moreover, in the matter of apparel I was equally mindful. Not that I had ever been dapper that way, but that I was slovenly now. As I depressed myself with one hand, so did I labour to raise Mr. Granville with the other; directing his attention to such subjects as I too well knew most interested her, and fashioning him (do not deride or misconstrue the expression, unknown reader of this writing, for I have suffered!) into a greater resemblance to myself in my solitary one strong aspect. And gradually, gradually, as I saw him take more and more to these thrown-out lures of mine, then did I come to know better and better that love was drawing him on, and was drawing Her from me. So passed more than another year; every day a year in its number of my mixed impressions of grave pleasure and acute pain; and then, these two being of age and free to act legally for themselves, came before me, hand in hand (my hair being now quite white), and entreated me that I would unite them together. &quot;And indeed, dear Tutor,&quot; said Adelina, &quot;it is but consistent in you that you should do this thing for us, seeing that we should never have spoken together that first time but for you, and that but for you we could never have met so often afterwards.&quot; The whole of which was literally true, for I had availed myself of my many business attendances on, and conferences with, my Lady, to take Mr. Granville to the house, and leave him in the outer room with Adelina. I knew that my Lady would object to such a marriage for her daughter, or to any marriage that was other than an exchange of her for stipulated lands, goods, and moneys. But, looking on the two, and seeing with full eyes that they were both young and beautiful; and knowing that they were alike in the tastes and acquirements that will outlive youth and beauty; and considering that Adelina had a fortune now, in her own keeping; and considering further that Mr. Granville, though for the present poor, was of a good family that had never lived in a cellar in Preston; and believing that their love would endure, neither having any great discrepancy to find out in the other; I told them of my readiness to do this thing which Adelina asked of her dear Tutor, and to send them forth, Husband and Wife, into the shining world with golden gates that awaited them. It was on a summer morning that I rose before the sun, to compose myself for the crowning of my work with this end. And my dwelling being near to the sea, I walked down to the rocks on the shore, in order that I might behold the sun rise in his majesty. The tranquillity upon the Deep and on the firmament, the orderly withdrawal of the stars, the calm promise of coming day, the rosy suffusion of the sky and waters, the ineffable splendour that then burst forth, attuned my mind afresh after the discords of the night. Methought that all I looked on said to me, and that all I heard in the sea and in the air said to me: &quot;Be comforted, mortal, that thy life is so short. Our preparation for what is to follow, has endured, and shall endure, for unimaginable ages.&quot; I married them. I knew that my hand was cold when I placed it on their hands clasped together; but the words with which I had to accompany the action, I could say without faltering, and I was at peace. They being well away from my house and from the place, after our simple breakfast, the time was come when I must do what I had pledged myself to them that I would do: break the intelligence to my Lady. I went up to the house, and found my Lady in her ordinary business-room. She happened to have an unusual amount of commissions to entrust to me that day, and she had filled my hands with papers before l could originate a word. &quot;My Lady&quot;—I then began, as I stood beside her table. &quot;Why, what&#039;s the matter!&quot; she said, quickly, looking up. &quot;Not much, I would fain hope, after you shall have prepared yourself, and considered a little.&quot; &quot;Prepared myself! And considered a little! You appear to have prepared yourself but indifferently, anyhow, Mr. Silverman.&quot; This, mighty scornfully, as I experienced my usual embarrassment under her stare. Said I, in self-extenuation, once for all: &quot;Lady Fareway, I have but to say for myself that I have tried to do my duty.&quot; &quot;For yourself?&quot; repeated my Lady. &quot;Then there are others concerned, I see. Who are they?&quot; I was about to answer, when she made towards the bell with a dart that stopped me, and said: &quot;Why, where is Adelina!&quot; &quot;Forbear. Be calm, my Lady. I married her this morning to Mr. Granville Wharton.&quot; She set her lips, looked more intently at me than ever, raised her right hand and smote me hard upon the cheek. &quot;Give me back those papers, give me back those papers!&quot; She tore them out of my hands and tossed them on her table. Then seating herself defiantly in her great chair, and folding her arms, she stabbed me to the heart with the unlooked-for reproach: &quot;You worldly wretch!&quot; &quot;Worldly?&quot; I cried. &quot;Worldly!&quot; &quot;This, if you please,&quot; she went on with supreme scorn, pointing me out as if there were some one there to see: &quot;this, if you please, is the disinterested scholar, with not a design beyond his books! This, if you please, is the simple creature whom anyone could overreach in a bargain! This, if you please, is Mr. Silverman! Not of this world, not he! He has too much simplicity for this world&#039;s cunning. He has too much singleness of purpose to be a match for this world&#039;s double-dealing.—What did he give you for it?&quot; &quot;For what? And who?&quot; &quot;How much,&quot; she asked, bending forward in her great chair, and insultingly tapping the fingers of her right hand on the palm of her left: &quot;how much does Mr. Granville Wharton pay you for getting him Adelina&#039;s money? What is the amount of your percentage upon Adelina&#039;s fortune? What were the terms of the agreement that you proposed to this boy when you, the Reverend George Silverman, licensed to marry, engaged to put him in possession of this girl? You made good terms for yourself, whatever they were. He would stand a poor chance against your keenness.&quot; Bewildered, horrified, stunned, by this cruel perversion, I could not speak. But I trust that I looked innocent, being so. &quot;Listen to me, shrewd hypocrite,&quot; said my Lady, whose anger increased as she gave it utterance. &quot;Attend to my words, you cunning schemer who have carried this plot through with such a practised double face that I have never suspected you. I had my projects for my daughter; projects for family connexion; projects for fortune. You have thwarted them, and overreached me; but I am not one to be thwarted and overreached, without retaliation. Do you mean to hold this Living, another month?&quot; &quot;Do you deem it possible, Lady Fareway, that I can hold it another hour, under your injurious words?&quot; &quot;Is it resigned then?&quot; &quot;It was mentally resigned, my Lady, some minutes ago.&quot; &quot;Don&#039;t equivocate, sir. Is it resigned?&quot; &quot;Unconditionally and entirely. And I would that I had never, never, come near it!&quot; &quot;A cordial response from me to that wish, Mr. Silverman! But take this with you, sir. If you had not resigned it, I would have had you deprived of it. And though you have resigned it, you will not get quit of me as easily as you think for. I will pursue you with this story. I will make this nefarious conspiracy of yours, for money, known. You have made money by it, but you have, at the same time, made an enemy by it. You will take good care that the money sticks to you; I will take good care that the enemy sticks to you.&quot; Then said I, finally: &quot;Lady Fareway, I think my heart is broken. Until I came into this room just now, the possibility of such mean wickedness as you have imputed to me, never dawned upon my thoughts. Your suspicions—&quot; &quot;Suspicions. Pah!&quot; said she indignantly. &quot;Certainties.&quot; &quot;Your certainties, my Lady, as you call them; your suspicions, as I call them; are cruel, unjust, wholly devoid of foundation in fact. I can declare no more, except that I have not acted for my own profit or my own pleasure. I have not in this proceeding, considered myself. Once again, I think my heart is broken. If I have unwittingly done any wrong with a righteous motive, that is some penalty to pay.&quot; She received this with another and a more indignant &quot;Pah!&quot; and I made my way out of her room (I think I felt my way out with my hands, although my eyes were open), almost suspecting that my voice had a repulsive sound, and that I was a repulsive object. There was a great stir made, the Bishop was appealed to, I received a severe reprimand, and narrowly escaped suspension. For years a cloud hung over me, and my name was tarnished. But my heart did not break, if a broken heart involves death; for I lived through it. They stood by me, Adelina and her husband, through it all. Those who had known me at College, and even most of those who had only known me there by reputation, stood by me too. Little by little, the belief widened that I was not capable of what was laid to my charge. At length, I was presented to a College-Living in a sequestered place, and there I now pen my Explanation. I pen it at my open window in the summer-time; before me, lying the churchyard, equal resting-place for sound hearts, wounded hearts, and broken hearts. I pen it for the relief of my own mind, not foreseeing whether or no it will ever have a reader.[ATYR]/1868-02-29-George_Silvermans_Explanation_3_ATYR.pdf
225 'George Silverman's Explanation' (<em>ATYR</em>)<span>Published in&nbsp;<em>All the Year Round</em></span><em>,<span>&nbsp;</span></em><span>vol. XIX, no. 460 (15 February 1868), pp. 228-231.</span>Dickens, Charles<em>Dickens Journals Online</em>, <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1868-02-15">1868-02-15</a><span>Scanned material from&nbsp;<em>Dickens Journals Online</em>,&nbsp;</span><a href="" id="LPNoLPOWALinkPreview" contenteditable="false" title=""></a><span>. A</span><span>vailable under CC BY licence.</span><a href=";advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&amp;advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=No.+II+%27George+Silverman%27s+Explanation%27+%28%3Cem%3EAtlantic+Monthly%3C%2Fem%3E%29">No. II 'George Silverman's Explanation' (<em>Atlantic Monthly</em>)</a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Short+story">Short story</a>1868-02-15-George_Silvermans_Explanation_2_ATYR<span>Dickens, Charles. No. II 'George Silverman's Explanation' (</span><em>ATYR</em><span>).&nbsp;</span><em>Dickens Search</em><span>. Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig.&nbsp;</span><a href="[date].%20">Accessed [date].</a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=93&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=%3Cem%3EAll+the+Year+Round%3C%2Fem%3E"><em>All the Year Round</em></a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=94&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Periodical">Periodical</a>18680215SIXTH CHAPTER. Brother Hawkyard (as he insisted on my calling him) put me to school, and told me to work my way. &quot;You are all right, George,&quot; he said. &quot; I have been the best servant the Lord has had in his service, for this five-and-thirty year (O, I have!), and he knows the value of such a servant as I have been to him (O yes he does!), and he&#039;ll prosper your schooling as a part of my reward. That&#039;s what he&#039;ll do, George. He&#039;ll do it for me.&quot; From the first I could not like this familiar knowledge of the ways of the sublime inscrutable Almighty, on Brother Hawkyard&#039;s part. As I grew a little wiser and still a little wiser, I liked it less and less. His manner, too, of confirming himself in a parenthesis: as if, knowing himself, he doubted his own word: I found distasteful. I cannot tell how much these dislikes cost me, for I had a dread that they were worldly. As time went on, I became a Foundation Boy on a good Foundation, and I cost Brother Hawkyard nothing. When I had worked my way so far, I worked yet harder, in the hope of ultimately getting a presentation to College, and a Fellowship. My health has never been strong (some vapour from the Preston cellar cleaves to me I think), and what with much work and some weakness, I came again to be regarded—that is, by my fellow-students—as unsocial. All through my time as a Foundation-Boy, I was within a few miles of Brother Hawkyard&#039;s congregation, and when ever I was what we called a Leave-Boy on a Sunday, I went over there at his desire. Before the knowledge became forced upon me that outside their place of meeting these Brothers and Sisters were no better than the rest of the human family, but on the whole were, to put the case mildly, as bad as most, in respect of giving short weight in their shops, and not speaking the truth: I say, before this knowledge became forced upon me, their prolix addresses, their inordinate conceit, their daring ignorance, their investment of the Supreme Ruler of Heaven and Earth with their own miserable meannesses and littlenesses, greatly shocked me. Still, as their term for the frame of mind that could not perceive them to be in an exalted state of Grace, was the &quot;worldly&quot; state, I did for a time suffer tortures under my inquiries of myself whether that young worldly-devilish spirit of mine could secretly be lingering at the bottom of my non-appreciation. Brother Hawkyard was the popular expounder in this assembly, and generally occupied the platform (there was a little platform with a table on it, in lieu of a pulpit), first, on a Sunday afternoon. He was by trade a drysalter. Brother Gimblet, an elderly man with a crabbed face, a large dog&#039;s-eared shirt collar, and a spotted blue neckerchief reaching up behind to the crown of his head, was also a drysalter, and an expounder. Brother Gimblet professed the greatest admiration for Brother Hawkyard; but (I had thought more than once) bore him a jealous grudge. Let whosoever may peruse these lines kindly take the pains here to read twice, my solemn pledge that what I write of the language and customs of the congregation in question, I write scrupulously, literally, exactly, from the life and the truth. On the first Sunday after I had won what I had so long tried for, and when it was certain that I was going up to College, Brother Hawkyard concluded a long exhortation thus: &quot;Well my friends and fellow-sinners, now I told you when I began, that I didn&#039;t know a word of what I was going to say to you (and No, I did not!) but that it was all one to me, because I knew the Lord would put into my mouth the words I wanted.&quot; (&quot;That&#039;s it!&quot; From Brother Gimblet.) &quot;And he did put into my mouth the words I wanted.&quot; (&quot;So he did!&quot; From Brother Gimblet.) &quot;And why?&quot; (&quot; Ah! Let&#039;s have that!&quot; from Brother Gimblet.) &quot;Because I have been his faithful servant for five-and-thirty years, and because he knows it. For five-and-thirty years! And he knows it, mind you! I got those words that I wanted, on account of my wages. I got &#039;em from the Lord, my fellow-sinners. Down. I said &#039;Here&#039;s a heap of wages due; let us have something down on account.&#039; And I got it down, and I paid it over to you, and you won&#039;t wrap it up in a napkin, nor yet in a towel, not yet in a pockethankercher, but you&#039;ll put it out at good interest. Very well. Now my brothers and sisters and fellow - sinners, I am going to conclude with a question, and I&#039;ll make it so plain (with the help of the Lord, after five-and-thirty years, I should rather hope!) as that the Devil shall not be able to confuse it in your heads. Which he would be overjoyed to do.&quot; (&quot;Just his way. Crafty old blackguard!&quot; from Brother Gimblet.) &quot;And the question is this. Are the Angels learned?&quot; (&quot; Not they. Not a bit on it.&quot; From Brother Gimblet, with the greatest confidence.) &quot;Not they. And where&#039;s the proof? Sent ready-made by the hand of the Lord. Why, there&#039;s one among us here now, that has got all the Learning that can be crammed into him. I got him all the Learning that could be crammed into him. His grandfather&quot; (this I had never heard before) &quot;was a Brother of ours. He was Brother Parksop. That&#039;s what he was. Parksop. Brother Parksop. His worldly name was Parksop, and he was a Brother of this Brotherhood. Then wasn&#039;t he Brother Parksop?&quot; (&quot;Must be. Couldn&#039;t help hisself.&quot; From Brother Gimblet.) &quot;Well. He left that one now here present among us, to the care of a Brother-Sinner of his (and that Brother-Sinner, mind you, was a sinner of a bigger size in his time than any of you, Praise the Lord!), Brother Hawkyard. Me. I got him, without fee or reward—without a morsel of myrrh, or frankinsence, nor yet Amber, letting alone the honeycomb—all the Learning that could be crammed into him. Has it brought him into our Temple, in the spirit? No. Have we had any ignorant Brothers and Sisters that didn&#039;t know round O from crooked S, come in among us meanwhile? Many. Then the Angels are not learned. Then they don&#039;t so much as know their alphabet. And now, my friends and fellow-sinners, having brought it to that, perhaps some Brother present—perhaps you, Brother Gimblet—will pray a bit for us?&quot; Brother Gimblet undertook the sacred function, after having drawn his sleeve across his mouth, and muttered: &quot;Well! I don&#039;t know as I see my way to hitting any of you quite in the right place neither.&quot; He said this with a dark smile, and then began to bellow. What we were specially to be preserved from, according to his solicitations, was despoilment of the orphan, suppression of testamentary intentions on the part of a Father or (say) Grandfather, appropriation of the orphan&#039;s house-property, feigning to give in charity to the wronged one from whom we withheld his due; and that class of sins. He ended with the petition, &quot;Give us peace!&quot; Which, speaking for myself, was very much needed after twenty minutes of his bellowing. Even though I had not seen him when he rose from his knees, steaming with perspiration, glance at Brother Hawkyard; and even though I had not heard Brother Hawkyard&#039;s tone of congratulating him on the vigour with which he had roared; I should have detected a malicious application in this prayer. Unformed suspicions to a similar effect had sometimes passed through my mind in my earlier school-days, and had always caused me great distress, for they were worldly in their nature, and wide, very wide, of the spirit that had drawn me from Sylvia. They were sordid suspicions, without a shadow of proof. They were worthy to have originated in the unwholesome cellar. They were not only without proof, but against proof. For, was I not myself a living proof of what Brother Hawkyard had done? And without him, how should I ever have seen the sky look sorrowfully down upon that wretched boy at Hoghton Towers? Although the dread of a relapse into a state of savage selfishness was less strong upon me as I approached manhood, and could act in an increased degree for myself, yet I was always on my guard against any tendency to such relapse. After getting these suspicions under my feet, I had been troubled by not being able to like Brother Hawkyard&#039;s manner, or his professed religion. So it came about, that as I walked back that Sunday evening, I thought it would be an act of reparation for any such injury my struggling thoughts had unwillingly done him, if I wrote, and placed in his hands before going to College, a full acknowledgment of his goodness to me, and an ample tribute of thanks. It might serve as an implied vindication of him against any dark scandal from a rival Brother, and Expounder, or from any other quarter. Accordingly, I wrote the document with much care. I may add with much feeling, too, for it affected me as I went on. Having no set studies to pursue, in the brief interval between leaving the Foundation and going to Cambridge, I determined to walk out to his place of business and give it into his own hands. It was a winter afternoon when I tapped at the door of his little counting-house, which was at the further end of his long low shop. As I did so (having entered by the back yard, where casks and boxes were taken in, and where there was the inscription &quot;Private Way to the Counting-house&quot;), a shopman called to me from the counter that he was engaged. &quot;Brother Gimblet,&quot; said the shopman (who was one of the Brotherhood), &quot;is with him.&quot; I thought this all the better for my purpose, and made bold to tap again. They were talking in a low tone, and money was passing, for I heard it being counted out. &quot;Who is it?&quot; asked Brother Hawkyard, sharply. &quot;George Silverman,&quot; I answered, holding the door open. &quot;May I come in?&quot; Both Brothers seemed so astounded to see me, that I felt shyer than usual. But they looked quite cadaverous in the early gaslight, and perhaps that accidental circumstance exaggerated the expression of their faces. &quot;What is the matter?&quot; asked Brother Hawkyard. &quot;Aye! What is the matter?&quot; asked Brother Gimblet. &quot;Nothing at all,&quot; I said, diffidently producing my document.&quot; I am only the bearer of a letter from myself.&quot; &quot;From yourself, George?&quot; cried Brother Hawkyard. &quot;And to you,&quot; said I. &quot;And to me, George?&quot; He turned paler, and opened it hurriedly; but looking over it, and seeing generally what it was, became less hurried, recovered his colour, and said: &quot;Praise the Lord!&quot; &quot;That&#039;s it!&quot; cried Brother Gimblet. &quot; Well put! Amen.&quot; Brother Hawkyard then said, in a livelier strain: &quot;You must know, George, that Brother Gimblet and I are going to make our two businesses, one. We are going into partnership. We are settling it now. Brother Gimblet is to take one clear half of the profits. (O yes! And he shall have it, he shall have it to the last farthing!)&quot; &quot;D.V.!&quot; said Brother Gimblet, with his right, fist firmly clenched on his right leg. &quot;There is no objection,&quot; pursued Brother Hawkyard, &quot;to my reading this aloud, George?&quot; As it was what I expressly desired should be done, after yesterday&#039;s prayer, I more than readily begged him to read it aloud. He did so, and Brother Gimblet listened with a crabbed smile. &quot;It was in a good hour that I came here,&quot; he said, wrinkling up his eyes. &quot;It was in a good hour likewise, that I was moved yesterday to depict for the terror of evil-doers, a character the direct opposite of Brother Hawkyard&#039;s. But it was the Lord that done it. I felt him at it, while I was perspiring.&quot; After that, it was proposed by both of them that I should attend the congregation once more, before my final departure. What my shy reserve would undergo from being expressly preached at and prayed at, I knew beforehand. But I reflected that it would be for the last time, and that it might add to the weight of my letter. It was well known to the Brothers and Sisters that there was no place taken for me in their Paradise, and if I showed this last token of deference to Brother Hawkyard, notoriously in despite of my own sinful inclinations, it might go some little way in aid of my statement that he had been good to me, and that I was grateful to him. Merely stipulating, therefore, that no express endeavour should be made for my conversion—which would involve the rolling of several Brothers and Sisters on the floor, declaring that they felt all their sins in a heap on their left side, weighing so many pounds avoirdupoise—as I knew from what I had seen of those repulsive mysteries—I promised. Since the reading of my letter, Brother Gimblet had been at intervals wiping one eye with an end of his spotted blue neckerchief, and grinning to himself. It was, howerer, a habit that Brother had, to grin in an ugly manner even while expounding. I call to mind a delighted snarl with which he used to detail from the platform, the torments reserved for the wicked (meaning all human creation, except the Brotherhood), as being remarkably hideous. I left the two to settle their articles of partnership, and count money; and I never saw them again but on the following Sunday. Brother Hawkyard died within two or three years, leaving all he possessed to Brother Gimblet, in virtue of a will dated (as I have been told) that very day. Now, I was so far at rest with myself when Sunday came, knowing that I had conquered my own mistrust, and righted Brother Hawkyard in the jaundiced vision of a rival, that I went, even to that coarse chapel, in a less sensitive state than usual. How could I foresee that the delicate, perhaps the diseased, corner of my mind, where I winced and shrunk when it was touched or was even approached, would be handled as the theme of the whole proceedings? On this occasion, it was assigned to Brother Hawkyard to pray, and to Brother Gimblet to preach. The prayer was to open the ceremonies; the discourse was to come next. Brothers Hawkyard and Gimblet were both on the platform: Brother Hawkyard on his knees at the table, unmusically ready to pray: Brother Gimblet sitting against the wall, grinningly ready to preach. &quot;Let us offer up the sacrifice of prayer, my brothers and sisters and fellow-sinners.&quot; Yes. But it was I who was the sacrifice. It was our poor sinful worldly-minded Brother here present, who was wrestled for. The now-opening career of this our unawakened Brother might lead to his becoming a minister of what was called The Church. That was what he looked to. The Church. Not the chapel, Lord. The Church. No rectors, no vicars, no archdeacons, no bishops, no archbishops, in the chapel; but, O Lord, many such in the Church! Protect our sinful Brother from his love of lucre. Cleanse from our unawakened Brother&#039;s breast, his sin of worldly-mindedness. The prayer said infinitely more in words, but nothing more to any intelligible effect. Then Brother Gimblet came forward, and took (as I knew he would) the text, My kingdom is not of this world. Ah! But whose was, my fellow-sinners? Whose? Why, our Brother&#039;s here present was. The only kingdom he had an idea of, was of this world. (&quot;That&#039;s it!&quot; from several of the congregation.) What did the woman do, when she lost the piece of money? Went and looked for it. What should our brother do when he lost his way? (&quot;Go and look for it,&quot; from a Sister.) Go and look for it. True. But must he look for it in the right direction, or in the wrong? (&quot;In the right,&quot; from a Brother.) There spake the prophets! He must look for it in the right direction, or he couldn&#039;t find it. But he had turned his back upon the right direction, and he wouldn&#039;t find it. Now, my fellow-sinners, to show you the difference betwixt worldly-mindedness and unworldly-mindedness, betwixt kingdoms not of this world and kingdoms of this world, here was a letter wrote by even our worldly-minded Brother unto Brother Hawkyard. Judge, from hearing of it read, whether Brother Hawkyard was the faithful steward that the Lord had in his mind only t&#039;other day, when, in this very place, he drew you the picter of the unfaithful one. For it was him that done it, not me. Don&#039;t doubt that! Brother Gimblet then grinned and bellowed his way through my composition, and subsequently through an hour. The service closed with a hymn, in which the Brothers unanimously roared, and the Sisters unanimously shrieked, at me, that I by wiles of worldly gain was mock&#039;d, and they on waters of sweet love were rock&#039;d; that I with Mammon struggled in the dark, while they were floating in a second Ark. I went out from all this, with an aching heart and a weary spirit; not because I was quite so weak as to consider these narrow creatures, interpreters of the Divine majesty and wisdom; but because I was weak enough to feel as though it were my hard fortune to be misrepresented and misunderstood, when I most tried to subdue any risings of mere worldliness within me, and when I most hoped that, by dint of trying earnestly, I had succeeded.[ATYR]/1868-02-15-George_Silvermans_Explanation_2_ATYR.pdf
224 'George Silverman's Explanation' (<em>ATYR</em>)<span>Published in <em>All the Year Round</em></span><em>,<span>&nbsp;</span></em><span>vol. XIX, no. 458 (1 February 1868), pp. 120-124.</span>Dickens, Charles<em>Dickens Journals Online,</em> <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1868-02-01">1868-02-01</a><span>Scanned material from&nbsp;<em>Dickens Journals Online</em>,&nbsp;</span><a href="" id="LPNoLPOWALinkPreview" contenteditable="false" title=""></a><span>. A</span><span>vailable under CC BY licence.</span><a href=";advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&amp;advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=No.+I+%27George+Silverman%27s+Explanation%27+%28%3Cem%3EAtlantic+Monthly%3C%2Fem%3E%29">No. I 'George Silverman's Explanation' (<em>Atlantic Monthly</em>)</a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Short+story">Short story</a>1868-02-01-George_Silvermans_Explanation_1_ATYRDickens, Charles. No. I 'George Silverman's Explanation' (<em>ATYR</em>). <em>Dickens Search</em>. Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig. <a href="Accessed%20[date].">Accessed [date].</a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=93&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=%3Cem%3EAll+the+Year+Round%3C%2Fem%3E"><em>All the Year Round</em></a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=94&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Periodical">Periodical</a>18680201FIRST CHAPTER. It happened in this wise: —But, sitting with my pen in my hand looking at those words again, without descrying any hint in them of the words that should follow, it comes into my mind that they have an abrupt appearance. They may serve, however, if I let them remain, to suggest how very difficult I find it to begin to explain my Explanation. An uncouth phrase: and yet I do not see my way to a better. SECOND CHAPTER. It happened in this wise: —But, looking at those words, and comparing them with my former opening, I find they are the self-same words repeated. This is the more surprising to me, because I employ them in quite a new connexion. For indeed I declare that my intention was to discard the commencement I first had in my thoughts, and to give the preference to another of an entirely different nature, dating my explanation from an anterior period of my life. I will make a third trial, without erasing this second failure, protesting that it is not my design to conceal any of my infirmities, whether they be of head or heart. THIRD CHAPTER. Not as yet directly aiming at how it came to pass, I will come upon it by degrees. The natural manner after all, for GOD knows that is how it came upon me! My parents were in a miserable condition of life, and my infant home was a cellar in Preston. I recollect the sound of Father&#039;s Lancashire clogs on the street pavement above, as being different in my young hearing from the sound of all other clogs; and I recollect that when Mother came down the cellar-steps, I used tremblingly to speculate on her feet having a good or an ill tempered look—on her knees—on her waist—until finally her face came into view and settled the question. From this it will be seen that I was timid, and that the cellar-steps were steep, and that the doorway was very low. Mother had the gripe and clutch of Poverty upon her face, upon her figure, and not least of all upon her voice. Her sharp and high-pitched words were squeezed out of her, as by the compression of bony fingers on a leathern bag, and she had a way of rolling her eyes about and about the cellar, as she scolded, that was gaunt and hungry. Father, with his shoulders rounded, would sit quiet on a three-legged stool, looking at the empty grate, until she would pluck the stool from under him, and bid him go bring some money home. Then he would dismally ascend the steps, and I, holding my ragged shirt and trousers together with a hand (my only braces), would feint and dodge from Mother&#039;s pursuing grasp at my hair. A worldly little devil was Mother&#039;s usual name for me. Whether I cried for that I was in the dark, or for that it was cold, or for that I was hungry, or whether I squeezed myself into a warm corner when there was a fire, or ate voraciously when there was food, she would still say: &quot;O you worldly little devil!&quot; And the sting of it was, that I quite well knew myself to be a worldly little devil. Worldly as to wanting to be housed and warmed, worldly as to wanting to be fed, worldly as to the greed with which I inwardly compared how much I got of those good things with how much Father and Mother got, when, rarely, those good things were going. Sometimes they both went away seeking work, and then I would be locked up in the cellar for a day or two at a time. I was at my worldliest then. Left alone, I yielded myself up to a worldly yearning for enough of anything (except misery), and for the death of Mother&#039;s father, who was a machine-maker at Birmingham, and on whose decease I had heard Mother say she would come into a whole court-full of houses &quot;if she had her rights.&quot; Worldly little devil, I would stand about, musingly fitting my cold bare feet into cracked bricks and crevices of the damp cellar-floor walking over my grandfather&#039;s body, so to speak, into the court-full of houses, and selling them for meat and drink and clothes to wear. At last a change came down into our cellar. The universal change came down even as low as that—so will it mount to any height on which a human creature can perch—and brought other changes with it. We had a heap of I don&#039;t know what foul litter in the darkest corner, which we called &quot;the bed.&quot; For three days Mother lay upon it without getting up, and then began at times to laugh. If I had ever heard her laugh before, it had been so seldom that the strange sound frightened me. It frightened Father, too, and we took it by turns to give her water. Then she began to move her head from side to side, and sing. After that, she getting no better, Father fell a-laughing and a-singing, and then there was only I to give them both water, and they both died. FOURTH CHAPTER. When I was lifted out of the cellar by two men, of whom one came peeping down alone first, and ran away and brought the other, I could hardly bear the light of the street. I was sitting in the roadway, blinking at it, and at a ring of people collected around me, but not close to me, when, true to my character of worldly little devil, I broke silence by saying, &quot;I am hungry and thirsty!&quot; &quot;Does he know they are dead?&quot; asked one of another. &quot;Do you know your father and mother are both dead of fever?&quot; asked a third of me, severely. &quot;I don&#039;t know what it is to be dead. I supposed it meant that, when the cup rattled against their teeth and the water spilt over them. I am hungry and thirsty.&quot; That was all I had to say about it. The ring of people widened outward from the inner side as I looked around me; and I smelt vinegar, and what I now know to be camphor, thrown in towards where I sat. Presently some one put a great vessel of smoking vinegar on the ground near me, and then they all looked at me in silent horror as I ate and drank of what was brought for me. I knew at the time they had a horror of me, but I couldn&#039;t help it. I was still eating and drinking, and a murmur of discussion had begun to arise respecting what was to be done with me next, when I heard a cracked voice somewhere in the ring say: &quot;My name is Hawkyard, Mr. Verity Hawkyard, of West Bromwich.&quot; Then the ring split in one place, and a yellow-faced peak-nosed gentleman, clad all in iron-grey to his gaiters, pressed forward with a policeman and another official of some sort. He came forward close to the vessel of smoking vinegar; from which he sprinkled himself carefully, and me copiously. &quot;He had a grandfather at Birmingham, this young boy: who is just dead, too,&quot; said Mr. Hawkyard. I turned my eyes upon the speaker, and said in a ravening manner: &quot;Where&#039;s his houses?&quot; &quot;Hah! Horrible worldliness on the edge of the grave,&quot; said Mr. Hawkyard, casting more of the vinegar over me, as if to get my devil out of me. &quot;I have undertaken a slight—a ve-ry slight—trust in behalf of this boy; quite a voluntary trust; a matter of mere honour, if not of mere sentiment; still I have taken it upon myself, and it shall be (O yes, it shall be!) discharged.&quot; The bystanders seemed to form an opinion of this gentleman, much more favourable than their opinion of me. &quot;He shall be taught,&quot; said Mr. Hawkyard &quot;(O yes, he shall be taught!); but what is to be done with him for the present? He may be infected. He may disseminate infection.&quot; The ring widened considerably. &quot;What is to be done with him?&quot; He held some talk with the two officials. I could distinguish no word save &quot;Farm-house.&quot; There was another sound several times repeated, which was wholly meaningless in my ears then, but which I knew soon afterwards to be &quot;Hoghton Towers.&quot; &quot;Yes,&quot; said Mr. Hawkyard, &quot;I think that sounds promising. I think that sounds hopeful. And he can be put by himself in a Ward, for a night or two, you say?&quot; It seemed to be the police-officer who had said so, for it was he who replied Yes. It was he, too, who finally took me by the arm and walked me before him through the streets, into a whitewashed room in a bare building, where I had a chair to sit in, a table to sit at, an iron bedstead and good mattress to lie upon, and a rug and blanket to cover me. Where I had enough to eat, too, and was shown how to clean the tin porringer in which it was conveyed to me, until it was as good as a looking-glass. Here, likewise, I was put in a bath, and had new clothes brought to me, and my old rags were burnt, and I was camphored and vinegared, and disinfected in a variety of ways. When all this was done—I don&#039;t know in how many days or how few, but it matters not—Mr. Hawkyard stepped in at the door, remaining close to it, and said: &quot;Go and stand against the opposite wall, George Silverman. As far off as you can. That&#039;ll do. How do you feel?&quot; I told him that I didn&#039;t feel cold, and didn&#039;t feel hungry, and didn&#039;t feel thirsty. That was the whole round of human feelings, as far as I knew, except the pain of being beaten. &quot;Well,&quot; said he, &quot;you are going, George, to a healthy farm-house to be purified. Keep in the air there, as much as you can. Live an out-of-door life there, until you are fetched away. You had better not say much—in fact, you had better be very careful not to say anything—about what your parents died of, or they might not like to take you in. Behave well, and I&#039;ll put you to school (O yes, I&#039;ll put you to school!), though I am not obligated to do it. I am a servant of the Lord, George, and I have been a good servant to him (I have!) these five-and-thirty years. The Lord has had a good servant in me, and he knows it.&quot; What I then supposed him to mean by this, I cannot imagine. As little do I know when I began to comprehend that he was a prominent member of some obscure denomination or congregation, every member of which held forth to the rest when so inclined, and among whom he was called Brother Hawkyard. It was enough for me to know, on that day in the Ward, that the farmer&#039;s cart was waiting for me at the street corner. I was not slow to get into it, for it was the first ride I ever had in my life. It made me sleepy, and I slept. First, I stared at Preston streets as long as they lasted, and, meanwhile, I may have had some small dumb wondering within me whereabouts our cellar was. But I doubt it. Such a worldly little devil was I, that I took no thought who would bury Father and Mother, or where they would be buried, or when. The question whether the eating and drinking by day, and the covering by night, would be as good at the farm-house as at the Ward, superseded those questions. The jolting of the cart on a loose stony road awoke me, and I found that we were mounting a steep hill, where the road was a rutty by-road through a field. And so, by fragments of an ancient terrace, and by some rugged outbuildings that had once been fortified, and passing under a ruined gateway, we came to the old farm-house in the thick stone wall outside the old quadrangle of Hoghton Towers. Which I looked at, like a stupid savage; seeing no speciality in; seeing no antiquity in; assuming all farm-houses to resemble it; assigning the decay I noticed, to the one potent cause of all ruin that I knew—Poverty; eyeing the pigeons in their flights, the cattle in their stalls, the ducks in the pond, and the fowls pecking about the yard, with a hungry hope that plenty of them might be killed for dinner while I stayed there; wondering whether the scrubbed dairy vessels drying in the sunlight could be the goodly porringers out of which the master ate his belly-filling food, and which he polished when he had done, according to my Ward experience; shrinkingly doubtful whether the shadows passing over that airy height on the bright spring day were not something in the nature of frowns; sordid, afraid, unadmiring, a small Brute to shudder at. To that time I had never had the faintest impression of beauty. I had had no knowledge whatever that there was anything lovely in this life. When I had occasionally slunk up the cellar-steps into the street and glared in at shop-windows, I had done so with no higher feelings than we may suppose to animate a mangey young dog or wolf-cub. It is equally the fact that I had never been alone, in the sense of holding unselfish converse with myself. I had been solitary often enough, but nothing better. Such was my condition when I sat down to my dinner, that day, in the kitchen of the old farm-house. Such was my condition when I lay on my bed in the old farm-house that night, stretched out opposite the narrow mullioned window, in the cold light of the moon, like a young Vampire. FIFTH CHAPTER. What do I know, now, of Hoghton Towers? Very little, for I have been gratefully unwilling to disturb my first impressions. A house, centuries old, on high ground a mile or so removed from the road between Preston and Blackburn, where the first James of England in his hurry to make money by making Baronets, perhaps, made some of those remunerative dignitaries. A house, centuries old, deserted and falling to pieces, its woods and gardens long since grass land or ploughed up, the rivers Ribble and Darwen glancing below it, and a vague haze of smoke against which not even the supernatural prescience of the first Stuart could foresee a Counterblast, hinting at Steam Power, powerful in two distances. What did I know, then, of Hoghton Towers? When I first peeped in at the gate of the lifeless quadrangle, and started from the mouldering statue becoming visible to me like its Guardian Ghost; when I stole round by the back of the farm-house and got in among the ancient rooms, many of them with their floors and ceilings falling, the beams and rafters hanging dangerously down, the plaster dropping as I trod, the oaken panels stripped away, the windows half walled up, half broken; when I discovered a gallery commanding the old kitchen, and looked down between balustrades upon a massive old table and benches, fearing to see I know not what dead-alive creatures come in and seat themselves and look up with I know not what dreadful eyes, or lack of eyes, at me; when all over the house I was awed by gaps and chinks where the sky stared sorrowfully at me, where the birds passed, and the ivy rustled, and the stains of winter weather blotched the rotten floors; when down at the bottom of dark pits of staircase into which the stairs had sunk, green leaves trembled, butterflies fluttered, and bees hummed in and out through the broken doorways; when encircling the whole ruin were sweet scents and sights of fresh green growth and ever-renewing life, that I had never dreamed of;—I say, when I passed into such clouded perception of these things as my dark soul could compass, what did I know then of Hoghton Towers? I have written that the sky stared sorrowfully at me. Therein have I anticipated the answer. I knew that all these things looked sorrowfully at me. That they seemed to sigh or whisper, not without pity for me: &quot;Alas! poor worldly little devil!&quot; There were two or three rats at the bottom of one of the smaller pits of broken staircase when I craned over and looked in. They were scuffling for some prey that was there. And when they started and hid themselves, close together in the dark, I thought of the old life (it had grown old already) in the cellar. How not to be this worldly little devil? How not to have a repugnance towards myself as I had towards the rats? I hid in a corner of one of the smaller chambers, frightened at myself and crying (it was the first time I had ever cried for any cause not purely physical), and I tried to think about it. One of the farm-ploughs came into my range of view just then, and it seemed to help me as it went on with its two horses up and down the field so peacefully and quietly. There was a girl of about my own age in the farm-house family, and she sat opposite to me at the narrow table at meal-times. It had come into my mind at our first dinner, that she might take the fever from me. The thought had not disquieted me then; I had only speculated how she would look under the altered circumstances, and whether she would die. But it came into my mind now, that I might try to prevent her taking the fever, by keeping away from her. I knew I should have but scrambling board, if I did; so much the less worldly and less devilish the deed would be, I thought. From that hour I withdrew myself at early morning into secret corners of the ruined house, and remained hidden there until she went to bed. At first, when meals were ready, I used to hear them calling me; and then my resolution weakened. But I strengthened it again, by going further off into the ruin and getting out of hearing. I often watched for her at the dim windows; and, when I saw that she was fresh and rosy, felt much happier. Out of this holding her in my thoughts, to the humanising of myself, I suppose some childish love arose within me. I felt in some sort dignified by the pride of protecting her, by the pride of making the sacrifice for her. As my heart swelled with that new feeling, it insensibly softened about Mother and Father. It seemed to have been frozen before, and now to be thawed. The old ruin and all the lovely things that haunted it were not sorrowful for me only, but sorrowful for Mother and Father as well. Therefore did I cry again, and often too. The farm-house family conceived me to be of a morose temper, and were very short with me: though they never stinted me in such broken fare as was to be got, out of regular hours. One night when I lifted the kitchen latch at my usual time, Sylvia (that was her pretty name) had but just gone out of the room. Seeing her ascending the opposite stairs, I stood still at the door. She had heard the clink of the latch, and looked round. &quot;George,&quot; she called to me, in a pleased voice: &quot;to-morrow is my birthday, and we are to have a fiddler, and there&#039;s a party of boys and girls coming in a cart, and we shall dance. I invite you. Be sociable for once, George.&quot; &quot;I am very sorry, miss,&quot; I answered, &quot;but I—but no; I can&#039;t come.&quot; &quot;You are a disagreeable, ill-humoured lad,&quot; she returned, disdainfully, &quot;and I ought not to have asked you. I shall never speak to you again.&quot; As I stood with my eyes fixed on the fire after she was gone, I felt that the farmer bent his brows upon me. &quot;Eh, lad,&quot; said he, &quot;Sylvy&#039;s right. You&#039;re as moody and broody a lad as never I set eyes on yet!&quot; I tried to assure him that I meant no harm; but he only said, coldly: &quot;Maybe not, maybe not. There! Get thy supper, get thy supper, and then thou canst sulk to thy heart&#039;s content again.&quot; Ah! If they could have seen me next day in the ruin, watching for the arrival of the cart full of merry young guests; if they could have seen me at night, gliding out from behind the ghostly statue, listening to the music and the fall of dancing feet, and watching the lighted farm-house windows from the quadrangle when all the ruin was dark; if they could have read my heart as I crept up to bed by the back way, comforting myself with the reflection, &quot;They will take no hurt from me;&quot; they would not have thought mine a morose or an unsocial nature! It was in these ways that I began to form a shy disposition; to be of a timidly silent character under misconstruction; to have an inexpressible, perhaps a morbid, dread of ever being sordid or worldly. It was in these ways that my nature came to shape itself to such a mould, even before it was affected by the influences of the studious and retired life of a poor scholar.[ATYR]/1868-02-01-George_Silvermans_Explanation_1_ATYR.pdf
223'<em>Street Sketches</em>, No. I, Omnibuses'Published in <em>The Morning Chronicle </em>(26 September 1834), p.3.Dickens, Charles<em>The British Newspaper Archive,</em> <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=18340926">18340926</a><p><em>The British Newspaper Archive. </em>Some rights reserved. This work permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.</p><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Short+story">Short story</a>1834-09-26-Street_Sketches_No1_OmnibusesDickens, Charles. '<em>Street Sketches</em>, No. I, Omnibuses' (26 September 1834). <em>Dickens Search.</em> Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig. Accessed [date]. <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=93&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=%3Cem%3EThe+Morning+Chronicle%3C%2Fem%3E"><em>The Morning Chronicle</em></a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=94&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Newspaper">Newspaper</a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=95&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=BOZ">BOZ</a>18340926It is very generally allowed that public conveyances afford an extensive field for amusement and observation. Of all the public conveyances that have been constructed since the days of the Ark—we think that is the earliest on record—to the present time, commend us to an omnibus. A long stage is not to be despised; but there you have only six insides, and the chances are, that the same people go all the way with you—there is no change, no variety. Besides, after the first twelve hours or so people get cross and sleepy, and after you have seen a man in his nightcap you lose all respect for him—at least that it is the case with us. Then on smooth roads people frequently get prosy, and tell long stories, and even those who don&#039;t talk may have very unpleasant predilections. We once travelled four hundred miles, inside a stage-coach with a stout man who had a glass of rum and water, warm, handed in at the window at every place where we changed horses. This was decidedly unpleasant. We have also travelled occasionally with a small boy of a pale aspect with light hair, and no perceptible neck, coming up to town from school under the protection of the guard, and directed to be left at the Cross Keys till called for. This is perhaps even worse than rum and water in a close atmosphere. Then there is the whole train of evils consequent on a change of the coachman; and the misery of the discovery—which the guard is sure to make the moment you begin to doze—that he wants a brown-paper parcel, which he distinctly remembers to have deposited under the seat on which you are reposing. A great deal of bustle and groping takes place, and when you are thoroughly awakened, and severely cramped by holding your legs up by an almost supernatural exertion while he is looking behind them, it suddenly occurs to him that he put it in the fore-boot. Bang goes the door, the parcel is immediately found, off starts the coach again, and the guard plays the key-bugle as loud as he can play it, as if in mockery of your wretchedness. Now you meet with none of these afflictions in an omnibus: sameness there can never be; the passengers change as often in the course of one journey as the figures in a kaleidoscope, and though not so glittering, are far more amusing. We believe there is no instance upon record of a man&#039;s having gone to sleep in one of these vehicles. As to long stories; would any man venture to tell a long story in an omnibus? And even if he did, where would be the harm? Nobody could possibly hear what he was talking about. Again; children, though occasionally, are not often to be found in an omnibus, and even when they are, if the vehicle be full, as is generally the case, somebody sits upon them, and we are unconscious of their presence. Yes, after mature reflection, and considerable experience, we are decidedly of opinion that of all known vehicles, from the glass coach in which we were taken to be christened, to that sombre caravan in which we must one day make our last earthly journey, there is nothing like an omnibus. We will back the machine in which we make our daily peregrination from the top of Oxford-street to the City, against any &quot;bus&quot; on the road, whether it be for the gaudiness of its exterior, the perfect simplicity of its interior, or the native coolness of its cad. This young gentleman is a singular instance of self-devotion; his somewhat intemperate zeal on behalf of his employers, is constantly getting him into trouble, and occasionally into the House of Correction. He is no sooner emancipated, however, than he resumes the duties of his profession with unabated ardour. His principal distinction is his activity. His great boast is, &quot;that he can chuck an old gen&#039;lm&#039;n into the bus, shut him in, and rattle off, afore he knows where it&#039;s a-going to&quot;—a feat which he frequently performs to the infinite amusement of every one but the old gentleman concerned, who, somehow or other, never can see the joke of the thing. We are not aware that it has ever been precisely ascertained, how many passengers our omnibus will contain. The impression on the cad&#039;s mind evidently is, that it is amply sufficient for the accommodation of any number of persons that can be enticed into it. &quot;Any room?&quot; cries a very hot pedestrian. &quot;Plenty o&#039; room, sir,&quot; replies the conductor, gradually opening the door, and not disclosing the real state of the case till the wretched man is on the steps. &quot;Where?&quot; inquires the entrapped individual, with an attempt to back out again. &quot;Either side, sir,&quot; rejoins the cad, shoving him in, and slamming the door. &quot;All right, Bill.&quot; Retreat is impossible; the new comer rolls about, till he falls down somewhere, and there he stops. As we get into the city, a little before ten, four or five of our party are regular passengers. We always take them up at the same places, and they generally occupy the same seats; they are always dressed in the same manner, and invariably discuss the same topics—the increasing rapidity of cabs, and the disregard of moral obligations evinced by omnibus men. There is a little testy old man, with a powdered head, who always sits on the right-hand side of the door as you enter, with his hands folded on the top of his umbrella. He is extremely impatient, and sits there for the purpose of keeping a sharp eye on the cad, with whom he generally holds a running dialogue. He is very officious in helping people in and out, and always volunteers to give the cad a poke with his umbrella, when any one wants to alight. He usually recommends ladies to have sixpence ready to prevent delay; and if anybody puts a window down, that he can reach, he immediately puts it up again. &quot;Now, what are you stopping for?&quot; says the little man every morning, the moment there is the slightest indication of pulling up at the corner of Regent-street, when some such dialogue as the following takes place between him and the cad:—&quot;What are you stopping for?&quot; Here the cad whistles, and affects not to hear the question. &quot;I say [a poke], what are you stopping for?&quot; &quot;For passengers, sir. Ba—nk.—Ty.&quot; &quot;I know you&#039;re stopping for passengers; but you&#039;ve no business to do so. Why are you stopping?&quot; &quot;Vy, sir, it&#039;s rayther a difficult question. I think it is because we prefer stopping here to going on.&quot; &quot;Now mind,&quot; exclaims the little old man with great vehemence, &quot;I&#039;ll pull you up to-morrow; I&#039;ve often threatened to do it; now I will.&quot; &quot;Thankee, sir,&quot; replies the cad, touching his hat with a mock expression of gratitude;—&quot;werry much obliged to you indeed, sir.&quot; Here the young men in the omnibus laugh very heartily, and the old gentleman gets very red in the face, and seems highly exasperated. The stout gentleman in the white neckcloth, at the other end of the vehicle, looks very prophetic, and says that something must shortly be done with these fellows, or there&#039;s no saying where all this will end; and the shabby-genteel man with the green bag, expresses his entire concurrence in the opinion, as he has done regularly every morning for the last six months. A second omnibus now comes up, and stops immediately behind us. Another old gentleman elevates his cane in the air, and runs with all his might towards our omnibus; we watch his progress with great interest; the door is opened to receive him, he suddenly disappears—he has been spirited away by the opposition. Hereupon the driver of the opposition taunts our people with his having &quot;regularly done &#039;em out of that old swell,&quot; and the voice of the &quot;old swell&quot; is heard, vainly protesting against this unlawful detention. We rattle off, the other omnibus rattles after us, and every time we stop to take up a passenger, they stop to take him too; sometimes we get him; sometimes they get him; but whoever don&#039;t get him say they ought to have had him, and the cads of the respective vehicles abuse one another accordingly. As we arrive in the vicinity of Lincoln&#039;s Inn-fields, Bedford-row, and other legal haunts, we drop a great many of our original passengers, and take up fresh ones, who meet with a very sulky reception. It is rather remarkable, that the people already in an omnibus always look at new comers, as if they entertained some undefined idea that they have no business to come in at all. We are quite persuaded the little old man has some notion of this kind—that he considers their entry as a sort of negative impertinence. Conversation is now entirely dropped; each person gazes vacantly through the window in front of him, and everybody thinks that his opposite neighbour is staring at him. If one man gets out at Shoe-lane and another at the corner of Farringdon-street, the little old gentleman grumbles, and suggests to the latter that if he had got out at Shoo-lane too, he would have saved them the delay of another stoppage; whereupon the young men laugh again, and the old gentleman looks very solemn, and says nothing more till he gets to the Bank, when he trots off as fast as he can, leaving us to do the same, and to wish, as we walk away, that we could impart to others any portion of the amusement we have derived for ourselves.
222'<em>Street Sketches</em>, No. IV, Shabby-genteel People'Published in <em>The Morning Chronicle </em>(5 November 1834), p.3.Dickens, Charles<em>The British Newspaper Archive,</em> <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1834-11-05">1834-11-05</a><p><em>The British Newspaper Archive. </em>Some rights reserved. This work permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.</p><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Short+story">Short story</a>1834-11-05-Street_Sketches_No4_Shabby-Genteel_PeopleDickens, Charles. '<em>Street Sketches</em>, No. IV, Shabby-genteel People' (5 November 1834). <em>Dickens Search.</em> Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig. Accessed [date]. <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=93&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=%3Cem%3EThe+Morning+Chronicle%3C%2Fem%3E"><em>The Morning Chronicle</em></a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=94&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Newspaper">Newspaper</a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=95&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=BOZ">BOZ</a>18341105There are certain descriptions of people who, oddly enough, appear to appertain exclusively to the metropolis. You meet them every day in the streets of London, but no one ever encounters them elsewhere; they seem indigenous to the soil, and to belong as exclusively to London as its own smoke, or the dingy bricks and mortar. We could illustrate the remark by a variety of examples, but in our present sketch we will only advert to one class as a specimen—that class which is so aptly and expressively designated as &quot;shabby-genteel.&quot; Now, shabby people, God knows, may be found anywhere, and genteel people are not articles of greater scarcity out of London, than in it: but this compound of the two—this shabby-gentility—is as purely local as the statue at Charing-cross, or the pump at Aldgate. It is worthy of remark, too, that only men are shabby-genteel; a woman is always either dirty and slovenly in the extreme, or neat and respectable, however poverty-stricken in appearance. A very poor man, &quot;who has seen better days,&quot; as the phrase goes, is a strange compound of dirty slovenliness and wretched attempts at a kind of faded smartness. We will endeavour to explain our conception of the term which forms the title of this paper. If you meet a man lounging up Drury-lane, or leaning with his back against a post in Long-acre, with his hands in the pockets of a pair of drab trowsers plentifully besprinkled with grease spots, the trousers made very full over the boot, and ornamented with two cords down the outside of each leg—wearing also what has been a brown coat with bright buttons, and a hat very much pinched up at the sides, cocked over his right eye—don’t pity him; he is not shabby-genteel. The &quot;harmonic meetings&quot; at some fourth-rate public-house, or the purlieus of a private theatre, are his chosen haunts; he entertains a rooted antipathy to any kind of work, and is on familiar terms with several pantomime-men at the large houses. But, if you see hurrying along a bye street, keeping as close as he can to the area railings, a man of about 50 or 50, clad in an old rusty suit of threadbare black cloth, which shines with constant wear, as if it had been bees-waxed, the trowsers tightly strapped down, partly for the look of the thing, and partly to keep his old shoes from slipping off at the heels; if you observe, too, that his yellowish-white neck-kerchief is carefully pinned down, and his waistcoat as carefully pinned up, to conceal the tattered garment underneath, and that his hands are encased in the remains of an old pair of beaver gloves, you may set him down as a shabby-genteel man. A glance at that depressed face, and timorous air of conscious poverty, will make your heart ache—always supposing that you are neither a philosopher, nor a political economist. We were once haunted by a shabby-genteel man; he was bodily present to our senses all day, and he was in our mind’s eye all night. The man of whom Walter Scott speaks in his Demonology, did not suffer half the persecution from his imaginary gentleman-usher in black velvet, that we sustained from our friend in quondam black cloth. He first attracted our notice by sitting opposite to us in the reading-room at the British Museum, and what made the man more remarkable was, that he always had before him a couple of shabby-genteel books—two old dogs-eared folios, in mouldy worm-eaten covers, which had once been smart. He was in his chair every morning just as the clock struck ten; he was always the last to leave the room in the afternoon; and when he did, he quitted it with the air of a man who knew not where else to go for warmth and quiet. There he used to sit all day, as close to the table as possible, in order to conceal the lack of buttons on his coat, with his old hat carefully deposited at his feet, where he evidently flattered himself it escaped observation. About two o’clock you would see him munching a French roll or a penny loaf—not taking it boldly out of his pocket at once, like a man who knew he was only making a lunch, but breaking off little bits in his pocket, and eating them by stealth. He knew too well it was his dinner. When we first saw this poor object, we thought it quite impossible that his attire could ever become worse. We even went so far as to speculate on the possibility of his shortly appearing in a decent second-hand suit. We knew nothing about the matter; he grew more and more shabby genteel every day. The buttons dropped off his waistcoat one by one; then he buttoned his coat; and when one side of the coat was reduced to the same condition as the waistcoat, he buttoned it over on the other side. He looked somewhat better at the beginning of the week than at the conclusion, because the neck-kerchief, though yellow, was not quite so dingy; and in the midst of all this wretchedness he never appeared without gloves and straps. He remained in this state for a week or two; at length one of the buttons on the back of the coat fell off, and then the man himself disappeared, and we thought he was dead. We were sitting at the same table about a week after his disappearance, and as our eyes rested on his vacant chair, we insensibly fell into a train of meditation on the subject of his retirement from public life. We were wondering whether he had hung himself or thrown himself off a bridge—whether he really was dead, or had only been arrested—when our conjectures were suddenly set at rest by the entry of the man himself. He had undergone some strange metamorphosis, and walked up the centre of the room with an air which showed he was fully conscious of the improvement in his appearance. It was very odd; his clothes were a fine, deep, glossy black, and yet they looked like the same suit; nay, there were the very darns, with which old acquaintance had made us familiar. The hat, too—nobody could mistake the shape of that hat, with its high crown, gradually increasing in circumference towards the top. Long service had imparted to it a reddish-brown tint, but now it was as black as the coat. The truth flashed suddenly upon us—they had been &quot;revived.&quot; &#039;Tis a deceitful liquid that black and blue reviver; we have watched its effects on many a shabby-genteel man. It betrays its victims into a temporary assumption of importance, possibly into the purchase of a new pair of gloves, or a cheap stock, or some other trifling article of dress. It elevates their spirits for a week, only to depress them, if possible, below their original level. It was so in this case; the transient dignity of the unhappy man decreased in exact proportion as the &quot;reviver&quot; wore off. The knees of the unmentionables, and the elbows of the coat, and the seams generally, soon began to get alarmingly white; the hat was once more deposited under the table, and its owner crept into his seat as quietly as ever. There was a week of incessant small rain and mist. At its expiration the &quot;reviver&quot; had entirely vanished, and the shabby-genteel man never afterwards attempted to effect any improvement in his outward appearance. It would be difficult to name any particular part of town as the principal resort of shabby-genteel men. We have met a great many persons of this description in the neighbourhood of the Inns of Court. They may be met with in Holborn, between eight and ten any morning; and whoever has the curiosity to enter the Insolvent Debtors’ Court, will observe, both among spectators and practitioners, a great variety of them. We never went on ‘Change, by any chance, without seeing some shabby-genteel men, and we have often wondered what earthly business they can have there. They will sit there for hours, leaning on great, dropsical, mildewed umbrellas, or eating Abernethy biscuits; nobody speaks to them, nor they to any one. On consideration, we remember to have occasionally seen two shabby-genteel men conversing together on ‘Change; but our experience assures us that this is an uncommon circumstance, occasioned by the offer of a pinch of snuff, or some such civility. It would be a task of equal difficulty either to assign any particular spot for the residence of these beings, or to endeavour to enumerate their general occupations. We were never engaged in business with more than one shabby-genteel man; and he was a drunken engraver, and lived in a damp back parlour, in a new row of houses at Camden-town, half street, half brick-field, somewhere near the canal. A shabby-genteel man may have no occupation at all, or he may be a corn agent, or a coal agent, or a wine agent, or a collector of debts, or a broker’s assistant, or a broken-down attorney. He may be a clerk of the lowest description, or a contributor to the press of the same grade. Whether our readers have noticed these men in their walks as often as we have, we know not; this we know—that the miserably poor man (no matter whether he owes his distresses to his own conduct, or that of others) who feels his poverty, and vainly strives to conceal it, is one of the most pitiable objects in human nature. Such objects, with few exceptions, are &quot;shabby-genteel people.&quot;
221'<em>Street Sketches</em>, No. II, Shops, and Their Tenants'Published in <em>The Morning Chronicle </em>(10 October 1834), p.3.Dickens, Charles.<em>The British Newspaper Archive,</em> <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1834-10-10">1834-10-10</a><p><em>The British Newspaper Archive. </em>Some rights reserved. This work permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.</p><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Short+story">Short story</a>1834-10-10-Street_Sketches_No2_Shops_and_Their_TenantsDickens, Charles. '<em>Street Sketches</em>, No.II, Shops, and Their Tenants' (10 October 1834). <em>Dickens Search.</em> Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig. Accessed [date]. <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=93&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=%3Cem%3EThe+Morning+Chronicle%3C%2Fem%3E"><em>The Morning Chronicle</em></a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=94&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Newspaper">Newspaper</a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=95&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=BOZ">BOZ</a>18341010What inexhaustible food for speculation do the streets of London afford! We never were able to agree with Sterne in pitying the man who could travel from Dan to Beersheba, and say that all was barren; we have not the slightest commiseration for the man who can take up his hat and stick, and walk from Covent-garden to St. Paul’s Church-yard, and back into the bargain, without deriving some amusement—we had almost said instruction—from his perambulation. And yet there are such beings: we meet them every day. Large black stocks and light waistcoats—jet canes and discontented countenances, are the characteristics of the race; other people brush quickly by you, steadily plodding on to business, or cheerfully running after pleasure; these men linger listlessly past, looking as happy and animated as a policeman on duty; nothing seems to make an impression on their minds: nothing short of being knocked down by a porter, or run over by a cab, will disturb their equanimity. You will meet them on a fine day in any of the leading thoroughfares: peep through the window of a west-end cigar-shop in the evening, if you can manage to get a glimpse between the blue curtains which intercept the vulgar gaze, and you see them in their only enjoyment of existence. There they are, lounging about on round tubs, and pipe-boxes, in all the dignity of whiskers, and gilt watch-guards; whispering soft nothings to the young lady in amber, with the large ear-rings, who, as she sits behind the counter in a blaze of adoration and gas-light, is the admiration of all the female servants in the neighbourhood; and the envy of every milliner’s apprentice within two miles round. One of our principal amusements is to watch the gradual progress—the rise or fall—of particular shops. We have formed an intimate acquaintance with several, in different parts of town, and are perfectly acquainted with their whole history. We could name off-hand, twenty at least, which we are quite sure have paid no taxes for the last six years. They are never inhabited for more than two months consecutively, and we verily believe have witnessed every retail trade in the directory. There is one, whose history is a sample of the rest, in whose fate we have taken especial interest, having had the pleasure of knowing it ever since it has been a shop. It is on the Surrey side of the water—a little distance beyond the Marsh-gate. It was, originally, a substantial good-looking private house enough; the landlord got into difficulties; the house got into Chancery; the tenant went away; and the house went to ruin. At this period our acquaintance with it commenced: the paint was all worn off; the windows were broken, the area was green with neglect and the overflowings of the water-butt; the butt itself was without a lid, and the street-door was the very picture of misery. The chief pastime of the children in the vicinity had been to assemble in a body on the steps, and take it in turn to knock loud double knocks at the door, to the great satisfaction of the neighbours generally, and especially of the nervous old lady next door but one. Numerous complaints were made, and several small basins of water discharged over the offenders, but without effect; in this state of things the marine-store dealer at the corner of the street, in the most obliging manner, took the knocker off, and sold it; and the unfortunate house looked more wretched than ever. We deserted our friend for a few weeks. What was our surprize, on our return, to find no trace of its existence! In its place was a handsome shop, fast approaching to a state of completion, and on the shutters were large bills, informing the public that it would shortly be opened with &quot;an extensive stock of linen-drapery and haberdashery.&quot; It opened in due course; there was the name of the proprietor &quot;and co.&quot; in gilt letters, almost too dazzling to look at. Such ribbons and shawls! and two such elegant young men behind the counter, each in a clean collar and white neck-cloth, like the lover in a farce. As to the proprietor, he did nothing but walk up and down the shop, and hand seats to the ladies, and hold important conversations with the handsomest of the young men, who was shrewdly suspected by the neighbours to be the &quot;co.&quot; We saw all this with sorrow; we felt a fatal presentiment that the shop was doomed—and so it was. Its decay was gradual, but sure. Tickets gradually appeared in the windows; then, rolls of flannel, with labels on them, were stuck outside the door; then a bill was pasted on the street-door, intimating that the first-floor was to let unfurnished; then one of the young men disappeared altogether, and the other took to a black neck-kerchief, and the proprietor took to drinking. The shop became dirty, broken panes of glass remained unmended, and the stock disappeared piecemeal. At last the Company’s man came to cut off the water, and then the linen-draper cut off himself, leaving the landlord his compliments and the key. The next occupant was a fancy stationer; the shop was more modestly painted than before, still it was neat; but somehow we always thought, as we passed, that it looked like a poor and struggling concern. We wished the man well, but we trembled for his success. He was a widower evidently, and had employment elsewhere; for he passed us every morning on his road to the city. The business was carried on by his eldest daughter. Poor girl! she needed no assistance. We occasionally caught a glimpse of two or three children, in mourning like herself, as they sat in the little parlour behind the shop; and we never passed at night without seeing the eldest girl at work, either for them, or in making some elegant little trifle for sale. We often thought, as her pale face looked more sad and pensive in the dim candle-light, that if those thoughtless females who interfere with the miserable market of poor creatures such as these, knew but one half of the misery they suffer, and the bitter privations they endure, in their honourable attempts to earn a scanty subsistence, they would, perhaps, resign even opportunities for the gratification of vanity and an unmodest love of self-display, rather than drive them to a last dreadful resource, which it would shock the delicate feelings of these charitable ladies to hear named. But we are forgetting the shop. Well, we continued to watch it; and every day showed too clearly, the increasing poverty of its inmates. The children were clean, it is true, but their clothes were threadbare and shabby; no tenant had been procured for the upper part of the house, from the letting of which, a portion of the means of paying the rent was to have been derived, and a slow, wasting consumption prevented the eldest girl from continuing her exertions. Quarter-day arrived; the landlord had suffered from the extravagance of his last tenant, and he had no compassion for the struggles of his successor; he put in an execution. As we passed one morning, the broker’s men were removing the little furniture there was in the house, and a newly posted bill informed us it was again &quot;To Let.&quot; What became of the last tenant we never could learn, we believe the girl is past all suffering, and beyond all sorrow. God help her! We hope she is. We were somewhat curious to ascertain what would be the next stage—for that the place had no chance of succeeding now, was perfectly clear. The bill was soon taken down, and some alterations were being made in the interior of the shop, we were in a fever of expectation; we exhausted conjecture—we imagined all possible trades, none of which were perfectly reconcilable with our idea of the gradual decay of the tenement. It opened, and we wondered why we had not guessed at the real state of the case before. The shop—not a large one at the best of times, had been converted into two, one was a bonnet-shape maker’s, the other was opened by a tobacconist, who also dealt in walking-sticks, and Sunday newspapers; the two were separated by a thin partition, covered with tawdry striped paper. The tobacconist remained in possession longer than any tenant within our recollection. He was a red-faced, impudent, good-for-nothing dog, evidently accustomed to take things as they came, and to make the best of a bad job. He sold as many cigars as he could, and smoked the rest. He occupied the shop as long as he could make peace with the landlord, and when he could no longer live in quiet, he very coolly locked the door, and bolted himself. From this period the two little dens have undergone innumerable changes; the tobacconist was succeeded by a theatrical hair-dresser, who ornamented the window with a great variety of &quot;characters,&quot; and terrific combats. The bonnet-shape maker gave place to a green-grocer, and the histrionic barber was succeeded in his turn by a tailor. So numerous have been the changes, that we have of late done little more than mark the peculiar but certain indications of a house being poorly inhabited; it has been progressing by almost imperceptible degrees. The occupiers of the shops have gradually given up room after room, until they have only reserved the little parlour for themselves. First there appeared a brass-plate on the private door with &quot;Ladies School&quot; legibly engraved thereon; shortly afterwards we observed a second brass-plate; then a bell, and then another bell. When we paused in front of our old friend, and observed these signs of poverty, which are not to be mistaken, we thought, as we turned away, that the house had attained its lowest pitch of degradation. We were wrong. When we last passed it, a &quot;dairy&quot; was established in the area, and a party of melancholy-looking fowls were amusing themselves by running in at the front door, and out at the back one.
220<em>'Street Sketches,</em> No. V, Brokers and Marine Store Shops'Published in <em>The Morning Chronicle</em> on 15 December 1834.Dickens, Charles<em>The British Newspaper Archive,</em> <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1834-12-15">1834-12-15</a><p><em>The British Newspaper Archive. </em>Some rights reserved. This work permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.</p><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Short+story">Short story</a>1834-12-15-Street_Sketches_No5_Brokers_and_Marine_Store_ShopsDickens, Charles. '<em>Street Sketches</em>, No. V, Brokers and Marine Store Shops' (15 December 1834). <em>Dickens Search.</em> Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig. Accessed [date]. <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=93&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=%3Cem%3EThe+Morning+Chronicle%3C%2Fem%3E"><em>The Morning Chronicle</em></a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=94&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Newspaper">Newspaper</a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=95&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=BOZ">BOZ</a>18341215When we affirm that brokers’ shops are strange places, and that if an authentic history of their contents could be procured, it would furnish many a page of amusement, and many a melancholy tale, it is necessary to explain the class of shops to which we allude. Perhaps when we make use of the term &quot;brokers’ shops,&quot; the minds of our readers will at once picture large, handsome warehouses, exhibiting a long perspective of French-polished dining-tables, rosewood chiffoniers, and mahogany wash-hand stands, with an occasional vista of a four-post bedstead and hangings, and an appropriate fore-ground of dining-room chairs. Perhaps they will imagine that we mean an humble class of second-hand furniture repositories. Their imagination will then naturally lead them to that street at the back of Long-acre, which is composed almost entirely of brokers’ shops, where you walk through groves of deceitful, showy-looking furniture, and where the prospect is occasionally enlivened by a bright red, blue, and yellow hearth-rug, embellished with the pleasing device of a mail-coach at full speed, or a strange animal, supposed to have been originally intended for a dog, with a mass of worsted-work in his mouth, which conjecture has likened to a basket of flowers. This, by-the-bye, is a tempting article to young wives in the humbler ranks of life, who have a first-floor front to furnish; they are lost in admiration, and hardly know which to admire most. The dog is very beautiful, but they have a dog already on the best tea-tray, and two more on the mantel piece. Then there is something so genteel about that mail-coach; and the passengers outside (who are all hat) give it such an air of reality! There are some of the most beautiful looking Pembroke tables that ever were beheld: the wood as green as the trees in the Park, and the leaves almost as certain to fall off in the course of a year. There is also a most extensive assortment of tent and turn-up bedsteads, made of stained wood; and innumerable specimens of that base Imposition on society—a sofa bedstead. A turn-up bedstead is a blunt, honest piece of furniture; it may be slightly disguised with a sham drawer, and sometimes a mad attempt is even made to pass it off for a book-case; ornament it as you will, however, the turn-up bedstead seems to defy disguise, and to insist on having it distinctly understood that he is a turn-up bedstead, and nothing else; that he is indispensably necessary; and that, being so useful, he disdains to be ornamental. How different is the demeanour of a sofa-bedstead! Ashamed of its real use, it strives to appear an article of luxury and gentility, an attempt in which it miserably fails. It has neither the respectability of a sofa, nor the virtues of a bed; every man who keeps a sofa-bedstead in his house, becomes a party to a wilful and designing fraud—we question whether you could insult him more than by insinuating that you entertain the least suspicion of its real use. To return from this digression, we beg to say, that neither of these classes of brokers’ shops forms the subject of our fifth sketch. The shops to which we advert, are immeasurably inferior to those on whose outward appearance we have slightly touched. Our readers must often have observed in some bye-street in a poor neighbourhood, a small, dirty shop, exposing for sale the most extraordinary and confused jumble of old, worn-out, wretched articles, that can well be imagined. Our wonder at their ever having been bought, is only to be equalled by our astonishment at the idea of their ever being sold again. On a board, at the side of the door, are placed about twenty books—all odd volumes, and as many wine-glasses—all different patterns; several locks, an old earthen-ware pan, full of rusty keys; two or three gaudy chimney-ornaments—cracked, of course; the remains of a lustre, without any drops, a round frame like a capital O, which has once held a mirror; a flute, complete, with the exception of the middle joint; a pair of curling-irons, and a tinder-box. In front of the shop-window, are ranged some half-dozen high-backed chairs, with spinal complaints and wasted legs; a corner cupboard; two or three very dark mahogany tables, with flaps like mathematical problems; some pickle jars, some surgeons’ ditto, with gilt labels, and without stoppers; an unframed portrait of some lady who flourished about the beginning of the thirteenth century, by an artist who never flourished at all; an incalculable host of miscellanies of every description; including bottles and cabinets, rags and bones, fenders and street-door knockers, fire irons, wearing apparel and bedding, a hall-lamp, and a room-door. Imagine, in addition to this incongruous mass, a black doll in a white frock with two faces, one looking up the street, and the other looking down, swinging over the door; a board with the squeezed-up inscription &quot;Dealer in Marine Stores,&quot; in lanky white letters, whose height is strangely out of proportion to their width; and you have before you precisely the kind of shop to which we wish to direct your attention. Although the same heterogeneous mixture of things which we have attempted to describe, will be found at all these places, it is curious to observe how truly and accurately some of the minor articles which are exposed for sale—articles of wearing apparel, for instance—mark the character of the neighbourhood. Take Drury-Lane and Covent-garden for example. This is essentially a theatrical neighbourhood. There is not a pot-boy in the vicinity who is not, to a greater or less extent, a dramatic character. The errand-boys and chandler’s-shop-keepers’ sons, are all stage-struck; they &quot;get up&quot; plays in back kitchens hired for the purpose, and will stand before a shop window for hours, contemplating a great staring portrait of Mr. Somebody or other, of the Royal Coburg Theatre, &quot;as he appeared in the character of Tongo the Denouncer.&quot; The consequence is, that there is not a marine-store shop in the neighbourhood which does not exhibit for sale some faded articles of dramatic finery, such as three or four pairs of soiled buff boots with turn-over red tops, heretofore worn by a &quot;fourth robber&quot; or &quot;fifth mob;&quot; a pair of rusty broad swords, a few gauntlets, and certain resplendent ornaments, which, if they were yellow instead of white, might be taken for insurance plates of the Sun Fire-office. There are several of these shops in the narrow streets and dirty courts, of which there are so many near our national Theatres, and they all have tempting goods of this description; with the addition, perhaps, of a lady’s pink dress, covered with spangles, white wreaths, stage shoes, and a tiara like a tin lamp-reflector. They have been purchased of some wretched supernumeraries, or sixth-rate actors, and are now offered for the benefit of the rising generation, who, on condition of making certain weekly payments, amounting in the whole to about ten times their value, may avail themselves of such desirable bargains. Let us take a very different quarter, and apply it to the test. Look at a marine store-dealer’s in that reservoir of dirt, drunkenness, and drabs, thieves, oysters, baked potatoes, and pickled salmon—Ratcliff-highway. Here, the wearing-apparel is all nautical: rough blue jackets, with mother-of-pearl buttons, oilskin hats, coarse checked shirts, and large canvass trousers, that look as if they were made for a pair of bodies instead of a pair of legs, are the staple commodities. Then there are large bunches of cotton pocket-handkerchiefs, in colour and pattern unlike any one ever saw before, with the exception of those on the backs of the three young ladies without bonnets who passed just now. The furniture is much the same as elsewhere, with the addition of one or two models of ships, and some old prints of naval engagements, in still older frames. In the window are a few compasses, and a small tray containing silver watches, in clumsy thick cases, and tobacco-boxes, the lid of each ornamented with a ship or an anchor, or some such trophy. A sailor generally pawns or sells all he has before he has been long ashore; and if he does not, some favoured companion kindly saves him the trouble. In either case it is an even chance that he afterwards unconsciously re-purchases the same things at a higher price than he gave for them at first. Again; pay a visit with a similar object, to a part of London, as unlike both of these as they are to each other. Cross over to the Surrey side, and look at such shops of this description as are to be found near the King’s Bench Prison, and in &quot;The Rules.&quot; How different, and how strikingly illustrative of the decay of some of the unfortunate residents in this part of the metropolis! Imprisonment and neglect have done their work: there is contamination in the profligate denizens of a debtor’s prison; old friends have fallen off; the recollection of former prosperity has passed away, and with it all thought of the past, all care for the future. First, watches and rings, then cloaks, coats, and all the more expensive articles of dress, have found their way to the pawnbroker’s. That miserable resource has failed at last, and the sale of some trifling article at one of these shops, has been the only mode left of raising a shilling or two, to meet the urgent demands of the moment. Dressing-cases, and writing-desks, too old to pawn, but too good to keep, guns, fishing-rods, musical instruments, in the same condition, have been first sold, and the sacrifice has been but slightly felt. But hunger must be allayed, and what has already become a habit is easily resorted to when an emergency arises. Light articles of clothing, first of the ruined man, then of his wife, at last of their children, even of the youngest, have been parted with piece-meal. There they are, thrown carelessly together, until a purchaser presents himself; old and patched, and repaired, it is true, but the make and materials tell of better days; and the older they are, the greater the misery and destitution of those whom they once adorned. We had intended to sketch this subject less in outline than is customary with us. We are, however, unwilling to exceed our ordinary limits, or to trespass at greater length than usual on the patience of our readers. We have more of these imperfect sketches to submit for their perusal; and as we hope to have many opportunies—when the partial absence of matter of pressing and absorbing interest again enables us to occupy a column occasionally—of laying our pen-and-ink drawings before them, we postpone the further consideration of this subject until a future time.
219'The Hospital Patient'Published in <em>The Carlton Chronicle,</em> 6 August 1836, pp. 11.Dickens, Charles<em>Newspaper Archive,</em> <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1836-08-06">1836-08-06</a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Short+story">Short story</a>1836-08-06-The_Hospital_PatientA brief preface states,<em> 'LEAVES from an unpublished volume. By "BOZ," (which will be torn out once a fortnight).</em>Dickens, Charles. 'The Hospital Patient' (6 August 1836). <em>Dickens Search.</em> Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig. Accessed [date]. <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=93&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=%3Cem%3EThe+Carlton+Chronicle%3C%2Fem%3E"><em>The Carlton Chronicle</em></a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=94&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Newspaper">Newspaper</a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=95&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=BOZ">BOZ</a>18360806In my rambles through the streets of London after evening has set in, I have often paused beneath the windows of some public hospital, and picture to myself the gloomy and mournful scenes that were passing within. The sudden moving of a taper as its feeble ray shot from window after window, until its light gradually disappeared, as if it were carried further back into the room to the bedside of some suffering patient, has been enough to awaken a whole crowd of reflections; the mere glimmering of the low-burning lamps which when all other habitations are wrapped in darkness and slumber, denote the chamber where so many forms are writhing with pain, or wasting with disease, has been sufficient to check the most boisterous merriment. Who can tell the anguish of those weary hours, when the only sound the sick man hears, is the disjointed wanderings of some feverish slumberer near him, the low moan of pain, or perhaps the muttered, long-forgotten prayer of a dying man? Who, but they who have felt it, can imagine the sense of loneliness and desolation which must be the portion of those who in the hour of dangerous illness are left to be tended by strangers,—what hands, be they ever so gentle, can wipe the clammy brow, or smooth the restless bed, like those of mother, wife, or child? Impressed with these thoughts, I have turned away through the nearly-deserted streets; and the sight of the few miserable creatures still hovering about them, has not tended to lessen the pain which such meditations awaken. The hospital is a refuge and resting-place for hundreds, who but for such institutions must die in the streets and doorways; but what can be the feelings of outcasts like these, when they are stretched on the bed of sickness with scarcely a hope of recovery? The wretched woman who lingers about the pavement, hours after midnight, and the miserable shadow of a man—the ghastly remnant that want and drunkenness have left—which crouches beneath a window-ledge, to sleep where there is some shelter from the rain, have little to bind them to life, but what have they to look back upon, in death? What are the unwonted comforts of a roof and a bed to them, when the recollections of a whole life of debasement, stalk before them; when repentance seems a mockery, and sorrow comes too late? About a twelvemonth ago, as I was strolling through Covent Garden (I had been thinking about these things overnight), I was attracted by the very prepossessing appearance of a pickpocket, who having declined to take the trouble of walking to the Police Office, on the ground that he hadn&#039;t the slightest wish to go there at all, was being conveyed thither in a wheelbarrow, to the huge delight of a crowd, but apparently not very much to his own individual gratification. Somehow, I never can resist joining a crowd—nature certainly intended me for a vagabond—so I turned back with the mob, and entered the office, in company with my friend the pickpocket, a couple of policemen, and as many dirty-faced spectators as could squeeze their way in. There was a powerful, ill-looking young fellow at the bar, who was undergoing an examination on the very common charge of having, on the previous night, ill-treated a woman with whom he lived in some court hard by. Several witnesses bore testimony to acts of the grossest brutality, and a certificate was read from the house-surgeon of a neighbouring hospital, describing the nature of the injuries the woman had received, and intimating that her recovery was extremely doubtful. Some question appeared to have been raised about the identity of the prisoner; for when it was agreed that the two magistrates should visit the hospital at eight o&#039;clock that evening, to take her deposition, it was settled that the man should be taken there also. He turned deadly pale at this, and I saw him clench the bar very hard when the order was given. He was removed directly afterwards, and he spoke not a word. I felt an irrepressible curiosity to witness this interview, although I can hardly tell why, at this instant, for I knew it must be a painful one. It was no very difficult matter for me to gain permission, and I obtained it. The prisoner, and the officer who had him in custody, were already at the hospital when I reached it, and waiting the arrival of the magistrates in a small room below stairs. The man was handcuffed, and his hat was pulled forward over his eyes. I could tell though, by the livid whiteness of his countenance, and the constant twitching of the muscles of his face, that he dreaded what was to come. After a short interval, the magistrates and clerk were bowed in, by the house-surgeon, and a couple of young men who smelt very strongly of tobacco-smoke—&quot;dressers&quot; I think they call them&quot;—and after one magistrate had complained bitterly of the cold, and the other of the absence of any news in the evening paper, it was announced that the patient was prepared, and we were conducted to the &quot;casualty ward&quot; in which she was lying. The dim light which burnt in the spacious room, increased rather than diminished the ghastly appearance of the hapless creatures in the beds, which were ranged in two long rows on either side. In one bed, lay a child enveloped in bandages, with its body half-consumed by fire; in another, a female, rendered hideous by some dreadful accident, was wildly beating her clenched fists on the coverlet, in an agony of pain; on a third, there lay stretched a young girl, apparently in the heavy stupor which is sometimes the immediate precursor of death: her face was stained with blood, and her breast and arms were bound up in folds of linen. Two or three of the beds were empty, and their recent occupants were sitting beside them, but with faces so wan, and eyes so bright and glassy, that it was fearful to meet their gaze. On every face was stamped the expression of anguish and suffering. The object of the visit was lying at the upper end of the room. She was a fine young woman of about two or three and twenty. Her long black hair had been hastily cut from about the wounds on her head, and streamed over the pillow in jagged and matted locks. Her face bore frightful marks of the ill-usage she had received: her hand was pressed upon her side, as if her chief pain was there, her breathing was short and heavy, and it was plain to see that she was dying fast. She murmured a few words in reply to the magistrate&#039;s inquiry, whether she was in great pain: and having been raised on the pillow by the nurse, looked anxiously into the strange countenances that surrounded her bed. The magistrate nodded to the officer, to bring the man forward. He did so, and stationed him at the bedside. The girl looked on with a wild and troubled expression of face, but her sight was dim, and she did not know him. &quot;Take off his hat,&quot; said the magistrate. The officer did as he was desired, and the man&#039;s features were fully disclosed. The girl started up with an energy quite preternatural; the fire gleamed in her heavy eyes, and the blood rushed to her pale and sunken cheeks. It was a convulsive effort. She fell back upon her pillow, and covering her scarred and bruised face with her hands, burst into tears. The man cast an anxious look towards her, but otherwise appeared wholly unmoved. After a brief pause the nature of the errand was explained, and the oath tendered. &quot;Oh, no, gentlemen,&quot; said the girl, raising herself once more, and folding her hands together; &quot;no, gentlemen, for God&#039;s sake! I did it myself, it was nobody&#039;s fault, it was an accident. He didn&#039;t hurt me; he wouldn&#039;t for all the world. Jack, dear Jack, you know you wouldn&#039;t.&quot; Her sight was fast failing her, and her hand groped over the bedclothes in search of his, in vain. Brute as the man was, he was not prepared for this. He turned his face from the bed, and sobbed aloud. The girl&#039;s colour changed, and her breathing grew more difficult. She was evidently dying. &quot;We respect the feelings which prompt you to this,&quot; said the gentleman who had spoken first &quot;but let me warn you, not to persist in what you know to be untrue, until it is too late. It cannot save him.&quot; &quot;Jack,&quot; murmured the girl, laying her hand upon his arm. &quot;They shall not persuade me to swear your life away. He didn&#039;t do it, gentlemen He never hurt me.&quot; She grasped his arm tightly, and added, in a broken whisper, &quot;I hope God Almighty will forgive me all the wrong I have done, and the life I have led. God bless you, Jack. Some kind gentleman take my love to my poor old father. Five years ago, he said he wished I had died a child. Oh, I wish I had! I wish I had!&quot; We turned away; it was no sight for strangers to look upon. The nurse bent over the girl for a few seconds, and then drew the sheet over her face. It covered a corpse.
218'Song of the Kettle'Published in <em>The Cricket on the Hearth. A Fairy Tale of Home</em> (Bradbury and Evans, December 1845), p.7.<em>Hathi Trust,</em> <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1845-12">1845-12</a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Poem">Poem</a>1845-12-Song_of_the_KettleDickens, Charles. 'Song of the Kettle' (1845). <em>Dickens Search.</em> Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig. Accessed [date]. <a href=""></a>.18451201It’s a dark night, sang the Kettle, and the rotten leaves are lying by the way; and, above, all is mist and darkness, and below, all is mire and clay; and there’s only one relief in all the sad and murky air; and I don’t know that it is one, for it’s nothing but a glare, of deep and angry crimson, where the sun and wind together, set a brand upon the clouds for being guilty of such weather; and the widest open country is a long dull streak of black; and there’s hoar-frost on the finger-post, and thaw upon the track; and the ice it isn’t water, and the water isn’t free; and you couldn’t say that anything is what it ought to be; but he’s coming, coming, coming!—
217'Lady Bowley's Song for the Villagers'Published in <em>The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In</em> (Chapman and Hall, 1844), p. 63.Dickens, Charles<em>Hathi Trust,</em> <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1844-12">1844-12</a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Poem">Poem</a>1844-12-Lady_Bowleys_Song_for_the_VillagersDickens, Charles. 'Lady Bowley's Song for the Villagers' (December 1844).&nbsp;<em>Dickens Search.</em>&nbsp;Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig.&nbsp;<a href=""></a>.18441201Oh let us love our occupations, Bless the squire and his relations, Live upon our daily rations, And always know our proper stations.
216<em>No Thoroughfare </em>(1867 Christmas Number)Published in <em>All the Year Round,</em> Extra Christmas Number, 12 December 1867, Vol. XVIII, pp. 1-48.<br /><br />Dickens is known to have primarily written most of The Overture, Act I, Act III, with Collins taking Act 2. Both collaborated on Acts IV and V. However, they deliberately interspersed passages into each other's parts to confuse readers as to which author had written which 'Acts' (Slater, <em>Charles Dickens</em>, pp. 569-573).Charles Dickens<em>Dickens Journals Online,</em> <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1867-12-12">1867-12-12</a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=37&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Wilkie+Collins">Wilkie Collins</a><span>Scanned material from <em>Dickens Journals Online</em>, </span><a href="" id="LPNoLPOWALinkPreview" contenteditable="false" title=""></a>. A<span>vailable under CC BY licence.</span><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Christmas+Number">Christmas Number</a>1867-12-12-No_Thoroughfare_Christmas_StoryDickens Charles and Wilkie Collins. <em>No Thoroughfare</em> (Christmas Number) (December 1867). <em>Dickens Search.</em> Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig. Accessed [date]. <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=93&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=%3Cem%3EAll+the+Year+Round%3C%2Fem%3E"><em>All the Year Round</em></a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=94&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Periodical">Periodical</a>18671212THE OVERTURE. Day of the month and year, November the thirtieth, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-five. London Time by the great clock of Saint Paul’s, ten at night. All the lesser London churches strain their metallic throats. Some, flippantly begin before the heavy bell of the great cathedral; some, tardily begin three, four, half a dozen, strokes behind it; all are in sufficiently near accord, to leave a resonance in the air, as if the winged father who devours his children, had made a sounding sweep with his gigantic scythe in flying over the city. What is this clock lower than most of the rest, and nearer to the ear, that lags so far behind to-night as to strike into the vibration alone? This is the clock of the Hospital for Foundling Children. Time was, when the Foundlings were received without question in a cradle at the gate. Time is, when inquiries are made respecting them, and they are taken as by favour from the mothers who relinquish all natural knowledge of them and claim to them for evermore. The moon is at the full, and the night is fair with light clouds. The day has been otherwise than fair, for slush and mud, thickened with the droppings of heavy fog, lie black in the streets. The veiled lady who flutters up and down near the postern-gate of the Hospital for Foundling Children has need to be well shod to-night. She flutters to and fro, avoiding the stand of hackney-coaches, and often pausing in the shadow of the western end of the great quadrangle wall, with her face turned towards the gate. As above her there is the purity of the moonlit sky, and below her there are the defilements of the pavement, so may she, haply, be divided in her mind between two vistas of reflection or experience? As her footprints crossing and recrossing one another have made a labyrinth in the mire, so may her track in life have involved itself in an intricate and unravellable tangle? The postern-gate of the Hospital for Foundling Children opens, and a young woman comes out. The lady stands aside, observes closely, sees that the gate is quietly closed again from within, and follows the young woman. Two or three streets have been traversed in silence before she, following close behind the object of her attention, stretches out her hand and touches her. Then the young woman stops and looks round, startled. “You touched me last night, and, when I turned my head, you would not speak. Why do you follow me like a silent ghost?” “It was not,” returned the lady, in a low voice, “that I would not speak, but that I could not when I tried.” “What do you want of me? I have never done you any harm?” “Never.” “Do I know you?” “No.” “Then what can you want of me?” “Here are two guineas in this paper. Take my poor little present, and I will tell you.” Into the young woman’s face, which is honest and comely, comes a flush as she replies: “There is neither grown person nor child in all the large establishment that I belong to, who hasn’t a good word for Sally. I am Sally. Could I be so well thought of, if I was to be bought?” “I do not mean to buy you; I mean only to reward you very slightly.” Sally firmly, but not ungently, closes and puts back the offering hand. “If there is anything I can do for you, ma’am, that I will not do for its own sake, you are much mistaken in me if you think that I will do it for money. What is it you want?” “You are one of the nurses or attendants at the Hospital; I saw you leave to-night and last night.” “Yes, I am. I am Sally.” “There is a pleasant patience in your face which makes me believe that very young children would take readily to you.” “God bless ‘em! So they do.” The lady lifts her veil, and shows a face no older than the nurse’s. A face far more refined and capable than hers, but wild and worn with sorrow. “I am the miserable mother of a baby lately received under your care. I have a prayer to make to you.” Instinctively respecting the confidence which has drawn aside the veil, Sally—whose ways are all ways of simplicity and spontaneity—replaces it, and begins to cry. “You will listen to my prayer?” the lady urges. “You will not be deaf to the agonised entreaty of such a broken suppliant as I am?” “O dear, dear, dear!” cries Sally. “What shall I say, or can say! Don’t talk of prayers. Prayers are to be put up to the Good Father of All, and not to nurses and such. And there! I am only to hold my place for half a year longer, till another young woman can be trained up to it. I am going to be married. I shouldn’t have been out last night, and I shouldn’t have been out to-night, but that my Dick (he is the young man I am going to be married to) lies ill, and I help his mother and sister to watch him. Don’t take on so, don’t take on so!” “O good Sally, dear Sally,” moans the lady, catching at her dress entreatingly. “As you are hopeful, and I am hopeless; as a fair way in life is before you, which can never, never, be before me; as you can aspire to become a respected wife, and as you can aspire to become a proud mother, as you are a living loving woman, and must die; for GOD’S sake hear my distracted petition!” “Deary, deary, deary ME!” cries Sally, her desperation culminating in the pronoun, “what am I ever to do? And there! See how you turn my own words back upon me. I tell you I am going to be married, on purpose to make it clearer to you that I am going to leave, and therefore couldn’t help you if I would, Poor Thing, and you make it seem to my own self as if I was cruel in going to be married and not helping you. It ain’t kind. Now, is it kind, Poor Thing?” “Sally! Hear me, my dear. My entreaty is for no help in the future. It applies to what is past. It is only to be told in two words.” “There! This is worse and worse,” cries Sally, “supposing that I understand what two words you mean.” “You do understand. What are the names they have given my poor baby? I ask no more than that. I have read of the customs of the place. He has been christened in the chapel, and registered by some surname in the book. He was received last Monday evening. What have they called him?” Down upon her knees in the foul mud of the by-way into which they have strayed—an empty street without a thoroughfare giving on the dark gardens of the Hospital—the lady would drop in her passionate entreaty, but that Sally prevents her. “Don’t! Don’t! You make me feel as if I was setting myself up to be good. Let me look in your pretty face again. Put your two hands in mine. Now, promise. You will never ask me anything more than the two words?” “Never! Never!” “You will never put them to a bad use, if I say them?” “Never! Never!” “Walter Wilding.” The lady lays her face upon the nurse’s breast, draws her close in her embrace with both arms, murmurs a blessing and the words, “Kiss him for me!” and is gone. Day of the month and year, the first Sunday in October, one thousand eight hundred and forty-seven. London Time by the great clock of Saint Paul’s, half-past one in the afternoon. The clock of the Hospital for Foundling Children is well up with the Cathedral to-day. Service in the chapel is over, and the Foundling children are at dinner. There are numerous lookers-on at the dinner, as the custom is. There are two or three governors, whole families from the congregation, smaller groups of both sexes, individual stragglers of various degrees. The bright autumnal sun strikes freshly into the wards; and the heavy-framed windows through which it shines, and the panelled walls on which it strikes, are such windows and such walls as pervade Hogarth’s pictures. The girls’ refectory (including that of the younger children) is the principal attraction. Neat attendants silently glide about the orderly and silent tables; the lookers-on move or stop as the fancy takes them; comments in whispers on face such a number from such a window are not unfrequent; many of the faces are of a character to fix attention. Some of the visitors from the outside public are accustomed visitors. They have established a speaking acquaintance with the occupants of particular seats at the tables, and halt at those points to bend down and say a word or two. It is no disparagement to their kindness that those points are generally points where personal attractions are. The monotony of the long spacious rooms and the double lines of faces is agreeably relieved by these incidents, although so slight. A veiled lady, who has no companion, goes among the company. It would seem that curiosity and opportunity have never brought her there before. She has the air of being a little troubled by the sight, and, as she goes the length of the tables, it is with a hesitating step and an uneasy manner. At length she comes to the refectory of the boys. They are so much less popular than the girls that it is bare of visitors when she looks in at the doorway. But just within the doorway, chances to stand, inspecting, an elderly female attendant: some order of matron or housekeeper. To whom the lady addresses natural questions: As, how many boys? At what age are they usually put out in life? Do they often take a fancy to the sea? So, lower and lower in tone until the lady puts the question: “Which is Walter Wilding?” Attendant’s head shaken. Against the rules. “You know which is Walter Wilding?” So keenly does the attendant feel the closeness with which the lady’s eyes examine her face, that she keeps her own eyes fast upon the floor, lest by wandering in the right direction they should betray her. “I know which is Walter Wilding, but it is not my place, ma’am, to tell names to visitors.” “But you can show me without telling me.” The lady’s hand moves quietly to the attendant’s hand. Pause and silence. “I am going to pass round the tables,” says the lady’s interlocutor, without seeming to address her. “Follow me with your eyes. The boy that I stop at and speak to, will not matter to you. But the boy that I touch, will be Walter Wilding. Say nothing more to me, and move a little away.” Quickly acting on the hint, the lady passes on into the room, and looks about her. After a few moments, the attendant, in a staid official way, walks down outside the line of tables commencing on her left hand. She goes the whole length of the line, turns, and comes back on the inside. Very slightly glancing in the lady’s direction, she stops, bends forward, and speaks. The boy whom she addresses, lifts his head and replies. Good humouredly and easily, as she listens to what he says, she lays her hand upon the shoulder of the next boy on his right. That the action may be well noted, she keeps her hand on the shoulder while speaking in return, and pats it twice or thrice before moving away. She completes her tour of the tables, touching no one else, and passes out by a door at the opposite end of the long room. Dinner is done, and the lady, too, walks down outside the line of tables commencing on her left hand, goes the whole length of the line, turns, and comes back on the inside. Other people have strolled in, fortunately for her, and stand sprinkled about. She lifts her veil, and, stopping at the touched boy, asks how old he is? “I am twelve, ma’am,” he answers, with his bright eyes fixed on hers. “Are you well and happy?” “Yes, ma’am.” “May you take these sweetmeats from my hand?” “If you please to give them to me.” In stooping low for the purpose, the lady touches the boy’s face with her forehead and with her hair. Then, lowering her veil again, she passes on, and passes out without looking back. ACT I. THE CURTAIN RISES. In a court-yard in the City of London, which was No Thoroughfare either for vehicles or foot-passengers; a court-yard diverging from a steep, a slippery, and a winding street connecting Tower-Street with the Middlesex shore of the Thames; stood the place of business of Wilding &amp;amp; Co., Wine Merchants. Probably as a jocose acknowledgment of the obstructive character of this main approach, the point nearest to its base at which one could take the river (if so inodorously minded) bore the appellation Break-Neck-Stairs. The court-yard itself had likewise been descriptively entitled in old time, Cripple Corner. Years before the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, people had left off taking boat at Break-Neck-Stairs, and watermen had ceased to ply there. The slimy little causeway had dropped into the river by a slow process of suicide, and two or three stumps of piles and a rusty iron mooring-ring were all that remained of the departed Break-Neck glories. Sometimes, indeed, a laden coal barge would bump itself into the place, and certain laborious heavers, seemingly mud-engendered, would arise, deliver the cargo in the neighbourhood, shove off, and vanish; but at most times the only commerce of Break-Neck-Stairs arose out of the conveyance of casks and bottles, both full and empty, both to and from the cellars of Wilding &amp;amp; Co. Wine Merchants. Even that commerce was but occasional, and through three-fourths of its rising tides the dirty indecorous drab of a river would come solitarily oozing and lapping at the rusty ring, as if it had heard of the Doge and the Adriatic, and wanted to be married to the great conserver of its filthiness, the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor. Some two hundred and fifty yards on the right, up the opposite hill (approaching it from the low ground of Break-Neck-Stairs) was Cripple Corner. There was a pump in Cripple Corner, there was a tree in Cripple Corner. All Cripple Corner belonged to Wilding and Co. Wine Merchants. Their cellars burrowed under it, their mansion towered over it. It really had been a mansion in the days when merchants inhabited the City, and had a ceremonious shelter to the doorway without visible support, like the sounding-board over an old pulpit. It had also a number of long narrow strips of window, so disposed in its grave brick front as to render it symmetrically ugly. It had also on its roof, a cupola with a bell in it. “When a man at five-and-twenty can put his hat on, and can say ‘this hat covers the owner of this property and of the business which is transacted on this property,’ I consider, Mr. Bintrey, that, without being boastful, he may be allowed to be deeply thankful. I don’t know how it may appear to you, but so it appears to me.” Thus Mr. Walter Wilding to his man of law, in his own counting-house; taking his hat down from its peg to suit the action to the word, and hanging it up again when he had done so, not to overstep the modesty of nature. An innocent, open-speaking, unused-looking man, Mr. Walter Wilding, with a remarkably pink and white complexion, and a figure much too bulky for so young a man, though of a good stature. With crispy curling brown hair, and amiable bright blue eyes. An extremely communicative man: a man with whom loquacity was the irrestrainable outpouring of contentment and gratitude. Mr. Bintrey, on the other hand, a cautious man, with twinkling beads of eyes in a large overhanging bald head, who inwardly but intensely enjoyed the comicality of openness of speech, or hand, or heart. “Yes,” said Mr. Bintrey. “Yes. Ha, ha!” A decanter, two wine-glasses, and a plate of biscuits, stood on the desk. “You like this forty-five year old port-wine?” said Mr. Wilding. “Like it?” repeated Mr. Bintrey. “Rather, sir!” “It’s from the best corner of our best forty-five year old bin,” said Mr. Wilding. “Thank you, sir,” said Mr. Bintrey. “It’s most excellent.” He laughed again, as he held up his glass and ogled it, at the highly ludicrous idea of giving away such wine. “And now,” said Wilding, with a childish enjoyment in the discussion of affairs, “I think we have got everything straight, Mr. Bintrey.” “Everything straight,” said Bintrey. “A partner secured—” “Partner secured,” said Bintrey. “A housekeeper advertised for—” “Housekeeper advertised for,” said Bintrey, “‘apply personally at Cripple Corner, Great Tower Street, from ten to twelve’—to-morrow, by the bye.” “My late dear mother’s affairs wound up—” “Wound up,” said Bintrey. “And all charges paid.” “And all charges paid,” said Bintrey, with a chuckle: probably occasioned by the droll circumstance that they had been paid without a haggle. “The mention of my late dear mother,” Mr. Wilding continued, his eyes filling with tears and his pocket-handkerchief drying them, “unmans me still, Mr. Bintrey. You know how I loved her; you (her lawyer) know how she loved me. The utmost love of mother and child was cherished between us, and we never experienced one moment’s division or unhappiness from the time when she took me under her care. Thirteen years in all! Thirteen years under my late dear mother’s care, Mr. Bintrey, and eight of them her confidentially acknowledged son! You know the story, Mr. Bintrey, who but you, sir!” Mr. Wilding sobbed and dried his eyes, without attempt at concealment, during these remarks. Mr. Bintrey enjoyed his comical port, and said, after rolling it in his mouth: “I know the story.” “My late dear mother, Mr. Bintrey,” pursued the wine-merchant, “had been deeply deceived, and had cruelly suffered. But on that subject my late dear mother’s lips were for ever sealed. By whom deceived, or under what circumstances, Heaven only knows. My late dear mother never betrayed her betrayer.” “She had made up her mind,” said Mr. Bintrey, again turning his wine on his palate, “and she could hold her peace.” An amused twinkle in his eyes pretty plainly added—“A devilish deal better than you ever will!” “‘Honour,’” said Mr. Wilding, sobbing as he quoted from the Commandments, “‘thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land.’ When I was in the Foundling, Mr. Bintrey, I was at such a loss how to do it, that I apprehended my days would be short in the land. But I afterwards came to honour my mother deeply, profoundly. And I honour and revere her memory. For seven happy years, Mr. Bintrey,” pursued Wilding, still with the same innocent catching in his breath, and the same unabashed tears, “did my excellent mother article me to my predecessors in this business, Pebbleson Nephew. Her affectionate forethought likewise apprenticed me to the Vintners’ Company, and made me in time a free Vintner, and—and—everything else that the best of mothers could desire. When I came of age, she bestowed her inherited share in this business upon me; it was her money that afterwards bought out Pebbleson Nephew, and painted in Wilding and Co.; it was she who left me everything she possessed but the mourning ring you wear. And yet, Mr. Bintrey,” with a fresh burst of honest affection, “she is no more. It is little over half a year since she came into the Corner to read on that door-post with her own eyes, WILDING AND CO. WINE MERCHANTS. And yet she is no more!” “Sad. But the common lot, Mr. Wilding,” observed Bintrey. “At some time or other we must all be no more.” He placed the forty-five year old port-wine in the universal condition, with a relishing sigh. “So now, Mr. Bintrey,” pursued Wilding, putting away his pocket-handkerchief, and smoothing his eyelids with his fingers, “now that I can no longer show my love and honour for the dear parent to whom my heart was mysteriously turned by Nature when she first spoke to me, a strange lady, I sitting at our Sunday dinner-table in the Foundling, I can at least show that I am not ashamed of having been a Foundling, and that I, who never knew a father of my own, wish to be a father to all in my employment. Therefore,” continued Wilding, becoming enthusiastic in his loquacity, “therefore, I want a thoroughly good housekeeper to undertake this dwelling-house of Wilding and Co., Wine Merchants, Cripple Corner, so that I may restore in it some of the old relations betwixt employer and employed! So that I may live in it on the spot where my money is made! So that I may daily sit at the head of the table at which the people in my employment eat together, and may eat of the same roast and boiled, and drink of the same beer! So that the people in my employment may lodge under the same roof with me! So that we may one and all—I beg your pardon, Mr. Bintrey, but that old singing in my head has suddenly come on, and I shall feel obliged if you will lead me to the pump.” Alarmed by the excessive pinkness of his client, Mr. Bintrey lost not a moment in leading him forth into the court-yard. It was easily done; for the counting-house in which they talked together opened on to it, at one side of the dwelling-house. There the attorney pumped with a will, obedient to a sign from the client, and the client laved his head and face with both hands, and took a hearty drink. After these remedies, he declared himself much better. “Don’t let your good feelings excite you,” said Bintrey, as they returned to the counting-house, and Mr. Wilding dried himself on a jack-towel behind an inner door. “No, no. I won’t,” he returned, looking out of the towel. “I won’t. I have not been confused, have I?” “Not at all. Perfectly clear.” “Where did I leave off, Mr. Bintrey?” “Well, you left off—but I wouldn’t excite myself, if I was you, by taking it up again just yet.” “I’ll take care. I’ll take care. The singing in my head came on at where, Mr. Bintrey?” “At roast, and boiled, and beer,” answered the lawyer,—“prompting lodging under the same roof—and one and all—” “Ah! And one and all singing in the head together—” “Do you know, I really would not let my good feelings excite me, if I was you,” hinted the lawyer again, anxiously. “Try some more pump.” “No occasion, no occasion. All right, Mr. Bintrey. And one and all forming a kind of family! You see, Mr. Bintrey, I was not used in my childhood to that sort of individual existence which most individuals have led, more or less, in their childhood. After that time I became absorbed in my late dear mother. Having lost her, I find that I am more fit for being one of a body than one by myself one. To be that, and at the same time to do my duty to those dependent on me, and attach them to me, has a patriarchal and pleasant air about it. I don’t know how it may appear to you, Mr Bintrey, but so it appears to me.” “It is not I who am all-important in the case, but you,” returned Bintrey. “Consequently, how it may appear to me is of very small importance.” “It appears to me,” said Mr. Wilding, in a glow, “hopeful, useful, delightful!” “Do you know,” hinted the lawyer again, “I really would not ex—” “I am not going to. Then there’s Handel.” “There’s who?” asked Bintrey. “Handel, Mozart, Haydn, Kent, Purcell, Doctor Arne, Greene, Mendelssohn. I know the choruses to those anthems by heart. Foundling Chapel Collection. Why shouldn’t we learn them together?” “Who learn them together?” asked the lawyer, rather shortly. “Employer and employed.” “Ay, ay,” returned Bintrey, mollified; as if he had half expected the answer to be, Lawyer and client. “That’s another thing.” “Not another thing, Mr. Bintrey! The same thing. A part of the bond among us. We will form a Choir in some quiet church near the Corner here, and, having sung together of a Sunday with a relish, we will come home and take an early dinner together with a relish. The object that I have at heart now is, to get this system well in action without delay, so that my new partner may find it founded when he enters on his partnership.” “All good be with it!” exclaimed Bintrey, rising. “May it prosper! Is Joey Ladle to take a share in Handel, Mozart, Haydn, Kent, Purcell, Doctor Arne, Greene, and Mendelssohn? “I hope so.” “I wish them all well out of it,” returned Bintrey, with much heartiness. “Good-bye, sir.” They shook hands and parted. Then (first knocking with his knuckles for leave) entered to Mr. Wilding from a door of communication between his private counting-house and that in which his clerks sat, the Head Cellarman of the cellars of Wilding and Co. Wine Merchants, and erst Head Cellarman of the cellars of Pebbleson Nephew. The Joey Ladle in question. A slow and ponderous man, of the drayman order of human architecture, dressed in a corrugated suit and bibbed apron, apparently a composite of door-mat and rhinoceros-hide. “Respecting this same boarding and lodging, Young Master Wilding,” said he. “Yes, Joey?” “Speaking for myself, Young Master Wilding—and I never did speak and I never do speak for no one else—I don’t want no boarding nor yet no lodging. But if you wish to board me and to lodge me, take me. I can peck as well as most men. Where I peck ain’t so high a object with me as What I peck. Nor even so high a object with me as How Much I peck. Is all to live in the house, Young Master Wilding? The two other cellarmen, the three porters, the two ‘prentices, and the odd men?” “Yes. I hope we shall all be an united family, Joey.” “Ah!” said Joey. “I hope they may be.” “They? Rather say we, Joey.” Joey Ladle shook his held. “Don’t look to me to make we on it, Young Master Wilding, not at my time of life and under the circumstances which has formed my disposition. I have said to Pebbleson Nephew many a time, when they have said to me, ‘Put a livelier face upon it, Joey’—I have said to them, ‘Gentlemen, it is all wery well for you that has been accustomed to take your wine into your systems by the conwivial channel of your throttles, to put a lively face upon it; but,’ I says, ‘I have been accustomed to take my wine in at the pores of the skin, and, took that way, it acts different. It acts depressing. It’s one thing, gentlemen,’ I says to Pebbleson Nephew, ‘to charge your glasses in a dining-room with a Hip Hurrah and a Jolly Companions Every One, and it’s another thing to be charged yourself, through the pores, in a low dark cellar and a mouldy atmosphere. It makes all the difference betwixt bubbles and wapours,’ I tells Pebbleson Nephew. And so it do. I’ve been a cellarman my life through, with my mind fully given to the business. What’s the consequence? I’m as muddled a man as lives—you won’t find a muddleder man than me—nor yet you won’t find my equal in molloncolly. Sing of Filling the bumper fair, Every drop you sprinkle, O’er the brow of care, Smooths away a wrinkle? Yes. P’raps so. But try filling yourself through the pores, underground, when you don’t want to it!” “I am sorry to hear this, Joey. I had even thought that you might join a singing-class in the house.” “Me, sir? No, no, Young Master Wilding, you won’t catch Joey Ladle muddling the Armony. A pecking-machine, sir, is all that I am capable of proving myself, out of my cellars; but that you’re welcome to, if you think it is worth your while to keep such a thing on your premises.” “I do, Joey.” “Say no more, sir. The Business’s word is my law. And you’re a going to take Young Master George Vendale partner into the old Business?” “I am, Joey.” “More changes, you see! But don’t change the name of the Firm again. Don’t do it, Young Master Wilding. It was bad luck enough to make it Yourself and Co. Better by far have left it Pebbleson Nephew that good luck always stuck to. You should never change luck when it’s good, sir.” “At all events, I have no intention of changing the name of the House again, Joey.” “Glad to hear it, and wish you good-day, Young Master Wilding. But you had better by half,” muttered Joey Ladle inaudibly, as he closed the door and shook his head, “have let the name alone from the first. You had better by half have followed the luck instead of crossing it.” ENTER THE HOUSEKEEPER/ The wine-merchant sat in his dining-room next morning, to receive the personal applicants for the vacant post in his establishment. It was an old-fashioned wainscoted room; the panels ornamented with festoons of flowers carved in wood; with an oaken floor, a well-worn Turkey carpet, and dark mahogany furniture, all of which had seen service and polish under Pebbleson Nephew. The great sideboard had assisted at many business-dinners given by Pebbleson Nephew to their connexion, on the principle of throwing sprats overboard to catch whales; and Pebbleson Nephew’s comprehensive three-sided plate-warmer, made to fit the whole front of the large fireplace, kept watch beneath it over a sarcophagus-shaped cellaret that had in its time held many a dozen of Pebbleson Nephew’s wine. But the little rubicund old bachelor with a pigtail, whose portrait was over the sideboard (and who could easily be identified as decidedly Pebbleson and decidedly not Nephew), had retired into another sarcophagus, and the plate-warmer had grown as cold as he. So, the golden and black griffins that supported the candelabra, with black balls in their mouths at the end of gilded chains, looked as if in their old age they had lost all heart for playing at ball, and were dolefully exhibiting their chains in the Missionary line of inquiry, whether they had not earned emancipation by this time, and were not griffins and brothers? Such a Columbus of a morning was the summer morning, that it discovered Cripple Corner. The light and warmth pierced in at the open windows, and irradiated the picture of a lady hanging over the chimney-piece, the only other decoration of the walls. “My mother at five-and-twenty,” said Mr. Wilding to himself, as his eyes enthusiastically followed the light to the portrait’s face, “I hang up here, in order that visitors may admire my mother in the bloom of her youth and beauty. My mother at fifty I hang in the seclusion of my own chamber, as a remembrance sacred to me. Oh! It’s you, Jarvis!” These latter words he addressed to a clerk who had tapped at the door, and now looked in. “Yes, sir. I merely wished to mention that it’s gone ten, sir, and that there are several females in the Counting-House.” “Dear me!” said the wine-merchant, deepening in the pink of his complexion and whitening in the white, “are there several? So many as several? I had better begin before there are more. I’ll see them one by one, Jarvis, in the order of their arrival.” Hastily entrenching himself in his easy-chair at the table behind a great inkstand, having first placed a chair on the other side of the table opposite his own seat, Mr. Wilding entered on his task with considerable trepidation. He ran the gauntlet that must be run on any such occasion. There were the usual species of profoundly unsympathetic women, and the usual species of much too sympathetic women. There were buccaneering widows who came to seize him, and who griped umbrellas under their arms, as if each umbrella were he, and each griper had got him. There were towering maiden ladies who had seen better days, and who came armed with clerical testimonials to their theology, as if he were Saint Peter with his keys. There were gentle maiden ladies who came to marry him. There were professional housekeepers, like non-commissioned officers, who put him through his domestic exercise, instead of submitting themselves to catechism. There were languid invalids, to whom salary was not so much an object as the comforts of a private hospital. There were sensitive creatures who burst into tears on being addressed, and had to be restored with glasses of cold water. There were some respondents who came two together, a highly promising one and a wholly unpromising one: of whom the promising one answered all questions charmingly, until it would at last appear that she was not a candidate at all, but only the friend of the unpromising one, who had glowered in absolute silence and apparent injury. At last, when the good wine-merchant’s simple heart was failing him, there entered an applicant quite different from all the rest. A woman, perhaps fifty, but looking younger, with a face remarkable for placid cheerfulness, and a manner no less remarkable for its quiet expression of equability of temper. Nothing in her dress could have been changed to her advantage. Nothing in the noiseless self-possession of her manner could have been changed to her advantage. Nothing could have been in better unison with both, than her voice when she answered the question: “What name shall I have the pleasure of noting down?” with the words, “My name is Sarah Goldstraw. Mrs. Goldstraw. My husband has been dead many years, and we had no family.” Half-a-dozen questions had scarcely extracted as much to the purpose from any one else. The voice dwelt so agreeably on Mr. Wilding’s ear as he made his note, that he was rather long about it. When he looked up again, Mrs. Goldstraw’s glance had naturally gone round the room, and now returned to him from the chimney-piece. Its expression was one of frank readiness to be questioned, and to answer straight. “You will excuse my asking you a few questions?” said the modest wine-merchant. “Oh, surely, sir. Or I should have no business here.” “Have you filled the station of housekeeper before?” “Only once. I have lived with the same widow lady for twelve years. Ever since I lost my husband. She was an invalid, and is lately dead: which is the occasion of my now wearing black.” “I do not doubt that she has left you the best credentials?” said Mr. Wilding. “I hope I may say, the very best. I thought it would save trouble, sir, if I wrote down the name and address of her representatives, and brought it with me.” Laying a card on the table. “You singularly remind me, Mrs. Goldstraw,” said Wilding, taking the card beside him, “of a manner and tone of voice that I was once acquainted with. Not of an individual—I feel sure of that, though I cannot recall what it is I have in my mind—but of a general bearing. I ought to add, it was a kind and pleasant one.” She smiled, as she rejoined: “At least, I am very glad of that, sir.” “Yes,” said the wine-merchant, thoughtfully repeating his last phrase, with a momentary glance at his future housekeeper, “it was a kind and pleasant one. But that is the most I can make of it. Memory is sometimes like a half-forgotten dream. I don’t know how it may appear to you, Mrs. Goldstraw, but so it appears to me.” Probably it appeared to Mrs. Goldstraw in a similar light, for she quietly assented to the proposition. Mr. Wilding then offered to put himself at once in communication with the gentlemen named upon the card: a firm of proctors in Doctors’ Commons. To this, Mrs. Goldstraw thankfully assented. Doctors’ Commons not being far off, Mr. Wilding suggested the feasibility of Mrs. Goldstraw’s looking in again, say in three hours’ time. Mrs. Goldstraw readily undertook to do so. In fine, the result of Mr. Wilding’s inquiries being eminently satisfactory, Mrs. Goldstraw was that afternoon engaged (on her own perfectly fair terms) to come to-morrow and set up her rest as housekeeper in Cripple Corner. THE HOUSEKEEPER SPEAKS. On the next day Mrs. Goldstraw arrived, to enter on her domestic duties. Having settled herself in her own room, without troubling the servants, and without wasting time, the new housekeeper announced herself as waiting to be favoured with any instructions which her master might wish to give her. The wine-merchant received Mrs. Goldstraw in the dining-room, in which he had seen her on the previous day; and, the usual preliminary civilities having passed on either side, the two sat down to take counsel together on the affairs of the house. “About the meals, sir?” said Mrs. Goldstraw. “Have I a large, or a small, number to provide for?” “If I can carry out a certain old-fashioned plan of mine,” replied Mr. Wilding, “you will have a large number to provide for. I am a lonely single man, Mrs. Goldstraw; and I hope to live with all the persons in my employment as if they were members of my family. Until that time comes, you will only have me, and the new partner whom I expect immediately, to provide for. What my partner’s habits may be, I cannot yet say. But I may describe myself as a man of regular hours, with an invariable appetite that you may depend upon to an ounce.” “About breakfast, sir?” asked Mrs. Goldstraw. “Is there anything particular—?” She hesitated, and left the sentence unfinished. Her eyes turned slowly away from her master, and looked towards the chimney-piece. If she had been a less excellent and experienced housekeeper, Mr. Wilding might have fancied that her attention was beginning to wander at the very outset of the interview. “Eight o’clock is my breakfast-hour,” he resumed. “It is one of my virtues to be never tired of broiled bacon, and it is one of my vices to be habitually suspicious of the freshness of eggs.” Mrs. Goldstraw looked back at him, still a little divided between her master’s chimney-piece and her master. “I take tea,” Mr. Wilding went on; “and I am perhaps rather nervous and fidgety about drinking it, within a certain time after it is made. If my tea stands too long—” He hesitated, on his side, and left the sentence unfinished. If he had not been engaged in discussing a subject of such paramount interest to himself as his breakfast, Mrs. Goldstraw might have fancied that his attention was beginning to wander at the very outset of the interview. “If your tea stands too long, sir—?” said the housekeeper, politely taking up her master’s lost thread. “If my tea stands too long,” repeated the wine-merchant mechanically, his mind getting farther and farther away from his breakfast, and his eyes fixing themselves more and more inquiringly on his housekeeper’s face. “If my tea—Dear, dear me, Mrs. Goldstraw! what is the manner and tone of voice that you remind me of? It strikes me even more strongly to-day, than it did when I saw you yesterday. What can it be?” “What can it be?” repeated Mrs. Goldstraw. She said the words, evidently thinking while she spoke them of something else. The wine-merchant, still looking at her inquiringly, observed that her eyes wandered towards the chimney-piece once more. They fixed on the portrait of his mother, which hung there, and looked at it with that slight contraction of the brow which accompanies a scarcely conscious effort of memory. Mr. Wilding remarked. “My late dear mother, when she was five-and-twenty.” Mrs. Goldstraw thanked him with a movement of the head for being at the pains to explain the picture, and said, with a cleared brow, that it was the portrait of a very beautiful lady. Mr. Wilding, falling back into his former perplexity, tried once more to recover that lost recollection, associated so closely, and yet so undiscoverably, with his new housekeeper’s voice and manner. “Excuse my asking you a question which has nothing to do with me or my breakfast,” he said. “May I inquire if you have ever occupied any other situation than the situation of housekeeper?” “O yes, sir. I began life as one of the nurses at the Foundling.” “Why, that’s it!” cried the wine-merchant, pushing back his chair. “By heaven! Their manner is the manner you remind me of!” In an astonished look at him, Mrs. Goldstraw changed colour, checked herself, turned her eyes upon the ground, and sat still and silent. “What is the matter?” asked Mr. Wilding. “Do I understand that you were in the Foundling, sir?” “Certainly. I am not ashamed to own it.” “Under the name you now bear?” “Under the name of Walter Wilding.” “And the lady—?” Mrs. Goldstraw stopped short with a look at the portrait which was now unmistakably a look of alarm. “You mean my mother,” interrupted Mr. Wilding. “Your—mother,” repeated the housekeeper, a little constrainedly, “removed you from the Foundling? At what age, sir?” “At between eleven and twelve years old. It’s quite a romantic adventure, Mrs. Goldstraw.” He told the story of the lady having spoken to him, while he sat at dinner with the other boys in the Foundling, and of all that had followed in his innocently communicative way. “My poor mother could never have discovered me,” he added, “if she had not met with one of the matrons who pitied her. The matron consented to touch the boy whose name was ‘Walter Wilding’ as she went round the dinner-tables—and so my mother discovered me again, after having parted from me as an infant at the Foundling doors.” At those words Mrs. Goldstraw’s hand, resting on the table, dropped helplessly into her lap. She sat, looking at her new master, with a face that had turned deadly pale, and with eyes that expressed an unutterable dismay. “What does this mean?” asked the wine-merchant. “Stop!” he cried. “Is there something else in the past time which I ought to associate with you? I remember my mother telling me of another person at the Foundling, to whose kindness she owed a debt of gratitude. When she first parted with me, as an infant, one of the nurses informed her of the name that had been given to me in the institution. You were that nurse?” “God forgive me, sir—I was that nurse!” “God forgive you?” “We had better get back, sir (if I may make so bold as to say so), to my duties in the house,” said Mrs. Goldstraw. “Your breakfast-hour is eight. Do you lunch, or dine, in the middle of the day?” The excessive pinkness which Mr. Bintrey had noticed in his client’s face began to appear there once more. Mr. Wilding put his hand to his head, and mastered some momentary confusion in that quarter, before he spoke again. “Mrs. Goldstraw,” he said, “you are concealing something from me!” The housekeeper obstinately repeated, “Please to favour me, sir, by saying whether you lunch, or dine, in the middle of the day?” “I don’t know what I do in the middle of the day. I can’t enter into my household affairs, Mrs. Goldstraw, till I know why you regret an act of kindness to my mother, which she always spoke of gratefully to the end of her life. You are not doing me a service by your silence. You are agitating me, you are alarming me, you are bringing on the singing in my head.” His hand went up to his head again, and the pink in his face deepened by a shade or two. “It’s hard, sir, on just entering your service,” said the housekeeper, “to say what may cost me the loss of your good will. Please to remember, end how it may, that I only speak because you have insisted on my speaking, and because I see that I am alarming you by my silence. When I told the poor lady, whose portrait you have got there, the name by which her infant was christened in the Foundling, I allowed myself to forget my duty, and dreadful consequences, I am afraid, have followed from it. I’ll tell you the truth, as plainly as I can. A few months from the time when I had informed the lady of her baby’s name, there came to our institution in the country another lady (a stranger), whose object was to adopt one of our children. She brought the needful permission with her, and after looking at a great many of the children, without being able to make up her mind, she took a sudden fancy to one of the babies—a boy—under my care. Try, pray try, to compose yourself, sir! It’s no use disguising it any longer. The child the stranger took away was the child of that lady whose portrait hangs there!” Mr. Wilding started to his feet. “Impossible!” he cried out, vehemently. “What are you talking about? What absurd story are you telling me now? There’s her portrait! Haven’t I told you so already? The portrait of my mother!” “When that unhappy lady removed you from the Foundling, in after years,” said Mrs. Goldstraw, gently, “she was the victim, and you were the victim, sir, of a dreadful mistake.” He dropped back into his chair. “The room goes round with me,” he said. “My head! my head!” The housekeeper rose in alarm, and opened the windows. Before she could get to the door to call for help, a sudden burst of tears relieved the oppression which had at first almost appeared to threaten his life. He signed entreatingly to Mrs. Goldstraw not to leave him. She waited until the paroxysm of weeping had worn itself out. He raised his head as he recovered himself, and looked at her with the angry unreasoning suspicion of a weak man. “Mistake?” he said, wildly repeating her last word. “How do I know you are not mistaken yourself?” “There is no hope that I am mistaken, sir. I will tell you why, when you are better fit to hear it.” “Now! now!” The tone in which he spoke warned Mrs. Goldstraw that it would be cruel kindness to let him comfort himself a moment longer with the vain hope that she might be wrong. A few words more would end it, and those few words she determined to speak. “I have told you,” she said, “that the child of the lady whose portrait hangs there, was adopted in its infancy, and taken away by a stranger. I am as certain of what I say as that I am now sitting here, obliged to distress you, sir, sorely against my will. Please to carry your mind on, now, to about three months after that time. I was then at the Foundling, in London, waiting to take some children to our institution in the country. There was a question that day about naming an infant—a boy—who had just been received. We generally named them out of the Directory. On this occasion, one of the gentlemen who managed the Hospital happened to be looking over the Register. He noticed that the name of the baby who had been adopted (‘Walter Wilding’) was scratched out—for the reason, of course, that the child had been removed for good from our care. ‘Here’s a name to let,’ he said. ‘Give it to the new foundling who has been received to-day.’ The name was given, and the child was christened. You, sir, were that child.” The wine-merchant’s head dropped on his breast. “I was that child!” he said to himself, trying helplessly to fix the idea in his mind. “I was that child!” “Not very long after you had been received into the Institution, sir,” pursued Mrs. Goldstraw, “I left my situation there, to be married. If you will remember that, and if you can give your mind to it, you will see for yourself how the mistake happened. Between eleven and twelve years passed before the lady, whom you have believed to be your mother, returned to the Foundling, to find her son, and to remove him to her own home. The lady only knew that her infant had been called ‘Walter Wilding.’ The matron who took pity on her, could but point out the only ‘Walter Wilding’ known in the Institution. I, who might have set the matter right, was far away from the Foundling and all that belonged to it. There was nothing—there was really nothing that could prevent this terrible mistake from taking place. I feel for you—I do indeed, sir! You must think—and with reason—that it was in an evil hour that I came here (innocently enough, I’m sure), to apply for your housekeeper’s place. I feel as if I was to blame—I feel as if I ought to have had more self-command. If I had only been able to keep my face from showing you what that portrait and what your own words put into my mind, you need never, to your dying day, have known what you know now.” Mr. Wilding looked up suddenly. The inbred honesty of the man rose in protest against the housekeeper’s last words. His mind seemed to steady itself, for the moment, under the shock that had fallen on it. “Do you mean to say that you would have concealed this from me if you could?” he exclaimed. “I hope I should always tell the truth, sir, if I was asked,” said Mrs. Goldstraw. “And I know it is better for me that I should not have a secret of this sort weighing on my mind. But is it better for you? What use can it serve now—?” “What use? Why, good Lord! if your story is true—” “Should I have told it, sir, as I am now situated, if it had not been true?” “I beg your pardon,” said the wine-merchant. “You must make allowance for me. This dreadful discovery is something I can’t realise even yet. We loved each other so dearly—I felt so fondly that I was her son. She died, Mrs. Goldstraw, in my arms—she died blessing me as only a mother could have blessed me. And now, after all these years, to be told she was not my mother! O me, O me! I don’t know what I am saying!” he cried, as the impulse of self-control under which he had spoken a moment since, flickered, and died out. “It was not this dreadful grief—it was something else that I had it in my mind to speak of. Yes, yes. You surprised me—you wounded me just now. You talked as if you would have hidden this from me, if you could. Don’t talk in that way again. It would have been a crime to have hidden it. You mean well, I know. I don’t want to distress you—you are a kind-hearted woman. But you don’t remember what my position is. She left me all that I possess, in the firm persuasion that I was her son. I am not her son. I have taken the place, I have innocently got the inheritance of another man. He must be found! How do I know he is not at this moment in misery, without bread to eat? He must be found! My only hope of bearing up against the shock that has fallen on me, is the hope of doing something which she would have approved. You must know more, Mrs. Goldstraw, than you have told me yet. Who was the stranger who adopted the child? You must have heard the lady’s name?” “I never heard it, sir. I have never seen her, or heard of her, since.” “Did she say nothing when she took the child away? Search your memory. She must have said something.” “Only one thing, sir, that I can remember. It was a miserably bad season, that year; and many of the children were suffering from it. When she took the baby away, the lady said to me, laughing, ‘Don’t be alarmed about his health. He will be brought up in a better climate than this—I am going to take him to Switzerland.’” “To Switzerland? What part of Switzerland?” “She didn’t say, sir.” “Only that faint clue!” said Mr. Wilding. “And a quarter of a century has passed since the child was taken away! What am I to do?” “I hope you won’t take offence at my freedom, sir,” said Mrs. Goldstraw; “but why should you distress yourself about what is to be done? He may not be alive now, for anything you know. And, if he is alive, it’s not likely he can be in any distress. The, lady who adopted him was a bred and born lady—it was easy to see that. And she must have satisfied them at the Foundling that she could provide for the child, or they would never have let her take him away. If I was in your place, sir—please to excuse my saying so—I should comfort myself with remembering that I had loved that poor lady whose portrait you have got there—truly loved her as my mother, and that she had truly loved me as her son. All she gave to you, she gave for the sake of that love. It never altered while she lived; and it won’t alter, I’m sure, as long as you live. How can you have a better right, sir, to keep what you have got than that?” Mr. Wilding’s immovable honesty saw the fallacy in his housekeeper’s point of view at a glance. “You don’t understand me,” he said. “It’s because I loved her that I feel it a duty—a sacred duty—to do justice to her son. If he is a living man, I must find him: for my own sake, as well as for his. I shall break down under this dreadful trial, unless I employ myself—actively, instantly employ myself—in doing what my conscience tells me ought to be done. I must speak to my lawyer; I must set my lawyer at work before I sleep to-night.” He approached a tube in the wall of the room, and called down through it to the office below. “Leave me for a little, Mrs. Goldstraw,” he resumed; “I shall be more composed, I shall be better able to speak to you later in the day. We shall get on well—I hope we shall get on well together—in spite of what has happened. It isn’t your fault; I know it isn’t your fault. There! there! shake hands; and—and do the best you can in the house—I can’t talk about it now.” The door opened as Mrs. Goldstraw advanced towards it; and Mr. Jarvis appeared. “Send for Mr. Bintrey,” said the wine-merchant. “Say I want to see him directly.” The clerk unconsciously suspended the execution of the order, by announcing “Mr. Vendale,” and showing in the new partner in the firm of Wilding and Co. “Pray excuse me for one moment, George Vendale,” said Wilding. “I have a word to say to Jarvis. Send for Mr. Bintrey,” he repeated—“send at once.” Mr. Jarvis laid a letter on the table before he left the room. “From our correspondents at Neuchâtel, I think, sir. The letter has got the Swiss postmark.” NEW CHARACTERS ON THE SCENE. The words, “The Swiss Postmark,” following so soon upon the housekeeper’s reference to Switzerland, wrought Mr. Wilding’s agitation to such a remarkable height, that his new partner could not decently make a pretence of letting it pass unnoticed. “Wilding,” he asked hurriedly, and yet stopping short and glancing around as if for some visible cause of his state of mind: “what is the matter?” “My good George Vendale,” returned the wine-merchant, giving his hand with an appealing look, rather as if he wanted help to get over some obstacle, than as if he gave it in welcome or salutation: “my good George Vendale, so much is the matter, that I shall never be myself again. It is impossible that I can ever be myself again. For, in fact, I am not myself.” The new partner, a brown-cheeked handsome fellow, of about his own age, with a quick determined eye and an impulsive manner, retorted with natural astonishment: “Not yourself?” “Not what I supposed myself to be,” said Wilding. “What, in the name of wonder, did you suppose yourself to be that you are not?” was the rejoinder, delivered with a cheerful frankness, inviting confidence from a more reticent man. “I may ask without impertinence, now that we are partners.” “There again!” cried Wilding, leaning back in his chair, with a lost look at the other. “Partners! I had no right to come into this business. It was never meant for me. My mother never meant it should be mine. I mean, his mother meant it should be his—if I mean anything—or if I am anybody.” “Come, come,” urged his partner, after a moment’s pause, and taking possession of him with that calm confidence which inspires a strong nature when it honestly desires to aid a weak one. “Whatever has gone wrong, has gone wrong through no fault of yours, I am very sure. I was not in this counting-house with you, under the old régime, for three years, to doubt you, Wilding. We were not younger men than we are, together, for that. Let me begin our partnership by being a serviceable partner, and setting right whatever is wrong. Has that letter anything to do with it?” “Hah!” said Wilding, with his hand to his temple. “There again! My head! I was forgetting the coincidence. The Swiss postmark.” “At a second glance I see that the letter is unopened, so it is not very likely to have much to do with the matter,” said Vendale, with comforting composure. “Is it for you, or for us?” “For us,” said Wilding. “Suppose I open it and read it aloud, to get it out of our way?” “Thank you, thank you.” “The letter is only from our champagne-making friends, the house at Neuchâtel. ‘Dear Sir. We are in receipt of yours of the 28th ult., informing us that you have taken your Mr. Vendale into partnership, whereon we beg you to receive the assurance of our felicitations. Permit us to embrace the occasion of specially commanding to you M. Jules Obenreizer.’ Impossible!” Wilding looked up in quick apprehension, and cried, “Eh?” “Impossible sort of name,” returned his partner, slightly—“Obenreizer. ‘—Of specially commanding to you M. Jules Obenreizer, of Soho Square, London (north side), henceforth fully accredited as our agent, and who has already had the honour of making the acquaintance of your Mr. Vendale, in his (said M. Obenreizer’s) native country, Switzerland.’ To be sure! pooh pooh, what have I been thinking of! I remember now; ‘when travelling with his niece.’” “With his—?” Vendale had so slurred the last word, that Wilding had not heard it. “When travelling with his Niece. Obenreizer’s Niece,” said Vendale, in a somewhat superfluously lucid manner. “Niece of Obenreizer. (I met them in my first Swiss tour, travelled a little with them, and lost them for two years; met them again, my Swiss tour before last, and have lost them ever since.) Obenreizer. Niece of Obenreizer. To be sure! Possible sort of name, after all! ‘M. Obenreizer is in possession of our absolute confidence, and we do not doubt you will esteem his merits.’ Duly signed by the House, ‘Defresnier et Cie.’ Very well. I undertake to see M. Obenreizer presently, and clear him out of the way. That clears the Swiss postmark out of the way. So now, my dear Wilding, tell me what I can clear out of your way, and I’ll find a way to clear it.” More than ready and grateful to be thus taken charge of, the honest wine-merchant wrung his partner’s hand, and, beginning his tale by pathetically declaring himself an Impostor, told it. “It was on this matter, no doubt, that you were sending for Bintrey when I came in?” said his partner, after reflecting. “It was.” “He has experience and a shrewd head; I shall be anxious to know his opinion. It is bold and hazardous in me to give you mine before I know his, but I am not good at holding back. Plainly, then, I do not see these circumstances as you see them. I do not see your position as you see it. As to your being an Impostor, my dear Wilding, that is simply absurd, because no man can be that without being a consenting party to an imposition. Clearly you never were so. As to your enrichment by the lady who believed you to be her son, and whom you were forced to believe, on her showing, to be your mother, consider whether that did not arise out of the personal relations between you. You gradually became much attached to her; she gradually became much attached to you. It was on you, personally you, as I see the case, that she conferred these worldly advantages; it was from her, personally her, that you took them.” “She supposed me,” objected Wilding, shaking his head, “to have a natural claim upon her, which I had not.” “I must admit that,” replied his partner, “to be true. But if she had made the discovery that you have made, six months before she died, do you think it would have cancelled the years you were together, and the tenderness that each of you had conceived for the other, each on increasing knowledge of the other?” “What I think,” said Wilding, simply but stoutly holding to the bare fact, “can no more change the truth than it can bring down the sky. The truth is that I stand possessed of what was meant for another man.” “He may be dead,” said Vendale. “He may be alive,” said Wilding. “And if he is alive, have I not—innocently, I grant you innocently—robbed him of enough? Have I not robbed him of all the happy time that I enjoyed in his stead? Have I not robbed him of the exquisite delight that filled my soul when that dear lady,” stretching his hand towards the picture, “told me she was my mother? Have I not robbed him of all the care she lavished on me? Have I not even robbed him of all the devotion and duty that I so proudly gave to her? Therefore it is that I ask myself, George Vendale, and I ask you, where is he? What has become of him?” “Who can tell!” “I must try to find out who can tell. I must institute inquiries. I must never desist from prosecuting inquiries. I will live upon the interest of my share—I ought to say his share—in this business, and will lay up the rest for him. When I find him, I may perhaps throw myself upon his generosity; but I will yield up all to him. I will, I swear. As I loved and honoured her,” said Wilding, reverently kissing his hand towards the picture, and then covering his eyes with it. “As I loved and honoured her, and have a world of reasons to be grateful to her!” And so broke down again. His partner rose from the chair he had occupied, and stood beside him with a hand softly laid upon his shoulder. “Walter, I knew you before to-day to be an upright man, with a pure conscience and a fine heart. It is very fortunate for me that I have the privilege to travel on in life so near to so trustworthy a man. I am thankful for it. Use me as your right hand, and rely upon me to the death. Don’t think the worse of me if I protest to you that my uppermost feeling at present is a confused, you may call it an unreasonable, one. I feel far more pity for the lady and for you, because you did not stand in your supposed relations, than I can feel for the unknown man (if he ever became a man), because he was unconsciously displaced. You have done well in sending for Mr. Bintrey. What I think will be a part of his advice, I know is the whole of mine. Do not move a step in this serious matter precipitately. The secret must be kept among us with great strictness, for to part with it lightly would be to invite fraudulent claims, to encourage a host of knaves, to let loose a flood of perjury and plotting. I have no more to say now, Walter, than to remind you that you sold me a share in your business, expressly to save yourself from more work than your present health is fit for, and that I bought it expressly to do work, and mean to do it.” With these words, and a parting grip of his partner’s shoulder that gave them the best emphasis they could have had, George Vendale betook himself presently to the counting-house, and presently afterwards to the address of M. Jules Obenreizer. As he turned into Soho-square, and directed his steps towards its north side, a deepened colour shot across his sun-browned face, which Wilding, if he had been a better observer, or had been less occupied with his own trouble, might have noticed when his partner read aloud a certain passage in their Swiss correspondent’s letter, which he had not read so distinctly as the rest. A curious colony of mountaineers has long been enclosed within that small flat London district of Soho. Swiss watchmakers, Swiss silver-chasers, Swiss jewellers, Swiss importers of Swiss musical boxes and Swiss toys of various kinds, draw close together there. Swiss professors of music, painting, and languages; Swiss artificers in steady work; Swiss couriers, and other Swiss servants chronically out of place; industrious Swiss laundresses and clear-starchers; mysteriously existing Swiss of both sexes; Swiss creditable and Swiss discreditable; Swiss to be trusted by all means, and Swiss to be trusted by no means; these diverse Swiss particles are attracted to a centre in the district of Soho. Shabby Swiss eating-houses, coffee-houses, and lodging-houses, Swiss drinks and dishes, Swiss service for Sundays, and Swiss schools for week-days, are all to be found there. Even the native-born English taverns drive a sort of broken-English trade; announcing in their windows Swiss whets and drams, and sheltering in their bars Swiss skirmishes of love and animosity on most nights in the year. When the new partner in Wilding and Co. rang the bell of a door bearing the blunt inscription OBENREIZER on a brass plate—the inner door of a substantial house, whose ground story was devoted to the sale of Swiss clocks—he passed at once into domestic Switzerland. A white-tiled stove for winter-time filled the fireplace of the room into which he was shown, the room’s bare floor was laid together in a neat pattern of several ordinary woods, the room had a prevalent air of surface bareness and much scrubbing; and the little square of flowery carpet by the sofa, and the velvet chimney-board with its capacious clock and vases of artificial flowers, contended with that tone, as if, in bringing out the whole effect, a Parisian had adapted a dairy to domestic purposes. Mimic water was dropping off a mill-wheel under the clock. The visitor had not stood before it, following it with his eyes, a minute, when M. Obenreizer, at his elbow, startled him by saying, in very good English, very slightly clipped: “How do you do? So glad!” “I beg your pardon. I didn’t hear you come in.” “Not at all! Sit, please.” Releasing his visitor’s two arms, which he had lightly pinioned at the elbows by way of embrace, M. Obenreizer also sat, remarking, with a smile: “You are well? So glad!” and touching his elbows again. “I don’t know,” said Vendale, after exchange of salutations, “whether you may yet have heard of me from your House at Neuchâtel?” “Ah, yes!” “In connection with Wilding and Co.?” “Ah, surely!” “Is it not odd that I should come to you, in London here, as one of the Firm of Wilding and Co. to pay the Firm’s respects?” “Not at all! What did I always observe when we were on the mountains? We call them vast; but the world is so little. So little is the world, that one cannot keep away from persons. There are so few persons in the world, that they continually cross and re-cross. So very little is the world, that one cannot get rid of a person. Not,” touching his elbows again, with an ingratiatory smile, “that one would desire to get rid of you.” “I hope not, M. Obenreizer.” “Please call me, in your country, Mr. I call myself so, for I love your country. If I could be English! But I am born. And you? Though descended from so fine a family, you have had the condescension to come into trade? Stop though. Wines? Is it trade in England or profession? Not fine art?” “Mr. Obenreizer,” returned Vendale, somewhat out of countenance, “I was but a silly young fellow, just of age, when I first had the pleasure of travelling with you, and when you and I and Mademoiselle your niece—who is well?” “Thank you. Who is well.” “—Shared some slight glacier dangers together. If, with a boy’s vanity, I rather vaunted my family, I hope I did so as a kind of introduction of myself. It was very weak, and in very bad taste; but perhaps you know our English proverb, ‘Live and Learn.’” “You make too much of it,” returned the Swiss. “And what the devil! After all, yours was a fine family.” George Vendale’s laugh betrayed a little vexation as he rejoined: “Well! I was strongly attached to my parents, and when we first travelled together, Mr. Obenreizer, I was in the first flush of coming into what my father and mother left me. So I hope it may have been, after all, more youthful openness of speech and heart than boastfulness.” “All openness of speech and heart! No boastfulness!” cried Obenreizer. “You tax yourself too heavily. You tax yourself, my faith! as if you was your Government taxing you! Besides, it commenced with me. I remember, that evening in the boat upon the lake, floating among the reflections of the mountains and valleys, the crags and pine woods, which were my earliest remembrance, I drew a word-picture of my sordid childhood. Of our poor hut, by the waterfall which my mother showed to travellers; of the cow-shed where I slept with the cow; of my idiot half-brother always sitting at the door, or limping down the Pass to beg; of my half-sister always spinning, and resting her enormous goître on a great stone; of my being a famished naked little wretch of two or three years, when they were men and women with hard hands to beat me, I, the only child of my father’s second marriage—if it even was a marriage. What more natural than for you to compare notes with me, and say, ‘We are as one by age; at that same time I sat upon my mother’s lap in my father’s carriage, rolling through the rich English streets, all luxury surrounding me, all squalid poverty kept far from me. Such is my earliest remembrance as opposed to yours!’” Mr. Obenreizer was a black-haired young man of a dark complexion, through whose swarthy skin no red glow ever shone. When colour would have come into another cheek, a hardly discernible beat would come into his, as if the machinery for bringing up the ardent blood were there, but the machinery were dry. He was robustly made, well proportioned, and had handsome features. Many would have perceived that some surface change in him would have set them more at their ease with him, without being able to define what change. If his lips could have been made much thicker, and his neck much thinner, they would have found their want supplied. But the great Obenreizer peculiarity was, that a certain nameless film would come over his eyes—apparently by the action of his own will—which would impenetrably veil, not only from those tellers of tales, but from his face at large, every expression save one of attention. It by no means followed that his attention should be wholly given to the person with whom he spoke, or even wholly bestowed on present sounds and objects. Rather, it was a comprehensive watchfulness of everything he had in his own mind, and everything that he knew to be, or suspected to be, in the minds of other men. At this stage of the conversation, Mr. Obenreizer’s film came over him. “The object of my present visit,” said Vendale, “is, I need hardly say, to assure you of the friendliness of Wilding and Co., and of the goodness of your credit with us, and of our desire to be of service to you. We hope shortly to offer you our hospitality. Things are not quite in train with us yet, for my partner, Mr. Wilding, is reorganising the domestic part of our establishment, and is interrupted by some private affairs. You don’t know Mr. Wilding, I believe?” Mr. Obenreizer did not. “You must come together soon. He will be glad to have made your acquaintance, and I think I may predict that you will be glad to have made his. You have not been long established in London, I suppose, Mr. Obenreizer?” “It is only now that I have undertaken this agency.” “Mademoiselle your niece—is—not married?” “Not married.” George Vendale glanced about him, as if for any tokens of her. “She has been in London?” “She is in London.” “When, and where, might I have the honour of recalling myself to her remembrance?” Mr. Obenreizer, discarding his film and touching his visitor’s elbows as before, said lightly: “Come up-stairs.” Fluttered enough by the suddenness with which the interview he had sought was coming upon him after all, George Vendale followed up-stairs. In a room over the chamber he had just quitted—a room also Swiss-appointed—a young lady sat near one of three windows, working at an embroidery-frame; and an older lady sat with her face turned close to another white-tiled stove (though it was summer, and the stove was not lighted), cleaning gloves. The young lady wore an unusual quantity of fair bright hair, very prettily braided about a rather rounder white forehead than the average English type, and so her face might have been a shade—or say a light—rounder than the average English face, and her figure slightly rounder than the figure of the average English girl at nineteen. A remarkable indication of freedom and grace of limb, in her quiet attitude, and a wonderful purity and freshness of colour in her dimpled face and bright gray eyes, seemed fraught with mountain air. Switzerland too, though the general fashion of her dress was English, peeped out of the fanciful bodice she wore, and lurked in the curious clocked red stocking, and in its little silver-buckled shoe. As to the elder lady, sitting with her feet apart upon the lower brass ledge of the stove, supporting a lap-full of gloves while she cleaned one stretched on her left hand, she was a true Swiss impersonation of another kind; from the breadth of her cushion-like back, and the ponderosity of her respectable legs (if the word be admissible), to the black velvet band tied tightly round her throat for the repression of a rising tendency to goitre; or, higher still, to her great copper-coloured gold ear-rings; or, higher still, to her head-dress of black gauze stretched on wire. “Miss Marguerite,” said Obenreizer to the young lady, “do you recollect this gentleman?” “I think,” she answered, rising from her seat, surprised and a little confused: “it is Mr. Vendale?” “I think it is,” said Obenreizer, dryly. “Permit me, Mr. Vendale. Madame Dor.” The elder lady by the stove, with the glove stretched on her left hand, like a glover’s sign, half got up, half looked over her broad shoulder, and wholly plumped down again and rubbed away. “Madame Dor,” said Obenreizer, smiling, “is so kind as to keep me free from stain or tear. Madame Dor humours my weakness for being always neat, and devotes her time to removing every one of my specks and spots.” Madame Dor, with the stretched glove in the air, and her eyes closely scrutinizing its palm, discovered a tough spot in Mr. Obenreizer at that instant, and rubbed hard at him. George Vendale took his seat by the embroidery-frame (having first taken the fair right hand that his entrance had checked), and glanced at the gold cross that dipped into the bodice, with something of the devotion of a pilgrim who had reached his shrine at last. Obenreizer stood in the middle of the room with his thumbs in his waistcoat-pockets, and became filmy. “He was saying down-stairs, Miss Obenreizer,” observed Vendale, “that the world is so small a place, that people cannot escape one another. I have found it much too large for me since I saw you last.” “Have you travelled so far, then?” she inquired. “Not so far, for I have only gone back to Switzerland each year; but I could have wished—and indeed I have wished very often—that the little world did not afford such opportunities for long escapes as it does. If it had been less, I might have found my follow-travellers sooner, you know.” The pretty Marguerite coloured, and very slightly glanced in the direction of Madame Dor. “You find us at length, Mr. Vendale. Perhaps you may lose us again.” “I trust not. The curious coincidence that has enabled me to find you, encourages me to hope not.” “What is that coincidence, sir, if you please?” A dainty little native touch in this turn of speech, and in its tone, made it perfectly captivating, thought George Vendale, when again he noticed an instantaneous glance towards Madame Dor. A caution seemed to be conveyed in it, rapid flash though it was; so he quietly took heed of Madame Dor from that time forth. “It is that I happen to have become a partner in a House of business in London, to which Mr. Obenreizer happens this very day to be expressly recommended: and that, too, by another house of business in Switzerland, in which (as it turns out) we both have a commercial interest. He has not told you?” “Ah!” cried Obenreizer, striking in, filmless. “No. I had not told Miss Marguerite. The world is so small and so monotonous that a surprise is worth having in such a little jog-trot place. It is as he tells you, Miss Marguerite. He, of so fine a family, and so proudly bred, has condescended to trade. To trade! Like us poor peasants who have risen from ditches!” A cloud crept over the fair brow, and she cast down her eyes. “Why, it is good for trade!” pursued Obenreizer, enthusiastically. “It ennobles trade! It is the misfortune of trade, it is its vulgarity, that any low people—for example, we poor peasants—may take to it and climb by it. See you, my dear Vendale!” He spoke with great energy. “The father of Miss Marguerite, my eldest half-brother, more than two times your age or mine, if living now, wandered without shoes, almost without rags, from that wretched Pass—wandered—wandered—got to be fed with the mules and dogs at an Inn in the main valley far away—got to be Boy there—got to be Ostler—got to be Waiter—got to be Cook—got to be Landlord. As Landlord, he took me (could he take the idiot beggar his brother, or the spinning monstrosity his sister?) to put as pupil to the famous watchmaker, his neighbour and friend. His wife dies when Miss Marguerite is born. What is his will, and what are his words to me, when he dies, she being between girl and woman? ‘All for Marguerite, except so much by the year for you. You are young, but I make her your ward, for you were of the obscurest and the poorest peasantry, and so was I, and so was her mother; we were abject peasants all, and you will remember it.’ The thing is equally true of most of my countrymen, now in trade in this your London quarter of Soho. Peasants once; low-born drudging Swiss Peasants. Then how good and great for trade:” here, from having been warm, he became playfully jubilant, and touched the young wine-merchant’s elbows again with his light embrace: “to be exalted by gentlemen!” “I do not think so,” said Marguerite, with a flushed cheek, and a look away from the visitor, that was almost defiant. “I think it is as much exalted by us peasants.” “Fie, fie, Miss Marguerite,” said Obenreizer. “You speak in proud England.” “I speak in proud earnest,” she answered, quietly resuming her work, “and I am not English, but a Swiss peasant’s daughter.” There was a dismissal of the subject in her words, which Vendale could not contend against. He only said in an earnest manner, “I most heartily agree with you, Miss Obenreizer, and I have already said so, as Mr. Obenreizer will bear witness,” which he by no means did, “in this house.” Now, Vendale’s eyes were quick eyes, and sharply watching Madame Dor by times, noted something in the broad back view of that lady. There was considerable pantomimic expression in her glove-cleaning. It had been very softly done when he spoke with Marguerite, or it had altogether stopped, like the action of a listener. When Obenreizer’s peasant-speech came to an end, she rubbed most vigorously, as if applauding it. And once or twice, as the glove (which she always held before her, a little above her face) turned in the air, or as this finger went down, or that went up, he even fancied that it made some telegraphic communication to Obenreizer: whose back was certainly never turned upon it, though he did not seem at all to heed it. Vendale observed too, that in Marguerite’s dismissal of the subject twice forced upon him to his misrepresentation, there was an indignant treatment of her guardian which she tried to cheek: as though she would have flamed out against him, but for the influence of fear. He also observed—though this was not much—that he never advanced within the distance of her at which he first placed himself: as though there were limits fixed between them. Neither had he ever spoken of her without the prefix “Miss,” though whenever he uttered it, it was with the faintest trace of an air of mockery. And now it occurred to Vendale for the first time that something curious in the man, which he had never before been able to define, was definable as a certain subtle essence of mockery that eluded touch or analysis. He felt convinced that Marguerite was in some sort a prisoner as to her free will—though she held her own against those two combined, by the force of her character, which was nevertheless inadequate to her release. To feel convinced of this, was not to feel less disposed to love her than he had always been. In a word, he was desperately in love with her, and thoroughly determined to pursue the opportunity which had opened at last. For the present, he merely touched upon the pleasure that Wilding and Co. would soon have in entreating Miss Obenreizer to honour their establishment with her presence—a curious old place, though a bachelor house withal—and so did not protract his visit beyond such a visit’s ordinary length. Going down stairs, conducted by his host, he found the Obenreizer counting-house at the back of the entrance-hall, and several shabby men in outlandish garments hanging about, whom Obenreizer put aside that he might pass, with a few words in patois. “Countrymen,” he explained, as he attended Vendale to the door. “Poor compatriots. Grateful and attached, like dogs! Good-bye. To meet again. So glad!” Two more light touches on his elbows dismissed him into the street. Sweet Marguerite at her frame, and Madame Dor’s broad back at her telegraph, floated before him to Cripple Corner. On his arrival there, Wilding was closeted with Bintrey. The cellar doors happening to be open, Vendale lighted a candle in a cleft stick, and went down for a cellarous stroll. Graceful Marguerite floated before him faithfully, but Madame Dor’s broad back remained outside. The vaults were very spacious, and very old. There had been a stone crypt down there, when bygones were not bygones; some said, part of a monkish refectory; some said, of a chapel; some said, of a Pagan temple. It was all one now. Let who would make what he liked of a crumbled pillar and a broken arch or so. Old Time had made what he liked of it, and was quite indifferent to contradiction. The close air, the musty smell, and the thunderous rumbling in the streets above, as being, out of the routine of ordinary life, went well enough with the picture of pretty Marguerite holding her own against those two. So Vendale went on until, at a turning in the vaults, he saw a light like the light he carried. “Oh! You are here, are you, Joey?” “Oughtn’t it rather to go, ‘Oh! You’re here, are you, Master George?’ For it’s my business to be here. But it ain’t yourn.” “Don’t grumble, Joey.” “Oh! I don’t grumble,” returned the Cellarman. “If anything grumbles, it’s what I’ve took in through the pores; it ain’t me. Have a care as something in you don’t begin a grumbling, Master George. Stop here long enough for the wapours to work, and they’ll be at it.” His present occupation consisted of poking his head into the bins, making measurements and mental calculations, and entering them in a rhinoceros-hide-looking note-book, like a piece of himself. “They’ll be at it,” he resumed, laying the wooden rod that he measured with across two casks, entering his last calculation, and straightening his back, “trust ‘em! And so you’ve regularly come into the business, Master George?” “Regularly. I hope you don’t object, Joey?” “I don’t, bless you. But Wapours objects that you’re too young. You’re both on you too young.” “We shall get over that objection day by day, Joey.” “Ay, Master George; but I shall day by day get over the objection that I’m too old, and so I shan’t be capable of seeing much improvement in you.” The retort so tickled Joey Ladle that he grunted forth a laugh and delivered it again, grunting forth another laugh after the second edition of “improvement in you.” “But what’s no laughing matter, Master George,” he resumed, straightening his back once more, “is, that young Master Wilding has gone and changed the luck. Mark my words. He has changed the luck, and he’ll find it out. I ain’t been down here all my life for nothing! I know by what I notices down here, when it’s a-going to rain, when it’s a-going to hold up, when it’s a-going to blow, when it’s a-going to be calm. I know, by what I notices down here, when the luck’s changed, quite as well.” “Has this growth on the roof anything to do with your divination?” asked Vendale, holding his light towards a gloomy ragged growth of dark fungus, pendent from the arches with a very disagreeable and repellent effect. “We are famous for this growth in this vault, aren’t we?” “We are Master George,” replied Joey Ladle, moving a step or two away, “and if you’ll be advised by me, you’ll let it alone.” Taking up the rod just now laid across the two casks, and faintly moving the languid fungus with it, Vendale asked, “Ay, indeed? Why so?” “Why, not so much because it rises from the casks of wine, and may leave you to judge what sort of stuff a Cellarman takes into himself when he walks in the same all the days of his life, nor yet so much because at a stage of its growth it’s maggots, and you’ll fetch ‘em down upon you,” returned Joey Ladle, still keeping away, “as for another reason, Master George.” “What other reason?” “(I wouldn’t keep on touchin’ it, if I was you, sir.) I’ll tell you if you’ll come out of the place. First, take a look at its colour, Master George.” “I am doing so.” “Done, sir. Now, come out of the place.” He moved away with his light, and Vendale followed with his. When Vendale came up with him, and they were going back together, Vendale, eyeing him as they walked through the arches, said: “Well, Joey? The colour.” “Is it like clotted blood, Master George?” “Like enough, perhaps.” “More than enough, I think,” muttered Joey Ladle, shaking his head solemnly. “Well, say it is like; say it is exactly like. What then?” “Master George, they do say—” “Who?” “How should I know who?” rejoined the Cellarman, apparently much exasperated by the unreasonable nature of the question. “Them! Them as says pretty well everything, you know. How should I know who They are, if you don’t?” “True. Go on.” “They do say that the man that gets by any accident a piece of that dark growth right upon his breast, will, for sure and certain, die by Murder.” As Vendale laughingly stopped to meet the Cellarman’s eyes, which he had fastened on his light while dreamily saying those words, he suddenly became conscious of being struck upon his own breast by a heavy hand. Instantly following with his eyes the action of the hand that struck him—which was his companion’s—he saw that it had beaten off his breast a web or clot of the fungus even then floating to the ground. For a moment he turned upon the Cellarman almost as scared a look as the Cellarman turned upon him. But in another moment they had reached the daylight at the foot of the cellar-steps, and before he cheerfully sprang up them, he blew out his candle and the superstition together. EXIT WILDING. On the morning of the next day, Wilding went out alone, after leaving a message with his clerk. “If Mr. Vendale should ask for me,” he said, “or if Mr. Bintrey should call, tell them I am gone to the Foundling.” All that his partner had said to him, all that his lawyer, following on the same side, could urge, had left him persisting unshaken in his own point of view. To find the lost man, whose place he had usurped, was now the paramount interest of his life, and to inquire at the Foundling was plainly to take the first step in the direction of discovery. To the Foundling, accordingly, the wine-merchant now went. The once familiar aspect of the building was altered to him, as the look of the portrait over the chimney-piece was altered to him. His one dearest association with the place which had sheltered his childhood had been broken away from it for ever. A strange reluctance possessed him, when he stated his business at the door. His heart ached as he sat alone in the waiting-room while the Treasurer of the institution was being sent for to see him. When the interview began, it was only by a painful effort that he could compose himself sufficiently to mention the nature of his errand. The Treasurer listened with a face which promised all needful attention, and promised nothing more. “We are obliged to be cautious,” he said, when it came to his turn to speak, “about all inquiries which are made by strangers.” “You can hardly consider me a stranger,” answered Wilding, simply. “I was one of your poor lost children here, in the bygone time.” The Treasurer politely rejoined that this circumstance inspired him with a special interest in his visitor. But he pressed, nevertheless for that visitor’s motive in making his inquiry. Without further preface, Wilding told him his motive, suppressing nothing. The Treasurer rose, and led the way into the room in which the registers of the institution were kept. “All the information which our books can give is heartily at your service,” he said. “After the time that has elapsed, I am afraid it is the only information we have to offer you.” The books were consulted, and the entry was found expressed as follows: “3d March, 1836. Adopted, and removed from the Foundling Hospital, a male infant, named Walter Wilding. Name and condition of the person adopting the child—Mrs. Jane Ann Miller, widow. Address—Lime-Tree Lodge, Groombridge Wells. References—the Reverend John Harker, Groombridge Wells; and Messrs. Giles, Jeremie, and Giles, bankers, Lombard-street.” “Is that all?” asked the wine-merchant. “Had you no after-communication with Mrs. Miller?” “None—or some reference to it must have appeared in this book.” “May I take a copy of the entry?” “Certainly! You are a little agitated. Let me make a copy for you.” “My only chance, I suppose,” said Wilding, looking sadly at the copy, “is to inquire at Mrs. Miller’s residence, and to try if her references can help me?” “That is the only chance I see at present,” answered the Treasurer. “I heartily wish I could have been of some further assistance to you.” With those farewell words to comfort him, Wilding set forth on the journey of investigation which began from the Foundling doors. The first stage to make for, was plainly the house of business of the bankers in Lombard-street. Two of the partners in the firm were inaccessible to chance-visitors when he asked for them. The third, after raising certain inevitable difficulties, consented to let a clerk examine the ledger marked with the initial letter “M.” The account of Mrs. Miller, widow, of Groombridge Wells, was found. Two long lines, in faded ink, were drawn across it; and at the bottom of the page there appeared this note: “Account closed, September 30th, 1837.” So the first stage of the journey was reached—and so it ended in No Thoroughfare! After sending a note to Cripple Corner to inform his partner that his absence might be prolonged for some hours, Wilding took his place in the train, and started for the second stage on the journey—Mrs. Miller’s residence at Groombridge Wells. Mothers and children travelled with him; mothers and children met each other at the station; mothers and children were in the shops when he entered them to inquire for Lime-Tree Lodge. Everywhere, the nearest and dearest of human relations showed itself happily in the happy light of day. Everywhere, he was reminded of the treasured delusion from which he had been awakened so cruelly—of the lost memory which had passed from him like a reflection from a glass. Inquiring here, inquiring there, he could hear of no such place as Lime-Tree Lodge. Passing a house-agent’s office, he went in wearily, and put the question for the last time. The house-agent pointed across the street to a dreary mansion of many windows, which might have been a manufactory, but which was an hotel. “That’s where Lime-Tree Lodge stood, sir,” said the man, “ten years ago.” The second stage reached, and No Thoroughfare again! But one chance was left. The clerical reference, Mr. Harker, still remained to be found. Customers coming in at the moment to occupy the house-agent’s attention, Wilding went down the street, and entering a bookseller’s shop, asked if he could be informed of the Reverend John Harker’s present address. The bookseller looked unaffectedly shocked and astonished, and made no answer. Wilding repeated his question. The bookseller took up from his counter a prim little volume in a binding of sober grey. He handed it to his visitor, open at the title-page. Wilding read: “The martyrdom of the Reverend John Harker in New Zealand. Related by a former member of his flock.” Wilding put the book down on the counter. “I beg your pardon,” he said thinking a little, perhaps, of his own present martyrdom while he spoke. The silent bookseller acknowledged the apology by a bow. Wilding went out. Third and last stage, and No Thoroughfare for the third and last time. There was nothing more to be done; there was absolutely no choice but to go back to London, defeated at all points. From time to time on the return journey, the wine-merchant looked at his copy of the entry in the Foundling Register. There is one among the many forms of despair—perhaps the most pitiable of all—which persists in disguising itself as Hope. Wilding checked himself in the act of throwing the useless morsel of paper out of the carriage window. “It may lead to something yet,” he thought. “While I live, I won’t part with it. When I die, my executors shall find it sealed up with my will.” Now, the mention of his will set the good wine-merchant on a new track of thought, without diverting his mind from its engrossing subject. He must make his will immediately. The application of the phrase No Thoroughfare to the case had originated with Mr. Bintrey. In their first long conference following the discovery, that sagacious personage had a hundred times repeated, with an obstructive shake of the head, “No Thoroughfare, Sir, No Thoroughfare. My belief is that there is no way out of this at this time of day, and my advice is, make yourself comfortable where you are.” In the course of the protracted consultation, a magnum of the forty-five-year-old port wine had been produced for the wetting of Mr. Bintrey’s legal whistle; but the more clearly he saw his way through the wine, the more emphatically he did not see his way through the case; repeating as often as he set his glass down empty. “Mr. Wilding, No Thoroughfare. Rest and be thankful.” It is certain that the honest wine-merchant’s anxiety to make a will originated in profound conscientiousness; though it is possible (and quite consistent with his rectitude) that he may unconsciously have derived some feeling of relief from the prospect of delegating his own difficulty to two other men who were to come after him. Be that as it may, he pursued his new track of thought with great ardour, and lost no time in begging George Vendale and Mr. Bintrey to meet him in Cripple Corner and share his confidence. “Being all three assembled with closed doors,” said Mr. Bintrey, addressing the new partner on the occasion, “I wish to observe, before our friend (and my client) entrusts us with his further views, that I have endorsed what I understand from him to have been your advice, Mr. Vendale, and what would be the advice of every sensible man. I have told him that he positively must keep his secret. I have spoken with Mrs. Goldstraw, both in his presence and in his absence; and if anybody is to be trusted (which is a very large IF), I think she is to be trusted to that extent. I have pointed out to our friend (and my client), that to set on foot random inquiries would not only be to raise the Devil, in the likeness of all the swindlers in the kingdom, but would also be to waste the estate. Now, you see, Mr. Vendale, our friend (and my client) does not desire to waste the estate, but, on the contrary, desires to husband it for what he considers—but I can’t say I do—the rightful owner, if such rightful owner should ever be found. I am very much mistaken if he ever will be, but never mind that. Mr. Wilding and I are, at least, agreed that the estate is not to be wasted. Now, I have yielded to Mr. Wilding’s desire to keep an advertisement at intervals flowing through the newspapers, cautiously inviting any person who may know anything about that adopted infant, taken from the Foundling Hospital, to come to my office; and I have pledged myself that such advertisement shall regularly appear. I have gathered from our friend (and my client) that I meet you here to-day to take his instructions, not to give him advice. I am prepared to receive his instructions, and to respect his wishes; but you will please observe that this does not imply my approval of either as a matter of professional opinion.” Thus Mr. Bintrey; talking quite is much at Wilding as to Vendale. And yet, in spite of his care for his client, he was so amused by his client’s Quixotic conduct, as to eye him from time to time with twinkling eyes, in the light of a highly comical curiosity. “Nothing,” observed Wilding, “can be clearer. I only wish my head were as clear as yours, Mr. Bintrey.” “If you feel that singing in it coming on,” hinted the lawyer, with an alarmed glance, “put it off.—I mean the interview.” “Not at all, I thank you,” said Wilding. “What was I going to—” “Don’t excite yourself, Mr. Wilding,” urged the lawyer. “No; I wasn’t going to,” said the wine-merchant. “Mr. Bintrey and George Vendale, would you have any hesitation or objection to become my joint trustees and executors, or can you at once consent?” “I consent,” replied George Vendale, readily. “I consent,” said Bintrey, not so readily. “Thank you both. Mr. Bintrey, my instructions for my last will and testament are short and plain. Perhaps you will now have the goodness to take them down. I leave the whole of my real and personal estate, without any exception or reservation whatsoever, to you two, my joint trustees and executors, in trust to pay over the whole to the true Walter Wilding, if he shall be found and identified within two years after the day of my death. Failing that, in trust to you two to pay over the whole as a benefaction and legacy to the Foundling Hospital.” “Those are all your instructions, are they, Mr. Wilding?” demanded Bintrey, after a blank silence, during which nobody had looked at anybody. “The whole.” “And as to those instructions, you have absolutely made up your mind, Mr. Wilding?” “Absolutely, decidedly, finally.” “It only remains,” said the lawyer, with one shrug of his shoulders, “to get them into technical and binding form, and to execute and attest. Now, does that press? Is there any hurry about it? You are not going to die yet, sir.” “Mr. Bintrey,” answered Wilding, gravely, “when I am going to die is within other knowledge than yours or mine. I shall be glad to have this matter off my mind, if you please.” “We are lawyer and client again,” rejoined Bintrey, who, for the nonce, had become almost sympathetic. “If this day week—here, at the same hour—will suit Mr. Vendale and yourself, I will enter in my Diary that I attend you accordingly.” The appointment was made, and in due sequence, kept. The will was formally signed, sealed, delivered, and witnessed, and was carried off by Mr. Bintrey for safe storage among the papers of his clients, ranged in their respective iron boxes, with their respective owners’ names outside, on iron tiers in his consulting-room, as if that legal sanctuary were a condensed Family Vault of Clients. With more heart than he had lately had for former subjects of interest, Wilding then set about completing his patriarchal establishment, being much assisted not only by Mrs. Goldstraw but by Vendale too: who, perhaps, had in his mind the giving of an Obenreizer dinner as soon as possible. Anyhow, the establishment being reported in sound working order, the Obenreizers, Guardian and Ward, were asked to dinner, and Madame Dor was included in the invitation. If Vendale had been over head and ears in love before—a phrase not to be taken as implying the faintest doubt about it—this dinner plunged him down in love ten thousand fathoms deep. Yet, for the life of him, he could not get one word alone with charming Marguerite. So surely as a blessed moment seemed to come, Obenreizer, in his filmy state, would stand at Vendale’s elbow, or the broad back of Madame Dor would appear before his eyes. That speechless matron was never seen in a front view, from the moment of her arrival to that of her departure—except at dinner. And from the instant of her retirement to the drawing-room, after a hearty participation in that meal, she turned her face to the wall again. Yet, through four or five delightful though distracting hours, Marguerite was to be seen, Marguerite was to be heard, Marguerite was to be occasionally touched. When they made the round of the old dark cellars, Vendale led her by the hand; when she sang to him in the lighted room at night, Vendale, standing by her, held her relinquished gloves, and would have bartered against them every drop of the forty-five year old, though it had been forty-five times forty-five years old, and its nett price forty-five times forty-five pounds per dozen. And still, when she was gone, and a great gap of an extinguisher was clapped on Cripple Corner, he tormented himself by wondering, Did she think that he admired her! Did she think that he adored her! Did she suspect that she had won him, heart and soul! Did she care to think at all about it! And so, Did she and Didn’t she, up and down the gamut, and above the line and below the line, dear, dear! Poor restless heart of humanity! To think that the men who were mummies thousands of years ago, did the same, and ever found the secret how to be quiet after it! “What do you think, George,” Wilding asked him next day, “of Mr. Obenreizer? (I won’t ask you what you think of Miss Obenreizer).” “I don’t know,” said Vendale, “and I never did know, what to think of him.” “He is well informed and clever,” said Wilding. “Certainly clever.” “A good musician.” (He had played very well, and sung very well, overnight.) “Unquestionably a good musician.” “And talks well.” “Yes,” said George Vendale, ruminating, “and talks well. Do you know, Wilding, it oddly occurs to me, as I think about him, that he doesn’t keep silence well!” “How do you mean? He is not obtrusively talkative.” “No, and I don’t mean that. But when he is silent, you can hardly help vaguely, though perhaps most unjustly, mistrusting him. Take people whom you know and like. Take any one you know and like.” “Soon done, my good fellow,” said Wilding. “I take you.” “I didn’t bargain for that, or foresee it,” returned Vendale, laughing. “However, take me. Reflect for a moment. Is your approving knowledge of my interesting face mainly founded (however various the momentary expressions it may include) on my face when I am silent?” “I think it is,” said Wilding. “I think so too. Now, you see, when Obenreizer speaks—in other words, when he is allowed to explain himself away—he comes out right enough; but when he has not the opportunity of explaining himself away, he comes out rather wrong. Therefore it is, that I say he does not keep silence well. And passing hastily in review such faces as I know, and don’t trust, I am inclined to think, now I give my mind to it, that none of them keep silence well.” This proposition in Physiognomy being new to Wilding, he was at first slow to admit it, until asking himself the question whether Mrs. Goldstraw kept silence well, and remembering that her face in repose decidedly invited trustfulness, he was as glad as men usually are to believe what they desire to believe. But, as he was very slow to regain his spirits or his health, his partner, as another means of setting him up—and perhaps also with contingent Obenreizer views—reminded him of those musical schemes of his in connection with his family, and how a singing-class was to be formed in the house, and a Choir in a neighbouring church. The class was established speedily, and, two or three of the people having already some musical knowledge, and singing tolerably, the Choir soon followed. The latter was led, and chiefly taught, by Wilding himself: who had hopes of converting his dependents into so many Foundlings, in respect of their capacity to sing sacred choruses. Now, the Obenreizers being skilled musicians it was easily brought to pass that they should be asked to join these musical unions. Guardian and Ward consenting, or Guardian consenting for both, it was necessarily brought to pass that Vendale’s life became a life of absolute thraldom and enchantment. For, in the mouldy Christopher-Wren church on Sundays, with its dearly beloved brethren assembled and met together, five-and-twenty strong, was not that Her voice that shot like light into the darkest places, thrilling the walls and pillars as though they were pieces of his heart! What time, too, Madame Dor in a corner of the high pew, turning her back upon everybody and everything, could not fail to be Ritualistically right at some moment of the service; like the man whom the doctors recommended to get drunk once a month, and who, that he might not overlook it, got drunk every day. But, even those seraphic Sundays were surpassed by the Wednesday concerts established for the patriarchal family. At those concerts she would sit down to the piano and sing them, in her own tongue, songs of her own land, songs calling from the mountain-tops to Vendale, “Rise above the grovelling level country; come far away from the crowd; pursue me as I mount higher; higher, higher, melting into the azure distance; rise to my supremest height of all, and love me here!” Then would the pretty bodice, the clocked stocking, and the silver-buckled shoe be, like the broad forehead and the bright eyes, fraught with the spring of a very chamois, until the strain was over. Not even over Vendale himself did these songs of hers cast a more potent spell than over Joey Ladle in his different way. Steadily refusing to muddle the harmony by taking any share in it, and evincing the supremest contempt for scales and such-like rudiments of music—which, indeed, seldom captivate mere listeners—Joey did at first give up the whole business for a bad job, and the whole of the performers for a set of howling Dervishes. But, descrying traces of unmuddled harmony in a part-song one day, he gave his two under-cellarmen faint hopes of getting on towards something in course of time. An anthem of Handel’s led to further encouragement from him: though he objected that that great musician must have been down in some of them foreign cellars pretty much, for to go and say the same thing so many times over; which, took it in how you might, he considered a certain sign of your having took it in somehow. On a third occasion, the public appearance of Mr. Jarvis with a flute, and of an odd man with a violin, and the performance of a duet by the two, did so astonish him that, solely of his own impulse and motion, he became inspired with the words, “Ann Koar!” repeatedly pronouncing them as if calling in a familiar manner for some lady who had distinguished herself in the orchestra. But this was his final testimony to the merits of his mates, for, the instrumental duet being performed at the first Wednesday concert, and being presently followed by the voice of Marguerite Obenreizer, he sat with his mouth wide open, entranced, until she had finished; when, rising in his place with much solemnity, and prefacing what he was about to say with a bow that specially included Mr. Wilding in it, he delivered himself of the gratifying sentiment: “Arter that, ye may all on ye get to bed!” And ever afterwards declined to render homage in any other words to the musical powers of the family. Thus began a separate personal acquaintance between Marguerite Obenreizer and Joey Ladle. She laughed so heartily at his compliment, and yet was so abashed by it, that Joey made bold to say to her, after the concert was over, he hoped he wasn’t so muddled in his head as to have took a liberty? She made him a gracious reply, and Joey ducked in return. “You’ll change the luck time about, Miss,” said Joey, ducking again. “It’s such as you n the place that can bring round the luck of the place.” “Can I? Round the uck?” she answered, in her pretty English, and with a pretty wonder. “I fear I do not understand. I am so stupid.” “Young Master Wilding, Miss,” Joey explained confidentially, though not much to her enlightenment, “changed the luck, afore he took in young Master George. So I say, and so they’ll find. Lord! Only come into the place and sing over the luck a few times, Miss, and it won’t be able to help itself!” With this, and with a whole brood of ducks, Joey backed out of the presence. But Joey being a privileged person, and even an involuntary conquest being pleasant to youth and beauty, Marguerite merrily looked out for him next time. “Where is my Mr. Joey, please?” she asked Vendale. So Joey was produced, and shaken hands with, and that became an Institution. Another Institution arose in this wise. Joey was a little hard of hearing. He himself said it was “Wapours,” and perhaps it might have been; but whatever the cause of the effect, there the effect was, upon him. On this first occasion he had been seen to sidle along the wall, with his left hand to his left ear, until he had sidled himself into a seat pretty near the singer, in which place and position he had remained, until addressing to his friends the amateurs the compliment before mentioned. It was observed on the following Wednesday that Joey’s action as a Pecking Machine was impaired at dinner, and it was rumoured about the table that this was explainable by his high-strung expectations of Miss Obenreizer’s singing, and his fears of not getting a place where he could hear every note and syllable. The rumour reaching Wilding’s ears, he in his good nature called Joey to the front at night before Marguerite began. Thus the Institution came into being that on succeeding nights, Marguerite, running her hands over the keys before singing, always said to Vendale, “Where is my Mr. Joey, please?” and that Vendale always brought him forth, and stationed him near by. That he should then, when all eyes were upon him, express in his face the utmost contempt for the exertions of his friends and confidence in Marguerite alone, whom he would stand contemplating, not unlike the rhinocerous out of the spelling-book, tamed and on his hind legs, was a part of the Institution. Also that when he remained after the singing in his most ecstatic state, some bold spirit from the back should say, “What do you think of it, Joey?” and he should be goaded to reply, as having that instant conceived the retort, “Arter that ye may all on ye get to bed!” These were other parts of the Institution. But, the simple pleasures and small jests of Cripple Corner were not destined to have a long life. Underlying them from the first was a serious matter, which every member of the patriarchal family knew of, but which, by tacit agreement, all forbore to speak of. Mr. Wilding’s health was in a bad way. He might have overcome the shock he had sustained in the one great affection of his life, or he might have overcome his consciousness of being in the enjoyment of another man’s property; but the two together were too much for him. A man haunted by twin ghosts, he became deeply depressed. The inseparable spectres sat at the board with him, ate from his platter, drank from his cup, and stood by his bedside at night. When he recalled his supposed mother’s love, he felt as though he had stolen it. When he rallied a little under the respect and attachment of his dependants, he felt as though he were even fraudulent in making them happy, for that should have been the unknown man’s duty and gratification. Gradually, under the pressure of his brooding mind, his body stooped, his step lost its elasticity, his eyes were seldom lifted from the ground. He knew he could not help the deplorable mistake that had been made, but he knew he could not mend it; for the days and weeks went by, and no one claimed his name or his possessions. And now there began to creep over him, a cloudy consciousness of often-recurring confusion in his head. He would unaccountably lose, sometimes whole hours, sometimes a whole day and night. Once, his remembrance stopped as he sat at the head of the dinner-table, and was blank until daybreak. Another time, it stopped as he was beating time to their singing, and went on again when he and his partner were walking in the courtyard by the light of the moon, half the night later. He asked Vendale (always full of consideration, work, and help) how this was? Vendale only replied, “You have not been quite well; that’s all.” He looked for explanation into the faces of his people. But they would put it off with “Glad to see you looking so much better, sir;” or “Hope you’re doing nicely now, sir;” in which was no information at all. At length, when the partnership was but five months old, Walter Wilding took to his bed, and his housekeeper became his nurse. “Lying here, perhaps you will not mind my calling you Sally, Mrs. Goldstraw?” said the poor wine-merchant. “It sounds more natural to me, sir, than any other name, and I like it better.” “Thank you, Sally. I think, Sally, I must of late have been subject to fits. Is that so, Sally? Don’t mind telling me now.” “It has happened, sir.” “Ah! That is the explanation!” he quietly remarked. “Mr. Obenreizer, Sally, talks of the world being so small that it is not strange how often the same people come together, and come together at various places, and in various stages of life. But it does seem strange, Sally, that I should, as I may say, come round to the Foundling to die.” He extended his hand to her, and she gently took it. “You are not going to die, dear Mr. Wilding.” “So Mr. Bintrey said, but I think he was wrong. The old child-feeling is coming back upon me, Sally. The old hush and rest, as I used to fall asleep.” After an interval he said, in a placid voice, “Please kiss me, Nurse,” and, it was evident, believed himself to be lying in the old Dormitory. As she had been used to bend over the fatherless and motherless children, Sally bent over the fatherless and motherless man, and put her lips to his forehead, murmuring: “God bless you!” “God bless you!” he replied, in the same tone. After another interval, he opened his eyes in his own character, and said: “Don’t move me, Sally, because of what I am going to say; I lie quite easily. I think my time is come, I don’t know how it may appear to you, Sally, but—” Insensibility fell upon him for a few minutes; he emerged from it once more. “—I don’t know how it may appear to you, Sally, but so it appears to me.” When he had thus conscientiously finished his favourite sentence, his time came, and he died. ACT II. VENDALE MAKES LOVE. The summer and the autumn passed. Christmas and the New Year were at hand. As executors honestly bent on performing their duty towards the dead, Vendale and Bintrey had held more than one anxious consultation on the subject of Wilding’s will. The lawyer had declared, from the first, that it was simply impossible to take any useful action in the matter at all. The only obvious inquiries to make, in relation to the lost man, had been made already by Wilding himself; with this result, that time and death together had not left a trace of him discoverable. To advertise for the claimant to the property, it would be necessary to mention particulars—a course of proceeding which would invite half the impostors in England to present themselves in the character of the true Walter Wilding. “If we find a chance of tracing the lost man, we will take it. If we don’t, let us meet for another consultation on the first anniversary of Wilding’s death.” So Bintrey advised. And so, with the most earnest desire to fulfil his dead friend’s wishes, Vendale was fain to let the matter rest for the present. Turning from his interest in the past to his interest in the future, Vendale still found himself confronting a doubtful prospect. Months on months had passed since his first visit to Soho-square—and through all that time, the one language in which he had told Marguerite that he loved her was the language of the eyes, assisted, at convenient opportunities, by the language of the hand. What was the obstacle in his way? The one immovable obstacle which had been in his way from the first. No matter how fairly the opportunities looked, Vendale’s efforts to speak with Marguerite alone ended invariably in one and the same result. Under the most accidental circumstances, in the most innocent manner possible, Obenreizer was always in the way. With the last days of the old year came an unexpected chance of spending an evening with Marguerite, which Vendale resolved should be a chance of speaking privately to her as well. A cordial note from Obenreizer invited him, on New Year’s Day, to a little family dinner in Soho-square. “We shall be only four,” the note said. “We shall be only two,” Vendale determined, “before the evening is out!” New Year’s Day, among the English, is associated with the giving and receiving of dinners, and with nothing more. New Year’s Day, among the foreigners, is the grand opportunity of the year for the giving and receiving of presents. It is occasionally possible to acclimatise a foreign custom. In this instance Vendale felt no hesitation about making the attempt. His one difficulty was to decide what his New Year’s gift to Marguerite should be. The defensive pride of the peasant’s daughter—morbidly sensitive to the inequality between her social position and his—would be secretly roused against him if he ventured on a rich offering. A gift, which a poor man’s purse might purchase, was the one gift that could be trusted to find its way to her heart, for the giver’s sake. Stoutly resisting temptation, in the form of diamonds and rubies, Vendale bought a brooch of the filagree-work of Genoa—the simplest and most unpretending ornament that he could find in the jeweller’s shop. He slipped his gift into Marguerite’s hand as she held it out to welcome him on the day of the dinner. “This is your first New Year’s Day in England,” he said. “Will you let me help to make it like a New Year’s Day at home?” She thanked him, a little constrainedly, as she looked at the jeweller’s box, uncertain what it might contain. Opening the box, and discovering the studiously simple form under which Vendale’s little keepsake offered itself to her, she penetrated his motive on the spot. Her face turned on him brightly, with a look which said, “I own you have pleased and flattered me.” Never had she been so charming, in Vendale’s eyes, as she was at that moment. Her winter dress—a petticoat of dark silk, with a bodice of black velvet rising to her neck, and enclosing it softly in a little circle of swansdown—heightened, by all the force of contrast, the dazzling fairness of her hair and her complexion. It was only when she turned aside from him to the glass, and, taking out the brooch that she wore, put his New Year’s gift in its place, that Vendale’s attention wandered far enough away from her to discover the presence of other persons in the room. He now became conscious that the hands of Obenreizer were affectionately in possession of his elbows. He now heard the voice of Obenreizer thanking him for his attention to Marguerite, with the faintest possible ring of mockery in its tone. (“Such a simple present, dear sir! and showing such nice tact!”) He now discovered, for the first time, that there was one other guest, and but one, besides himself, whom Obenreizer presented as a compatriot and friend. The friend’s face was mouldy, and the friend’s figure was fat. His age was suggestive of the autumnal period of human life. In the course of the evening he developed two extraordinary capacities. One was a capacity for silence; the other was a capacity for emptying bottles. Madame Dor was not in the room. Neither was there any visible place reserved for her when they sat down to table. Obenreizer explained that it was “the good Dor’s simple habit to dine always in the middle of the day. She would make her excuses later in the evening.” Vendale wondered whether the good Dor had, on this occasion, varied her domestic employment from cleaning Obenreizer’s gloves to cooking Obenreizer’s dinner. This at least was certain—the dishes served were, one and all, as achievements in cookery, high above the reach of the rude elementary art of England. The dinner was unobtrusively perfect. As for the wine, the eyes of the speechless friend rolled over it, as in solemn ecstasy. Sometimes he said “Good!” when a bottle came in full; and sometimes he said “Ah!” when a bottle went out empty—and there his contributions to the gaiety of the evening ended. Silence is occasionally infectious. Oppressed by private anxieties of their own, Marguerite and Vendale appeared to feel the influence of the speechless friend. The whole responsibility of keeping the talk going rested on Obenreizer’s shoulders, and manfully did Obenreizer sustain it. He opened his heart in the character of an enlightened foreigner, and sang the praises of England. When other topics ran dry, he returned to this inexhaustible source, and always set the stream running again as copiously as ever. Obenreizer would have given an arm, an eye, or a leg to have been born an Englishman. Out of England there was no such institution as a home, no such thing as a fireside, no such object as a beautiful woman. His dear Miss Marguerite would excuse him, if he accounted for her attractions on the theory that English blood must have mixed at some former time with their obscure and unknown ancestry. Survey this English nation, and behold a tall, clean, plump, and solid people! Look at their cities! What magnificence in their public buildings! What admirable order and propriety in their streets! Admire their laws, combining the eternal principle of justice with the other eternal principle of pounds, shillings, and pence; and applying the product to all civil injuries, from an injury to a man’s honour, to an injury to a man’s nose! You have ruined my daughter—pounds, shillings, and pence! You have knocked me down with a blow in my face—pounds, shillings, and pence! Where was the material prosperity of such a country as that to stop? Obenreizer, projecting himself into the future, failed to see the end of it. Obenreizer’s enthusiasm entreated permission to exhale itself, English fashion, in a toast. Here is our modest little dinner over, here is our frugal dessert on the table, and here is the admirer of England conforming to national customs, and making a speech! A toast to your white cliffs of Albion, Mr. Vendale! to your national virtues, your charming climate, and your fascinating women! to your Hearths, to your Homes, to your Habeas Corpus, and to all your other institutions! In one word—to England! Heep-heep-heep! hooray! Obenreizer’s voice had barely chanted the last note of the English cheer, the speechless friend had barely drained the last drop out of his glass, when the festive proceedings were interrupted by a modest tap at the door. A woman-servant came in, and approached her master with a little note in her hand. Obenreizer opened the note with a frown; and, after reading it with an expression of genuine annoyance, passed it on to his compatriot and friend. Vendale’s spirits rose as he watched these proceedings. Had he found an ally in the annoying little note? Was the long-looked-for chance actually coming at last? “I am afraid there is no help for it?” said Obenreizer, addressing his fellow-countryman. “I am afraid we must go.” The speechless friend handed back the letter, shrugged his heavy shoulders, and poured himself out a last glass of wine. His fat fingers lingered fondly round the neck of the bottle. They pressed it with a little amatory squeeze at parting. His globular eyes looked dimly, as through an intervening haze, at Vendale and Marguerite. His heavy articulation laboured, and brought forth a whole sentence at a birth. “I think,” he said, “I should have liked a little more wine.” His breath failed him after that effort; he gasped, and walked to the door. Obenreizer addressed himself to Vendale with an appearance of the deepest distress. “I am so shocked, so confused, so distressed,” he began. “A misfortune has happened to one of my compatriots. He is alone, he is ignorant of your language—I and my good friend, here, have no choice but to go and help him. What can I say in my excuse? How can I describe my affliction at depriving myself in this way of the honour of your company?” He paused, evidently expecting to see Vendale take up his hat and retire. Discerning his opportunity at last, Vendale determined to do nothing of the kind. He met Obenreizer dexterously, with Obenreizer’s own weapons. “Pray don’t distress yourself,” he said. “I’ll wait here with the greatest pleasure till you come back.” Marguerite blushed deeply, and turned away to her embroidery-frame in a corner by the window. The film showed itself in Obenreizer’s eyes, and the smile came something sourly to Obenreizer’s lips. To have told Vendale that there was no reasonable prospect of his coming back in good time would have been to risk offending a man whose favourable opinion was of solid commercial importance to him. Accepting his defeat with the best possible grace, he declared himself to be equally honoured and delighted by Vendale’s proposal. “So frank, so friendly, so English!” He bustled about, apparently looking for something he wanted, disappeared for a moment through the folding-doors communicating with the next room, came back with his hat and coat, and protesting that he would return at the earliest possible moment, embraced Vendale’s elbows, and vanished from the scene in company with the speechless friend. Vendale turned to the corner by the window, in which Marguerite had placed herself with her work. There, as if she had dropped from the ceiling, or come up through the floor—there, in the old attitude, with her face to the stove—sat an Obstacle that had not been foreseen, in the person of Madame Dor! She half got up, half looked over her broad shoulder at Vendale, and plumped down again. Was she at work? Yes. Cleaning Obenreizer’s gloves, as before? No; darning Obenreizer’s stockings. The case was now desperate. Two serious considerations presented themselves to Vendale. Was it possible to put Madame Dor into the stove? The stove wouldn’t hold her. Was it possible to treat Madame Dor, not as a living woman, but as an article of furniture? Could the mind be brought to contemplate this respectable matron purely in the light of a chest of drawers, with a black gauze held-dress accidentally left on the top of it? Yes, the mind could be brought to do that. With a comparatively trifling effort, Vendale’s mind did it. As he took his place on the old-fashioned window-seat, close by Marguerite and her embroidery, a slight movement appeared in the chest of drawers, but no remark issued from it. Let it be remembered that solid furniture is not easy to move, and that it has this advantage in consequence—there is no fear of upsetting it. Unusually silent and unusually constrained—with the bright colour fast fading from her face, with a feverish energy possessing her fingers—the pretty Marguerite bent over her embroidery, and worked as if her life depended on it. Hardly less agitated himself, Vendale felt the importance of leading her very gently to the avowal which he was eager to make—to the other sweeter avowal still, which he was longing to hear. A woman’s love is never to be taken by storm; it yields insensibly to a system of gradual approach. It ventures by the roundabout way, and listens to the low voice. Vendale led her memory back to their past meetings when they were travelling together in Switzerland. They revived the impressions, they recalled the events, of the happy bygone time. Little by little, Marguerite’s constraint vanished. She smiled, she was interested, she looked at Vendale, she grew idle with her needle, she made false stitches in her work. Their voices sank lower and lower; their faces bent nearer and nearer to each other as they spoke. And Madame Dor? Madame Dor behaved like an angel. She never looked round; she never said a word; she went on with Obenreizer’s stockings. Pulling each stocking up tight over her left arm, and holding that arm aloft from time to time, to catch the light on her work, there were moments—delicate and indescribable moments—when Madame Dor appeared to be sitting upside down, and contemplating one of her own respectable legs, elevated in the air. As the minutes wore on, these elevations followed each other at longer and longer intervals. Now and again, the black gauze head-dress nodded, dropped forward, recovered itself. A little heap of stockings slid softly from Madame Dor’s lap, and remained unnoticed on the floor. A prodigious ball of worsted followed the stockings, and rolled lazily under the table. The black gauze head-dress nodded, dropped forward, recovered itself, nodded again, dropped forward again, and recovered itself no more. A composite sound, partly as of the purring of an immense cat, partly as of the planing of a soft board, rose over the hushed voices of the lovers, and hummed at regular intervals through the room. Nature and Madame Dor had combined together in Vendale’s interests. The best of women was asleep. Marguerite rose to stop—not the snoring—let us say, the audible repose of Madame Dor. Vendale laid his hand on her arm, and pressed her back gently into her chair. “Don’t disturb her,” he whispered. “I have been waiting to tell you a secret. Let me tell it now.” Marguerite resumed her seat. She tried to resume her needle. It was useless; her eyes failed her; her hand failed her; she could find nothing. “We have been talking,” said Vendale, “of the happy time when we first met, and first travelled together. I have a confession to make. I have been concealing something. When we spoke of my first visit to Switzerland, I told you of all the impressions I had brought back with me to England—except one. Can you guess what that one is?” Her eyes looked steadfastly at the embroidery, and her face turned a little away from him. Signs of disturbance began to appear in her neat velvet bodice, round the region of the brooch. She made no reply. Vendale pressed the question without mercy. “Can you guess what the one Swiss impression is which I have not told you yet?” Her face turned back towards him, and a faint smile trembled on her lips. “An impression of the mountains, perhaps?” she said slyly. “No; a much more precious impression than that.” “Of the lakes?” “No. The lakes have not grown dearer and dearer in remembrance to me every day. The lakes are not associated with my happiness in the present, and my hopes in the future. Marguerite! all that makes life worth having hangs, for me, on a word from your lips. Marguerite! I love you!” Her head drooped as he took her hand. He drew her to him, and looked at her. The tears escaped from her downcast eyes, and fell slowly over her cheeks. “Oh, Mr. Vendale,” she said, sadly, “it would have been kinder to have kept your secret. Have you forgotten the distance between us? It can never, never, be!” “There can be but one distance between us, Marguerite—a distance of your making. My love, my darling, there is no higher rank in goodness, there is no higher rank in beauty, than yours! Come! whisper the one little word which tells me you will be my wife!” She sighed bitterly. “Think of your family,” she murmured; “and think of mine!” Vendale drew her a little nearer to him. “If you dwell on such an obstacle as that,” he said, “I shall think but one thought—I shall think I have offended you.” She started, and looked up. “Oh, no!” she exclaimed innocently. The instant the words passed her lips, she saw the construction that might be placed on them. Her confession had escaped her in spite of herself. A lovely flush of colour overspread her face. She made a momentary effort to disengage herself from her lover’s embrace. She looked up at him entreatingly. She tried to speak. The words died on her lips in the kiss that Vendale pressed on them. “Let me go, Mr. Vendale!” she said faintly. “Call me George.” She laid her head on his bosom. All her heart went out to him at last. “George!” she whispered. “Say you love me!” Her arms twined themselves gently round his neck. Her lips, timidly touching his cheek, murmured the delicious words—“I love you!” In the moment of silence that followed, the sound of the opening and closing of the house-door came clear to them through the wintry stillness of the street. Marguerite started to her feet. “Let me go!” she said. “He has come back!” She hurried from the room, and touched Madame Dor’s shoulder in passing. Madame Dor woke up with a loud snort, looked first over one shoulder and then over the other, peered down into her lap, and discovered neither stockings, worsted, nor darning-needle in it. At the same moment, footsteps became audible ascending the stairs. “Mon Dieu!” said Madame Dor, addressing herself to the stove, and trembling violently. Vendale picked up the stockings and the ball, and huddled them all back in a heap over her shoulder. “Mon Dieu!” said Madame Dor, for the second time, as the avalanche of worsted poured into her capacious lap. The door opened, and Obenreizer came in. His first glance round the room showed him that Marguerite was absent. “What!” he exclaimed, “my niece is away? My niece is not here to entertain you in my absence? This is unpardonable. I shall bring her back instantly.” Vendale stopped him. “I beg you will not disturb Miss Obenreizer,” he said. “You have returned, I see, without your friend?” “My friend remains, and consoles our afflicted compatriot. A heart-rending scene, Mr. Vendale! The household gods at the pawnbroker’s—the family immersed in tears. We all embraced in silence. My admirable friend alone possessed his composure. He sent out, on the spot, for a bottle of wine.” “Can I say a word to you in private, Mr. Obenreizer?” “Assuredly.” He turned to Madame Dor. “My good creature, you are sinking for want of repose. Mr. Vendale will excuse you.” Madame Dor rose, and set forth sideways on her journey from the stove to bed. She dropped a stocking. Vendale picked it up for her, and opened one of the folding-doors. She advanced a step, and dropped three more stockings. Vendale stooping to recover them as before, Obenreizer interfered with profuse apologies, and with a warning look at Madame Dor. Madame Dor acknowledged the look by dropping the whole of the stockings in a heap, and then shuffling away panic-stricken from the scene of disaster. Obenreizer swept up the complete collection fiercely in both hands. “Go!” he cried, giving his prodigious handful a preparatory swing in the air. Madame Dor said, “Mon Dieu,” and vanished into the next room, pursued by a shower of stockings. “What must you think, Mr. Vendale,” said Obenreizer, closing the door, “of this deplorable intrusion of domestic details? For myself, I blush at it. We are beginning the New Year as badly as possible; everything has gone wrong to-night. Be seated, pray—and say, what may I offer you? Shall we pay our best respects to another of your noble English institutions? It is my study to be, what you call, jolly. I propose a grog.” Vendale declined the grog with all needful respect for that noble institution. “I wish to speak to you on a subject in which I am deeply interested,” he said. “You must have observed, Mr. Obenreizer, that I have, from the first, felt no ordinary admiration for your charming niece?” “You are very good. In my niece’s name, I thank you.” “Perhaps you may have noticed, latterly, that my admiration for Miss Obenreizer has grown into a tenderer and deeper feeling—?” “Shall we say friendship, Mr. Vendale?” “Say love—and we shall be nearer to the truth.” Obenreizer started out of his chair. The faintly discernible beat, which was his nearest approach to a change of colour, showed itself suddenly in his cheeks. “You are Miss Obenreizer’s guardian,” pursued Vendale. “I ask you to confer upon me the greatest of all favours—I ask you to give me her hand in marriage.” Obenreizer dropped back into his chair. “Mr. Vendale,” he said, “you petrify me.” “I will wait,” rejoined Vendale, “until you have recovered yourself.” “One word before I recover myself. You have said nothing about this to my niece?” “I have opened my whole heart to your niece. And I have reason to hope—” “What!” interposed Obenreizer. “You have made a proposal to my niece, without first asking for my authority to pay your addresses to her?” He struck his hand on the table, and lost his hold over himself for the first time in Vendale’s experience of him. “Sir!” he exclaimed, indignantly, “what sort of conduct is this? As a man of honour, speaking to a man of honour, how can you justify it?” “I can only justify it as one of our English institutions,” said Vendale quietly. “You admire our English institutions. I can’t honestly tell you, Mr. Obenreizer, that I regret what I have done. I can only assure you that I have not acted in the matter with any intentional disrespect towards yourself. This said, may I ask you to tell me plainly what objection you see to favouring my suit?” “I see this immense objection,” answered Obenreizer, “that my niece and you are not on a social equality together. My niece is the daughter of a poor peasant; and you are the son of a gentleman. You do us an honour,” he added, lowering himself again gradually to his customary polite level, “which deserves, and has, our most grateful acknowledgments. But the inequality is too glaring; the sacrifice is too great. You English are a proud people, Mr. Vendale. I have observed enough of this country to see that such a marriage as you propose would be a scandal here. Not a hand would be held out to your peasant-wife; and all your best friends would desert you.” “One moment,” said Vendale, interposing on his side. “I may claim, without any great arrogance, to know more of my country people in general, and of my own friends in particular, than you do. In the estimation of everybody whose opinion is worth having, my wife herself would be the one sufficient justification of my marriage. If I did not feel certain—observe, I say certain—that I am offering her a position which she can accept without so much as the shadow of a humiliation—I would never (cost me what it might) have asked her to be my wife. Is there any other obstacle that you see? Have you any personal objection to me?” Obenreizer spread out both his hands in courteous protest. “Personal objection!” he exclaimed. “Dear sir, the bare question is painful to me.” “We are both men of business,” pursued Vendale, “and you naturally expect me to satisfy you that I have the means of supporting a wife. I can explain my pecuniary position in two words. I inherit from my parents a fortune of twenty thousand pounds. In half of that sum I have only a life-interest, to which, if I die, leaving a widow, my widow succeeds. If I die, leaving children, the money itself is divided among them, as they come of age. The other half of my fortune is at my own disposal, and is invested in the wine-business. I see my way to greatly improving that business. As it stands at present, I cannot state my return from my capital embarked at more than twelve hundred a year. Add the yearly value of my life-interest—and the total reaches a present annual income of fifteen hundred pounds. I have the fairest prospect of soon making it more. In the meantime, do you object to me on pecuniary grounds?” Driven back to his last entrenchment, Obenreizer rose, and took a turn backwards and forwards in the room. For the moment, he was plainly at a loss what to say or do next. “Before I answer that last question,” he said, after a little close consideration with himself, “I beg leave to revert for a moment to Miss Marguerite. You said something just now which seemed to imply that she returns the sentiment with which you are pleased to regard her?” “I have the inestimable happiness,” said Vendale, “of knowing that she loves me.” Obenreizer stood silent for a moment, with the film over his eyes, and the faintly perceptible beat becoming visible again in his cheeks. “If you will excuse me for a few minutes,” he said, with ceremonious politeness, “I should like to have the opportunity of speaking to my niece.” With those words, he bowed, and quitted the room. Left by himself, Vendale’s thoughts (as a necessary result of the interview, thus far) turned instinctively to the consideration of Obenreizer’s motives. He had put obstacles in the way of the courtship; he was now putting obstacles in the way of the marriage—a marriage offering advantages which even his ingenuity could not dispute. On the face of it, his conduct was incomprehensible. What did it mean? Seeking, under the surface, for the answer to that question—and remembering that Obenreizer was a man of about his own age; also, that Marguerite was, strictly speaking, his half-niece only—Vendale asked himself, with a lover’s ready jealousy, whether he had a rival to fear, as well as a guardian to conciliate. The thought just crossed his mind, and no more. The sense of Marguerite’s kiss still lingering on his cheek reminded him gently that even the jealousy of a moment was now a treason to her. On reflection, it seemed most likely that a personal motive of another kind might suggest the true explanation of Obenreizer’s conduct. Marguerite’s grace and beauty were precious ornaments in that little household. They gave it a special social attraction and a special social importance. They armed Obenreizer with a certain influence in reserve, which he could always depend upon to make his house attractive, and which he might always bring more or less to bear on the forwarding of his own private ends. Was he the sort of man to resign such advantages as were here implied, without obtaining the fullest possible compensation for the loss? A connexion by marriage with Vendale offered him solid advantages, beyond all doubt. But there were hundreds of men in London with far greater power and far wider influence than Vendale possessed. Was it possible that this man’s ambition secretly looked higher than the highest prospects that could be offered to him by the alliance now proposed for his niece? As the question passed through Vendale’s mind, the man himself reappeared—to answer it, or not to answer it, as the event might prove. A marked change was visible in Obenreizer when he resumed his place. His manner was less assured, and there were plain traces about his mouth of recent agitation which had not been successfully composed. Had he said something, referring either to Vendale or to himself, which had raised Marguerite’s spirit, and which had placed him, for the first time, face to face with a resolute assertion of his niece’s will? It might or might not be. This only was certain—he looked like a man who had met with a repulse. “I have spoken to my niece,” he began. “I find, Mr. Vendale, that even your influence has not entirely blinded her to the social objections to your proposal.” “May I ask,” returned Vendale, “if that is the only result of your interview with Miss Obenreizer?” A momentary flash leapt out through the Obenreizer film. “You are master of the situation,” he answered, in a tone of sardonic submission. “If you insist on my admitting it, I do admit it in those words. My niece’s will and mine used to be one, Mr. Vendale. You have come between us, and her will is now yours. In my country, we know when we are beaten, and we submit with our best grace. I submit, with my best grace, on certain conditions. Let us revert to the statement of your pecuniary position. I have an objection to you, my dear sir—a most amazing, a most audacious objection, from a man in my position to a man in yours.” “What is it?” “You have honoured me by making a proposal for my niece’s hand. For the present (with best thanks and respects), I beg to decline it.” “Why?” “Because you are not rich enough.” The objection, as the speaker had foreseen, took Vendale completely by surprise. For the moment he was speechless. “Your income is fifteen hundred a year,” pursued Obenreizer. “In my miserable country I should fall on my knees before your income, and say, ‘What a princely fortune!’ In wealthy England, I sit as I am, and say, ‘A modest independence, dear sir; nothing more. Enough, perhaps, for a wife in your own rank of life who has no social prejudices to conquer. Not more than half enough for a wife who is a meanly born foreigner, and who has all your social prejudices against her.’ Sir! if my niece is ever to marry you, she will have what you call uphill work of it in taking her place at starting. Yes, yes; this is not your view, but it remains, immovably remains, my view for all that. For my niece’s sake, I claim that this uphill work shall be made as smooth as possible. Whatever material advantages she can have to help her, ought, in common justice, to be hers. Now, tell me, Mr. Vendale, on your fifteen hundred a year can your wife have a house in a fashionable quarter, a footman to open her door, a butler to wait at her table, and a carriage and horses to drive about in? I see the answer in your face—your face says, No. Very good. Tell me one more thing, and I have done. Take the mass of your educated, accomplished, and lovely country-women, is it, or is it not, the fact that a lady who has a house in a fashionable quarter, a footman to open her door, a butler to wait at her table, and a carriage and horses to drive about in, is a lady who has gained four steps, in female estimation, at starting? Yes? or No?” “Come to the point,” said Vendale. “You view this question as a question of terms. What are your terms?” “The lowest terms, dear sir, on which you can provide your wife with those four steps at starting. Double your present income—the most rigid economy cannot do it in England on less. You said just now that you expected greatly to increase the value of your business. To work—and increase it! I am a good devil after all! On the day when you satisfy me, by plain proofs, that your income has risen to three thousand a year, ask me for my niece’s hand, and it is yours.” “May I inquire if you have mentioned this arrangement to Miss Obenreizer?” “Certainly. She has a last little morsel of regard still left for me, Mr. Vendale, which is not yours yet; and she accepts my terms. In other words, she submits to be guided by her guardian’s regard for her welfare, and by her guardian’s superior knowledge of the world.” He threw himself back in his chair, in firm reliance on his position, and in full possession of his excellent temper. Any open assertion of his own interests, in the situation in which Vendale was now placed, seemed to be (for the present at least) hopeless. He found himself literally left with no ground to stand on. Whether Obenreizer’s objections were the genuine product of Obenreizer’s own view of the case, or whether he was simply delaying the marriage in the hope of ultimately breaking it off altogether—in either of these events, any present resistance on Vendale’s part would be equally useless. There was no help for it but to yield, making the best terms that he could on his own side. “I protest against the conditions you impose on me,” he began. “Naturally,” said Obenreizer; “I dare say I should protest, myself, in your place.” “Say, however,” pursued Vendale, “that I accept your terms. In that case, I must be permitted to make two stipulations on my part. In the first place, I shall expect to be allowed to see your niece.” “Aha! to see my niece? and to make her in as great a hurry to be married as you are yourself? Suppose I say, No? you would see her perhaps without my permission?” “Decidedly!” “How delightfully frank! How exquisitely English! You shall see her, Mr. Vendale, on certain days, which we will appoint together. What next?” “Your objection to my income,” proceeded Vendale, “has taken me completely by surprise. I wish to be assured against any repetition of that surprise. Your present views of my qualification for marriage require me to have an income of three thousand a year. Can I be certain, in the future, as your experience of England enlarges, that your estimate will rise no higher?” “In plain English,” said Obenreizer, “you doubt my word?” “Do you purpose to take my word for it when I inform you that I have doubled my income?” asked Vendale. “If my memory does not deceive me, you stipulated, a minute since, for plain proofs?” “Well played, Mr. Vendale! You combine the foreign quickness with the English solidity. Accept my best congratulations. Accept, also, my written guarantee.” He rose; seated himself at a writing-desk at a side-table, wrote a few lines, and presented them to Vendale with a low bow. The engagement was perfectly explicit, and was signed and dated with scrupulous care. “Are you satisfied with your guarantee?” “I am satisfied.” “Charmed to hear it, I am sure. We have had our little skirmish—we have really been wonderfully clever on both sides. For the present our affairs are settled. I bear no malice. You bear no malice. Come, Mr. Vendale, a good English shake hands.” Vendale gave his hand, a little bewildered by Obenreizer’s sudden transitions from one humour to another. “When may I expect to see Miss Obenreizer again?” he asked, as he rose to go. “Honour me with a visit to-morrow,” said Obenreizer, “and we will settle it then. Do have a grog before you go! No? Well! well! we will reserve the grog till you have your three thousand a year, and are ready to be married. Aha! When will that be?” “I made an estimate, some months since, of the capacities of my business,” said Vendale. “If that estimate is correct, I shall double my present income—” “And be married!” added Obenreizer. “And be married,” repeated Vendale, “within a year from this time. Good-night.” VENDALE MAKES MISCHIEF When Vendale entered his office the next morning, the dull commercial routine at Cripple Corner met him with a new face. Marguerite had an interest in it now! The whole machinery which Wilding’s death had set in motion, to realise the value of the business—the balancing of ledgers, the estimating of debts, the taking of stock, and the rest of it—was now transformed into machinery which indicated the chances for and against a speedy marriage. After looking over results, as presented by his accountant, and checking additions and subtractions, as rendered by the clerks, Vendale turned his attention to the stock-taking department next, and sent a message to the cellars, desiring to see the report. The Cellarman’s appearance, the moment he put his head in at the door of his master’s private room, suggested that something very extraordinary must have happened that morning. There was an approach to alacrity in Joey Ladle’s movements! There was something which actually simulated cheerfulness in Joey Ladle’s face “What’s the matter?” asked Vendale. “Anything wrong?” “I should wish to mention one thing,” answered Joey. “Young Mr. Vendale, I have never set myself up for a prophet.” “Who ever said you did?” “No prophet, as far as I’ve heard I tell of that profession,” proceeded Joey, “ever lived principally underground. No prophet, whatever else he might take in at the pores, ever took in wine from morning to night, for a number of years together. When I said to young Master Wilding, respecting his changing the name of the firm, that one of these days he might find he’d changed the luck of the firm—did I put myself forward as a prophet? No, I didn’t. Has what I said to him come true? Yes, it has. In the time of Pebbleson Nephew, Young Mr. Vendale, no such thing was ever known as a mistake made in a consignment delivered at these doors. There’s a mistake been made now. Please to remark that it happened before Miss Margaret came here. For which reason it don’t go against what I’ve said respecting Miss Margaret singing round the luck. Read that, sir,” concluded Joey, pointing attention to a special passage in the report, with a forefinger which appeared to be in process of taking in through the pores nothing more remarkable than dirt. “It’s foreign to my nature to crow over the house I serve, but I feel it a kind of solemn duty to ask you to read that.” Vendale read as follows:—“Note, respecting the Swiss champagne. An irregularity has been discovered in the last consignment received from the firm of Defresnier and Co.” Vendale stopped, and referred to a memorandum-book by his side. “That was in Mr. Wilding’s time,” he said. “The vintage was a particularly good one, and he took the whole of it. The Swiss champagne has done very well, hasn’t it?” “I don’t say it’s done badly,” answered the Cellarman. “It may have got sick in our customers’ bins, or it may have bust in our customers’ hands. But I don’t say it’s done badly with us.” Vendale resumed the reading of the note: “We find the number of the cases to be quite correct by the books. But six of them, which present a slight difference from the rest in the brand, have been opened, and have been found to contain a red wine instead of champagne. The similarity in the brands, we suppose, caused a mistake to be made in sending the consignment from Neuchâtel. The error has not been found to extend beyond six cases.” “Is that all!” exclaimed Vendale, tossing the note away from him. Joey Ladle’s eye followed the flying morsel of paper drearily. “I’m glad to see you take it easy, sir,” he said. “Whatever happens, it will be always a comfort to you to remember that you took it easy at first. Sometimes one mistake leads to another. A man drops a bit of orange-peel on the pavement by mistake, and another man treads on it by mistake, and there’s a job at the hospital, and a party crippled for life. I’m glad you take it easy, sir. In Pebbleson Nephew’s time we shouldn’t have taken it easy till we had seen the end of it. Without desiring to crow over the house, Young Mr. Vendale, I wish you well through it. No offence, sir,” said the Cellarman, opening the door to go out, and looking in again ominously before he shut it. “I’m muddled and molloncolly, I grant you. But I’m an old servant of Pebbleson Nephew, and I wish you well through them six cases of red wine.” Left by himself, Vendale laughed, and took up his pen. “I may as well send a line to Defresnier and Company,” he thought, “before I forget it.” He wrote at once in these terms: “Dear Sirs. We are taking stock, and a trifling mistake has been discovered in the last consignment of champagne sent by your house to ours. Six of the cases contain red wine—which we hereby return to you. The matter can easily be set right, either by your sending us six cases of the champagne, if they can be produced, or, if not, by your crediting us with the value of six cases on the amount last paid (five hundred pounds) by our firm to yours. Your faithful servants, “WILDING AND CO.” This letter despatched to the post, the subject dropped at once out of Vendale’s mind. He had other and far more interesting matters to think of. Later in the day he paid the visit to Obenreizer which had been agreed on between them. Certain evenings in the week were set apart which he was privileged to spend with Marguerite—always, however, in the presence of a third person. On this stipulation Obenreizer politely but positively insisted. The one concession he made was to give Vendale his choice of who the third person should be. Confiding in past experience, his choice fell unhesitatingly upon the excellent woman who mended Obenreizer’s stockings. On hearing of the responsibility entrusted to her, Madame Dor’s intellectual nature burst suddenly into a new stage of development. She waited till Obenreizer’s eye was off her—and then she looked at Vendale, and dimly winked. The time passed—the happy evenings with Marguerite came and went. It was the tenth morning since Vendale had written to the Swiss firm, when the answer appeared, on his desk, with the other letters of the day: “Dear Sirs. We beg to offer our excuses for the little mistake which has happened. At the same time, we regret to add that the statement of our error, with which you have favoured us, has led to a very unexpected discovery. The affair is a most serious one for you and for us. The particulars are as follows: “Having no more champagne of the vintage last sent to you, we made arrangements to credit your firm to the value of six cases, as suggested by yourself. On taking this step, certain forms observed in our mode of doing business necessitated a reference to our bankers’ book, as well as to our ledger. The result is a moral certainty that no such remittance as you mention can have reached our house, and a literal certainty that no such remittance has been paid to our account at the bank. “It is needless, at this stage of the proceedings, to trouble you with details. The money has unquestionably been stolen in the course of its transit from you to us. Certain peculiarities which we observe, relating to the manner in which the fraud has been perpetrated, lead us to conclude that the thief may have calculated on being able to pay the missing sum to our bankers, before an inevitable discovery followed the annual striking of our balance. This would not have happened, in the usual course, for another three months. During that period, but for your letter, we might have remained perfectly unconscious of the robbery that has been committed. “We mention this last circumstance, as it may help to show you that we have to do, in this case, with no ordinary thief. Thus far we have not even a suspicion of who that thief is. But we believe you will assist us in making some advance towards discovery, by examining the receipt (forged, of course) which has no doubt purported to come to you from our house. Be pleased to look and see whether it is a receipt entirely in manuscript, or whether it is a numbered and printed form which merely requires the filling in of the amount. The settlement of this apparently trivial question is, we assure you, a matter of vital importance. Anxiously awaiting your reply, we remain, with high esteem and consideration, “DEFRESNIER &amp;amp; CIE.” Vendale had the letter on his desk, and waited a moment to steady his mind under the shock that had fallen on it. At the time of all others when it was most important to him to increase the value of his business, that business was threatened with a loss of five hundred pounds. He thought of Marguerite, as he took the key from his pocket and opened the iron chamber in the wall in which the books and papers of the firm were kept. He was still in the chamber, searching for the forged receipt, when he was startled by a voice speaking close behind him. “A thousand pardons,” said the voice; “I am afraid I disturb you.” He turned, and found himself face to face with Marguerite’s guardian. “I have called,” pursued Obenreizer, “to know if I can be of any use. Business of my own takes me away for some days to Manchester and Liverpool. Can I combine any business of yours with it? I am entirely at your disposal, in the character of commercial traveller for the firm of Wilding and Co.” “Excuse me for one moment,” said Vendale; “I will speak to you directly.” He turned round again, and continued his search among the papers. “You come at a time when friendly offers are more than usually precious to me,” he resumed. “I have had very bad news this morning from Neuchâtel.” “Bad news,” exclaimed Obenreizer. “From Defresnier and Company?” “Yes. A remittance we sent to them has been stolen. I am threatened with a loss of five hundred pounds. What’s that?” Turning sharply, and looking into the room for the second time, Vendale discovered his envelope case overthrown on the floor, and Obenreizer on his knees picking up the contents. “All my awkwardness,” said Obenreizer. “This dreadful news of yours startled me; I stepped back—” He became too deeply interested in collecting the scattered envelopes to finish the sentence. “Don’t trouble yourself,” said Vendale. “The clerk will pick the things up.” “This dreadful news!” repeated Obenreizer, persisting in collecting the envelopes. “This dreadful news!” “If you will read the letter,” said Vendale, “you will find I have exaggerated nothing. There it is, open on my desk.” He resumed his search, and in a moment more discovered the forged receipt. It was on the numbered and printed form, described by the Swiss firm. Vendale made a memorandum of the number and the date. Having replaced the receipt and locked up the iron chamber, he had leisure to notice Obenreizer, reading the letter in the recess of a window at the far end of the room. “Come to the fire,” said Vendale. “You look perished with the cold out there. I will ring for some more coals.” Obenreizer rose, and came slowly back to the desk. “Marguerite will be as sorry to hear of this as I am,” he said, kindly. “What do you mean to do?” “I am in the hands of Defresnier and Company,” answered Vendale. “In my total ignorance of the circumstances, I can only do what they recommend. The receipt which I have just found, turns out to be the numbered and printed form. They seem to attach some special importance to its discovery. You have had experience, when you were in the Swiss house, of their way of doing business. Can you guess what object they have in view?” Obenreizer offered a suggestion. “Suppose I examine the receipt?” he said. “Are you ill?” asked Vendale, startled by the change in his face, which now showed itself plainly for the first time. “Pray go to the fire. You seem to be shivering—I hope you are not going to be ill?” “Not I!” said Obenreizer. “Perhaps I have caught cold. Your English climate might have spared an admirer of your English institutions. Let me look at the receipt.” Vendale opened the iron chamber. Obenreizer took a chair, and drew it close to the fire. He held both hands over the flames. “Let me look at the receipt,” he repeated, eagerly, as Vendale reappeared with the paper in his hand. At the same moment a porter entered the room with a fresh supply of coals. Vendale told him to make a good fire. The man obeyed the order with a disastrous alacrity. As he stepped forward and raised the scuttle, his foot caught in a fold of the rug, and he discharged his entire cargo of coals into the grate. The result was an instant smothering of the flame, and the production of a stream of yellow smoke, without a visible morsel of fire to account for it. “Imbecile!” whispered Obenreizer to himself, with a look at the man which the man remembered for many a long day afterwards. “Will you come into the clerks’ room?” asked Vendale. “They have a stove there.” “No, no. No matter.” Vendale handed him the receipt. Obenreizer’s interest in examining it appeared to have been quenched as suddenly and as effectually as the fire itself. He just glanced over the document, and said, “No; I don’t understand it! I am sorry to be of no use.” “I will write to Neuchâtel by to-night’s post,” said Vendale, putting away the receipt for the second time. “We must wait, and see what comes of it.” “By to-night’s post,” repeated Obenreizer. “Let me see. You will get the answer in eight or nine days’ time. I shall be back before that. If I can be of any service, as commercial traveller, perhaps you will let me know between this and then. You will send me written instructions? My best thanks. I shall be most anxious for your answer from Neuchâtel. Who knows? It may be a mistake, my dear friend, after all. Courage! courage! courage!” He had entered the room with no appearance of being pressed for time. He now snatched up his hat, and took his leave with the air of a man who had not another moment to lose. Left by himself, Vendale took a turn thoughtfully in the room. His previous impression of Obenreizer was shaken by what he had heard and seen at the interview which had just taken place. He was disposed, for the first time, to doubt whether, in this case, he had not been a little hasty and hard in his judgment on another man. Obenreizer’s surprise and regret, on hearing the news from Neuchâtel, bore the plainest marks of being honestly felt—not politely assumed for the occasion. With troubles of his own to encounter, suffering, to all appearance, from the first insidious attack of a serious illness, he had looked and spoken like a man who really deplored the disaster that had fallen on his friend. Hitherto, Vendale had tried vainly to alter his first opinion of Marguerite’s guardian, for Marguerite’s sake. All the generous instincts in his nature now combined together and shook the evidence which had seemed unanswerable up to this time. “Who knows?” he thought. “I may have read that man’s face wrongly, after all.” The time passed—the happy evenings with Marguerite came and went. It was again the tenth morning since Vendale had written to the Swiss firm; and again the answer appeared on his desk with the other letters of the day: “Dear Sir. My senior partner, M. Defresnier, has been called away, by urgent business, to Milan. In his absence (and with his full concurrence and authority), I now write to you again on the subject of the missing five hundred pounds. “Your discovery that the forged receipt is executed upon one of our numbered and printed forms has caused inexpressible surprise and distress to my partner and to myself. At the time when your remittance was stolen, but three keys were in existence opening the strong-box in which our receipt-forms are invariably kept. My partner had one key; I had the other. The third was in the possession of a gentleman who, at that period, occupied a position of trust in our house. We should as soon have thought of suspecting one of ourselves as of suspecting this person. Suspicion now points at him, nevertheless. I cannot prevail on myself to inform you who the person is, so long as there is the shadow of a chance that he may come innocently out of the inquiry which must now be instituted. Forgive my silence; the motive of it is good. “The form our investigation must now take is simple enough. The handwriting of your receipt must be compared, by competent persons whom we have at our disposal, with certain specimens of handwriting in our possession. I cannot send you the specimens for business reasons, which, when you hear them, you are sure to approve. I must beg you to send me the receipt to Neuchâtel—and, in making this request, I must accompany it by a word of necessary warning. “If the person, at whom suspicion now points, really proves to be the person who has committed this forger and theft, I have reason to fear that circumstances may have already put him on his guard. The only evidence against him is the evidence in your hands, and he will move heaven and earth to obtain and destroy it. I strongly urge you not to trust the receipt to the post. Send it to me, without loss of time, by a private hand, and choose nobody for your messenger but a person long established in your own employment, accustomed to travelling, capable of speaking French; a man of courage, a man of honesty, and, above all things, a man who can be trusted to let no stranger scrape acquaintance with him on the route. Tell no one—absolutely no one—but your messenger of the turn this matter has now taken. The safe transit of the receipt may depend on your interpreting literally the advice which I give you at the end of this letter. “I have only to add that every possible saving of time is now of the last importance. More than one of our receipt-forms is missing—and it is impossible to say what new frauds may not be committed if we fail to lay our hands on the thief. Your faithful servant ROLLAND, (Signing for Defresnier and Cie.) Who was the suspected man? In Vendale’s position, it seemed useless to inquire. Who was to be sent to Neuchâtel with the receipt? Men of courage and men of honesty were to be had at Cripple Corner for the asking. But where was the man who was accustomed to foreign travelling, who could speak the French language, and who could be really relied on to let no stranger scrape acquaintance with him on his route? There was but one man at hand who combined all those requisites in his own person, and that man was Vendale himself. It was a sacrifice to leave his business; it was a greater sacrifice to leave Marguerite. But a matter of five hundred pounds was involved in the pending inquiry; and a literal interpretation of M. Rolland’s advice was insisted on in terms which there was no trifling with. The more Vendale thought of it, the more plainly the necessity faced him, and said, “Go!” As he locked up the letter with the receipt, the association of ideas reminded him of Obenreizer. A guess at the identity of the suspected man looked more possible now. Obenreizer might know. The thought had barely passed through his mind, when the door opened, and Obenreizer entered the room. “They told me at Soho-square you were expected back last night,” said Vendale, greeting him. “Have you done well in the country? Are you better?” A thousand thanks. Obenreizer had done admirably well; Obenreizer was infinitely better. And now, what news? Any letter from Neuchâtel? “A very strange letter,” answered Vendale. “The matter has taken a new turn, and the letter insists—without excepting anybody—on my keeping our next proceedings a profound secret.” “Without excepting anybody?” repeated Obenreizer. As he said the words, he walked away again, thoughtfully, to the window at the other end of the room, looked out for a moment, and suddenly came back to Vendale. “Surely they must have forgotten?” he resumed, “or they would have excepted me?” “It is Monsieur Rolland who writes,” said Vendale. “And, as you say, he must certainly have forgotten. That view of the matter quite escaped me. I was just wishing I had you to consult, when you came into the room. And here I am tried by a formal prohibition, which cannot possibly have been intended to include you. How very annoying!” Obenreizer’s filmy eyes fixed on Vendale attentively. “Perhaps it is more than annoying!” he said. “I came this morning not only to hear the news, but to offer myself as messenger, negotiator—what you will. Would you believe it? I have letters which oblige me to go to Switzerland immediately. Messages, documents, anything—I could have taken them all to Defresnier and Rolland for you.” “You are the very man I wanted,” returned Vendale. “I had decided, most unwillingly, on going to Neuchâtel myself, not five minutes since, because I could find no one here capable of taking my place. Let me look at the letter again.” He opened the strong room to get at the letter. Obenreizer, after first glancing round him to make sure that they were alone, followed a step or two and waited, measuring Vendale with his eye. Vendale was the tallest man, and unmistakably the strongest man also of the two. Obenreizer turned away, and warmed himself at the fire. Meanwhile, Vendale read the last paragraph in the letter for the third time. There was the plain warning—there was the closing sentence, which insisted on a literal interpretation of it. The hand, which was leading Vendale in the dark, led him on that condition only. A large sum was at stake: a terrible suspicion remained to be verified. If he acted on his own responsibility, and if anything happened to defeat the object in view, who would be blamed? As a man of business, Vendale had but one course to follow. He locked the letter up again. “It is most annoying,” he said to Obenreizer—“it is a piece of forgetfulness on Monsieur Rolland’s part which puts me to serious inconvenience, and places me in an absurdly false position towards you. What am I to do? I am acting in a very serious matter, and acting entirely in the dark. I have no choice but to be guided, not by the spirit, but by the letter of my instructions. You understand me, I am sure? You know, if I had not been fettered in this way, how gladly I should have accepted your services?” “Say no more!” returned Obenreizer. “In your place I should have done the same. My good friend, I take no offence. I thank you for your compliment. We shall be travelling companions, at any rate,” added Obenreizer. “You go, as I go, at once?” “At once. I must speak to Marguerite first, of course!” “Surely! surely! Speak to her this evening. Come, and pick me up on the way to the station. We go together by the mail train to-night?” “By the mail train to-night.” It was later than Vendale had anticipated when he drove up to the house in Soho-square. Business difficulties, occasioned by his sudden departure, had presented themselves by dozens. A cruelly large share of the time which he had hoped to devote to Marguerite had been claimed by duties at his office which it was impossible to neglect. To his surprise and delight, she was alone in the drawing-room when he entered it. “We have only a few minutes, George,” she said. “But Madame Dor has been good to me—and we can have those few minutes alone.” She threw her arms round his neck, and whispered eagerly, “Have you done anything to offend Mr. Obenreizer?” “I!” exclaimed Vendale, in amazement. “Hush!” she said, “I want to whisper it. You know the little photograph I have got of you. This afternoon it happened to be on the chimney-piece. He took it up and looked at it—and I saw his face in the glass. I know you have offended him! He is merciless; he is revengeful; he is as secret as the grave. Don’t go with him, George—don’t go with him!” “My own love,” returned Vendale, “you are letting your fancy frighten you! Obenreizer and I were never better friends than we are at this moment.” Before a word more could be said, the sudden movement of some ponderous body shook the floor of the next room. The shock was followed by the appearance of Madame Dor. “Obenreizer” exclaimed this excellent person in a whisper, and plumped down instantly in her regular place by the stove. Obenreizer came in with a courier’s bag strapped over his shoulder. “Are you ready?” he asked, addressing Vendale. “Can I take anything for you? You have no travelling-bag. I have got one. Here is the compartment for papers, open at your service.” “Thank you,” said Vendale. “I have only one paper of importance with me; and that paper I am bound to take charge of myself. Here it is,” he added, touching the breast-pocket of his coat, “and here it must remain till we get to Neuchâtel.” As he said those words, Marguerite’s hand caught his, and pressed it significantly. She was looking towards Obenreizer. Before Vendale could look, in his turn, Obenreizer had wheeled round, and was taking leave of Madame Dor. “Adieu, my charming niece!” he said, turning to Marguerite next. “En route, my friend, for Neuchâtel!” He tapped Vendale lightly over the breast-pocket of his coat and led the way to the door. Vendale’s last look was for Marguerite. Marguerite’s last words to him were, “Don’t go!” ACT III. IN THE VALLEY. It was about the middle of the month of February when Vendale and Obenreizer set forth on their expedition. The winter being a hard one, the time was bad for travellers. So bad was it that these two travellers, coming to Strasbourg, found its great inns almost empty. And even the few people they did encounter in that city, who had started from England or from Paris on business journeys towards the interior of Switzerland, were turning back. Many of the railroads in Switzerland that tourists pass easily enough now, were almost or quite impracticable then. Some were not begun; more were not completed. On such as were open, there were still large gaps of old road where communication in the winter season was often stopped; on others, there were weak points where the new work was not safe, either under conditions of severe frost, or of rapid thaw. The running of trains on this last class was not to be counted on in the worst time of the year, was contingent upon weather, or was wholly abandoned through the months considered the most dangerous. At Strasbourg there were more travellers’ stories afloat, respecting the difficulties of the way further on, than there were travellers to relate them. Many of these tales were as wild as usual; but the more modestly marvellous did derive some colour from the circumstance that people were indisputably turning back. However, as the road to Basle was open, Vendale’s resolution to push on was in no wise disturbed. Obenreizer’s resolution was necessarily Vendale’s, seeing that he stood at bay thus desperately: —He must be ruined, or must destroy the evidence that Vendale carried about him, even if he destroyed Vendale with it. The state of mind of each of these two fellow-travellers towards the other was this. Obenreizer, encircled by impending ruin through Vendale’s quickness of action, and seeing the circle narrowed every hour by Vendale’s energy, hated him with the animosity of a fierce cunning lower animal. He had always had instinctive movements in his breast against him; perhaps, because of that old sore of gentleman and peasant; perhaps, because of the openness of his nature, perhaps, because of his better looks; perhaps, because of his success with Marguerite; perhaps, on all those grounds, the two last not the least. And now he saw in him, besides, the hunter who was tracking him down. Vendale, on the other hand, always contending generously against his first vague mistrust, now felt bound to contend against it more than ever: reminding himself, “He is Marguerite’s guardian. We are on perfectly friendly terms; he is my companion of his own proposal, and can have no interested motive in sharing this undesirable journey.” To which pleas in behalf of Obenreizer, chance added one consideration more, when they came to Basle, after a journey of more than twice the average duration. They had had a late dinner, and were alone in an inn room there, overhanging the Rhine: at that place rapid and deep, swollen and loud. Vendale lounged upon a couch, and Obenreizer walked to and fro: now, stopping at the window, looking at the crooked reflection of the town lights in the dark water (and peradventure thinking, “If I could fling him into it!”); now, resuming his walk with his eyes upon the floor. “Where shall I rob him, if I can? Where shall I murder him, if I must?” So, as he paced the room, ran the river, ran the river, ran the river. The burden seemed to him, at last, to be growing so plain, that he stopped; thinking it as well to suggest another burden to his companion. “The Rhine sounds to-night,” he said with a smile, “like the old waterfall at home. That waterfall which my mother showed to travellers (I told you of it once). The sound of it changed with the weather, as does the sound of all falling waters and flowing waters. When I was pupil of the watchmaker, I remembered it as sometimes saying to me for whole days, ‘Who are you, my little wretch? Who are you, my little wretch?’ I remembered it as saying, other times, when its sound was hollow, and storm was coming up the Pass: ‘Boom, boom, boom. Beat him, beat him, beat him.’ Like my mother enraged—if she was my mother.” “If she was?” said Vendale, gradually changing his attitude to a sitting one. “If she was? Why do you say ‘if’?” “What do I know?” replied the other negligently, throwing up his hands and letting them fall as they would. “What would you have? I am so obscurely born, that how can I say? I was very young, and all the rest of the family were men and women, and my so-called parents were old. Anything is possible of a case like that.” “Did you ever doubt—” “I told you once, I doubt the marriage of those two,” he replied, throwing up his hands again, as if he were throwing the unprofitable subject away. “But here I am in Creation. I come of no fine family. What does it matter?” “At least you are Swiss,” said Vendale, after following him with his eyes to and fro. “How do I know?” he retorted abruptly, and stopping to look back over his shoulder. “I say to you, at least you are English. How do you know?” “By what I have been told from infancy.” “Ah! I know of myself that way.” “And,” added Vendale, pursuing the thought that he could not drive back, “by my earliest recollections.” “I also. I know of myself that way—if that way satisfies.” “Does it not satisfy you?” “It must. There is nothing like ‘it must’ in this little world. It must. Two short words those, but stronger than long proof or reasoning.” “You and poor Wilding were born in the same year. You were nearly of an age,” said Vendale, again thoughtfully looking after him as he resumed his pacing up and down. “Yes. Very nearly.” Could Obenreizer be the missing man? In the unknown associations of things, was there a subtler meaning than he himself thought, in that theory so often on his lips about the smallness of the world? Had the Swiss letter presenting him followed so close on Mrs. Goldstraw’s revelation concerning the infant who had been taken away to Switzerland, because he was that infant grown a man? In a world where so many depths lie unsounded, it might be. The chances, or the laws—call them either—that had wrought out the revival of Vendale’s own acquaintance with Obenreizer, and had ripened it into intimacy, and had brought them here together this present winter night, were hardly less curious; while read by such a light, they were seen to cohere towards the furtherance of a continuous and an intelligible purpose. Vendale’s awakened thoughts ran high while his eyes musingly followed Obenreizer pacing up and down the room, the river ever running to the tune: “Where shall I rob him, if I can? Where shall I murder him, if I must?” The secret of his dead friend was in no hazard from Vendale’s lips; but just as his friend had died of its weight, so did he in his lighter succession feel the burden of the trust, and the obligation to follow any clue, however obscure. He rapidly asked himself, would he like this man to be the real Wilding? No. Argue down his mistrust as he might, he was unwilling to put such a substitute in the place of his late guileless, outspoken childlike partner. He rapidly asked himself, would he like this man to be rich? No. He had more power than enough over Marguerite as it was, and wealth might invest him with more. Would he like this man to be Marguerite’s Guardian, and yet proved to stand in no degree of relationship towards her, however disconnected and distant? No. But these were not considerations to come between him and fidelity to the dead. Let him see to it that they passed him with no other notice than the knowledge that they had passed him, and left him bent on the discharge of a solemn duty. And he did see to it, so soon that he followed his companion with ungrudging eyes, while he still paced the room; that companion, whom he supposed to be moodily reflecting on his own birth, and not on another man’s—least of all what man’s—violent Death. The road in advance from Basle to Neuchâtel was better than had been represented. The latest weather had done it good. Drivers, both of horses and mules, had come in that evening after dark, and had reported nothing more difficult to be overcome than trials of patience, harness, wheels, axles, and whipcord. A bargain was soon struck for a carriage and horses, to take them on in the morning, and to start before daylight. “Do you lock your door at night when travelling?” asked Obenreizer, standing warming his hands by the wood fire in Vendale’s chamber, before going to his own. “Not I. I sleep too soundly.” “You are so sound a sleeper?” he retorted, with an admiring look. “What a blessing!” “Anything but a blessing to the rest of the house,” rejoined Vendale, “if I had to be knocked up in the morning from the outside of my bedroom door.” “I, too,” said Obenreizer, “leave open my room. But let me advise you, as a Swiss who knows: always, when you travel in my country, put your papers—and, of course, your money—under your pillow. Always the same place.” “You are not complimentary to your countrymen,” laughed Vendale. “My countrymen,” said Obenreizer, with that light touch of his friend’s elbows by way of Good Night and benediction, “I suppose are like the majority of men. And the majority of men will take what they can get. Adieu! At four in the morning.” “Adieu! At four.” Left to himself, Vendale raked the logs together, sprinkled over them the white wood-ashes lying on the hearth, and sat down to compose his thoughts. But they still ran high on their latest theme, and the running of the river tended to agitate rather than to quiet them. As he sat thinking, what little disposition he had had to sleep, departed. He felt it hopeless to lie down yet, and sat dressed by the fire. Marguerite, Wilding, Obenreizer, the business he was then upon, and a thousand hopes and doubts that had nothing to do with it, occupied his mind at once. Everything seemed to have power over him but slumber. The departed disposition to sleep kept far away. He had sat for a long time, thinking, on the hearth, when his candle burned down and its light went out. It was of little moment; there was light enough in the fire. He changed his attitude, and, leaning his arm on the chair-back, and his chin upon that hand, sat thinking still. But he sat between the fire and the bed, and, as the fire flickered in the play of air from the fast-flowing river, his enlarged shadow fluttered on the white wall by the bedside. His attitude gave it an air, half of mourning and half of bending over the bed imploring. His eyes were observant of it, when he became troubled by the disagreeable fancy that it was like Wilding’s shadow, and not his own. A slight change of place would cause it to disappear. He made the change, and the apparition of his disturbed fancy vanished. He now sat in the shade of a little nook beside the fire, and the door of the room was before him. It had a long cumbrous iron latch. He saw the latch slowly and softly rise. The door opened a very little, and came to again: as though only the air had moved it. But he saw that the latch was out of the hasp. The door opened again very slowly, until it opened wide enough to admit some one. It afterwards remained still for a while, as though cautiously held open on the other side. The figure of a man then entered, with its face turned towards the bed, and stood quiet just within the door. Until it said, in a low half-whisper, at the same time taking one stop forward: “Vendale!” “What now?” he answered, springing from his seat; “who is it?” It was Obenreizer, and he uttered a cry of surprise as Vendale came upon him from that unexpected direction. “Not in bed?” he said, catching him by both shoulders with an instinctive tendency to a struggle. “Then something is wrong!” “What do you mean?” said Vendale, releasing himself. “First tell me; you are not ill?” “Ill? No.” “I have had a bad dream about you. How is it that I see you up and dressed?” “My good fellow, I may as well ask you how it is that I see you up and undressed?” “I have told you why. I have had a bad dream about you. I tried to rest after it, but it was impossible. I could not make up my mind to stay where I was without knowing you were safe; and yet I could not make up my mind to come in here. I have been minutes hesitating at the door. It is so easy to laugh at a dream that you have not dreamed. Where is your candle?” “Burnt out.” “I have a whole one in my room. Shall I fetch it?” “Do so.” His room was very near, and he was absent for but a few seconds. Coming back with the candle in his hand, he kneeled down on the hearth and lighted it. As he blew with his breath a charred billet into flame for the purpose, Vendale, looking down at him, saw that his lips were white and not easy of control. “Yes!” said Obenreizer, setting the lighted candle on the table, “it was a bad dream. Only look at me!” His feet were bare; his red-flannel shirt was thrown back at the throat, and its sleeves were rolled above the elbows; his only other garment, a pair of under pantaloons or drawers, reaching to the ankles, fitted him close and tight. A certain lithe and savage appearance was on his figure, and his eyes were very bright. “If there had been a wrestle with a robber, as I dreamed,” said Obenreizer, “you see, I was stripped for it.” “And armed too,” said Vendale, glancing at his girdle. “A traveller’s dagger, that I always carry on the road,” he answered carelessly, half drawing it from its sheath with his left hand, and putting it back again. “Do you carry no such thing?” “Nothing of the kind.” “No pistols?” said Obenreizer, glancing at the table, and from it to the untouched pillow. “Nothing of the sort.” “You Englishmen are so confident! You wish to sleep?” “I have wished to sleep this long time, but I can’t do it.” “I neither, after the bad dream. My fire has gone the way of your candle. May I come and sit by yours? Two o’clock! It will so soon be four, that it is not worth the trouble to go to bed again.” “I shall not take the trouble to go to bed at all, now,” said Vendale; “sit here and keep me company, and welcome.” Going back to his room to arrange his dress, Obenreizer soon returned in a loose cloak and slippers, and they sat down on opposite sides of the hearth. In the interval Vendale had replenished the fire from the wood-basket in his room, and Obenreizer had put upon the table a flask and cup from his. “Common cabaret brandy, I am afraid,” he said, pouring out; “bought upon the road, and not like yours from Cripple Corner. But yours is exhausted; so much the worse. A cold night, a cold time of night, a cold country, and a cold house. This may be better than nothing; try it.” Vendale took the cup, and did so. “How do you find it?” “It has a coarse after-flavour,” said Vendale, giving back the cup with a slight shudder, “and I don’t like it.” “You are right,” said Obenreizer, tasting, and smacking his lips; “it has a coarse after-flavour, and I don’t like it. Booh! It burns, though!” He had flung what remained in the cup upon the fire. Each of them leaned an elbow on the table, reclined his head upon his hand, and sat looking at the flaring logs. Obenreizer remained watchful and still; but Vendale, after certain nervous twitches and starts, in one of which he rose to his feet and looked wildly about him, fell into the strangest confusion of dreams. He carried his papers in a leather case or pocket-book, in an inner breast-pocket of his buttoned travelling-coat; and whatever he dreamed of, in the lethargy that got possession of him, something importunate in those papers called him out of that dream, though he could not wake from it. He was berated on the steppes of Russia (some shadowy person gave that name to the place) with Marguerite; and yet the sensation of a hand at his breast, softly feeling the outline of the packet-book as he lay asleep before the fire, was present to him. He was ship-wrecked in an open boat at sea, and having lost his clothes, had no other covering than an old sail; and yet a creeping hand, tracing outside all the other pockets of the dress he actually wore, for papers, and finding none answer its touch, warned him to rouse himself. He was in the ancient vault at Cripple Corner, to which was transferred the very bed substantial and present in that very room at Basle; and Wilding (not dead, as he had supposed, and yet he did not wonder much) shook him, and whispered, “Look at that man! Don’t you see he has risen, and is turning the pillow? Why should he turn the pillow, if not to seek those papers that are in your breast? Awake!” And yet he slept, and wandered off into other dreams. Watchful and still, with his elbow on the table, and his head upon that hand, his companion at length said: “Vendale! We are called. Past Four!” Then, opening his eyes, he saw, turned sideways on him, the filmy face of Obenreizer. “You have been in a heavy sleep,” he said. “The fatigue of constant travelling and the cold!” “I am broad awake now,” cried Vendale, springing up, but with an unsteady footing. “Haven’t you slept at all?” “I may have dozed, but I seem to have been patiently looking at the fire. Whether or no, we must wash, and breakfast, and turn out. Past four, Vendale; past four!” It was said in a tone to rouse him, for already he was half asleep again. In his preparation for the day, too, and at his breakfast, he was often virtually asleep while in mechanical action. It was not until the cold dark day was closing in, that he had any distincter impressions of the ride than jingling bells, bitter weather, slipping horses, frowning hill-sides, bleak woods, and a stoppage at some wayside house of entertainment, where they had passed through a cow-house to reach the travellers’ room above. He had been conscious of little more, except of Obenreizer sitting thoughtful at his side all day, and eyeing him much. But when he shook off his stupor, Obenreizer was not at his side. The carriage was stopping to bait at another wayside house; and a line of long narrow carts, laden with casks of wine, and drawn by horses with a quantity of blue collar and head-gear, were baiting too. These came from the direction in which the travellers were going, and Obenreizer (not thoughtful now, but cheerful and alert) was talking with the foremost driver. As Vendale stretched his limbs, circulated his blood, and cleared off the lees of his lethargy, with a sharp run to and fro in the bracing air, the line of carts moved on: the drivers all saluting Obenreizer as they passed him. “Who are those?” asked Vendale. “They are our carriers—Defresnier and Company’s,” replied Obenreizer. “Those are our casks of wine.” He was singing to himself, and lighting a cigar. “I have been drearily dull company to-day,” said Vendale. “I don’t know what has been the matter with me.” “You had no sleep last night; and a kind of brain-congestion frequently comes, at first, of such cold,” said Obenreizer. “I have seen it often. After all, we shall have our journey for nothing, it seems.” “How for nothing?” “The House is at Milan. You know, we are a Wine House at Neuchâtel, and a Silk House at Milan? Well, Silk happening to press of a sudden, more than Wine, Defresnier was summoned to Milan. Rolland, the other partner, has been taken ill since his departure, and the doctors will allow him to see no one. A letter awaits you at Neuchâtel to tell you so. I have it from our chief carrier whom you saw me talking with. He was surprised to see me, and said he had that word for you if he met you. What do you do? Go back?” “Go on,” said Vendale. “On?” “On? Yes. Across the Alps, and down to Milan.” Obenreizer stopped in his smoking to look at Vendale, and then smoked heavily, looked up the road, looked down the road, looked down at the stones in the road at his feet. “I have a very serious matter in charge,” said Vendale; “more of these missing forms may be turned to as bad account, or worse: I am urged to lose no time in helping the House to take the thief; and nothing shall turn me back.” “No?” cried Obenreizer, taking out his cigar to smile, and giving his hand to his fellow-traveller. “Then nothing shall turn me back. Ho, driver! Despatch. Quick there! Let us push on!” They travelled through the night. There had been snow, and there was a partial thaw, and they mostly travelled at a foot-pace, and always with many stoppages to breathe the splashed and floundering horses. After an hour’s broad daylight, they drew rein at the inn-door at Neuchâtel, having been some eight-and-twenty hours in conquering some eighty English miles. When they had hurriedly refreshed and changed, they went together to the house of business of Defresnier and Company. There they found the letter which the wine-carrier had described, enclosing the tests and comparisons of handwriting essential to the discovery of the Forger. Vendale’s determination to press forward, without resting, being already taken, the only question to delay them was by what Pass could they cross the Alps? Respecting the state of the two Passes of the St. Gotthard and the Simplon, the guides and mule-drivers differed greatly; and both passes were still far enough off, to prevent the travellers from having the benefit of any recent experience of either. Besides which, they well knew that a fall of snow might altogether change the described conditions in a single hour, even if they were correctly stated. But, on the whole, the Simplon appearing to be the hopefuller route, Vendale decided to take it. Obenreizer bore little or no part in the discussion, and scarcely spoke. To Geneva, to Lausanne, along the level margin of the lake to Vevay, so into the winding valley between the spurs of the mountains, and into the valley of the Rhone. The sound of the carriage-wheels, as they rattled on, through the day, through the night, became as the wheels of a great clock, recording the hours. No change of weather varied the journey, after it had hardened into a sullen frost. In a sombre-yellow sky, they saw the Alpine ranges; and they saw enough of snow on nearer and much lower hill-tops and hill-sides, to sully, by contrast, the purity of lake, torrent, and waterfall, and make the villages look discoloured and dirty. But no snow fell, nor was there any snow-drift on the road. The stalking along the valley of more or less of white mist, changing on their hair and dress into icicles, was the only variety between them and the gloomy sky. And still by day, and still by night, the wheels. And still they rolled, in the hearing of one of them, to the burden, altered from the burden of the Rhine: “The time is gone for robbing him alive, and I must murder him.” They came, at length, to the poor little town of Brieg, at the foot of the Simplon. They came there after dark, but yet could see how dwarfed men’s works and men became with the immense mountains towering over them. Here they must lie for the night; and here was warmth of fire, and lamp, and dinner, and wine, and after-conference resounding, with guides and drivers. No human creature had come across the Pass for four days. The snow above the snow-line was too soft for wheeled carriage, and not hard enough for sledge. There was snow in the sky. There had been snow in the sky for days past, and the marvel was that it had not fallen, and the certainty was that it must fall. No vehicle could cross. The journey might be tried on mules, or it might be tried on foot; but the best guides must be paid danger-price in either case, and that, too, whether they succeeded in taking the two travellers across, or turned for safety and brought them back. In this discussion, Obenreizer bore no part whatever. He sat silently smoking by the fire until the room was cleared and Vendale referred to him. “Bah! I am weary of these poor devils and their trade,” he said, in reply. “Always the same story. It is the story of their trade to-day, as it was the story of their trade when I was a ragged boy. What do you and I want? We want a knapsack each, and a mountain-staff each. We want no guide; we should guide him; he would not guide us. We leave our portmanteaus here, and we cross together. We have been on the mountains together before now, and I am mountain-born, and I know this Pass—Pass!—rather High Road!—by heart. We will leave these poor devils, in pity, to trade with others; but they must not delay us to make a pretence of earning money. Which is all they mean.” Vendale, glad to be quit of the dispute, and to cut the knot: active, adventurous, bent on getting forward, and therefore very susceptible to the last hint: readily assented. Within two hours, they had purchased what they wanted for the expedition, had packed their knapsacks, and lay down to sleep. At break of day, they found half the town collected in the narrow street to see them depart. The people talked together in groups; the guides and drivers whispered apart, and looked up at the sky; no one wished them a good journey. As they began the ascent, a gleam of sun shone from the otherwise unaltered sky, and for a moment turned the tin spires of the town to silver. “A good omen!” said Vendale (though it died out while he spoke). “Perhaps our example will open the Pass on this side.” “No; we shall not be followed,” returned Obenreizer, looking up at the sky and back at the valley. “We shall be alone up yonder.” ON THE MOUNTAIN. The road was fair enough for stout walkers, and the air grew lighter and easier to breathe as the two ascended. But the settled gloom remained as it had remained for days back. Nature seemed to have come to a pause. The sense of hearing, no less than the sense of sight, was troubled by having to wait so long for the change, whatever it might be, that impended. The silence was as palpable and heavy as the lowering clouds—or rather cloud, for there seemed to be but one in all the sky, and that one covering the whole of it. Although the light was thus dismally shrouded, the prospect was not obscured. Down in the valley of the Rhône behind them, the stream could be traced through all its many windings, oppressively sombre and solemn in its one leaden hue, a colourless waste. Far and high above them, glaciers and suspended avalanches overhung the spots where they must pass, by-and-by; deep and dark below them on their right, were awful precipice and roaring torrent; tremendous mountains arose in every vista. The gigantic landscape, uncheered by a touch of changing light or a solitary ray of sun, was yet terribly distinct in its ferocity. The hearts of two lonely men might shrink a little, if they had to win their way for miles and hours among a legion of silent and motionless men—mere men like themselves—all looking at them with fixed and frowning front. But how much more, when the legion is of Nature’s mightiest works, and the frown may turn to fury in an instant! As they ascended, the road became gradually more rugged and difficult. But the spirits of Vendale rose as they mounted higher, leaving so much more of the road behind them conquered. Obenreizer spoke little, and held on with a determined purpose. Both, in respect of agility and endurance, were well qualified for the expedition. Whatever the born mountaineer read in the weather-tokens that was illegible to the other, he kept to himself. “Shall we get across to-day?” asked Vendale. “No,” replied the other. “You see how much deeper the snow lies here than it lay half a league lower. The higher we mount the deeper the snow will lie. Walking is half wading even now. And the days are so short! If we get as high as the fifth Refuge, and lie to-night at the Hospice, we shall do well.” “Is there no danger of the weather rising in the night,” asked Vendale, anxiously, “and snowing us up?” “There is danger enough about us,” said Obenreizer, with a cautious glance onward and upward, “to render silence our best policy. You have heard of the Bridge of the Ganther?” “I have crossed it once.” “In the summer?” “Yes; in the travelling season.” “Yes; but it is another thing at this season;” with a sneer, as though he were out of temper. “This is not a time of year, or a state of things, on an Alpine Pass, that you gentlemen holiday-travellers know much about.” “You are my Guide,” said Vendale, good humouredly. “I trust to you.” “I am your Guide,” said Obenreizer, “and I will guide you to your journey’s end. There is the Bridge before us.” They had made a turn into a desolate and dismal ravine, where the snow lay deep below them, deep above them, deep on every side. While speaking, Obenreizer stood pointing at the Bridge, and observing Vendale’s face, with a very singular expression on his own. “If I, as Guide, had sent you over there, in advance, and encouraged you to give a shout or two, you might have brought down upon yourself tons and tons and tons of snow, that would not only have struck you dead, but buried you deep, at a blow.” “No doubt,” said Vendale. “No doubt. But that is not what I have to do, as Guide. So pass silently. Or, going as we go, our indiscretion might else crush and bury me. Let us get on!” There was a great accumulation of snow on the Bridge; and such enormous accumulations of snow overhung them from protecting masses of rock, that they might have been making their way through a stormy sky of white clouds. Using his staff skilfully, sounding as he went, and looking upward, with bent shoulders, as it were to resist the mere idea of a fall from above, Obenreizer softly led. Vendale closely followed. They were yet in the midst of their dangerous way, when there came a mighty rush, followed by a sound as of thunder. Obenreizer clapped his hand on Vendale’s mouth and pointed to the track behind them. Its aspect had been wholly changed in a moment. An avalanche had swept over it, and plunged into the torrent at the bottom of the gulf below. Their appearance at the solitary Inn not far beyond this terrible Bridge, elicited many expressions of astonishment from the people shut up in the house. “We stay but to rest,” said Obenreizer, shaking the snow from his dress at the fire. “This gentleman has very pressing occasion to get across; —tell them, Vendale.” “Assuredly, I have very pressing occasion. I must cross.” “You hear, all of you. My friend has very pressing occasion to get across, and we want no advice and no help. I am as good a guide, my fellow-countrymen, as any of you. Now, give us to eat and drink.” In exactly the same way, and in nearly the same words, when it was coming on dark and they had struggled through the greatly increased difficulties of the road, and had at last reached their destination for the night, Obenreizer said to the astonished people of the Hospice, gathering about them at the fire, while they were yet in the act of getting their wet shoes off, and shaking the snow from their clothes: “It is well to understand one another, friends all. This gentleman—” “—Has,” said Vendale, readily taking him up with a smile, “very pressing occasion to get across. Must cross.” “You hear?—has very pressing occasion to get across, must cross. We want no advice and no help. I am mountain-born, and act as Guide. Do not worry us by talking about it, but let us have supper, and wine, and bed.” All through the intense cold of the night, the same awful stillness. Again at sunrise, no sunny tinge to gild or redden the snow. The same interminable waste of deathly white; the same immovable air; the same monotonous gloom in the sky. “Travellers!” a friendly voice called to them from the door, after they were afoot, knapsack on back and staff in hand, as yesterday; “recollect! There are five places of shelter, near together, on the dangerous road before you; and there is the wooden cross, and there is the next Hospice. Do not stray from the track. If the Tourmente comes on, take shelter instantly!” “The trade of these poor devils!” said Obenreizer to his friend, with a contemptuous backward wave of his hand towards the voice. “How they stick to their trade! You Englishmen say we Swiss are mercenary. Truly, it does look like it.” They had divided between the two knapsacks, such refreshments as they had been able to obtain that morning, and as they deemed it prudent to take. Obenreizer carried the wine as his share of the burden; Vendale, the bread and meat and cheese, and the flask of brandy. They had for some time laboured upward and onward through the snow—which was now above their knees in the track, and of unknown depth elsewhere—and they were still labouring upward and onward through the most frightful part of that tremendous desolation, when snow begin to fall. At first, but a few flakes descended slowly and steadily. After a little while the fall grew much denser, and suddenly it began without apparent cause to whirl itself into spiral shapes. Instantly ensuing upon this last change, an icy blast came roaring at them, and every sound and force imprisoned until now was let loose. One of the dismal galleries through which the road is carried at that perilous point, a cave eked out by arches of great strength, was near at hand. They struggled into it, and the storm raged wildly. The noise of the wind, the noise of the water, the thundering down of displaced masses of rock and snow, the awful voices with which not only that gorge but every gorge in the whole monstrous range seemed to be suddenly endowed, the darkness as of night, the violent revolving of the snow which beat and broke it into spray and blinded them, the madness of everything around insatiate for destruction, the rapid substitution of furious violence for unnatural calm, and hosts of appalling sounds for silence: these were things, on the edge of a deep abyss, to chill the blood, though the fierce wind, made actually solid by ice and snow, had failed to chill it. Obenreizer, walking to and fro in the gallery without ceasing, signed to Vendale to help him unbuckle his knapsack. They could see each other, but could not have heard each other speak. Vendale complying, Obenreizer produced his bottle of wine, and poured some out, motioning Vendale to take that for warmth’s sake, and not brandy. Vendale again complying, Obenreizer seemed to drink after him, and the two walked backwards and forwards side by side; both well knowing that to rest or sleep would be to die. The snow came driving heavily into the gallery by the upper end at which they would pass out of it, if they ever passed out; for greater dangers lay on the road behind them than before. The snow soon began to choke the arch. An hour more, and it lay so high as to block out half the returning daylight. But it froze hard now, as it fell, and could be clambered through or over. The violence of the mountain storm was gradually yielding to steady snowfall. The wind still raged at intervals, but not incessantly; and when it paused, the snow fell in heavy flakes. They might have been two hours in their frightful prison, when Obenreizer, now crunching into the mound, now creeping over it with his head bowed down and his body touching the top of the arch, made his way out. Vendale followed close upon him, but followed without clear motive or calculation. For the lethargy of Basle was creeping over him again, and mastering his senses. How far he had followed out of the gallery, or with what obstacles he had since contended, he knew not. He became roused to the knowledge that Obenreizer had set upon him, and that they were struggling desperately in the snow. He became roused to the remembrance of what his assailant carried in a girdle. He felt for it, drew it, struck at him, struggled again, struck at him again, cast him off, and stood face to face with him. “I promised to guide you to your journey’s end,” said Obenreizer, “and I have kept my promise. The journey of your life ends here. Nothing can prolong it. You are sleeping as you stand.” “You are a villain. What have you done to me?” “You are a fool. I have drugged you. You are doubly a fool, for I drugged you once before upon the journey, to try you. You are trebly a fool, for I am the thief and forger, and in a few moments I shall take those proofs against the thief and forger from your insensible body.” The entrapped man tried to throw off the lethargy, but its fatal hold upon him was so sure that, even while he heard those words, he stupidly wondered which of them had been wounded, and whose blood it was that he saw sprinkled on the snow. “What have I done to you,” he asked, heavily and thickly, “that you should be—so base—a murderer?” “Done to me? You would have destroyed me, but that you have come to your journey’s end. Your cursed activity interposed between me, and the time I had counted on in which I might have replaced the money. Done to me? You have come in my way—not once, not twice, but again and again and again. Did I try to shake you off in the beginning, or no? You were not to be shaken off. Therefore you die here.” Vendale tried to think coherently, tried to speak coherently, tried to pick up the iron-shod staff he had let fall; failing to touch it, tried to stagger on without its aid. All in vain, all in vain! He stumbled, and fell heavily forward on the brink of the deep chasm. Stupefied, dozing, unable to stand upon his feet, a veil before his eyes, his sense of hearing deadened, he made such a vigorous rally that, supporting himself on his hands, he saw his enemy standing calmly over him, and heard him speak. “You call me murderer,” said Obenreizer, with a grim laugh. “The name matters very little. But at least I have set my life against yours, for I am surrounded by dangers, and may never make my way out of this place. The Tourmente is rising again. The snow is on the whirl. I must have the papers now. Every moment has my life in it.” “Stop!” cried Vendale, in a terrible voice, staggering up with a last flash of fire breaking out of him, and clutching the thievish hands at his breast, in both of his. “Stop! Stand away from me! God bless my Marguerite! Happily she will never know how I died. Stand off from me, and let me look at your murderous face. Let it remind me—of something—left to say.” The sight of him fighting so hard for his senses, and the doubt whether he might not for the instant be possessed by the strength of a dozen men, kept his opponent still. Wildly glaring at him, Vendale faltered out the broken words: “It shall not be—the trust—of the dead—betrayed by me—reputed parents—misinherited fortune—see to it!” As his head dropped on his breast, and he stumbled on the brink of the chasm as before, the thievish hands went once more, quick and busy, to his breast. He made a convulsive attempt to cry “No!” desperately rolled himself over into the gulf; and sank away from his enemy’s touch, like a phantom in a dreadful dream. The mountain storm raged again, and passed again. The awful mountain-voices died away, the moon rose, and the soft and silent snow fell. Two men and two large dogs came out at the door of the Hospice. The men looked carefully around them, and up at the sky. The dogs rolled in the snow, and took it into their mouths, and cast it up with their paws. One of the men said to the other: “We may venture now. We may find them in one of the five Refuges.” Each fastened on his back a basket; each took in his hand a strong spiked pole; each girded under his arms a looped end of a stout rope, so that they were tied together. Suddenly the dogs desisted from their gambols in the snow, stood looking down the ascent, put their noses up, put their noses down, became greatly excited, and broke into a deep loud bay together. The two men looked in the faces of the two dogs. The two dogs looked, with at least equal intelligence, in the faces of the two men. “Au secours, then! Help! To the rescue!” cried the two men. The two dogs, with a glad, deep, generous bark, bounded away. “Two more mad ones!” said the men, stricken motionless, and looking away in the moonlight. “Is it possible in such weather! And one of them a woman!” Each of the dogs had the corner of a woman’s dress in its mouth, and drew her along. She fondled their heads as she came up, and she came up through the snow with an accustomed tread. Not so the large man with her, who was spent and winded. “Dear guides, dear friends of travellers! I am of your country. We seek two gentlemen crossing the Pass, who should have reached the Hospice this evening.” “They have reached it, ma’amselle.” “Thank Heaven! O thank Heaven!” “But, unhappily, they have gone on again. We are setting forth to seek them even now. We had to wait until the Tourmente passed. It has been fearful up here.” “Dear guides, dear friends of travellers! Let me go with you. Let me go with you for the love of GOD! One of those gentlemen is to be my husband. I love him, oh, so dearly. O so dearly! You see I am not faint, you see I am not tired. I am born a peasant girl. I will show you that I know well how to fasten myself to your ropes. I will do it with my own hands. I will swear to be brave and good. But let me go with you, let me go with you! If any mischance should have befallen him, my love would find him, when nothing else could. On my knees, dear friends of travellers! By the love your dear mothers had for your fathers!” The good rough fellows were moved. “After all,” they murmured to one another, “she speaks but the truth. She knows the ways of the mountains. See how marvellously she has come here. But as to Monsieur there, ma’amselle?” “Dear Mr. Joey,” said Marguerite, addressing him in his own tongue, “you will remain at the house, and wait for me; will you not?” “If I know’d which o’ you two recommended it,” growled Joey Ladle, eyeing the two men with great indignation, “I’d fight you for sixpence, and give you half-a-crown towards your expenses. No, Miss. I’ll stick by you as long as there’s any sticking left in me, and I’ll die for you when I can’t do better.” The state of the moon rendering it highly important that no time should be lost, and the dogs showing signs of great uneasiness, the two men quickly took their resolution. The rope that yoked them together was exchanged for a longer one; the party were secured, Marguerite second, and the Cellarman last; and they set out for the Refuges. The actual distance of those places was nothing: the whole five, and the next Hospice to boot, being within two miles; but the ghastly way was whitened out and sheeted over. They made no miss in reaching the Gallery where the two had taken shelter. The second storm of wind and snow had so wildly swept over it since, that their tracks were gone. But the dogs went to and fro with their noses down, and were confident. The party stopping, however, at the further arch, where the second storm had been especially furious, and where the drift was deep, the dogs became troubled, and went about and about, in quest of a lost purpose. The great abyss being known to lie on the right, they wandered too much to the left, and had to regain the way with infinite labour through a deep field of snow. The leader of the line had stopped it, and was taking note of the landmarks, when one of the dogs fell to tearing up the snow a little before them. Advancing and stooping to look at it, thinking that some one might be overwhelmed there, they saw that it was stained, and that the stain was red. The other dog was now seen to look over the brink of the gulf, with his fore legs straightened out, lest he should fall into it, and to tremble in every limb. Then the dog who had found the stained snow joined him, and then they ran to and fro, distressed and whining. Finally, they both stopped on the brink together, and setting up their heads, howled dolefully. “There is some one lying below,” said Marguerite. “I think so,” said the foremost man. “Stand well inward, the two last, and let us look over.” The last man kindled two torches from his basket, and handed them forward. The leader taking one, and Marguerite the other, they looked down; now shading the torches, now moving them to the right or left, now raising them, now depressing them, as moonlight far below contended with black shadows. A piercing cry from Marguerite broke a long silence. “My God! On a projecting point, where a wall of ice stretches forward over the torrent, I see a human form!” “Where, ma’amselle, where?” “See, there! On the shelf of ice below the dogs!” The leader, with a sickened aspect, drew inward, and they were all silent. But they were not all inactive, for Marguerite, with swift and skilful fingers, had detached both herself and him from the rope in a few seconds. “Show me the baskets. These two are the only ropes?” “The only ropes here, ma’amselle; but at the Hospice—” “If he is alive—I know it is my lover—he will be dead before you can return. Dear Guides! Blessed friends of travellers! Look at me. Watch my hands. If they falter or go wrong, make me your prisoner by force. If they are steady and go right, help me to save him!” She girded herself with a cord under the breast and arms, she formed it into a kind of jacket, she drew it into knots, she laid its end side by side with the end of the other cord, she twisted and twined the two together, she knotted them together, she set her foot upon the knots, she strained them, she held them for the two men to strain at. “She is inspired,” they said to one another. “By the Almighty’s mercy!” she exclaimed. “You both know that I am by far the lightest here. Give me the brandy and the wine, and lower me down to him. Then go for assistance and a stronger rope. You see that when it is lowered to me—look at this about me now—I can make it fast and safe to his body. Alive or dead, I will bring him up, or die with him. I love him passionately. Can I say more?” They turned to her companion, but he was lying senseless on the snow. “Lower me down to him,” she said, taking two little kegs they had brought, and hanging them about her, “or I will dash myself to pieces! I am a peasant, and I know no giddiness or fear; and this is nothing to me, and I passionately love him. Lower me down!” “Ma’amselle, ma’amselle, he must be dying or dead.” “Dying or dead, my husband’s head shall lie upon my breast, or I will dash myself to pieces.” They yielded, overborne. With such precautions as their skill and the circumstances admitted, they let her slip from the summit, guiding herself down the precipitous icy wall with her hand, and they lowered down, and lowered down, and lowered down, until the cry came up: “Enough!” “Is it really he, and is he dead?” they called down, looking over. The cry came up: “He is insensible; but his heart beats. It beats against mine.” “How does he lie?” The cry came up: “Upon a ledge of ice. It has thawed beneath him, and it will thaw beneath me. Hasten. If we die, I am content.” One of the two men hurried off with the dogs at such topmost speed as he could make; the other set up the lighted torches in the snow, and applied himself to recovering the Englishman. Much snow-chafing and some brandy got him on his legs, but delirious and quite unconscious where he was. The watch remained upon the brink, and his cry went down continually: “Courage! They will soon be here. How goes it?” And the cry came up: “His heart still beats against mine. I warm him in my arms. I have cast off the rope, for the ice melts under us, and the rope would separate me from him; but I am not afraid.” The moon went down behind the mountain tops, and all the abyss lay in darkness. The cry went down: “How goes it?” The cry came up: “We are sinking lower, but his heart still beats against mine.” At length the eager barking of the dogs, and a flare of light upon the snow, proclaimed that help was coming on. Twenty or thirty men, lamps, torches, litters, ropes, blankets, wood to kindle a great fire, restoratives and stimulants, came in fast. The dogs ran from one man to another, and from this thing to that, and ran to the edge of the abyss, dumbly entreating Speed, speed, speed! The cry went down: “Thanks to God, all is ready. How goes it?” The cry came up: “We are sinking still, and we are deadly cold. His heart no longer beats against mine. Let no one come down, to add to our weight. Lower the rope only.” The fire was kindled high, a great glare of torches lighted the sides of the precipice, lamps were lowered, a strong rope was lowered. She could be seen passing it round him, and making it secure. The cry came up into a deathly silence: “Raise! Softly!” They could see her diminished figure shrink, as he was swung into the air. They gave no shout when some of them laid him on a litter, and others lowered another strong rope. The cry again came up into a deathly silence: “Raise! Softly!” But when they caught her at the brink, then they shouted, then they wept, then they gave thanks to Heaven, then they kissed her feet, then they kissed her dress, then the dogs caressed her, licked her icy hands, and with their honest faces warmed her frozen bosom! She broke from them all, and sank over him on his litter, with both her loving hands upon the heart that stood still. ACT IV. THE CLOCK-LOCK. The pleasant scene was Neuchâtel; the pleasant month was April; the pleasant place was a notary’s office; the pleasant person in it was the notary: a rosy, hearty, handsome old man, chief notary of Neuchâtel, known far and wide in the canton as Maître Voigt. Professionally and personally, the notary was a popular citizen. His innumerable kindnesses and his innumerable oddities had for years made him one of the recognised public characters of the pleasant Swiss town. His long brown frock-coat and his black skull-cap were among the institutions of the place; and he carried a snuff-box which, in point of size, was popularly believed to be without a parallel in Europe. There was another person in the notary’s office, not so pleasant as the notary. This was Obenreizer. An oddly pastoral kind of office it was, and one that would never have answered in England. It stood in a neat back yard, fenced off from a pretty flower-garden. Goats browsed in the doorway, and a cow was within half-a-dozen feet of keeping company with the clerk. Maître Voigt’s room was a bright and varnished little room, with panelled walls, like a toy-chamber. According to the seasons of the year, roses, sunflowers, hollyhocks, peeped in at the windows. Maître Voigt’s bees hummed through the office all the summer, in at this window and out at that, taking it frequently in their day’s work, as if honey were to be made from Maître Voigt’s sweet disposition. A large musical box on the chimney-piece often trilled away at the Overture to Fra Diavolo, or a Selection from William Tell, with a chirruping liveliness that had to be stopped by force on the entrance of a client, and irrepressibly broke out again the moment his back was turned. “Courage, courage, my good fellow!” said Maître Voigt, patting Obenreizer on the knee, in a fatherly and comforting way. “You will begin a new life to-morrow morning in my office here.” Obenreizer—dressed in mourning, and subdued in manner—lifted his hand, with a white handkerchief in it, to the region of his heart. “The gratitude is here,” he said. “But the words to express it are not here.” “Ta-ta-ta! Don’t talk to me about gratitude!” said Maître Voigt. “I hate to see a man oppressed. I see you oppressed, and I hold out my hand to you by instinct. Besides, I am not too old yet, to remember my young days. Your father sent me my first client. (It was on a question of half an acre of vineyard that seldom bore any grapes.) Do I owe nothing to your father’s son? I owe him a debt of friendly obligation, and I pay it to you. That’s rather neatly expressed, I think,” added Maître Voigt, in high good humour with himself. “Permit me to reward my own merit with a pinch of snuff!” Obenreizer dropped his eyes to the ground, as though he were not even worthy to see the notary take snuff. “Do me one last favour, sir,” he said, when he raised his eyes. “Do not act on impulse. Thus far, you have only a general knowledge of my position. Hear the case for and against me, in its details, before you take me into your office. Let my claim on your benevolence be recognised by your sound reason as well as by your excellent heart. In that case, I may hold up my head against the bitterest of my enemies, and build myself a new reputation on the ruins of the character I have lost.” “As you will,” said Maître Voigt. “You speak well, my son. You will be a fine lawyer one of these days.” “The details are not many,” pursued Obenreizer. “My troubles begin with the accidental death of my late travelling companion, my lost dear friend Mr. Vendale.” “Mr. Vendale,” repeated the notary. “Just so. I have heard and read of the name, several times within these two months. The name of the unfortunate English gentleman who was killed on the Simplon. When you got that scar upon your cheek and neck.” “—From my own knife,” said Obenreizer, touching what must have been an ugly gash at the time of its infliction. “From your own knife,” assented the notary, “and in trying to save him. Good, good, good. That was very good. Vendale. Yes. I have several times, lately, thought it droll that I should once have had a client of that name.” “But the world, sir,” returned Obenreizer, “is so small!” Nevertheless he made a mental note that the notary had once had a client of that name. “As I was saying, sir, the death of that dear travelling comrade begins my troubles. What follows? I save myself. I go down to Milan. I am received with coldness by Defresnier and Company. Shortly afterwards, I am discharged by Defresnier and Company. Why? They give no reason why. I ask, do they assail my honour? No answer. I ask, what is the imputation against me? No answer. I ask, where are their proofs against me? No answer. I ask, what am I to think? The reply is, ‘M. Obenreizer is free to think what he will. What M. Obenreizer thinks, is of no importance to Defresnier and Company.’ And that is all.” “Perfectly. That is all,” asserted the notary, taking a large pinch of snuff. “But is that enough, sir?” “That is not enough,” said Maître Voigt. “The House of Defresnier are my fellow townsmen—much respected, much esteemed—but the House of Defresnier must not silently destroy a man’s character. You can rebut assertion. But how can you rebut silence?” “Your sense of justice, my dear patron,” answered Obenreizer, “states in a word the cruelty of the case. Does it stop there? No. For, what follows upon that?” “True, my poor boy,” said the notary, with a comforting nod or two; “your ward rebels upon that.” “Rebels is too soft a word,” retorted Obenreizer. “My ward revolts from me with horror. My ward defies me. My ward withdraws herself from my authority, and takes shelter (Madame Dor with her) in the house of that English lawyer, Mr. Bintrey, who replies to your summons to her to submit herself to my authority, that she will not do so.” “—And who afterwards writes,” said the notary, moving his large snuff-box to look among the papers underneath it for the letter, “that he is coming to confer with me.” “Indeed?” replied Obenreizer, rather checked. “Well, sir. Have I no legal rights?” “Assuredly, my poor boy,” returned the notary. “All but felons have their legal rights.” “And who calls me felon?” said Obenreizer, fiercely. “No one. Be calm under your wrongs. If the House of Defresnier would call you felon, indeed, we should know how to deal with them.” While saying these words, he had handed Bintrey’s very short letter to Obenreizer, who now read it and gave it back. “In saying,” observed Obenreizer, with recovered composure, “that he is coming to confer with you, this English lawyer means that he is coming to deny my authority over my ward.” “You think so?” “I am sure of it. I know him. He is obstinate and contentious. You will tell me, my dear sir, whether my authority is unassailable, until my ward is of age?” “Absolutely unassailable.” “I will enforce it. I will make her submit herself to it. For,” said Obenreizer, changing his angry tone to one of grateful submission, “I owe it to you, sir; to you, who have so confidingly taken an injured man under your protection, and into your employment.” “Make your mind easy,” said Maître Voigt. “No more of this now, and no thanks! Be here to-morrow morning, before the other clerk comes—between seven and eight. You will find me in this room; and I will myself initiate you in your work. Go away! go away! I have letters to write. I won’t hear a word more.” Dismissed with this generous abruptness, and satisfied with the favourable impression he had left on the old man’s mind, Obenreizer was at leisure to revert to the mental note he had made that Maître Voigt once had a client whose name was Vendale. “I ought to know England well enough by this time;” so his meditations ran, as he sat on a bench in the yard; “and it is not a name I ever encountered there, except—” he looked involuntarily over his shoulder—“as his name. Is the world so small that I cannot get away from him, even now when he is dead? He confessed at the last that he had betrayed the trust of the dead, and misinherited a fortune. And I was to see to it. And I was to stand off, that my face might remind him of it. Why my face, unless it concerned me? I am sure of his words, for they have been in my ears ever since. Can there be anything bearing on them, in the keeping of this old idiot? Anything to repair my fortunes, and blacken his memory? He dwelt upon my earliest remembrances, that night at Basle. Why, unless he had a purpose in it?” Maître Voigt’s two largest he-goats were butting at him to butt him out of the place, as if for that disrespectful mention of their master. So he got up and left the place. But he walked alone for a long time on the border of the lake, with his head drooped in deep thought. Between seven and eight next morning, he presented himself again at the office. He found the notary ready for him, at work on some papers which had come in on the previous evening. In a few clear words, Maître Voigt explained the routine of the office, and the duties Obenreizer would be expected to perform. It still wanted five minutes to eight, when the preliminary instructions were declared to be complete. “I will show you over the house and the offices,” said Maître Voigt, “but I must put away these papers first. They come from the municipal authorities, and they must be taken special care of.” Obenreizer saw his chance, here, of finding out the repository in which his employer’s private papers were kept. “Can’t I save you the trouble, sir?” he asked. “Can’t I put those documents away under your directions?” Maître Voigt laughed softly to himself; closed the portfolio in which the papers had been sent to him; handed it to Obenreizer. “Suppose you try,” he said. “All my papers of importance are kept yonder.” He pointed to a heavy oaken door, thickly studded with nails, at the lower end of the room. Approaching the door, with the portfolio, Obenreizer discovered, to his astonishment, that there were no means whatever of opening it from the outside. There was no handle, no bolt, no key, and (climax of passive obstruction!) no keyhole. “There is a second door to this room?” said Obenreizer, appealing to the notary. “No,” said Maître Voigt. “Guess again.” “There is a window?” “Nothing of the sort. The window has been bricked up. The only way in, is the way by that door. Do you give it up?” cried Maître Voigt, in high triumph. “Listen, my good fellow, and tell me if you hear nothing inside?” Obenreizer listened for a moment, and started back from the door. “I know!” he exclaimed. “I heard of this when I was apprenticed here at the watchmaker’s. Perrin Brothers have finished their famous clock-lock at last—and you have got it?” “Bravo!” said Maître Voigt. “The clock-lock it is! There, my son! There you have one more of what the good people of this town call, ‘Daddy Voigt’s follies.’ With all my heart! Let those laugh who win. No thief can steal my keys. No burglar can pick my lock. No power on earth, short of a battering-ram or a barrel of gunpowder, can move that door, till my little sentinel inside—my worthy friend who goes ‘Tick, Tick,’ as I tell him—says, ‘Open!’ The big door obeys the little Tick, Tick, and the little Tick, Tick, obeys me. That!” cried Daddy Voigt, snapping his fingers, “for all the thieves in Christendom!” “May I see it in action?” asked Obenreizer. “Pardon my curiosity, dear sir! You know that I was once a tolerable worker in the clock trade.” “Certainly you shall see it in action,” said Maître Voigt. “What is the time now? One minute to eight. Watch, and in one minute you will see the door open of itself.” In one minute, smoothly and slowly and silently, as if invisible hands had set it free, the heavy door opened inward, and disclosed a dark chamber beyond. On three sides, shelves filled the walls, from floor to ceiling. Arranged on the shelves, were rows upon rows of boxes made in the pretty inlaid woodwork of Switzerland, and bearing inscribed on their fronts (for the most part in fanciful coloured letters) the names of the notary’s clients. Maître Voigt lighted a taper, and led the way into the room. “You shall see the clock,” he said proudly. “I possess the greatest curiosity in Europe. It is only a privileged few whose eyes can look at it. I give the privilege to your good father’s son—you shall be one of the favoured few who enter the room with me. See! here it is, on the right-hand wall at the side of the door.” “An ordinary clock,” exclaimed Obenreizer. “No! Not an ordinary clock. It has only one hand.” “Aha!” said Maître Voigt. “Not an ordinary clock, my friend. No, no. That one hand goes round the dial. As I put it, so it regulates the hour at which the door shall open. See! The hand points to eight. At eight the door opened, as you saw for yourself.” “Does it open more than once in the four-and-twenty hours?” asked Obenreizer. “More than once?” repeated the notary, with great scorn. “You don’t know my good friend, Tick-Tick! He will open the door as often as I ask him. All he wants is his directions, and he gets them here. Look below the dial. Here is a half-circle of steel let into the wall, and here is a hand (called the regulator) that travels round it, just as my hand chooses. Notice, if you please, that there are figures to guide me on the half-circle of steel. Figure I. means: Open once in the four-and-twenty hours. Figure II. means: Open twice; and so on to the end. I set the regulator every morning, after I have read my letters, and when I know what my day’s work is to be. Would you like to see me set it now? What is to-day? Wednesday. Good! This is the day of our rifle-club; there is little business to do; I grant a half-holiday. No work here to-day, after three o’clock. Let us first put away this portfolio of municipal papers. There! No need to trouble Tick-Tick to open the door until eight to-morrow. Good! I leave the dial-hand at eight; I put back the regulator to I.; I close the door; and closed the door remains, past all opening by anybody, till to-morrow morning at eight.” Obenreizer’s quickness instantly saw the means by which he might make the clock-lock betray its master’s confidence, and place its master’s papers at his disposal. “Stop, sir!” he cried, at the moment when the notary was closing the door. “Don’t I see something moving among the boxes—on the floor there?” (Maître Voigt turned his back for a moment to look. In that moment, Obenreizer’s ready hand put the regulator on, from the figure “I.” to the figure “II.” Unless the notary looked again at the half-circle of steel, the door would open at eight that evening, as well as at eight next morning, and nobody but Obenreizer would know it.) “There is nothing!” said Maître Voigt. “Your troubles have shaken your nerves, my son. Some shadow thrown by my taper; or some poor little beetle, who lives among the old lawyer’s secrets, running away from the light. Hark! I hear your fellow-clerk in the office. To work! to work! and build to-day the first step that leads to your new fortunes!” He good-humouredly pushed Obenreizer out before him; extinguished the taper, with a last fond glance at his clock which passed harmlessly over the regulator beneath; and closed the oaken door. At three, the office was shut up. The notary and everybody in the notary’s employment, with one exception, went to see the rifle-shooting. Obenreizer had pleaded that he was not in spirits for a public festival. Nobody knew what had become of him. It was believed that he had slipped away for a solitary walk. The house and offices had been closed but a few minutes, when the door of a shining wardrobe in the notary’s shining room opened, and Obenreizer stopped out. He walked to a window, unclosed the shutters, satisfied himself that he could escape unseen by way of the garden, turned back into the room, and took his place in the notary’s easy-chair. He was locked up in the house, and there were five hours to wait before eight o’clock came. He wore his way through the five hours: sometimes reading the books and newspapers that lay on the table: sometimes thinking: sometimes walking to and fro. Sunset came on. He closed the window-shutters before he kindled a light. The candle lighted, and the time drawing nearer and nearer, he sat, watch in hand, with his eyes on the oaken door. At eight, smoothly and softly and silently the door opened. One after another, he read the names on the outer rows of boxes. No such name as Vendale! He removed the outer row, and looked at the row behind. These were older boxes, and shabbier boxes. The four first that he examined, were inscribed with French and German names. The fifth bore a name which was almost illegible. He brought it out into the room, and examined it closely. There, covered thickly with time-stains and dust, was the name: “Vendale.” The key hung to the box by a string. He unlocked the box, took out four loose papers that were in it, spread them open on the table, and began to read them. He had not so occupied a minute, when his face fell from its expression of eagerness and avidity, to one of haggard astonishment and disappointment. But, after a little consideration, he copied the papers. He then replaced the papers, replaced the box, closed the door, extinguished the candle, and stole away. As his murderous and thievish footfall passed out of the garden, the steps of the notary and some one accompanying him stopped at the front door of the house. The lamps were lighted in the little street, and the notary had his door-key in his hand. “Pray do not pass my house, Mr. Bintrey,” he said. “Do me the honour to come in. It is one of our town half-holidays—our Tir—but my people will be back directly. It is droll that you should ask your way to the Hotel of me. Let us eat and drink before you go there.” “Thank you; not to-night,” said Bintrey. “Shall I come to you at ten to-morrow?” “I shall be enchanted, sir, to take so early an opportunity of redressing the wrongs of my injured client,” returned the good notary. “Yes,” retorted Bintrey; “your injured client is all very well—but—a word in your ear.” He whispered to the notary and walked off. When the notary’s housekeeper came home, she found him standing at his door motionless, with the key still in his hand, and the door unopened. OBENREIZER’S VICTORY. The scene shifts again—to the foot of the Simplon, on the Swiss side. In one of the dreary rooms of the dreary little inn at Brieg, Mr. Bintrey and Maître Voigt sat together at a professional council of two. Mr. Bintrey was searching in his despatch-box. Maître Voigt was looking towards a closed door, painted brown to imitate mahogany, and communicating with an inner room. “Isn’t it time he was here?” asked the notary, shifting his position, and glancing at a second door at the other end of the room, painted yellow to imitate deal. “He is here,” answered Bintrey, after listening for a moment. The yellow door was opened by a waiter, and Obenreizer walked in. After greeting Maître Voigt with a cordiality which appeared to cause the notary no little embarrassment, Obenreizer bowed with grave and distant politeness to Bintrey. “For what reason have I been brought from Neuchâtel to the foot of the mountain?” he inquired, taking the seat which the English lawyer had indicated to him. “You shall be quite satisfied on that head before our interview is over,” returned Bintrey. “For the present, permit me to suggest proceeding at once to business. There has been a correspondence, Mr. Obenreizer, between you and your niece. I am here to represent your niece.” “In other words, you, a lawyer, are here to represent an infraction of the law.” “Admirably put!” said Bintrey. “If all the people I have to deal with were only like you, what an easy profession mine would be! I am here to represent an infraction of the law—that is your point of view. I am here to make a compromise between you and your niece—that is my point of view.” “There must be two parties to a compromise,” rejoined Obenreizer. “I decline, in this case, to be one of them. The law gives me authority to control my niece’s actions, until she comes of age. She is not yet of age; and I claim my authority.” At this point Maître attempted to speak. Bintrey silenced him with a compassionate indulgence of tone and manner, as if he was silencing a favourite child. “No, my worthy friend, not a word. Don’t excite yourself unnecessarily; leave it to me.” He turned, and addressed himself again to Obenreizer. “I can think of nothing comparable to you, Mr. Obenreizer, but granite—and even that wears out in course of time. In the interests of peace and quietness—for the sake of your own dignity—relax a little. If you will only delegate your authority to another person whom I know of, that person may be trusted never to lose sight of your niece, night or day!” “You are wasting your time and mine,” returned Obenreizer. “If my niece is not rendered up to my authority within one week from this day, I invoke the law. If you resist the law, I take her by force.” He rose to his feet as he said the last word. Maître Voigt looked round again towards the brown door which led into the inner room. “Have some pity on the poor girl,” pleaded Bintrey. “Remember how lately she lost her lover by a dreadful death! Will nothing move you?” “Nothing.” Bintrey, in his turn, rose to his feet, and looked at Maître Voigt. Maître Voigt’s hand, resting on the table, began to tremble. Maître Voigt’s eyes remained fixed, as if by irresistible fascination, on the brown door. Obenreizer, suspiciously observing him, looked that way too. “There is somebody listening in there!” he exclaimed, with a sharp backward glance at Bintrey. “There are two people listening,” answered Bintrey. “Who are they?” “You shall see.” With this answer, he raised his voice and spoke the next words—the two common words which are on everybody’s lips, at every hour of the day: “Come in!” The brown door opened. Supported on Marguerite’s arm—his sun-burnt colour gone, his right arm bandaged and clung over his breast—Vendale stood before the murderer, a man risen from the dead. In the moment of silence that followed, the singing of a caged bird in the court-yard outside was the one sound stirring in the room. Maître Voigt touched Bintrey, and pointed to Obenreizer. “Look at him!” said the notary, in a whisper. The shock had paralysed every movement in the villain’s body, but the movement of the blood. His face was like the face of a corpse. The one vestige of colour left in it was a livid purple streak which marked the course of the scar, where his victim had wounded him on the cheek and neck. Speechless, breathless, motionless alike in eye and limb, it seemed as if, at the sight of Vendale, the death to which he had doomed Vendale had struck him where he stood. “Somebody ought to speak to him,” said Maître Voigt. “Shall I?” Even at that moment Bintrey persisted in silencing the notary, and in keeping the lead in the proceedings to himself. Checking Maître Voigt by a gesture, he dismissed Marguerite and Vendale in these words:—“The object of your appearance here is answered,” he said. “If you will withdraw for the present, it may help Mr. Obenreizer to recover himself.” It did help him. As the two passed through the door and closed it behind them, he drew a deep breath of relief. He looked round him for the chair from which he had risen, and dropped into it. “Give him time!” pleaded Maître Voigt. “No,” said Bintrey. “I don’t know what use he may make of it if I do.” He turned once more to Obenreizer, and went on. “I owe it to myself,” he said—“I don’t admit, mind, that I owe it to you—to account for my appearance in these proceedings, and to state what has been done under my advice, and on my sole responsibility. Can you listen to me?” “I can listen to you.” “Recal the time when you started for Switzerland with Mr. Vendale,” Bintrey begin. “You had not left England four-and-twenty hours before your niece committed an act of imprudence which not even your penetration could foresee. She followed her promised husband on his journey, without asking anybody’s advice or permission, and without any better companion to protect her than a Cellarman in Mr. Vendale’s employment.” “Why did she follow me on the journey? and how came the Cellarman to be the person who accompanied her?” “She followed you on the journey,” answered Bintrey, “because she suspected there had been some serious collision between you and Mr. Vendale, which had been kept secret from her; and because she rightly believed you to be capable of serving your interests, or of satisfying your enmity, at the price of a crime. As for the Cellarman, he was one, among the other people in Mr. Vendale’s establishment, to whom she had applied (the moment your back was turned) to know if anything had happened between their master and you. The Cellarman alone had something to tell her. A senseless superstition, and a common accident which had happened to his master, in his master’s cellar, had connected Mr. Vendale in this man’s mind with the idea of danger by murder. Your niece surprised him into a confession, which aggravated tenfold the terrors that possessed her. Aroused to a sense of the mischief he had done, the man, of his own accord, made the one atonement in his power. ‘If my master is in danger, miss,’ he said, ‘it’s my duty to follow him, too; and it’s more than my duty to take care of you.’ The two set forth together—and, for once, a superstition has had its use. It decided your niece on taking the journey; and it led the way to saving a man’s life. Do you understand me, so far?” “I understand you, so far.” “My first knowledge of the crime that you had committed,” pursued Bintrey, “came to me in the form of a letter from your niece. All you need know is that her love and her courage recovered the body of your victim, and aided the after-efforts which brought him back to life. While he lay helpless at Brieg, under her care, she wrote to me to come out to him. Before starting, I informed Madame Dor that I knew Miss Obenreizer to be safe, and knew where she was. Madame Dor informed me, in return, that a letter had come for your niece, which she knew to be in your handwriting. I took possession of it, and arranged for the forwarding of any other letters which might follow. Arrived at Brieg, I found Mr. Vendale out of danger, and at once devoted myself to hastening the day of reckoning with you. Defresnier and Company turned you off on suspicion; acting on information privately supplied by me. Having stripped you of your false character, the next thing to do was to strip you of your authority over your niece. To reach this end, I not only had no scruple in digging the pitfall under your feet in the dark—I felt a certain professional pleasure in fighting you with your own weapons. By my advice the truth has been carefully concealed from you up to this day. By my advice the trap into which you have walked was set for you (you know why, now, as well as I do) in this place. There was but one certain way of shaking the devilish self-control which has hitherto made you a formidable man. That way has been tried, and (look at me as you may) that way has succeeded. The last thing that remains to be done,” concluded Bintrey, producing two little slips of manuscript from his despatch-box, “is to set your niece free. You have attempted murder, and you have committed forgery and theft. We have the evidence ready against you in both cases. If you are convicted as a felon, you know as well as I do what becomes of your authority over your niece. Personally, I should have preferred taking that way out of it. But considerations are pressed on me which I am not able to resist, and this interview must end, as I have told you already, in a compromise. Sign those lines, resigning all authority over Miss Obenreizer, and pledging yourself never to be seen in England or in Switzerland again; and I will sign an indemnity which secures you against further proceedings on our part.” Obenreizer took the pen in silence, and signed his niece’s release. On receiving the indemnity in return, he rose, but made no movement to leave the room. He stood looking at Maître Voigt with a strange smile gathering at his lips, and a strange light flashing in his filmy eyes. “What are you waiting for?” asked Bintrey. Obenreizer pointed to the brown door. “Call them back,” he answered. “I have something to say in their presence before I go.” “Say it in my presence,” retorted Bintrey. “I decline to call them back.” Obenreizer turned to Maître Voigt. “Do you remember telling me that you once had an English client named Vendale?” he asked. “Well,” answered the notary. “And what of that?” “Maître Voigt, your clock-lock has betrayed you.” “What do you mean?” “I have read the letters and certificates in your client’s box. I have taken copies of them. I have got the copies here. Is there, or is there not, a reason for calling them back?” For a moment the notary looked to and fro, between Obenreizer and Bintrey, in helpless astonishment. Recovering himself, he drew his brother-lawyer aside, and hurriedly spoke a few words close at his ear. The face of Bintrey—after first faithfully reflecting the astonishment on the face of Maître Voigt—suddenly altered its expression. He sprang, with the activity of a young man, to the door of the inner room, entered it, remained inside for a minute, and returned followed by Marguerite and Vendale. “Now, Mr. Obenreizer,” said Bintrey, “the last move in the game is yours. Play it.” “Before I resign my position as that young lady’s guardian,” said Obenreizer, “I have a secret to reveal in which she is interested. In making my disclosure, I am not claiming her attention for a narrative which she, or any other person present, is expected to take on trust. I am possessed of written proofs, copies of originals, the authenticity of which Maître Voigt himself can attest. Bear that in mind, and permit me to refer you, at starting, to a date long past—the month of February, in the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-six.” “Mark the date, Mr. Vendale,” said Bintrey. “My first proof,” said Obenreizer, taking a paper from his pocket-book. “Copy of a letter, written by an English lady (married) to her sister, a widow. The name of the person writing the letter I shall keep suppressed until I have done. The name of the person to whom the letter is written I am willing to reveal. It is addressed to ‘Mrs. Jane Ann Miller, of Groombridge-ells, England.’” Vendale started, and opened his lips to speak. Bintrey instantly stopped him, as he had stopped Maître Voigt. “No,” said the pertinacious lawyer. “Leave it to me.” Obenreizer went on: “It is needless to trouble you with the first half of the letter,” he said. “I can give the substance of it in two words. The writer’s position at the time is this. She has been long living in Switzerland with her husband—obliged to live there for the sake of her husband’s health. They are about to move to a new residence on the Lake of Neuchâtel in a week, and they will be ready to receive Mrs. Miller as visitor in a fortnight from that time. This said, the writer next enters into an important domestic detail. She has been childless for years—she and her husband have now no hope of children; they are lonely; they want an interest in life; they have decided on adopting a child. Here the important part of the letter begins; and here, therefore, I read it to you word for word.” He folded back the first page of the letter and read as follows. “* * * Will you help us, my dear sister, to realise our new project? As English people, we wish to adopt an English child. This may be done, I believe, at the Foundling: my husband’s lawyers in London will tell you how. I leave the choice to you, with only these conditions attached to it—that the child is to be an infant under a year old, and is to be a boy. Will you pardon the trouble I am giving you, for my sake; and will you bring our adopted child to us, with your own children, when you come to Neuchâtel? “I must add a word as to my husband’s wishes in this matter. He is resolved to spare the child whom we make our own any future mortification and loss of self-respect which might be caused by a discovery of his true origin. He will bear my husband’s name, and he will be brought up in the belief that he is really our son. His inheritance of what we have to leave will be secured to him—not only according to the laws of England in such cases, but according to the laws of Switzerland also; for we have lived so long in this country, that there is a doubt whether we may not be considered as I &#039;domiciled&#039; in Switzerland. The one precaution left to take is to prevent any after-discovery at the Foundling. Now, our name is a very uncommon one; and if we appear on the Register of the Institution as the persons adopting the child, there is just a chance that something might result from it. Your name, my dear, is the name of thousands of other people; and if you will consent to appear on the Register, there need be no fear of any discoveries in that quarter. We are moving, by the doctor’s orders, to a part of Switzerland in which our circumstances are quite unknown; and you, as I understand, are about to engage a new nurse for the journey when you come to see us. Under these circumstances, the child may appear as my child, brought back to me under my sister’s care. The only servant we take with us from our old home is my own maid, who can be safely trusted. As for the lawyers in England and in Switzerland, it is their profession to keep secrets—and we may feel quite easy in that direction. So there you have our harmless little conspiracy! Write by return of post, my love, and tell me you will join it.” * * * “Do you still conceal the name of the writer of that letter?” asked Vendale. “I keep the name of the writer till the last,” answered Obenreizer, “and I proceed to my second proof—a mere slip of paper this time, as you see. Memorandum given to the Swiss lawyer, who drew the documents referred to in the letter I have just read, expressed as follows:—‘Adopted from the Foundling Hospital of England, 3d March, 1836, a male infant, called, in the Institution, Walter Wilding. Person appearing on the register, as adopting the child, Mrs. Jane Anne Miller, widow, acting in this matter for her married sister, domiciled in Switzerland.’ Patience!” resumed Obenreizer, as Vendale, breaking loose from Bintrey, started to his feet. “I shall not keep the name concealed much longer. Two more little slips of paper, and I have done. Third proof! Certificate of Doctor Ganz, still living in practice at Neuchâtel, dated July, 1838. The doctor certifies (you shall read it for yourselves directly), first, that he attended the adopted child in its infant maladies; second, that, three months before the date of the certificate, the gentleman adopting the child as his son died; third, that on the date of the certificate, his widow and her maid, taking the adopted child with them, left Neuchâtel on their return to England. One more link now added to this, and my chain of evidence is complete. The maid remained with her mistress till her mistress’s death, only a few years since. The maid can swear to the identity of the adopted infant, from his childhood to his youth—from his youth to his manhood, as he is now. There is her address in England—and there, Mr. Vendale, is the fourth, and final proof!” “Why do you address yourself to me?” said Vendale, as Obenreizer threw the written address on the table. Obenreizer turned on him, in a sudden frenzy of triumph. “Because you are the man! If my niece marries you, she marries a bastard, brought up by public charity. If my niece marries you, she marries an impostor, without name or lineage, disguised in the character of a gentleman of rank and family.” “Bravo!” cried Bintrey. “Admirably put, Mr. Obenreizer! It only wants one word more to complete it. She marries—thanks entirely to your exertions—a man who inherits a handsome fortune, and a man whose origin will make him prouder than ever of his peasant-wife. George Vendale, as brother-executors, let us congratulate each other! Our dear dead friend’s last wish on earth is accomplished. We have found the lost Walter Wilding. As Mr. Obenreizer said just now—you are the man!” The words passed by Vendale unheeded. For the moment he was conscious of but one sensation; he heard but one voice. Marguerite’s hand was clasping his. Marguerite’s voice was whispering to him: “I never loved you, George, as I love you now!” THE CURTAIN FALLS. May-Day. There is merry-making in Cripple Corner, the chimneys smoke, the patriarchal dining-hall is hung with garlands, and Mrs. Goldstraw, the respected housekeeper, is very busy. For, on this bright morning the young master of Cripple Corner is married to its young mistress, far away: to wit, in the little town of Brieg, in Switzerland, lying at the foot of the Simplon Pass where she saved his life. The bells ring gaily in the little town of Brieg, and flags are stretched across the street, and rifle shots are heard, and sounding music from brass instruments. Streamer-decorated casks of wine have been rolled out under a gay awning in the public way before the Inn, and there will be free feasting and revelry. What with bells and banners, draperies hanging from windows, explosion of gunpowder, and reverberation of brass music, the little town of Brieg is all in a flutter, like the hearts of its simple people. It was a stormy night last night, and the mountains are covered with snow. But the sun is bright to-day, the sweet air is fresh, the tin spires of the little town of Brieg are burnished silver, and the Alps are ranges of far-off white cloud in a deep blue sky. The primitive people of the little town of Brieg have built a greenwood arch across the street, under which the newly married pair shall pass in triumph from the church. It is inscribed, on that side, “HONOUR AND LOVE TO MARGUERITE VENDALE!” for the people are proud of her to enthusiasm. This greeting of the bride under her new name is affectionately meant as a surprise, and therefore the arrangement has been made that she, unconscious why, shall be taken to the Church by a tortuous back way. A scheme not difficult to carry into execution in the crooked little town of Brieg. So, all things are in readiness, and they are to go and come on foot. Assembled in the Inn’s best chamber, festively adorned, are the bride and bridegroom, the Neuchâtel notary, the London lawyer, Madame Dor, and a certain large mysterious Englishman, popularly known as Monsieur Zhoé-Ladelle. And behold Madame Dor, arrayed in a spotless pair of gloves of her own, with no hand in the air, but both hands clasped round the neck of the bride; to embrace whom Madame Dor has turned her broad back on the company, consistent to the last. “Forgive me, my beautiful,” pleads Madame Dor, “for that I ever was his she-cat!” “She-cat, Madame Dor? “Engaged to sit watching my so charming mouse,” are the explanatory words of Madame Dor, delivered with a penitential sob. “Why, you were our best friend! George, dearest, tell Madame Dor. Was she not our best friend?” “Undoubtedly, darling. What should we have done without her?” “You are both so generous,” cries Madame Dor, accepting consolation, and immediately relapsing. “But I commenced as a she-cat.” “Ah! But like the cat in the fairy-story, good Madame Dor,” says Vendale, saluting her cheek, “you were a true woman. And, being a true woman, the sympathy of your heart was with true love.” “I don’t wish to deprive Madame Dor of her share in the embraces that are going on,” Mr. Bintrey puts in, watch in hand, “and I don’t presume to offer any objection to your having got yourselves mixed together, in the corner there, like the three Graces. I merely remark that I think it’s time we were moving. What are your sentiments on that subject, Mr. Ladle?” “Clear, sir,” replies Joey, with a gracious grin. “I’m clearer altogether, sir, for having lived so many weeks upon the surface. I never was half so long upon the surface afore, and it’s done me a power of good. At Cripple Corner, I was too much below it. Atop of the Simpleton, I was a deal too high above it. I’ve found the medium here, sir. And if ever I take it in convivial, in all the rest of my days, I mean to do it this day, to the toast of ‘Bless ‘em both.’” “I, too!” says Bintrey. “And now, Monsieur Voigt, let you and me be two men of Marseilles, and allons, marchons, arm-in-arm!” They go down to the door, where others are waiting for them, and they go quietly to the church, and the happy marriage takes place. While the ceremony is yet in progress, the notary is called out. When it is finished, he has returned, is standing behind Vendale, and touches him on the shoulder. “Go to the side door, one moment, Monsieur Vendale. Alone. Leave Madame to me.” At the side door of the church, are the same two men from the Hospice. They are snow-stained and travel-worn. They wish him joy, and then each lays his broad hand upon Vendale’s breast, and one says in a low voice, while the other steadfastly regards him: “It is here, Monsieur. Your litter. The very same.” “My litter is here? Why?” “Hush! For the sake of Madame. Your companion of that day—” “What of him?” The man looks at his comrade, and his comrade takes him up. Each keeps his hand laid earnestly on Vendale’s breast. “He had been living at the first Refuge, monsieur, for some days. The weather was now good, now bad.” “Yes?” “He arrived at our Hospice the day before yesterday, and, having refreshed himself with sleep on the floor before the fire, wrapped in his cloak, was resolute to go on, before dark, to the next Hospice. He had a great fear of that part of the way, and thought it would be worse to-morrow.” “Yes?” “He went on alone. He had passed the gallery when an avalanche—like that which fell behind you near the Bridge of the Ganther—” “Killed him?” “We dug him out, suffocated and broken all to pieces! But, monsieur, as to Madame. We have brought him here on the litter, to be buried. We must ascend the street outside. Madame must not see. It would be an accursed thing to bring the litter through the arch across the street, until Madame has passed through. As you descend, we who accompany the litter will set it down on the stones of the street the second to the right, and will stand before it. But do not let Madame turn her head towards the street the second to the right. There is no time to lose. Madame will be alarmed by your absence. Adieu!” Vendale returns to his bride, and draws her hand through his unmaimed arm. A pretty procession awaits them at the main door of the church. They take their station in it, and descend the street amidst the ringing of the bells, the firing of the guns, the waving of the flags, the playing of the music, the shouts, the smiles, and tears, of the excited town. Heads are uncovered as she passes, hands are kissed to her, all the people bless her. “Heaven’s benediction on the dear girl! See where she goes in her youth and beauty; she who so nobly saved his life!” Near the corner of the street the second to the right, he speaks to her, and calls her attention to the windows on the opposite side. The corner well passed, he says: “Do not look round, my darling, for a reason that I have,” and turns his head. Then, looking back along the street, he sees the litter and its bearers passing up alone under the arch, as he and she and their marriage train go down towards the shining valley.[1867_Christmas_Number]/1867-12-12-No_Thoroughfare_Christmas_Number.pdf
215<em>The Cricket on the Hearth. A Fairy Tale of Home</em>Published by Bradbury and Evans, 1845 (Eleventh Edition)Dickens, Charles<em>Hathi Trust,</em> <a href=""></a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1845-12">1845-12</a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=37&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Illustrated+by+Daniel+Maclise%2C+John+Leech%2C+Richard+Doyle%2C+Clarkson+Stanfield%2C+and+Edwin+Henry+Landseer">Illustrated by Daniel Maclise, John Leech, Richard Doyle, Clarkson Stanfield, and Edwin Henry Landseer</a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Christmas+Book">Christmas Book</a>1845-12-The_Cricket_on_the_HearthDickens, Charles. <em>The Cricket on the Hearth. A Fairy Tale of Home</em> (1845). <em>Dickens Search.</em> Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig. Accessed [date]. <a href=""></a>.18451201Chirp the First The Kettle began it! Don’t tell me what Mrs. Peerybingle said. I know better. Mrs. Peerybingle may leave it on record to the end of time that she couldn’t say which of them began it; but, I say the Kettle did. I ought to know, I hope? The Kettle began it, full five minutes by the little waxy-faced Dutch clock in the corner before the Cricket uttered a chirp. As if the clock hadn’t finished striking, and the convulsive little Haymaker at the top of it, jerking away right and left with a scythe in front of a Moorish Palace, hadn’t mowed down half an acre of imaginary grass before the Cricket joined in at all! Why, I am not naturally positive. Every one knows that. I wouldn’t set my own opinion against the opinion of Mrs. Peerybingle, unless I were quite sure, on any account whatever. Nothing should induce me. But this is a question of fact. And the fact is, that the Kettle began it, at least five minutes before the Cricket gave any sign of being in existence. Contradict me: and I’ll say ten. Let me narrate exactly how it happened. I should have proceeded to do so in my very first word, but for this plain consideration—if I am to tell a story I must begin at the beginning; and how is it possible to begin at the beginning, without beginning at the Kettle? It appeared as if there were a sort of match, or trial of skill, you must understand, between the Kettle and the Cricket. And this is what led to it, and how it came about. Mrs. Peerybingle going out into the raw twilight, and clicking over the wet stones in a pair of pattens that worked innumerable rough impressions of the first proposition in Euclid all about the yard—Mrs. Peerybingle filled the Kettle at the water butt. Presently returning, less the pattens: and a good deal less, for they were tall and Mrs. Peerybingle was but short: she set the Kettle on the fire. In doing which she lost her temper, or mislaid it for an instant; for the water being uncomfortably cold, and in that slippy, slushy, sleety sort of state wherein it seems to penetrate through every kind of substance, patten rings included—had laid hold of Mrs. Peerybingle’s toes, and even splashed her legs. And when we rather plume ourselves (with reason too) upon our legs, and keep ourselves particularly neat in point of stockings, we find this, for the moment, hard to bear. Besides, the Kettle was aggravating and obstinate. It wouldn’t allow itself to be adjusted on the top bar; it wouldn’t hear of accommodating itself kindly to the knobs of coal; it would lean forward with a drunken air, and dribble, a very Idiot of a Kettle, on the hearth. It was quarrelsome; and hissed and spluttered morosely at the fire. To sum up all, the lid, resisting Mrs. Peerybingle’s fingers, first of all turned topsy-turvy, and then, with an ingenious pertinacity deserving of a better cause, dived sideways in—down to the very bottom of the Kettle. And the hull of the Royal George has never made half the monstrous resistance to coming out of the water, which the lid of that Kettle employed against Mrs. Peerybingle, before she got it up again. It looked sullen and pig-headed enough, even then; carrying its handle with an air of defiance, and cocking its spout pertly and mockingly at Mrs. Peerybingle, as if it said, &quot;I won’t boil. Nothing shall induce me!&quot; But Mrs. Peerybingle, with restored good humour, dusted her chubby little hands against each other, and sat down before the Kettle: laughing. Meantime, the jolly blaze uprose and fell, flashing and gleaming on the little Haymaker at the top of the Dutch clock, until one might have thought he stood stock still before the Moorish Palace, and nothing was in motion but the flame. He was on the move, however; and had his spasms, two to the second, all right and regular. But, his sufferings when the clock was going to strike, were frightful to behold; and, when a Cuckoo looked out of a trap-door in the Palace, and gave note six times, it shook him, each time, like a spectral voice—or like a something wiry, plucking at his legs. It was not until a violent commotion and a whirring noise among the weights and ropes below him had quite subsided, that this terrified Haymaker became himself again. Nor was he startled without reason; for these rattling, bony skeletons of clocks are very disconcerting in their operation, and I wonder very much how any set of men, but most of all how Dutchmen, can have had a liking to invent them. There is a popular belief that Dutchmen love broad cases and much clothing for their own lower selves; and they might know better than to leave their clocks so very lank and unprotected, surely. Now it was, you observe, that the Kettle began to spend the evening. Now it was, that the Kettle, growing mellow and musical, began to have irrepressible gurglings in its throat, and to indulge in short vocal snorts, which it checked in the bud, as if it hadn’t quite made up its mind yet, to be good company. Now it was, that after two or three such vain attempts to stifle its convivial sentiments, it threw off all moroseness, all reserve, and burst into a stream of song so cosy and hilarious, as never maudlin nightingale yet formed the least idea of. So plain too! Bless you, you might have understood it like a book—better than some books you and I could name, perhaps. With its warm breath gushing forth in a light cloud which merrily and gracefully ascended a few feet, then hung about the chimney-corner as its own domestic Heaven, it trolled its song with that strong energy of cheerfulness, that its iron body hummed and stirred upon the fire; and the lid itself, the recently rebellious lid—such is the influence of a bright example—performed a sort of jig, and clattered like a deaf and dumb young cymbal that had never known the use of its twin brother. That this song of the Kettle’s, was a song of invitation and welcome to somebody out of doors; to somebody at that moment coming on, towards the snug small home and the crisp fire; there is no doubt whatever. Mrs. Peerybingle knew it, perfectly, as she sat musing before the hearth. It’s a dark night, sang the Kettle, and the rotten leaves are lying by the way; and, above, all is mist and darkness, and below, all is mire and clay; and there’s only one relief in all the sad and murky air; and I don’t know that it is one, for it’s nothing but a glare, of deep and angry crimson, where the sun and wind together, set a brand upon the clouds for being guilty of such weather; and the widest open country is a long dull streak of black; and there’s hoar-frost on the finger-post, and thaw upon the track; and the ice it isn’t water, and the water isn’t free; and you couldn’t say that anything is what it ought to be; but he’s coming, coming, coming!— And here, if you like, the Cricket DID chime in! with a Chirrup, Chirrup, Chirrup of such magnitude, by way of chorus; with a voice so astoundingly disproportionate to its size, as compared with the Kettle; (size! you couldn’t See it!) that if it had then and there burst itself like an overcharged gun: if it had fallen a victim on the spot, and chirruped its little body into fifty pieces: it would have seemed a natural and inevitable consequence, for which it had expressly laboured. The Kettle had had the last of its solo performance. It persevered with undiminished ardour; but the Cricket took first fiddle and kept it. Good Heaven, how it chirped! Its shrill, sharp, piercing voice resounded through the house, and seemed to twinkle in the outer darkness like a Star. There was an indescribable little trill and tremble in it, at its loudest, which suggested its being carried off its legs, and made to leap again, by its own intense enthusiasm. Yet they went very well together, the Cricket and the Kettle. The burden of the song was still the same; and louder, louder, louder still, they sang it in their emulation. The fair little listener; for fair she was, and young—though something of what is called the dumpling shape; but I don’t myself object to that—lighted a candle; glanced at the Haymaker on the top of the clock, who was getting in a pretty average crop of minutes; and looked out of the window, where she saw nothing, owing to the darkness, but her own face imaged in the glass. And my opinion is (and so would your&#039;s have been), that she might have looked a long way, and seen nothing half so agreeable. When she came back, and sat down in her former seat, the Cricket and the Kettle were still keeping it up, with a perfect fury of competition. The Kettle’s weak side clearly being that he didn’t know when he was beat. There was all the excitement of a race about it. Chirp, chirp, chirp! Cricket a mile ahead. Hum, hum, hum—m—m! Kettle making play in the distance, like a great top. Chirp, chirp, chirp! Cricket round the corner. Hum, hum, hum—m—m! Kettle sticking to him in his own way; no idea of giving in. Chirp, chirp, chirp! Cricket fresher than ever. Hum, hum, hum—m—m! Kettle slow and steady. Chirp, chirp, chirp! Cricket going in to finish him. Hum, hum, hum—m—m! Kettle not to be finished. Until at last, they got so jumbled together, in the hurry-skurry, helter-skelter, of the match, that whether the Kettle chirped and the Cricket hummed, or the Cricket chirped and the Kettle hummed, or they both chirped and both hummed, it would have taken a clearer head than your&#039;s or mine to have decided with anything like certainty. But of this, there is no doubt: that the Kettle and the Cricket, at one and the same moment, and by some power of amalgamation best known to themselves, sent, each, his fireside song of comfort streaming into a ray of the candle that shone out through the window; and a long way down the lane. And this light, bursting on a certain person who, on the instant, approached towards it through the gloom, expressed the whole thing to him, literally in a twinkling, and cried, &quot;Welcome home, old fellow! Welcome home, my Boy!&quot; This end attained, the Kettle, being dead beat, boiled over, and was taken off the fire. Mrs. Peerybingle then went running to the door, where, what with the wheels of a cart, the tramp of a horse, the voice of a man, the tearing in and out of an excited dog, and the surprising and mysterious appearance of a Baby, there was soon the very What’s-his-name to pay. Where the Baby came from, or how Mrs. Peerybingle got hold of it in that flash of time, I don’t know. But a live Baby there was, in Mrs. Peerybingle’s arms; and a pretty tolerable amount of pride she seemed to have in it, when she was drawn gently to the fire, by a sturdy figure of a man, much taller and much older than herself; who had to stoop a long way down, to kiss her. But she was worth the trouble. Six foot six, with the lumbago, might have done it. &quot;Oh goodness, John!&quot; said Mrs. P. &quot;What a state you are in with the weather!&quot; He was something the worse for it, undeniably. The thick mist hung in clots upon his eyelashes like candied thaw; and between the fog and fire together, there were rainbows in his very whiskers. &quot;Why, you see, Dot,&quot; John made answer, slowly, as he unrolled a shawl from about his throat; and warmed his hands; &quot;it—it an’t exactly summer weather. So, no wonder.&quot; &quot;I wish you wouldn’t call me Dot, John. I don’t like it,&quot; said Mrs. Peerybingle: pouting in a way that clearly showed she did like it, very much. &quot;Why what else are you?&quot; returned John, looking down upon her with a smile, and giving her waist as light a squeeze as his huge hand and arm could give. &quot;A dot and&quot;—here he glanced at the Baby—&quot;a dot and carry—I won’t say it, for fear I should spoil it; but I was very near a joke. I don’t know as ever I was nearer.&quot; He was often near to something or other very clever, by his own account: this lumbering, slow, honest John; this John so heavy but so light of spirit; so rough upon the surface, but so gentle at the core; so dull without, so quick within; so stolid, but so good! Oh Mother Nature, give thy children the true Poetry of Heart that hid itself in this poor Carrier’s breast—he was but a Carrier by the way—and we can bear to have them talking Prose, and leading lives of Prose; and bear to bless Thee for their company! It was pleasant to see Dot, with her little figure and her Baby in her arms: a very doll of a Baby: glancing with a coquettish thoughtfulness at the fire, and inclining her delicate little head just enough on one side to let it rest in an odd, half-natural, half-affected, wholly nestling and agreeable manner, on the great rugged figure of the Carrier. It was pleasant to see him, with his tender awkwardness, endeavouring to adapt his rude support to her slight need, and make his burly middle-age a leaning-staff not inappropriate to her blooming youth. It was pleasant to observe how Tilly Slowboy, waiting in the background for the Baby, took special cognizance (though in her earliest teens) of this grouping; and stood with her mouth and eyes wide open, and her head thrust forward, taking it in as if it were air. Nor was it less agreeable to observe how John the Carrier, reference being made by Dot to the aforesaid Baby, checked his hand when on the point of touching the infant, as if he thought he might crack it; and bending down, surveyed it from a safe distance, with a kind of puzzled pride: such as an amiable mastiff might be supposed to show, if he found himself, one day, the father of a young canary. &quot;An’t he beautiful, John? Don’t he look precious in his sleep?&quot; &quot;Very precious,&quot; said John. &quot;Very much so. He generally is asleep, an’t he?&quot; &quot;Lor, John! Good gracious no!&quot; &quot;Oh,&quot; said John, pondering. &quot;I thought his eyes was generally shut. Halloa!&quot; &quot;Goodness, John, how you startle one!&quot; &quot;It an’t right for him to turn ’em up in that way!&quot; said the astonished Carrier, &quot;is it? See how he’s winking with both of ’em at once! and look at his mouth! why he’s gasping like a gold and silver fish!&quot; &quot;You don’t deserve to be a father, you don’t,&quot; said Dot, with all the dignity of an experienced matron. &quot;But how should you know what little complaints children are troubled with, John! You wouldn’t so much as know their names, you stupid fellow.&quot; And when she had turned the Baby over on her left arm, and had slapped its back as a restorative, she pinched her husband’s ear, laughing. &quot;No,&quot; said John, pulling off his outer coat. &quot;It’s very true, Dot. I don’t know much about it. I only know that I’ve been fighting pretty stiffly with the Wind to-night. It’s been blowing north-east, straight into the cart, the whole way home.&quot; &quot;Poor old man, so it has!&quot; cried Mrs. Peerybingle, instantly becoming very active. &quot;Here! Take the precious darling, Tilly, while I make myself of some use. Bless it, I could smother it with kissing it; I could! Hie then, good dog! Hie Boxer, boy! Only let me make the tea first, John; and then I’ll help you with the parcels, like a busy bee. &#039;How doth the little&#039;—and all the rest of it, you know John. Did you ever learn &#039;how doth the little,&#039; when you went to school, John?&quot; &quot;Not to quite know it,&quot; John returned. &quot;I was very near it once. But I should only have spoilt it, I dare say.&quot; &quot;Ha ha!&quot; laughed Dot. She had the blithest little laugh you ever heard. &quot;What a dear old darling of a dunce you are, John, to be sure!&quot; Not at all disputing this position, John went out to see that the boy with the lantern, which had been dancing to and fro before the door and window, like a Will of the Wisp, took due care of the horse; who was fatter than you would quite believe, if I gave you his measure, and so old that his birthday was lost in the mists of antiquity. Boxer, feeling that his attentions were due to the family in general, and must be impartially distributed, dashed in and out with bewildering inconstancy: now, describing a circle of short barks round the horse, where he was being rubbed down at the stable-door; now feigning to make savage rushes at his mistress, and facetiously bringing himself to sudden stops; now eliciting a shriek from Tilly Slowboy, in the low nursing-chair near the fire, by the unexpected application of his moist nose to her countenance; now exhibiting an obtrusive interest in the Baby; now going round and round upon the hearth, and lying down as if he had established himself for the night; now getting up again, and taking that nothing of a fag-end of a tail of his, out into the weather, as if he had just remembered an appointment, and was off, at a round trot, to keep it. &quot;There! There’s the teapot, ready on the hob!&quot; said Dot; as briskly busy as a child at play at keeping house. &quot;And there’s the old knuckle of ham; and there’s the butter; and there’s the crusty loaf, and all! Here’s the clothes-basket for the small parcels, John, if you’ve got any there—where are you, John? Don’t let the dear child fall under the grate, Tilly, whatever you do!&quot; It may be noted of Miss Slowboy, in spite of her rejecting the caution with some vivacity, that she had a rare and surprising talent for getting this Baby into difficulties: and had several times imperilled its short life, in a quiet way peculiarly her own. She was of a spare and straight shape, this young lady, insomuch that her garments appeared to be in constant danger of sliding off those sharp pegs, her shoulders, on which they were loosely hung. Her costume was remarkable for the partial development, on all possible occasions, of some flannel vestment of a singular structure; also for affording glimpses, in the region of the back, of a corset, or pair of stays, in colour a dead-green. Being always in a state of gaping admiration at everything, and absorbed, besides, in the perpetual contemplation of her mistress’s perfections and the Baby’s, Miss Slowboy, in her little errors of judgment, may be said to have done equal honour to her head and to her heart; and though these did less honour to the Baby’s head, which they were the occasional means of bringing into contact with deal doors, dressers, stair-rails, bedposts, and other foreign substances, still they were the honest results of Tilly Slowboy’s constant astonishment at finding herself so kindly treated, and installed in such a comfortable home. For, the maternal and paternal Slowboy were alike unknown to Fame, and Tilly had been bred by public charity, a Foundling; which word, though only differing from Fondling by one vowel’s length, is very different in meaning, and expresses quite another thing. To have seen little Mrs. Peerybingle come back with her husband; tugging at the clothes-basket, and making the most strenuous exertions to do nothing at all (for he carried it); would have amused you almost as much as it amused him. It may have entertained the Cricket too, for anything I know; but, certainly, it now began to chirp again, vehemently. &quot;Heyday!&quot; said John, in his slow way. &quot;It’s merrier than ever, to-night, I think.&quot; &quot;And it’s sure to bring us good fortune, John! It always has done so. To have a Cricket on the Hearth, is the luckiest thing in all the world!&quot; John looked at her as if he had very nearly got the thought into his head, that she was his Cricket in chief, and he quite agreed with her. But, it was probably one of his narrow escapes, for he said nothing. &quot;The first time I heard its cheerful little note, John, was on that night when you brought me home—when you brought me to my new home here; its little mistress. Nearly a year ago. You recollect, John?&quot; O yes. John remembered. I should think so! &quot;Its chirp was such a welcome to me! It seemed so full of promise and encouragement. It seemed to say, you would be kind and gentle with me, and would not expect (I had a fear of that, John, then) to find an old head on the shoulders of your foolish little wife.&quot; John thoughtfully patted one of the shoulders, and then the head, as though he would have said No, No; he had had no such expectation; he had been quite content to take them as they were. And really he had reason. They were very comely. &quot;It spoke the truth, John, when it seemed to say so: for you have ever been, I am sure, the best, the most considerate, the most affectionate of husbands to me. This has been a happy home, John; and I love the Cricket for its sake!&quot; &quot;Why so do I then,&quot; said the Carrier. &quot;So do I, Dot.&quot; &quot;I love it for the many times I have heard it, and the many thoughts its harmless music has given me. Sometimes, in the twilight, when I have felt a little solitary and down-hearted, John—before Baby was here to keep me company and make the house gay; when I have thought how lonely you would be if I should die; how lonely I should be if I could know that you had lost me, dear; its Chirp, Chirp, Chirp upon the hearth, has seemed to tell me of another little voice, so sweet, so very dear to me, before whose coming sound, my trouble vanished like a dream. And when I used to fear—I did fear once, John; I was very young you know—that ours might prove to be an ill-assorted marriage: I being such a child, and you more like my guardian than my husband: and that you might not, however hard you tried, be able to learn to love me, as you hoped and prayed you might; its Chirp, Chirp, Chirp, has cheered me up again, and filled me with new trust and confidence. I was thinking of these things to-night, dear, when I sat expecting you; and I love the Cricket for their sake!&quot; &quot;And so do I,&quot; repeated John. &quot;But, Dot? I hope and pray that I might learn to love you? How you talk! I had learnt that, long before I brought you here, to be the Cricket’s little mistress, Dot!&quot; She laid her hand, an instant, on his arm, and looked up at him with an agitated face, as if she would have told him something. Next moment, she was down upon her knees before the basket; speaking in a sprightly voice, and busy with the parcels. &quot;There are not many of them to-night, John, but I saw some goods behind the cart, just now; and though they give more trouble, perhaps, still they pay as well; so we have no reason to grumble, have we? Besides, you have been delivering, I dare say, as you came along?&quot; Oh yes, John said. A good many. &quot;Why what’s this round box? Heart alive, John, it’s a wedding-cake!&quot; &quot;Leave a woman alone to find out that,&quot; said John, admiringly. &quot;Now a man would never have thought of it! whereas, it’s my belief that if you was to pack a wedding-cake up in a tea-chest, or a turn-up bedstead, or a pickled salmon keg, or any unlikely thing, a woman would be sure to find it out directly. Yes; I called for it at the pastry-cook’s.&quot; &quot;And it weighs I don’t know what—whole hundredweights!&quot; cried Dot, making a great demonstration of trying to lift it. &quot;Whose is it, John? Where is it going?&quot; &quot;Read the writing on the other side,&quot; said John. &quot;Why, John! My Goodness, John!&quot; &quot;Ah! who’d have thought it!&quot; John returned. &quot;You never mean to say,&quot; pursued Dot, sitting on the floor and shaking her head at him, &quot;that it’s Gruff and Tackleton the toymaker!&quot; John nodded. Mrs. Peerybingle nodded also, fifty times at least. Not in assent: in dumb and pitying amazement; screwing up her lips, the while, with all their little force (they were never made for screwing up; I am clear of that), and looking the good Carrier through and through, in her abstraction. Miss Slowboy, in the mean time, who had a mechanical power of reproducing scraps of current conversation for the delectation of the Baby, with all the sense struck out of them, and all the Nouns changed into the Plural number, inquired aloud of that young creature, Was it Gruffs and Tackletons the toymakers then, and Would it call at Pastry-cooks for wedding-cakes, and Did its mothers know the boxes when its fathers brought them homes; and so on. &quot;And that is really to come about!&quot; said Dot. &quot;Why, she and I were girls at school together, John.&quot; He might have been thinking of her: or nearly thinking of her, perhaps: as she was in that same school time. He looked upon her with a thoughtful pleasure, but he made no answer. &quot;And he’s as old! As unlike her!—Why, how many years older than you, is Gruff and Tackleton, John?&quot; &quot;How many more cups of tea shall I drink to-night at one sitting, than Gruff and Tackleton ever took in four, I wonder!&quot; replied John, good-humouredly, as he drew a chair to the round table, and began at the cold Ham. &quot;As to eating, I eat but little; but that little I enjoy, Dot.&quot; Even this; his usual sentiment at meal times; one of his innocent delusions (for his appetite was always obstinate, and flatly contradicted him); awoke no smile in the face of his little wife, who stood among the parcels, pushing the cake-box slowly from her with her foot, and never once looked, though her eyes were cast down too, upon the dainty shoe she generally was so mindful of. Absorbed in thought, she stood there, heedless alike of the tea and John (although he called to her, and rapped the table with his knife to startle her), until he rose and touched her on the arm; when she looked at him for a moment, and hurried to her place behind the teaboard, laughing at her negligence. But not as she had laughed before. The manner, and the music, were quite changed. The Cricket, too, had stopped. Somehow the room was not so cheerful as it had been. Nothing like it. &quot;So, these are all the parcels, are they, John?&quot; she said: breaking a long silence, which the honest Carrier had devoted to the practical illustration of one part of his favourite sentiment—certainly enjoying what he ate, if it couldn’t be admitted that he ate but little. &quot;So these are all the parcels; are they, John?&quot; &quot;That’s all,&quot; said John. &quot;Why—no—I—&quot; laying down his knife and fork, and taking a long breath. &quot;I declare—I’ve clean forgotten the old gentleman!&quot; &quot;The old gentleman?&quot; &quot;In the cart,&quot; said John. &quot;He was asleep, among the straw, the last time I saw him. I’ve very nearly remembered him, twice, since I came in; but he went out of my head again. Halloa! Yahip there! rouse up! That’s my hearty!&quot; John said these latter words, outside the door, whither he had hurried with the candle in his hand. Miss Slowboy, conscious of some mysterious reference to The Old Gentleman, and connecting in her mystified imagination certain associations of a religious nature with the phrase, was so disturbed, that hastily rising from the low chair by the fire to seek protection near the skirts of her mistress, and coming into contact as she crossed the doorway with an ancient Stranger, she instinctively made a charge or butt at him with the only offensive instrument within her reach. This instrument happening to be the Baby, great commotion and alarm ensued, which the sagacity of Boxer rather tended to increase; for, that good dog, more thoughtful than its master, had, it seemed, been watching the old gentleman in his sleep lest he should walk off with a few young Poplar trees that were tied up behind the cart; and he still attended on him very closely; worrying his gaiters in fact, and making dead sets at the buttons. &quot;You’re such an undeniable good sleeper, Sir,&quot; said John when tranquillity was restored; in the mean time the old gentleman had stood, bare-headed and motionless, in the centre of the room; &quot;that I have half a mind to ask you where the other six are: only that would be a joke, and I know I should spoil it. Very near though,&quot; murmured the Carrier, with a chuckle; &quot;very near!&quot; The Stranger, who had long white hair; good features, singularly bold and well defined for an old man, and dark, bright, penetrating eyes, looked round with a smile, and saluted the Carrier’s wife by gravely inclining his head. His garb was very quaint and odd—a long, long way behind the time. Its hue was brown, all over. In his hand he held a great brown club or walking-stick; and striking this upon the floor, it fell asunder, and became a chair. On which he sat down, quite composedly. &quot;There!&quot; said the Carrier, turning to his wife. &quot;That’s the way I found him, sitting by the roadside! upright as a milestone. And almost as deaf.&quot; &quot;Sitting in the open air, John!&quot; &quot;In the open air,&quot; replied the Carrier, &quot;just at dusk. &#039;Carriage Paid,&#039; he said; and gave me eighteenpence. Then he got in. And there he is.&quot; &quot;He’s going, John, I think!&quot; Not at all. He was only going to speak. &quot;If you please, I was to be left till called for,&quot; said the Stranger, mildly. &quot;Don’t mind me.&quot; With that, he took a pair of spectacles from one of his large pockets, and a book from another; and leisurely began to read. Making no more of Boxer than if he had been a house lamb! The Carrier and his wife exchanged a look of perplexity. The Stranger raised his head; and glancing from the latter to the former, said: &quot;Your daughter, my good friend?&quot; &quot;Wife,&quot; returned John. &quot;Niece?&quot; said the Stranger. &quot;Wife,&quot; roared John. &quot;Indeed?&quot; observed the Stranger. &quot;Surely? Very young!&quot; He quietly turned over, and resumed his reading. But, before he could have read two lines, he again interrupted himself to say: &quot;Baby, yours?&quot; John gave him a gigantic nod; equivalent to an answer in the affirmative, delivered through a speaking trumpet. &quot;Girl?&quot; &quot;Bo-o-oy!&#039; roared John. &quot;Also very young, eh?&quot; Mrs. Peerybingle instantly struck in. &quot;Two months and three da-ays! Vaccinated just six weeks ago-o! Took very fine-ly! Considered, by the doctor, a remarkably beautiful chi-ild! Equal to the general run of children at five months o-old! Takes notice, in a way quite won-der-ful! May seem impossible to you, but feels his legs al-ready!&quot; Here the breathless little mother, who had been shrieking these short sentences into the old man’s ear, until her pretty face was crimsoned, held up the Baby before him as a stubborn and triumphant fact; while Tilly Slowboy, with a melodious cry of Ketcher, Ketcher—which sounded like some unknown words, adapted to a popular Sneeze—performed some cow-like gambols round that all unconscious Innocent. &quot;Hark! He’s called for, sure enough,&quot; said John. &quot;There’s somebody at the door. Open it, Tilly.&quot; Before she could reach it, however, it was opened from without; being a primitive sort of door, with a latch, that any one could lift if he chose—and a good many people did choose, I can tell you; for all kinds of neighbours liked to have a cheerful word or two with the Carrier, though he was no great talker for the matter of that. Being opened, it gave admission to a little, meagre, thoughtful, dingy-faced man, who seemed to have made himself a great-coat from the sack-cloth covering of some old box; for when he turned to shut the door, and keep the weather out, he disclosed upon the back of that garment, the inscription G &amp;amp; T in large black capitals. Also the word GLASS in bold characters. &quot;Good evening John!&quot; said the little man. &quot;Good evening Mum. Good evening Tilly. Good evening Unbeknown! How’s Baby Mum? Boxer’s pretty well I hope?&quot; &quot;All thriving, Caleb,&quot; replied Dot. &quot;I am sure you need only look at the dear child, for one, to know that.&quot; &quot;And I’m sure I need only look at you for another,&quot; said Caleb. He didn’t look at her though; he had a wandering and thoughtful eye which seemed to be always projecting itself into some other time and place, no matter what he said; a description which will equally apply to his voice. &quot;Or at John for another,&quot; said Caleb. &quot;Or at Tilly, as far as that goes. Or certainly at Boxer.&quot; &quot;Busy just now, Caleb?&quot; asked the Carrier. &quot;Why, pretty well, John,&quot; he returned, with the distraught air of a man who was casting about for the Philosopher’s stone, at least. &quot;Pretty much so. There’s rather a run on Noah’s Arks at present. I could have wished to improve upon the Family, but I don’t see how it’s to be done at the price. It would be a satisfaction to one’s mind, to make it clearer which was Shems and Hams, and which was Wives. Flies an’t on that scale neither, as compared with elephants you know! Ah! well! Have you got anything in the parcel line for me, John?&quot; The Carrier put his hand into a pocket of the coat he had taken off; and brought out, carefully preserved in moss and paper, a tiny flower-pot. &quot;There it is!&quot; he said, adjusting it with great care. &quot;Not so much as a leaf damaged. Full of buds!&quot; Caleb’s dull eye brightened, as he took it, and thanked him. &quot;Dear, Caleb,&quot; said the Carrier. &quot;Very dear at this season.&quot; &quot;Never mind that. It would be cheap to me, whatever it cost,&quot; returned the little man. &quot;Anything else, John?&quot; &quot;A small box,&quot; replied the Carrier. &quot;Here you are!&quot; &quot;&#039;For Caleb Plummer,&#039;&quot; said the little man, spelling out the direction. &quot;&#039;With Cash.&#039; With Cash, John? I don’t think it’s for me.&quot; &quot;With Care,&quot; returned the Carrier, looking over his shoulder. &quot;Where do you make out cash?&quot; &quot;Oh! To be sure!&quot; said Caleb. &quot;It’s all right. With care! Yes, yes; that’s mine. It might have been with cash, indeed, if my dear Boy in the Golden South Americas had lived, John. You loved him like a son; didn’t you? You needn’t say you did. I know, of course. &#039;Caleb Plummer. With care.&#039; Yes, yes, it’s all right. It’s a box of dolls’ eyes for my daughter’s work. I wish it was her own sight in a box, John.&quot; &quot;I wish it was, or could be!&quot; cried the Carrier. &quot;Thank’ee,&quot; said the little man. &quot;You speak very hearty. To think that she should never see the Dolls; and them a-staring at her, so bold, all day long! That’s where it cuts. What’s the damage, John?&quot; &quot;I’ll damage you,&quot; said John, &quot;if you inquire. Dot! Very near?&quot; &quot;Well! it’s like you to say so,&quot; observed the little man. &quot;It’s your kind way. Let me see. I think that’s all.&quot; &quot;I think not,&quot; said the Carrier. &quot;Try again.&quot; &quot;Something for our Governor, eh?&quot; said Caleb, after pondering a little while. &quot;To be sure. That’s what I came for; but my head’s so running on them Arks and things! He hasn’t been here, has he?&quot; &quot;Not he,&quot; returned the Carrier. &quot;He’s too busy, courting.&quot; &quot;He’s coming round though,&quot; said Caleb; &quot;for he told me to keep on the near side of the road going home, and it was ten to one he’d take me up. I had better go, by the bye.—You couldn’t have the goodness to let me pinch Boxer’s tail, Mum, for half a moment, could you?&quot; &quot;Why, Caleb! what a question!&quot; &quot;Oh never mind, Mum,&quot; said the little man. &quot;He mightn’t like it perhaps. There’s a small order just come in, for barking dogs; and I should wish to go as close to Natur’ as I could, for sixpence. That’s all. Never mind, Mum.&quot; It happened opportunely, that Boxer, without receiving the proposed stimulus, began to bark with great zeal. But, as this implied the approach of some new visitor, Caleb, postponing his study from the life to a more convenient season, shouldered the round box, and took a hurried leave. He might have spared himself the trouble, for he met the visitor upon the threshold. &quot;Oh! You are here, are you? Wait a bit. I’ll take you home. John Peerybingle, my service to you. More of my service to your pretty wife. Handsomer every day! Better too, if possible! And younger,&quot; mused the speaker, in a low voice; &quot;that’s the Devil of it!&quot; &quot;I should be astonished at your paying compliments, Mr. Tackleton,&quot; said Dot, not with the best grace in the world; &quot;but for your condition.&quot; &quot;You know all about it then?&quot; &quot;I have got myself to believe it, somehow,&quot; said Dot. &quot;After a hard struggle, I suppose?&quot; &quot;Very.&quot; Tackleton the Toy-merchant, pretty generally known as Gruff and Tackleton—for that was the firm, though Gruff had been bought out long ago; only leaving his name, and as some said his nature, according to its Dictionary meaning, in the business—Tackleton the Toy merchant, was a man whose vocation had been quite misunderstood by his Parents and Guardians. If they had made him a Money Lender, or a sharp Attorney, or a Sheriff’s Officer, or a Broker, he might have sown his discontented oats in his youth, and, after having had the full-run of himself in ill-natured transactions, might have turned out amiable, at last, for the sake of a little freshness and novelty. But, cramped and chafing in the peaceable pursuit of toy-making, he was a domestic Ogre, who had been living on chiidren all his life, and was their implacable enemy. He despised all toys; wouldn’t have bought one for the world; delighted, in his malice, to insinuate grim expressions into the faces of brown-paper farmers who drove pigs to market, bellmen who advertised lost lawyers’ consciences, movable old ladies who darned stockings or carved pies; and other like samples of his stock in trade. In appalling masks; hideous, hairy, red-eyed Jacks in Boxes; Vampire Kites; demoniacal Tumblers who wouldn’t lie down, and were perpetually flying forward, to stare infants out of countenance; his soul perfectly revelled. They were his only relief, and safety-valve. He was great in such inventions. Anything suggestive of a Pony-nightmare, was delicious to him. He had even lost money (and he took to that toy very kindly) by getting up Goblin slides for magic lanterns, whereon the Powers of Darkness were depicted as a sort of supernatural shell-fish, with human faces. In intensifying the portraiture of Giants, he had sunk quite a little capital; and, though no painter himself, he could indicate, for the instruction of his artists, with a piece of chalk, a certain furtive leer for the countenances of those monsters, which was safe to destroy the peace of mind of any young gentleman between the ages of six and eleven, for the whole Christmas or Midsummer Vacation. What he was in toys, he was (as most men are) in all other things. You may easily suppose, therefore, that within the great green cape, which reached down to the calves of his legs, there was buttoned up to the chin an uncommonly pleasant fellow; and that he was about as choice a spirit and as agreeable a companion, as ever stood in a pair of bull-headed-looking boots with mahogany-colored tops. Still, Tackleton, the Toy-merchant, was going to be married. In spite of all this, he was going to be married. And to a young wife too; a beautiful young wife. He didn’t look much like a Bridegroom, as he stood in the Carrier’s kitchen, with a twist in his dry face, and a screw in his body, and his hat jerked over the bridge of his nose, and his hands tucked down into the bottoms of his pockets, and his whole sarcastic ill-conditioned self peering out of one little corner of one little eye, like the concentrated essence of any number of ravens. But, a Bridegroom he designed to be. &quot;In three days’ time. Next Thursday. The last day of the first month in the year. That’s my wedding-day,&quot; said Tackleton. Did I mention that he had always one eye wide open, and one eye nearly shut; and that the one eye nearly shut, was always the expressive eye? I don’t think I did. &quot;That’s my wedding-day!&quot; said Tackleton, rattling his money. &quot;Why, it’s our wedding-day too,&quot; exclaimed the Carrier. &quot;Ha ha!&quot; laughed Tackleton. &quot;Odd! You’re just such another couple. Just!&quot; The indignation of Dot at this presumptuous assertion is not to be described. What next? His imagination would compass the possibility of just such another Baby, perhaps. The man was mad. &quot;I say! A word with you,&quot; murmured Tackleton, nudging the Carrier with his elbow, and taking him a little apart. &quot;You’ll come to the wedding? We’re in the same boat, you know.&quot; &quot;How in the same boat?&quot; inquired the Carrier. &quot;A little disparity, you know;&quot; said Tackleton, with another nudge. &quot;Come and spend an evening with us, beforehand.&quot; &quot;Why?&quot; demanded John, astonished at this pressing hospitality. &quot;Why?&quot; returned the other. &quot;That’s a new way of receiving an invitation. Why, for pleasure—sociability, you know, and all that!&quot; &quot;I thought you were never sociable,&quot; said John, in his plain way. &quot;Tchah! It’s of no use to be anything but free with you I see,&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;Why, then, the truth is you have a—what tea-drinking people call a sort of a comfortable appearance together, you and your wife. We know better, you know, but—&quot; &quot;No, we don’t know better,&quot; interposed John. &quot;What are you talking about?&quot; &quot;Well! We don’t know better, then,&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;We’ll agree that we don’t. As you like; what does it matter? I was going to say, as you have that sort of appearance, your company will produce a favourable effect on Mrs. Tackleton that will be. And, though I don’t think your good lady’s very friendly to me, in this matter, still she can’t help herself from falling into my views, for there’s a compactness and cosiness of appearance about her that always tells, even in an indifferent case. You’ll say you’ll come?&quot; &quot;We have arranged to keep our Wedding-Day (as far as that goes) at home,&quot; said John. &quot;We have made the promise to ourselves these six months. We think, you see, that home—&quot; &quot;Bah! what’s home?&quot; cried Tackleton. &quot;Four walls and a ceiling! (why don’t you kill that Cricket? I would! I always do. I hate their noise.) There are four walls and a ceiling at my house. Come to me!&quot; &quot;You kill your Crickets, eh?&quot; said John. &quot;Scrunch ’em, sir,&quot; returned the other, setting his heel heavily on the floor. &quot;You’ll say you’ll come? It’s as much your interest as mine, you know, that the women should persuade each other that they’re quiet and contented, and couldn’t be better off. I know their way. Whatever one woman says, another woman is determined to clinch, always. There’s that spirit of emulation among ’em, Sir, that if your wife says to my wife, &#039;I’m the happiest woman in the world, and mine’s the best husband in the world, and I dote on him,&#039; my wife will say the same to yours, or more, and half believe it.&quot; &quot;Do you mean to say she don’t, then?&quot; asked the Carrier. &quot;Don’t!&quot; cried Tackleton, with a short, sharp laugh. &quot;Don’t what?&quot; The Carrier had some faint idea of adding, &quot;dote upon you.&quot; But, happening to meet the half-closed eye, as it twinkled upon him over the turned-up collar of the cape, which was within an ace of poking it out, he felt it such an unlikely part and parcel of anything to be doted on, that he substituted, &quot;that she don’t believe it?&quot; &quot;Ah you dog! you’re joking,&quot; said Tackleton. But the Carrier, though slow to understand the full drift of his meaning, eyed him in such a serious manner, that he was obliged to be a little more explanatory. &quot;I have the humour,&quot; said Tackleton: holding up the fingers of his left hand, and tapping the forefinger, to imply &#039;there I am, Tackleton to wit:’ ‘I have the humour, Sir, to marry a young wife, and a pretty wife:&quot; here he rapped his little finger, to express the Bride; not sparingly, but sharply; with a sense of power. &quot;I’m able to gratify that humour and I do. It’s my whim. But—now look there.&quot; He pointed to where Dot was sitting, thoughtfully, before the fire; leaning her dimpled chin upon her hand, and watching the bright blaze. The Carrier looked at her, and then at him, and then at her, and then at him again. &quot;She honours and obeys, no doubt, you know,&quot; said Tackleton; &quot;and that, as I am not a man of sentiment, is quite enough for me. But do you think there’s anything more in it?&quot; &quot;I think,&quot; observed the Carrier, &quot;that I should chuck any man out of window, who said there wasn’t.&quot; &quot;Exactly so,&quot; returned the other with an unusual alacrity of assent. &quot;To be sure! Doubtless you would. Of course. I’m certain of it. Good night. Pleasant dreams!&quot; The Carrier was puzzled, and made uncomfortable and uncertain, in spite of himself. He couldn’t help showing it, in his manner. &quot;Good night, my dear friend!&quot; said Tackleton, compassionately. &quot;I’m off. We’re exactly alike, in reality, I see. You won’t give us to-morrow evening? Well! Next day you go out visiting, I know. I’ll meet you there, and bring my wife that is to be. It’ll do her good. You’re agreeable? Thankee. What’s that!&quot; It was a loud cry from the Carrier’s wife; a loud, sharp, sudden cry, that made the room ring, like a glass vessel. She had risen from her seat, and stood like one transfixed by terror and surprise. The Stranger had advanced towards the fire, to warm himself, and stood within a short stride of her chair. But quite still. &quot;Dot!&quot; cried the Carrier. &quot;Mary! Darling! What’s the matter?&quot; They were all about her in a moment. Caleb, who had been dozing on the cake-box, in the first imperfect recovery of his suspended presence of mind seized Miss Slowboy by the hair of her head, but immediately apologised. &quot;Mary!&quot; exclaimed the Carrier, supporting her in his arms. &quot;Are you ill! what is it? Tell me dear!&quot; She only answered by beating her hands together, and falling into a wild fit of laughter. Then, sinking from his grasp upon the ground, she covered her face with her apron, and wept bitterly. And then she laughed again; and then she cried again; and then she said how cold it was, and suffered him to lead her to the fire, where she sat down as before. The old man standing, as before; quite still. &quot;I’m better, John,&quot; she said. &quot;I’m quite well now—I—&quot; John! But John was on the other side of her. Why turn her face towards the strange old gentleman, as if addressing him! Was her brain wandering? &quot;Only a fancy, John dear—a kind of shock—a something coming suddenly before my eyes—I don’t know what it was. It’s quite gone; quite gone.&quot; &quot;I’m glad it’s gone,&quot; muttered Tackleton, turning the expressive eye all round the room. &quot;I wonder where it’s gone, and what it was. Humph! Caleb, come here! Who’s that with the grey hair?&quot; &quot;I don’t know Sir,&quot; returned Caleb in a whisper. &quot;Never see him before, in all my life. A beautiful figure for a nut-cracker; quite a new model. With a screw-jaw opening down into his waistcoat, he’d be lovely.&quot; &quot;Not ugly enough,&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;Or for a firebox, either,&quot; observed Caleb, in deep contemplation, &quot;what a model! Unscrew his head to put the matches in; turn him heels up’ards for the light; and what a firebox for a gentleman’s mantel-shelf, just as he stands!&quot; &quot;Not half ugly enough,&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;Nothing in him at all! Come! Bring that box! All right now, I hope?&quot; &quot;Oh quite gone! Quite gone!&quot; said the little woman, waving him hurriedly away. &quot;Good night!&quot; &quot;Good night,&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;Good night, John Peerybingle! Take care how you carry that box, Caleb. Let it fall, and I’ll murder you! Dark as pitch, and weather worse than ever, eh? Good night!&quot; So, with another sharp look round the room, he went out at the door; followed by Caleb with the wedding-cake on his head. The Carrier had been so much astounded by his little wife, and so busily engaged in soothing and tending her, that he had scarcely been conscious of the Stranger’s presence, until now, when he again stood there, their only guest. &quot;He don’t belong to them, you see,&quot; said John. &quot;I must give him a hint to go.&quot; &quot;I beg your pardon, friend,&quot; said the old gentleman, advancing to him; &quot;the more so, as I fear your wife has not been well; but the Attendant whom my infirmity,&quot; he touched his ears and shook his head, &quot;renders almost indispensable, not having arrived, I fear there must be some mistake. The bad night which made the shelter of your comfortable cart (may I never have a worse!) so acceptable, is still as bad as ever. Would you, in your kindness, suffer me to rent a bed here?&quot; &quot;Yes, yes,&quot; cried Dot. &quot;Yes! Certainly!&quot; &quot;Oh!&quot; said the Carrier, surprised by the rapidity of this consent. &quot;Well! I don’t object; but, still I’m not quite sure that—&quot; &quot;Hush!&quot; she interrupted. &quot;Dear John!&quot; &quot;Why, he’s stone deaf,&quot; urged John. &quot;I know he is, but—Yes, Sir, certainly. Yes! certainly! I’ll make him up a bed, directly, John.&quot; As she hurried off to do it, the flutter of her spirits, and the agitation of her manner, were so strange, that the Carrier stood looking after her, quite confounded. &quot;Did its mothers make it up a Beds then!&quot; cried Miss Slowboy to the Baby; &quot;and did its hair grow brown and curly, when its caps was lifted off, and frighten it, a precious Pets, a sitting by the fires!&quot; With that unaccountable attraction of the mind to trifles, which is often incidental to a state of doubt and confusion, the Carrier, as he walked slowly to and fro, found himself mentally repeating even these absurd words, many times. So many times that he got them by heart, and was still conning them over and over, like a lesson, when Tilly, after administering as much friction to the little bald head with her hand as she thought wholesome (according to the practice of nurses), had once more tied the Baby’s cap on. &quot;And frighten it, a Precious Pets, a sitting by the fires. What frightened Dot, I wonder!&quot; mused the Carrier, pacing to and fro. He scouted, from his heart, the insinuations of the Toy merchant, and yet they filled him with a vague, indefinite uneasiness; for Tackleton was quick and sly; and he had that painful sense, himself, of being a man of slow perception, that a broken hint was always worrying to him. He certainly had no intention in his mind of linking anything that Tackleton had said, with the unusual conduct of his wife; but the two subjects of reflection came into his mind together, and he could not keep them asunder. The bed was soon made ready; and the visitor, declining all refreshment but a cup of tea, retired. Then, Dot: quite well again, she said, quite well again: arranged the great chair in the chimney corner for her husband; filled his pipe and gave it him; and took her usual little stool beside him on the hearth. She always would sit on that little stool; I think she must have had a kind of notion that it was a coaxing, wheedling, little stool. She was, out and out, the very best filler of a pipe, I should say, in the four quarters of the globe. To see her put that chubby little finger in the bowl, and then blow down the pipe to clear the tube; and when she had done so, affect to think that there was really something in the tube, and blow a dozen times, and hold it to her eye like a telescope, with a most provoking twist in her capital little face, as she looked down it; was quite a brilliant thing. As to the tobacco, she was perfect mistress of the subject; and her lighting of the pipe, with a wisp of paper, when the Carrier had it in his mouth—going so very near his nose, and yet not scorching it—was Art: high Art, Sir. And the Cricket and the Kettle, turning up again, acknowledged it! The bright fire, blazing up again, acknowledged it! The little Mower on the clock, in his unheeded work, acknowledged it! The Carrier, in his smoothing forehead and expanding face, acknowledged it, the readiest of all. And as he soberly and thoughtfully puffed at his old pipe; and as the Dutch clock ticked; and as the red fire gleamed; and as the Cricket chirped; that Genius of his Hearth and Home (for such the Cricket was) came out, in fairy shape, into the room, and summoned many forms of Home about him. Dots of all ages, and all sizes, filled the chamber. Dots who were merry children, running on before him, gathering flowers, in the fields; coy Dots, half shrinking from, half yielding to, the pleading of his own rough image; newly-married Dots, alighting at the door, and taking wondering possession of the household keys; motherly little Dots, attended by fictitious Slowboys, bearing babies to be christened; matronly Dots, still young and blooming, watching Dots of daughters, as they danced at rustic balls; fat Dots, encircled and beset by troops of rosy grand-children; withered Dots, who leaned on sticks, and tottered as they crept along. Old Carriers too, appeared, with blind old Boxers lying at their feet; and newer carts with younger drivers (&quot;Peerybingle Brothers&quot; on the tilt); and sick old Carriers, tended by the gentlest hands; and graves of dead and gone old Carriers, green in the churchyard. And as the Cricket showed him all these things—he saw them plainly, though his eyes were fixed upon the fire—the Carrier’s heart grew light and happy, and he thanked his Household Gods with all his might, and cared no more for Gruff and Tackleton than you do. But, what was that young figure of a man, which the same Fairy Cricket set so near Her stool, and which remained there, singly and alone? Why did it linger still, so near her, with its arm upon the chimney-piece, ever repeating &quot;Married! and not to me!&quot; O Dot! O failing Dot! There is no place for it in all your husband’s visions; why has its shadow fallen on his hearth! Chirp the Second Caleb Plummer and his Blind Daughter lived all alone by themselves, as the Story-books say—and my blessing, with yours to back it I hope, on the Story-books, for saying anything in this workaday world!—Caleb Plummer and his Blind Daughter lived all alone by themselves, in a little cracked nutshell of a wooden house, which was, in truth, no better than a pimple on the prominent red-brick nose of Gruff and Tackleton. The premises of Gruff and Tackleton were the great feature of the street; but you might have knocked down Caleb Plummer’s dwelling with a hammer or two, and carried off the pieces in a cart. If any one had done the dwelling-house of Caleb Plummer the honour to miss it after such an inroad, it would have been, no doubt, to commend its demolition as a vast improvement. It stuck to the premises of Gruff and Tackleton, like a barnacle to a ship’s keel, or a snail to a door, or a little bunch of toadstools to the stem of a tree. But it was the germ from which the full-grown trunk of Gruff and Tackleton had sprung; and under its crazy roof, the Gruff before last, had, in a small way, made toys for a generation of old boys and girls, who had played with them, and found them out, and broken them, and gone to sleep. I have said that Caleb and his poor Blind Daughter lived here; but I should have said that Caleb lived here, and his poor Blind Daughter somewhere else; in an enchanted home of Caleb’s furnishing, where scarcity and shabbiness were not, and trouble never entered. Caleb was no Sorcerer, but in the only magic art that still remains to us: the magic of devoted, deathless love: Nature had been the mistress of his study; and from her teaching, all the wonder came. The Blind Girl never knew that ceilings were discoloured; walls blotched, and bare of plaster here and there; high crevices unstopped, and widening every day; beams mouldering and tending downward. The Blind Girl never knew that iron was rusting, wood rotting, paper peeling off; the very size, and shape, and true proportion of the dwelling, withering away. The Blind Girl never knew that ugly shapes of delf and earthenware were on the board; that sorrow and faint-heartedness were in the house; that Caleb’s scanty hairs were turning greyer and more grey before her sightless face. The Blind Girl never knew they had a master, cold, exacting, and uninterested: never knew that Tackleton was Tackleton in short; but lived in the belief of an eccentric humourist who loved to have his jest with them; and while he was the Guardian Angel of their lives, disdained to hear one word of thankfulness. And all was Caleb’s doing; all the doing of her simple father! But he too had a Cricket on his Hearth; and listening sadly to its music when the motherless Blind Child was very young, that Spirit had inspired him with the thought that even her great deprivation might be almost changed into a blessing, and the girl made happy by these little means. For all the Cricket Tribe are potent Spirits, even though the people who hold converse with them do not know it (which is frequently the case); and there are not in the Unseen World, Voices more gentle and more true; that may be so implicitly relied on, or that are so certain to give none but tenderest counsel; as the Voices in which the Spirits of the Fireside and the Hearth, address themselves to human kind. Caleb and his daughter were at work together in their usual working-room, which served them for their ordinary living-room as well; and a strange place it was. There were houses in it, finished and unfinished, for Dolls of all stations in life. Suburban tenements for Dolls of moderate means; kitchens and single apartments for Dolls of the lower classes; capital town residences for Dolls of high estate. Some of these establishments were already furnished according to estimate, with a view to the convenience of Dolls of limited income; others could be fitted on the most expensive scale, at a moment’s notice, from whole shelves of chairs and tables, sofas, bedsteads, and upholstery. The nobility and gentry and public in general, for whose accommodation these tenements were designed, lay, here and there, in baskets, staring straight up at the ceiling; but in denoting their degrees in society, and confining them to their respective stations (which experience shows to be lamentably difficult in real life), the makers of these Dolls had far improved on Nature, who is often froward and perverse; for, they, not resting on such arbitrary marks as satin, cotton-print, and bits of rag, had superadded striking personal differences which allowed of no mistake. Thus, the Doll-lady of distinction had wax limbs of perfect symmetry; but only she and her compeers; the next grade in the social scale being made of leather; and the next of coarse linen stuff. As to the common-people, they had just so many matches out of tinder-boxes for their arms and legs, and there they were—established in their sphere at once, beyond the possibility of getting out of it. There were various other samples of his handicraft, besides Dolls, in Caleb Plummer’s room. There were Noah’s Arks, in which the Birds and Beasts were an uncommonly tight fit, I assure you; though they could be crammed in, anyhow, at the roof, and rattled and shaken into the smallest compass. By a bold poetical licence, most of these Noah’s Arks had knockers on the doors; inconsistent appendages, perhaps, as suggestive of morning callers and a Postman, yet a pleasant finish to the outside of the building. There were scores of melancholy little carts which, when the wheels went round, performed most doleful music. Many small fiddles, drums, and other instruments of torture; no end of cannon, shields, swords, spears, and guns. There were little tumblers in red breeches, incessantly swarming up high obstacles of red-tape, and coming down, head first, upon the other side; and there were innumerable old gentlemen of respectable, not to say venerable appearance, insanely flying over horizontal pegs, inserted, for the purpose, in their own street doors. There were beasts of all sorts; horses, in particular, of every breed; from the spotted barrel on four pegs, with a small tippet for a mane, to the thoroughbred rocker on his highest mettle. As it would have been hard to count the dozens upon dozens of grotesque figures that were ever ready to commit all sorts of absurdities, on the turning of a handle; so it would have been no easy task to mention any human folly, vice, or weakness, that had not its type, immediate or remote, in Caleb Plummer’s room. And not in an exaggerated form; for very little handles will move men and women to as strange performances, as any Toy was ever made to undertake. In the midst of all these objects, Caleb and his daughter sat at work. The Blind Girl busy as a Doll’s dressmaker; and Caleb painting and glazing the four-pair front of a desirable family mansion. The care imprinted in the lines of Caleb’s face, and his absorbed and dreamy manner, which would have sat well on some alchemist or abstruse student, were at first sight an odd contrast to his occupation, and the trivialities about him. But trivial things, invented and pursued for bread, become very serious matters of fact; and, apart from this consideration, I am not at all prepared to say, myself, that if Caleb had been a Lord Chamberlain, or a Member of Parliament, or a lawyer, or even a great speculator, he would have dealt in toys one whit less whimsical; while I have a very great doubt whether they would have been as harmless. &quot;So you were out in the rain last night, father, in your beautiful, new, great-coat,&quot; said Caleb’s daughter. &quot;In my beautiful new great-coat,&quot; answered Caleb, glancing towards a clothes-line in the room, on which the sack-cloth garment previously described, was carefully hung up to dry. &quot;How glad I am you bought it, father!&quot; &quot;And of such a tailor, too,&quot; said Caleb. &quot;Quite a fashionable tailor. It’s too good for me.&quot; The Blind Girl rested from her work, and laughed with delight. &quot;Too good, father! What can be too good for you?&quot; &quot;I’m half-ashamed to wear it though,&quot; said Caleb, watching the effect of what he said, upon her brightening face; &quot;upon my word! When I hear the boys and people say behind me, &#039;Hal-loa! Here’s a swell!&#039; I don’t know which way to look. And when the beggar wouldn’t go away last night; and when I said I was a very common man, said &#039;No, your Honour! Bless your Honour don’t say that!&#039; I was quite ashamed. I really felt as if I hadn’t a right to wear it.&quot; Happy Blind Girl! How merry she was, in her exultation! &quot;I see you, father,&quot; she said, clasping her hands, &quot;as plainly, as if I had the eyes I never want when you are with me. A blue coat—&quot; &quot;Bright blue,&quot; said Caleb. &quot;Yes, yes! Bright blue!&quot; exclaimed the girl, turning up her radiant face; &quot;the colour I can just remember in the blessed sky! You told me it was blue before! A bright blue coat—&quot; &quot;Made loose to the figure,&quot; suggested Caleb. &quot;Made loose to the figure!&quot; cried the Blind Girl, laughing heartily; &quot;and in it, you, dear father, with your merry eye, your smiling face, your free step, and your dark hair: looking so young and handsome!&quot; &quot;Halloa! Halloa!&quot; said Caleb. &quot;I shall be vain, presently!&quot; &quot;I think you are, already,&quot; cried the Blind Girl, pointing at him, in her glee. &quot;I know you, father! Ha ha ha! I’ve found you out, you see!&quot; How different the picture in her mind, from Caleb, as he sat observing her! She had spoken of his free step. She was right in that. For years and years, he had never once crossed that threshold at his own slow pace, but with a footfall counterfeited for her ear; and never had he, when his heart was heaviest, forgotten the light tread that was to render hers so cheerful and courageous! Heaven knows! But I think Caleb’s vague bewilderment of manner may have half originated in his having confused himself about himself and everything around him, for the love of his Blind Daughter. How could the little man be otherwise than bewildered, after labouring for so many years to destroy his own identity, and that of all the objects that had any bearing on it! &quot;There we are,&quot; said Caleb, falling back a pace or two to form the better judgment of his work; &quot;as near the real thing as sixpenn’orth of halfpence is to sixpence. What a pity that the whole front of the house opens at once! If there was only a staircase in it now, and regular doors to the rooms to go in at! But that’s the worst of my calling, I’m always deluding myself, and swindling myself.&quot; &quot;You are speaking quite softly. You are not tired, father?&quot; &quot;Tired!&quot; echoed Caleb, with a great burst of animation, &quot;what should tire me, Bertha? I was never tired. What does it mean?&quot; To give the greater force to his words, he checked himself in an involuntary imitation of two half-length stretching and yawning figures on the mantel-shelf, who were represented as in one eternal state of weariness from the waist upwards; and hummed a fragment of a song. It was a Bacchanalian song, something about a Sparkling Bowl; and he sang it with an assumption of a Devil-may-care voice, that made his face a thousand times more meagre and more thoughtful than ever. &quot;What! You’re singing, are you?&quot; said Tackleton, putting his head in at the door. &quot;Go it! I can’t sing.&quot; Nobody would have suspected him of it. He hadn’t what is generally termed a singing face, by any means. &quot;I can’t afford to sing,&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;I’m glad you can. I hope you can afford to work too. Hardly time for both, I should think?&quot; &quot;If you could only see him, Bertha, how he’s winking at me!&quot; whispered Caleb. &quot;Such a man to joke! you’d think, if you didn’t know him, he was in earnest—wouldn’t you now?&quot; The Blind Girl smiled and nodded. &quot;The bird that can sing and won’t sing, must be made to sing, they say,&quot; grumbled Tackleton. &quot;What about the owl that can’t sing, and oughtn’t to sing, and will sing; is there anything that he should be made to do?&quot; &quot;The extent to which he’s winking at this moment!&quot; whispered Caleb to his daughter. &quot;Oh, my gracious!&quot; &quot;Always merry and light-hearted with us!&quot; cried the smiling Bertha. &quot;Oh, you’re there, are you?&quot; answered Tackleton. &quot;Poor Idiot!&quot; He really did believe she was an Idiot; and he founded the belief, I can’t say whether consciously or not, upon her being fond of him. &quot;Well! and being there,—how are you?&quot; said Tackleton, in his grudging way. &quot;Oh! well; quite well. And as happy as even you can wish me to be. As happy as you would make the whole world, if you could!&quot; &quot;Poor Idiot!&quot; muttered Tackleton. &quot;No gleam of reason. Not a gleam!&quot; The Blind Girl took his hand and kissed it; held it for a moment in her own two hands; and laid her cheek against it tenderly, before releasing it. There was such unspeakable affection and such fervent gratitude in the act, that Tackleton himself was moved to say, in a milder growl than usual: &quot;What’s the matter now?&quot; &quot;I stood it close beside my pillow when I went to sleep last night, and remembered it in my dreams. And when the day broke, and the glorious red sun—the red sun, father?&quot; &quot;Red in the mornings and the evenings, Bertha,&quot; said poor Caleb, with a woeful glance at his employer. &quot;When it rose, and the bright light I almost fear to strike myself against in walking, came into the room, I turned the little tree towards it, and blessed Heaven for making things so precious, and blessed you for sending them to cheer me!&quot; &quot;Bedlam broke loose!&quot; said Tackleton under his breath. &quot;We shall arrive at the strait-waistcoat and mufflers soon. We’re getting on!&quot; Caleb, with his hands hooked loosely in each other, stared vacantly before him while his daughter spoke, as if he really were uncertain (I believe he was) whether Tackleton had done anything to deserve her thanks, or not. If he could have been a perfectly free agent, at that moment, required, on pain of death, to kick the Toy-merchant, or fall at his feet, according to his merits, I believe it would have been an even chance which course he would have taken. Yet, Caleb knew that with his own hands he had brought the little rose tree home for her, so carefully; and that with his own lips he had forged the innocent deception which should help to keep her from suspecting how much, how very much, he every day denied himself, that she might be the happier. &quot;Bertha!&quot; said Tackleton, assuming, for the nonce, a little cordiality. &quot;Come here.&quot; &quot;Oh! I can come straight to you! You needn’t guide me!&quot; she rejoined. &quot;Shall I tell you a secret, Bertha?&quot; &quot;If you will!&quot; she answered, eagerly. How bright the darkened face! How adorned with light, the listening head! &quot;This is the day on which little what’s-her-name; the spoilt child; Peerybingle’s wife; pays her regular visit to you—makes her fantastic Pic-Nic here; an’t it?&quot; said Tackleton, with a strong expression of distaste for the whole concern. &quot;Yes,&quot; replied Bertha. &quot;This is the day.&quot; &quot;I thought so,&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;I should like to join the party.&quot; &quot;Do you hear that, father!&quot; cried the Blind Girl in an ecstasy. &quot;Yes, yes, I hear it,&quot; murmured Caleb, with the fixed look of a sleep-walker; &quot;but I don’t believe it. It’s one of my lies, I’ve no doubt.&quot; &quot;You see I—I want to bring the Peerybingles a little more into company with May Fielding,&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;I am going to be married to May.&quot; &quot;Married!&quot; cried the Blind Girl, starting from him. &quot;She’s such a con-founded Idiot,&quot; muttered Tackleton, &quot;that I was afraid she’d never comprehend me. Ah, Bertha! Married! Church, parson, clerk, beadle, glass-coach, bells, breakfast, bride-cake, favours, marrow-bones, cleavers, and all the rest of the tom-foolery. A wedding, you know; a wedding. Don’t you know what a wedding is?&quot; &quot;I know,&quot; replied the Blind Girl, in a gentle tone. &quot;I understand!&quot; &quot;Do you?&quot; muttered Tackleton. &quot;It’s more than I expected. Well! on that account I want to join the party, and to bring May and her mother. I’ll send in a little something or other, before the afternoon. A cold leg of mutton, or some comfortable trifle of that sort. You’ll expect me?&quot; &quot;Yes,&quot; she answered. She had drooped her head, and turned away; and so stood, with her hands crossed, musing. &quot;I don’t think you will,&quot; muttered Tackleton, looking at her; &quot;for you seem to have forgotten all about it, already. Caleb!&quot; &quot;I may venture to say I’m here, I suppose,&quot; thought Caleb. &quot;Sir!&quot; &quot;Take care she don’t forget what I’ve been saying to her.&quot; &quot;She never forgets,&quot; returned Caleb. &quot;It’s one of the few things she an’t clever in.&quot; &quot;Every man thinks his own geese swans,&quot; observed the Toy merchant, with a shrug. &quot;Poor devil!&quot; Having delivered himself of which remark, with infinite contempt, old Gruff and Tackleton withdrew. Bertha remained where he had left her, lost in meditation. The gaiety had vanished from her downcast face, and it was very sad. Three or four times, she shook her head, as if bewailing some remembrance or some loss; but her sorrowful reflections found no vent in words. It was not until Caleb had been occupied, some time, in yoking a team of horses to a waggon by the summary process of nailing the harness to the vital parts of their bodies, that she drew near to his working-stool, and sitting down beside him, said: &quot;Father, I am lonely in the dark. I want my eyes: my patient, willing eyes.&quot; &quot;Here they are,&quot; said Caleb. &quot;Always ready. They are more your&#039;s than mine, Bertha, any hour in the four and twenty. What shall your eyes do for you, dear?&quot; &quot;Look round the room, father.&quot; &quot;All right,&quot; said Caleb. &quot;No sooner said than done, Bertha.&quot; &quot;Tell me about it.&quot; &quot;It’s much the same as usual,&quot; said Caleb. &quot;Homely, but very snug. The gay colors on the walls; the bright flowers on the plates and dishes; the shining wood, where there are beams or panels; the general cheerfulness and neatness of the building; make it very pretty.&quot; Cheerful and neat it was wherever Bertha’s hands could busy themselves. But nowhere else, were cheerfulness and neatness possible, in the old crazy shed which Caleb’s fancy so transformed. &quot;You have your working dress on, and are not so gallant as when you wear the handsome coat?&quot; said Bertha, touching him. &quot;Not quite so gallant,&quot; answered Caleb. &quot;Pretty brisk though.&quot; &quot;Father,&quot; said the Blind Girl, drawing close to his side, and stealing one arm round his neck &quot;Tell me something about May. She is very fair?&quot; &quot;She is indeed,&quot; said Caleb. And she was indeed. It was quite a rare thing to Caleb, not to have to draw on his invention. &quot;Her hair is dark,&quot; said Bertha, pensively, &quot;darker than mine. Her voice is sweet and musical, I know. I have often loved to hear it. Her shape—&quot; &quot;There’s not a Doll’s in all the room to equal it,&quot; said Caleb. &quot;And her eyes!—&quot; He stopped; for Bertha had drawn closer round his neck; and, from the arm that clung about him, came a warning pressure which he understood too well. He coughed a moment, hammered for a moment, and then fell back upon the song about the Sparkling Bowl; his infallible resource in all such difficulties. &quot;Our friend, father; our benefactor. I am never tired you know of hearing about him.—Now was I, ever?&quot; she said, hastily. &quot;Of course not,&quot; answered Caleb. &quot;And with reason.&quot; &quot;Ah! With how much reason!&quot; cried the Blind Girl. With such fervency, that Caleb, though his motives were so pure, could not endure to meet her face; but dropped his eyes, as if she could have read in them his innocent deceit. &quot;Then, tell me again about him, dear father,&quot; said Bertha. &quot;Many times again! His face is benevolent, kind, and tender. Honest and true, I am sure it is. The manly heart that tries to cloak all favours with a show of roughness and unwillingness, beats in its every look and glance.&quot; &quot;And makes it noble!&quot; added Caleb, in his quiet desperation. &quot;And makes it noble!&quot; cried the Blind Girl. &quot;He is older than May, father.&quot; &quot;Ye-es,&quot; said Caleb, reluctantly. &quot;He’s a little older than May. But that don’t signify.&quot; &quot;Oh father, yes! To be his patient companion in infirmity and age; to be his gentle nurse in sickness, and his constant friend in suffering and sorrow; to know no weariness in working for his sake; to watch him, tend him, sit beside his bed and talk to him awake; and pray for him asleep; what privileges these would be! What opportunities for proving all her truth and devotion to him! Would she do all this, dear father?&quot; &quot;No doubt of it,&quot; said Caleb. &quot;I love her, father; I can love her from my soul!&quot; exclaimed the Blind Girl. And saying so, she laid her poor blind face on Caleb’s shoulder, and so wept and wept, that he was almost sorry to have brought that tearful happiness upon her. In the mean time, there had been a pretty sharp commotion at John Peerybingle’s; for little Mrs. Peerybingle naturally couldn’t think of going anywhere without the Baby; and to get the Baby under weigh, took time. Not that there was much of the Baby: speaking of it as a thing of weight and measure: but there was a vast deal to do about and about it, and it all had to be done by easy stages. For instance, when the Baby was got, by hook and by crook, to a certain point of dressing, and you might have rationally supposed that another touch or two would finish him off, and turn him out a tip-top Baby, challenging the world, he was unexpectedly extinguished in a flannel cap, and hustled off to bed; where he simmered (so to speak) between two blankets for the best part of an hour. From this state of inaction he was then recalled, shining very much and roaring violently, to partake of—well! I would rather say, if you’ll permit me to speak generally—of a slight repast. After which, he went to sleep again. Mrs. Peerybingle took advantage of this interval, to make herself as smart in a small way as ever you saw anybody in all your life; and, during the same short truce, Miss Slowboy insinuated herself into a spencer of a fashion so surprising and ingenious, that it had no connection with herself or anything else in the universe, but was a shrunken, dog’s-eared, independent fact, pursuing its lonely course without the least regard to anybody. By this time, the Baby, being all alive again, was invested, by the united efforts of Mrs. Peerybingle and Miss Slowboy, with a cream-coloured mantle for its body, and a sort of nankeen raised-pie for its head; and so in course of time they all three got down to the door, where the old horse had already taken more than the full value of his day’s toll out of the Turnpike Trust, by tearing up the road with his impatient autographs—and whence Boxer might be dimly seen in the remote perspective, standing looking back, and tempting him to come on without orders. As to a chair, or anything of that kind for helping Mrs. Peerybingle into the cart, you know very little of John, I flatter myself, if you think that was necessary. Before you could have seen him lift her from the ground, there she was in her place, fresh and rosy, saying, &quot;John! How can you! Think of Tilly!&quot; If I might be allowed to mention a young lady’s legs, on any terms, I would observe of Miss Slowboy’s that there was a fatality about them which rendered them singularly liable to be grazed; and that she never effected the smallest ascent or descent, without recording the circumstance upon them with a notch, as Robinson Crusoe marked the days upon his wooden calendar. But as this might be considered ungenteel, I’ll think of it. &quot;John? You’ve got the Basket with the Veal and Ham-Pie and things, and the bottles of Beer?’ said Dot. ‘If you haven’t, you must turn round again, this very minute.&quot; &quot;You’re a nice little article,&quot; returned the Carrier, &quot;to be talking about turning round, after keeping me a full quarter of an hour behind my time.&quot; &quot;I am sorry for it, John,&quot; said Dot in a great bustle, &quot;but I really could not think of going to Bertha’s—I would not do it, John, on any account—without the Veal and Ham-Pie and things, and the bottles of Beer. Way!&quot; This monosyllable was addressed to the horse, who didn’t mind it at all. &quot;Oh do way, John!&quot; said Mrs. Peerybingle. &quot;Please!&quot; &quot;It’ll be time enough to do that,&quot; returned John, &quot;when I begin to leave things behind me. The basket’s here, safe enough.&quot; &quot;What a hard-hearted monster you must be, John, not to have said so, at once, and saved me such a turn! I declare I wouldn’t go to Bertha’s without the Veal and Ham-Pie and things, and the bottles of Beer, for any money. Regularly once a fortnight ever since we have been married, John, have we made our little Pic-Nic there. If anything was to go wrong with it, I should almost think we were never to be lucky again.&quot; &quot;It was a kind thought in the first instance,&quot; said the Carrier: &quot;and I honour you for it, little woman.&quot; &quot;My dear John,&quot; replied Dot, turning very red. &quot;Don’t talk about honouring me. Good Gracious!’ &quot;By the bye—&quot; observed the Carrier. &quot;That old gentleman,—&quot; Again so visibly, and instantly embarrassed! &quot;He’s an odd fish,&quot; said the Carrier, looking straight along the road before them. &quot;I can’t make him out. I don’t believe there’s any harm in him.&quot; &quot;None at all. I’m—I’m sure there’s none at all.&quot; &quot;Yes,&quot; said the Carrier, with his eyes attracted to her face by the great earnestness of her manner. &quot;I am glad you feel so certain of it, because it’s a confirmation to me. It’s curious that he should have taken it into his head to ask leave to go on lodging with us; an’t it? Things come about so strangely.&quot; &quot;So very strangely,&quot; she rejoined in a low voice: scarcely audible. &quot;However, he’s a good-natured old gentleman,&quot; said John, &quot;and pays as a gentleman, and I think his word is to be relied upon, like a gentleman’s. I had quite a long talk with him this morning: he can hear me better already, he says, as he gets more used to my voice. He told me a great deal about himself, and I told him a great deal about myself, and a rare lot of questions he asked me. I gave him information about my having two beats, you know, in my business; one day to the right from our house and back again; another day to the left from our house and back again (for he’s a stranger and don’t know the names of places about here); and he seemed quite pleased. &#039;Why, then I shall be returning home to-night your way,&#039; he says, &#039;when I thought you’d be coming in an exactly opposite direction. That’s capital! I may trouble you for another lift perhaps, but I’ll engage not to fall so sound asleep again.&#039; He was sound asleep, sure-ly!—Dot! what are you thinking of?&quot; &quot;Thinking of, John? I—I was listening to you.&quot; &quot;Oh! That’s all right!&quot; said the honest Carrier. &quot;I was afraid, from the look of your face, that I had gone rambling on so long, as to set you thinking about something else. I was very near it, I’ll be bound.&quot; Dot making no reply, they jogged on, for some little time, in silence. But, it was not easy to remain silent very long in John Peerybingle’s cart, for everybody on the road had something to say. Though it might only be &quot;How are you!&quot; and indeed it was very often nothing else, still, to give that back again in the right spirit of cordiality, required, not merely a nod and a smile, but as wholesome an action of the lungs withal, as a long-winded Parliamentary speech. Sometimes, passengers on foot, or horseback, plodded on a little way beside the cart, for the express purpose of having a chat; and then there was a great deal to be said, on both sides. Then, Boxer gave occasion to more good-natured recognitions of and by the Carrier, than half a dozen Christians could have done! Everybody knew him, all along the road, especially the fowls and pigs, who when they saw him approaching, with his body all on one side, and his ears pricked up inquisitively, and that knob of a tail making the most of itself in the air, immediately withdrew into remote back settlements, without waiting for the honour of a nearer acquaintance. He had business everywhere; going down all the turnings, looking into all the wells, bolting in and out of all the cottages, dashing into the midst of all the Dame-Schools, fluttering all the pigeons, magnifying the tails of all the cats, and trotting into the public-houses like a regular customer. Wherever he went, somebody or other might have been heard to cry, &quot;Halloa! Here’s Boxer!&quot; and out came that somebody forthwith, accompanied by at least two or three other somebodies, to give John Peerybingle and his pretty wife, Good Day. The packages and parcels for the errand cart, were numerous; and there were many stoppages to take them in and give them out; which were not by any means the worst parts of the journey. Some people were so full of expectation about their parcels, and other people were so full of wonder about their parcels, and other people were so full of inexhaustible directions about their parcels, and John had such a lively interest in all the parcels, that it was as good as a play. Likewise, there were articles to carry, which required to be considered and discussed, and in reference to the adjustment and disposition of which, councils had to be holden by the Carrier and the senders: at which Boxer usually assisted, in short fits of the closest attention, and long fits of tearing round and round the assembled sages and barking himself hoarse. Of all these little incidents, Dot was the amused and open-eyed spectatress from her chair in the cart; and as she sat there, looking on: a charming little portrait framed to admiration by the tilt: there was no lack of nudgings and glancings and whisperings and envyings among the younger men, I promise you. And this delighted John the Carrier, beyond measure; for he was proud to have his little wife admired, knowing that she didn’t mind it—that, if anything, she rather liked it perhaps. The trip was a little foggy, to be sure, in the January weather; and was raw and cold. But who cared for such trifles? Not Dot, decidedly. Not Tilly Slowboy, for she deemed sitting in a cart, on any terms, to be the highest point of human joys; the crowning circumstance of earthly hopes. Not the Baby, I’ll be sworn; for it’s not in Baby nature to be warmer or more sound asleep, though its capacity is great in both respects, than that blessed young Peerybingle was, all the way. You couldn’t see very far in the fog, of course; but you could see a great deal, oh a great deal! It’s astonishing how much you may see, in a thicker fog than that, if you will only take the trouble to look for it. Why, even to sit watching for the Fairy-rings in the fields, and for the patches of hoar-frost still lingering in the shade, near hedges and by trees, was a pleasant occupation: to make no mention of the unexpected shapes in which the trees themselves came starting out of the mist, and glided into it again. The hedges were tangled and bare, and waved a multitude of blighted garlands in the wind; but there was no discouragement in this. It was agreeable to contemplate; for it made the fireside warmer in possession, and the summer greener in expectancy. The river looked chilly; but it was in motion, and moving at a good pace; which was a great point. The canal was rather slow and torpid; that must be admitted. Never mind. It would freeze the sooner when the frost set fairly in, and then there would be skating, and sliding; and the heavy old barges, frozen up somewhere, near a wharf, would smoke their rusty iron chimney-pipes all day, and have a lazy time of it. In one place, there was a great mound of weeds or stubble burning; and they watched the fire, so white in the day time, flaring through the fog, with only here and there a dash of red in it, until, in consequence as she observed, of the smoke &quot;getting up her nose,&quot; Miss Slowboy choked—she could do anything of that sort, on the smallest provocation—and woke the Baby, who wouldn’t go to sleep again. But Boxer, who was in advance some quarter of a mile or so, had already passed the outposts of the town, and gained the corner of the street where Caleb and his daughter lived; and long before they had reached the door, he and the Blind Girl were on the pavement waiting to receive them. Boxer, by the way, made certain delicate distinctions of his own, in his communication with Bertha, which persuade me fully that he knew her to be blind. He never sought to attract her attention by looking at her, as he often did with other people, but touched her, invariably. What experience he could ever have had of blind people or blind dogs, I don’t know. He had never lived with a blind master; nor had Mr. Boxer the elder, nor Mrs. Boxer, nor any of his respectable family on either side, ever been visited with blindness, that I am aware of. He may have found it out for himself, perhaps, but he had got hold of it somehow; and therefore he had hold of Bertha too, by the skirt, and kept hold, until Mrs. Peerybingle and the Baby, and Miss Slowboy, and the basket, were all got safely within doors. May Fielding was already come; and so was her mother—a little querulous chip of an old lady with a peevish face, who, in right of having preserved a waist like a bedpost, was supposed to be a most transcendent figure; and who, in consequence of having once been better off, or of labouring under an impression that she might have been, if something had happened which never did happen, and seemed to have never been particularly likely to come to pass—but it’s all the same—was very genteel and patronising indeed. Gruff and Tackleton was also there, doing the agreeable; with the evident sensation of being as perfectly at home, and as unquestionably in his own element, as a fresh young salmon on the top of the Great Pyramid. &quot;May! My dear old friend!&quot; cried Dot, running up to meet her. &quot;What a happiness to see you.&quot; Her old friend was, to the full, as hearty and as glad as she; and it really was, if you’ll believe me, quite a pleasant sight to see them embrace. Tackleton was a man of taste, beyond all question. May was very pretty. You know sometimes, when you are used to a pretty face, how, when it comes into contact and comparison with another pretty face, it seems for the moment to be homely and faded, and hardly to deserve the high opinion you have had of it. Now, this was not at all the case, either with Dot or May; for May’s face set off Dot’s, and Dot’s face set off May’s, so naturally and agreeably, that, as John Peerybingle was very near saying when he came into the room, they ought to have been born sisters: which was the only improvement you could have suggested. Tackleton had brought his leg of mutton, and, wonderful to relate, a tart besides—but we don’t mind a little dissipation when our brides are in the case; we don’t get married every day—and in addition to these dainties, there were the Veal and Ham-Pie, and &quot;things,&quot; as Mrs. Peerybingle called them; which were chiefly nuts and oranges, and cakes, and such small deer. When the repast was set forth on the board, flanked by Caleb’s contribution, which was a great wooden bowl of smoking potatoes (he was prohibited, by solemn compact, from producing any other viands), Tackleton led his intended mother-in-law to the post of honour. For the better gracing of this place at the high Festival, the majestic old Soul had adorned herself with a cap, calculated to inspire the thoughtless with sentiments of awe. She also wore her gloves. But let us be genteel, or die! Caleb sat next his daughter; Dot and her old schoolfellow were side by side; the good Carrier took care of the bottom of the table. Miss Slowboy was isolated, for the time being, from every article of furniture but the chair she sat on, that she might have nothing else to knock the Baby’s head against. As Tilly stared about her at the Dolls and Toys, they stared at her and at the company. The venerable old gentlemen at the street doors (who were all in full action) showed especial interest in the party: pausing occasionally before leaping, as if they were listening to the conversation: and then plunging wildly over and over, a great many times, without halting for breath—as in a frantic state of delight with the whole proceedings. Certainly, if these old gentlemen were inclined to have a fiendish joy in the contemplation of Tackleton’s discomfiture, they had good reason to be satisfied. Tackleton couldn’t get on at all; and the more cheerful his intended Bride became in Dot’s society, the less he liked it, though he had brought them together for that purpose. For he was a regular Dog in the Manger, was Tackleton; and when they laughed, and he couldn’t, he took it into his head, immediately, that they must be laughing at him. &quot;Ah, May!&quot; said Dot. &quot;Dear dear, what changes! To talk of those merry school-days makes one young again.&quot; &quot;Why, you an’t particularly old, at any time; are you?&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;Look at my sober plodding husband there,&quot; returned Dot. &quot;He adds Twenty years to my age at least. Don’t you John?&quot; &quot;Forty,&quot; John replied. &quot;How many you’ll add to May’s, I am sure I don’t know,&quot; said Dot, laughing. &quot;But she can’t be much less than a hundred years of age on her next birthday.&quot; &quot;Ha ha!&quot; laughed Tackleton. Hollow as a drum, that laugh though. And he looked as if he could have twisted Dot’s neck: comfortably. &quot;Dear dear!&quot; said Dot. &quot;Only to remember how we used to talk, at school, about the husbands we would choose. I don’t know how young, and how handsome, and how gay, and how lively, mine was not to be! and as to May’s!—Ah dear! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, when I think what silly girls we were.&quot; May seemed to know which to do; for the colour flushed into her face, and tears stood in her eyes. &quot;Even the very persons themselves—real live young men—were fixed on sometimes,&quot; said Dot. &quot;We little thought how things would come about. I never fixed on John I’m sure; I never so much as thought of him. And if I had told you, you were ever to be married to Mr. Tackleton, why you’d have slapped me. Wouldn’t you, May?&quot; Though May didn’t say yes, she certainly didn’t say no, or express no, by any means. Tackleton laughed—quite shouted, he laughed so loud. John Peerybingle laughed too, in his ordinary good-natured and contented manner; but his was a mere whisper of a laugh, to Tackleton’s. &quot;You couldn’t help yourselves, for all that. You couldn’t resist us, you see,&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;Here we are! Here we are!&quot; &quot;Where are your gay young bridegrooms now!&quot; &quot;Some of them are dead,&quot; said Dot; &quot;and some of them forgotten. Some of them, if they could stand among us at this moment, would not believe we were the same creatures; would not believe that what they saw and heard was real, and we could forget them so. No! they would not believe one word of it!&quot; &quot;Why, Dot!&quot; exclaimed the Carrier. &quot;Little woman!&quot; She had spoken with such earnestness and fire, that she stood in need of some recalling to herself, without doubt. Her husband’s check was very gentle, for he merely interfered, as he supposed, to shield old Tackleton; but it proved effectual, for she stopped, and said no more. There was an uncommon agitation, even in her silence, which the wary Tackleton, who had brought his half-shut eye to bear upon her, noted closely; and remembered to some purpose too, as you will see. May uttered no word, good or bad, but sat quite still, with her eyes cast down; and made no sign of interest in what had passed. The good lady her mother now interposed: observing, in the first instance, that girls were girls, and byegones byegones, and that so long as young people were young and thoughtless, they would probably conduct themselves like young and thoughtless persons: with two or three other positions of a no less sound and incontrovertible character. She then remarked, in a devout spirit, that she thanked Heaven she had always found in her daughter May, a dutiful and obedient child; for which she took no credit to herself, though she had every reason to believe it was entirely owing to herself. With regard to Mr. Tackleton she said, That he was in a moral point of view an undeniable individual; and That he was in an eligible point of view a son-in-law to be desired, no one in their senses could doubt. (She was very emphatic here). With regard to the family into which he was so soon about, after some solicitation, to be admitted, she believed Mr. Tackleton knew that, although reduced in purse, it had some pretensions to gentility; and if certain circumstances, not wholly unconnected, she would go so far as to say, with the Indigo Trade, but to which she would not more particularly refer, had happened differently, it might perhaps have been in possession of Wealth. She then remarked that she would not allude to the past, and would not mention that her daughter had for some time rejected the suit of Mr. Tackleton; and that she would not say a great many other things which she did say, at great length. Finally, she delivered it as the general result of her observation and experience, that those marriages in which there was least of what was romantically and sillily called love, were always the happiest; and that she anticipated the greatest possible amount of bliss—not rapturous bliss; but the solid, steady-going article—from the approaching nuptials. She concluded by informing the company that to-morrow was the day she had lived for, expressly; and that when it was over, she would desire nothing better than to be packed up and disposed of, in any genteel place of burial. As these remarks were quite unanswerable: which is the happy property of all remarks that are sufficiently wide of the purpose: they changed the current of the conversation, and diverted the general attention to the Veal and Ham-Pie, the cold mutton, the potatoes, and the tart. In order that the bottled beer might not be slighted, John Peerybingle proposed To-morrow: the Wedding-Day: and called upon them to drink a bumper to it, before he proceeded on his journey. For you ought to know that he only rested there, and gave the old horse a bait. He had to go some four or five miles farther on; and when he returned in the evening, he called for Dot, and took another rest on his way home. This was the order of the day on all the Pic-Nic occasions, had been, ever since their institution. There were two persons present, besides the bride and bridegroom elect, who did but indifferent honour to the toast. One of these was Dot, too flushed and discomposed to adapt herself to any small occurrence of the moment; the other Bertha, who rose up hurriedly, before the rest, and left the table. &quot;Good bye!&quot; said stout John Peerybingle, pulling on his dreadnought coat. &quot;I shall be back at the old time. Good bye all!&quot; &quot;Good bye John,&quot; returned Caleb. He seemed to say it by rote, and to wave his hand in the same unconscious manner; for he stood observing Bertha with an anxious wondering face, that never altered its expression. &quot;Good bye young shaver!&quot; said the jolly Carrier, bending down to kiss the child; which Tilly Slowboy, now intent upon her knife and fork, had deposited asleep (and strange to say, without damage) in a little cot of Bertha’s furnishing; &quot;good bye! Time will come, I suppose, when you’ll turn out into the cold, my little friend, and leave your old father to enjoy his pipe and his rheumatics in the chimney-corner; eh? Where’s Dot?&quot; &quot;I’m here, John!&quot; she said, starting. &quot;Come, come!’ returned the Carrier, clapping his sounding hands. &quot;Where’s the pipe?&quot; &quot;I quite forgot the pipe, John.&quot; Forgot the pipe! Was such a wonder ever heard of! She! Forgot the pipe! &quot;I’ll—I’ll fill it directly. It’s soon done.&quot; But it was not so soon done, either. It lay in the usual place; the Carrier’s dreadnought pocket; with the little pouch, her own work, from which she was used to fill it, but her hand shook so, that she entangled it (and yet her hand was small enough to have come out easily, I am sure), and bungled terribly. The filling of the pipe and lighting it; those little offices in which I have commended her discretion, if you recollect; were vilely done, from first to last. During the whole process, Tackleton stood looking on maliciously with the half-closed eye; which, whenever it met her&#039;s—or caught it, for it can hardly be said to have ever met another eye: rather being a kind of trap to snatch it up—augmented her confusion in a most remarkable degree. &quot;Why, what a clumsy Dot you are, this afternoon!&quot; said John. &quot;I could have done it better myself, I verily believe!&quot; With these good-natured words, he strode away; and presently was heard, in company with Boxer, and the old horse, and the cart, making lively music down the road. What time the dreamy Caleb still stood, watching his Blind Daughter, with the same expression on his face. &quot;Bertha!&quot; said Caleb, softly. &quot;What has happened? How changed you are, my Darling, in a few hours—since this morning. You silent and dull all day! What is it? Tell me!&quot; &quot;Oh father, father!&quot; cried the Blind Girl, bursting into tears. &quot;Oh my hard, hard Fate!&quot; Caleb drew his hand across his eyes before he answered her. &quot;But think how cheerful and how happy you have been, Bertha! How good, and how much loved, by many people.&quot; &quot;That strikes me to the heart, dear father! Always so mindful of me! Always so kind to me!&quot; Caleb was very much perplexed to understand her. &quot;To be—to be blind, Bertha, my poor dear,&quot; he faultered, &quot;is a great affliction; but—&quot; &quot;I have never felt it!&quot; cried the Blind Girl. &quot;I have never felt it, in its fulness. Never! I have sometimes wished that I could see you, or could see him; only once, dear father; only for one little minute; that I might know what it is I treasure up,&quot; she laid her hands upon her breast, &quot;and hold here! That I might be sure and have it right! And sometimes (but then I was a child) I have wept in my prayers at night, to think that when your images ascended from my heart to Heaven, they might not be the true resemblance of yourselves. But I have never had these feelings long. They have passed away and left me tranquil and contented.&quot; &quot;And they will again,&quot; said Caleb. &quot;But, father! Oh my good, gentle father, bear with me, if I am wicked!&quot; said the Blind Girl. &quot;This is not the sorrow that so weighs me down!&quot; Her father could not choose but let his moist eyes overflow; she was so earnest and pathetic, but he did not understand her, yet. &quot;Bring her to me,&quot; said Bertha. &quot;I cannot hold it closed and shut within myself. Bring her to me, father!&quot; She knew he hesitated, and said, &quot;May. Bring May!&quot; May heard the mention of her name, and coming quietly towards her, touched her on the arm. The Blind Girl turned immediately, and held her by both hands. &quot;Look into my face, Dear heart, Sweet heart!&quot; said Bertha. &quot;Read it with your beautiful eyes, and tell me if the truth is written on it.&quot; &quot;Dear Bertha, Yes!&quot; The Blind Girl still, upturning the blank sightless face, down which the tears were coursing fast, addressed her in these words: &quot;There is not, in my Soul, a wish or thought that is not for your good, bright May! There is not, in my Soul, a grateful recollection stronger than the deep remembrance which is stored there, of the many many times when, in the full pride of Sight and Beauty, you have had consideration for Blind Bertha, even when we two were children, or when Bertha was as much a child as ever blindness can be! Every blessing on your head! Light upon your happy course! Not the less, my dear May;&quot; and she drew towards her, in a closer grasp; &quot;not the less, my Bird, because, to-day, the knowledge that you are to be His wife has wrung my heart almost to breaking! Father, May, Mary! oh forgive me that it is so, for the sake of all he has done to relieve the weariness of my dark life: and for the sake of the belief you have in me, when I call Heaven to witness that I could not wish him married to a wife more worthy of his Goodness!&quot; While speaking, she had released May Fielding’s hands, and clasped her garments in an attitude of mingled supplication and love. Sinking lower and lower down, as she proceeded in her strange confession, she dropped at last at the feet of her friend, and hid her blind face in the folds of her dress. &quot;Great Power!&quot; exclaimed her father, smitten at one blow with the truth, &quot;have I deceived her from her cradle, but to break her heart at last!&quot; It was well for all of them that Dot, that beaming, useful, busy little Dot—for such she was, whatever faults she had; and however you may learn to hate her, in good time—it was well for all of them, I say, that she was there: or where this would have ended, it were hard to tell. But Dot, recovering her self-possession, interposed, before May could reply, or Caleb say another word. &quot;Come, come, dear Bertha! come away with me! Give her your arm, May. So! How composed she is, you see, already; and how good it is of her to mind us,&quot; said the cheery little woman, kissing her upon the forehead. &quot;Come away, dear Bertha. Come! and here’s her good father will come with her; won’t you, Caleb? To—be—sure!&quot; Well, well! she was a noble little Dot in such things, and it must have been an obdurate nature that could have withstood her influence. When she had got poor Caleb and his Bertha away, that they might comfort and console each other, as she knew they only could, she presently came bouncing back,—the saying is, as fresh as any daisy; I say fresher—to mount guard over that bridling little piece of consequence in the cap and gloves, and prevent the dear old creature from making discoveries. &quot;So bring me the precious Baby, Tilly,&quot; said she, drawing a chair to the fire; &quot;and while I have it in my lap, here’s Mrs. Fielding, Tilly, will tell me all about the management of Babies, and put me right in twenty points where I’m as wrong as can be. Won’t you, Mrs. Fielding?&quot; Not even the Welsh Giant, who, according to the popular expression, was so &quot;slow&quot; as to perform a fatal surgical operation upon himself, in emulation of a juggling-trick achieved by his arch-enemy at breakfast-time; not even he fell half so readily into the Snare prepared for him, as the old lady did into this artful Pitfall. The fact of Tackleton having walked out; and furthermore, of two or three people having been talking together at a distance, for two minutes, leaving her to her own resources; was quite enough to have put her on her dignity, and the bewailment of that mysterious convulsion in the Indigo trade, for four-and-twenty hours. But this becoming deference to her experience, on the part of the young mother, was so irresistible, that after a short affectation of humility, she began to enlighten her with the best grace in the world; and sitting bolt upright before the wicked Dot, she did, in half an hour, deliver more infallible domestic recipes and precepts, than would (if acted on) have utterly destroyed and done up that Young Peerybingle, though he had been an Infant Samson. To change the theme, Dot did a little needlework—she carried the contents of a whole workbox in her pocket; how ever she contrived it, I don’t know—then did a little nursing; then a little more needlework; then had a little whispering chat with May, while the old lady dozed; and so in little bits of bustle, which was quite her manner always, found it a very short afternoon. Then, as it grew dark, and as it was a solemn part of this Institution of the Pic-Nic that she should perform all Bertha’s household tasks, she trimmed the fire, and swept the hearth, and set the tea-board out, and drew the curtain, and lighted a candle. Then she played an air or two on a rude kind of harp, which Caleb had contrived for Bertha, and played them very well; for Nature had made her delicate little ear as choice a one for music as it would have been for jewels, if she had had any to wear. By this time it was the established hour for having tea; and Tackleton came back again, to share the meal, and spend the evening. Caleb and Bertha had returned some time before, and Caleb had sat down to his afternoon’s work. But he couldn’t settle to it, poor fellow, being anxious and remorseful for his daughter. It was touching to see him sitting idle on his working-stool, regarding her so wistfully; and always saying in his face, &quot;have I deceived her from her cradle, but to break her heart!&quot; When it was night, and tea was done, and Dot had nothing more to do in washing up the cups and saucers; in a word—for I must come to it, and there is no use in putting it off—when the time drew nigh for expecting the Carrier’s return in every sound of distant wheels; her manner changed again; her colour came and went, and she was very restless. Not as good wives are, when listening for their husbands. No, no, no. It was another sort of restlessness from that. Wheels heard. A horse’s feet. The barking of a dog. The gradual approach of all the sounds. The scratching paw of Boxer at the door! &quot;Whose step is that!&quot; cried Bertha, starting up. &quot;Whose step?&quot; returned the Carrier, standing in the portal, with his brown face ruddy as a winter berry from the keen night air. &quot;Why, mine.&quot; &quot;The other step,&quot; said Bertha. &quot;The man’s tread behind you!&quot; &quot;She is not to be deceived,&quot; observed the Carrier, laughing. &quot;Come along, Sir. You’ll be welcome, never fear!&quot; He spoke in a loud tone; and as he spoke, the deaf old gentleman entered. &quot;He’s not so much a stranger, that you haven’t seen him once, Caleb,&quot; said the Carrier. &quot;You’ll give him house-room till we go?&quot; &quot;Oh surely, John; and take it as an honour.&quot; &quot;He’s the best company on earth, to talk secrets in,&quot; said John. &quot;I have reasonable good lungs, but he tries ’em, I can tell you. Sit down, Sir. All friends here, and glad to see you!&quot; When he had imparted this assurance, in a voice that amply corroborated what he had said about his lungs, he added in his natural tone, &quot;A chair in the chimney-corner, and leave to sit quite silent and look pleasantly about him, is all he cares for. He’s easily pleased.&quot; Bertha had been listening intently. She called Caleb to her side, when he had set the chair, and asked him, in a low voice, to describe their visitor. When he had done so (truly now; with scrupulous fidelity), she moved, for the first time since he had come in; and sighed; and seemed to have no further interest concerning him. The Carrier was in high spirits, good fellow that he was; and fonder of his little wife than ever. &quot;A clumsy Dot she was, this afternoon!&quot; he said, encircling her with his rough arm, as she stood, removed from the rest; &quot;and yet I like her somehow. See yonder, Dot!&quot; He pointed to the old man. She looked down. I think she trembled. &quot;He’s—ha ha ha!—he’s full of admiration for you!&quot; said the Carrier. &quot;Talked of nothing else, the whole way here. Why, he’s a brave old boy. I like him for it!&quot; &quot;I wish he had had a better subject, John;&quot; she said, with an uneasy glance about the room. At Tackleton especially. &quot;A better subject!&quot; cried the jovial John. &quot;There’s no such thing. Come, off with the great-coat, off with the thick shawl, off with the heavy wrappers! and a cosy half-hour by the fire! My humble service, Mistress. A game at cribbage, you and I? That’s hearty. The cards and board, Dot. And a glass of beer here, if there’s any left, small wife!&quot; His challenge was addressed to the old lady, who accepting it with gracious readiness, they were soon engaged upon the game. At first, the Carrier looked about him sometimes, with a smile, or now and then called Dot to peep over his shoulder at his hand, and advise him on some knotty point. But his adversary being a rigid disciplinarian, and subject to an occasional weakness in respect of pegging more than she was entitled to, required such vigilance on his part, as left him neither eyes nor ears to spare. Thus, his whole attention gradually became absorbed upon the cards; and he thought of nothing else, until a hand upon his shoulder restored him to a consciousness of Tackleton. &quot;I am sorry to disturb you—but a word, directly.&quot; &quot;I’m going to deal,&quot; returned the Carrier. &quot;It’s a crisis.&quot; &quot;It is,&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;Come here, man!&quot; There was that in his pale face which made the other rise immediately, and ask him, in a hurry, what the matter was. &quot;Hush! John Peerybingle,&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;I am sorry for this. I am indeed. I have been afraid of it. I have suspected it from the first.&quot; &quot;What is it?&quot; asked the Carrier, with a frightened aspect. &quot;Hush! I’ll show you, if you’ll come with me.&quot; The Carrier accompanied him, without another word. They went across a yard, where the stars were shining; and by a little side-door, into Tackleton’s own counting-house, where there was a glass window, commanding the ware-room: which was closed for the night. There was no light in the counting-house itself, but there were lamps in the long narrow ware-room; and consequently the window was bright. &quot;A moment!&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;Can you bear to look through that window, do you think?&quot; &quot;Why not?&quot; returned the Carrier. &quot;A moment more,&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;Don’t commit any violence. It’s of no use. It’s dangerous too. You’re a strong-made man; and you might do Murder before you know it.&quot; The Carrier looked him in the face, and recoiled a step as if he had been struck. In one stride he was at the window, and he saw— Oh Shadow on the Hearth! Oh truthful Cricket! Oh perfidious Wife! He saw her, with the old man; old no longer, but erect and gallant: bearing in his hand the false white hair that had won his way into their desolate and miserable home. He saw her listening to him, as he bent his head to whisper in her ear; and suffering him to clasp her round the waist, as they moved slowly down the dim wooden gallery towards the door by which they had entered it. He saw them stop, and saw her turn—to have the face, the face he loved so, so presented to his view!—and saw her, with her own hands, adjust the Lie upon his head, laughing, as she did it, at his unsuspicious nature! He clenched his strong right hand at first, as if it would have beaten down a lion. But opening it immediately again, he spread it out before the eyes of Tackleton (for he was tender of her, even then), and so, as they passed out, fell down upon a desk, and was as weak as any infant. He was wrapped up to the chin, and busy with his horse and parcels, when she came into the room, prepared for going home. &quot;Now, John, dear! Good night, May! Good night, Bertha!&quot; Could she kiss them? Could she be blithe and cheerful in her parting? Could she venture to reveal her face to them without a blush? Yes. Tackleton observed her closely, and she did all this. Tilly was hushing the Baby; and she crossed and re-crossed Tackleton, a dozen times, repeating drowsily: &quot;Did the knowledge that it was to be its wifes, then, wring its hearts almost to breaking; and did its fathers deceive it from its cradles but to break its hearts at last!&quot; &quot;Now, Tilly, give me the Baby! Good night, Mr. Tackleton. Where’s John, for Goodness’ sake?&quot; &quot;He’s going to walk beside the horse’s head,&quot; said Tackleton; who helped her to her seat. &quot;My dear John. Walk? To-night?&quot; The muffled figure of her husband made a hasty sign in the affirmative; and the false Stranger and the little nurse being in their places, the old horse moved off. Boxer, the unconscious Boxer, running on before, running back, running round and round the cart, and barking as triumphantly and merrily as ever. When Tackleton had gone off likewise, escorting May and her mother home, poor Caleb sat down by the fire beside his daughter; anxious and remorseful at the core; and still saying in his wistful contemplation of her, &quot;have I deceived her from her cradle, but to break her heart at last!&quot; The toys that had been set in motion for the Baby, had all stopped, and run down, long ago. In the faint light and silence, the imperturbably calm dolls; the agitated rocking-horses with distended eyes and nostrils; the old gentlemen at the street-doors, standing half doubled up upon their failing knees and ankles; the wry-faced nut-crackers; the very Beasts upon their way into the Ark, in twos, like a Boarding School out walking; might have been imagined to be stricken motionless with fantastic wonder, at Dot being false, or Tackleton beloved, under any combination of circumstances. Chirp the Third The Dutch clock in the corner struck Ten, when the Carrier sat down by his fireside. So troubled and grief-worn, that he seemed to scare the Cuckoo, who, having cut his ten melodious announcements as short as possible, plunged back into the Moorish Palace again, and clapped his little door behind him, as if the unwonted spectacle were too much for his feelings. If the little Haymaker had been armed with the sharpest of scythes, and had cut at every stroke into the Carrier’s heart, he never could have gashed and wounded it, as Dot had done. It was a heart so full of love for her; so bound up and held together by innumerable threads of winning remembrance, spun from the daily working of her many qualities of endearment; it was a heart in which she had enshrined herself so gently and so closely; a heart so single and so earnest in its Truth: so strong in right, so weak in wrong: that it could cherish neither passion nor revenge at first, and had only room to hold the broken image of its Idol. But, slowly, slowly; as the Carrier sat brooding on his hearth, now cold and dark; other and fiercer thoughts began to rise within him, as an angry wind comes rising in the night. The Stranger was beneath his outraged roof. Three steps would take him to his chamber door. One blow would beat it in. &quot;You might do Murder before you know it,&quot; Tackleton had said. How could it be Murder, if he gave the Villain time to grapple with him hand to hand! He was the younger man. It was an ill-timed thought, bad for the dark mood of his mind. It was an angry thought, goading him to some avenging act, that should change the cheerful house into a haunted place which lonely travellers would dread to pass by night; and where the timid would see shadows struggling in the ruined windows when the moon was dim, and hear wild noises in the stormy weather. He was the younger man! Yes, yes; some lover who had won the heart that he had never touched. Some lover of her early choice: of whom she had thought and dreamed: for whom she had pined and pined: when he had fancied her so happy by his side. Oh agony to think of it! She had been above-stairs with the Baby, getting it to bed. As he sat brooding on the hearth, she came close beside him, without his knowledge—in the turning of the rack of his great misery, he lost all other sounds—and put her little stool at his feet. He only knew it, when he felt her hand upon his own, and saw her looking up into his face. With wonder? No. It was his first impression, and he was fain to look at her again, to set it right. No, not with wonder. With an eager and enquiring look; but not with wonder. At first it was alarmed and serious; then, it changed into a strange, wild, dreadful smile of recognition of his thoughts; then, there was nothing but her clasped hands on her brow, and her bent head, and falling hair. Though the power of Omnipotence had been his to wield at that moment, he had too much of its Diviner property of Mercy in his breast, to have turned one feather’s weight of it against her. But he could not bear to see her crouching down upon the little seat where he had often looked on her, with love and pride, so innocent and gay; and, when she rose and left him, sobbing as she went, he felt it a relief to have the vacant place beside him rather than her so long-cherished presence. This in itself was anguish keener than all: reminding him how desolate he was become, and how the great bond of his life was rent asunder. The more he felt this, and the more he knew he could have better borne to see her lying prematurely dead before him with their little child upon her breast, the higher and the stronger rose his wrath against his enemy. He looked about him for a weapon. There was a Gun, hanging on the wall. He took it down, and moved a pace or two towards the door of the perfidious Stranger’s room. He knew the Gun was loaded. Some shadowy idea that it was just to shoot this man like a Wild Beast, seized him; and dilated in his mind until it grew into a monstrous demon in complete possession of him, casting out all milder thoughts and setting up its undivided empire. That phrase is wrong. Not casting out his milder thoughts, but artfully transforming them. Changing them into scourges to drive him on. Turning water into blood, Love into hate, Gentleness into blind ferocity. Her image, sorrowing, humbled, but still pleading to his tenderness and mercy with resistless power, never left his mind; but staying there, it urged him to the door; raised the weapon to his shoulder; fitted and nerved his finger to the trigger; and cried &quot;Kill him! In his Bed!&quot; He reversed the Gun to beat the stock upon the door; he already held it lifted in the air; some indistinct design was in his thoughts of calling out to him to fly, for God’s sake, by the window— When, suddenly, the struggling fire illumined the whole chimney with a glow of light; and the Cricket on the Hearth began to chirp! No sound he could have heard; no human voice, not even her&#039;s; could so have moved and softened him. The artless words in which she had told him of her love for this same Cricket, were once more freshly spoken; her trembling, earnest manner at the moment, was again before him; her pleasant voice—oh what a voice it was, for making household music at the fireside of an honest man!—thrilled through and through his better nature, and awoke it into life and action. He recoiled from the door, like a man walking in his sleep, awakened from a frightful dream; and put the Gun aside. Clasping his hands before his face, he then sat down again beside the fire, and found relief in tears. The Cricket on the Hearth came out into the room, and stood in Fairy shape before him. &quot;&#039;I love it,&#039;&quot; said the Fairy Voice, repeating what he well remembered, &quot;&#039;for the many times I have heard it, and the many thoughts its harmless music has given me.&#039;&quot; &quot;She said so!&quot; cried the Carrier. &quot;True!&quot; &quot;&#039;This has been a happy Home, John; and I love the Cricket for its sake!&#039;&quot; &quot;It has been, Heaven knows,&quot; returned the Carrier. &quot;She made it happy, always,—until now.&quot; &quot;So gracefully sweet-tempered; so domestic, joyful, busy, and light-hearted!&quot; said the Voice. &quot;Otherwise I never could have loved her as I did,&quot; returned the Carrier. The Voice, correcting him, said &quot;do.&quot; The Carrier repeated &quot;as I did.&quot; But not firmly. His faltering tongue resisted his controul, and would speak in its own way, for itself and him. The Figure, in an attitude of invocation, raised its hand and said: &quot;Upon your own hearth&quot;— &quot;The hearth she has blighted,&quot; interposed the Carrier. &quot;The hearth she has—how often!—blessed and brightened,&quot; said the Cricket: &quot;the hearth which, but for her, were only a few stones and bricks and rusty bars, but which has been, through her, the Altar of your Home; on which you have nightly sacrificed some petty passion, selfishness, or care, and offered up the homage of a tranquil mind, a trusting nature, and an overflowing heart; so that the smoke from this poor chimney has gone upward with a better fragrance than the richest incense that is burnt before the richest shrines in all the gaudy Temples of this World!—Upon your own hearth; in its quiet sanctuary; surrounded by its gentle influences and associations; hear her! Hear me! Hear everything that speaks the language of your hearth and home!&quot; &quot;And pleads for her?&quot; inquired the Carrier. &quot;All things that speak the language of your hearth and home, must plead for her!&quot; returned the Cricket. &quot;For they speak the Truth.&quot; And while the Carrier, with his head upon his hands, continued to sit meditating in his chair, the Presence stood beside him; suggesting his reflections by its power, and presenting them before him, as in a Glass or Picture. It was not a solitary Presence. From the hearthstone, from the chimney; from the clock, the pipe, the kettle, and the cradle; from the floor, the walls, the ceiling, and the stairs; from the cart without, and the cupboard within, and the household implements; from every thing and every place with which she had ever been familiar, and with which she had ever entwined one recollection of herself in her unhappy husband’s mind; Fairies came trooping forth. Not to stand beside him as the Cricket did, but to busy and bestir themselves. To do all honor to her image. To pull him by the skirts, and point to it when it appeared. To cluster round it, and embrace it, and strew flowers for it to tread on. To try to crown its fair head with their tiny hands. To show that they were fond of it and loved it; and that there was not one ugly, wicked or accusatory creature to claim knowledge of it—none but their playful and approving selves. His thoughts were constant to her Image. It was always there. She sat plying her needle, before the fire, and singing to herself. Such a blithe, thriving, steady little Dot! The fairy figures turned upon him all at once, by one consent, with one prodigious concentrated stare; and seemed to say, &quot;Is this the light wife you are mourning for!&quot; There were sounds of gaiety outside: musical instruments, and noisy tongues, and laughter. A crowd of young merry-makers came pouring in; among whom were May Fielding and a score of pretty girls. Dot was the fairest of them all; as young as any of them too. They came to summon her to join their party. It was a dance. If ever little foot were made for dancing, hers was, surely. But she laughed, and shook her head, and pointed to her cookery on the fire, and her table ready spread: with an exulting defiance that rendered her more charming than she was before. And so she merrily dismissed them: nodding to her would-be partners, one by one, as they passed, but with a comical indifference, enough to make them go and drown themselves immediately if they were her admirers—and they must have been so, more or less; they couldn’t help it. And yet indifference was not her character. O no! For presently, there came a certain Carrier to the door; and bless her what a welcome she bestowed upon him! Again the staring figures turned upon him all at once, and seemed to say, &quot;Is this the wife who has forsaken you!&quot; A shadow fell upon the mirror or the picture: call it what you will. A great shadow of the Stranger, as he first stood underneath their roof; covering its surface, and blotting out all other objects. But the nimble Fairies worked like Bees to clear it off again; and Dot again was there. Still bright and beautiful. Rocking her little Baby in its cradle; singing to it softly; and resting her head upon a shoulder which had its counterpart in the musing figure by which the Fairy Cricket stood. The night—I mean the real night: not going by Fairy clocks—was wearing now; and in this stage of the Carrier’s thoughts, the moon burst out, and shone brightly in the sky. Perhaps some calm and quiet light had risen also, in his mind; and he could think more soberly of what had happened. Although the shadow of the Stranger fell at intervals upon the glass—always distinct, and big, and thoroughly defined—it never fell so darkly as at first. Whenever it appeared, the Fairies uttered a general cry of consternation, and plied their little arms and legs, with inconceivable activity, to rub it out. And whenever they got at Dot again, and showed her to him once more, bright and beautiful, they cheered in the most inspiring manner. They never showed her, otherwise than beautiful and bright, for they were Household Spirits to whom falsehood is annihilation; and being so, what Dot was there for them, but the one active, beaming, pleasant little creature who had been the light and sun of the Carrier’s Home! The Fairies were prodigiously excited when they showed her, with the Baby, gossiping among a knot of sage old matrons, and affecting to be wondrous old and matronly herself, and leaning in a staid, demure old way upon her husband’s arm, attempting—she! such a bud of a little woman—to convey the idea of having abjured the vanities of the world in general, and of being the sort of person to whom it was no novelty at all to be a mother; yet in the same breath, they showed her, laughing at the Carrier for being awkward, and pulling up his shirt-collar to make him smart, and mincing merrily about that very room to teach him how to dance! They turned, and stared immensely at him when they showed her with the Blind Girl; for, though she carried cheerfulness and animation with her wheresoever she went, she bore those influences into Caleb Plummer’s home, heaped up and running over. The Blind Girl’s love for her, and trust in her, and gratitude to her; her own good busy way of setting Bertha’s thanks aside; her dexterous little arts for filling up each moment of the visit in doing something useful to the house, and really working hard while feigning to make holiday; her bountiful provision of those standing delicacies, the Veal and Ham-Pie and the bottles of Beer; her radiant little face arriving at the door, and taking leave; the wonderful expression in her whole self, from her neat foot to the crown of her head, of being a part of the establishment—a something necessary to it, which it couldn’t be without; all this the Fairies revelled in, and loved her for. And once again they looked upon him all at once, appealingly; and seemed to say, while some among them nestled in her dress and fondled her, &quot;Is this the Wife who has betrayed your confidence!&quot; More than once, or twice, or thrice, in the long thoughtful night, they showed her to him sitting on her favourite seat, with her bent head, her hands clasped on her brow, her falling hair. As he had seen her last. And when they found her thus, they neither turned nor looked upon him, but gathered close round her, and comforted and kissed her: and pressed on one another to show sympathy and kindness to her: and forgot him altogether. Thus the night passed. The moon went down; the stars grew pale; the cold day broke; the sun rose. The Carrier still sat, musing, in the chimney corner. He had sat there, with his head upon his hands, all night. All night the faithful Cricket had been Chirp, Chirp, Chirping on the Hearth. All night he had listened to its voice. All night the household Fairies had been busy with him. All night she had been amiable and blameless in the Glass, except when that one shadow fell upon it. He rose up when it was broad day, and washed and dressed himself. He couldn’t go about his customary cheerful avocations; he wanted spirit for them; but it mattered the less, that it was Tackleton’s wedding-day, and he had arranged to make his rounds by proxy. He thought to have gone merrily to church with Dot. But such plans were at an end. It was their own wedding-day too. Ah! how little he had looked for such a close to such a year! The Carrier had expected that Tackleton would pay him an early visit; and he was right. He had not walked to and fro before his own door, many minutes, when he saw the Toy Merchant coming in his chaise along the road. As the chaise drew nearer, he perceived that Tackleton was dressed out sprucely for his marriage: and that he had decorated his horse’s head with flowers and favors. The horse looked much more like a Bridegroom than Tackleton, whose half-closed eye was more disagreeably expressive than ever. But the Carrier took little heed of this. His thoughts had other occupation. &quot;John Peerybingle!&quot; said Tackleton, with an air of condolence. &quot;My good fellow, how do you find yourself this morning?&quot; &quot;I have had but a poor night, Master Tackleton,&quot; returned the Carrier, shaking his head: &quot;for I have been a good deal disturbed in my mind. But it’s over now! Can you spare me half an hour or so, for some private talk?&quot; &quot;I came on purpose,&quot; returned Tackleton, alighting. &quot;Never mind the horse. He’ll stand quiet enough, with the reins over this post, if you’ll give him a mouthful of hay.&quot; The Carrier having brought it from his stable and set it before him, they turned into the house. &quot;You are not married before noon,&quot; he said, &quot;I think?&quot; &quot;No,&quot; answered Tackleton. &quot;Plenty of time. Plenty of time.&quot; When they entered the kitchen, Tilly Slowboy was rapping at the Stranger’s door; which was only removed from it by a few steps. One of her very red eyes (for Tilly had been crying all night long, because her mistress cried) was at the keyhole; and she was knocking very loud; and seemed frightened. &quot;If you please I can’t make nobody hear,&quot; said Tilly, looking round. &quot;I hope nobody an’t gone and been and died if you please!&quot; This philanthropic wish, Miss Slowboy emphasised with various new raps and kicks at the door; which led to no result whatever. &quot;Shall I go?&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;It’s curious.&quot; The Carrier who had turned his face from the door, signed to him to go if he would. So Tackleton went to Tilly Slowboy’s relief; and he too kicked and knocked; and he too failed to get the least reply. But he thought of trying the handle of the door; and as it opened easily, he peeped in, looked in, went in; and soon came running out again. &quot;John Peerybingle,&quot; said Tackleton, in his ear. &quot;I hope there has been nothing—nothing rash in the night?&quot; The Carrier turned upon him quickly. &quot;Because he’s gone!&quot; said Tackleton; &quot;and the window’s open. I don’t see any marks—to be sure it’s almost on a level with the garden: but I was afraid there might have been some—some scuffle. Eh?&quot; He nearly shut up the expressive eye altogether; he looked at him so hard. And he gave his eye, and his face, and his whole person, a sharp twist. As if he would have screwed the truth out of him. &quot;Make yourself easy,&quot; said the Carrier. &quot;He went into that room last night, without harm in word or deed from me, and no one has entered it since. He is away of his own free will. I’d go out gladly at that door, and beg my bread from house to house, for life, if I could so change the past that he had never come. But he has come and gone. And I have done with him!&quot; &quot;Oh!—Well, I think he has got off pretty easy,&quot; said Tackleton, taking a chair. The sneer was lost upon the Carrier, who sat down too: and shaded his face with his hand, for some little time, before proceeding. &quot;You showed me last night,&quot; he said at length, &quot;my wife; my wife that I love; secretly—&quot; &quot;And tenderly,&quot; insinuated Tackleton. &quot;Conniving at that man’s disguise, and giving him opportunities of meeting her alone. I think there’s no sight I wouldn’t have rather seen than that. I think there’s no man in the world I wouldn’t have rather had to show it me.&quot; &quot;I confess to having had my suspicions always,&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;And that has made me objectionable here, I know.&quot; &quot;But as you did show it me,&quot; pursued the Carrier, not minding him; &quot;and as you saw her; my wife; my wife that I love&quot;—his voice, and eye, and hand, grew steadier and firmer as he repeated these words: evidently in pursuance of a stedfast purpose—&quot;as you saw her at this disadvantage, it is right and just that you should also see with my eyes, and look into my breast, and know what my mind is, upon the subject. For it’s settled,&quot; said the Carrier, regarding him attentively. &quot;And nothing can shake it now.&quot; Tackleton muttered a few general words of assent, about its being necessary to vindicate something or other; but he was overawed by the manner of his companion. Plain and unpolished as it was, it had a something dignified and noble in it, which nothing but the soul of generous Honor dwelling in the man could have imparted. &quot;I am a plain, rough man,&quot; pursued the Carrier, &quot;with very little to recommend me. I am not a clever man, as you very well know. I am not a young man. I loved my little Dot, because I had seen her grow up, from a child, in her father’s house; because I knew how precious she was; because she had been my Life, for years and years. There’s many men I can’t compare with, who never could have loved my little Dot like me, I think!&quot; He paused, and softly beat the ground a short time with his foot, before resuming: &quot;I often thought that though I wasn’t good enough for her, I should make her a kind husband, and perhaps know her value better than another; and in this way I reconciled it to myself, and came to think it might be possible that we should be married. And in the end it came about, and we were married.&quot; &quot;Hah!&quot; said Tackleton, with a significant shake of the head. &quot;I had studied myself; I had had experience of myself; I knew how much I loved her, and how happy I should be,&quot; pursued the Carrier. &quot;But I had not—I feel it now—sufficiently considered her.&quot; &quot;To be sure,&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;Giddiness, frivolity, fickleness, love of admiration! Not considered! All left out of sight! Hah!&quot; &quot;You had best not interrupt me,&quot; said the Carrier, with some sternness, &quot;till you understand me; and you’re wide of doing so. If, yesterday, I’d have struck that man down at a blow, who dared to breathe a word against her, to-day I’d set my foot upon his face, if he was my brother!&quot; The Toy Merchant gazed at him in astonishment. He went on in a softer tone: &quot;Did I consider,&quot; said the Carrier, &quot;that I took her; at her age, and with her beauty; from her young companions, and the many scenes of which she was the ornament; in which she was the brightest little star that ever shone; to shut her up from day to day in my dull house, and keep my tedious company? Did I consider how little suited I was to her sprightly humour, and how wearisome a plodding man like me must be, to one of her quick spirit? Did I consider that it was no merit in me, or claim in me, that I loved her, when everybody must, who knew her? Never. I took advantage of her hopeful nature and her cheerful disposition; and I married her. I wish I never had! For her sake; not for mine!&quot; The Toy Merchant gazed at him, without winking. Even the half-shut eye was open now. &quot;Heaven bless her!&quot; said the Carrier, &quot;for the cheerful constancy with which she tried to keep the knowledge of this from me! And Heaven help me, that, in my slow mind, I have not found it out before! Poor child! Poor Dot! I not to find it out, who have seen her eyes fill with tears, when such a marriage as our own was spoken of! I, who have seen the secret trembling on her lips a hundred times, and never suspected it till last night! Poor girl! That I could ever hope she would be fond of me! That I could ever believe she was!&quot; &quot;She made a show of it,&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;She made such a show of it, that to tell you the truth it was the origin of my misgivings.&quot; And here he asserted the superiority of May Fielding, who certainly made no sort of show of being fond of him. &quot;She has tried,&quot; said the poor Carrier, with greater emotion than he had exhibited yet; &quot;I only now begin to know how hard she has tried, to be my dutiful and zealous wife. How good she has been; how much she has done; how brave and strong a heart she has; let the happiness I have known under this roof bear witness! It will be some help and comfort to me, when I am here alone.&quot; &quot;Here alone?&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;Oh! Then you do mean to take some notice of this?&quot; &quot;I mean,&quot; returned the Carrier, &quot;to do her the greatest kindness, and make her the best reparation, in my power. I can release her from the daily pain of an unequal marriage, and the struggle to conceal it. She shall be as free as I can render her.&quot; &quot;Make her reparation!&quot; exclaimed Tackleton, twisting and turning his great ears with his hands. &quot;There must be something wrong here. You didn’t say that, of course.&quot; The Carrier set his grip upon the collar of the Toy Merchant, and shook him like a reed. &quot;Listen to me!&quot; he said. &quot;And take care that you hear me right. Listen to me. Do I speak plainly?&quot; &quot;Very plainly indeed,&quot; answered Tackleton. &quot;As if I meant it?&quot; &quot;Very much as if you meant it.&quot; &quot;I sat upon that hearth, last night, all night,&quot; exclaimed the Carrier. &quot;On the spot where she has often sat beside me, with her sweet face looking into mine. I called up her whole life, day by day; I had her dear self, in its every passage, in review before me. And upon my soul she is innocent, if there is One to judge the innocent and guilty!&quot; Staunch Cricket on the Hearth! Loyal household Fairies! &quot;Passion and distrust have left me!&quot; said the Carrier; &quot;and nothing but my grief remains. In an unhappy moment some old lover, better suited to her tastes and years than I; forsaken, perhaps, for me, against her will; returned. In an unhappy moment: taken by surprise, and wanting time to think of what she did: she made herself a party to his treachery, by concealing it. Last night she saw him, in the interview we witnessed. It was wrong. But otherwise than this, she is innocent if there is Truth on earth!&quot; &quot;If that is your opinion&quot;—Tackleton began. &quot;So, let her go!&quot; pursued the Carrier. &quot;Go, with my blessing for the many happy hours she has given me, and my forgiveness for any pang she has caused me. Let her go, and have the peace of mind I wish her! She’ll never hate me. She’ll learn to like me better, when I’m not a drag upon her, and she wears the chain I have rivetted, more lightly. This is the day on which I took her, with so little thought for her enjoyment, from her home. To-day she shall return to it; and I will trouble her no more. Her father and mother will be here to-day—we had made a little plan for keeping it together—and they shall take her home. I can trust her, there, or anywhere. She leaves me without blame, and she will live so I am sure. If I should die—I may perhaps while she is still young; I have lost some courage in a few hours—she’ll find that I remembered her, and loved her to the last! This is the end of what you showed me. Now, it’s over!&quot; &quot;Oh no, John, not over. Do not say it’s over yet! Not quite yet. I have heard your noble words. I could not steal away, pretending to be ignorant of what has affected me with such deep gratitude. Do not say it’s over, ‘till the clock has struck again!&quot; She had entered shortly after Tackleton; and had remained there. She never looked at Tackleton, but fixed her eyes upon her husband. But she kept away from him, setting as wide a space as possible between them; and though she spoke with most impassioned earnestness, she went no nearer to him even then. How different in this from her old self! &quot;No hand can make the clock which will strike again for me the hours that are gone,&quot; replied the Carrier, with a faint smile. &quot;But let it be so, if you will, my dear. It will strike soon. It’s of little matter what we say. I’d try to please you in a harder case than that.&quot; &quot;Well!&quot; muttered Tackleton. &quot;I must be off: for when the clock strikes again, it’ll be necessary for me to be upon my way to church. Good morning, John Peerybingle. I’m sorry to be deprived of the pleasure of your company. Sorry for the loss, and the occasion of it too!&quot; &quot;I have spoken plainly?&quot; said the Carrier, accompanying him to the door. &quot;Oh quite!&quot; &quot;And you’ll remember what I have said?&quot; &quot;Why, if you compel me to make the observation,&quot; said Tackleton; previously taking the precaution of getting into his chaise; &quot;I must say that it was so very unexpected, that I’m far from being likely to forget it.&quot; &quot;The better for us both,&quot; returned the Carrier. &quot;Good bye. I give you joy!&quot; &quot;I wish I could give it to you,&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;As I can’t; thank’ee. Between ourselves, (as I told you before, eh?) I don’t much think I shall have the less joy in my married life, because May hasn’t been too officious about me, and too demonstrative. Good bye! Take care of yourself.&quot; The Carrier stood looking after him until he was smaller in the distance than his horse’s flowers and favours near at hand; and then, with a deep sigh, went strolling like a restless, broken man, among some neighbouring elms; unwilling to return until the clock was on the eve of striking. His little wife, being left alone, sobbed piteously; but often dried her eyes and checked herself, to say how good he was, how excellent he was! and once or twice she laughed; so heartily, triumphantly, and incoherently (still crying all the time), that Tilly was quite horrified. &quot;Ow if you please don’t!&quot; said Tilly. &quot;It’s enough to dead and bury the Baby, so it is if you please.&quot; &quot;Will you bring him sometimes, to see his father, Tilly,&quot; inquired her mistress, drying her eyes; &quot;when I can’t live here, and have gone to my old home?&quot; &quot;Ow if you please don’t!&quot; cried Tilly, throwing back her head, and bursting out into a howl; she looked at the moment uncommonly like Boxer. &quot;Ow if you please don’t! Ow, what has everybody gone and been and done with everybody, making everybody else so wretched! Ow-w-w-w!&quot; The soft-hearted Slowboy trailed off at this juncture, into such a deplorable howl: the more tremendous from its long suppression: that she must infallibly have awakened the Baby, and frightened him into something serious (probably convulsions), if her eyes had not encountered Caleb Plummer, leading in his daughter. This spectacle restoring her to a sense of the proprieties, she stood for some few moments silent, with her mouth wide open: and then, posting off to the bed on which the Baby lay asleep, danced in a Weird, Saint Vitus manner on the floor, and at the same time rummaged with her face and head among the bedclothes: apparently deriving much relief from those extraordinary operations. &quot;Mary!&quot; said Bertha. &quot;Not at the marriage!&quot; &quot;I told her you would not be there Mum,&quot; whispered Caleb. &quot;I heard as much last night. But bless you,&quot; said the little man, taking her tenderly by both hands, &quot;I don’t care for what they say. I don’t believe them. There an’t much of me, but that little should be torn to pieces sooner than I’d trust a word against you!&quot; He put his arms about her and hugged her, as a child might have hugged one of his own dolls. &quot;Bertha couldn’t stay at home this morning,&quot; said Caleb. &quot;She was afraid, I know, to hear the Bells ring: and couldn’t trust herself to be so near them on their wedding-day. So we started in good time, and came here. I have been thinking of what I have done,&quot; said Caleb, after a moment’s pause; &quot;I have been blaming myself till I hardly knew what to do or where to turn, for the distress of mind I have caused her; and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d better, if you’ll stay with me, Mum, the while, tell her the truth. You’ll stay with me the while?&quot; he enquired, trembling from head to foot. &quot;I don’t know what effect it may have upon her; I don’t know what she’ll think of me; I don’t know that she’ll ever care for her poor father afterwards. But it’s best for her that she should be undeceived, and I must bear the consequences as I deserve!&quot; &quot;Mary,&quot; said Bertha, &quot;where is your hand! Ah! Here it is here it is!&quot; pressing it to her lips, with a smile, and drawing it through her arm. &quot;I heard them speaking softly among themselves, last night, of some blame against you. They were wrong.&quot; The Carrier’s Wife was silent. Caleb answered for her. &quot;They were wrong,&quot; he said. &quot;I knew it!&quot; cried Bertha, proudly. &quot;I told them so. I scorned to hear a word! Blame her with justice!&quot; she pressed the hand between her own, and the soft cheek against her face. &quot;No! I am not so blind as that.&quot; Her father went on one side of her, while Dot remained upon the other: holding her hand. &quot;I know you all,&quot; said Bertha, &quot;better than you think. But none so well as her. Not even you, father. There is nothing half so real and so true about me, as she is. If I could be restored to sight this instant, and not a word were spoken, I could choose her from a crowd! My Sister!&quot; &quot;Bertha, my dear!&quot; said Caleb, &quot;I have something on my mind I want to tell you, while we three are alone. Hear me kindly! I have a confession to make to you, my Darling.&quot; &quot;A confession, father?&quot; &quot;I have wandered from the Truth and lost myself, my child,&quot; said Caleb, with a pitiable expression in his bewildered face. &quot;I have wandered from the truth, intending to be kind to you; and have been cruel.&quot; She turned her wonder-stricken face towards him, and repeated &quot;Cruel!&quot; &quot;He accuses himself too strongly, Bertha,&quot; said Dot. &quot;You’ll say so, presently. You’ll be the first to tell him so.&quot; &quot;He cruel to me!&quot; cried Bertha, with a smile of incredulity. &quot;Not meaning it, my child,&quot; said Caleb. &quot;But I have been; though I never suspected it, till yesterday. My dear Blind Daughter, hear me and forgive me! The world you live in, heart of mine, doesn’t exist as I have represented it. The eyes you have trusted in, have been false to you.&quot; She turned her wonder-stricken face towards him still; but drew back, and clung closer to her friend. &quot;Your road in life was rough, my poor one,&quot; said Caleb, &quot;and I meant to smooth it for you. I have altered objects, changed the characters of people, invented many things that never have been, to make you happier. I have had concealments from you, put deceptions on you, God forgive me! and surrounded you with fancies.&quot; &quot;But living people are not fancies!&quot; she said hurriedly, and turning very pale, and still retiring from him. &quot;You can’t change them.&quot; &quot;I have done so, Bertha,&quot; pleaded Caleb. &quot;There is one person that you know, my Dove—&quot; &quot;Oh father! why do you say, I know?&quot; she answered, in a term of keen reproach. &quot;What and whom do I know! I who have no leader! I so miserably blind.&quot; In the anguish of her heart, she stretched out her hands, as if she were groping her way; then spread them, in a manner most forlorn and sad, upon her face. &quot;The marriage that takes place to-day,&quot; said Caleb, &quot;is with a stern, sordid, grinding man. A hard master to you and me, my dear, for many years. Ugly in his looks, and in his nature. Cold and callous always. Unlike what I have painted him to you in everything, my child. In everything.&quot; &quot;Oh why,&quot; cried the Blind Girl, tortured, as it seemed, almost beyond endurance, &quot;why did you ever do this! Why did you ever fill my heart so full, and then come in like Death, and tear away the objects of my love! O Heaven, how blind I am! How helpless and alone!&quot; Her afflicted father hung his head, and offered no reply but in his penitence and sorrow. She had been but a short time in this passion of regret, when the Cricket on the Hearth, unheard by all but her, began to chirp. Not merrily, but in a low, faint, sorrowing way. It was so mournful that her tears began to flow; and when the Presence which had been beside the Carrier all night, appeared behind her, pointing to her father, they fell down like rain. She heard the Cricket-voice more plainly soon; and was conscious, through her blindness, of the Presence hovering about her father. &quot;Mary,&quot; said the Blind Girl, &quot;tell me what my Home is. What it truly is.&quot; &quot;It is a poor place, Bertha; very poor and bare indeed. The house will scarcely keep out wind and rain another winter. It is as roughly shielded from the weather, Bertha,&quot; Dot continued in a low, clear voice, &quot;as your poor father in his sackcloth coat.&quot; The Blind Girl, greatly agitated, rose, and led the Carrier’s little wife aside. &quot;Those presents that I took such care of; that came almost at my wish, and were so dearly welcome to me&quot;’ she said, trembling; &quot;where did they come from? Did you send them?&quot; &quot;No.&quot; &quot;Who then?&quot; Dot saw she knew, already; and was silent. The Blind Girl spread her hands before her face again. But in quite another manner now. &quot;Dear Mary, a moment. One moment! More this way. Speak softly to me. You are true, I know. You’d not deceive me now; would you?&quot; &quot;No, Bertha, indeed!&quot; &quot;No, I am sure you would not. You have too much pity for me. Mary, look across the room to where we were just now; to where my father is—my father, so compassionate and loving to me—and tell me what you see.&quot; &quot;I see,&quot; said Dot, who understood her well, &quot;an old man sitting in a chair, and leaning sorrowfully on the back, with his face resting on his hand. As if his child should comfort him, Bertha.&quot; &quot;Yes, yes. She will. Go on.&quot; &quot;He is an old man, worn with care and work. He is a spare, dejected, thoughtful, grey-haired man. I see him now, despondent and bowed down, and striving against nothing. But, Bertha, I have seen him many times before; and striving hard in many ways for one great sacred object. And I honor his grey head, and bless him!&quot; The Blind Girl broke away from her; and throwing herself upon her knees before him, took the grey head to her breast. &quot;It is my sight restored. It is my sight!&quot; she cried. &quot;I have been blind, and now my eyes are open. I never knew him! To think I might have died, and never truly seen the father who has been so loving to me!&quot; There were no words for Caleb’s emotion. &quot;There is not a gallant figure on this earth,&quot; exclaimed the Blind Girl, holding him in her embrace, &quot;that I would love so dearly, and would cherish so devotedly, as this! The greyer, and more worn, the dearer, father! Never let them say I am blind again. There’s not a furrow in his face, there’s not a hair upon his head, that shall be forgotten in my prayers and thanks to Heaven!&quot; Caleb managed to articulate &quot;My Bertha!&quot; &quot;And in my Blindness, I believed him,&quot; said the girl, caressing him with tears of exquisite affection, &quot;to be so different! And having him beside me, day by day, so mindful of me always, never dreamed of this!&quot; &quot;The fresh smart father in the blue coat, Bertha,&quot; said poor Caleb. &quot;He’s gone!&quot; &quot;Nothing is gone,&quot; she answered. &quot;Dearest father, no! Everything is here—in you. The father that I loved so well; the father that I never loved enough, and never knew; the Benefactor whom I first began to reverence and love, because he had such sympathy for me; All are here in you. Nothing is dead to me. The Soul of all that was most dear to me is here—here, with the worn face, and the grey head. And I am NOT blind, father, any longer!&quot; Dot’s whole attention had been concentrated, during this discourse, upon the father and daughter; but looking, now, towards the little Haymaker in the Moorish meadow, she saw that the clock was within a few minutes of striking, and fell, immediately, into a nervous and excited state. &quot;Father,&quot; said Bertha, hesitating. &quot;Mary.&quot; &quot;Yes, my dear,&quot; returned Caleb. &quot;Here she is.&quot; &quot;There is no change in her. You never told me anything of her that was not true?’ &quot;I should have done it, my dear, I am afraid,&quot; returned Caleb, &quot;if I could have made her better than she was. But I must have changed her for the worse, if I had changed her at all. Nothing could improve her, Bertha.&quot; Confident as the Blind Girl had been when she asked the question, her delight and pride in the reply, and her renewed embrace of Dot, were charming to behold. &quot;More changes than you think for, may happen though, my dear,&quot; said Dot. &quot;Changes for the better, I mean; changes for great joy to some of us. You mustn’t let them startle you too much, if any such should ever happen, and affect you? Are those wheels upon the road? You’ve a quick ear, Bertha. Are they wheels?&quot; &quot;Yes. Coming very fast.&quot; &quot;I—I—I know you have a quick ear,&quot; said Dot, placing her hand upon her heart, and evidently talking on, as fast as she could, to hide its palpitating state, &quot;because I have noticed it often, and because you were so quick to find out that strange step last night. Though why you should have said, as I very well recollect you did say, Bertha, &#039;whose step is that!&#039; and why you should have taken any greater observation of it than of any other step, I don’t know. Though as I said just now, there are great changes in the world: great changes: and we can’t do better than prepare ourselves to be surprised at hardly anything.&quot; Caleb wondered what this meant; perceiving that she spoke to him, no less than to his daughter. He saw her, with astonishment, so fluttered and distressed that she could scarcely breathe; and holding to a chair, to save herself from falling. &quot;They are wheels indeed!&quot; she panted. &quot;Coming nearer! Nearer! Very close! And now you hear them stopping at the garden gate! And now you hear a step outside the door—the same step, Bertha, is it not!—and now!&quot;— She uttered a wild cry of uncontrollable delight; and running up to Caleb put her hands upon his eyes, as a young man rushed into the room, and flinging away his hat into the air, came sweeping down upon them. &quot;Is it over?&quot; cried Dot. &quot;Yes!&quot; &quot;Happily over?&quot; &quot;Yes!&quot; &quot;Do you recollect the voice, dear Caleb? Did you ever hear the like of it before?&quot; cried Dot. &quot;If my boy in the Golden South Americas was alive&quot;—said Caleb, trembling. &quot;He is alive!&quot; shrieked Dot, removing her hands from his eyes, and clapping them in ecstasy; &quot;look at him! See where he stands before you, healthy and strong! Your own dear son! Your own dear living, loving brother, Bertha!&quot; All honor to the little creature for her transports! All honor to her tears and laughter, when the three were locked in one another’s arms! All honour to the heartiness with which she met the sunburnt Sailor-fellow, with his dark streaming hair, half way, and never turned her rosy little mouth aside, but suffered him to kiss it, freely, and to press her to his bounding heart! And honour to the Cuckoo too—why not!—for bursting out of the trap-door in the Moorish Palace like a housebreaker, and hiccoughing twelve times on the assembled company, as if he had got drunk for joy! The Carrier, entering, started back: and well he might: to find himself in such good company. &quot;Look, John!&quot; said Caleb, exultingly, &quot;look here! My own boy from the Golden South Americas! My own son! Him that you fitted out, and sent away yourself; Him that you were always such a friend to!&quot; The Carrier advanced to seize him by the hand; but, recoiling, as some feature in his face awakened a remembrance of the Deaf Man in the Cart, said: &quot;Edward! Was it you?&quot; &quot;Now tell him all!&quot; cried Dot. &quot;Tell him all, Edward; and don’t spare me, for nothing shall make me spare myself in his eyes, ever again.&quot; &quot;I was the man,&quot; said Edward. &quot;And could you steal, disguised, into the house of your old friend?&quot; rejoined the Carrier. &quot;There was a frank boy once—how many years is it, Caleb, since we heard that he was dead, and had it proved, we thought?—who never would have done that.&quot; &quot;There was a generous friend of mine, once; more a father to me than a friend;&quot; said Edward, &quot;who never would have judged me, or any other man, unheard. You were he. So I am certain you will hear me now.&quot; The Carrier, with a troubled glance at Dot, who still kept far away from him, replied, &quot;Well! that’s but fair. I will.&quot; &quot;You must know that when I left here, a boy,&quot; said Edward, &quot;I was in love, and my love was returned. She was a very young girl, who perhaps (you may tell me) didn’t know her own mind. But I knew mine, and I had a passion for her.&quot; &quot;You had!&quot; exclaimed the Carrier. &quot;You!&quot; &quot;Indeed I had,&quot; returned the other. &quot;And she returned it. I have ever since believed she did; and now I am sure she did.&quot; &quot;Heaven help me!&quot; said the Carrier. &quot;This is worse than all.&quot; &quot;Constant to her,&quot; said Edward, &quot;and returning, full of hope, after many hardships and perils, to redeem my part of our old contract, I heard, twenty miles away, that she was false to me; that she had forgotten me; and had bestowed herself upon another and a richer man. I had no mind to reproach her; but I wished to see her, and to prove beyond dispute that this was true. I hoped she might have been forced into it, against her own desire and recollection. It would be small comfort, but it would be some, I thought: and on I came. That I might have the truth, the real truth; observing freely for myself, and judging for myself, without obstruction on the one hand, or presenting my own influence (if I had any) before her, on the other; I dressed myself unlike myself—you know how; and waited on the road—you know where. You had no suspicion of me; neither had—had she,&quot; pointing to Dot, &quot;until I whispered in her ear at that fireside, and she so nearly betrayed me.&quot; &quot;But when she knew that Edward was alive, and had come back,&quot; sobbed Dot, now speaking for herself, as she had burned to do, all through this narrative; &quot;and when she knew his purpose, she advised him by all means to keep his secret close; for his old friend John Peerybingle was much too open in his nature, and too clumsy in all artifice—being a clumsy man in general,&quot; said Dot, half laughing and half crying—&quot;to keep it for him. And when she—that’s me, John,&quot; sobbed the little woman—&quot;told him all, and how his sweetheart had believed him to be dead; and how she had at last been over-persuaded by her mother into a marriage which the silly, dear old thing called advantageous; and when she—that’s me again, John—told him they were not yet married (though close upon it), and that it would be nothing but a sacrifice if it went on, for there was no love on her side; and when he went nearly mad with joy to hear it; then she—that’s me again—said she would go between them, as she had often done before in old times, John, and would sound his sweetheart and be sure that what she—me again, John—said and thought was right. And it WAS right, John! And they were brought together, John! And they were married, John, an hour ago! And here’s the Bride! And Gruff and Tackleton may die a bachelor! And I’m a happy little woman, May, God bless you!&quot; She was an irresistible little woman, if that be anything to the purpose; and never so completely irresistible as in her present transports. There never were congratulations so endearing and delicious, as those she lavished on herself and on the Bride. Amid the tumult of emotions in his breast, the honest Carrier had stood, confounded. Flying, now, towards her, Dot stretched out her hand to stop him, and retreated as before. &quot;No, John, no! Hear all! Don’t love me any more, John, &#039;till you’ve heard every word I have to say. It was wrong to have a secret from you, John. I’m very sorry. I didn’t think it any harm, till I came and sat down by you on the little stool last night. But when I knew by what was written in your face, that you had seen me walking in the gallery with Edward; and knew what you thought; I felt how giddy and how wrong it was. But oh, dear John, how could you, could you, think so!&quot; Little woman, how she sobbed again! John Peerybingle would have caught her in his arms. But no; she wouldn’t let him. &quot;Don’t love me yet, please, John! Not for a long time yet! When I was sad about this intended marriage, dear, it was because I remembered May and Edward such young lovers; and knew that her heart was far away from Tackleton. You believe that, now. Don’t you John?&quot; John was going to make another rush at this appeal; but she stopped him again. &quot;No; keep there, please, John! When I laugh at you, as I sometimes do, John; and call you clumsy, and a dear old goose, and names of that sort, it’s because I love you, John, so well; and take such pleasure in your ways, and wouldn’t see you altered in the least respect to have you made a King to-morrow.&quot; &quot;Hooroar!&quot; said Caleb with unusual vigour. &quot;My opinion!&quot; &quot;And when I speak of people being middle-aged, and steady, John, and pretend that we are a humdrum couple, going on in a jog-trot sort of way, it’s only because I’m such a silly little thing, John, that I like, sometimes, to act a kind of Play with Baby, and all that: and make believe.&quot; She saw that he was coming; and stopped him again. But she was very nearly too late. &quot;No, don’t love me for another minute or two, if you please, John! What I want most to tell you, I have kept to the last. My dear, good, generous John; when we were talking the other night about the Cricket, I had it on my lips to say, that at first I did not love you quite so dearly as I do now; that when I first came home here, I was half afraid I mightn’t learn to love you every bit as well as I hoped and prayed I might—being so very young, John! But, dear John, every day and hour, I loved you more and more. And if I could have loved you better than I do, the noble words I heard you say this morning, would have made me. But I can’t. All the affection that I had (it was a great deal John) I gave you, as you well deserve, long, long ago, and I have no more left to give. Now, my dear Husband, take me to your heart again! That’s my home, John; and never, never think of sending me to any other!&quot; You never will derive so much delight from seeing a glorious little woman in the arms of a third party, as you would have felt if you had seen Dot run into the Carrier’s embrace. It was the most complete, unmitigated, soul-fraught little piece of earnestness that ever you beheld in all your days. You may be sure the Carrier was in a state of perfect rapture; and you may be sure Dot was likewise; and you may be sure they all were, inclusive of Miss Slowboy, who cried copiously for joy, and, wishing to include her young charge in the general interchange of congratulations, handed round the Baby to everybody in succession, as if it were something to drink. But now the sound of wheels was heard again outside the door; and somebody exclaimed that Gruff and Tackleton was coming back. Speedily that worthy gentleman appeared: looking warm and flustered. &quot;Why, what the Devil’s this, John Peerybingle!&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;There’s some mistake. I appointed Mrs. Tackleton to meet me at the church; and I’ll swear I passed her on the road, on her way here. Oh! here she is! I beg your pardon Sir; I haven’t the pleasure of knowing you; but if you can do me the favour to spare this young lady, she has rather a particular engagement this morning.&quot; &quot;But I can’t spare her,&quot; returned Edward. &quot;I couldn’t think of it.&quot; &quot;What do you mean, you vagabond?&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;I mean, that as I can make allowance for your being vexed,&quot; returned the other, with a smile, &quot;I am as deaf to harsh discourse this morning, as I was to all discourse last night.&quot; The look that Tackleton bestowed upon him, and the start he gave! &quot;I am sorry Sir,&quot; said Edward, holding out May’s left hand, and especially the third finger; &quot;that the young lady can’t accompany you to church; but as she has been there once, this morning, perhaps you’ll excuse her.&quot; Tackleton looked hard at the third finger: and took a little piece of silver-paper, apparently containing a ring, from his waistcoat-pocket. &quot;Miss Slowboy,&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;Will you have the kindness to throw that in the fire? Thank’ee.&quot; &quot;It was a previous engagement; quite an old engagement: that prevented my wife from keeping her appointment with you, I assure you,&quot; said Edward. &quot;Mr. Tackleton will do me the justice to acknowledge that I revealed it to him faithfully; and that I told him, many times, I never could forget it,&quot; said May, blushing. &quot;Oh certainly!&quot; said Tackleton. &quot;Oh to be sure. Oh it’s all right. It’s quite correct. Mrs. Edward Plummer, I infer?&quot; &quot;That’s the name,&quot; returned the bridegroom. &quot;Ah, I shouldn’t have known you Sir,&quot; said Tackleton, scrutinising his face narrowly, and making a low bow. &quot;I give you joy Sir!&quot; &quot;Thank’ee.&quot; &quot;Mrs. Peerybingle,&quot; said Tackleton, turning suddenly to where she stood with her husband; &quot;I am sorry. You haven’t done me a very great kindness, but, upon my life I am sorry. You are better than I thought you. John Peerybingle, I am sorry. You understand me; that’s enough. It’s quite correct, ladies and gentlemen all, and perfectly satisfactory. Good morning!&quot; With these words he carried it off, and carried himself off too: merely stopping at the door, to take the flowers and favours from his horse’s head, and to kick that animal once, in the ribs, as a means of informing him that there was a screw loose in his arrangements. Of course it became a serious duty now, to make such a day of it, as should mark these events for a high Feast and Festival in the Peerybingle Calendar for evermore. Accordingly, Dot went to work to produce such an entertainment, as should reflect undying honour on the house and on every one concerned; and in a very short space of time, she was up to her dimpled elbows in flour, and whitening the Carrier’s coat, every time he came near her, by stopping him to give him a kiss. That good fellow washed the greens, and peeled the turnips, and broke the plates, and upset iron pots full of cold water on the fire, and made himself useful in all sorts of ways: while a couple of professional assistants, hastily called in from somewhere in the neighbourhood, as on a point of life or death, ran against each other in all the doorways and round all the corners; and everybody tumbled over Tilly Slowboy and the Baby, everywhere. Tilly never came out in such force before. Her ubiquity was the theme of general admiration. She was a stumbling-block in the passage at five-and-twenty minutes past two; a man-trap in the kitchen at half-past two precisely; and a pitfall in the garret at five-and-twenty minutes to three. The Baby’s head was, as it were, a test and touchstone for every description of matter, animal, vegetable, and mineral. Nothing was in use that day that didn’t come, at some time or other, into close acquaintance with it. Then, there was a great Expedition set on foot to go and find out Mrs. Fielding; and to be dismally penitent to that excellent gentlewoman; and to bring her back, by force, if needful, to be happy and forgiving. And when the Expedition first discovered her, she would listen to no terms at all, but said, an unspeakable number of times, that ever she should have lived to see the day! and couldn’t be got to say anything else, except, &quot;Now carry me to the grave;&quot; which seemed absurd, on account of her not being dead, or anything at all like it. After a time, she lapsed into a state of dreadful calmness, and observed, that when that unfortunate train of circumstances had occurred in the Indigo Trade, she had foreseen that she would be exposed, during her whole life, to every species of insult and contumely; and that she was glad to find it was the case; and begged they wouldn’t trouble themselves about her,—for what was she? oh, dear! a nobody!—but would forget that such a being lived, and would take their course in life without her. From this bitterly sarcastic mood, she passed into an angry one, in which she gave vent to the remarkable expression that the worm would turn if trodden on; and, after that, she yielded to a soft regret, and said, if they had only given her their confidence, what might she not have had it in her power to suggest! Taking advantage of this crisis in her feelings, the Expedition embraced her; and she very soon had her gloves on, and was on her way to John Peerybingle’s in a state of unimpeachable gentility; with a paper parcel at her side containing a cap of state, almost as tall, and quite as stiff, as a Mitre. Then, there were Dot’s father and mother to come, in another little chaise; and they were behind their time; and fears were entertained; and there was much looking out for them down the road; and Mrs. Fielding always would look in the wrong and morally impossible direction; and being apprised thereof, hoped she might take the liberty of looking where she pleased. At last they came: a chubby little couple, jogging along in a snug and comfortable little way that quite belonged to the Dot family: and Dot and her mother, side by side, were wonderful to see. They were so like each other. Then, Dot’s mother had to renew her acquaintance with May’s mother; and May’s mother always stood on her gentility; and Dot’s mother never stood on anything but her active little feet. And old Dot—so to call Dot’s father; I forgot it wasn’t his right name, but never mind: took liberties, and shook hands at first sight, and seemed to think a cap but so much starch and muslin, and didn’t defer himself at all to the Indigo trade, but said there was no help for it now; and, in Mrs. Fielding’s summing up, was a good-natured kind of man—but coarse, my dear. I wouldn’t have missed Dot, doing the honors in her wedding-gown, my benison on her bright face! for any money. No! nor the good Carrier, so jovial and so ruddy, at the bottom of the table. Nor the brown, fresh sailor-fellow, and his handsome wife. Nor any one among them. To have missed the dinner would have been to miss as jolly and as stout a meal as man need eat; and to have missed the overflowing cups in which they drank The Wedding Day, would have been the greatest miss of all. After dinner, Caleb sang the song about the Sparkling Bowl! As I’m a living man: hoping to keep so, for a year or two, he sang it through. And, by-the-by, a most unlooked-for incident occurred, just as he finished the last verse. There was a tap at the door; and a man came staggering in, without saying with your leave, or by your leave, with something heavy on his head. Setting this down in the middle of the table, symmetrically in the centre of the nuts and apples, he said: &quot;Mr. Tackleton’s compliments, and as he hasn’t got no use for the cake himself, p’raps you’ll eat it.&quot; And with those words, he walked off. There was some surprise among the company, as you may imagine. Mrs. Fielding, being a lady of infinite discernment, suggested that the cake was poisoned; and related a narrative of a cake, which, within her knowledge, had turned a seminary for young ladies, blue. But she was overruled by acclamation; and the cake was cut by May, with much ceremony and rejoicing. I don’t think any one had tasted it, when there came another tap at the door; and the same man appeared again, having under his arm a vast brown-paper parcel. &quot;Mr. Tackleton’s compliments, and he’s sent a few toys for the Babby. They ain’t ugly.&quot; After the delivery of which expressions, he retired again. The whole party would have experienced great difficulty in finding words for their astonishment, even if they had had ample time to seek them. But they had none at all; for the messenger had scarcely shut the door behind him, when there came another tap, and Tackleton himself walked in. &quot;Mrs. Peerybingle!&quot; said the Toy-merchant, hat in hand. &quot;I’m sorry. I’m more sorry than I was this morning. I have had time to think of it. John Peerybingle! I’m sour by disposition; but I can’t help being sweetened, more or less, by coming face to face with such a man as you. Caleb! This unconscious little nurse gave me a broken hint last night, of which I have found the thread. I blush to think how easily I might have bound you and your daughter to me; and what a miserable idiot I was, when I took her for one! Friends, one and all, my house is very lonely to-night. I have not so much as a Cricket on my Hearth. I have scared them all away. Be gracious to me; let me join this happy party!&quot; He was at home in five minutes. You never saw such a fellow. What had he been doing with himself all his life, never to have known, before, his great capacity of being jovial! Or what had the Fairies been doing with him, to have effected such a change! &quot;John! you won’t send me home this evening; will you?&quot; whispered Dot. He had been very near it though! There wanted but one living creature to make the party complete; and, in the twinkling of an eye, there he was: very thirsty with hard running, and engaged in hopeless endeavours to squeeze his head into a narrow pitcher. He had gone with the cart to its journey’s-end, very much disgusted with the absence of his master, and stupendously rebellious to the Deputy. After lingering about the stable for some little time, vainly attempting to incite the old horse to the mutinous act of returning on his own account, he had walked into the tap-room and laid himself down before the fire. But suddenly yielding to the conviction that the Deputy was a humbug, and must be abandoned, he had got up again, turned tail and come home. There was a dance in the evening. With which general mention of that recreation, I should have left it alone, if I had not some reason to suppose that it was quite an original dance, and one of a most uncommon figure. It was formed in an odd way; in this way. Edward, that sailor-fellow—a good free dashing sort of a fellow he was—had been telling them various marvels concerning parrots, and mines, and Mexicans, and gold dust, when all at once he took it in his head to jump up from his seat and propose a dance; for Bertha’s harp was there, and she had such a hand upon it as you seldom hear. Dot (sly little piece of affectation when she chose) said her dancing days were over; I think because the Carrier was smoking his pipe, and she liked sitting by him, best. Mrs. Fielding had no choice, of course, but to say her dancing days were over, after that; and everybody said the same, except May; May was ready. So, May and Edward get up, amid great applause, to dance alone; and Bertha plays her liveliest tune. Well! if you’ll believe me, they have not been dancing five minutes, when suddenly the Carrier flings his pipe away, takes Dot round the waist, dashes out into the room, and starts off with her, toe and heel, quite wonderfully. Tackleton no sooner sees this, than he skims across to Mrs. Fielding, takes her round the waist, and follows suit. Old Dot no sooner sees this, than up he is, all alive, whisks off Mrs. Dot in the middle of the dance, and is the foremost there. Caleb no sooner sees this, than he clutches Tilly Slowboy by both hands and goes off at score; Miss Slowboy, firm in the belief that diving hotly in among the other couples, and effecting any number of concussions with them, is your only principle of footing it. Hark! how the Cricket joins the music with its Chirp, Chirp, Chirp; and how the kettle hums! * * * * * But what is this! Even as I listen to them, blithely, and turn towards Dot, for one last glimpse of a little figure very pleasant to me, she and the rest have vanished into air, and I am left alone. A Cricket sings upon the Hearth; a broken child’s-toy lies upon the ground; and nothing else remains.
214<em>The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In</em>Published by Chapman and Hall, 1844 Dickens, Charles<em>Hathi Trust,</em> <a href=""></a>.<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=40&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=1844-12">1844-12</a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=37&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Illustrated+by+John+Leech%2C+Richard+Doyle%2C+Daniel+Maclise%2C+and+Clarkson+Stanfield">Illustrated by John Leech, Richard Doyle, Daniel Maclise, and Clarkson Stanfield</a><a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=51&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Christmas+Book">Christmas Book</a>1844-12-The_ChimesDickens, Charles. <em>The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In</em> (December 1844). <em>Dickens Search.</em> Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig. <a href=""></a>.18441201First Quarter. There are not many people—and as it is desirable that a story-teller and a story-reader should establish a mutual understanding as soon as possible, I beg it to be noticed that I confine this observation neither to young people nor to little people, but extend it to all conditions of people: little and big, young and old: yet growing up, or already growing down again—there are not, I say, many people who would care to sleep in a church. I don’t mean at sermon-time in warm weather (when the thing has actually been done, once or twice), but in the night, and alone. A great multitude of persons will be violently astonished, I know, by this position, in the broad bold Day. But it applies to Night. It must be argued by night. And I will undertake to maintain it successfully on any gusty winter’s night appointed for the purpose, with any one opponent chosen from the rest, who will meet me singly in an old churchyard, before an old church door; and will previously empower me to lock him in, if needful to his satisfaction, until morning. For the night-wind has a dismal trick of wandering round and round a building of that sort, and moaning as it goes; and of trying, with its unseen hand, the windows and the doors; and seeking out some crevices by which to enter. And when it has got in; as one not finding what it seeks, whatever that may be; it wails and howls to issue forth again: and not content with stalking through the aisles, and gliding round and round the pillars, and tempting the deep organ, soars up to the roof, and strives to rend the rafters: then flings itself despairingly upon the stones below, and passes, muttering, into the vaults. Anon, it comes up stealthily, and creeps along the walls: seeming to read, in whispers, the Inscriptions sacred to the Dead. At some of these, it breaks out shrilly, as with laughter; and at others, moans and cries as if it were lamenting. It has a ghostly sound too, lingering within the altar; where it seems to chaunt, in its wild way, of Wrong and Murder done, and false Gods worshipped; in defiance of the Tables of the Law, which look so fair and smooth, but are so flawed and broken. Ugh! Heaven preserve us, sitting snugly round the fire! It has an awful voice, that wind at Midnight, singing in a church! But high up in the steeple! There the foul blast roars and whistles! High up in the steeple, where it is free to come and go through many an airy arch and loophole, and to twist and twine itself about the giddy stair, and twirl the groaning weathercock, and make the very tower shake and shiver! High up in the steeple, where the belfry is; and iron rails are ragged with rust; and sheets of lead and copper, shrivelled by the changing weather, crackle and heave beneath the unaccustomed tread; and birds stuff shabby nests into corners of old oaken joists and beams; and dust grows old and grey; and speckled spiders, indolent and fat with long security, swing idly to and fro in the vibration of the bells, and never loose their hold upon their thread-spun castles in the air, or climb up sailor-like in quick alarm, or drop upon the ground and ply a score of nimble legs to save a life! High up in the steeple of an old church, far above the light and murmur of the town and far below the flying clouds that shadow it, is the wild and dreary place at night: and high up in the steeple of an old church, dwelt the Chimes I tell of. They were old Chimes, trust me. Centuries ago, these Bells had been baptized by bishops: so many centuries ago, that the register of their baptism was lost long, long before the memory of man: and no one knew their names. They had had their Godfathers and Godmothers, these Bells (for my own part, by the way, I would rather incur the responsibility of being Godfather to a Bell than a Boy): and had had their silver mugs no doubt, besides. But Time had mowed down their sponsors, and Henry the Eighth had melted down their mugs: and they now hung, nameless and mugless, in the church tower. Not speechless, though. Far from it. They had clear, loud, lusty, sounding voices, had these Bells; and far and wide they might be heard upon the wind. Much too sturdy Chimes were they, to be dependent on the pleasure of the wind, moreover; for, fighting gallantly against it when it took an adverse whim, they would pour their cheerful notes into a listening ear right royally; and bent on being heard, on stormy nights, by some poor mother watching a sick child, or some lone wife whose husband was at sea, they had been sometimes known to beat a blustering Nor’-Wester — aye, &quot;all to fits,&quot; as Toby Veck said; for though they chose to call him Trotty Veck, his name was Toby, and nobody could make it anything else either (except Tobias) without a special act of parliament; he having been as lawfully christened in his day as the Bells had been in theirs, though with not quite so much of solemnity or public rejoicing. For my part, I confess myself of Toby Veck’s belief, for I am sure he had opportunities enough of forming a correct one. And whatever Toby Veck said, I say. And I take my stand by Toby Veck, although he did stand all day long (and weary work it was) just outside the church-door. In fact he was a ticket-porter, Toby Veck, and waited there for jobs. And a breezy, goose-skinned, blue-nosed, red-eyed, stony-toed, tooth-chattering place it was, to wait in, in the winter-time, as Toby Veck well knew. The wind came tearing round the corner—especially the east wind—as if it had sallied forth, express, from the confines of the earth, to have a blow at Toby. And oftentimes it seemed to come upon him sooner than it had expected, for bouncing round the corner, and passing Toby, it would suddenly wheel round again, as if it cried &quot;Why, here he is!&quot; Incontinently his little white apron would be caught up over his head like a naughty boy’s garments, and his feeble little cane would be seen to wrestle and struggle unavailingly in his hand, and his legs would undergo tremendous agitation, and Toby himself all aslant, and facing now in this direction, now in that, would be so banged and buffeted, and touzled, and worried, and hustled, and lifted off his feet, as to render it a state of things but one degree removed from a positive miracle, that he wasn’t carried up bodily into the air as a colony of frogs or snails or other portable creatures sometimes are, and rained down again, to the great astonishment of the natives, on some strange corner of the world where ticket-porters are unknown. But windy weather, in spite of its using him so roughly, was, after all, a sort of holiday for Toby. That’s the fact. He didn’t seem to wait so long for a sixpence in the wind, as at other times; for the having to fight with that boisterous element took off his attention, and quite freshened him up, when he was getting hungry and low-spirited. A hard frost too, or a fall of snow, was an Event; and it seemed to do him good, somehow or other—it would have been hard to say in what respect though, Toby! So wind and frost and snow, and perhaps a good stiff storm of hail, were Toby Veck’s red-letter days. Wet weather was the worst: the cold, damp, clammy wet, that wrapped him up like a moist great-coat: the only kind of great-coat Toby owned, or could have added to his comfort by dispensing with. Wet days, when the rain came slowly, thickly, obstinately down; when the street’s throat, like his own, was choked with mist; when smoking umbrellas passed and re-passed, spinning round and round like so many teetotums, as they knocked against each other on the crowded footway, throwing off a little whirlpool of uncomfortable sprinklings; when gutters brawled and water-spouts were full and noisy; when the wet from the projecting stones and ledges of the church fell drip, drip, drip, on Toby, making the wisp of straw on which he stood mere mud in no time; those were the days that tried him. Then indeed, you might see Toby looking anxiously out from his shelter in an angle of the church wall—such a meagre shelter that in summer time it never cast a shadow thicker than a good-sized walking stick upon the sunny pavement—with a disconsolate and lengthened face. But coming out, a minute afterwards, to warm himself by exercise: and trotting up and down some dozen times: he would brighten even then, and go back more brightly to his niche. They called him Trotty from his pace, which meant speed if it didn&#039;t make it. He could have Walked faster perhaps; most likely; but rob him of his trot, and Toby would have taken to his bed and died. It bespattered him with mud in dirty weather; it cost him a world of trouble; he could have walked with infinitely greater ease; but that was one reason for his clinging to it so tenaciously. A weak, small, spare old man, he was a very Hercules, this Toby, in his good intentions. He loved to earn his money. He delighted to believe—Toby was very poor, and couldn&#039;t well afford to part with a delight—that he was worth his salt. With a shilling or an eighteenpenny message or small parcel in hand, his courage, always high, rose higher. As he trotted on, he would call out to fast Postmen ahead of him, to get out of the way; devoutly believing that in the natural course of things he must inevitably overtake and run them down; and he had perfect faith—not often tested—in his being able to carry anything that man could lift. Thus, even when he came out of his nook to warm himself on a wet day, Toby trotted. Making, with his leaky shoes, a crooked line of slushy footprints in the mire; and blowing on his chilly hands and rubbing them against each other, poorly defended from the searching cold by threadbare mufflers of grey worsted, with a private apartment only for the thumb and a common room or tap for the rest of the fingers; Toby, with his knees bent and his cane beneath his arm, still trotted. Falling out into the road to look up at the belfry when the Chimes resounded, Toby trotted still. He made this last excursion several times a day, for they were company to him; and when he heard their voices, he had an interest in glancing at their lodging-place, and thinking how they were moved, and what hammers beat upon them. Perhaps he was the more curious about these Bells, because there were points of resemblance between themselves and him. They hung there, in all weathers: with the wind and rain driving in upon them: facing only the outsides of all those houses; never getting any nearer to the blazing fires that gleamed and shone upon the windows, or came puffing out of the chimney tops; and incapable of participation in any of the good things that were constantly being handed, through the street doors and the area railings, to prodigious cooks. Faces came and went at many windows: sometimes pretty faces, youthful faces, pleasant faces: sometimes the reverse: but Toby knew no more (though he often speculated on these trifles, standing idle in the streets) whence they came, or where they went, or whether, when the lips moved, one kind word was said of him in all the year, than did the Chimes themselves. Toby was not a casuist—that he knew of, at least—and I don&#039;t mean to say that when he began to take to the Bells, and to knit up his first rough acquaintance with them into something of a closer and more delicate woof, he passed through these considerations one by one, or held any formal review or great field-day in his thoughts. But what I mean to say and do say is, that as the functions of Toby’s body, his digestive organs for example, did of their own cunning, and by a great many operations of which he was altogether ignorant, and the knowledge of which would have astonished him very much, arrive at a certain end; so his mental faculties, without his privity or concurrence, set all these wheels and springs in motion, with a thousand others, when they worked to bring about his liking for the Bells. And though I had said his love, I would not have recalled the word, though it would scarcely have expressed his complicated feeling. For, being but a simple man, he invested them with a strange and solemn character. They were so mysterious, often heard and never seen; so high up, so far off, so full of such a deep strong melody, that he regarded them with a species of awe; and sometimes when he looked up at the dark arched windows in the tower, he half expected to be beckoned to by something which was not a Bell, and yet was what he had heard so often sounding in the Chimes. For all this, Toby scouted with indignation a certain flying rumour that the Chimes were haunted, as implying the possibility of their being connected with any Evil thing. In short, they were very often in his ears, and very often in his thoughts, but always in his good opinion; and he very often got such a crick in his neck by staring with his mouth wide open, at the steeple where they hung, that he was fain to take an extra trot or two, afterwards, to cure it. The very thing he was in the act of doing one cold day, when the last drowsy sound of Twelve o’clock, just struck, was humming like a melodious monster of a Bee, and not by any means a busy Bee, all through the steeple. &quot;Dinner-time, eh!&quot; said Toby, trotting up and down before the church. &quot;Ah!&quot; Toby’s nose was very red, and his eyelids were very red, and he winked very much, and his shoulders were very near his ears, and his legs were very stiff; and altogether he was evidently a long way upon the frosty side of cool. &quot;Dinner-time, eh!&quot; repeated Toby, using his right-hand muffler like an infantine boxing-glove, and punishing his chest for being cold. &quot;Ah-h-h-h!&quot; He took a silent trot, after that, for a minute or two. &quot;There’s nothing,&quot; said Toby, breaking forth afresh—but here he stopped short in his trot, and with a face of great interest and some alarm, felt his nose carefully all the way up. It was but a little way: not being much of a nose: and he had soon finished. &quot;I thought it was gone,&quot; said Toby, trotting off again. &quot;It&#039;s all right, however. I am sure I couldn&#039;t blame it if it was to go. It has a precious hard service of it in the bitter weather, and precious little to look forward to: for I don’t take snuff myself. It&#039;s a good deal tried, poor creetur, at the best of times; for when it does get hold of a pleasant whiff or so (which an&#039;t too often) it&#039;s generally from somebody else&#039;s dinner, a-coming home from the baker&#039;s.&quot; The reflection reminded him of that other reflection, which he had left unfinished. &quot;There&#039;s nothing,&quot; said Toby, &quot;more regular in its coming round than dinner-time, and nothing less regular in its coming round than dinner. That’s the great difference between &#039;em. It&#039;s took me a long time to find it out. I wonder whether it would be worth any gentleman&#039;s while, now, to buy that obserwation for the Papers; or the Parliament!&quot; Toby was only joking, for he gravely shook his head in self-depreciation. &quot;Why! Lord!&quot; said Toby. &quot;The Papers is full of obserwations as it is; and so&#039;s the Parliament. Here&#039;s last week&#039;s paper, now;&quot; taking a very dirty one from his pocket, and holding it from him at arm&#039;s length; &quot;full of obserwations! Full of obserwations! I like to know the news as well as any man,&quot; said Toby, slowly; folding it a little smaller, and putting it in his pocket again; &quot;but it almost goes against the grain with me to read a paper now. It frightens me almost. I don’t know what we poor people are coming to. Lord send we may be coming to something better in the New Year nigh upon us!&quot; &quot;Why, father, father!&quot; said a pleasant voice, hard by. But Toby, not hearing it, continued to trot backwards and forwards: musing as he went, and talking to himself. &quot;It seems as if we can’t go right, or do right, or be righted,&quot; said Toby. &quot;I hadn’t much schooling, myself, when I was young; and I can’t make out whether we have any business on the face of the earth, or not. Sometimes I think we must have a little; and sometimes I think we must be intruding. I get so puzzled sometimes that I am not even able to make up my mind whether there is any good at all in us, or whether we are born bad. We seem to be dreadful things; we seem to give a deal of trouble; we are always being complained of and guarded against. One way or other, we fill the papers. Talk of a New Year!&quot; said Toby, mournfully. &quot;I can bear up as well as another man at most times; better than a good many, for I am as strong as a lion, and all men an’t; but supposing it should really be that we have no right to a New Year—supposing we really are intruding—&quot; “Why, father, father!” said the pleasant voice again. Toby heard it this time; started; stopped; and shortening his sight, which had been directed a long way off as seeking the enlightenment in the very heart of the approaching year, found himself face to face with his own child, and looking close into her eyes. Bright eyes they were. Eyes that would bear a world of looking in, before their depth was fathomed. Dark eyes, that reflected back the eyes which searched them; not flashingly, or at the owner’s will, but with a clear, calm, honest, patient radiance, claiming kindred with that light which Heaven called into being. Eyes that were beautiful and true, and beaming with Hope. With Hope so young and fresh; with Hope so buoyant, vigorous, and bright, despite the twenty years of work and poverty on which they had looked; that they became a voice to Trotty Veck, and said: &quot;I think we have some business here—a little!&quot; Trotty kissed the lips belonging to the eyes, and squeezed the blooming face between his hands. &quot;Why, Pet,&quot; said Trotty. &quot;What’s to do? I didn’t expect you to-day, Meg.&quot; &quot;Neither did I expect to come, father,&quot; cried the girl, nodding her head and smiling as she spoke. &quot;But here I am! And not alone; not alone!&quot; &quot;Why you don’t mean to say,&quot; observed Trotty, looking curiously at a covered basket which she carried in her hand, &quot;that you—&quot; &quot;Smell it, father dear,&quot; said Meg. &quot;Only smell it!&quot; Trotty was going to lift up the cover at once, in a great hurry, when she gaily interposed her hand. &quot;No, no, no,&quot; said Meg, with the glee of a child. &quot;Lengthen it out a little. Let me just lift up the corner; just the lit-tle ti-ny cor-ner, you know,&quot; said Meg, suiting the action to the word with the utmost gentleness, and speaking very softly, as if she were afraid of being overheard by something inside the basket; &quot;there. Now. What’s that?&quot; Toby took the shortest possible sniff at the edge of the basket, and cried out in a rapture: &quot;Why, it’s hot!&quot; &quot;It’s burning hot!&quot; cried Meg. &quot;Ha, ha, ha! It’s scalding hot!&quot; &quot;Ha, ha, ha!&quot; roared Toby, with a sort of kick. &quot;It’s scalding hot.&quot; &quot;But what is it, father?&quot; said Meg. &quot;Come! You haven’t guessed what it is. And you must guess what it is. I can’t think of taking it out, till you guess what it is. Don’t be in such a hurry! Wait a minute! A little bit more of the cover. Now guess!&quot; Meg was in a perfect fright lest he should guess right too soon; shrinking away, as she held the basket towards him; curling up her pretty shoulders; stopping her ear with her hand, as if by so doing she could keep the right word out of Toby’s lips; and laughing softly the whole time. Meanwhile Toby, putting a hand on each knee, bent down his nose to the basket, and took a long inspiration at the lid; the grin upon his withered face expanding in the process, as if he were inhaling laughing gas. &quot;Ah! It&#039;s very nice,&quot; said Toby. &quot;It an&#039;t—I suppose it an&#039;t Polonies?&quot; &quot;No, no, no!&quot; cried Meg, delighted. &quot;Nothing like Polonies!&quot; &quot;No,&quot; said Toby, after another sniff. &quot;It’s—it’s mellower than Polonies. It’s very nice. It improves every moment. It’s too decided for Trotters. An’t it?&quot; Meg was in an ecstasy. He could not have gone wider of the mark than Trotters—except Polonies. “Liver?” said Toby, communing with himself. “No. There’s a mildness about it that don’t answer to liver. Pettitoes? No. It an’t faint enough for pettitoes. It wants the stringiness of Cocks’ heads. And I know it an’t sausages. I’ll tell you what it is. It’s chitterlings!” “No, it an’t!” cried Meg, in a burst of delight. “No, it an’t!” “Why, what am I a thinking of!” said Toby, suddenly recovering a position as near the perpendicular as it was possible for him to assume. “I shall forget my own name next. It’s tripe!” Tripe it was; and Meg, in high joy, protested he should say, in half a minute more, it was the best tripe ever stewed. “And so,” said Meg, busying herself exultingly with the basket, “I’ll lay the cloth at once, father; for I have brought the tripe in a basin, and tied the basin up in a pocket-handkerchief; and if I like to be proud for once, and spread that for a cloth, and call it a cloth, there’s no law to prevent me; is there, father?” “Not that I know of, my dear,” said Toby. “But they’re always a-bringing up some new law or other.” “And according to what I was reading you in the paper the other day, father; what the Judge said, you know; we poor people are supposed to know them all. Ha ha! What a mistake! My goodness me, how clever they think us!” “Yes, my dear,” cried Trotty; “and they’d be very fond of any one of us that did know ’em all. He’d grow fat upon the work he’d get, that man, and be popular with the gentlefolks in his neighbourhood. Very much so!” “He’d eat his dinner with an appetite, whoever he was, if it smelt like this,” said Meg, cheerfully. “Make haste, for there’s a hot potatoe besides, and half a pint of fresh-drawn beer in a bottle. Where will you dine, father? On the Post, or on the Steps? Dear, dear, how grand we are. Two places to choose from!” “The steps to-day, my Pet,” said Trotty. “Steps in dry weather. Post in wet. There’s a greater conveniency in the steps at all times, because of the sitting down; but they’re rheumatic in the damp.” “Then here,” said Meg, clapping her hands, after a moment’s bustle; “here it is, all ready! And beautiful it looks! Come, father. Come!” Since his discovery of the contents of the basket, Trotty had been standing looking at her—and had been speaking too—in an abstracted manner, which showed that though she was the object of his thoughts and eyes, to the exclusion even of tripe, he neither saw nor thought about her as she was at that moment, but had before him some imaginary rough sketch or drama of her future life. Roused, now, by her cheerful summons, he shook off a melancholy shake of the head which was just coming upon him, and trotted to her side. As he was stooping to sit down, the Chimes rang. “Amen!” said Trotty, pulling off his hat and looking up towards them. “Amen to the Bells, father?” cried Meg. “They broke in like a grace, my dear,” said Trotty, taking his seat. “They’d say a good one, I am sure, if they could. Many’s the kind thing they say to me.” “The Bells do, father!” laughed Meg, as she set the basin, and a knife and fork before him. “Well!” &quot;Seem to, my Pet,&quot; said Trotty, falling to with great vigour. &quot;And where’s the difference? If I hear ’em, what does it matter whether they speak it or not? Why bless you, my dear,&quot; said Toby, pointing at the tower with his fork, and becoming more animated under the influence of dinner, &quot;how often have I heard them bells say, ‘Toby Veck, Toby Veck, keep a good heart Toby! Toby Veck, Toby Veck, keep a good heart Toby!’ A million times? More!&quot; “Well, I never!” cried Meg. She had, though—over and over again. For it was Toby’s constant topic. “When things is very bad,” said Trotty; “very bad indeed, I mean; almost at the worst; then it’s ‘Toby Veck, Toby Veck, job coming soon, Toby! Toby Veck, Toby Veck, job coming soon, Toby!’ That way.” “And it comes—at last, father,” said Meg, with a touch of sadness in her pleasant voice. “Always,” answered the unconscious Toby. “Never fails.” While this discourse was holding, Trotty made no pause in his attack upon the savoury meat before him, but cut and ate, and cut and drank, and cut and chewed, and dodged about, from tripe to hot potatoe, and from hot potatoe back again to tripe, with an unctuous and unflagging relish. But happening now to look all round the street—in case anybody should be beckoning from any door or window, for a porter—his eyes, in coming back again, encountered Meg: sitting opposite to him, with her arms folded: and only busy in watching his progress with a smile of happiness. “Why, Lord forgive me!” said Trotty, dropping his knife and fork. “My dove! Meg! why didn’t you tell me what a beast I was?” “Father?” “Sitting here,” said Trotty, in penitent explanation, “cramming, and stuffing, and gorging myself; and you before me there, never so much as breaking your precious fast, nor wanting to, when—&quot; “But I have broken it, father,” interposed his daughter, laughing, “all to bits. I have had my dinner.” “Nonsense,” said Trotty. “Two dinners in one day! It an’t possible! You might as well tell me that two New Year’s Days will come together, or that I have had a gold head all my life, and never changed it.” “I have had my dinner, father, for all that,” said Meg, coming nearer to him. “And if you’ll go on with yours, I’ll tell you how and where; and how your dinner came to be brought; and—and something else besides.” Toby still appeared incredulous; but she looked into his face with her clear eyes, and laying her hand upon his shoulder, motioned him to go on while the meat was hot. So Trotty took up his knife and fork again, and went to work. But much more slowly than before, and shaking his head, as if he were not at all pleased with himself. “I had my dinner, father,” said Meg, after a little hesitation, “with—with Richard. His dinner-time was early; and as he brought his dinner with him when he came to see me, we—we had it together, father.” Trotty took a little beer, and smacked his lips. Then he said, “Oh!”—because she waited. “And Richard says, father—&quot; Meg resumed. Then stopped. “What does Richard say, Meg?” asked Toby. “Richard says, father—&quot; Another stoppage. “Richard’s a long time saying it,” said Toby. “He says then, father,” Meg continued, lifting up her eyes at last, and speaking in a tremble, but quite plainly; “another year is nearly gone, and where is the use of waiting on from year to year, when it is so unlikely we shall ever be better off than we are now? He says we are poor now, father, and we shall be poor then, but we are young now, and years will make us old before we know it. He says that if we wait: people in our condition: until we see our way quite clearly, the way will be a narrow one indeed—the common way—the Grave, father.” A bolder man than Trotty Veck must needs have drawn upon his boldness largely, to deny it. Trotty held his peace. “And how hard, father, to grow old, and die, and think we might have cheered and helped each other! How hard in all our lives to love each other; and to grieve, apart, to see each other working, changing, growing old and grey. Even if I got the better of it, and forgot him (which I never could), oh father dear, how hard to have a heart so full as mine is now, and live to have it slowly drained out every drop, without the recollection of one happy moment of a woman’s life, to stay behind and comfort me, and make me better!” Trotty sat quite still. Meg dried her eyes, and said more gaily: that is to say, with here a laugh, and there a sob, and here a laugh and sob together: “So Richard says, father; as his work was yesterday made certain for some time to come, and as I love him, and have loved him full three years—ah! longer than that, if he knew it!—will I marry him on New Year’s Day; the best and happiest day, he says, in the whole year, and one that is almost sure to bring good fortune with it. It’s a short notice, father—isn’t it?—but I haven’t my fortune to be settled, or my wedding dresses to be made, like the great ladies, father — have I? And he said so much, and said it in his way; so strong and earnest, and all the time so kind and gentle; that I said I’d come and talk to you, father. And as they paid the money for that work of mine this morning (unexpectedly, I am sure!) and as you have fared very poorly for a whole week, and as I couldn’t help wishing there should be something to make this day a sort of holiday to you as well as a dear and happy day to me, father, I made a little treat and brought it to surprise you.” “And see how he leaves it cooling on the step!” said another voice. It was the voice of this same Richard, who had come upon them unobserved, and stood before the father and daughter: looking down upon them with a face as glowing as the iron on which his stout sledge-hammer daily rung. A handsome, well-made, powerful youngster he was; with eyes that sparkled like the red-hot droppings from a furnace fire; black hair that curled about his swarthy temples rarely; and a smile—a smile that bore out Meg’s eulogium on his style of conversation. “See how he leaves it cooling on the step!” said Richard. “Meg don’t know what he likes. Not she!” Trotty, all action and enthusiasm, immediately reached up his hand to Richard, and was going to address him in a great hurry, when the house-door opened without any warning, and a footman very nearly put his foot into the tripe. “Out of the vays here, will you! You must always go and be a-settin on our steps, must you! You can’t go and give a turn to none of the neighbours never, can’t you! Will you clear the road, or won’t you?” Strictly speaking, the last question was irrelevant, as they had already done it. “What’s the matter, what’s the matter!” said the gentleman for whom the door was opened; coming out of the house at that kind of light-heavy pace—that peculiar compromise between a walk and a jog-trot—with which a gentleman upon the smooth down-hill of life, wearing creaking boots, a watch-chain, and clean linen, may come out of his house: not only without any abatement of his dignity, but with an expression of having important and wealthy engagements elsewhere. “What’s the matter! What’s the matter!” “You’re always a-being begged, and prayed, upon your bended knees you are,” said the footman with great emphasis to Trotty Veck, “to let our door-steps be. Why don’t you let ’em be? CAN’T you let ’em be?” “There! That’ll do, that’ll do!” said the gentleman. “Halloa there! Porter!” beckoning with his head to Trotty Veck. “Come here. What’s that? Your dinner?” “Yes, sir,” said Trotty, leaving it behind him in a corner. “Don’t leave it there,” exclaimed the gentleman. “Bring it here, bring it here. So! This is your dinner, is it?” “Yes, Sir,” repeated Trotty, looking, with a fixed eye and a watery mouth, at the piece of tripe he had reserved for a last delicious tit-bit; which the gentleman was now turning over and over on the end of the fork. Two other gentlemen had come out with him. One was a low-spirited gentleman of middle age, of a meagre habit, and a disconsolate face; who kept his hands continually in the pockets of his scanty pepper-and-salt trousers, very large and dog’s-eared from that custom; and was not particularly well brushed or washed. The other, a full-sized, sleek, well-conditioned gentleman, in a blue coat with bright buttons, and a white cravat. This gentleman had a very red face, as if an undue proportion of the blood in his body were squeezed up into his head; which perhaps accounted for his having also the appearance of being rather cold about the heart. He who had Toby’s meat upon the fork, called to the first one by the name of Filer; and they both drew near together. Mr. Filer being exceedingly short-sighted, was obliged to go so close to the remnant of Toby’s dinner before he could make out what it was, that Toby’s heart leaped up into his mouth. But Mr. Filer didn’t eat it. “This is a description of animal food, Alderman,” said Filer, making little punches in it with a pencil-case, “commonly known to the labouring population of this country, by the name of tripe.” The Alderman laughed, and winked; for he was a merry fellow, Alderman Cute. Oh, and a sly fellow too! A knowing fellow. Up to everything. Not to be imposed upon. Deep in the people’s hearts! He knew them, Cute did. I believe you! “But who eats tripe?” said Mr. Filer, looking round. “Tripe is without an exception the least economical, and the most wasteful article of consumption that the markets of this country can by possibility produce. The loss upon a pound of tripe has been found to be, in the boiling, seven-eights of a fifth more than the loss upon a pound of any other animal substance whatever. Tripe is more expensive, properly understood, than the hothouse pine-apple. Taking into account the number of animals slaughtered yearly within the bills of mortality alone; and forming a low estimate of the quantity of tripe which the carcases of those animals, reasonably well butchered, would yield; I find that the waste on that amount of tripe, if boiled, would victual a garrison of five hundred men for five months of thirty-one days each, and a February over. The Waste, the Waste!” Trotty stood aghast, and his legs shook under him. He seemed to have starved a garrison of five hundred men with his own hand. “Who eats tripe?” said Mr. Filer, warmly. “Who eats tripe?” Trotty made a miserable bow. “You do, do you?” said Mr. Filer. “Then I’ll tell you something. You snatch your tripe, my friend, out of the mouths of widows and orphans.” “I hope not Sir,” said Trotty, faintly. “I’d sooner die of want!” “Divide the amount of tripe before-mentioned, Alderman,” said Mr. Filer, “by the estimated number of existing widows and orphans, and the result will be one pennyweight of tripe to each. Not a grain is left for that man. Consequently, he’s a robber.” Trotty was so shocked, that it gave him no concern to see the Alderman finish the tripe himself. It was a relief to get rid of it, anyhow. “And what do you say?” asked the Alderman, jocosely, of the red-faced gentleman in the blue coat. “You have heard friend Filer. What do you say?” “What’s it possible to say?” returned the gentleman. “What is to be said? Who can take any interest in a fellow like this,” meaning Trotty; “in such degenerate times as these? Look at him! What an object! The good old times, the grand old times, the great old times! Those were the times for a bold peasantry, and all that sort of thing. Those were the times for every sort of thing, in fact. There’s nothing now-a-days. Ah!” sighed the red-faced gentleman. “The good old times, the good old times!” The gentleman didn’t specify what particular times he alluded to; nor did he say whether he objected to the present times, from a disinterested consciousness that they had done nothing very remarkable in producing himself. “The good old times, the good old times,” repeated the gentleman. “What times they were! They were the only times. It’s of no use talking about any other times, or discussing what the people are in these times. You don’t call these, times, do you? I don’t. Look into Strutt’s Costumes, and see what a Porter used to be, in any of the good old English reigns.” “He hadn’t, in his very best circumstances, a shirt to his back, or a stocking to his foot; and there was scarcely a vegetable in all England for him to put into his mouth,” said Mr. Filer. “I can prove it, by tables.” But still the red-faced gentleman extolled the good old times, the grand old times, the great old times. No matter what anybody else said, he still went turning round and round in one set form of words concerning them; as a poor squirrel turns and turns in its revolving cage; touching the mechanism, and trick of which, it has probably quite as distinct perceptions, as ever this red-faced gentleman had of his deceased Millennium. It is possible that poor Trotty’s faith in these very vague Old Times was not entirely destroyed, for he felt vague enough, at that moment. One thing, however, was plain to him, in the midst of his distress; to wit, that however these gentlemen might differ in details, his misgivings of that morning, and of many other mornings, were well founded. “No, no. We can’t go right or do right,” thought Trotty in despair. “There is no good in us. We are born bad!” But Trotty had a father’s heart within him; which had somehow got into his breast in spite of this decree; and he could not bear that Meg, in the blush of her brief joy, should have her fortune read by these wise gentlemen. “God help her,” thought poor Trotty. “She will know it soon enough.” He anxiously signed, therefore, to the young smith, to take her away. But he was so busy, talking to her softly at a little distance, that he only became conscious of this desire, simultaneously with Alderman Cute. Now, the Alderman had not yet had his say, but he was a philosopher, too—practical, though! Oh, very practical—and, as he had no idea of losing any portion of his audience, he cried “Stop!” “Now, you know,” said the Alderman, addressing his two friends, with a self-complacent smile upon his face, which was habitual to him, “I am a plain man, and a practical man; and I go to work in a plain practical way. That’s my way. There is not the least mystery or difficulty in dealing with this sort of people if you only understand ’em, and can talk to ’em in their own manner. Now, you Porter! Don’t you ever tell me, or anybody else, my friend, that you haven’t always enough to eat, and of the best; because I know better. I have tasted your tripe, you know, and you can’t ‘chaff’ me. You understand what ‘chaff’ means, eh? That’s the right word, isn’t it? Ha, ha, ha! Lord bless you,” said the Alderman, turning to his friends again, “it’s the easiest thing on earth to deal with this sort of people, if you understand ’em.” Famous man for the common people, Alderman Cute! Never out of temper with them! Easy, affable, joking, knowing gentleman! “You see, my friend,” pursued the Alderman, “there’s a great deal of nonsense talked about Want—&#039;hard up,’ you know; that’s the phrase, isn’t it? ha! ha! ha!—and I intend to Put it Down. There’s a certain amount of cant in vogue about Starvation, and I mean to Put it Down. That’s all! Lord bless you,” said the Alderman, turning to his friends again, “you may Put Down anything among this sort of people, if you only know the way to set about it!” Trotty took Meg’s hand and drew it through his arm: He didn’t seem to know what he was doing though. “Your daughter, eh?” said the Alderman, chucking her familiarly under the chin. Always affable with the working classes, Alderman Cute! Knew what pleased them! Not a bit of pride! “Where’s her mother?” asked that worthy gentleman. “Dead,” said Toby. “Her mother got up linen; and was called to Heaven when She was born.” “Not to get up linen there, I suppose,” remarked the Alderman pleasantly. Toby might or might not have been able to separate his wife in Heaven from her old pursuits. But query: If Mrs. Alderman Cute had gone to Heaven, would Mr. Alderman Cute have pictured her as holding any state or station there? “And you’re making love to her, are you?” said Cute to the young smith. “Yes,” returned Richard quickly, for he was nettled by the question. “And we are going to be married on New Year’s Day.” “What do you mean!” cried Filer sharply. “Married!” “Why, yes, we’re thinking of it, Master,” said Richard. “We’re rather in a hurry, you see, in case it should be Put Down first.” “Ah!” cried Filer, with a groan. “Put that down indeed, Alderman, and you’ll do something. Married! Married!! The ignorance of the first principles of political economy on the part of these people; their improvidence; their wickedness; is, by Heavens! enough to—Now look at that couple, will you!” Well? They were worth looking at. And marriage seemed as reasonable and fair a deed as they need have in contemplation. “A man may live to be as old as Methuselah,” said Mr. Filer, “and may labour all his life for the benefit of such people as those; and may heap up facts on figures, facts on figures, facts on figures, mountains high and dry; and he can no more hope to persuade ’em that they have no right or business to be married, than he can hope to persuade ’em that they have no earthly right or business to be born. And that we know they haven’t. We reduced it to a mathematical certainty long ago!” Alderman Cute was mightily diverted, and laid his right forefinger on the side of his nose, as much as to say to both his friends, “Observe me, will you! Keep your eye on the practical man!”—and called Meg to him. “Come here, my girl!” said Alderman Cute. The young blood of her lover had been mounting, wrathfully, within the last few minutes; and he was indisposed to let her come. But, setting a constraint upon himself, he came forward with a stride as Meg approached, and stood beside her. Trotty kept her hand within his arm still, but looked from face to face as wildly as a sleeper in a dream. “Now, I’m going to give you a word or two of good advice, my girl,” said the Alderman, in his nice easy way. “It’s my place to give advice, you know, because I’m a Justice. You know I’m a Justice, don’t you?” Meg timidly said, “Yes.” But everybody knew Alderman Cute was a Justice! Oh dear, so active a Justice always! Who such a mote of brightness in the public eye, as Cute! “You are going to be married, you say,” pursued the Alderman. “Very unbecoming and indelicate in one of your sex! But never mind that. After you are married, you’ll quarrel with your husband and come to be a distressed wife. You may think not; but you will, because I tell you so. Now, I give you fair warning, that I have made up my mind to Put distressed wives Down. So, don’t be brought before me. You’ll have children—boys. Those boys will grow up bad, of course, and run wild in the streets, without shoes and stockings. Mind, my young friend! I’ll convict ’em summarily, every one, for I am determined to Put boys without shoes and stockings, Down. Perhaps your husband will die young (most likely) and leave you with a baby. Then you’ll be turned out of doors, and wander up and down the streets. Now, don’t wander near me, my dear, for I am resolved, to Put all wandering mothers Down. All young mothers, of all sorts and kinds, it’s my determination to Put Down. Don’t think to plead illness as an excuse with me; or babies as an excuse with me; for all sick persons and young children (I hope you know the church-service, but I’m afraid not) I am determined to Put Down. And if you attempt, desperately, and ungratefully, and impiously, and fraudulently attempt, to drown yourself, or hang yourself, I’ll have no pity for you, for I have made up my mind to Put all suicide Down! If there is one thing,” said the Alderman, with his self-satisfied smile, “on which I can be said to have made up my mind more than on another, it is to Put suicide Down. So don’t try it on. That’s the phrase, isn’t it? Ha, ha! now we understand each other.” Toby knew not whether to be agonised or glad to see that Meg had turned a deadly white, and dropped her lover’s hand. “And as for you, you dull dog,” said the Alderman, turning with even increased cheerfulness and urbanity to the young smith, “what are you thinking of being married for? What do you want to be married for, you silly fellow? If I was a fine, young, strapping chap like you, I should be ashamed of being milksop enough to pin myself to a woman’s apron-strings! Why, she’ll be an old woman before you’re a middle-aged man! And a pretty figure you’ll cut then, with a draggle-tailed wife and a crowd of squalling children crying after you wherever you go!” Oh, he knew how to banter the common people, Alderman Cute! “There! Go along with you,” said the Alderman, “and repent. Don’t make such a fool of yourself as to get married on New Year’s Day. You’ll think very differently of it long before next New Year’s Day: a trim young fellow like you, with all the girls looking after you. There! Go along with you!” They went along. Not arm in arm, or hand in hand, or interchanging bright glances” but, she in tears, he gloomy and down-looking. Were these the hearts that had so lately made old Toby’s leap up from its faintness? No, no. The Alderman (a blessing on his head!) had Put them Down. “As you happen to be here,” said the Alderman to Toby, “you shall carry a letter for me. Can you be quick? You’re an old man.” Toby, who had been looking after Meg, quite stupidly, made shift to murmur out that he was very quick, and very strong. “How old are you?” inquired the Alderman. “I’m over sixty, Sir,” said Toby. “Oh! This man’s a great deal past the average age, you know,” cried Mr. Filer breaking in as if his patience would bear some trying, but this really was carrying matters a little too far. “I feel I’m intruding, sir,” said Toby. “I—I misdoubted it this morning. Oh dear me!” The Alderman cut him short by giving him the letter from his pocket. Toby would have got a shilling too; but Mr. Filer clearly showing that in that case he would rob a certain given number of persons of ninepence-halfpenny a-piece, he only got sixpence; and thought himself very well off to get that. Then the Alderman gave an arm to each of his friends, and walked off in high feather; but he immediately came hurrying back alone, as if he had forgotten something. “Porter!” said the Alderman. “Sir!” said Toby. “Take care of that daughter of yours. She’s much too handsome.” “Even her good looks are stolen from somebody or other, I suppose,” thought Toby, looking at the sixpence in his hand, and thinking of the tripe. “She’s been and robbed five hundred ladies of a bloom a-piece, I shouldn’t wonder. It’s very dreadful!” “She’s much too handsome, my man,” repeated the Alderman. “The chances are, that she’ll come to no good, I clearly see. Observe what I say. Take care of her!” With which, he hurried off again. “Wrong every way. Wrong every way!” said Trotty, clasping his hands. “Born bad. No business here!” The Chimes came clashing in upon him as he said the words. Full, loud, and sounding—but with no encouragement. No, not a drop. “The tune’s changed,” cried the old man, as he listened. “There’s not a word of all that fancy in it. Why should there be? I have no business with the New Year nor with the old one neither. Let me die!” Still the Bells, pealing forth their changes, made the very air spin. Put ’em down, Put ’em down! Good old Times, Good old Times! Facts and figures, Facts and figures! Put ’em down, Put ’em down! If they said anything they said this, until the brain of Toby reeled. He pressed his bewildered head between his hands, as if to keep it from splitting asunder. A well-timed action, as it happened; for finding the letter in one of them, and being by that means reminded of his charge, he fell, mechanically, into his usual trot, and trotted off. The Second Quarter. The letter Toby had received from Alderman Cute, was addressed to a great man in the great district of the town. The greatest district of the town. It must have been the greatest district of the town, because it was commonly called The World by its inhabitants. The letter positively seemed heavier in Toby’s hand, than another letter. Not because the Alderman had sealed it with a very large coat of arms and no end of wax, but because of the weighty name on the superscription, and the ponderous amount of gold and silver with which it was associated. “How different from us!” thought Toby, in all simplicity and earnestness, as he looked at the direction. “Divide the lively turtles in the bills of mortality, by the number of gentlefolks able to buy ’em; and whose share does he take but his own! As to snatching tripe from anybody’s mouth—he’d scorn it!” With the involuntary homage due to such an exalted character, Toby interposed a corner of his apron between the letter and his fingers. “His children,” said Trotty, and a mist rose before his eyes; “his daughters—Gentlemen may win their hearts and marry them; they may be happy wives and mothers; they may be handsome like my darling M-e-.” He couldn’t finish the name. The final letter swelled in his throat, to the size of the whole alphabet. “Never mind,” thought Trotty. “I know what I mean. That’s more than enough for me.” And with this consolatory rumination, trotted on. It was a hard frost, that day. The air was bracing, crisp, and clear. The wintry sun, though powerless for warmth, looked brightly down upon the ice it was too weak to melt, and set a radiant glory there. At other times, Trotty might have learned a poor man’s lesson from the wintry sun; but he was past that, now. The Year was Old, that day. The patient Year had lived through the reproaches and misuses of its slanderers, and faithfully performed its work. Spring, summer, autumn, winter. It had laboured through the destined round, and now laid down its weary head to die. Shut out from hope, high impulse, active happiness, itself, but active messenger of many joys to others, it made appeal in its decline to have its toiling days and patient hours remembered, and to die in peace. Trotty might have read a poor man’s allegory in the fading year; but he was past that now. And only he? Or has the like appeal been ever made, by seventy years at once upon an English labourer’s head, and made in vain! The streets were full of motion, and the shops were decked out gaily. The New Year, like an Infant Heir to the whole world, was waited for, with welcomes, presents, and rejoicings. There were books and toys for the New Year, glittering trinkets for the New Year, dresses for the New Year, schemes of fortune for the New Year; new inventions to beguile it. Its life was parcelled out in almanacks and pocket-books; the coming of its moons, and stars, and tides, was known beforehand to the moment; all the workings of its seasons in their days and nights, were calculated with as much precision as Mr. Filer could work sums in men and women. The New Year, the New Year. Everywhere the New Year! The Old Year was already looked upon as dead; and its effects were selling cheap, like some drowned mariner’s aboardship. Its patterns were Last Year’s and going at a sacrifice, before its breath was gone. Its treasures were mere dirt, beside the riches of its unborn successor! Trotty had no portion, to his thinking, in the New Year or the Old. “Put ’em down, Put ’em down! Facts and Figures, facts and figures! Good old Times, Good old Times! Put ’em down, put ’em down!”—his trot went to that measure, and would fit itself to nothing else. But, even that one, melancholy as it was, brought him, in due time, to the end of his journey. To the mansion of Sir Joseph Bowley, Member of Parliament. The door was opened by a Porter. Such a Porter! Not of Toby’s order. Quite another thing. His place was the ticket though; not Toby’s. This Porter underwent some hard panting before he could speak; having breathed himself by coming incautiously out of his chair, without first taking time to think about it and compose his mind. When he had found his voice—which it took him a long time to do, for it was a long way off, and hidden under a load of meat—he said in a fat whisper, “Who’s it from?” Toby told him. “You’re to take it in, yourself,” said the Porter, pointing to a room at the end of a long passage, opening from the hall. “Everything goes straight in, on this day of the year. You’re not a bit too soon, for the carriage is at the door now, and they have only come to town for a couple of hours, a’ purpose.” Toby wiped his feet (which were quite dry already) with great care, and took the way pointed out to him; observing as he went that it was an awfully grand house, but hushed and covered up, as if the family were in the country. Knocking at the room door, he was told to enter from within; and doing so found himself in a spacious library, where, at a table strewn with files and papers, were a stately lady in a bonnet; and a not very stately gentleman in black who wrote from her dictation; while another, and an older, and a much statelier gentleman, whose hat and cane were on the table, walked up and down, with one hand in his breast, and looked complacently from time to time at his own picture—a full length; a very full length—hanging over the fire-place. “What is this?” said the last-named gentleman. “Mr. Fish, will you have the goodness to attend?” Mr. Fish begged pardon, and taking the letter from Toby, handed it, with great respect. “From Alderman Cute, Sir Joseph.” “Is this all? Have you nothing else, Porter?” inquired Sir Joseph. Toby replied in the negative. “You have no bill or demand upon me; my name is Bowley, Sir Joseph Bowley; of any kind from anybody, have you?” said Sir Joseph. “If you have, present it. There is a cheque-book by the side of Mr. Fish. I allow nothing to be carried into the New Year. Every description of account is settled in this house at the close of the old one. So that if death was to—to—&quot; “To cut,” suggested Mr. Fish. “To sever, Sir,” returned Sir Joseph, with great asperity, “the cord of existence—my affairs would be found, I hope, in a state of preparation.” “My dear Sir Joseph!” said the lady, who was greatly younger than the gentleman. “How shocking!” “My lady Bowley,” returned Sir Joseph, floundering now and then, as in the great depth of his observations, “at this season of the year we should think of—of—ourselves. We should look into our—our accounts. We should feel that every return of so eventful a period in human transactions, involves a matter of deep moment between a man and his—and his banker.” Sir Joseph delivered these words as if he felt the full morality of what he was saying; and desired that even Trotty should have an opportunity of being improved by such discourse. Possibly he had this end before him in still forbearing to break the seal of the letter, and in telling Trotty to wait where he was, a minute. “You were desiring Mr. Fish to say, my lady—” observed Sir Joseph. “Mr. Fish has said that, I believe,” returned his lady, glancing at the letter. “But, upon my word, Sir Joseph, I don’t think I can let it go after all. It is so very dear.” “What is dear?” inquired Sir Joseph. “That Charity, my love. They only allow two votes for a subscription of five pounds. Really monstrous!” “My lady Bowley,” returned Sir Joseph, “you surprise me. Is the luxury of feeling in proportion to the number of votes; or is it, to a rightly constituted mind, in proportion to the number of applicants and the wholesome state of mind to which their canvassing reduces them? Is there no excitement of the purest kind in having two votes to dispose of among fifty people?” “Not to me, I acknowledge,” replied the lady. “It bores one. Besides, one can’t oblige one’s acquaintance. But you are the Poor Man’s Friend, you know, Sir Joseph. You think otherwise.” “I am the Poor Man’s Friend,” observed Sir Joseph, glancing at the poor man present. “As such I may be taunted. As such I have been taunted. But I ask no other title.” “Bless him for a noble gentleman!” thought Trotty. “I don’t agree with Cute here, for instance,” said Sir Joseph, holding out the letter. “I don’t agree with the Filer party. I don’t agree with any party. My friend the Poor Man, has no business with anything of that sort, and nothing of that sort has any business with him. My friend the Poor Man, in my district, is my business. No man or body of men has any right to interfere between my friend and me. That is the ground I take. I assume a—a paternal character towards my friend. I say, ‘My good fellow, I will treat you paternally.”’ Toby listened with great gravity, and began to feel more comfortable. &quot;Your only business, my good fellow,&quot; pursued Sir Joseph, looking abstractedly at Toby; &quot;your only business in life is with me. You needn’t trouble yourself to think about anything. I will think for you; I know what is good for you; I am your perpetual parent. Such is the dispensation of an all-wise Providence! Now, the design of your creation is: not that you should swill, and guzzle, and associate your enjoyments, brutally, with food&quot; —Toby thought remorsefully of the tripe— &quot;but that you should feel the Dignity of Labor; go forth erect into the cheerful morning air, and—and stop there. Live hard and temperately, be respectful, exercise your self-denial, bring up your family on next to nothing, pay your rent as regularly as the clock strikes, be punctual in your dealings (I set you a good example; you will find Mr. Fish, my confidential secretary, with a cash-box before him at all times); and you may trust to me to be your Friend and Father.&quot; “Nice children, indeed, Sir Joseph!” said the lady, with a shudder. “Rheumatisms, and fevers, and crooked legs, and asthmas, and all kinds of horrors!” “My lady,” returned Sir Joseph, with solemnity, “not the less am I the Poor Man’s Friend and Father. Not the less shall he receive encouragement at my hands. Every quarter-day he will be put in communication with Mr. Fish. Every New-Year’s Day, myself and friends will drink his health. Once every year, myself and friends will address him with the deepest feeling. Once in his life, he may even perhaps receive; in public, in the presence of the gentry; a Trifle from a Friend. And when, upheld no more by these stimulants, and the Dignity of Labor, he sinks into his comfortable grave, then my lady”—here Sir Joseph blew his nose—&quot;I will be a Friend and a Father—on the same terms—to his children.” Toby was greatly moved. “Oh! You have a thankful family, Sir Joseph!” cried his wife. “My lady,” said Sir Joseph, quite majestically, “Ingratitude is known to be the sin of that class. I expect no other return.” “Ah! Born bad!” thought Toby. “Nothing melts us.” “What man can do, I do,” pursued Sir Joseph. “I do my duty as the Poor Man’s Friend and Father; and I endeavour to educate his mind, by inculcating on all occasions the one great moral lesson which that class requires. That is, entire Dependence on myself. They have no business whatever with—with themselves. If wicked and designing persons tell them otherwise, and they become impatient and discontented, and are guilty of insubordinate conduct and black-hearted ingratitude; which is undoubtedly the case; I am their Friend and Father still. It is so Ordained. It is in the nature of things.” With that great sentiment, he opened the Alderman’s letter; and read it. “Very polite and attentive, I am sure!” exclaimed Sir Joseph. “My lady, the Alderman is so obliging as to remind me that he has had ‘the distinguished honour’—he is very good—of meeting me at the house of our mutual friend Deedles, the banker; and he does me the favour to inquire whether it will be agreeable to me to have Will Fern put down.” “Most agreeable!” replied my Lady Bowley. “The worst man among them! He has been committing a robbery, I hope?” “Why no,” said Sir Joseph, referring to the letter. “Not quite. Very near. Not quite. He came up to London, it seems, to look for employment (trying to better himself—that’s his story), and being found at night asleep in a shed, was taken into custody, and carried next morning before the Alderman. The Alderman observes (very properly) that he is determined to put this sort of thing down; and that if it will be agreeable to me to have Will Fern put down, he will be happy to begin with him.” “Let him be made an example of, by all means,” returned the lady. “Last winter, when I introduced pinking and eyelet-holing among the men and boys in the village, as a nice evening employment, and had the lines, O let us love our occupations, Bless the squire and his relations, Live upon our daily rations, And always know our proper stations, set to music on the new system, for them to sing the while; this very Fern—I see him now—touched that hat of his, and said, ‘I humbly ask your pardon, my lady, but an’t I something different from a great girl?’ I expected it, of course; who can expect anything but insolence and ingratitude from that class of people! That is not to the purpose, however. Sir Joseph! Make an example of him!” “Hem!” coughed Sir Joseph. “Mr. Fish, if you’ll have the goodness to attend”— Mr. Fish immediately seized his pen, and wrote from Sir Joseph’s dictation. “Private. My dear Sir. I am very much indebted to you for your courtesy in the matter of the man William Fern, of whom, I regret to add, I can say nothing favourable. I have uniformly considered myself in the light of his Friend and Father, but have been repaid (a common case, I grieve to say) with ingratitude, and constant opposition to my plans. He is a turbulent and rebellious spirit. His character will not bear investigation. Nothing will persuade him to be happy when he might. Under these circumstances, it appears to me, I own, that when he comes before you again (as you informed me he promised to do to-morrow, pending your inquiries, and I think he may be so far relied upon), his committal for some short term as a Vagabond, would be a service to society, and would be a salutary example in a country where—for the sake of those who are, through good and evil report, the Friends and Fathers of the Poor, as well as with a view to that, generally speaking, misguided class themselves—examples are greatly needed. And I am,” and so forth. “It appears,” remarked Sir Joseph when he had signed this letter, and Mr. Fish was sealing it, “as if this were Ordained: really. At the close of the year, I wind up my account and strike my balance, even with William Fern!” Trotty, who had long ago relapsed, and was very low-spirited, stepped forward with a rueful face to take the letter. “With my compliments and thanks,” said Sir Joseph. “Stop!” “Stop!” echoed Mr. Fish. “You have heard, perhaps,” said Sir Joseph, oracularly, “certain remarks into which I have been led respecting the solemn period of time at which we have arrived, and the duty imposed upon us of settling our affairs, and being prepared. You have observed that I don’t shelter myself behind my superior standing in society, but that Mr. Fish—that gentleman—has a cheque-book at his elbow, and is in fact here, to enable me to turn over a perfectly new leaf, and enter on the epoch before us with a clean account. Now, my friend, can you lay your hand upon your heart, and say, that you also have made preparations for a New Year?” “I am afraid, Sir,” stammered Trotty, looking meekly at him, “that I am a—a—little behind-hand with the world.” “Behind-hand with the world!” repeated Sir Joseph Bowley, in a tone of terrible distinctness. “I am afraid, Sir,” faltered Trotty, “that there’s a matter of ten or twelve shillings owing to Mrs. Chickenstalker.” “To Mrs. Chickenstalker!” repeated Sir Joseph, in the same tone as before. “A shop Sir,” exclaimed Toby, “in the general line. Also a—a little money on account of rent. A very little, sir. It oughtn’t to be owing, I know, but we have been hard put to it, indeed!” Sir Joseph looked at his lady, and at Mr. Fish, and at Trotty, one after another, twice all round. He then made a despondent gesture with both hands at once, as if he gave the thing up altogether. “How a man, even among this improvident and impracticable race; an old man; a man grown grey; can look a New Year in the face, with his affairs in this condition; how he can lie down on his bed at night, and get up again in the morning, and—There!” he said, turning his back on Trotty. “Take the letter. Take the letter!” “I heartily wish it was otherwise, sir,” said Trotty, anxious to excuse himself. “We have been tried very hard.” Sir Joseph still repeating “Take the letter, take the letter!” and Mr. Fish not only saying the same thing, but giving additional force to the request by motioning the bearer to the door, he had nothing for it but to make his bow and leave the house. And in the street, poor Trotty pulled his worn old hat down on his head, to hide the grief he felt at getting no hold on the New Year, anywhere. He didn’t even lift his hat to look up at the Bell tower when he came to the old church on his return. He halted there a moment, from habit: and knew that it was growing dark, and that the steeple rose above him, indistinct and faint, in the murky air. He knew, too, that the Chimes would ring immediately; and that they sounded to his fancy, at such a time, like voices in the clouds. But he only made the more haste to deliver the Alderman’s letter, and get out of the way before they began; for he dreaded to hear them tagging “Friends and Fathers, Friends and Fathers,” to the burden they had rung out last. Toby discharged himself of his commission, therefore, with all possible speed, and set off trotting homeward. But what with his pace, which was at best an awkward one in the street; and what with his hat, which didn’t improve it; he trotted against somebody in less than no time, and was sent staggering out into the road. “I beg your pardon, I’m sure!” said Trotty, pulling up his hat in great confusion, and between the hat and the torn lining, fixing his head into a kind of bee-hive. “I hope I haven’t hurt you.” As to hurting anybody, Toby was not such an absolute Samson, but that he was much more likely to be hurt himself: and indeed, he had flown out into the road, like a shuttlecock. He had such an opinion of his own strength, however, that he was in real concern for the other party: and said again, “I hope I haven’t hurt you?” The man against whom he had run; a sun-browned, sinewy, country-looking man, with grizzled hair, and a rough chin; stared at him for a moment, as if he suspected him to be in jest. But, satisfied of his good faith, he answered: “No, friend. You have not hurt me.” “Nor the child, I hope?” said Trotty. “Nor the child,” returned the man. “I thank you kindly.” As he said so, he glanced at a little girl he carried in his arms, asleep: and shading her face with the long end of the poor handkerchief he wore about his throat, went slowly on. The tone in which he said “I thank you kindly,” penetrated Trotty’s heart. He was so jaded and foot-sore, and so soiled with travel, and looked about him so forlorn and strange, that it was a comfort to him to be able to thank any one: no matter for how little. Toby stood gazing after him as he plodded wearily away; with the child’s arm clinging round his neck. At the figure in the worn shoes—now the very shade and ghost of shoes—rough leather leggings, common frock, and broad slouched hat, Trotty stood gazing, blind to the whole street. And at the child’s arm, clinging round its neck. Before he merged into the darkness the traveller stopped; and looking round, and seeing Trotty standing there yet, seemed undecided whether to return or go on. After doing first the one and then the other, he came back, and Trotty went half way to meet him. “You can tell me, perhaps,” said the man with a faint smile, “and if you can I am sure you will, and I’d rather ask you than another—where Alderman Cute lives.” “Close at hand,” replied Toby. “I’ll show you his house with pleasure.” “I was to have gone to him elsewhere to-morrow,” said the man, accompanying Toby, “but I’m uneasy under suspicion, and want to clear myself, and to be free to go and seek my bread—I don’t know where. So, maybe he’ll forgive my going to his house to-night.” “It’s impossible,” cried Toby with a start, “that your name’s Fern!” “Eh!” cried the other, turning on him in astonishment. “Fern! Will Fern!” said Trotty. “That’s my name,” replied the other. “Why then,” said Trotty, seizing him by the arm, and looking cautiously round, “for Heaven’s sake don’t go to him! Don’t go to him! He’ll put you down as sure as ever you were born. Here! come up this alley, and I’ll tell you what I mean. Don’t go to him.” His new acquaintance looked as if he thought him mad; but he bore him company nevertheless. When they were shrouded from observation, Trotty told him what he knew, and what character he had received, and all about it. The subject of his history listened to it with a calmness that surprised him. He did not contradict or interrupt it, once. He nodded his head now and then—more in corroboration of an old and worn-out story, it appeared, than in refutation of it; and once or twice threw back his hat, and passed his freckled hand over a brow, where every furrow he had ploughed seemed to have set its image in little. But he did no more. “It’s true enough in the main,” he said, “master, I could sift grain from husk here and there, but let it be as ’tis. What odds? I have gone against his plans; to my misfortun’. I can’t help it; I should do the like to-morrow. As to character, them gentlefolks will search and search, and pry and pry, and have it as free from spot or speck in us, afore they’ll help us to a dry good word! Well! I hope they don’t lose good opinion as easy as we do, or their lives is strict indeed, and hardly worth the keeping. For myself, master, I never took with that hand”—holding it before him—&quot;what wasn’t my own; and never held it back from work, however hard, or poorly paid. Whoever can deny it, let him chop it off! But when work won’t maintain me like a human creetur; when my living is so bad, that I am Hungry, out of doors and in; when I see a whole working life begin that way, go on that way, and end that way, without a chance or change; then I say to the gentlefolks ‘Keep away from me! Let my cottage be. My doors is dark enough without your darkening of ’em more. Don’t look for me to come up into the Park to help the show when there’s a Birthday, or a fine Speechmaking, or what not. Act your Plays and Games without me, and be welcome to ’em, and enjoy ’em. We’ve nought to do with one another. I’m best let alone!’” Seeing that the child in his arms had opened her eyes, and was looking about her in wonder, he checked himself to say a word or two of foolish prattle in her ear, and stand her on the ground beside him. Then slowly winding one of her long tresses round and round his rough forefinger like a ring, while she hung about his dusty leg, he said to Trotty: “I’m not a cross-grained man by natu’, I believe; and easy satisfied, I’m sure. I bear no ill-will against none of ’em: I only want to live like one of the Almighty’s creeturs. I can’t; I don’t; and so there’s a pit dug between me and them that can and do. There’s others like me. You might tell ’em off by hundreds and by thousands, sooner than by ones.” Trotty knew he spoke the Truth in this, and shook his head to signify as much. “I’ve got a bad name this way,” said Fern; “and I’m not likely, I’m afeared, to get a better. ’Tan’t lawful to be out of sorts, and I AM out of sorts, though God knows I’d sooner bear a cheerful spirit if I could. Well! I don’t know as this Alderman could hurt me much by sending me to jail; but without a friend to speak a word for me, he might do it; and you see—!” pointing downward with his finger, at the child. “She has a beautiful face,” said Trotty. “Why yes!” replied the other in a low voice, as he gently turned it up with both his hands towards his own, and looked upon it steadfastly. “I’ve thought so, many times. I’ve thought so, when my hearth was very cold, and cupboard very bare. I thought so t’other night, when we were taken like two thieves. But they—they shouldn’t try the little face too often, should they, Lilian? That’s hardly fair upon a man!” He sunk his voice so low, and gazed upon her with an air so stern and strange, that Toby, to divert the current of his thoughts, inquired if his wife were living. “I never had one,” he returned, shaking his head. “She’s my brother’s child: a orphan. Nine year old, though you’d hardly think it; but she’s tired and worn out now. They’d have taken care on her, the Union—eight and twenty mile away from where we live; between four walls (as they took care of my old father when he couldn’t work no more, though he didn’t trouble ’em long); but I took her instead, and she’s lived with me ever since. Her mother had a friend once, in London here. We are trying to find her, and to find work too; but it’s a large place. Never mind. More room for us to walk about in, Lilly!” Meeting the child’s eyes with a smile which melted Toby more than tears, he shook him by the hand. “I don’t so much as know your name,” he said, “but I’ve opened my heart free to you, for I’m thankful to you; with good reason. I’ll take your advice, and keep clear of this—&quot; “Justice,” suggested Toby. “Ah!” he said. “If that’s the name they give him. This Justice. And to-morrow will try whether there’s better fortun’ to be met with, somewheres near London. Good night. A Happy New Year!” “Stay!” cried Trotty, catching at his hand, as he relaxed his grip. “Stay! The New Year never can be happy to me, if we part like this. The New Year never can be happy to me, if I see the child and you, go wandering away you don’t know where, without a shelter for your heads. Come home with me! I’m a poor man, living in a poor place; but I can give you lodging for one night and never miss it. Come home with me! Here! I’ll take her!” cried Trotty, lifting up the child. “A pretty one! I’d carry twenty times her weight, and never know I’d got it. Tell me if I go too quick for you. I’m very fast. I always was!” Trotty said this, taking about six of his trotting paces to one stride of his fatigued companion; and with his thin legs quivering again, beneath the load he bore. “Why, she’s as light,” said Trotty, trotting in his speech as well as in his gait; for he couldn’t bear to be thanked, and dreaded a moment’s pause; “as light as a feather. Lighter than a Peacock’s feather—a great deal lighter. Here we are and here we go! Round this first turning to the right, Uncle Will, and past the pump, and sharp off up the passage to the left, right opposite the public-house. Here we are and here we go! Cross over, Uncle Will, and mind the kidney pieman at the corner! Here we are and here we go! Down the Mews here, Uncle Will, and stop at the black door, with ‘T. Veck, Ticket Porter,’ wrote upon a board; and here we are and here we go, and here we are indeed, my precious Meg, surprising you!” With which words Trotty, in a breathless state, set the child down before his daughter in the middle of the floor. The little visitor looked once at Meg; and doubting nothing in that face, but trusting everything she saw there; ran into her arms. “Here we are and here we go!” cried Trotty, running round the room, and choking audibly. “Here, Uncle Will, here’s a fire you know! Why don’t you come to the fire? Oh here we are and here we go! Meg, my precious darling, where’s the kettle? Here it is and here it goes, and it’ll bile in no time!” Trotty really had picked up the kettle somewhere or other in the course of his wild career, and now put it on the fire: while Meg, seating the child in a warm corner, knelt down on the ground before her, and pulled off her shoes, and dried her wet feet on a cloth. Ay, and she laughed at Trotty too—so pleasantly, so cheerfully, that Trotty could have blessed her where she kneeled: for he had seen that, when they entered, she was sitting by the fire in tears. “Why, father!” said Meg. “You’re crazy to-night, I think. I don’t know what the Bells would say to that. Poor little feet. How cold they are!” “Oh, they’re warmer now!” exclaimed the child. “They’re quite warm now!” “No, no, no,” said Meg. “We haven’t rubbed ’em half enough. We’re so busy. So busy! And when they’re done, we’ll brush out the damp hair; and when that’s done, we’ll bring some colour to the poor pale face with fresh water; and when that’s done, we’ll be so gay, and brisk, and happy—!” The child, in a burst of sobbing, clasped her round the neck; caressed her fair cheek with its hand; and said, “Oh Meg! oh dear Meg!” Toby’s blessing could have done no more. Who could do more! “Why, father!” cried Meg, after a pause. “Here I am and here I go, my dear!” said Trotty. “Good Gracious me!” cried Meg. “He’s crazy! He’s put the dear child’s bonnet on the kettle, and hung the lid behind the door!” “I didn’t go for to do it, my love,” said Trotty, hastily repairing this mistake. “Meg, my dear?” Meg looked towards him and saw that he had elaborately stationed himself behind the chair of their male visitor, where with many mysterious gestures he was holding up the sixpence he had earned. “I see, my dear,” said Trotty, “as I was coming in, half an ounce of tea lying somewhere on the stairs; and I’m pretty sure there was a bit of bacon too. As I don’t remember where it was exactly, I’ll go myself and try to find ’em.” With this inscrutable artifice, Toby withdrew to purchase the viands he had spoken of, for ready money, at Mrs. Chickenstalker’s; and presently came back, pretending he had not been able to find them, at first, in the dark. “But here they are at last,” said Trotty, setting out the tea-things, “all correct! I was pretty sure it was tea, and a rasher. So it is. Meg, my Pet, if you’ll just make the tea, while your unworthy father toasts the bacon, we shall be ready, immediate. It’s a curious circumstance,” said Trotty, proceeding in his cookery, with the assistance of the toasting-fork, “curious, but well known to my friends, that I never care, myself, for rashers, nor for tea. I like to see other people enjoy ’em,” said Trotty, speaking very loud, to impress the fact upon his guest, “but to me, as food, they’re disagreeable.” Yet Trotty sniffed the savour of the hissing bacon—ah!—as if he liked it; and when he poured the boiling water in the tea-pot, looked lovingly down into the depths of that snug cauldron, and suffered the fragrant steam to curl about his nose, and wreathe his head and face in a thick cloud. However, for all this, he neither ate nor drank, except at the very beginning, a mere morsel for form’s sake, which he appeared to eat with infinite relish, but declared was perfectly uninteresting to him. No. Trotty’s occupation was, to see Will Fern and Lilian eat and drink; and so was Meg’s. And never did spectators at a city dinner or court banquet find such high delight in seeing others feast: although it were a monarch or a pope: as those two did, in looking on that night. Meg smiled at Trotty, Trotty laughed at Meg. Meg shook her head, and made belief to clap her hands, applauding Trotty; Trotty conveyed, in dumb-show, unintelligible narratives of how and when and where he had found their visitors, to Meg; and they were happy. Very happy. “Although,” thought Trotty, sorrowfully, as he watched Meg’s face; “that match is broken off, I see!” “Now, I’ll tell you what,” said Trotty after tea. “The little one, she sleeps with Meg, I know.” “With good Meg!” cried the child, caressing her. “With Meg.” “That’s right,” said Trotty. “And I shouldn’t wonder if she kiss Meg’s father, won’t she? I’m Meg’s father.” Mightily delighted Trotty was, when the child went timidly towards him, and having kissed him, fell back upon Meg again. “She’s as sensible as Solomon,” said Trotty. “Here we come and here we—no, we don’t—I don’t mean that—I—what was I saying, Meg, my precious?” Meg looked towards their guest, who leaned upon her chair, and with his face turned from her, fondled the child’s head, half hidden in her lap. “To be sure,” said Toby. “To be sure! I don’t know what I’m rambling on about, to-night. My wits are wool-gathering, I think. Will Fern, you come along with me. You’re tired to death, and broken down for want of rest. You come along with me.” The man still played with the child’s curls, still leaned upon Meg’s chair, still turned away his face. He didn’t speak, but in his rough coarse fingers, clenching and expanding in the fair hair of the child, there was an eloquence that said enough. “Yes, yes,” said Trotty, answering unconsciously what he saw expressed in his daughter’s face. “Take her with you, Meg. Get her to-bed. There! Now, Will, I’ll show you where you lie. It’s not much of a place: only a loft; but having a loft, I always say, is one of the great conveniences of living in a mews; and till this coach-house and stable gets a better let, we live here cheap. There’s plenty of sweet hay up there, belonging to a neighbour; and it’s as clean, as hands and Meg can make it. Cheer up! Don’t give way. A new heart for a New Year, always!” The hand released from the child’s hair, had fallen, trembling, into Trotty’s hand. So Trotty, talking without intermission, led him out as tenderly and easily as if he had been a child himself. Returning before Meg, he listened for an instant at the door of her little chamber; an adjoining room. The child was murmuring a simple Prayer before lying down to sleep; and when she had remembered Meg’s name, “Dearly, Dearly”—so her words ran—Trotty heard her stop and ask for his. It was some short time before the foolish little old fellow could compose himself to mend the fire, and draw his chair to the warm hearth. But, when he had done so, and had trimmed the light, he took his newspaper from his pocket, and began to read. Carelessly at first, and skimming up and down the columns; but with an earnest and a sad attention, very soon. For this same dreaded paper re-directed Trotty’s thoughts into the channel they had taken all that day, and which the day’s events had so marked out and shaped. His interest in the two wanderers had set him on another course of thinking, and a happier one, for the time; but being alone again, and reading of the crimes and violences of the people, he relapsed into his former train. In this mood, he came to an account (and it was not the first he had ever read) of a woman who had laid her desperate hands not only on her own life but on that of her young child. A crime so terrible, and so revolting to his soul, dilated with the love of Meg, that he let the journal drop, and fell back in his chair, appalled. “Unnatural and cruel!” Toby cried. “Unnatural and cruel! None but people who were bad at heart: born bad: who had no business on the earth: could do such deeds. It’s too true, all I’ve heard to-day; too just, too full of proof. We’re Bad!” The Chimes took up the words so suddenly—burst out so loud, and clear, and sonorous—that the Bells seemed to strike him in his chair. And what was that, they said? &quot;Toby Veck, Toby Veck, waiting for you Toby! Toby Veck, Toby Veck, waiting for you Toby! Come and see us, come and see us, Drag him to us, drag him to us, Haunt and hunt him, haunt and hunt him, Break his slumbers, break his slumbers! Toby Veck Toby Veck, door open wide Toby, Toby Veck Toby Veck, door open wide Toby—&quot; then fiercely back to their impetuous strain again, and ringing in the very bricks and plaster on the walls. Toby listened. Fancy, fancy! His remorse for having run away from them that afternoon! No, no. Nothing of the kind. Again, again, and yet a dozen times again. &quot;Haunt and hunt him, haunt and hunt him, Drag him to us, drag him to us!&quot; Deafening the whole town! &quot;Meg,&quot; said Trotty softly: tapping at her door. &quot;Do you hear anything?&quot; &quot;I hear the Bells, father. Surely they’re very loud to-night.&quot; &quot;Is she asleep,&quot; said Toby, making an excuse for peeping in. &quot;So peacefully and happily! I can’t leave her yet though, father. Look how she holds my hand!&quot; &quot;Meg,&quot; whispered Trotty. &quot;Listen to the Bells!&quot; She listened, with her face towards him all the time. But it underwent no change. She didn’t understand them. Trotty withdrew, resumed his seat by the fire, and once more listened by himself. He remained here a little time. It was impossible to bear it; their energy was dreadful. &quot;If the tower-door is really open,&#039; said Toby, hastily laying aside his apron, but never thinking of his hat, &quot;what’s to hinder me from going up into the steeple and satisfying myself? If it’s shut, I don’t want any other satisfaction. That’s enough.&quot; He was pretty certain as he slipped out quietly into the street that he should find it shut and locked, for he knew the door well, and had so rarely seen it open, that he couldn’t reckon above three times in all. It was a low arched portal, outside the church, in a dark nook behind a column; and had such great iron hinges and such a monstrous lock, that there was more hinge and lock than door. But what was his astonishment when, coming bare-headed to the church; and putting his hand into this dark nook, with a certain misgiving that it might be unexpectedly seized, and a shivering propensity to draw it back again; he found that the door, which opened outwards, actually stood ajar! He thought, on the first surprise, of going back; or of getting a light, or a companion; but his courage aided him immediately; and he determined to ascend alone. &quot;What have I to fear?&quot; said Trotty. &quot;It’s a church! Besides, the ringers may be there, and have forgotten to shut the door.&quot; So he went in; feeling his way as he went, like a blind man; for it was very dark. And very quiet, for the Chimes were silent. The dust from the street had blown into the recess; and lying there, heaped up, made it so soft and velvet-like to the foot, that there was something startling even in that. The narrow stair was so close to the door, too, that he stumbled at the very first; and shutting the door upon himself, by striking it with his foot, and causing it to rebound back heavily, he couldn’t open it again. This was another reason, however, for going on. Trotty groped his way, and went on. Up, up, up, and round and round; and up, up, up; higher, higher, higher up! It was a disagreeable staircase for that groping work; so low and narrow, that his groping hand was always touching something; and it often felt so like a man or ghostly figure standing up erect and making room for him to pass without discovery, that he would rub the smooth wall upward searching for its face, and downward searching for its feet, while a chill tingling crept all over him. Twice or thrice a door or niche broke the monotonous surface; and then it seemed a gap as wide as the whole church; and he felt on the brink of an abyss, and going to tumble headlong down; until he found the wall again. Still up, up, up; and round and round; and up, up, up; higher, higher, higher up! At length, the dull and stifling atmosphere began to freshen: presently to feel quite windy: presently it blew so strong, that he could hardly keep his legs. But he got to an arched window in the tower, breast high, and holding tight, looked down upon the house-tops, on the smoking chimneys, on the blur and blotch of lights (towards the place where Meg was wondering where he was and calling to him perhaps), all kneaded up together in a leaven of mist and darkness. This was the belfry, where the ringers came. He had caught hold of one of the frayed ropes which hung down through apertures in the oaken roof. At first he started; thinking it was hair; then trembled at the very thought of waking the deep Bell. The Bells themselves were higher. Higher, Trotty, in his fascination, or in working out the spell upon him, groped his way. By ladders now, and toilsomely, for it was steep, and not too certain holding for the feet. Up, up, up; and climb and clamber; up, up, up; higher, higher, higher up! Until, ascending through the floor, and pausing with his head just raised above its beams, he came among the Bells. It was barely possible to make out their great shapes in the gloom; but there they were. Shadowy, and dark, and dumb. A heavy sense of dread and loneliness fell instantly upon him, as he climbed into this airy nest of stone and metal. His head went round and round. He listened, and then raised a wild &quot;Halloa!&quot; Halloa! was mournfully protracted by the echoes. Giddy, confused, and out of breath, and frightened, Toby looked about him vacantly, and sunk down in a swoon. Third Quarter. Black are the brooding clouds and troubled the deep waters, when the Sea of Thought, first heaving from a calm, gives up its Dead. Monsters uncouth and wild, arise in premature, imperfect resurrection; the several parts and shapes of different things are joined and mixed by chance; and when, and how, and by what wonderful degrees, each separates from each, and every sense and object of the mind resumes its usual form and lives again, no man—though every man is every day the casket of this type of the Great Mystery—can tell. So, when and how the darkness of the night-black steeple changed to shining light; when and how the solitary tower was peopled with a myriad figures; when and how the whispered &quot;Haunt and hunt him,&quot; breathing monotonously through his sleep or swoon, became a voice exclaiming in the waking ears of Trotty, &quot;Break his slumbers;&quot; when and how he ceased to have a sluggish and confused idea that such things were, companioning a host of others that were not; there are no dates or means to tell. But: awake, and standing on his feet upon the boards where he had lately lain: he saw this Goblin Sight. He saw the tower, whither his charmed footsteps had brought him, swarming with dwarf phantoms, spirits, elfin creatures of the Bells. He saw them leaping, flying, dropping, pouring from the Bells without a pause. He saw them, round him on the ground; above him, in the air; clambering from him, by the ropes below; looking down upon him, from the massive iron-girded beams; peeping in upon him, through the chinks and loopholes in the walls; spreading away and away from him in enlarging circles, as the water ripples give way to a huge stone that suddenly comes plashing in among them. He saw them, of all aspects and all shapes. He saw them ugly, handsome, crippled, exquisitely formed. He saw them young, he saw them old, he saw them kind, he saw them cruel, he saw them merry, he saw them grim; he saw them dance, and heard them sing; he saw them tear their hair, and heard them howl. He saw the air thick with them. He saw them come and go, incessantly. He saw them riding downward, soaring upward, sailing off afar, perching near at hand, all restless and all violently active. Stone, and brick, and slate, and tile, became transparent to him as to them. He saw them in the houses, busy at the sleepers’ beds. He saw them soothing people in their dreams; he saw them beating them with knotted whips; he saw them yelling in their ears; he saw them playing softest music on their pillows; he saw them cheering some with the songs of birds and the perfume of flowers; he saw them flashing awful faces on the troubled rest of others, from enchanted mirrors which they carried in their hands. He saw these creatures, not only among sleeping men but waking also, active in pursuits irreconcilable with one another, and possessing or assuming natures the most opposite. He saw one buckling on innumerable wings to increase his speed; another loading himself with chains and weights, to retard his. He saw some putting the hands of clocks forward, some putting the hands of clocks backward, some endeavouring to stop the clock entirely. He saw them representing, here a marriage ceremony, there a funeral; in this chamber an election, and in that a ball; everywhere, restless and untiring motion. Bewildered by the host of shifting and extraordinary figures, as well as by the uproar of the Bells, which all this while were ringing, Trotty clung to a wooden pillar for support, and turned his white face here and there, in mute and stunned astonishment. As he gazed, the Chimes stopped. Instantaneous change! The whole swarm fainted! their forms collapsed, their speed deserted them; they sought to fly, but in the act of falling died and melted into air. No fresh supply succeeded them. One straggler leaped down pretty briskly from the surface of the Great Bell, and alighted on his feet, but he was dead and gone before he could turn round. Some few of the late company who had gambolled in the tower, remained there, spinning over and over a little longer; but these became at every turn more faint, and few, and feeble, and soon went the way of the rest. The last of all was one small hunchback, who had got into an echoing corner, where he twirled and twirled, and floated by himself a long time; showing such perseverance, that at last he dwindled to a leg and even to a foot, before he finally retired; but he vanished in the end, and then the tower was silent. Then and not before, did Trotty see in every Bell a bearded figure of the bulk and stature of the Bell—incomprehensibly, a figure and the Bell itself. Gigantic, grave, and darkly watchful of him, as he stood rooted to the ground. Mysterious and awful figures! Resting on nothing; poised in the night air of the tower, with their draped and hooded heads merged in the dim roof; motionless and shadowy. Shadowy and dark, although he saw them by some light belonging to themselves—none else was there—each with its muffled hand upon its goblin mouth. He could not plunge down wildly through the opening in the floor; for all power of motion had deserted him. Otherwise he would have done so—aye, would have thrown himself, headforemost, from the steeple-top, rather than have seen them watching him with eyes that would have waked and watched although the pupils had been taken out. Again, again, the dread and terror of the lonely place, and of the wild and fearful night that reigned there, touched him like a spectral hand. His distance from all help; the long, dark, winding, ghost-beleaguered way that lay between him and the earth on which men lived; his being high, high, high, up there, where it had made him dizzy to see the birds fly in the day; cut off from all good people, who at such an hour were safe at home and sleeping in their beds; all this struck coldly through him, not as a reflection but a bodily sensation. Meantime his eyes and thoughts and fears, were fixed upon the watchful figures; which, rendered unlike any figures of this world by the deep gloom and shade enwrapping and enfolding them, as well as by their looks and forms and supernatural hovering above the floor, were nevertheless as plainly to be seen as were the stalwart oaken frames, cross-pieces, bars and beams, set up there to support the Bells. These hemmed them, in a very forest of hewn timber; from the entanglements, intricacies, and depths of which, as from among the boughs of a dead wood blighted for their phantom use, they kept their darksome and unwinking watch. A blast of air—how cold and shrill!—came moaning through the tower. As it died away, the Great Bell, or the Goblin of the Great Bell, spoke. &quot;What visitor is this!&quot; it said. The voice was low and deep, and Trotty fancied that it sounded in the other figures as well. &quot;I thought my name was called by the Chimes!&quot; said Trotty, raising his hands in an attitude of supplication. &quot;I hardly know why I am here, or how I came. I have listened to the Chimes these many years. They have cheered me often.&quot; &quot;And you have thanked them?&quot; said the Bell. &quot;A thousand times!&quot; cried Trotty. &quot;How?&quot; &quot;I am a poor man,&quot; faltered Trotty, &quot;and could only thank them in words.&quot; &quot;And always so?&quot; inquired the Goblin of the Bell. &quot;Have you never done us wrong in words?&quot; &quot;No!&quot; cried Trotty eagerly. &quot;Never done us foul, and false, and wicked wrong, in words?&quot; pursued the Goblin of the Bell. Trotty was about to answer, &quot;Never!&quot; But he stopped, and was confused. &quot;The voice of Time,&quot; said the Phantom, &quot;cries to man, Advance! Time is for his advancement and improvement; for his greater worth, his greater happiness, his better life; his progress onward to that goal within its knowledge and its view, and set there, in the period when Time and He began. Ages of darkness, wickedness, and violence, have come and gone; millions uncountable, have suffered, lived, and died; to point the way Before him. Who seeks to turn him back, or stay him on his course, arrests a mighty engine which will strike the meddler dead; and be the fiercer and the wilder, ever, for its momentary check!&quot; &quot;I never did so to my knowledge, Sir,&quot; said Trotty. &quot;It was quite by accident if I did. I wouldn’t go to do it, I’m sure.&quot; &quot;Who puts into the mouth of Time, or of its servants,&quot; said the Goblin of the Bell, &quot;a cry of lamentation for days which have had their trial and their failure, and have left deep traces of it which the blind may see—a cry that only serves the Present Time, by showing men how much it needs their help when any ears can listen to regrets for such a Past—who does this, does a wrong. And you have done that wrong, to us, the Chimes.&quot; Trotty’s first excess of fear was gone. But he had felt tenderly and gratefully towards the Bells, as you have seen; and when he heard himself arraigned as one who had offended them so weightily, his heart was touched with penitence and grief. &quot;If you knew,&quot; said Trotty, clasping his hands earnestly—&quot;or perhaps you do know—if you know how often you have kept me company; how often you have cheered me up when I’ve been low; how you were quite the plaything of my little daughter Meg (almost the only one she ever had) when first her mother died, and she and me were left alone; you won’t bear malice for a hasty word!&quot; &quot;Who hears in us, the Chimes, one note bespeaking disregard, or stern regard, of any hope, or joy, or pain, or sorrow, of the many-sorrowed throng; who hears us make response to any creed that gauges human passions and affections, as it gauges the amount of miserable food on which humanity may pine and wither; does us wrong. That wrong you have done us!&quot; said the Bell. &quot;I have!&quot; said Trotty. &quot;Oh forgive me!&quot; &quot;Who hears us echo the dull vermin of the earth: the Putters Down of crushed and broken natures, formed to be raised up higher than such maggots of the time can crawl or can conceive,&quot; pursued the Goblin of the Bell; &quot;who does so, does us wrong. And you have done us wrong!&quot; &quot;Not meaning it,&quot; said Trotty. &quot;In my ignorance. Not meaning it!&quot; &quot;Lastly, and most of all,&quot; pursued the Bell. &quot;Who turns his back upon the fallen and disfigured of his kind; abandons them as Vile; and does not trace and track with pitying eyes the unfenced precipice by which they fell from Good—grasping in their fall some tufts and shreds of that lost soil, and clinging to them still when bruised and dying in the gulf below; does wrong to Heaven and Man, to Time and to Eternity. And you have done that wrong!&quot; &quot;Spare me!&quot; cried Trotty, falling on his knees; &quot;for Mercy’s sake!&quot; &quot;Listen!&quot; said the Shadow. &quot;Listen!&quot; cried the other Shadows. &quot;Listen!&quot; said a clear and child-like voice, which Trotty thought he recognised as having heard before. The organ sounded faintly in the church below. Swelling by degrees, the melody ascended to the roof, and filled the choir and nave. Expanding more and more, it rose up, up; up, up; higher, higher, higher up; awakening agitated hearts within the burly piles of oak: the hollow bells, the iron-bound doors, the stairs of solid stone; until the tower walls were insufficient to contain it, and it soared into the sky. No wonder that an old man’s breast could not contain a sound so vast and mighty. It broke from that weak prison in a rush of tears; and Trotty put his hands before his face. &quot;Listen!&quot; said the Shadow. &quot;Listen!&quot; said the other Shadows. &quot;Listen!&quot; said the child’s voice. A solemn strain of blended voices, rose into the tower. It was a very low and mournful strain: a Dirge: and as he listened, Trotty heard his child among the singers. &quot;She is dead!&quot; exclaimed the old man. &quot;Meg is dead! Her Spirit calls to me. I hear it!&quot; &quot;The Spirit of your child bewails the dead, and mingles with the dead—dead hopes, dead fancies, dead imaginings of youth,&quot; returned the Bell, &quot;but she is living. Learn from her life, a living truth. Learn from the creature dearest to your heart, how bad the Bad are born. See every bud and leaf plucked one by one from off the fairest stem, and know how bare and wretched it may be. Follow her! To Desperation!&quot; Each of the shadowy figures stretched its right arm forth, and pointed downward. &quot;The Spirit of the Chimes is your companion,&quot; said the figure. &quot;Go! It stands behind you!&quot; Trotty turned, and saw—the child? The child Will Fern had carried in the street; the child whom Meg had watched, but now, asleep! &quot;I carried her myself, to-night,&quot; said Trotty. &quot;In these arms!&quot; &quot;Show him what he calls himself,&quot; said the dark figures, one and all. The tower opened at his feet. He looked down, and beheld his own form, lying at the bottom, on the outside: crushed and motionless. &quot;No more a living man!&quot; cried Trotty. &quot;Dead!&quot; &quot;Dead!&quot; said the figures all together. &quot;Gracious Heaven! And the New Year—&quot; &quot;Past,&quot; said the figures. &quot;What!&quot; he cried, shuddering. &quot;I missed my way, and coming on the outside of this tower in the dark, fell down—a year ago?&quot; &quot;Nine years ago!&quot; replied the figures. As they gave the answer, they recalled their outstretched hands; and where their figures had been, there the Bells were. And they rung; their time being come again. And once again, vast multitudes of phantoms sprung into existence; once again, were incoherently engaged, as they had been before; once again, faded on the stopping of the Chimes; and dwindled into nothing. &quot;What are these?&quot; he asked his guide. &quot;If I am not mad, what are these?&quot; &quot;Spirits of the Bells. Their sound upon the air,&quot; returned the child. &quot;They take such shapes and occupations as the hopes and thoughts of mortals, and the recollections they have stored up, give them.&quot; &quot;And you,&quot; said Trotty wildly. &quot;What are you?’ &quot;Hush, hush!&quot; returned the child. &quot;Look here!&quot; In a poor, mean room; working at the same kind of embroidery which he had often, often seen before her; Meg, his own dear daughter, was presented to his view. He made no effort to imprint his kisses on her face; he did not strive to clasp her to his loving heart; he knew that such endearments were, for him, no more. But, he held his trembling breath; and brushed away the blinding tears, that he might look upon her; that he might only see her. Ah! Changed. Changed. The light of the clear eye, how dimmed. The bloom, how faded from the cheek. Beautiful she was, as she had ever been, but Hope, Hope, Hope, oh where was the fresh Hope that had spoken to him like a voice! She looked up from her work, at a companion. Following her eyes, the old man started back. In the woman grown, he recognised her at a glance. In the long silken hair, he saw the self-same curls; around the lips, the child’s expression lingering still. See! In the eyes, now turned inquiringly on Meg, there shone the very look that scanned those features when he brought her home! Then what was this, beside him! Looking with awe into its face, he saw a something reigning there: a lofty something, undefined and indistinct, which made it hardly more than a remembrance of that child—as yonder figure might be—yet it was the same: the same: and wore the dress. Hark. They were speaking! &quot;Meg,&quot; said Lilian, hesitating. &quot;How often you raise your head from your work to look at me!&quot; &quot;Are my looks so altered, that they frighten you?&quot; asked Meg. &quot;Nay, dear! But you smile at that, yourself! Why not smile, when you look at me, Meg?&quot; &quot;I do so. Do I not?&quot; she answered: smiling on her. &quot;Now you do,&quot; said Lilian, &quot;but not usually. When you think I’m busy, and don’t see you, you look so