Page images
PDF
EPUB

were

has not yet, but may later produce ef- 1856; and I can see now in my mind's feminacy-the early cup of tea in bed, eye the marks of women's pattens in the heavy luncheons with their liquors the muddy tracks which did duty for and cigarettes, the profusion of flowers, paths in those days. It is only twenty the blaze of diamonds, the costly din- years ago since one of the gatekeepers ners and champagne, the soft and lux- at the top of Portland Place used to tell urious furniture, the warmth and the of the days when he was a keeper, precomfort in travelling; but we may be serving game in the fields and coverts lieve that men will not in consequence which are now the beautifully laid out “lose the wrestling thews that throw grounds of Regent's Park. I do not the world"-and every day we are re- recollect a turnpike at Hyde Park Corminded by some noble deeds of gal- ner, but it was 1865 before the tolls lantry that this is not the case.

abolished in Kensington and People's tongues have had their Bayswater, and tolls were exacted at changes of fashion, too. There were the metropolitan bridges up to 1879. many old-fashioned folk who in my Tattersall's stood till 1865 at the top of young days still pronounced gold as Grosvenor Place, all of which has been "goold,” china as “chaney,” Rome as rebuilt. Belgravia was in process of “Room," James as “Jeames,” cucumber building when the queen came to the as "cowcumber," yellow as "yaller," throne-Belgravia where, as Lady Morlilac as “lalock," Grosvenor as Grasve- ley said, “all the women were brave nor,” and Lady Jersey as "Lady Jar- and all the men modest," alluding 10 sey.” My father told me that Byron the new habit, which sprang up in the when at Harrow was always called fifties, of women being allowed to walk. "Byron."

alone in that district. Formerly no Fully to describe the changes in Lob- lady ever went out unaccompanied by a don during her Majesty's reign would servant; young married ladies scarcely be impossible. The new Houses of Par- ever received men visitors or danced liament were just begun to be built except on rare occasions. Late in the when the queen came to the throne; the forties five o'clock teas were just comThames Embankment had not been be- ing into vogue, the old Duchess of Bedgun. Nearly all the fashionable part of ford's being, as I considered, very London has been rebuilt. The Marble dreary festivities. Arch was removed to where it now Swiss peasant girls with little brooms stands in 1851, to make way for the of wood shavings attracted the chilnew façade of Buckingham Palace; the dren in the streets with their song of bridge over the ornamental water was “Who'll buy a Broom?" These have not built until 1857. In 1886 the Duke been replaced by shrill-voiced urchins of Wellington's statue was taken down yelling “Winner! Winner!" and by the and the position of the archway at the obnoxious whistle summoning a cab. top of Constitution Hill was altered. Up till the end of the forties the old Before this the drive used to be re- hackney coaches, with straw in the botserved for those having the entrée, and tom for the passengers' feet, with drivwas only thrown open to the public ers clad in seven-caped coats, and wiw then. Green Park was in my child- their miserable jades, still crawled hood surrounded by a high brick wall, about the London streets. It was told inside of which was a house belonging of a certain beau that he arrived at dinto Lady William Gordon. A bit of ner with a straw banging to his shoe; water was by it. The mound on which he apologized for this, saying his cara great sycamore now flourishes was riage had not returned from his wife's Lady W. Gordon's ice-house, and the funeral, and he had been compelled to stags which were at the entrance were come in a hackney coach. The cabs removed to Albert Gate, where they were painted yellow, and the drivers now remain. At the north-east corner were perched on little boxes at the side, was a large reservoir, which existed till instead of, as now, at the back. These

were

were not of long duration, and were are done away with, and I hope the soon superseded by the four-wheeler sensational hoisting of the black flag and the hansom cab. Mail coaches of will soon be a thing of the past. A course were still running to all places friend of mine told me how in his to which the railroads had not yet pen- youth he used to witness the executions etrated. In 1837, a year of great se- at Tyburn. And within a few years verity, the mails

carried from there existed-and may exist now, for Canterbury to Dover in sleighs. Omni- all I know-on the top of the house buses were few, with straw in the bot- near the Marble Arch, which, when I tom. The lowest fare was sixpence, was young, belonged to the Dowager and in them never was a lady seen. Duchess of Somerset, a bench from Ladies of fashion went out for a sol- which the frivolous and fashionable emn drive round the park on Sundays; world used to witness with indifferbut no lady went in a single-horse car- ence, if not amusement, these terrible riage till Lord Brougham invented the executions. Reduction of sentences carriage which still bears his name. has been followed by diminution of The victoria, the barouche or landau, criminals, the young are protected from appeared later on. No lady would will. the shame and cruelty of becoming ingly have driven down St. James's gaol birds, and the whole system of Street, or have dreamt of stopping at a prison discipline is now laid on wise club door. No lady of fashion went out and merciful lines. to dinner except in a chariot, which Lunatics are treated with careful was pronounced "charrot," with a kindness, instead of being chained tocoachman in a wig, and with one or gether on beds of straw, naked, handtwo men-servants in silk stockings. In- cuffed, and shown at twopence a head deed, the yellow chariot and the tall for each visitor. Factory acts have footmen with long staves behind the been passed by which children of four, old Duchess of Cleveland's chariot are five, and six have been saved from befresh in the memory of even young peo- ing harnessed to trucks in coal mines, ple and must still have been seen by and being forced to climb chimneys. the present generation, who can recol- Women have been protected in dangerlect Lady Mildred Beresford Hope's ous trades. We have public baths for pony carriage with two outriders. health and cleanliness. Free trade has

It is impossible, even in an article as made food cheap, to the enormous adfrivolous as this, to pass by in absolute vantage of the consumer. There is silence the glorious progress of the free education for the children of the queen's reign. In 1836 there were fifty poor, at a cost of 10,000,0001. per antwo thousand convicts living in foreign num to the nation; cheap postage, lands in a state of bestial immorality. cheap newspapers, cheap books, and Now, notwithstanding the increase of free libraries are all aiding to fit the population, there are only four thou- democracy for their duties. sand undergoing penal servitude, and In 1837 eighty thousand letters were in this country. In 1837 four thousand posted; now there are two hundred mildebtors were lying in common cells, lion posted yearly. In 1837 hospitals with damp brick walls, with no bed- were in a horrid state, and no nurses ding, and herded with murderers and of a higher type than Dickens's Mrs. common malefactors. Now transporta- Gamp and Mrs. Harris existed. Chiltion and imprisonment for debt have dren's hospitals there were none. Now been abolished. Just before the queen's the health of the people is cared for as accession a little boy was condemned to it never was before, and it may almost death for breaking a confectioner's be said, the dumb speak, and the blind window and stealing sweets. Now no receive their sight. Mortality has been one can be hanged for a less crime than lessened; pain has been mitigated by murder. Executions are not in public; anæsthetics; surgical operations, once the terrible scenes of witnessing them perilous or impossible, are now safely performed; and hospitals abound, and the patrimony of the rich, and will before the year is out will be nobly en. leave it the inheritance of the poor; dowed. The old man of my early recol. found it the two-edged sword of craft lections, crippled by gout and disease, and oppression, and will leave it the is no longer to be seen; and men of an staff of honesty and the shield of innoage advanced beyond the experience of cence." those days are overtaken by kindly And now I have done. I know that death on the bicycle track or on the it is for the old only to dream dreams golf links.

and the young to see visions; but havPicture-galleries have been instituted, ing dreamt my dream, I indulge for a parks and museums and gardens moment in the privilege of the young; thrown open, and the old pharisaical and while humbly acknowledging that sabbatarianism, which closed them on there are many social problems to be the only days when artisans and work. solved, and that, as Machiavelli said, men could enjoy them, has been ban- "a free government, in order to mainished to a certain degree. As lately as tain itself free, has need every day of 1845 nobody could carry a bundle, some new provision in favor of liberty," sleep, or walk in a working dress in St. I think I see a vision of the glories to James's Park; and the Royal Parks, as be accomplished in succeeding generacompared with the present time, were tions, and cherish a faith “which is a howling wilderness, without a flower large in time, and that which shapes it bed or a shrubbery. The lovely park to some perfect end." in Battersea, the scene of modern cycling, consisted of damp market gar- This fine old world of ours but a child dens, where asparagus, which was

Yet in its go-cart-Patience give it time called "Battersea grass,” was culti

To learn its limbs—there is a hand that vated.

guides. I am aware that "the wind that

ALGERNON WEST. blows upon an older head blows no longer from a happy shore," but, looking back over the long vista of forty years, I see improvements everywhere, with few exceptions. Men's

IN KEDAR'S TENTS. 1 morals, and certainly their language, BY HENRY SETON MERRIMAN, AUTHOR OF THE have improved, excessive drinking has become unfashionable and almost un

CHAPTER XV. known in the society of gentlemen, ci

AN ULTIMATUM. gars and cigarettes have replaced the filthy habit of taking snuff, night-caps

"I do believe yourself against yourself.” and stuffy four-posters and sweltering

Neither Estella nor her father bad a feather beds have been replaced by great liking for the city of Madrid, fresh air and tubs, and electricity has which, indeed, is at no time desirable. snuffed out cotton-wicked candles and In the winter it is cold, in the summer

and during the rid us of tinder-boxes, and may ere exceedingly hot, long rid us of gas. Everybody is clean, changes of the seasons of a treacherand it would be difficult to find a man

ous weather difficult to surpass. The or a woman in society who is not en- social atmosphere was no more genial gaged in some good and useful work, at the period with which we deal, for it or some endeavor to help others in the blew hot and cold, and treachery sorrows and struggles of life.

marked every change. Finally, in the language of Lord Although the queen regent seemed Brougham, the queen can boast that to be nearing at last a successful issue "she found law dear, and she will leave to her long and eventful struggle it cheap; she found it a sealed book, against Don Carlos, she had enemies she will leave it a living letter; found it 1 Copyright, 1896, by Henry Seton Merriman.

SOWERS."

on

nearer home, whose movements were looked for a moment into Conyngham's equally dangerous to the throne of the eyes, and then shook hands with hin. child-queen.

He did not disguise the hesitation, “I cannot afford to have an honest which was apparent to both Estella soldier so far removed from the capi. and the Englishman. tal," said Christina, who never laid How were you wounded ?” he asked. aside the woman while playing the "I was stabbed in the back on the queen, as Vincente kissed her hand on Toledo road, ten miles from here.” presenting himself at court. The gen- "Not by a robber, not for your eral smiled and shrugged his shoulders. money."

“What did she say-what did she "No one ever hated me or cared for say?" the intriguers whispered eagerly, me on that account,” laughed Conyngas the great soldier made his way ham. toward the door, with the haste of one "Then who did it?" asked General who was no courtier. But they re- Vincente, unbuttoning his gloves. ceived no answer.

Conyngham hesitated. The general had taken a suite of "A man with whom I quarrelled on rooms in one of the hotels the the road,” he made reply; but it was Puerta del Sol, and hurried thither, no answer at all, as hearers and well pleased to have escaped so easily speaker alike recognized in a flash of from a palace where self-seeking—that thought. grim spirit that haunts the abodes of "He left me for dead on the road, but royalty-had long reigned supreme. a carter picked me up and brought me

There was, the servants told him, a to Madrid, to the hospital of the Hervisitor in the salon, one who had asked manas, where I have been ever since.” for the general, and on learning of his There were flowers on the table, and absence had insisted on being received the general stooped over them with a by the señorita.

delicate appreciation of their scent. “That sounds like Conyngham," mut. He was a great lover of flowers, and, tered the general, unbuckling his indeed, had a sense of the beautiful, sword, for he had but one weapon, and quite out of keeping with the color of wore it in the presence of the queen his coat. and her enemies alike.

"You must beware," he said, "now It was, indeed, Conyngham, whose that you wear the queen's uniform. gay laugh Vincente heard before he There is treachery abroad, I fear. crossed the threshold of Estella's Even I have had an anonymous letter drawing-room. The Englishman was of warning." in uniform, and stood with his back "I should like to know who wrote it," turned toward the door by which the exclaimed Conyngham, with a sudden general entered.

flash of anger in his eyes. "It is Señor Conyngham," said Es- The general laughed pleasantly. tella at once, in a quiet voice, “who has “So should I," he said; “merely as a been wounded and six weeks in the matter of curiosity." hospital.”

And he turned toward the door, "Yes," said Conyngham; “but I am which was opened at this moment by well again now. And I got my ap- a servant. pointment while I was still in the sis- "A gentleman wishing to see me, an ters' care."

Englishman as it would appear," he He laughed, though his face was pale continued, looking at the card. and thin, and approached the general "By the way,” said Conyngham, as with extended hand. The general had the general moved away, “I am income to Madrid with the intention of structed to inform you that I am atrefusing to take that hand, and those tached to your staff, as an extra aidewho knew him said that this soldier de-camp, during your stay in Madrid." never swerved from his purpose. He The general nodded, and left Estella

room.

are

and Conyngham alone in the drawing- nyngham replied deliberately, "for I

Conyngham turned on Es. have gone about the world a blind tella.

man.” "So that I have a right to be near "In three months one cannot decide you," he said, “which is all that I matters that affect a whole lifetime." want."

said the girl. He spoke lightly enough, as was his “This matter decided itself in toree habit, but Estella, who was wise in minutes, so far as I am concerned, those matters that women know, pre señorita, in the old palace at Ronda. ferred not to meet his eyes, which It is a matter that time is powerless to were grave and deep.

affect one way or the other." "Such things are quickly said,” Es- “With some people; but you tella retorted.

hasty and impetuous. My father said "Yes; and it takes a long time to it of you, and he is never mistaken." prove them.”

"Then
you do

not trust me, The general had left his gloves on señorita.” the table. Estella took them up Estella had turned away her face, so and appeared to be interested in that he could only see her mantilla and them.

the folds of her golden hair gleaming "Perhaps a lifetime." she suggested. through the black lace. She shrugged "I ask no less, señorita.”

her shoulders. “Then you ask much."

"It is not due to yourself nor to all "And I give all, though that is little who know you in Spain if I do," she enough.”

said. They spoke slowly, not bandying "All who know me?" words, but exchanging thoughts. Es- "Yes," she continued-"Father Contella was grave. Conyngham's atti- cha, Señora Barenna, my father, and tude was that which he ever displayed others at Ronda.” to the world-namely, one of cheerful "Ah! And what leads them to misoptimism, as behooved a strong man trust me?" who had not yet known fear.

"Your own actions," replied Estella. "Is it too little, señorita ?” he asked. And Conyngham too simple

She was sitting at the table, and minded, too inexperienced in such matwould not look up, neither would she ters to understand the ring of anxiety answer his question. He was stand- in her voice. ing quite close to her, upright in his

"I do not much mind what the rest bright uniform, his hand on his sword, of the world thinks of me," he said. “I and all her attention was fixed on the have never owed anything to the flowers which had called forth the gen- world, nor asked anything from it. eral's outspoken admiration. She They are welcome to think what they touched them with fingers hardly like. But with you it is different. Is lighter than his.

it possible, señorita, to make you trust "Now that I think of it," said Co- me?" nyngham, after a pause, “what I give Estella did not answer at is nothing."

After a pause she gave an

indifferent Estella's face wore queer little jerk of the head. smile, as of a deeper knowledge.

"Perhaps," she said. “Nothing at all,” continued the En

"If it is possible I will do it." glishman; “for I have nothing to give, "It is quite easy," she answered, and you know nothing of me."

raising her head and looking out of the "Three months ago," answered Es- window, with an air that seemed to intella, "we had never heard of you, and dicate that her interests lay without you had never seen me," she added, and not in this room at all. with a little laugh.

“How can I do it?" “I have seen nothing else since," Co

She gave a short, hard laugh, which

was

once.

a

« EelmineJätka »