Page images
PDF
EPUB

promise growing less and less. Nugent was as this, and Tom had stood on the Hartz to a certain extent brutalized; but what of mountains and pictured to himself their that? The faithful affection that had held rites. What made him think of them now? out for so many years would overlook his Oh, false idol! Oh, unhappy worship! Such faults. fle was surely guilty of disloyalty ; were the words that had sounded in his ears but women pardon such sins every day. All throughout his interview with Nugent. He Tom could do was to ask him to see her. had asked himself, had he fulfilled the trust

"I don't see the use of it,” he replied; he had undertaken, little foreseeing the part “ I am in no mood for sentiment. I don't he was to play in it-the urgent recommendafancy the sight of her face would waken up tion of the woman he loved and reverenced to any of the old feeling, and there is no occa- the good opinion of a man who did not care sion for me to brave a meeting.”

for her. It never crossed Tom's mind that “You are no judge of your own feelings,” perhaps no one had ever been in such a posipersisted Tom, " till you have met her face to tion before; it never once occurred to him face, and have satisfied yourself that old asso- that, if Nugent gave her up, he who had been ciations are past and gone forever. She will her truest friend had a better chance of her be here to-morrow amongst many other peo- | love. If Nugent decided on marrying her, ple. It is a village holiday. Supposing you he believed that her devotion to him would have altered in appearance since you went bring her happiness, no matter how unworthy away, no one here would discover your iden- he might be of it: if he went away altotity. You would be able to see her without gether after seeing her, why then he would recognition, if it does not suit you to announce pray that the trial might come upon her your return at present.”

softly and tenderly. And so, throughout the “I will come,” said Nugent, “provided night in the dewy garden, for indoors he felt you give me your word that you will not let almost stifled, Tom tried to look his cares any human being know I am here." calmly in the face. In the first dawn of

“ I give you my honor I will not,” replied morning it occurred to him that his houseTom.

hold would be astir early, and he crept guilt“ It will be mistaken kindness to take ily to bed. any notice of me to-morrow," said Nugent. 6. Leave me to myself. If I should change my mind and settle down in England, I'll May-Day. Numberless pairs of little eyes write a line and send it up from Chanleigh in had peeped out of the windows under the the evening. I shall not leave till the last sloping cottage roofs that morning, to see train. If you don't hear from me you may what the sunrise prognosticated for the day. conclude that you are not likely to be Had the weather been wet, Mr. Stokes's barn troubled with my presence again.”

must have been borrowed and decorated for He rose to go. He could not eat in the the occasion, and the clearing-out of the cobhouse, he said, when Tom pressed him to webs alone was an important undertaking; stay ; food would choke him; neither could but there was no need for it. Overhead was he sleep there ; all night long he should see a cloudless sky, with the larks fluttering uphis poor old father's face by his bedside. He wards, and filling the air with their song. would walk back to Chanleigh, and get a bed There was something left to hope for, and to at the Rose and Crown. He put his stick look forward to, throughout nature : a sense with his bag slung on it over his shoulder, of incompleteness suggestive of a higher and went away.

beauty yet to come. Tom sat at his breakWalpurgis Nacht: the words came into fast, and found, as we all have done at some Tom's head as he let Nugent out, and re- time of our lives, that it is not the outward mained leaning on the gate ; the moon rising world only that is lighted up by sunshine. in a flood of mellow light; the first song of He was almost inclined to wonder how it was the nightingale coming softly from a little that he had “ given in,” as he expressed it wood in the rear of the house, and a dreamy to himself, over night. A letter from the breeze rustling in the young leaves. Wal- late Inspector of Police lay on the table, inpurgis Nacht: the old German heathens of- forming him that Mr. George Nugent, after fered sacrifices to the deities on such a night landing at 8 a.m. on the previous day, had

CHAPTER IV.

transacted business at an agent’s and an out- | preoccupied, he would have seen with satisfitter's, and had proceeded to Chanleigh, from faction that an old school-fellow named whence intelligence of his proceedings would Thorpe, who had a good living in the neighbe forwarded to Tom in due course. As it borhood, and wanted a wife, and whom he was unnecessary to have Nugent's visit to had introduced to Mrs. Wortleby and her himself chronicled, he wrote to his active in- daughters, was talking eagerly to kind-hearted formant to put a stop to further proceedings. Jane Wortleby: she rarely found a cavalier By noon the guests, hidden and unbidden, on such occasions—the prospect of so numerbegan to make their appearance. It was im- ous a body of sisters-in-law serving, as a scarepossible for Tom, naturally sanguine as he crow to all matrimonial intentions, to say was, not to feel his spirits rise at the sight of nothing of the ordinary civilities of life. the troops of children pouring in, all pre A golden age of childhood! Modern writers pared for enjoyment of his contriving, and may say what they will of the acuteness of half crazy in the anticipation of it. The sorrow and even remorse in early years : we little pony-carriages, laden with the clergy- shall never know the delight of the little ones, men of the surrounding parishes, their wives -five-and-twenty, at least, who were danand their children in fabulous numbers, came cing round the green to the old song of “ Here slowly along the road. Mrs. Wortleby and we go round the Mulberry Bush.” Oh, happy, her seven daughters arrived from Chanleigh, vigorous age of youth! with all its shyness as happy in their rare holiday as the smallest and grievous self-consciousness, we shall never child in the village. Doctors brought the feel again the elasticity of muscle and spirit female members of their family, and looked with which the cricketers fought for fame,on good-naturedly themselves for half-an-hour and an electro-plated drinking cup. Many or so. The distinguished-looking daughters of us, like Tom's older parishioners, must of the squire considered it as a good oppor-content ourselves with a tranquil pipe, and a tunity of doing what was necessary in the seat on the distant bench, willing to witness way of civility to the clergymen's wives in the exertions of others, and to rejoice in their the neighborhood, patronizing some and snub- success. The mirth was at its height. Six bing others ; while more than one individual plow-boys in sacks had started for a very who had been honored by the squire's notice, distant goal amidst loud peals of laughter, in could say with Macaulay,

which the gravest of the bystanders joined. “ He asked after my wife who is dead, With immense difficulty they were advancing

And my children who never were born." towards the side of the field nearest the enAlways in the midst of a group of children, trance, where the little children were keepkind and happy and helpful, was Miss Letitia. ing up their dance round the green. Suddenly Tom had glanced ansiovely at her on her ar- Tom's eye fell on George Nugent, dressed as rival. If he had had a mother or sister to he had been over-night, with a broad-brimmed warn her to look her best, he thought he white hat, with a piece of crape round it, should have been more at case. He had a pulled down over his eyes ; his knotty stick vague idea that she was not clressed like the still in his hand. He seemed to be watching girls who used to assist at two school fêtes of the proceedings with some interest. Close by his curate life, when they all seemed to him was Miss Letitia, busily engaged in the inin a flutter of muslin and blue ribbons ; but tricacies of the “ Mulberry Bush,” and helpfor all that she wore a dull gray gown,-ing the children to keep clear of the green, surely George Nugent would relent when he which was fast becoming obstreperous. She saw her, and read her wiwle history in her was so near him, that her garments touched face. It was no wonder that he started at him, and recognition on her part seemed inthe sight of every new comer, and hastened evitable. As George Nugent's eyes turned restlessly from one group to another. Vari- moodily upon her, Tom's heart beat fast. ous rewards and prizes bari }'een given away. His first impulse was to rush away into the The school children had eaten roast-beef and house, anywhere that he might not witness plum-pudding till they bed placed their diges- their meeting ; but he checked himself, wontions in jeopardy for life. The cricketers dering whether he ought not to go up and were preparing for their sirare in the pro- help them through the awkwardness of it. Ina gramme of the day. If Tom had not been so miserable state of indecision, his eyes wonder

ing from the cricket-match to the sack-race, and the members of the band retreat to the and from the sack-race to Miss Letitia and last cask. While the shadows are lengththe little children, several minutes passed on, ening on the grass, it is wonderful to hear which seemed almost hours to him. Suddenly “ God save the Queen ” sung slowly, majestihe heard George Nugent cry out in a loud cally, and greatly out of tune. The Beauvoice, “Out of the way, you littlo idiot!"champ people give three cheers for their recand saw him put his hand roughly on Jemmy tor. He stands barebeaded in the purple Bates's shoulder to enforce his order. Down light, and thanks them for their good will, rattled the little crutches as they had done on and asks them all to come again : and the the day when Tom had first entered Beau- day is done. champ. The competitors in the race were No letter. The suspense of another night close upon him, when Miss Letitia, with more would have been intolerable. Tom walked indignation in her face than Tom had ever over to Chanleigh, where he arrived just as seen there before, once more ran to the boy's the Rose and Crown was closing, and found rescue, and carried him away to a more se- that a person answering George Nugent's descure spot. The public attention was concen- cription had left for London early in the eventrated on the race, and very few had observed ing. The clock of Beauchamp church struck the occurrence. A few minutes afterwards, twelve as he crossed the common on his way George Nugent left the field.

home. Then came the hour again, like an The die was cast, and there was nothing echo from the church tower at Chanleigh : left now but to wait with patience till night- more faintly still, little chimes broke into the fall. Tom having decided on the merits of clear air from the next village. Tom was the sack-race, proceeded to the dining-room, somewhat weary both in body and mind; but where his guests were actively employed. He a vague sense of relief came over him as he did not observe Mr. Thorpe helping Jane looked back on the events of the day. He Wortleby to pigeon-pie, nor her mother's eyes was thankful for it, and in natures such as glistening at the sight of the girl's face, all his, thankfulness is one form of happiness. animation as they talked, and ate, and talked Two days afterwards, Mr. Wortlehy drove again. Mrs Wortleby, in her simple-hearted over from Chanleigh with a sense of imporway, had already got so far in her specula- tance hid under a more distant manner than tions as to decide on a fitting wedding-dress usual, calling at the Squire’s, the rectory, for her daughter in the event of a match be- the medical man's, and even at the Golden ing the result, and Tom little knew how she Lion, telling everywhere the same story in had blessed him for the golden opportunity precisely the same words. He stated that he was unconsciously throwing in Jane's way. Mr. George Nugent had returned from AusHe exerted himself to the utmost in his char- tralia, and in the handsomest and most honacter of host. He fetched in the elderly and orable manner had intimated his intention the ordinary among his female visitors, and of paying his father's debts in addition to they somehow felt younger and more attrac- his own. For himself, he must be allowed tive in his society ; it seemed as if with him to say that he had received a magnificent there need be no apology for their age or their silver tea-service in acknowledgment of some ugliness : his kind-heartedness overlooked it slight assistance he had once had the satisfacall. Out into the sunshine again, where the tion of rendering Mr. Nugent. He did not village band has begun to play a country add that in the silver tea-pot he had found a dance in which young and old, rich and poor, hundred pound note in an envelope, on which are to join; when Mrs. Wortleby dances was written , “ Debt, £37, and interest," or with the best bowler, and Miss Letitia with that George Nugent, in taking that sum from the conquering plough-boy, and Mr. Thorpe, his cash-box for his passage to Australia, had contrary to all etiquette on such occasions, committed a felony. The whole village was with Jane. It lasts an hour; for every awk- full of the wonderful event, and of Reuben ward partner has to be put right; the shy Bates's good fortune, Mr. Wortleby having ones have to be encouraged; the noisy ones been charged with the arrangements for his to be kept in order; every big brown hand emigration. Tom longed to know how Miss has to be seized ; cvery tiny hot one to be Letitia had received the tidings. Had he raised aloft; but it comes to an end at last, been treacherous to her cause, he could not

66

have been more careful to avoid her since the provision for his old servants ; he intends to school-feast. Sunday came, and he went send out to the colonies any one who cannot down to the church for the morning service, honestly get on here ; but is it because the for the first time, with a divided heart. He place is so full of unhappy associations to knew that Miss Letitia sat where he could him, that he does not come himself? Is it besee her face, and he felt as if he must stop causc—" she waited for a moment, and then short in the psalm which he was reading, if broke out in sobs Is it because he has forhe did not satisfy himself as to the effect the gotten me

? news had had upon her. Tom looked at her What could Tom say? He sat looking at but once; and he carried away with him an a flower-pot on the window-sill, growing more impression that her eyes were glittering, that and more wretched every moment. her cheeks were carnation colored, and that I must try and tell you what I want you she wore a red bonnet. Poor Miss Letitia! to do,” she said, checking her tears. “I It was a pardonable piece of female vanity hear that Mr. Wortleby stated yesterday in to wear a pink ribbon on this day above all Chanleigh that Mr. Nugent was going back others, when the whole of the inhabitants of to Australia. I have tried to write to him, the parish were expecting George Nugent but I cannot do it. I want you to ascertain amongst them again. Sunday passed, and if the report is true from Mr. Nugent himthe week wore on, and still he did not come. self. Think, Mr. Morland, I have no father, By dint of bounding over hedges and other- no brother, no one to ask to help me in the wise ignominiously making his escape when wide world.” Miss Letitia came in sight, Tom had avoided

" I would do what you wish willingly,” meeting her in his daily walks ; but he grew said Tom, in a troubled voice, “ if it would at last so much to dread an interview, that be of any earthly use.” he could scarcely bring himself to leave the Perhaps he never had my letters ; perhouse. He had a foreboding that sooner or haps he thinks that after leaving so suddenly, later he must meet her face to face, and own without saying one word of farewell, I should that he had utterly failed in what he had un- cease to look upon him as I had done,” she dertaken to do; and he tried to be prepared pleaded. 6. You told me you once had a sisto answer her questions without touching on ter ; you would have stretched out your hand the subject of George Nugent's visit: but the to help her in such a strait; have pity on meeting should be of her own seeking; he re- me!solved to evade it while he could. The crisis There was more of the spirit of chivalry in came at last. Tom had a note from Miss Tom's nature than anybody ever suspected. Letitia, asking to speak to him, and he He felt he would rather cut off his right hand went at the appointed hour with a heavy than tell her that Nugent had looked at her heart. She was sitting at the open window, face, and no longer cared for it. His only with restless eyes, which looked as if they alternative was to venture on scarcely less. had watched and watched again till they had delicate ground. grown weary in the task. How long had 6. You believe that I would tell you the she been without sleep, Tom wondered, as he truth,” he said, " no matter how painful it glanced at her face, and noted how many might be to me? On my honor, then,-I painful feelings, shame, disappointment, and say it to you as I would have said it to her, yet some lingering thread of hope, had been —he is not worthy of you." striving for the mastery since he had seen her Don't say so! Don't say so !” she cried.. last.

6. Think of all that he has done. Think what “I would not have asked you to come, his life must have been all these years, to bear Mr. Morland,” she said, “ if I had any rela- such fruit in the end. Restitution, kindness, tion, any other friend to give me advice. charity, he has failed in none of these. What You may have heard that Mr. Nugent has can you know of him that you should be his returned from Australia ?

accuser ?" Tom said in a low tone that he knew it. Tom was silent.

“ He has acted nobly,” she said, and a flush “ He has been misrepresented to you,” she of enthusiasm spread on her cheeks. " He said, " and you have held back, because some has paid his father's debts; he has made story of his former life has prejudiced you.

1080

THIRD SERIES.

LIVING AGE.

against him. You, of all men, should judge -Jemmy Bates was knocked down by some him as he now is."

one standing by. It was George Nugent." “I do,” said Tom, solemnly. Letitia, I She had risen from her seat while he was have seen him.”

speaking. As if she had been blind, she held “ You have seen him!” she exclaimed, in by one piece of furniture after another till astonishment.

she reached the door,—Tom not daring to ap“Yes ; immediately on his return; but I proach her, or call for assistance. He held could not bring myself to tell you. You his breath as she ascended the staircase, and would not know him as he now is."

with uncertain steps reached the room above. “ If he were altered by sickness, by old age A moment afterwards he heard her fall heayeven, I should know him," she said ; "

any- ily on the floor. where in the world, if I saw his face, I should recognize it again. You have broken your Six years have passed since Tom's May-day promise to me, Mr. Morland. You have let feast, the results of which have tended to him go without a word. He does not know make the Beauchamp corner of the world a I have loved him all these long years." happier one. Mr. Thorpe has married Jane Tom was wounded by her words.

Wortleby, and she has never ceased from her “I would have laid down my life to have kindly endeavors to promote the welfare of brought him back,” he said. " I do not wish her sisters. Three of them she has already to speak against him, or to urge his faults disposed of in matrimony, and she has strong as a reason for your ceasing to regret him. hopes and cheering prospects for the rest. Think of him as leniently as you will. Only Tom has lost none of his interest in the parhave patience with yourself, Letitia. You ish. By his side runs a bright-eyed boy, have made too many happy around you to with his small hand always locked in that of fail to find peace now.”

his father, to whom he is companion and “ If I could have seen him!” she said, playmate during the greater part of the day. weeping bitterly. “ It was cruel of you not Tom laughs when the school-children even to let me see him."

now address his wife as Miss Letitia, for he “ You have seen him," he said, scarcely has called her so himself many times since knowing what he was saying in his distress. their marriage; and Letitia has grown a

She looked breathlessly in his face. happy, comely looking matron,-but, cer

“On the day of the school-feast,” he said; tainly the reverse of thin. "" when you were playing with the children,

[ocr errors]

PROFESSOR LANE, in his preface to his Arabic stopped by illness—and once, when I devoted English Lexicon, makes the following remarks three days to a last visit to the Pyramids. I as to the labor expended on that work :

seldom allowed myself to receive a visitor, ex

cept on Fridays, the Sabbath, and leisure day Nearly twenty years have now elapsed since of the Muslims, and more than once I passed a I commenced this work. Had I foreseen that quarter of the year without going out of my the whole labor of the composition must fall house.

To convey a due idea of the upon me, or the project be 'abandoned, and had difficulties of my task would be impossible. I foreseen the length of time that it would re- While mainly composing from the Taj-el-Aroos,' quire of me, unaided, I should certainly not I have often had before me, or by my side, have had the courage to undertake it.

eight or ten other lexicons (presenting three For seven years, in Cairo, I prosecuted my task different arrangements of the roots, and all of on each of the work-days of the week, after an | them differing in the order, or rather in the disearly breakfast until within an hour of mid- order of the words explained), requiring to be night, with few and short intervals of rest consulted at the same time ; and frequently (often with no interruption but that of a few more than a day's study has been necessary to minutes at a time for a meal, and half an hour enable me thoroughly to understand a single for exercise). except on rare occasions when I was / passage

« EelmineJätka »