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Title: Tales Of The Trains - Being Some Chapters of Railroad Romance by Tilbury Tramp, - Queen's Messenger
Author: Lever, Charles James, 1806-1872
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Tales Of The Trains - Being Some Chapters of Railroad Romance by Tilbury Tramp, - Queen's Messenger" ***

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TALES OF THE TRAINS

By Charles James Lever

With Illustrations By Phiz.

Boston: Little, Brown, And Company.

1907.



TALES OF THE TRAINS:

BEING SOME CHAPTERS OF RAILROAD ROMANCE

By Tilbury Tramp, Queen's Messenger.


     Bang, bang, bang!
     Shake, shiver, and throb;
     The sound of our feet Is the piston's beat,
     And the opening valve our sob!



INTRODUCTION.

Let no enthusiast of the pastoral or romantic school, no fair reader
with eyes "deeply, darkly, beautifully blue," sneer at the title of my
paper. I have written it after much and mature meditation.

It would be absurd to deny that the great and material changes which
our progress in civilization and the arts effect, should not impress
literature as well as manners; that the tone of our thoughts, as much as
the temper of our actions, should not sympathize with the giant strides
of inventive genius. We have but to look abroad, and confess the fact.
The facilities of travel which our day confers, have given a new and
a different impulse to the human mind; the man is no longer deemed a
wonder who has journeyed some hundred miles from home,--the miracle will
soon be he who has not been everywhere.

To persist, therefore, in dwelling on the same features, the same
fortunes, and the same characters of mankind, while all around us is
undergoing a great and a formidable revolution, appears to me as insane
an effort as though we should try to preserve our equilibrium during the
shock of an earthquake.

The stage lost much of its fascination when, by the diffusion of
literature, men could read at home what once they were obliged to go
abroad to see. Historical novels, in the same way, failed to produce the
same excitement, as the readers became more conversant with the passages
of history which suggested them. The battle-and-murder school, the
raw-head-and-bloody-bones literature, pales before the commonest
coroner's inquest in the "Times;" and even Boz can scarce stand
competition with the _vie intime_ of a union workhouse. What, then,
is to be done? _Quæ regio terræ_ remains to be explored? Have we not
ransacked every clime and country,--from the Russian to the Red Man,
from the domestic habits of Sweden to the wild life of the Prairies?
Have we not had kings and kaisers, popes, cardinals, and ministers, to
satiety? The land service and the sea service have furnished their quota
of scenes; and I am not sure but that the revenue and coast-guard may
have been pressed into the service. Personalities have been a stock
in trade to some, and coarse satires on well-known characters of
fashionable life have made the reputation of others.

From the palace to the poorhouse, from the forum to the factory, all has
been searched and ransacked for a new view of life or a new picture
of manners. Some have even gone into the recesses of the earth, and
investigated the arcana of a coal-mine, in the hope of eliciting
a novelty. Yet, all this time, the great reformer has been left to
accomplish his operations without note or comment; and while thundering
along the earth or ploughing the sea with giant speed and giant power,
men have not endeavored to track his influence upon humanity, nor work
out any evidences of those strange changes he is effecting over the
whole surface of society. The steam-engine is not merely a power to
turn the wheels of mechanism,--it beats and throbs within the heart of
a nation, and is felt in every fibre and recognized in every sinew of
civilized man.

How vain to tell us now of the lover's bark skimming the midnight sea,
or speak of a felucca and its pirate crew stealing stealthily across the
waters! A suitor would come to seek his mistress in the Iron Duke, of
three hundred horse-power; and a smuggler would have no chance, if he
had not a smoking-galley, with Watt's patent boilers!

What absurdity to speak of a runaway couple, in vain pursued by an angry
parent, on the road to Gretna Green! An express engine, with a stoker
and a driver, would make the deserted father overtake them in no time!

Instead of the characters of a story remaining stupidly in one place,
the novelist now can conduct his tale to the tune of thirty miles an
hour, and start his company in the first class of the Great Western.
No difficulty to preserve the unities! Here he journeys with bag and
baggage, and can bring twenty or more families along with him, if he
like. Not limiting the description of scenery to one place or spot, he
whisks his reader through a dozen counties in a chapter, and gives him
a bird's-eye glance of half England as he goes; thus, how original the
breaks which would arise from an occasional halt, what an afflicting
interruption to a love story, the cry of the guard, "Coventry, Coventry,
Coventry;" or, "Any gentleman, Tring, Tring, Tring;" with the
more agreeable interjection of "Tea or coffee, sir?--one brandy and
soda-water--'Times,' 'Chronicle,' or 'Globe.'"

How would the great realities of life flash upon the reader's mind,
and how insensibly would he amalgamate fact with fiction! And, lastly,
think, reflect, what new catastrophe would open upon an author's
vision; for while, to the gentler novelist, like Mrs. Gore, an
eternal separation might ensue from starting with the wrong train, the
bloody-minded school would revel in explosions and concussions, rent
boilers, insane luggage-trains, flattening the old gentlemen like
buffers. Here is a vista for imagination, here is scope for at
least fifty years to come. I do not wish to allude to the accessory
consequences of this new literary school, though I am certain music and
the fine arts would both benefit by its introduction; and one of the
popular melodies of the day would be "We met; 't was in a tunnel." I
hope my literary brethren will appreciate the candor and generosity with
which I point out to them this new and unclaimed spot in Parnassus. No
petty jealousies, no miserable self-interests, have weighed with me.
I am willing to give them a share in my discovered country, well aware
that there is space and settlement for us all,--locations for every
fancy, allotments for every quality of genius. For myself I reserve
nothing; satisfied with the fame of a Columbus, I can look forward to a
glorious future, and endure all the neglect and indifference of present
ingratitude. Meanwhile, less with the hope of amusing the reader than
illustrating my theory, I shall jot down some of my own experiences, and
give them a short series of the "Romance of a Railroad."

But, ere I begin, let me make one explanation for the benefit of the
reader and myself.

The class of literature which I am now about to introduce to the public,
unhappily debars me from the employment of the habitual tone and the
ordinary aids to interest prescriptive right has conferred on the
novelist. I can neither commence with "It was late in the winter of
1754, as three travellers," etc., etc.; or, "The sun was setting" or,
"The moon was rising;" or, "The stars were twinkling;" or, "On the 15th
Feb., 1573, a figure, attired in the costume of northern Italy, was seen
to blow his nose;" or, in fact, is there a single limit to the mode in
which I may please to open my tale. My way lies in a country where there
are no roads, and there is no one to cry out, "Keep your own side of the
way." Now, then, for--



THE COUPÉ OF THE NORTH MIDLAND

[Illustration: 550]

"The English are a lord-loving people, there's no doubt of it," was
the reflection I could not help making to myself, on hearing the
commentaries pronounced by my fellow-travellers in the North Midland, on
a passenger who had just taken his departure from amongst us. He was
a middle-aged man, of very prepossessing appearance, with a slow,
distinct, and somewhat emphatic mode of speaking. He had joined freely
and affably in the conversation of the party, contributing his share
in the observations made upon the several topics discussed, and always
expressing himself suitably and to the purpose; and although these are
gifts I am by no means ungrateful enough to hold cheaply, yet neither
was I prepared to hear such an universal burst of panegyric as followed
his exit.

"The most agreeable man, so affable, so unaffected." "Always listened to
with such respect in the Upper House."

"Splendid place, Treddleton,--eighteen hundred acres, they say, in the
demesne,--such a deer-park too." "And what a collection of Vandykes!"
"The Duke has a very high opinion of his--"

"Income,--cannot be much under two hundred thousand, I should say."

Such and such-like were the fragmentary comments upon one who, divested
of so many claims upon the respect and gratitude of his country,
had merely been pronounced a very well-bred and somewhat agreeable
gentleman. To have refused sympathy with a feeling so general would have
been to argue myself a member of the anti-corn law league, the repeal
association, or some similarly minded institution; so that I joined in
the grand chorus around, and manifested the happiness I experienced
in common with the rest, that a lord had travelled in our company, and
neither asked us to sit on the boiler nor on the top of the luggage, but
actually spoke to us and interchanged sentiments, as though we were even
intended by Providence for such communion. One little round-faced man
with a smooth cheek, devoid of beard, a. pair of twinkling gray eyes,
and a light brown wig, did not, however, contribute his suffrage to the
measure thus triumphantly carried, but sat with a very peculiar kind
of simper on his mouth, and with his head turned towards the window, as
though to avoid observation. He, I say, said nothing, but there was that
in the expression of his features that said, "I differ from you," as
palpably as though he had spoken it out in words.

The theme once started was not soon dismissed; each seemed to vie with
his neighbor in his knowledge of the habits and opinions of the titled
orders, and a number of pleasant little pointless stories were told of
the nobility, which, if I could only remember and retail here, would
show the amiable feeling they entertain for the happiness of all the
world, and how glad they are when every one has enough to eat, and there
is no "leader" in the "Times" about the distress in the manufacturing
districts. The round-faced man eyed the speakers in turn, but never
uttered a word; and it was plain that he was falling very low in the
barometer of public opinion, from his incapacity to contribute a single
noble anecdote, even though the hero should be only a Lord Mayor, when
suddenly he said,--

"There was rather a queer sort of thing happened to me the last time I
went the Nottingham circuit."

"Oh, do you belong to that circuit?" said a thin-faced old man in
spectacles. "Do you know Fitzroy Kelly?"

"Is he in the hardware line? There was a chap of that name travelled
for Tingle and Crash; but he's done up, I think. He forged a bill
of exchange in Manchester, and is travelling now in another line of
business."

"I mean the eminent lawyer, sir,--I know nothing of bagmen."

"They're bagmen too," replied the other, with a little chuckling laugh,
"and pretty samples of honesty they hawk about with them, as I hear; but
no offence, gentlemen,--I'm a CG. myself."

"A what?" said three or four together.

"A commercial gentleman, in the tape, bobbin, and twist line, for
Rundle, Trundle, and Winningspin's house, one of the oldest in the
trade."

Here was a tumble down with a vengeance,--from the noble Earl of Heaven
knows what and where, Knight of the Garter, Grand Cross of the Bath,
Knight of St. Patrick, to a mere C. G.,--a commercial gentleman,
travelling in the tape, bobbin, and twist line for the firm of Rundle,
Trundle, and Winningspin, of Leeds. The operation of steam condensing,
by letting in a stream of cold water, was the only simile I can find
for the sudden revulsion; and as many plethoric sobs, shrugs, and grunts
issued from the party as though they represented an engine under like
circumstances. All the aristocratic associations were put to flight at
once; it seemed profane to remember the Peerage in such company; and
a general silence ensued, each turning from time to time an angry look
towards the little bagman, whose _mal-à-propos_ speech had routed their
illustrious allusions.

Somewhat tired of the stiff and uncomfortable calm that succeeded, I
ventured in a very meek and insinuating tone to remind the little man of
the reminiscence he had already begun, when interrupted by the unlucky
question as to his circuit.

"Oh! it ain't much of a story," said he. "I should n't wonder if the
same kind of thing happens often,--mayhap, too, the gentlemen would not
like to hear it, though they might, after all, for there's a Duke in
it."

There was that in the easy simplicity with which he said these words,
vouching for his good temper, which propitiated at once the feelings of
the others; and after a few half-expressed apologies for having already
interrupted him, they begged he would kindly relate the incident to
which he alluded.

"It is about four years since," said he. "I was then in the
printed-calico way for a house in Nottingham; business was not very
good, my commission nothing to boast of--cotton looking down--nothing
lively but quilted woollens, so that I generally travelled in the third
class train. It wasn't pleasant, to be sure; the company, at the best of
times, a pretty considerable sprinkling of runaway recruits, prisoners
going to the assizes, and wounded people run over by the last train; but
it was cheap, and that suited me. Well, one morning I took my ticket as
usual, and was about to take my place, when I found every carriage was
full; there was not room for my little portmanteau in one of them; and
so I wandered up and down while the bell was ringing, shoving my ticket
into every one's face, and swearing I would bring the case before
Parliament, if they did not put on a special train for my own
accommodation, when a smart-looking chap called out to one of the
porters,--

"'Put that noisy little devil in the coupé; there's room for him there.'

"And so they whipped my legs from under me, and chucked me in, banged
the door, and said, 'Go on;' and just as if the whole thing was waiting
for a commercial traveller to make it all right, away went the train at
twenty miles an hour. When I had time to look around, I perceived that I
had a fellow-traveller, rather tall and gentlemanly, with a sallow
face and dark whiskers; he wore a brown upper-coat, all covered with
velvet,--the collar, the breasts, and even the cuffs,--and I perceived
that he had a pair of fur shoes over his boots,--signs of one who liked
to make himself comfortable. He was reading the 'Morning Chronicle,' and
did not desist as I entered, so that I had abundant time to study every
little peculiarity of his personal appearance, unnoticed by him.

"It was plain, from a number of little circumstances, that he belonged
to that class in life who have, so to say, the sunny side of existence.
The handsome rings which sparkled on his fingers, the massive gold
snuff-box which he coolly dropped into the pocket of the carriage, the
splendid repeater by which he checked the speed of the train, as though
to intimate you had better not be behind time with _me_, made me heave
an involuntary sigh over that strange but universal law of Providence by
which the goods of fortune are so unequally distributed. For about two
hours we journeyed thus, when at last my companion, who had opened
in succession some half-dozen newspapers, and, after skimming them
slightly, thrown them at his feet, turned to me, and said,--

"'Would you like to see the morning papers, sir?' pointing as he spoke,
with a kind of easy indifference, to the pile before him. 'There's the
"Chronicle," "Times," "Globe," "Sun," and "Examiner;" take your choice,
sir.'

"And with that he yawned, stretched himself, and, letting down the
glass, looked out; thereby turning his back on me, and not paying the
slightest attention to the grateful thanks by which I accepted his
offer.

"'Devilish haughty,' thought I; 'should n't wonder if he was one of the
great mill-owners here,--great swells they are, I hear.'

"'Ah! you read the "Times," I perceive,' said he, turning round, and
fixing a steadfast and piercing look on me; 'you read the "Times,"--a
rascally paper, an infamous paper, sir, a dishonest paper. Their
opposition to the new poor law is a mere trick, and their support of the
Peel party a contemptible change of principles.'

"Lord! how I wished I had taken up the 'Chronicle'! I would have paid a
week's subscription to have been able to smuggle the 'Examiner' into my
hand at that moment.

"'I 'm a Whig, sir,' said he; 'and neither ashamed nor afraid to
make the avowal,--a Whig of the old Charles Fox school,--a Whig
who understands how to combine the happiness of the people with the
privileges of the aristocracy.'

"And as he spoke he knitted his brows, and frowned at me, as though I
were Jack Cade bent upon pulling down the Church, and annihilating the
monarchy of these realms.

"'You may think differently,' continued he,--'I perceive you do: never
mind, have the manliness to avow your opinions. You may speak freely to
one who is never in the habit of concealing his own; indeed, I flatter
myself that they are pretty well known by this time.'

"'Who can he be?' thought I. 'Lord John is a little man, Lord Melbourne
is a fat one; can it be Lord Nor-manby, or is it Lord Howick?' And so
I went on to myself, repeating the whole Whig Peerage, and then, coming
down to the Lower House, I went over every name I could think of, down
to the lowest round of the ladder, never stopping till I came to the
member for Sudbury.

"'It ain't him,' thought I; 'he has a lisp, and never could have such a
fine coat as that.'

"'Have you considered, sir,' said he, 'where your Toryism will lead
you to? Have you reflected that you of the middle class--I presume you
belong to that order?'

"I bowed, and muttered something about printed cottons.

"'Have you considered that by unjustly denying the rights of the lower
orders under the impression that you are preserving the prerogative of
the throne, that you are really undermining our order?'

"'God forgive us,' ejaculated I. 'I hope we are not.'

"'But you are,' said he; 'it is you, and others like you, who will
not see the anomalous social condition of our country. You make no
concessions until wrung from you; you yield nothing except extorted by
force; the finances of the country are in a ruinous condition,--trade
stagnated.'

"'Quite true,' said I; 'Wriggles and Briggs stopped payment on Tuesday;
there won't be one and fourpence in the pound.'

"'D--n Wriggles and Briggs!' said he; 'don't talk to me of such
contemptible cotton-spinner--'

"'They were in the hardware line,--plated dish-covers, japans, and
bronze fenders.'

"'Confound their fenders!' cried he again; 'it is not of such grubbing
fabricators of frying-pans and fire-irons I speak; it is of the trade of
this mighty nation,--our exports, our imports, our colonial trade, our
foreign trade, our trade with the East, our trade with the West, our
trade with the Hindoos, our trade with the Esquimaux.'

"'He's Secretary for the Colonies; he has the whole thing at his
finger-ends.'

[Illustration: 556]

"'Yes, sir,' said he, with another frown, 'our trade with the
Esquimaux.'

"'Bears are pretty brisk, too,' said I; 'but foxes is falling,--there
will be no stir in squirrels till near spring. I heard it myself from
Snaggs, who is in that line.'

"'D--n Snaggs,' said he, scowling at me.

"'Well, d--n him,' said I, too; 'he owes me thirteen and fonrpence,
balance of a little account between us.'

"This unlucky speech of mine seemed to have totally disgusted my
aristocratic companion, for he drew his cap down over his eyes, folded
his arms upon his breast, stretched out his legs, and soon fell asleep;
not, however, with such due regard to the privileges of the humbler
classes as became One of his benevolent Whig principles, for he fell
over against me, flattening me into a corner of the vehicle, where he
used me as a bolster, and this for thirty-two miles of the journey.

"'Where are we?' said he, starting up suddenly; 'what's the name of this
place?'

"'This is Stretton,' said I. 'I must look sharp, for I get out at
Chesterfield.'

"'Are you known here,' said my companion, 'to any one in these parts?'

"'No,' said I, 'it is my first turn on this road.'

"He seemed to reflect for some moments, and then said, 'You pass the
night at Chesterfield, don't you?' and, without waiting for my answer,
added, 'Well, we 'll take a bit of dinner there. You can order it,--six
sharp. Take care they have fish,--it would be as well that you tasted
the sherry; and, mark me! not a word about me;' and with that he placed
his finger on his lips, as though to impress me with inviolable secrecy.
'Do you mind, not a word.'

"'I shall be most happy,' said I, 'to have the pleasure of your company;
but there's no risk of my mentioning your name, as I have not the honor
to know it.'

"'My name is Cavendish,' said he, with a very peculiar smile and a toss
of his head, as though to imply that I was something of an ignoramus not
to be aware of it.

"'Mine is Baggs,' said I, thinking it only fair to exchange.

"'With all my heart, Raggs,' said he, 'we dine together,--that's agreed.
You 'll see that everything's right, for I don't wish to be recognized
down here;' and at these words, uttered rather in the tone of a
command, my companion opened a pocket-book, and commenced making certain
memoranda with his pencil, totally unmindful of me and of my concurrence
in his arrangements.

"'Chesterfield, Chesterfield, Chesterfield,--any gentleman for
Chesterfield?' shouted the porters, opening and shutting doors, as they
cried, with a rapidity well suited to their utterance.

"'We get out here,' said I; and my companion at the same moment
descended from the carriage, and, with an air of very aristocratic
indifference, ordered his luggage to be placed in a cab. It was just at
this instant that my eye caught the envelope of one of the newspapers
which had fallen at my feet, and, delighted at this opportunity of
discovering something more of my companion, I took it up and read--what
do you think I read?--true as I sit here, gentlemen, the words were,
'His Grace the Duke of Devonshire, Devonshire House.' Lord bless me, if
all Nottingham, had taken the benefit of the act I could n't be more of
a heap,--a cold shivering came over me at the bare thought of anything I
might have said to so illustrious a personage. 'No wonder he should d--n
Snaggs,' thought I. 'Snaggs is a low, sneaking scoundrel, not fit to
clean his Grace's shoes.'

"'Hallo, Raggs, are you ready?' cried the Duke.

"'Yes, your Grace--my Lord--yes, sir,' said I, not knowing how to
conceal my knowledge of his real station. I would have given five
shillings to be let sit outside with the driver, rather than crush
myself into the little cab, and squeeze the Duke up in the corner.

"'We must have no politics, friend Raggs,' said he, as we drove
along,--'you and I can't agree, that's plain.'

"'Heaven forbid, your Grace; that is, sir,' said I, 'that I should have
any opinions displeasing to you. My views--'

"'Are necessarily narrow-minded and miserable. I know it, Raggs. I can
conceive how creatures in your kind of life follow the track of opinion,
just as they do the track of the road, neither daring to think or
reflect for themselves. It is a sad and a humiliating picture of human
nature, and I have often grieved at it.' Here his Grace blew his nose,
and seemed really affected at the degraded condition of commercial
travellers.

"I must not dwell longer on the conversation between us,--if that,
indeed, be called conversation where the Duke spoke and I listened; for,
from the moment the dinner appeared,--and a very nice little clinner it
was: soup, fish, two roasts, sweets, and a piece of cheese,--his Grace
ate as if he had not a French cook at home, and the best cellar in
England.

"'What do you drink, Raggs?' said he; 'Burgundy is my favorite, though
Brodie says it won't do for me; at least when I have much to do in
"the House." Strange thing, very strange thing I am going to mention to
you,--no Cavendish can drink Chambertin,--it is something hereditary.
Chambers mentioned to me one day that very few of the English nobility
are without some little idiosyncrasy of that kind. The Churchills never
can taste gin; the St. Maurs faint if they see strawberries and cream.'

"'The Baggs,' said I, 'never could eat tripe.' I hope he did n't say
'D--n the Baggs;' but I almost fear he did.

"The Duke ordered up the landlord, and, after getting the whole state
of the cellar made known, desired three bottles of claret to be sent up,
and despatched a messenger through the town to search for olives. 'We
are very backward, Raggs,' said he. 'In England we have no idea of life,
nor shall we, as long as these confounded Tories remain in power. With
free trade, sir, we should have the productions of France and Italy upon
our tables, without the ruinous expenditure they at present cost.'

"'You don't much care for that,' said I, venturing a half-hint at his
condition.

"'No,' said he, frankly; 'I confess I do not. But I am not selfish, and
would extend my good wishes to others. How do you like that Lafitte? A
little tart,--a Very little. It drinks cold,--don't you think so?'

"'It is a freezing mixture,' said I. 'If I dare to ask for a warm
with--'

"'Take what you like, Raggs--only don't ask me to be of the party;' and
with that he gazed at the wine between himself and the candle with the
glance of a true connoisseur.

[Illustration: 560]

"'I'll tell you,' said he, 'a little occurrence which happened me some
years since, not far from this; in fact, I may confess to you, it was at
Chatsworth. George the Forth came down on a visit to us for a few days
in the shooting-season,--not that he cared for sport, but it was an
excuse for something to do. Well, the evening he arrived, he dined in
his own apartment, nobody with him but--'

"Just at this instant the landlord entered, with a most obsequious face
and an air of great secrecy.

"'I beg pardon, gentlemen,' said he; 'but there's a carriage come over
from Chats worth, and the footman won't give the name of the gentleman
he wants.'

"'Quite right,--quite right,' said the Duke, waving his hand. 'Let the
carriage wait. Come, Raggs, you seem to have nothing before you.'

"'Bless your Grace,' said I, 'I 'm at the end of my third tumbler.'

"'Never mind,--mix another;' and with that he pushed the decanter of
brandy towards me, and filled his own glass to the brim.

"'Your health, Raggs,--I rather like you. I confess,' continued he,
'I've had rather a prejudice against your order. There is something
d----d low in cutting about the country with patterns in a bag.'

"'We don't,' said I, rather nettled; 'we carry a pocket-book like this.'
And here I produced my specimen order; but with one shy of his foot the
Duke sent it flying to the ceiling, as he exclaimed,--

"'Confound your patchwork!--try to be a gentleman for once!'

"'So I will, then,' said I. 'Here's your health, Devonshire.'

"'Take care,--take care,' said he, solemnly. 'Don't dare to take any
liberties with me,--they won't do;' and the words made my blood freeze.

"I tossed off a glass neat to gain courage; for my head swam round, and
I thought I saw his Grace sitting before me, in his dress as Knight of
the Garter, with a coronet on his head, his 'George' round his neck, and
he was frowning at me most awfully.

"'I did n't mean it,' said I, pitifully. 'I am only a bagman, but very
well known on the western road,--could get security for three hundred
pounds, any day, in soft goods.'

"'I am not angry, old Raggs,' said the Duke. 'None of my family ever
bear malice. Let us have a toast,--"A speedy return to our rightful
position on the Treasury benches."'

"I pledged his Grace with every enthusiasm; and when I laid my glass on
the table, he wrung my hand warmly and said,--

"'Raggs, I must do something for you.'

"From that moment I felt my fortune was made. The friendship--and was I
wrong in giving it that title?--the friendship of such a man was success
assured; and as I sipped my liquor, I ran over in my mind the various
little posts and offices I would accept of or decline. They 'll be
offering me some chief-justiceship in Gambia, or to be port-surveyor in
the Isle of Dogs, or something of that kind; but I won't take it, nor
will I go out as bishop, nor commander of the forces, nor collector of
customs to any newly discovered island in the Pacific Ocean. 'I must
have something at home here; I never could bear a sea-voyage,' said I,
aloud, concluding my meditation by this reflection.

"'Why, you are half-seas-over already, Raggs,' said the Duke, as he sat
puffing his cigar in all the luxury of a Pacha. 'I say,' continued he,
'do you ever play a hand at _écarté_, or _vingt-et-un_, or any other
game for two?'

"'I can do a little at five-and-ten,' said I, timidly; for it is rather
a vulgar game, and I did n't half fancy confessing it was my favorite.

"'Five-and-ten!' said the Duke; 'that is a game exploded even from
the housekeeper's room. I doubt if they'd play it in the kitchen of a
respectable family. Can you do nothing else?'

"Pope-joan and pitch-and-toss were then the extent of my
accomplishments; but I was actually afraid to own to them; and so I
shook my head in token of dissent.

"'Well, be it so,' said he, with a sigh. 'Touch that bell, and let us
see if they have a pack of cards in the house.'

"The cards were soon brought, a little table with a green baize
covering--it might have been a hearth-rug for coarseness--placed at the
fire, and down we sat. We played till the day was beginning to break,
chatting and sipping between time; and although the stakes were only
sixpences, the Duke won eight pounds odd shillings, and I had to give
him an order on a house in Leeds for the amount. I cared little for the
loss, it is true. The money was well invested,--somewhat more profitably
than the 'three-and-a-halfs,' any way.

"'Those horses,' said the Duke,--'those horses will feel a bit cold
or so by this time. So I think, Raggs, I must take my leave of you. We
shall meet again, I 've no doubt, some of these days. I believe you know
where to find me in town?'

"'I should think so,' said I, with a look that conveyed more than mere
words. 'It is not such a difficult matter.'

"'Well, then, good-bye, old fellow,' said he, with as warm a shake of
the hand as ever I felt in my life. 'Goodbye. I have told you to make
use of me, and, I repeat it, I 'll be as good as my word. We are not in
just now; but there 's no knowing what may turn up. _Besides, whether in
office or out, we are never without our influence_.'

"What extent of professions my gratitude led me into, I cannot clearly
remember now; but I have a half-recollection of pledging his Grace in
something very strong, and getting a fit of coughing in an attempt
to cheer, amid which he drove off as fast as the horses could travel,
waving me a last adieu from the carriage window.

"As I jogged along the road on the following day, one only passage of
the preceding night kept continually recurring to my mind. Whether it
was that his Grace spoke the words with a peculiar emphasis, or that
this last blow on the drum had erased all memory of previous sounds; but
so it was,--I continued to repeat as I went, 'Whether in office or out,
we have always our influence.'

"This sentence became my guiding star wherever I went. It supported me
in every casualty and under every misfortune. Wet through with rain,
late for a coach, soaked in a damp bed, half starved by a bad dinner,
overcharged in an inn, upset on the road, without hope, without an
'order,' I had only to fall back upon my talisman, and rarely had to
mutter it twice, ere visions of official wealth and power floated before
me, and imagination conjured up gorgeous dreams of bliss, bright enough
to dispel the darkest gloom of evil fortune; and as poets dream of fairy
forms skipping from the bells of flowers by moonlight, and light-footed
elves disporting in the deep cells of water-lilies or sailing along some
glittering stream, the boat a plantain-leaf, so did I revel in imaginary
festivals, surrounded by peers and marquises, and thought I was
hobnobbing with 'the Duke,' or dancing a cotillon with Lord Brougham at
Windsor.

"I began to doubt if a highly imaginative temperament, a richly endowed
fancy, a mind glowing with bright and glittering conceptions, an
organization strongly poetical, be gifts suited to the career and
habits of a commercial traveller. The base and grovelling tastes of
manufacturing districts, the low tone of country shopkeepers, the mean
and narrow-minded habits of people in the hardware line, distress
and irritate a man with tastes and aspirations above smoke-jacks and
saucepans. _He_ may, it is true, sometimes undervalue them; _they_
never, by any chance, can understand him. Thus was it from the hour
I made the Duke's acquaintance,--business went ill with me; the very
philosophy that supported me under all my trial seemed only to offend
them; and more than once I was insulted, because I said at parting,
'Never mind,--in office or out, we have always our influence.' The end
of it was, I lost my situation; my employers coolly said that my brain
did n't seem all right, and they sent me about my business,--a pleasant
phrase that,--for when a man is turned adrift upon the world, without
an object or an occupation, with nowhere to go to, nothing to do, and,
mayhap, nothing to eat, he is then said to be sent about his business.
Can it mean that his only business then is to drown himself? Such
were not my thoughts, assuredly. I made my late master a low bow, and,
muttering my old _refrain_ 'In office or out,' etc., took my leave and
walked off. For a day or two I hunted the coffee-houses to read all the
newspapers, and discover, if I could, what government situations were
then vacant; for I knew that the great secret in these matters is always
to ask for some definite post or employment, because the refusal, if you
meet it, suggests the impression of disappointment, and, although they
won't make you a Treasury Lord, there 's no saying but they may appoint
you a Tide-waiter. I fell upon evil days,--excepting a Consul for
Timbuctoo, and a Lord Lieutenant for Ireland, there was nothing
wanting,--the latter actually, as the 'Times' said, was going a-begging.
In the corner of the paper, however, almost hidden from view, I
discovered that a collector of customs--I forget where exactly--had
been eaten by a crocodile, and his post was in the gift of the Colonial
Office. 'Come, here's the very thing for me,' thought I. '" In office or
out"--now for it;' and with that I hurried to my lodgings to dress for
my interview with his Grace of Devonshire.

"There is a strange flutter of expectancy, doubt, and pleasure in the
preparation one makes to visit a person whose exalted sphere and higher
rank have made him a patron to you. It is like the sensation felt on
entering a large shop with your book of patterns, anxious and fearful
whether you may leave without an order. Such in great part were my
feelings as I drove along towards Devonshire House; and although pretty
certain of the cordial reception that awaited me, I did not exactly like
the notion of descending to ask a favor.

"Every stroke of the great knocker was answered by a throb at my own
side, if not as loud, at least as moving, for my summons was left
unanswered for full ten minutes. Then, when I was meditating on
the propriety of a second appeal, the door was opened and a very
sleepy-looking footman asked me, rather gruffly, what I wanted.

"'To see his Grace; he is at home, is n't he?'

"'Yes, he is at home, but you cannot see him at this hour; he's at
breakfast.'

"'No matter,' said I, with the easy confidence our former friendship
inspired; 'just step up and say Mr. Baggs, of the Northern
Circuit,--Baggs, do you mind?'

"'I should like to see myself give such a message,' replied the fellow,
with an insolent drawl; 'leave your name here, and come back for your
answer.'

"'Take this, scullion,' said I, haughtily, drawing forth my card, which
I did n't fancy producing at first, because it set forth as how I was
commercial traveller in the long hose and flannel way, for a house in
Glasgow. 'Say he is the gentleman his Grace dined with at Chesterfield
in March last.'

"The mention of a dinner struck the fellow with such amazement that
without venturing another word, or even a glance at my card, he mounted
the stairs to apprise the Duke of my presence.

"'This way, sir; his Grace will see you,' said he, in a very modified
tone, as he returned in a few minutes after.

"I threw on him a look of scowling contempt at the alter-ation his
manner had undergone, and followed him upstairs. After passing through
several splendid apartments, he opened one side of a folding-door, and
calling out 'Mr. Baggs,' shut it behind me, leaving me in the presence
of a very distinguished-looking personage, seated at breakfast beside
the fire.

"'I believe you are the person that has the Blenheim spaniels,' said his
Grace, scarce turning his head towards me as he spoke.

"'No, my Lord, no,--never had a dog in my life; but are you--are you the
Duke of Devonshire?' cried I, in a very faltering voice.

"'I believe so, sir,' said he, standing up and gazing at me with a look
of bewildered astonishment I can never forget.

"'Dear me,' said I, 'how your Grace is altered! You were as large again
last April, when we travelled down to Nottingham. Them light French
wines, they are ruining your constitution; I knew they would.'

"The Duke made no answer, but rang the bell violently for some seconds.

"'Bless my heart,' said I, 'it surely can't be that I 'm mistaken. It's
not possible it wasn't your Grace.'

"'Who is this man?' said the Duke, as the servant appeared in answer to
the bell. 'Who let him upstairs?'

"'Mr. Baggs, your Grace,' he said. 'He dined with your Grace at--'

"'Take him away, give him in charge to the police; the fellow must be
punished for his insolence.'

"My head was whirling, and my faculties were all astray. I neither knew
what I said, nor what happened after, save that I felt myself half led,
half pushed, down the stairs I had mounted so confidently five minutes
before, while the liveried rascal kept dinning into my ears some threats
about two months' imprisonment and hard labor. Just as we were passing
through the hall, however, the door of a front-parlor opened, and a
gentleman in a very elegant dressing-gown stepped out. I had neither
time nor inclination to mark his features,--my own case absorbed me
too completely. 'I am an unlucky wretch,' said I, aloud. 'Nothing ever
prospers with me.'

"'Cheer up, old boy,' said he of the dressing-gown: 'fortune will take
another turn yet; but I do confess you hold miserable cards.'

"The voice as he spoke aroused me. I turned about, and there stood my
companion at Chesterfield.

"'His Grace wants you, Mr. Cavendish,' said the footman, as he opened
the door for me.

"'Let him go, Thomas,' said Mr. Cavendish. 'There's no harm in old
Raggs.'

"'Isn't he the Duke?' gasped I, as he tripped upstairs without noticing
me further.

"'The Duke,--no, bless your heart, he's his gentleman!'

"Here was an end of all my cherished hopes and dreams of patronage. The
aristocratic leader of fashion, the great owner of palaces, the Whig
autocrat, tumbled down into a creature that aired newspapers and scented
pocket-handkerchiefs. Never tell me of the manners of the titled classes
again. Here was a specimen that will satisfy my craving for a life long;
and if the reflection be so strong, what must be the body which causes
it!"

[Illustration: 567]



THE WHITE LACE BONNET

[Illustration: 568]

It is about two years since I was one of that strange and busy mob
of some five hundred people who were assembled on the platform in the
Euston-Square station a few minutes previous to the starting of the
morning mail-train for Birmingham. To the unoccupied observer the
scene might have been an amusing one; the little domestic incidents
of leave-taking and embracing, the careful looking after luggage and
parcels, the watchful anxieties for a lost cloak or a stray carpet-bag,
blending with the affectionate farewells of parting, are all curious,
while the studious preparation for comfort of the old gentleman in the
_coupé_ oddly contrast with similar arrangements on a more limited scale
by the poor soldier's wife in the third-class carriage.

Small as the segment of humanity is, it is a type of the great world to
which it belongs.

I sauntered carelessly along the boarded terrace, investigating, by the
light of the guard's lantern, the inmates of the different carriages,
and, calling to my assistance my tact as a physiognomist as to what
party I should select for my fellow-passengers,--"Not in there,
assuredly," said I to myself, as I saw the aquiline noses and dark eyes
of two Hamburgh Jews; "nor here, either,--I cannot stand a day in a
nursery; nor will this party suit me, that old gentleman is snoring
already;" and so I walked on until at last I bethought me of an empty
carriage, as at least possessing negative benefits, since positive ones
were denied me. Scarcely had the churlish determination seized me, when
the glare of the light fell upon the side of a bonnet of white lace,
through whose transparent texture a singularly lovely profile could
be seen. Features purely Greek in their character, tinged with a most
delicate color, were defined by a dark mass of hair, worn in a deep band
along the cheek almost to the chin. There was a sweetness, a look of
guileless innocence, in the character of the face which, even by the
flitting light of the lantern, struck me strongly. I made the guard
halt, and peeped into the carriage as if seeking for a friend. By the
uncertain flickering, I could detect the figure of a man, apparently
a young one, by the lady's side; the carriage had no other traveller.
"This will do," thought I, as I opened the door, and took my place on
the opposite side.

Every traveller knows that locomotion must precede conversation; the
veriest commonplace cannot be hazarded till the piston is in motion or
the paddles are flapping. The word "Go on" is as much for the passengers
as the vehicle, and the train and the tongues are set in movement
together; as for myself, I have been long upon the road, and might
travesty the words of our native poet, and say,--

          "My home is on the highway."

I have therefore cultivated, and I trust with some success, the tact of
divining the characters, condition, and rank of fellow-travellers,--the
speculation on whose peculiarities has often served to wile away the
tediousness of many a wearisome road and many an uninteresting journey.

The little lamp which hung aloft gave me but slight opportunity of
prosecuting my favorite study on this occasion. All that I could trace
was the outline of a young and delicately formed girl, enveloped in a
cashmere shawl,--a slight and inadequate muffling for the road at such
a season. The gentleman at her side was attired in what seemed a
dress-coat, nor was he provided with any other defence against the cold
of the morning.

Scarcely had I ascertained these two facts, when the lamp flared,
flickered, and went out, leaving me to speculate on these vague but yet
remarkable traits in the couple before me. "What can they be?" "Who
are they?" "Where do they come from?" "Where are they going?" were all
questions which naturally presented themselves to me in turn; yet every
inquiry resolved itself into the one, "Why has she not a cloak, why has
not he got a Petersham?" Long and patiently did I discuss these
points with myself, and framed numerous hypotheses to account for the
circumstances,--but still with comparatively little satisfaction, as
objections presented themselves to each conclusion; and although, in
turn, I had made him a runaway clerk from Coutts's, a Liverpool actor, a
member of the swell-mob, and a bagman, yet I could not, for the life of
me, include _her_ in the category of such an individual's companions.
Neither spoke, so that from their voices, that best of all tests,
nothing could be learned.

[Illustration: 571]

Wearied by my doubts, and worried by the interruption to my sleep the
early rising necessitated, I fell soon into a sound doze, lulled by
the soothing "strains" a locomotive so eminently is endowed with. The
tremulous quavering of the carriage, the dull roll of the heavy wheels,
the convulsive beating and heaving of the black monster itself, gave
the tone to my sleeping thoughts, and my dreams were of the darkest. I
thought that, in a gloomy silence, we were journeying over a wild
and trackless plain, with no sight nor sound of man, save such as
accompanied our sad procession; that dead and leafless trees were
grouped about, and roofless dwellings and blackened walls marked the
dreary earth; dark sluggish streams stole heavily past, with noisome
weeds upon their surface; while along the sedgy banks sat leprous and
glossy reptiles, glaring with round eyes upon us. Suddenly it seemed as
if our speed increased; the earth and sky flew faster past, and objects
became dim and indistinct; a misty maze of dark plain and clouded heaven
were all I could discern; while straight in front, by the lurid glare
of a fire fitted round and about two dark shapes danced a wild goblin
measure, tossing their black limbs with frantic gesture, while they
brandished in their hands bars of seething iron; one, larger and more
dreadful than the other, sung in a "rauque" voice, that sounded like the
clank of machinery, a rude song, beating time to the tune with his iron
bar. The monotonous measure of the chant, which seldom varied in its
note, sank deep into my chilled heart; and I think I hear still


THE SONG OF THE STOKER.

     Rake, rake, rake,
     Ashes, cinders, and coal;
     The fire we make,
     Must never slake,
     Like the fire that roasts a soul.
     Hurrah! my boys, 't is a glorious noise,
     To list to the stormy main;
     But nor wave-lash'd shore
     Nor lion's roar
     E'er equall'd a luggage train.
     'Neath the panting sun our course we run,
     No water to slake our thirst;
     Nor ever a pool
     Our tongue to cool,
     Except the boiler burst.

     The courser fast, the trumpet's blast,
     Sigh after us in vain;
     And even the wind
     We leave behind
     With the speed of a special train.

     Swift we pass o'er the wild morass,
     Tho' the night be starless and black;
     Onward we go,
     Where the snipe flies low,
     Nor man dares follow our track.

     A mile a minute, on we go,
     Hurrah for my courser fast;
     His coal-black mane,
     And his fiery train,
     And his breath--a furnace blast
     On and on, till the day is gone,
     We rush with a goblin scream;
     And the cities, at night,
     They start with affright,
     At the cry of escaping steam.

     Bang, bang, bang!
     Shake, shiver, and throb;
     The sound of our feet
     Is the piston's beat,
     And the opening valve our sob!
     Our union-jack is the smoke-train black,
     That thick from the funnel rolls;
     And our bounding bark
     Is a gloomy ark,
     And our cargo--human souls.

     Rake, rake, rake,
     Ashes, cinders, and coal;
     The fire we make,
     Must never slake,
     Like the fire that roasts a soul.

"Bang, bang, bang!" said I, aloud, repeating this infernal "refrain,"
and with an energy that made my two fellow-travellers burst out
laughing. This awakened me from my sleep, and enabled me to throw off
the fearful incubus which rested on my bosom; so strongly, however, was
the image of my dream, so vivid the picture my mind had conjured up,
and, stranger than all, so perfect was the memory of the demoniac song,
that I could not help relating the whole vision, and repeating for my
companions the words, as I have here done for the reader. As I proceeded
in my narrative, I had ample time to observe the couple before me. The
lady--for it is but suitable to begin with her--was young, she could
scarcely have been more than twenty, and looked by the broad daylight
even handsomer than by the glare of the guard's lantern; she was slight,
but, as well as I could observe, her figure was very gracefully formed,
and with a decided air of elegance detectable even in the ease and
repose of her attitude. Her dress was of pale blue silk, around the
collar of which she wore a profusion of rich lace, of what peculiar loom
I am, unhappily, unable to say; nor would I allude to the circumstance,
save that it formed one of the most embarrassing problems in my
efforts at divining her rank and condition. Never was there such a
travelling-costume; and although it suited perfectly the frail
and delicate beauty of the wearer, it ill accorded with the dingy
"conveniency" in which we journeyed. Even to her shoes and stockings
(for I noticed these,--the feet were perfect) and gloves,--all the
details of her dress had a freshness and propriety one rarely or ever
sees encountering the wear and tear of the road. The young gentleman
at her side--for he, too, was scarcely more than five-and-twenty, at
most--was also attired in a costume as little like that of a traveller;
a dress-coat and evening waistcoat, over which a profusion of chains
were festooned in that mode so popular in our day, showed that he
certainly, in arranging his costume, had other thoughts than of wasting
such attractions on the desert air of a railroad journey. He was a
good-looking young fellow, with that mixture of frankness and careless
ease the youth of England so eminently possess, in contradistinction
to the young men of other countries; his manner and voice both attested
that he belonged to a good class, and the general courtesy of his
demeanor showed one who had lived in society. While he evinced an
evident desire to enter into conversation and amuse his companion, there
was still an appearance of agitation and incertitude about him which
showed that his mind was wandering very far from the topic before
him. More than once he checked himself, in the course of some casual
merriment, and became suddenly grave,--while from time to time he
whispered to the young lady, with an appearance of anxiety and eagerness
all his endeavors could not effectually conceal. She, too, seemed
agitated,--but, I thought, less so than he; it might be, however, that
from the habitual quietude of her manner, the traits of emotion were
less detectable by a stranger. We had not journeyed far, when several
new travellers entered the carriage, and thus broke up the little
intercourse which had begun to be established between us. The new
arrivals were amusing enough in their way,--there was a hearty old
Quaker from Leeds, who was full of a dinner-party he had been at with
Feargus O'Connor, the day before; there was an interesting young fellow
who had obtained a fellowship at Cambridge, and was going down to visit
his family; and lastly, a loud-talking, load-laughing member of the
tail, in the highest possible spirits at the prospect of Irish politics,
and exulting in the festivities he was about to witness at Derrynane
Abbey, whither he was then proceeding with some other Danaïdes, to visit
what Tom Steele calls "his august leader." My young friends, however,
partook little in the amusement the newly arrived travellers afforded;
they neither relished the broad, quaint common-sense of the Quaker, the
conversational cleverness of the Cambridge man, or the pungent though
somewhat coarse drollery of the "Emeralder." They sat either totally
silent or conversing in a low, indistinct murmur, with their heads
turned towards each other. The Quaker left us at Warwick, the "Fellow"
took his leave soon after, and the O'Somebody was left behind at a
station; the last thing I heard of him, being his frantic shouting as
the train moved off, while he was endeavoring to swallow a glass of hot
brandy and water. We were alone then once more; but somehow the interval
which had occurred had chilled the warm current of our intercourse;
perhaps, too, the effects of a long day's journey were telling on us
all, and we felt that indisposition to converse which steals over even
the most habitual traveller towards the close of a day on the road.
Partly from these causes, and more strongly still from my dislike to
obtrude conversation upon those whose minds were evidently preoccupied,
I too lay back in my seat and indulged my own reflections in silence. I
had sat for some time thus, I know not exactly how long, when the voice
of the young lady struck on my ear; it was one of those sweet, tinkling
silver sounds which somehow when heard, however slightly, have the
effect at once to dissipate the dull routine of one's own thoughts, and
suggest others more relative to the speaker.

"Had you not better ask him?" said she; "I am sure he can tell you."
The youth apparently demurred, while she insisted the more, and at
length, as if yielding to her entreaty, he suddenly turned towards me
and said, "I am a perfect stranger here, and would feel obliged if you
could inform me which is the best hotel in Liverpool." He made a slight
pause and added, "I mean a quiet family hotel."

"I rarely stop in the town myself," replied I; "but when I do, to
breakfast or dine, I take the Adelphi. I 'm sure you will find it very
comfortable."

They again conversed for a few moments together; and the young man, with
an appearance of some hesitation, said, "Do you mean to go there now,
sir?"

"Yes," said I, "my intention is to take a hasty dinner before I start in
the steamer for Ireland; I see by my watch I shall have ample time to do
so, as we shall arrive full half an hour before our time."

Another pause, and another little discussion ensued, the only words of
which I could catch from the young lady being, "I'm certain he will have
no objection." Conceiving that these referred to myself, and guessing at
their probable import, I immediately said, "If you will allow me to be
your guide, I shall feel most happy to show you the way; we can obtain a
carriage at the station, and proceed thither at once."

I was right in my surmise--both parties were profuse in their
acknowledgments--the young man avowing that it was the very request he
was about to make when I anticipated him. We arrived in due time at the
station, and, having assisted my new acquaintances to alight, I found
little difficulty in placing them in a carriage, for luggage they had
none, neither portmanteau nor carpet-bag--not even a dressing-case--a
circumstance at which, however, I might have endeavored to avoid
expressing my wonder, they seemed to feel required an explanation at
their hands; both looked confused and abashed, nor was it until by
busying myself in the details of my own baggage, that I was enabled to
relieve them from the embarrassment the circumstance occasioned.

"Here we are," said I: "this is the Adelphi," as we stopped at that
comfortable and hospitable portal, through which the fumes of brown
gravy and ox-tail float with a savory odor as pleasant to him who enters
with dinner intentions as it is tantalizing to the listless wanderer
without.

The lady thanked me with a smile, as I handed her into the house, and a
very sweet smile too, and one I could have fancied the young man would
have felt a little jealous of, if I had not seen the ten times more
fascinating one she bestowed on him.

[Illustration: 577]

The young man acknowledged my slight service with thanks, and made
a half gesture to shake hands at parting, which, though a failure, I
rather liked, as evidencing, even in its awkwardness, a kindness of
disposition--for so it is. Gratitude smacks poorly when expressed in
trim and measured phrase; it seems not the natural coinage of the heart
when the impression betrays too clearly the mint of the mind.

"Good-bye," said I, as I watched their retiring figures up the wide
staircase. "She is devilish pretty; and what a good figure! I did not
think any other than a French woman could adjust her shawl in that
fashion." And with these very soothing reflections I betook myself to
the coffee-room, and soon was deep in discussing the distinctive merits
of mulligatawny, mock-turtle, or mutton chops, or listening to that
everlasting paean every waiter in England sings in praise of the
"joint."

In all the luxury of my own little table, with my own little
salt-cellar, my own cruet-stand, my beer-glass, and its younger brother
for wine, I sat awaiting the arrival of my fare, and puzzling my brain
as to the unknown travellers. Now, had they been but clothed in the
ordinary fashion of the road,--if the lady had worn a plaid cloak and a
beaver bonnet,--if the gentleman had a brown Taglioui and a cloth cap,
with a cigar-case peeping out of his breast-pocket, like everybody else
in this smoky world,--had they but the ordinary allowance of trunks and
boxes,--I should have been coolly conning over the leading article of
the "Times," or enjoying the spicy leader in the last "Examiner;" but,
no,--they had shrouded themselves in a mystery, though not in garments;
and the result was that I, gifted with that inquiring spirit which
Paul Pry informs us is the characteristic of the age, actually tortured
myself into a fever as to who and what they might be,--the origin, the
course, and the probable termination of their present adventure,--for an
adventure I determined it must be. "People do such odd things nowadays,"
said I, "there's no knowing what the deuce they may be at. I wish I even
knew their names, for I am certain I shall read to-morrow or the next
day in the second column of the 'Times,' 'Why will not W. P. and C.
P. return to their afflicted friends? Write at least,--write to your
bereaved parents, No. 12 Russell Square;' or, 'If F. M. S. will not
inform her mother whither she has gone, the deaths of more than two of
the family will be the consequence.'" Now, could I only find out their
names, I could relieve so much family apprehension--Here comes the soup,
however,--admirable relief to a worried brain! how every mouthful
swamps reflection!--even the platitude of the waiter's face is, as the
Methodists say, "a blessed privilege," so agreeably does it divest
the mind of a thought the more, and suggest that pleasant vacuity so
essential to the hour of dinner. The tureen was gone, and then came one
of those strange intervals which all taverns bestow, as if to test the
extent of endurance and patience of their guests.

My thoughts turned at once to their old track. "I have it," said I, as
a bloody-minded suggestion shot through my brain. "This is an affair
of charcoal and oxalic acid, this is some damnable device of arsenic
or sugar-of-lead,--these young wretches have come down here to poison
themselves, and be smothered in that mode latterly introduced among us.
There will be a double-locked door and smell of carbonic gas through the
key-hole in the morning. I have it all before me, even to the maudlin
letter, with its twenty-one verses of maudlin poetry at the foot of it.
I think I hear the coroner's charge, and see the three shillings and
eightpence halfpenny produced before the jury, that were found in the
youth's possession, together with a small key and a bill for a luncheon
at Birmingham. By Jove, I will prevent it, though; I will spoil their
fun this time; if they will have physic, let them have something just
as nauseous, but not so injurious. My own notion is a basin of this soup
and a slice of the 'joint,' and here it comes;" and thus my meditations
were again destined to be cut short, and revery give way to reality.

I was just helping myself to my second slice of mutton, when the young
man entered the coffee-room, and walked towards me. At first his manner
evinced hesitation and indecision, and he turned to the fireplace, as
if with some change of purpose; then, as if suddenly summoning his
resolution, he came up to the table at which I sat, and said,--

"Will you favor me with five minutes of your time?"

"By all means," said I; "sit down here, and I'm your man; you must
excuse me, though, if I proceed with my dinner, as I see it is past six
o'clock, and the packet sails at seven."

"Pray, proceed," replied he; "your doing so will in part excuse the
liberty I take in obtruding myself upon you."

He paused, and although I waited for him to resume, he appeared in no
humor to do so, but seemed more confused than before.

"Hang it," said he at length, "I am a very bungling negotiator, and
never in my life could manage a matter of any difficulty."

"Take a glass of sherry," said I; "try if that may not assist to recall
your faculties."

"No, no," cried he; "I have taken a bottle of it already, and, by Jove,
I rather think my head is only the more addled. Do you know that I am in
a most confounded scrape. I have run away with that young lady; we were
at an evening-party last night together, and came straight away from the
supper-table to the train."

"Indeed!" said I, laying down my knife and fork, not a little gratified
that I was at length to learn the secret that had so long teased me.
"And so you have run away with her!"

"Yes; it was no sudden thought, however,--at least, it was an old
attachment; I have known her these two months."

"Oh! oh!" said I; "then there was prudence in the affair."

"Perhaps you will say so," said he, quickly, "when I tell you she has
£30,000 in the Funds, and something like £1700 a year besides,--not that
I care a straw for the money, but, in the eye of the world, that kind of
thing has its _éclat_."

"So it has," said I, "and a very pretty _éclat_ it is, and one that,
somehow or another, preserves its attractions much longer than most
surprises; but I do not see the scrape, after all."

"I am coming to that," said he, glancing timidly around the room. "The
affair occurred this wise: we were at an evening-party,--a kind of
_déjeûné_, it was, on the Thames,--Charlotte came with her aunt,--a
shrewish old damsel, that has no love for me; in fact, she very soon saw
my game, and resolved to thwart it. Well, of course I was obliged to be
most circumspect, and did not venture to approach her, not even to ask
her to dance, the whole evening. As it grew late, however, I either
became more courageous or less cautious, and I did ask her for a waltz.
The old lady bristled up at once, and asked for her shawl. Charlotte
accepted my invitation, and said she would certainly not retire so
early; and I, to cut the matter short, led her to the top of the room.
We waltzed together, and then had a 'gallop,' and after that some
champagne, and then another waltz; for Charlotte was resolved to give
the old lady a lesson,--she has spirit for anything! Well, it was
growing late by this time, and we went in search of the aunt at last;
but, by Jove! she was not to be found. We hunted everywhere for her,
looked well in every corner of the supper-room, where it was most likely
we should discover her; and at length, to our mutual horror and dismay,
we learned that she had ordered the carriage up a full hour before, and
gone off, declaring that she would send Charlotte's father to fetch her
home, as she herself possessed no influence over her. Here was a pretty
business,--the old gentleman being, as Charlotte often told me, the most
choleric man in England. He had killed two brother officers in duels,
and narrowly escaped being hanged at Maidstone for shooting a waiter
who delayed bringing him the water to shave,--a pleasant old boy to
encounter on such an occasion at this!

"'He will certainly shoot me,--he will shoot you,--he will kill us
both!' were the only words she could utter; and my blood actually froze
at the prospect before us. You may smile if you like; but let me tell
you that an outraged father, with a pair of patent revolving pistols, is
no laughing matter. There was nothing for it, then, but to 'bolt.' _She_
saw that as soon as I did; and although she endeavored to persuade me to
suffer her to return home alone, that, you know, I never could think of;
and so, after some little demurrings, some tears, and some resistance,
we got to the Euston-Square station, just as the train was going. You
may easily think that neither of us had much time for preparation. As
for myself, I have come away with a ten-pound note in my purse,--not a
shilling more have I in my possession; and here we are now, half of that
sum spent already, and how we are to get on to the North, I cannot for
the life of me conceive."

"Oh! that's it," said I, peering at him shrewdly from under my eyelids.

"Yes, that 's it; don't you think it is bad enough?" and he spoke the
words with a reckless frankness that satisfied all my scruples. "I ought
to tell you," said he, "that my name is Blunden; I am lieutenant in
the Buffs, on leave; and now that you know my secret, will you lend me
twenty pounds? which perhaps, may be enough to carry us forward,--at
least, it will do, until it will be safe for me to write for money."

"But what would bring you to the North?" said I; "why not put yourselves
on board the mail-packet this evening, and come to Dublin? We will marry
you there just as cheaply; pursuit of you will be just as difficult; and
I 'd venture to say, you might choose a worse land for the honeymoon."

"But I have no money," said he; "you forgot that."

"For the matter of money," said I, "make your mind easy. If the young
lady is going away with her own consent,--if, indeed, she is as anxious
to get married as you are,--make me the banker, and I 'll give her away,
be the bridesmaid, or anything else you please."

"You are a trump," said he, helping himself to another glass of my
sherry; and then filling out a third, which emptied the bottle, he
slapped me on the shoulder, and said, "Here 's your health; now come
upstairs."

"Stop a moment," said I, "I must see her alone,--there must be no
tampering with the evidence."

He hesitated for a second, and surveyed me from head to foot; and
whether it was the number of my double chins or the rotundity of my
waistcoat divested his mind of any jealous scruples, but he smiled
coolly, and said, "So you shall, old buck,--we will never quarrel about
that."

Upstairs we went accordingly, and into a handsome drawing-room on the
first floor, at one end of which, with her head buried in her hands, the
young lady was sitting.

"Charlotte," said he, "this gentleman is kind enough to take an interest
in our fortunes, but he desires a few words with you alone."

I waved my hand to him to prevent his making any further explanation,
and as a signal to withdraw; he took the hint and left the room.

Now, thought I, this is the second act of the drama; what the deuce am
I to do here? In the first place, some might deem it my duty to admonish
the young damsel on the impropriety of the step, to draw an afflicting
picture of her family, to make her weep bitter tears, and end by
persuading her to take a first-class ticket in the up-train. This would
be the grand parento-moral line; and I shame to confess it, it was never
my forte. Secondly, I might pursue the inquiry suggested by myself, and
ascertain her real sentiments. This might be called the amico-auxiliary
line. Or, lastly, I might try a little, what might be done on my
own score, and not see £30,000 and £1700 a year squandered by a
cigar-smoking lieutenant in the Buffs. As there may be different
opinions about this line, I shall not give it a name. Suffice it to
say, that, notwithstanding a sly peep at as pretty a throat and as well
rounded an instep as ever tempted a "government Mercury," I was true to
my trust, and opened the negotiation on the honest footing.

"Do you love him, my little darling?" said I; for somehow consolation
always struck me as own-brother to love-making. It is like indorsing a
bill for a friend, which, though he tells you he 'll meet, you always
feel responsible for the money.

She turned upon me an arch look. By St. Patrick, I half regretted I had
not tried number three, as in the sweetest imaginable voice she said,--

"Do you doubt it?"

"I wish I could," thought I to myself. No matter, it was too late
for regrets; and so I ascertained, in a very few minutes, that
she corroborated every portion of the statement, and was as deeply
interested in the success of the adventure as himself.

"That will do," said I. "He is a lucky fellow,--I always heard the Buffs
were;" and with that I descended to the coffee-room, where the young man
awaited me with the greatest anxiety.

"Are you satisfied?" cried he, as I entered the room.

"Perfectly," was my answer. "And now let us lose no more time; it wants
but a quarter to seven, and we must be on board in ten minutes."

As I have already remarked, my fellow-travellers were not burdened with
luggage, so there was little difficulty in expediting their departure;
and in half an hour from that time we were gliding down the Mersey, and
gazing on the spangled lamps which glittered over that great city of
soap, sugar, and sassafras, train-oil, timber, and tallow. The young
lady soon went below, as the night was chilly; but Blunden and myself
walked the deck until near twelve o'clock, chatting over whatever
came uppermost, and giving me an opportunity to perceive that, without
possessing any remarkable ability or cleverness, he was one of those
offhand, candid, clear-headed young fellows, who, when trained in the
admirable discipline of the mess, become the excellent specimens of
well-conducted, well-mannered gentlemen our army abounds with.

We arrived in due course in Dublin. I took my friends up to Morrison's,
drove with them after breakfast to a fashionable milliner's, where the
young lady, with an admirable taste, selected such articles of dress as
she cared for, and I then saw them duly married. I do not mean to say
that the ceremony was performed by a bishop, or that a royal duke gave
her away; neither can I state that the train of carriages comprised
the equipages of the leading nobility. I only vouch for the fact that a
little man, with a black eye and a sinister countenance, read a ceremony
of his own composing, and made them write their names in a great
book, and pay thirty shillings for his services; after which I put a
fifty-pound note into Blunden's hand, saluted the bride, and, wishing
them every health and happiness, took my leave.

They started at once with four posters for the North, intending to cross
over to Scotland. My engagements induced me to leave town for Cork,
and in less than a fortnight I found at my club a letter from Blunden,
enclosing the fifty pounds, with a thousand thanks for my prompt
kindness, and innumerable affectionate reminiscences from Madame.
They were as happy as--confound it, every one is happy for a week or a
fortnight; so I crushed the letter, pitched it into the fire, was rather
pleased with myself for what I had done, and thought no more of the
whole transaction.

Here then my tale should have an end, and the moral is obvious. Indeed,
I am not certain but some may prefer it to that which the succeeding
portion conveys, thinking that the codicil revokes the body of the
testament. However that may be, here goes for it.

It was about a year after this adventure that I made one of a party of
six travelling up to London by the "Grand Junction." The company were
chatty, pleasant folk, and the conversation, as often happens among
utter strangers, became anecdotic; many good stories were told in turn,
and many pleasant comments made on them, when at length it occurred to
me to mention the somewhat singular rencontre I have already narrated as
having happened to myself.

"Strange enough," said I, "the last time I journeyed along this line,
nearly this time last year, a very remarkable occurrence took place. I
happened to fall in with a young officer of the Buffs, eloping with
an exceedingly pretty girl; she had a large fortune, and was in every
respect a great 'catch;' he ran away with her from an evening party, and
never remembered, until he arrived at Liverpool, that he had no money
for the journey. In this dilemma, the young fellow, rather spooney about
the whole thing, I think would have gone quietly back by the next train,
but, by Jove, I could n't satisfy my conscience that so lovely a girl
should be treated in such a manner. I rallied his courage; took him over
to Ireland in the packet, and got them married the next morning."

"Have I caught you at last, you old, meddling scoundrel!" cried a voice,
hoarse and discordant with passion, from the opposite side; and at the
same instant a short, thickset old man, with shoulders like a Hercules,
sprung at me. With one hand he clutched me by the throat, and with the
other he pummelled my head against the panel of the conveyance, and with
such violence that many people in the next carriage averred that they
thought we had run into the down train. So sudden was the old wretch's
attack, and so infuriate withal, it took the united force of the other
passengers to detach him from my neck; and even then, as they drew him
off, he kicked at me like a demon. Never has it been my lot to witness
such an outbreak of wrath; and, indeed, were I to judge from the
symptoms it occasioned, the old fellow had better not repeat it, or
assuredly apoplexy would follow.

"That villain,--that old ruffian," said he, glaring at me with flashing
eyeballs, while he menaced me with his closed fist,--"that cursed,
meddling scoundrel is the cause of the greatest calamity of my life."

"Are you her father, then?" articulated I, faintly, for a misgiving came
over me that my boasted benevolence might prove a mistake. "Are you her
father?" The words were not out, when he dashed at me once more, and
were it not for the watchfulness of the others, inevitably had finished
me.

"I've heard of you, my old buck," said I, affecting a degree of ease
and security my heart sadly belied. "I 've heard of your dreadful temper
already,--I know you can't control yourself. I know all about the waiter
at Maidstone. By Jove, they did not wrong you; and I am not surprised
at your poor daughter leaving you--" But he would not suffer me to
conclude; and once more his wrath boiled over, and all the efforts
of the others were barely sufficient to calm him into a semblance of
reason.

There would be an end to my narrative if I endeavored to convey to my
reader the scene which followed, or recount the various outbreaks of
passion which ever and anon interrupted the old man, and induced him to
diverge into sundry little by-ways of lamentation over his misfortune,
and curses upon my meddling interference. Indeed his whole narrative was
conducted more in the staccato style of an Italian opera father than
in the homely wrath of an English parent; the wind-up of these
dissertations being always to the one purpose, as with a look of
scowling passion directed towards me, he said, "Only wait till we reach
the station, and see if I won't do for you."

His tale, in few words, amounted to this. He was the Squire
Blunden,--the father of the lieutenant in the "Buffs." The youth had
formed an attachment to a lady whom he had accidentally met in a Margate
steamer. The circumstances of her family and fortune were communicated
to him in confidence by herself; and although she expressed her
conviction of the utter impossibility of obtaining her father's consent
to an untitled match, she as resolutely refused to elope with him. The
result, however, was as we have seen; she did elope,--was married,--they
made a wedding tour in the Highlands, and returned to Blunden Hall two
months after, where the old gentleman welcomed them with affection
and forgiveness. About a fortnight after their return, it was deemed
necessary to make inquiry as to the circumstances of her estate and
funded property, when the young lady fell upon her knees, wept bitterly,
said she had not a sixpence,--that the whole thing was a "ruse;" that
she had paid five pounds for a choleric father, three ten for an aunt
warranted to wear "satin;" in fact, that she had been twice married
before, and had heavy misgivings that the husbands were still living.

There was nothing left for it but compromise. "I gave her," said he,
"five hundred pounds to go to the devil, and I registered, the same day,
a solemn oath that if ever I met this same Tramp, he should carry the
impress of my knuckles on his face to the day of his death."

The train reached Harrow as the old gentleman spoke. I waited until it
was again in motion, and, flinging wide the door, I sprang out, and from
that day to this have strictly avoided forming acquaintance with a white
lace bonnet, even at a distance, or ever befriending a lieutenant in the
Buffs.



FAST ASLEEP AND WIDE AWAKE

[Illustration: 588]

I got into the Dover "down train" at the station, and after seeking for
a place in two or three of the leading carriages, at last succeeded in
obtaining one where there were only two other passengers. These were
a lady and a gentleman,--the former, a young, pleasing-looking girl,
dressed in quiet mourning; the latter was a tall, gaunt, bilious-looking
man, with grisly gray hair, and an extravagantly aquiline nose. I
guessed, from the positions they occupied in the carriage, that they
were not acquaintances, and my conjecture proved subsequently true. The
young lady was pale, like one in delicate health, and seemed very weary
and tired, for she was fast asleep as I entered the carriage, and did
not awake, notwithstanding all the riot and disturbance incident to the
station. I took my place directly in front of my fellow-travellers; and
whether from mere accident, or from the passing interest a pretty face
inspires, cast my eyes towards the lady; the gaunt man opposite fixed on
me a look of inexpressible shrewdness, and with a very solemn shake of
his head, whispered in a low undertone,--

"No! no! not a bit of it; she ain't asleep,--they never do
sleep,--never!"

"Oh!" thought I to myself, "there's another class of people not
remarkable for over-drowsiness; "for, to say truth, the expression of
the speaker's face and the oddity of his words made me suspect that he
was not a miracle of sanity. The reflection had scarcely passed through
my mind, when he arose softly from his seat, and assumed a place beside
me.

"You thought she was fast," said he, as he laid his hand familiarly
on my arm; "I know you did,--I saw it the moment you came into the
carriage."

"Why, I did think--"

"Ah! that's deceived many a one. Lord bless you, sir, they are not
understood, no one knows them; "and at these words he heaved a profound
sigh, and dropped his head upon his bosom, as though the sentiment had
overwhelmed him with affliction.

"Riddles, sir," said he to me, with a glare of his eyes that really
looked formidable,--"sphinxes; that's what they are. Are you married?"
whispered he.

"No, sir," said I, politely; for as I began to entertain more serious
doubts of my companion's intellect, I resolved to treat him with every
civility.

"I don't believe it matters a fig," said he; "the Pope of Rome knows as
much about them as Bluebeard."

"Indeed," said I, "are these your sentiments?"

"They are," replied he, in a still lower whisper; "and if we were to
talk modern Greek this moment, I would not say but _she_"--and here he
made a gesture towards the young lady opposite--"but _she_ would know
every word of it. It is not supernatural, sir, because the law
is universal; but it is a most--what shall I say, sir?--a most
extraordinary provision of nature,--wonderful! most wonderful!"

"In Heaven's name, why did they let him out?" exclaimed I to myself.

"Now she is pretending to awake," said he, as he nudged me with his
elbow; "watch her, see how well she will do it." Then turning to the
lady, he added in a louder voice,--

"You have had a refreshing sleep, I trust, ma'am?"

"A very heavy one," answered she, "for I was greatly fatigued."

"Did not I tell you so?" whispered he again in my ear. "Oh!" and here
he gave a deep groan, "when they 're in delicate health, and they 're
greatly fatigued, there's no being up to them!"

The remainder of our journey was not long in getting over; but brief as
it was, I could not help feeling annoyed at the pertinacity with which
the bilious gentleman purposely misunderstood every word the young
lady spoke. The most plain, matter-of-fact observations from her were
received by him as though she was a monster of duplicity; and a casual
mistake as to the name of a station he pounced upon, as though it were
a wilful and intentional untruth. This conduct, on his part, was made
ten times worse to me by his continued nudgings of the elbow, sly winks,
and muttered sentences of "You hear that"--"There's more of it"--"You
would not credit it now," etc.; until at length he succeeded in
silencing the poor girl, who, in all likelihood, set us both down for
the two greatest savages in England.

On arriving at Dover, although I was the bearer of despatches requiring
the utmost haste, a dreadful hurricane from the eastward, accompanied
by a tremendous swell, prevented any packet venturing out to sea. The
commander of "The Hornet," however, told me, should the weather, as was
not improbable, moderate towards daybreak, he would do his best to run
me over to Calais; "only be ready," said he, "at a moment's notice, for
I will get the steam up, and be off in a jiffy, whenever the tide begins
to ebb." In compliance with this injunction, I determined not to go to
bed, and, ordering my supper in a private room, I prepared myself to
pass the intervening time as well as might be.

"Mr. Yellowley's compliments," said the waiter, as I broke the crust of
a veal-pie, and obtained a bird's-eye view of that delicious interior,
where hard eggs and jelly, mushrooms, and kidney, were blended together
in a delicious harmony of coloring. "Mr. Yellowley's compliments, sir,
and will take it as a great favor if he might join you at supper."

"Have not the pleasure of knowing him," said I, shortly,--"bring me a
pint of sherry,--don't know Mr. Yellowley."

"Yes, but you do, though," said the gaunt man of the railroad, as he
entered the room, with four cloaks on one arm, and two umbrellas under
the other.

"Oh! it's you," said I, half rising from my chair; for in spite of my
annoyance at the intrusion, a certain degree of fear of my companion
overpowered me.

"Yes," said he, solemnly. "Can you untie this cap? The string has got
into a black-knot, I fear; "and so he bent down his huge face while I
endeavored to relieve him of his head-piece, wondering within myself
whether they had shaved him at the asylum.

"Ah, that's comfortable!" said he at last; and he drew his chair to the
table, and helped himself to a considerable portion of the pie, which he
covered profusely with red pepper.

Little conversation passed during the meal. My companion ate
voraciously, filling up every little pause that occurred by a groan or
a sigh, whose vehemence and depth were strangely in contrast with his
enjoyment of the good cheer. When the supper was over, and the waiter
had placed fresh glasses, and with that gentle significance of his craft
had deposited the decanter, in which a spoonful of sherry remained,
directly in front of me, Mr. Yellowley looked at me for a moment, threw
up his eyebrows, and with an air of more _bonhomie_ than I thought he
could muster, said,--

"You will have no objection, I hope, to a little warm brandy and water."

"None whatever; and the less, if I may add a cigar."

"Agreed," said he.

These ingredients of our comfort being produced, and the waiter having
left the room, Mr. Yellowley stirred the fire into a cheerful blaze,
and, nodding amicably towards me, said,--

"Your health, sir; I should like to have added your name."

"Tramp,--Tilbury Tramp," said I, "at your service." I would have added
Q. C, as the couriers took that lately; but it leads to mistakes, so I
said nothing about it.

"Mr. Tramp," said my companion, while he placed one hand in his
waistcoat, in that attitude so favored by John Kemble and Napoleon. "You
are a young man?"

"Forty-two," said I, "if I live till June."

"You might be a hundred and forty-two, sir."

"Lord bless you!" said I, "I don't look so old."

"I repeat it," said he, "you might be a hundred and forty-two, and not
know a whit more about them."

"Here we are," thought I, "back on the monomania."

"You may smile," said he, "it was an ungenerous insinuation. Nothing was
farther from my thoughts; but it's true,--they require the study of a
lifetime. Talk of Law or Physic or Divinity; it's child's play, sir.
Now, you thought that young girl was asleep."

"Why, she certainly looked so."

"Looked so," said he, with a sneer; "what do I look like? Do I look like
a man of sense or intelligence?"

"I protest," said I, cautiously, "I won't suffer myself to be led away
by appearances; I would not wish to be unjust to you."

"Well, sir, that artful young woman's deception of you has preyed upon
me ever since; I was going on to Walmer to-night, but I could n't leave
this without seeing you once more, and giving you a caution."

"Dear me. I thought nothing about it. You took the matter too much to
heart."

"Too much to heart," said he, with a bitter sneer; "that's the cant
that deceives half the world. If men, sir, instead of undervaluing
these small and apparently trivial circumstances, would but recall their
experiences, chronicle their facts, as Bacon recommended so wisely,
we should possess some safe data to go upon, in our estimate of that
deceitful sex."

"I fear," said I, half timidly, "you have been ill-treated by the
ladies?"

A deep groan was the only response.

"Come, come, bear up," said I; "you are young, and a fine-looking
man still" (he was sixty, if he was an hour, and had a face like the
figure-head of a war-steamer).

"I will tell you a story, Mr. Tramp," said he, solemnly,--"a story
to which, probably, no historian, from Polybius to Hoffman, has ever
recorded a parallel. I am not aware, sir, that any man has sounded the
oceanic depths of that perfidious gulf,--a woman's heart; but I, sir,
I have at least added some facts to the narrow stock of our knowledge
regarding it. Listen to this:"--

I replenished my tumbler of brandy and water, looked at my watch, and,
finding I still had two hours to spare, lent a not unwilling ear to my
companion's story.

"For the purpose of my tale," said Mr. Yellowley, "it is unnecessary
that I should mention any incident of my life more remote than a couple
of years back. About that time it was, that, using all the influence of
very powerful friends, I succeeded in obtaining the consul-generalship
at Stralsund. My arrangements for departure were made with considerable
despatch; but on the very week of my leaving England, an old friend of
mine was appointed to a situation of considerable trust in the East,
whither he was ordered to repair, I may say, at a moment's notice. Never
was there such a _contretemps_. He longed for the North of Europe,--I,
with equal ardor, wished for a tropical climate; and here were we
both going in the very direction antagonist to our wishes! My friend's
appointment was a much more lucrative one than mine; but so anxious
was he for a residence more congenial to his taste, that he would have
exchanged without a moment's hesitation.

"By a mere accident, I mentioned this circumstance to the friend who had
procured my promotion. Well, with the greatest alacrity, he volunteered
his services to effect the exchange; and with such energy did he
fulfil his pledge, that on the following evening I received an express,
informing me of my altered destination, but directing me to proceed to
Southampton on the next day, and sail by the Oriental steamer. This was
speedy work, sir; but as my preparations for a journey had long been
made, I had very little to do, but exchange some bear-skins with my
friend for cotton shirts and jackets, and we both were accommodated.
Never were two men in higher spirits,--he, with his young wife,
delighted at escaping what he called banishment; I equally happy in my
anticipation of the glorious East.

"Among the many papers forwarded to me from the Foreign Office was a
special order for free transit the whole way to Calcutta. This document
set forth the urgent necessity there existed to pay me every possible
attention _en route_; in fact, it was a sort of Downing-Street firman,
ordering all whom it might concern to take care of Simon Yellowley, nor
permit him to suffer any let, impediment, or inconvenience on the road.
But a strange thing, Mr. Tramp,--a very strange thing,--was in this
paper. In the exchange of my friend's appointment for my own, the clerk
had merely inserted _my_ name in lieu of his in all the papers; and
then, sir, what should I discover but that this free transit extended to
'Mr. Yellowley and lady,' while, doubtless, my poor friend was obliged
to travel _en garçon?_ This extraordinary blunder I only discovered when
leaving London in the train.

"We were a party of three, sir." Here he groaned deeply. "Three,--just
as it might be this very day. I occupied the place that you did this
morning, while opposite to me were a lady and a gentleman. The gentleman
was an old round-faced little man, chatty and merry after his fashion.
The lady--the lady, sir--if I had never seen her but that day, I should
now call her an angel. Yes, Mr. Tramp, I flatter myself that few men
understand female beauty better. I admire the cold regularity
and impassive loveliness of the North, I glory in the voluptuous
magnificence of Italian beauty; I can relish the sparkling coquetry of
France, the plaintive quietness and sleepy tenderness of Germany; nor
do I undervalue the brown pellucid skin and flashing eye of the Malabar;
but she, sir, she was something higher than all these; and it so chanced
that I had ample time to observe her, for when I entered the carriage
she was asleep--asleep," said he, with a bitter mockery Macready might
have envied. "Why do I say asleep? No, sir!--she was in that factitious
trance, that wiliest device of Satan's own creation, a woman's
sleep,--the thing invented, sir, merely to throw the shadow of dark
lashes on a marble cheek, and leave beauty to sink into man's heart
without molestation. Sleep, sir!--the whole mischief the world does in
its waking moments is nothing to the doings of such slumber! If she did
not sleep, how could that braid of dark-brown hair fall loosely down
upon her blue-veined hand; if she did not sleep, how could the color
tinge with such evanescent loveliness the cheek it scarcely colored; if
she did not sleep, how could her lips smile with the sweetness of some
passing thought, thus half recorded? No, sir; she had been obliged to
have sat bolt upright, with her gloves on and her veil down. She
neither could have shown the delicious roundness of her throat nor the
statue-like perfection of her instep. But sleep,--sleep is responsible
for nothing. Oh, why did not Macbeth murder it, as he said he had!

"If I were a legislator, sir, I'd prohibit any woman under forty-three
from sleeping in a public conveyance. It is downright dangerous,--I
would n't say it ain't immoral. The immovable aspect of placid beauty,
Mr. Tramp, etherealizes a woman. The shrewd housewife becomes a houri;
and a milliner--ay, sir, a milliner--might be a Maid of Judah under such
circumstances!"

Mr. Yellowley seemed to have run himself out of breath with this burst
of enthusiasm; for he was unable to resume his narrative until several
minutes after, when he proceeded thus:

"The fat gentleman and myself were soon engaged in conversation. He was
hastening down to bid some friends good-bye, ere they sailed for India.
I was about to leave my native country, too,--perhaps forever.

"'Yes, sir,' said I, addressing him, 'Heaven knows when I shall behold
these green valleys again, if ever. I have just been appointed Secretary
and Chief Counsellor to the Political Resident at the court of the Rajah
of Sautaucantantarabad!--a most important post--three thousand eight
hundred and forty-seven miles beyond the Himalaya.'

"And here--with, I trust, a pardonable pride--I showed him the
government order for my free transit, with the various directions and
injunctions concerning my personal comfort and safety.

"'Ah,' said the old gentleman, putting on his spectacles to read,--'ah,
I never beheld one of these before. Very curious,--very curious, indeed.
I have seen a sheriff's writ, and an execution; but this is far more
remarkable,--"Simon Yellowley, Esq., and lady." Eh?--so your lady
accompanies you, sir?'

"'Would she did,--would to Heaven she did!' exclaimed I, in a transport.

"'Oh, then, she's afraid, is she? She dreads the blacks, I suppose.'

"'No, sir; I am not married. The insertion of these words was a mistake
of the official who made out my papers; for, alas! I am alone in the
world.'

"'But why don't you marry, sir?' said the little man, briskly, and with
an eye glistening with paternity. 'Young ladies ain't scarce--'

"'True, most true; but even supposing I were fortunate enough to meet
the object of my wishes, I have no time. I received this appointment
last evening; to-day I am here, to-morrow I shall be on the billows!'

"'Ah, that's unfortunate, indeed,--very unfortunate.'

"'Had I but one week,--a day,--ay, an hour, sir,' said I, 'I 'd make an
offer of my brilliant position to some lovely creature who, tired of the
dreary North and its gloomy skies, would prefer the unclouded heaven
of the Himalaya and the perfumed breezes of the valley of
Santancantantarabad!'

"A lightly breathed sigh fell from the sleeping beauty, and at the same
time a smile of inexpressible sweetness played upon her lips; but, like
the ripple upon a glassy stream, that disappearing left all placid and
motionless again, the fair features were in a moment calm as before.

"'She looks delicate,' whispered my companion.

"'Our detestable climate!' said I, bitterly; for she coughed twice at
the instant. 'Oh, why are the loveliest flowers the offspring of the
deadliest soil!'

"She awoke, not suddenly or abruptly, but as Venus might have risen from
the sparkling sea and thrown the dew-drops from her hair, and then she
opened her eyes. Mr. Tramp, do you understand eyes?"

"I can't say I have any skill that way, to speak of."

"I'm sorry for it,--deeply, sincerely sorry; for to the uninitiated
these things seem naught. It would be as unprofitable to put a Rembrandt
before a blind man as discuss the aesthetics of eyelashes with the
unbeliever. But you will understand me when I say that her eyes were
blue,--blue as the Adriatic!--not the glassy doll's-eye blue, that
shines and glistens with a metallic lustre; nor that false depth, more
gray than blue, that resembles a piece of tea-lead; but the color of
the sea, as you behold it five fathoms down, beside the steep rocks of
Genoa! And what an ocean is a woman's eye, with bright thoughts floating
through it, and love lurking at the bottom! Am I tedious, Mr. Tramp?"

"No; far from it,--only very poetical."

"Ah, I was once," said Mr. Yellowley, with a deep sigh. "I used to write
sweet things for 'The New Monthly;' but Campbell was very jealous of
me,--couldn't abide me. Poor Campbell! he had his failings, like the
rest of us.

"Well, sir, to resume. We arrived at Southampton, but only in time to
hasten down to the pier, and take boat for the ship. The blue-peter was
flying at the mast-head, and people hurrying away to say 'good-bye' for
the last time. I, sir, I alone had no farewells to take. Simon Yellowley
was leaving his native soil, unwept and unregretted! Sad thoughts these,
Mr. Tramp,--very sad thoughts. Well, sir, we were aboard at last,
above a hundred of us, standing amid the lumber of our carpet-bags,
dressing-cases, and hat-boxes, half blinded by the heavy spray of the
condensed steam, and all deafened by the din.

"The world of a great packet-ship, Mr. Tramp, is a very selfish world,
and not a bad epitome of its relative on shore. Human weaknesses are
so hemmed in by circumstances, the frailties that would have been
dissipated in a wider space are so concentrated by compression, that
middling people grow bad, and the bad become regular demons. There is,
therefore, no such miserable den of selfish and egotistical caballing,
slander, gossip, and all malevolence, as one of these. Envy of the
man with a large berth,--sneers for the lady that whispered to the
captain,--guesses as to the rank and station of every passenger,
indulged in with a spirit of impertinence absolutely intolerable,--and
petty exclu-siveness practised by every four or five on board,
against some others who have fewer servants or less luggage than their
neighbors. Into this human bee-hive was I now plunged, to be bored
by the drones, stung by the wasps, and maddened by all. 'No matter,'
thought I, 4 Simon Yellowley has a great mission to fulfil.' Yes,
Mr. Tramp, I remembered the precarious position of our Eastern
possessions,--I bethought me of the incalculable services the ability of
even a Yellow-ley might render his country in the far-off valley of the
Himalaya, and I sat down on my portmanteau, a happier--nay, I will say,
a better man.

"The accidents--we call them such every day--the accidents which fashion
our lives, are always of our own devising, if we only were to take
trouble enough to trace them. I have a theory on this head, but I 'm
keeping it over for a kind of a Bridgewater Treatise. It is enough now
to remark that though my number at the dinner-table was 84, I exchanged
with another gentleman, who could n't bear a draught, for a place near
the door, No. 122. Ah, me! little knew I then what that simple act
was to bring with it. Bear in mind, Mr. Tramp, 122; for, as you may
remember, Sancho Panza's story of the goatherd stopped short, when his
master forgot the number of the goats; and that great French novelist,
M. de Balzac, always hangs the interest of his tale on some sum in
arithmetic, in which his hero's fortune is concerned: so my story bears
upon this number. Yes, sir, the adjoining seat, No. 123, was vacant.
There was a cover and a napkin, and there was a chair placed leaning
against the table, to mark it out as the property of some one absent;
and day by day was that vacant place the object of my conjectures. It
was natural this should be the case. My left-hand neighbor was the first
mate, one of those sea animals most detestable to a landsman. He had a
sea appetite, a sea voice, sea jokes, and, worst of all, a sea laugh.
I shall never forget that fellow. I never spoke to him that he did
not reply in some slang of his abominable profession; and all the
disagreeables of a floating existence were increased ten-fold by the
everlasting reference to the hated theme,--a ship. What he on the right
hand might prove, was therefore of some moment to me. Another _Coup de
Mer_ like this would be unendurable. The crossest old maid, the testiest
old bachelor, the most peppery nabob, the flattest ensign, the most
boring of tourists, the most careful of mothers, would be a boon from
heaven in comparison with a blue-jacket. Alas! Mr. Tramp, I was left
very long to speculate on this subject. We were buffeted down the
Channel, we were tossed along the coast of France, and blown about
the Bay of Biscay before 123 ever turned up; when one day--it was a
deliciously calm day (I shall not forget it soon)--we even could see the
coast of Portugal, with its great mountains above Cintra. Over a long
reach of sea, glassy as a mirror, the great ship clove her way,--the
long foam-track in her wake, the only stain on that blue surface. Every
one was on deck: the old asthmatic gentleman, whose cough was the
curse of the after-cabin, sat with a boa round his neck, and thought he
enjoyed himself. Ladies in twos and threes walked up and down together,
chatting as pleasantly as though in Kensington Gardens. The tourist sent
out by Mr. Colburn was taking notes of the whole party, and the four
officers in the Bengal Light Horse had adjourned their daily brandy and
water to a little awning beside the wheel. There were sketch-books and
embroidery-frames and journals on all sides; there was even a guitar,
with a blue ribbon round it; and amid all these remindings of shore
life, a fat poodle waddled about, and snarled at every one. The calm,
sir, was a kind of doomsday, which evoked the dead from their tombs; and
up they came from indescribable corners and nooks, opening their eyes
with amazement upon the strange world before them, and some almost
feeling that even the ordeal of sea-sickness was not too heavy a penalty
for an hour so bright, though so fleeting.

"'Which is 123?' thought I, as I elbowed my way along the crowded
quarter-deck, now asking myself could it be the thin gentleman with
the two capes, or the fat lady with the three chins? But there is a
prescience which never fails in the greater moments of our destiny, and
this told me it was none of these. We went down to dinner, and for the
first time the chair was not placed against the table, but so as to
permit a person to be seated on it.

"'I beg your pardon, sir,' said the steward to me, 'could you move a
little this way? 123 is coming in to dinner, and she would like to have
the air of the doorway.'

"'She would,' thought I; 'oh, so this is a she, at all events;' and
scarce was the reflection made, when the rustle of a silk dress
was heard brushing my chair. I turned, and what do you think, Mr.
Tramp?--shall I endeavor to describe my emotions to you?"

This was said in a tone so completely questioning that I saw Mr.
Yellowley waited for my answer.

"I am afraid, sir," said I, looking at my watch, "if the emotions you
speak of will occupy much time, we had better skip them, for it only
wants a quarter to twelve."

"We will omit them, then, Mr. Tramp; for, as you justly observe, they
would require both time and space. Well, sir, to be brief, 123 was the
angel of the railroad."

"The lady you met at--"

"Yes, sir, if you prefer to call her the lady; for I shall persist in
my previous designation. Oh, Mr. Tramp, that was the great moment of
my life. You may have remarked that we pass from era to era of our
existence, as though it were from one chamber to another. The gay, the
sparkling, and the brilliant succeed to the dark and gloomy apartment,
scarce illumined by a ray of hope, and we move on in our life's journey,
with new objects suggesting new actions, and the actions engendering new
frames of thought, and we think ourselves wiser as our vicissitudes grow
thicker; but I must not continue this theme. To me, this moment was
the greatest transition of my life. Here was the ideal before me, which
neither art had pictured, nor genius described,--the loveliest creature
I ever beheld. She turned round on taking her place, and with a
slight gesture of surprise recognized me at once as her former
fellow-traveller. I have had proud moments in my life, Mr. Tramp. I
shall never forget how the Commander of the Forces at Boulahcush said to
me in full audience, in the presence of all the officials,--

"'Yellowley, this is devilish hot,--hotter than we have it in Europe.'

"But here was a prouder moment still: that little graceful movement of
recognition, that smile so transient as to be scarce detected, sent a
thrill of happiness all through me. In former days, by doughty deeds and
hazardous exploits men won their way to women's hearts; our services
in the present time have the advantage of being less hazardous; little
attentions of the table, passing the salt, calling for the pepper,
lifting a napkin, and inviting to wine, are the substitutes for
mutilating giants and spitting dragons. I can't say but I think the
exchange is with the difference.

"The first day passed over with scarce the interchange of a word between
us. She arose almost immediately after dinner, and did not make her
appearance during the remainder of the evening. The following morning
she took her place at the breakfast-table, and to my inexpressible
delight, as the weather still remained calm, ascended to the quarterdeck
when the meal was over. The smile with which she met me now had assumed
the token of acquaintance, and a very little address was necessary,
on my part, to enable me to join her as she walked, and engage her in
conversation. The fact of being so young and so perfectly alone--for
except her French maid, she did not appear to know a single person on
board--perhaps appeared to demand some explanation on her part, even to
a perfect stranger like myself; for, after some passing observations on
the scenery of the coast and the beauty of the weather, she told me that
she looked forward with much hope to the benefit her health might derive
from a warmer air and less trying climate than that of England.

"'I already feel benefited by the sweet South,' said she; and there was
a smile of gratitude on her lip, as she spoke the words. Some little
farther explanation she may have deemed necessary; for she took the
occasion soon after to remark that her only brother would have been
delighted with the voyage, if he could have obtained leave of absence
from his regiment; but, unfortunately, he was in 'the Blues,' quartered
at Windsor, and could not be spared.

"'Poor dear creature!' said I; 'and so she has been obliged to travel
thus alone, reared doubtless within the precincts of some happy home,
from which the world, with its petty snares and selfishness, were
excluded, surrounded by all the appliances of luxury, and the elegances
that embellish existence--and now, to venture thus upon a journey
without a friend, or even a companion.'

"There could scarcely be a more touching incident than to see one like
her, so beautiful and so young, in the midst of that busy little world
of soldiers and sailors and merchants, travellers to the uttermost
bounds of the earth, and wearied spirits seeking for change wherever
it might be found. Had I not myself been alone, a very 'waif' upon the
shores of life, I should have felt attracted by the interest of her
isolation; now there was a sympathy to attach us,--there was that
similarity of position--that _idem nolle, et idem velle_--which, we
are told, constitutes true friendship. She seemed to arrive at
this conclusion exactly as I did myself, and received with the most
captivating frankness all the little attentions it was in my power to
bestow; and in fact to regard me, in some sort, as her companion. Thus,
we walked the deck each morning it was fine, or, if stormy, played at
chess or piquet in the cabin. Sometimes she worked while I read aloud
for her; and such a treat as it was to hear her criticisms on the volume
before us,--how just and true her appreciation of sound and correct
principles,--how skilful the distinctions she would make between the
false glitter of tinsel sentiment and the dull gold of real and sterling
morality! Her mind, naturally a gifted one, had received every aid
education could bestow. French and Italian literature were as familiar
to her as was English, while in mere accomplishments she far excelled
those who habitually make such acquirements the grand business of early
life.

"You are, I presume, a man of the world, Mr. Tramp. You may, perhaps,
deem it strange that several days rolled over before I ever even thought
of inquiring her name; but such was the case. It no more entered into my
conception to ask after it, than I should have dreamed of what might
be the botanical designation of some lovely flower by whose beauty and
fragrance I was captivated. Enough for me that the bright petals were
tipped with azure and gold, and the fair stem was graceful in its
slender elegance. I cared not where Jussieu might have arranged or
Linnaeus classed it. But a chance revealed the matter even before it had
occurred to me to think of it. A volume of Shelley's poems contained on
the titlepage, written in a hand of singular delicacy, the words,
'Lady Blanche D'Esmonde.' Whether the noble family she belonged to were
English, Irish, or Scotch, I could not even guess. It were as well,
Mr. Tramp, that I could not do so. I should only have felt a more
unwarrantable attachment for that portion of the empire she came from.
Yes, sir, I loved her. I loved her with an ardor that the Yellowleys
have been remarkable for, during three hundred and eighty years. It was
_my_ ancestor, Mr. Tramp,--Paul Yellowley,--who was put in the stocks
at Charing Cross, for persecuting a maid of honor at Elizabeth's court.
That haughty Queen and cold-hearted woman had the base inscription
written above his head, 'The penaltie of a low scullion who lifteth his
eyes too loftilie.'

"To proceed. When we reached Gibraltar, Lady Blanche and I visited the
rocks, and went over the bomb-proofs and the casemates together,--far
more dangerous places those little cells and dark passages to a man like
me, than ever they could become in the hottest fury of a siege. She took
such an interest in everything. There was not a mortar nor a piece
of ordnance she could afford to miss; and she would peep out from
the embrasures, and look down upon the harbor and the bay, with a
fearlessness that left me puzzled to think whether I were more terrified
by her intrepidity or charmed by the beauty of her instep. Again we went
to sea; but how I trembled at each sight of land, lest she should leave
the ship forever! At last, Malta came in view; and the same evening the
boats were lowered, for all had a desire to go ashore. Of course Lady
Blanche was most anxious; her health had latterly improved greatly, and
she was able to incur considerable fatigue, without feeling the worse
afterwards.

"It was a calm, mellow evening, with an already risen moon, as we
landed to wander about the narrow streets and bastioned dwellings of old
Valletta. She took my arm, and, followed by Mademoiselle Virginie, we
went on exploring every strange and curious spot before us, and calling
up before our mind's eye the ancient glories of the place. I was rather
strong in all these sort of things, Mr. Tramp; for in expectation of
this little visit, I made myself up about the Knights of St. John and
the Moslems, Fort St Elmo, Civita Vecchia, rocks, catacombs, prickly
pears, and all. In fact, I was primed with the whole catalogue, which,
written down in short memoranda, forms Chap. I. in a modern tour-book
of the Mediterranean. The season was so genial, and the moon so bright,
that we lingered till past midnight, and then returned to the ship the
last of all the visitors. That was indeed a night, as, flickered by
the column of silver light, we swept over the calm sea. Lady Blanche,
wrapped in my large boat-cloak, her pale features statue-like in their
unmoved beauty, sat in the stern; I sat at her side. Neither spoke a
word. What her thoughts might have been I cannot guess; but the little
French maid looked at me from time to time with an expression of
diabolical intelligence I cannot forget; and as I handed her mistress up
the gangway, Virginie said in a whisper,--

"'Ah, Monsieur Yellowley, _vous êtes un homme dangereux!_'

"Would you believe it, Mr. Tramp, that little phrase filled every
chamber of my heart with hope; there could be but one interpretation of
it, and what a meaning had that,--dangerous to the peace of mind, to the
heart's happiness of her I actually adored! I lay down in my berth
and tried to sleep; but the nearest approach of slumber was a dreamy
condition, in which the words _vous êtes un homme dangereux_ kept ever
ringing. I thought I saw Lady Blanche dressed in white, with a veil
covering her, a chaplet of orange flowers on her brow, and weeping as
though inconsolably; and there was a grim, mischievous little face that
nodded at me with a menacing expression, as though to say, 'This is
your work, Simon Yellowley;' and then I saw her lay aside the veil and
encircle herself with a sad-colored garment, while her tears fell even
faster than before; and then the little vixen from the window exclaimed,
'Here's more of it, Simon Yellowley.' Lord, how I reproached myself,--I
saw I was bringing her to the grave; yes, sir, there is no concealing
it. I _felt_ she loved me. I arose and put on my dressing-gown; my mind
was made up. I slipped noiselessly up the cabin-stairs, and with
much difficulty made my way to that part of the ship inhabited by the
servants. I will not recount here the insolent allusions I encountered,
nor the rude jests and jibes of the sailors when I asked for
Mademoiselle Virginie; nor was it without trouble and considerable delay
that I succeeded in obtaining an interview with her.

"'Mademoiselle,' said I, 'I know the levity of your nation; no man is
more conscious than I of--of the frailty of your moral principles.
Don't be angry, but hear me out. You said a few minutes ago that I was
a "dangerous man;" tell me now, sincerely, truthfully, and
candidly,'--here I put rather a heavy purse into her hands,--'the exact
meaning you attached to these words.'

"'Ah, Monsieur,' said she, with a stage shudder, '_je suis une pauvre
fille, ne me perdez pas_.'

"I looked at the little wizened devil, and never felt stronger in my
virtue.

"'Don't be afraid, Virginie, I'm an archbishop in principles; but
I thought that when you said these words they bore an allusion to
another--'

"'_Ah! c'est ça,_' said she, with perfect _naïveté_,--'so you are, a
dangerous man, a very dangerous man; so much so, indeed, that I shall
use all my influence to persuade one, of whom you are aware, to escape
as quickly as may be from the hazard of your fascinating society.'

"I repeat these words, Mr. Tramp, which may appear to you now too
flattering; but the French language, in which Virginie spoke, permits
expressions even stronger than these, as mere conventionalities.

"'Don't do it,' said I, 'don't do it, Virginie.'

"'I must, and I will,' reiterated she; 'there's such a change in my poor
dear Lady Blanche since she met you; I never knew her give way to fits
of laughing before,--she's so capricious and whimsical,--she was an
angel formerly.'

"'She is an angel still,' said I, with a frown, for I would not suffer
so much of aspersion against her.

"'_Sans doute_,' chimed in Virginie, with a shrug of her shoulders,
'we are all angels, after a fashion;' and I endeavored to smile a
concurrence with this sentiment, in which I only half assented.

"By wonderful skill and cross-questioning, I at last obtained the
following information: Lady Blanche was on a voyage of health, intending
to visit the remarkable places in the Mediterranean, and then winter at
some chosen spot upon its shores. Why she journeyed thus unprotected,
was a secret there was no fathoming by indirect inquiry, and any other
would have been an act of indelicacy.

"'We will pass the winter at Naples, or Palermo, or Jerusalem, or some
other watering-place,' said Virginie, for her geography was, after all,
only a lady's-maid's accomplishment.

"'You must persuade her to visit Egypt, Virginie,' said I,--'Egypt,
Virginie,--the land of the Pyramids. Induce her to do this, and to
behold the wonders of the strangest country in the universe. Even now,'
said I, 'Arab life--'

"'Ah, _oui_. I have seen the Arabs at the Vaudeville; they have
magnificent beards.'

"'The handsomest men in the world.'

"'_Pas mal_,' said she, with a sententious nod there's no converting
into words.

"'Well, Virginie, think of Cairo, think of Bagdad. You have read the
Arabian Nights--have n't you?'

"'Yes,' said she, with a yawn, 'they are _passées_; now, what would you
have us do in this droll old place?'

"'I would have you to visit Mehemet Ali, and be received at his court!'
--for I saw at once the class of fascination she would yield to. 'Drink
sherbet, eat sweetmeats, receive presents, magnificent presents,
cashmeres, diamond bracelets. Ah! think of that.'

"'Ah! there is something in what you say,' said she, after a pause;
'but we have not come prepared for such an expensive journey. I am
purse-bearer, for Lady Blanche knows nothing about expense, and we shall
not receive remittances until we settle somewhere for the winter.'

"These words made my heart leap; in five minutes more I explained to
Virginie that I was provided with a free transit through the East, in
which, by her aid, her mistress might participate, without ever knowing
it. 'You have only to pretend, Virginie, that Egypt is so cheap; tell
her a camel only costs a penny a league, and that one is actually paid
for crossing the Great Desert; you can hint that old Mehemet wants to
bring the thing into fashion, and that he would give his beard to see
English ladies travelling that route.'

"'I knew it well,' said Virginie, with a malicious smile,--'I knew it
well; you are "a dangerous man."'

"All the obstacles and impediments she could suggest, I answered
with much skill and address, not unaided, I own, by certain potent
persuasives, in the shape of bank paper,--she was a most mercenary
little devil; and as day was breaking, Virginie had fully agreed in all
my plans, and determined that her mistress should go beyond 'the second
cataract,' if I wished it. I need not say that she fully understood my
motives; she was a Frenchwoman, Mr. Tramp; the Russian loves train oil,
the Yankee prefers whittling, but a Frenchwoman, without an intrigue of
her own, or some one's else, on hand, is the most miserable object in
existence.

"'I see where it all will end,' cried she, as I turned to leave her; 'I
see it already. Before six weeks are over, you will not ask _my_ aid to
influence my mistress.'

"'Do you think so, Virginie?' said I, grasping at the suggestion.

"'Of course I do,' said she, with a look of undisguised truth; '_ah, que
vous êtes un homme dangereux!_'

"It is a strange thing, Mr. Tramp, but I felt that title a prouder one
than if I had been called the Governor of Bombay. Varied and numerous as
the incidents of my life had been, I never knew till then that I was
a dangerous man; nor, indeed, do I believe that, in the previous
constitution of my mind, I should have relished the epithet; but I
hugged it now as the symbol of my happiness. The whole of the following
day was spent by me in company with Lady Blanche. I expatiated on the
glories of the East, and discussed everybody who had been there, from
Abraham down to Abercromby. What a multiplicity of learning, sacred
and profane, did I not pour forth,--I perfectly astounded her with the
extent of my information, for, as I told you before, I was strong on
Egypt, filling up every interstice with a quotation from Byron, or a
bit of Lalla Rookh, or a stray verse from the Palm Leaves, which
I invariably introduced as a little thing of my own; then I quoted
Herodotus, Denon, and Lamartine, without end--till before the dinner
was served, I had given her such a journey in mere description, that she
said with a sigh,--

"'Really, Mr. Yellowley, you have been so eloquent that I actually feel
as much fatigued as if I had spent a day on a camel.'

"I gave her a grateful look, Mr. Tramp, and she smiled in return; from
that hour, sir, we understood each other. I pursued my Egyptian studies
nearly the entire of that night, and the next day came on deck, with
four chapters of Irby and Mangles off by heart. My head swam round with
ideas of things Oriental,--patriarchs and pyramids, Turks, dragomans,
catacombs, and crocodiles, danced an infernal quadrille in my excited
brain, and I convulsed the whole cabin at breakfast, by replying to the
captain's offer of some tea, with a profound salaam, and an exclamation
of '_Bish millah, allah il allah_.'

"'You have infatuated me with your love of the East, Mr. Yellowley,'
said Lady Blanche, one morning, as she met me. 'I have been thinking
over poor Princess Shezarade and Noureddin, and the little tailor of
Bagdad, and the wicked Cadi, and all the rest of them.'

"'Have I,' cried I, joyfully; 'have I indeed!'

"'I feel I must see the Pyramids,' said she. 'I cannot resist an impulse
on which my thoughts are concentrated, and yours be all the blame of
this wilful exploit.'

"' Yes,' said I.

     "' T is hard at some appointed place
     To check your course and turn your prow,
     And objects for themselves retrace
     You past with added hope just now.'

"'Yours,' said she, smilingly.

"'A poor thing,' said I, 'I did for one of the Keepsakes.'

"Ah, Mr. Tramp, it is very hard to distinguish one's own little verse
from the minor poets. All my life I have been under the delusion that
I wrote 'O'Connor's Child,' and the 'Battle of the Baltic;' and, now I
think of it, those lines are Monckton Milnes's.

"We reached Alexandria a few days after, and at once joined the great
concourse of passengers bound for the East.

"I perceive you are looking at your watch, Mr. Tramp."

"I must indeed ask your pardon. I sail for Calais at the next ebb."

"I shall not be tedious now, sir. We began 'the overland,'--the angel
travelling as Lady Blanche Yellowley, to avoid any possible inquiry
or impertinence from the official people. This was arranged between
Virginie and myself, without her knowledge. Then, indeed, began my
Arabian nights. Ah, Mr. Tramp, you never can know the happiness enjoyed
by him who, travelling for fourteen long hours over the hot sand, and
beneath the scorching sun of the desert, comes at last to stretch his
wearied limbs upon his carpet at evening, and gazes on celestial beauty
as he sips his mocha. Mahomet had a strong case, depend upon it, when he
furnished his paradise with a houri and a hubble-bubble; and such nights
were these, as we sat and chatted over the once glories of that great
land, while in the lone khan of the desert would be heard the silvery
sounds of a fair woman's voice, as she sung some little barcarole, or
light Venetian canzonette. Ah, Mr. Tramp, do you wonder if I loved--do
you wonder if I confessed my love? I did both, sir,--ay, sir, both.

"I told her my heart's secret in an impassioned moment, and, with the
enthusiasm of true affection, explained my position and my passion.

"'I am your slave,' said I, with trembling adoration,--'_your_ slave,
and the Secretary at Santancantantarabad. _You_ own my heart. _I_
possess nothing but a Government situation and three thousand per annum.
I shall never cease to love you, and my widow must have a pension from
the Company.'

"She covered her face with her handkerchief as I spoke, and her
sobs--they must have been sobs--actually penetrated my bosom.

"'You must speak of this no more, dear Mr. Yellowley,' said she, wiping
her eyes; 'you really must not, at least until I arrive at Calcutta.'

"'So you consent to go that far,' cried I, in ecstasy.

"She seemed somewhat confused at her own confession, for she blushed and
turned away; then said, in a voice of some hesitation,--

"'Will you compel me to relinquish the charm of your too agreeable
society, or will you make me the promise I ask?'

"'Anything--everything,' exclaimed I; and from that hour, Mr. Tramp,
I only _looked_ my love, at least, save when sighs and interjections
contributed their insignificant aid.

I gave no expression to my consuming flame. Not the less progress,
perhaps, did I make for that. You can educate a feature, sir, to do the
work of four,--I could after a week or ten days look fifty different
things, and she knew them,--ay, that she did, as though it were a book
open before her.

[Illustration: 610]

"I could have strained my eyes to see through the canvas of a tent, Mr.
Tramp, if she were inside of it. And she, had you but seen _her_ looks!
what archness and what softness,--how piquant, yet how playful,--what
witchcraft and what simplicity! I must hasten on. We arrived within a
day of our journey's end. The next morning showed us the tall outline of
Fort William against the sky. The hour was approaching in which I might
declare my love, and declare it with some hope of a return!"

"Mr. Tramp," said a waiter, hurriedly, interrupting Mr. Yellowley at
this crisis of his tale, "Captain Smithet, of the 'Hornet,' says he has
the steam up and will start in ten minutes."

"Bless my heart," cried I; "this is a hasty summons;" while snatching up
my light travelling portmanteau, I threw my cloak over my shoulders at
once.

"You 'll not go before I conclude my story," cried Mr. Yellowley, with a
voice of indignant displeasure.

"I regret it deeply, sir," said I, "from my very heart; but I am the
bearer of government despatches for Vienna; they are of the greatest
consequence,--delay would be a ruinous matter."

"I 'll go down with you to the quay," cried Yellowley, seizing my arm;
and we turned into the street together. It was still blowing a gale
of wind, and a heavy sleet was drifting in our faces, so that he was
compelled to raise his voice to a shout, to become audible.

"'We are near Calcutta, dearest Lady Blanche,' said I; 'in a moment more
we shall be no longer bound by your pledge'--do you hear me, Mr. Tramp?"

"Perfectly; but let us push along faster."

"She was in tears, sir,--weeping. She is mine, thought I. What a night,
to be sure! We drove into the grand Cassawaddy; and the door of our
conveyance was wrenched open by a handsome-looking fellow, all gold and
moustaches.

"'Blanche--my dearest Blanche!' said he.

"'My own Charles!' exclaimed she."

"Her brother, I suppose, Mr. Yellowley?"

"No, sir," screamed he, "her husband!!!"

"The artful, deceitful, designing woman had a husband!" screamed
Yellowley, above the storm and the hurricane. "They had been married
privately, Mr. Tramp, the day he sailed for India, and she only waited
for the next 'overland' to follow him out; and I, sir, the miserable
dupe, stood there, the witness of their joys.

"'Don't forget this dear old creature, Charles,' said she: 'he
was invaluable to me on the journey!' But I rushed from the spot,
anguish-torn and almost desperate."

"Come quickly, sir; we must catch the ebb-tide," cried a sailor, pushing
me along towards the jetty as he spoke.

"My misfortunes were rife," screamed Yellowley, in my ear. "The Rajah to
whose court I was appointed had offended Lord Ellenborough, and it was
only the week before I arrived that his territory bad been added to
'British India,' as they call it, and the late ruler accommodated with
private apartments in Calcutta, and three hundred a year for life; so
that I had nothing to do but come home again. Good-bye,--good-bye, sir."

"Go on," cried the captain from the paddle-box; and away we splashed,
in a manner far more picturesque to those on land than pleasant to us
on board, while high above the howling wind and rattling cordage came
Yellowley voice,--"Don't forget it, Mr. Tramp, don't forget it! Asleep
or awake, never trust them!"

[Illustration: 612]



THE ROAD VERSUS THE RAILS

[Illustration: 613]

Although the steam-engine itself is more naturalized amongst us than
with any other nation of Europe, railroad travelling has unquestionably
outraged more of the associations we once cherished and were proud of,
than it could possibly effect in countries of less rural and picturesque
beauty than England. "La Belle France" is but a great cornfield,--in
winter a dreary waste of yellow soil, in autumn a desert of dried
stubble; Belgium is only a huge cabbage-garden,--flat and fetid;
Prussia, a sandy plain, dotted with sentry-boxes. To traverse these,
speed is the grand requisite; there is little to remark, less to admire.
The sole object is to push forward; and when one remembers the lumbering
diligence and its eight buffaloes, the rail is a glorious alternative.

In England, however, rural scenery is eminently characterized. The
cottage of the peasant enshrined in honeysuckle, the green glade, the
rich and swelling champaign, the quaint old avenues leading to some
ancient hall, the dark glen, the shining river, follow each other in
endless succession, suggesting so many memories of our people, and
teeming with such information of their habits, tastes, and feelings.
There was something distinctive, too, in that well-appointed coach, with
its four blood bays, tossing their heads with impatience, as they stood
before the village inn, waiting for the passengers to breakfast. I loved
every jingle of the brass housings; the flap of the traces, and the bang
of the swingle-bar, were music to my ears; and what a character was he
who wrapped his great drab coat around his legs, and gathered up the
reins with that careless indolence that seemed to say, "The beasts have
no need of guidance,--they know what they are about!" The very leer of
his merry eye to the buxom figure within the bar was a novel in three
volumes; and mark how lazily he takes the whip from the fellow that
stands on the wheel, proud of such a service; and hear him, as he cries,
"All right, Bill, let 'em go!"--and then mark the graceful curls of
the long lash, as it plays around the leaders' flanks, and makes the
skittish devils bound ere they are touched. And now we go careering
along the mountain-side, where the breeze is fresh and the air bracing,
with a wide-spread country all beneath us, across which the shadows are
moving like waves. Again, we move along some narrow road, overhung with
trees, rich in perfumed blossoms, which fall in showers over us as we
pass; the wheels are crushing the ripe apples as they lie uncared for;
and now we are in a deep glen, dark and shady, where only a straggling
sunbeam comes; and see, where the road opens, how the rabbits play,
nor are scared at our approach! Ha, merry England! there are sights and
sounds about you to warm a man's heart, and make him think of home.

It was but a few days since I was seated in one of the cheap carriages
of a southern line, when this theme was brought forcibly to my mind by
overhearing a dialogue between a wagoner and his wife. The man, in all
the pride and worldliness of his nature, would see but the advantages
of rapid transit, where the poor woman saw many a change for the
worse,--all the little incidents and adventures of a pleasant journey
being now superseded by the clock-work precision of the rail, the
hissing engine, and the lumbering train.

Long after they had left the carriage, I continued to dwell upon the
words they had spoken; and as I fell asleep, they fashioned themselves
into rude measure, which I remembered on awaking, and have called it--


THE SONG OF THE THIRD-CLASS TRAIN.

     WAGONER.
     Time was when with the dreary load
     We slowly journeyed on,
     And measured every mile of road
     Until the day was gone;
     Along the worn and rutted way,
     When morn was but a gleam,
     And with the last faint glimpse of day
     Still went the dreary team.
     But no more now to earth we bow!
     Our insect life is past;
     With furnace gleam, and hissing steam,
     Our speed is like the blast


     WIFE.
     I mind it well,--I loved it too,
     Full many a happy hour,
     When o'er our heads the blossoms grew
     That made the road a bower.
     With song of birds, and pleasant sound
     Of voices o'er the lea,
     And perfume rising from the ground
     Fresh turned by labor free.
     And when the night, star-lit and bright,
     Closed in on all around,
     Nestling to rest, upon my breast
     My boy was sleeping sonnd.
     His mouth was moved, as tho' it provtd
     That even in his dream
     He grasped the whip--his tiny lip
     Would try to guide the team.
     Oh, were not these the days to please!
     Were we not happy so?
     The woman said.   He hung his head,
     And still he muttered low:
     But no more now to earth we bow,
     Our insect life is past;
     With furnace gleam, and hissing steam,
     Our speed is like the blast."



"I wish I had a hundred pounds to argue the question on either side," as
Lord Plunkett said of a Chancery case; for if we have lost much of
the romance of the road, as it once existed, we have certainly gained
something in the strange and curious views of life presented by railroad
travelling; and although there was more of poetry in the pastoral, the
broad comedy of a journey is always amusing. The caliph who once sat on
the bridge of Bagdad, to observe mankind, and choose his dinner-party
from the passers-by, would unquestionably have enjoyed a far wider
scope for his investigation, had he lived in our day, and taken out a
subscription ticket for the Great Western or the Grand Junction. A peep
into the several carriages of a train is like obtaining a section of
society; for, like the view of a house, when the front wall is removed,
we can see the whole economy of the dwelling, from the kitchen to the
garret; and while the grand leveller, steam, is tugging all the same
road, at the same pace, subjecting the peer to every shock it gives
the peasant, individual peculiarities and class observances relieve the
uniformity of the scene, and afford ample opportunity for him who would
read while he runs. Short of royalty, there is no one nowadays may not
be met with "on the rail;" and from the Duke to Daniel O'Connell--a
pretty long interval--your _vis-à-vis_ may be any illustrious character
in politics, literature, or art. I intend, in some of these tales, to
make mention of some of the most interesting characters it has been my
fortune to encounter; meanwhile let me make a note of the most singular
railroad traveller of whom I have ever heard, and to the knowledge of
whom I accidentally came when travelling abroad. The sketch I shall
call--



THE EARLY TRAIN TO VERSAILLES.

"Droll people one meets travelling,--strange characters!" was the
exclamation of my next neighbor in the Versailles train, as an oddly
attired figure, with an enormous beard, and a tall Polish cap, got out
at Sèvres; and this, of all the railroads in Europe, perhaps, presents
the most motley array of travellers. The "militaire," the shopkeeper,
the actor of a minor theatre, the economist Englishman residing at
Versailles for cheapness, the "modiste," the newspaper writer, are
all to be met with, hastening to and from this favorite resort of the
Parisians; and among a people so communicative, and so well disposed
to social intercourse, it is rare that even in this short journey the
conversation does not take a character of amusement, if not of actual
interest.

"The last time I went down in this train it was in company with M.
Thiers; and, I assure you, no one could be more agreeable and affable,"
said one.

"Horace Vernet was my companion last week," remarked another; "indeed I
never guessed who it was, until a chance observation of mine about one
of his own pictures, when he avowed his name."

"I had a more singular travelling-companion still," exclaimed a third;
"no less a personage than Aboul Djerick, the Arab chief, whom the
Marshal Bugeaud took prisoner."

"_Ma foi!_ gentlemen," said a dry old lady from the corner of the
carriage, "these were not very remarkable characters, after all.
I remember coming down here with--what do you think?--for my
fellow-traveller. Only guess. But it is no use; you would never hit upon
it,--he was a baboon!"

"A baboon!" exclaimed all the party, in a breath.

"_Sacrebleu!_ Madame, you must be jesting."

"No, gentlemen, nothing of the kind. He was a tall fellow, as big as M.
le Capitaine yonder; and he had a tail--_mon Dieu!_ what a tail! When
the conductor showed him into the carriage, it took nearly a minute to
adjust that enormous tail."

A very general roar of laughter met this speech, excited probably more
by the serious manner of the old lady as she mentioned this
occurrence than by anything even in the event itself, though all were
unquestionably astonished to account for the incident.

"Was he quiet, Madame?" said one of the passengers.

"Perfectly so," replied she,--"_bien poli_."

Another little outbreak of laughter at so singular a phrase, with
reference to the manners of an ape, disturbed the party.

"He had probably made his escape from the Jardin des Plantes," cried a
thin old gentleman opposite.

"No, Monsieur; he lived in the Rue St. Denis."

"_Diable!_" exclaimed a lieutenant; "he was a good citizen of Paris. Was
he in the Garde Nationale, Madame?"

"I am not sure," said the old lady, with a most provoking coolness.

"And where was he going, may I ask?" cried another.

"To Versailles, Monsieur,--poor fellow, he wept very bitterly."

"Detestable beast!" exclaimed the old gentleman; "they make a horrid
mockery of humanity."

"Ah! very true, Monsieur; there is a strong resemblance between the
two species." There was an unlucky applicability in this speech to the
hook-nose, yellow-skinned, wrinkled little fellow it was addressed to,
that once more brought a smile upon the party.

"Was there no one with him, then? Who took care of him, Madame?"

"He was alone, Monsieur. The poor fellow was a '_garçon_;' he told me so
himself."

"Told you so!--the ape told you!--the baboon said that!" exclaimed each
in turn of the party, while an outburst of laughter filled the carriage.

"'T is quite true,--just as I have the honor to tell you," said the old
lady, with the utmost gravity; "and although I was as much surprised as
you now are, when he first addressed me, he was so well-mannered, spoke
such good French, and had so much agreeability that I forgot my fears,
and enjoyed his society very much."

It was not without a great effort that the party controlled themselves
sufficiently to hear the old lady's explanation. The very truthfulness
of her voice and accent added indescribably to the absurdity; for while
she designated her singular companion always as M. le Singe, she spoke
of him as if he had been a naturalized Frenchman, born to enjoy all the
inestimable privileges of "La Belle France." Her story was this--but it
is better, as far as may be, to give it in her own words:--

"My husband, gentlemen, is greffier of the Correctional Court of
Paris; and although obliged, during the session, to be every day at the
Tribunal, we reside at Versailles, for cheapness, using the railroad to
bring us to and from Paris. Now, it chanced that I set out from Paris,
where I had spent the night at a friend's house, by the early train,
which, you know, starts at five o'clock. Very few people travel by that
train; indeed, I believe the only use of it is to go down to Versailles
to bring up people from thence. It was a fine cheery morning--cold, but
bright--in the month of March, as I took my place alone in one of the
carriages of the train. After the usual delay (they are never prompt
with this train), the word 'En route' was given, and we started; but
before the pace was accelerated to a rapid rate, the door was wrenched
open by the 'conducteur'--a large full-grown baboon, with his tail over
his arm, stepped in--the door closed, and away we went. Ah! gentlemen,
I never shall forget that moment. The beast sat opposite me, just like
Monsieur there, with his old parchment face, his round brown eyes, and
his long-clawed paws, which he clasped exactly like a human being. _Mon
Dieu!_ what agony was mine! I had seen these creatures in the Jardin des
Plantes, and knew them to be so vicious; but I thought the best thing to
do was to cultivate the monster's good graces, and so I put my hand in
my reticule and drew forth a morsel of cake, which I presented to him.

"'_Merci, Madame_,' said he, with a polite bow, 'I am not hungry.'

"Ah! when I heard him say this, I thought I should have died. The beast
spoke it as plain as I am speaking to you; and he bowed his yellow face,
and made a gesture of his hand, if I may call it a hand, just this way.
Whether he remarked my astonishment, or perceived that I looked ill, I
can't say; but he observed in a very gentle tone,--

"'Madame is fatigued.'

"'Ah! Monsieur,' said I, 'I never knew that you spoke French.'

"'_Oui, parbleu!_' said he, 'I was born in the Pyrenees, and am only
half a Spaniard.'

"'Monsieur's father, then,' said I, 'was he a Frenchman?'

"'_Pauvre bête_,' said he; 'he was from the Basque Provinces. He was a
wild fellow.'

"'I have no doubt of it,' said I; 'but it seems they caught him at
last.'

"'You are right, Madame. Strange enough you should have guessed it. He
was taken in Estremadura, where he joined a party of brigands. They knew
my father by his queue; for, amid all his difficulties, nothing could
induce him to cut it off.'

"'I don't wonder,' said I; 'it would have been very painful.'

"'It would have made his heart bleed, Madame, to touch a hair of it.
He was proud of that old queue; and he might well be,--it was the
best-looking tail in the North of Spain.'

"'Bless my heart,' thought I, 'these creatures have their vanities too.'

"'Ah, Madame, we had more freedom in those days. My father used to tell
me of the nights he has passed on the mountains, under the shade, or
sometimes in the branches of the cork-trees, with pleasant companions,
fellows of his own stamp. We were not hunted down then, as we are now;
there was liberty then.'

"'Well, for my part,' said I, 'I should not dislike the Jardin des
Plantes, if I was like one of you. It ain't so bad to have one's meals
at regular times, and a comfortable bed, and a good dry house.'

"'I don't know what you mean by the Jardin des Plantes. I live in the
Rue St. Denis, and I for one feel the chain about my ankles, under this
vile _régime_ we live in at present.'

"He had managed to slip it off this time, anyhow; for I saw the
creature's legs were free.

"'Ah, Madame,' exclaimed Le Singe, slapping his forehead with his paw,
'men are but rogues, cheats, and swindlers.'

"'Are apes better?' said I, modestly.

"'I protest I think they are,' said he. 'Except a propensity to petty
pilfering, they are honest beasts.'

"'They are most affectionate,' said I, wishing to flatter him; but he
took no notice of the observation.

"'Madame,' exclaimed he, after a pause, and with a voice of unusual
energy, 'I was so near being caught in a trap this very morning.'

"'Dear me,' said I, 'and they laid a trap for you?'

"'An infernal trap,' said he. 'A mistake might have cost me my liberty
for life. Do you know M. Laborde, the director of the Gymnase?'

"'Ihave heard of him, but no more.'

"'What a "fripon" he is! There is not such a scoundrel living; but I 'll
have him yet. Let him not think to escape me! Pardon, Madame, does my
tail inconvenience you?'

"'Not at all, sir. Pray don't stir.'

"I must say that, in his excitement, the beast whisked the appendage to
and fro with his paw in a very furious manner.

"'Only conceive, Madame, I have passed the night in the open air;
hunted, chased, pursued,--all on account of the accursed M. Laborde.
I that was reared in a warm climate, brought up in every comfort, and
habituated to the most tender care,--exposed, during six hours, to the
damp dews of a night in the Bois de Boulogne. I know it will fall on
my chest, or I shall have an attack of rheumatism. Ah, _mon Dieu!_ if
I shouldn't be able to climb and jump, it would be better for me to be
dead.'

[Illustration: 622]

"'No, no,' said I, trying to soothe him, 'don't say that. Here am I,
very happy and contented, and could n't spring over a street gutter if
you gave me the Tuileries for doing it.'

"'"What has that to say to it?' cried he, fiercely. 'Our instincts and
pursuits are very different.'

"'Yes, thank God,' muttered I, below my breath, 'I trust they are.'

"'You live at Versailles,' said he, suddenly. 'Do you happen to know
Antoine Geoffroy, greffier of the Tribunal?'

"'Yes, _parbleu!_' said I; 'he is my husband.'

"'Oh, Madame! what good fortune! He is the only man in France can assist
me. I want him to catch M. Laborde. When can I see him?'

"'He will be down in the ten o'clock train,' said I. 'You can see him
then, Rue du Petit Lait.'

"'Ah, but where shall I lie concealed till then? If they should overtake
me and catch me,--if they found me out, I should be ruined.'

"'Come with me, then. I 'll hide you safe enough.'

"The beast fell on its knees, and kissed my hand like a Christian, and
muttered his gratitude till we reached the station.

"Early as it was--only six o'clock--I confess I did not half like the
notion of taking the creature's arm, which he offered me, as we got out;
but I was so fearful of provoking him, knowing their vindictive nature,
that I assented with as good a grace as I was able; and away we went, he
holding his tail festooned over his wrist, and carrying my carpet-bag in
the other hand. So full was he of his anger against M. Laborde, and his
gratitude to me, that he could talk of nothing else as we went along,
nor did he pay the slightest attention to the laughter and jesting our
appearance excited from the workmen who passed by.

"'Madame has good taste in a cavalier,' cried one.

"'There 'll be a reward for that fellow to-morrow or next day,' cried
another.

"'Yes, yes,--he is the biggest in the whole Jardin des Plantes,' said a
third.

"Such were the pleasant commentaries that met my ears, even at that
quiet hour.

"When we reached the Rue du Petit Lait, however, a very considerable
crowd followed us, consisting of laborers and people on their way to
work; and I assure you I repented me sorely of the good nature that had
exposed me to such consequences; for the mob pressed us closely, many
being curious to examine the creature near, and some even going so far
as to pat him with their hands, and take up the tip of his tail in their
fingers. The beast, however, with admirable tact, never spoke a word,
but endured the annoyance without any signs of impatience,--hoping, of
course, that the house would soon screen him from their view; but only
think of the bad luck. When we arrived at the door, we rung and rung,
again and again, but no one came. In fact, the servant, not expecting me
home before noon, had spent the night at a friend's house; and there we
were, in the open street, with a crowd increasing every moment around
us.

"'What is to be done?' said I, in utter despair; but before I had even
uttered the words, the beast disengaged himself from me, and, springing
to the 'jalousies,' scrambled his way up to the top of them. In a moment
more he was in the window of the second story, and then, again ascending
in the same way, reached the third, the mob hailing him with cries of
'Bravo, Singe!--well done, ape!--mind your tail, old fellow!--that's
it, monkey!'--and so on, until with a bound he sprung in through an open
window, and then, popping out his head, and with a gesture of little
politeness, made by his outstretched fingers on his nose, he cried out,
'Messieurs, j'ai l'honneur de vous saluer.'

"If every beast in the Jardin des Plantes, from the giraffe down to
the chimpanzee, had spoken, the astonishment could not have been more
general; at first the mob were struck mute with amazement, but, after a
moment, burst forth into a roar of laughter.

"'Ah! I know that fellow,--I have paid twenty sons to see him before
now,' cried one.

"'So have I,' said another; 'and it's rare fun to look at him cracking
nuts, and swinging himself on the branch of a tree by his tail.'

"At this moment the door opened, and I slipped in without hearing
farther of the commentaries of the crowd. In a little time the servant
returned, and prepared the breakfast; and although, as you may suppose,
I was very ignorant what was exactly the kind of entertainment to set
before my guest, I got a great dish of apples and a plate of chestnuts,
and down we sat to our meal.

"'That was a ring at the door, I think,' said he; and as he spoke, my
husband entered the room.

"'Ah! you here?' cried he, addressing M. le Singe.

'_Parbleu!_ there's a pretty work in Paris about you,--it is all over
the city this morning that you are off.'

"'And the Director?' said the ape.

"'The old bear, he is off too.'

"'So, thought I to myself,--' 'it would appear the other beasts have
made their escape too.'

"'Then, I suppose,' said the ape, 'there will be no catching him.'

"'I fear not,' said my husband; 'but if they do succeed in overtaking
the old fox, they 'll have the skin off him.'

"Cruel enough, thought I to myself, considering it was the creature's
instinct.

"'These, however, are the orders of the Court; and when you have
signed this one, I shall set off in pursuit of him at once.' So said my
husband, as he produced a roll of papers from his pocket, which the ape
perused with the greatest avidity.

"'He'll be for crossing the water, I warrant.'

"'No doubt of it,' said my husband. 'France will be too hot for him for
a while.'

"'Poor beast,' said I, 'he'll be happier in his native snows.'

"At this they both laughed heartily; and the ape signed his name to the
papers, and brushed the sand over them with the tip of his tail.

"'We must get back to Paris at once,' said he, 'and in a coach too, for
I cannot have a mob after me again.'

"'Leave that to me,' said my husband. 'I'll see you safely home.
Meanwhile let me lend you a cloak and a hat;' and, with these words, he
dressed up the creature so that when the collar was raised you would not
have known him from that gentleman opposite.

"'Adieu,' said he, 'Madame,' with a wave of his hand, '_au revoir_,
I hope, if it would give you any pleasure to witness our little
performances--'

"'No, no,' said I, 'there's a small creature goes about here, on an
organ, in a three-cornered cocked-hat and a red coat, and I can have him
for half an hour for two sous.'

"'Votre serviteur, Madame,' said he, with an angry whisk of his tail;
for although I did not intend it, the beast was annoyed at my remark.

"Away they went, Messieurs, and from that hour to this I never heard
more of the creature, nor of his companions; for my husband makes it a
rule never to converse on topics relating to his business,--and it seems
he was, somehow or other, mixed up in the transaction."

"But, Madame," cried one of the passengers, "you don't mean to palm this
fable on us for reality, and make us believe something more absurd than
Æsop himself ever invented?"

"If it be only an impertinent allegory," said the old gentleman
opposite, "I must say, it is in the worst possible taste."

"Or if," said a little white-faced fat man, with spectacles,--"or if it
be a covert attack upon the National Guard of Paris, as the corporal
of the 95th legion, of the 37th arrondissement, I repel the insinuation
with contempt."

"Heaven forbid, gentlemen! The facts I have narrated are strictly true;
my husband can confirm them in every particular, and I have only
to regret that any trait in the ape's character should suggest
uncomfortable recollections to yourselves."

The train had now reached its destination, and the old lady got out,
amid the maledictions of some, and the stifled laughter of others of the
passengers,--for only one or two had shrewdness enough to perceive that
she was one of those good credulous souls who implicitly believed
all she had narrated, and whose judgment having been shaken by the
miraculous power of a railroad which converted the journey of a day into
the trip of an hour, could really have swallowed any other amount of the
apparently impossible it might be her fortune to meet with.

For the benefit of those who may not be as easy of belief as the good
Madame Geoffroy, let me add one word as the solution of this mystery.
The ape was no other than M. Gouffe, who, being engaged to perform as a
monkey in the afterpiece of "La Pérouse," was actually cracking nuts
in a tree, when he learned from a conversation in "the flats," that the
director, M. Laborde, had just made his escape with all the funds of
the theatre, and six months of M. Gouffe's own salary. Several
police-officers had already gained access to the back of the stage, and
were arresting the actors as they retired. Poor Jocko had nothing for
it, then, but to put his agility to the test, and, having climbed to the
top of the tree, he scrambled in succession over the heads of several
scenes, till he reached the back of the stage, where, watching his
opportunity, he descended in safety, rushed down the stairs, and gained
the street. By immense exertions he arrived at the Bois de Boulogne,
where he lay concealed until the starting of the early train for
Versailles. The remainder of his adventure the reader already knows.

Satisfactory as this explanation may be to some, I confess I should be
sorry to make it, if I thought it would reach the eyes or ears of poor
Madame Geoffroy, and thus disabuse her of a pleasant illusion, and the
harmless gratification of recounting her story to others as unsuspecting
as herself.



THE TUNNEL OF TRÜBAU.

[Illustration: 628]

Amblers have not more prejudices and superstitions than railroad
travellers. All the preferences for the winning places, the lucky pack,
the shuffling cut, &c., have their representatives among the prevailing
notions of those who "fly by steam."

"I _always_ sit with my back to the engine," cries one.

"I _always_ travel as far from the engine as possible," exclaims
another.

"I _never_ trust myself behind the luggage train," adds a third.

"There 's nothing like a middle place," whispers a fourth: and so on
they go; as if, when a collision does come, and the clanking monster has
taken an erratic fit, and eschews the beaten path, any precautions or
preferences availed in the slightest degree, or that it signified a
snort of the steam, whether you were flattened into a pancake, or blown
up in the shape of a human _soufflé_. "The Rail" is no Whig politician,
no "bit-by-bit" reformer. When a smash happens, skulls are as fragile
as saucers, and bones as brittle as Bohemian glass. The old "fast coach"
never killed any one but the timid gentleman that jumped off. To be
sure, it always dislocated the coachman's shoulder; but then, from old
habit of being shot out, the bone rolled in again, like a game of
cup and ball. The insides and out scraped each other, swore fearful
intentions against the proprietors, and some ugly fellow took his action
of damages for the loss his prospects sustained by disfigurement. This
was the whole extent of the mishap. Not so now, when four hundred souls
are dashed frantically together and pelt heads at each other as people
throw _bonbons_ at a carnival.

Steam has invented something besides fast travelling; and if it
has supplied a new method of getting through the world, it has also
suggested about twenty new ways of going out of it. Now, it's the old
story of the down train and the up, both bent on keeping the same line
of rails, and courageously resolving to see which is the "better man,"
a point which must always remain questionable, as the umpires never
survive. Again, it is the engine itself, that, sick of straight lines,
catches a fancy for the waving ones of beauty, and sets out, full
speed, over a fine grass country, taking the fences as coolly as Allan
M'Donough himself, and caring just as little for what "comes behind:"
these incidents being occasionally varied by the train taking the sea or
taking fire, either of which has its own inconveniences, more likely to
be imagined than described.

I remember once hearing this subject fully discussed in a railroad
carriage, where certainly the individuals seemed amateurs in accidents,
every man having some story to relate or some adventure to recount,
of the grievous dangers of "The Rail." I could not help questioning to
myself the policy of such revelations, so long as we journeyed within
the range of similar calamities; but somehow self-tormenting is a very
human practice, and we all indulged in it to the utmost. The narratives
themselves had their chief interest from some peculiarity in the mode of
telling, or in the look and manner of the recounter; all save one, which
really had features of horror all its own, and which were considerably
heightened by the simple but powerful style of him who told it. I feel
how totally incapable I am of conveying even the most distant imitation
of his manner; but the story, albeit neither complicated nor involved,
I must repeat, were it only as a reminiscence of a most agreeable
fellow-traveller, Count Henri de Beulivitz, the Saxon envoy at Vienna.

"I was," says the Count--for so far I must imitate him, and speak in the
first person--"I was appointed special envoy to the Austrian court about
a year and a half since, under circumstances which required the utmost
despatch, and was obliged to set out the very day after receiving my
appointment. The new line of railroad from Dresden to Vienna was only in
progress, but a little below Prague the line was open, and by travelling
thither _en poste_, I should reach the Austrian capital without loss of
time. This I resolved on; and by the forenoon of the day after, arrived
at Trübau, where I placed my carriage on a truck, and comfortably
composed myself to rest, under the impression that I need never stir
till within the walls of Vienna.

"If you have ever travelled in this part of Europe, I need not remind
you of the sad change of prospect which ensues after you pass the
Bohemian frontier. Saxony, rich in picturesque beauty; the valley of the
Elbe, in many respects finer than the Rhine itself; the proud summit of
the Bastey; the rock-crowned fortress of Koenigstein,--are all succeeded
by monotonous tracts of dark forest, or still more dreary plains,
disfigured, not enlivened by villages of wretched hovels, poor, I have
heard, as the dwellings of the Irish peasant. What a contrast, too! the
people, the haggard faces and sallow cheeks of the swarthy Bohemian,
with the blue eye and ruddy looks of the Saxon! 'Das Sachsenland wo
die hübsche mädchen auf die Baüme wachsen.' Proud as I felt at the
superiority of my native country, I could not resist the depression,
suggested by the monotony of the scene before me, its dull uniformity,
its hopeless poverty; and as I sunk into a sleep, my dreams took
the gloomy aspect of my waking thoughts, gloomier, perhaps, because
unrelieved by all effort of volition,--a dark river unruffled by a
single breeze.

"The perpetual bang! bang! of the piston has, in its reiterated stroke,
something diabolically terrible. It beats upon the heart with an
impression irresistibly solemn! I remember how in my dreams the
accessories of the train kept flitting round me, and I thought the
measured sounds were the clickings of some infernal clock, which meted
out time to legions of devils. I fancied them capering to and fro amid
flame and smoke, with shrieks, screams, and wild gestures. My brain grew
hot with excitement. I essayed to awake, but the very rocking of the
train steeped my faculties in a lethargy. At last, by a tremendous
effort, I cried out aloud, and the words broke the spell, and I
awoke--dare I call it awaking? I rubbed my eyes, pinched my arms,
stamped with my feet; alas! it was too true!--the reality announced
itself to my senses. I was there, seated in my carriage, amid a darkness
blacker than the blackest night. A low rumbling sound, as of far-distant
thunder, had succeeded to the louder bang of the engine. A dreadful
suspicion flashed on me,--it grew stronger with each second; and, ere a
minute more, I saw what had happened. The truck on which my carriage was
placed had by some accident become detached from the train; and while
the other portion of the train proceeded on its way, there was I, alone,
deserted, and forgotten, in the dark tunnel of Trübau,--for such I at
once guessed must be the dreary vault, unillumined by one ray of light
or the glimmering of a single lamp. Convictions, when the work of
instinct rather than reflection, have a stunning effect, that seems to
arrest all thought, and produce a very stagnation of the faculties.
Mine were in this state. As when, in the shock of battle, some
terrible explosion, dealing death to thousands at once, will appall
the contending hosts, and make men aghast with horror, so did my ideas
become fixed and rooted to one horrible object; and for some time I
could neither think of the event nor calculate on its consequences.
Happy for me if the stupefaction continued! No sooner, however, had my
presence of mind returned, than I began to anticipate every possible
fatality that might occur. Death I knew it must be, and what a
death!--to be run down by the train for Prague, or smashed by the
advancing one from Olmutz. How near my fate might be, I could not guess.
I neither knew how long it was since I entered the tunnel, nor at what
hours the other trains started. They might be far distant, or they
might be near at hand. Near!--what was space when such terrible power
existed?--a league was the work of minutes--at that very moment the
furious engine might be rushing on! I thought of the stoker stirring the
red fire. I fancied I saw the smoke roll forth, thicker and blacker, as
the heat increased, and through my ears went the thugging bang of the
piston, quicker and quicker; and I screamed aloud in my agony, and
called out to them to stop! I must have swooned, for when consciousness
again came to me, I was still amid the silence and darkness of the
tunnel. I listened, and oh! with what terrible intensity the human ear
can strain its powers when the sounds awaited are to announce life
or death! The criminal in the dock, whose eyes are riveted in a glazy
firmness on him who shall speak his doom, drinks in the words ere they
are well uttered,--each syllable falls upon his heart as fatal to hope
as is the headsman's axe to life. The accents are not human sounds; it
is the trumpet of eternity that fills his ears, and rings within his
brain,--the loud blast of the summoning angel calling him to judgment.

"Terrible as the thunder of coming destruction is, there is yet a sense
more fearfully appalling in the unbroken silence of the tomb,--the
stillness of death without its lethargy! Dreadful moment!--what
fearful images it can call up!--what pictures it can present before the
mind!--how fearfully reality may be blended with the fitful forms of
fancy, and fact be associated even with the impossible!

"I tried to persuade myself that the bounds of life were already past,
and that no dreadful interval of torture was yet before me; but this
consolation, miserable though it was, yielded as I touched the side of
the carriage, and felt the objects I so well knew. No; it was evident
the dreaded moment was yet to come,--the shocking ordeal was still to be
passed; and before I should sink into the sleep that knows not waking,
there must be endured the torture of a death-struggle, or, mayhap, the
lingering agony of protracted suffering.

"As if in a terrible compensation for the shortness of my time on earth,
minutes were dragged out to the space of years,--amid the terrors of the
present, I thought of the past and the future. The past, with its varied
fortune of good and ill, of joy and sorrow,--how did I review it now!
With what scrutiny did I pry into my actions, and call upon myself to
appear at the bar of my conscience! Had my present mission to Vienna
contained anything Machiavelic in its nature, I should have trembled
with the superstitious terror that my misfortune was a judgment of
Heaven. But no. It was a mere commonplace negotiation, of which time was
the only requisite. Even this, poor as it was, had some consolation in
it,--I should, at least, meet death without the horror of its being a
punishment.

"I had often shuddered at the fearful narratives of people buried alive
in a trance, or walled up within the cell of a convent. How willingly
would I now have grasped at such an alternative! Such a fate would steal
over without the terrible moment of actual suffering,--the crash and the
death struggle! I fancied a thousand alleviating circumstances in the
dreamy lethargy of gradual dissolution. Then came the thought--and how
strange that such a thought should obtrude at such a time!--what will
be said of me hereafter?--how will the newspapers relate the occurrence?
Will they speculate on the agony of my anticipated doom?--will they
expatiate on all that I am now actually enduring? What will the
passengers in the train say, when the collision shall have taken place?
Will there be enough of me left to make investigation easy? How poor
G------will regret me! and I am sure he will never be seen in public
till he has invented a _bon mot_ on my destiny.

"Again, I recurred to the idea of culpability, and asked myself whether
there might not be some contravention of the intentions of Providence by
this newly invented power of steam, which thus involved me in a fate
so dreadful? What right had man to arrogate to himself a prerogative
of motion his own physical powers denied him; and why did he dare to
penetrate into the very bowels of the earth, when his instinct clearly
pointed to avocations on the surface? These reflections were speedily
routed; for now, a low, rumbling sound, such as I have heard described
as the premonitory sign of a coming earthquake, filled the tunnel. It
grew louder and louder; and whether it were the sudden change from the
dread stillness, or that, in reality, it were so, it sounded like the
booming of the sea within some gigantic cavern. I listened anxiously,
and oh, terrible thought! now I could hear the heavy thug! thug! of the
piston. It was a train!

"A train coming towards me! Every sob of the straining engine sent a
death-pang through me; the wild roar of a lion could not convey more
terror to my heart! I thought of leaving the carriage, and clinging to
the side of the tunnel; but there was only one line of rails, and the
space barely permitted the train to pass! It was now too late for any
effort; the thundering clamor of the engine swelled like the report of
heavy artillery, and then a red hazy light gleamed amid the darkness,
as though an eye of fire was looking into my very soul. It grew into a
ghastly brightness, and I thought its flame could almost scorch me.
It came nearer and nearer. The dark figures of the drivers passed and
re-passed behind it. I screamed and yelled in my agony, and in the
frenzy of the moment drew a pistol from my pocket, and fired,--why, or
in what direction, I know not. A shrill scream shot through the gloom.
Was it a death-cry? I could not tell, for I had fainted.

"The remainder is easily told. The train had, on discovering my being
left behind, sent back an engine to fetch me; but from a mistake of the
driver, who was given to suppose that I had not entered the tunnel, he
had kept the engine at half speed, and without the happy accident of the
pistol and the flash of the powder, I should inevitably have been run
down; for, even as it was, the collision drove my carriage about fifty
yards backwards, an incident of which, happily, I neither was conscious
at the time, nor suffered from afterwards."

"That comes of travelling on a foreign railroad!" muttered a ruddy-faced
old gentleman in drab shorts. "Those fellows have no more notion of how
to manage an engine--"

"Than the Pope has of the polka," chimed in a very Irish accent from the
corner of the carriage.

"Very true, sir," rejoined the former. "English is the only language to
speak to the boiler. The moment they try it on with French or German,
something goes wrong. You saw how they roasted the people at Versailles,
and--"

"Ah! the devil a bit they know about it at all," interposed the
Emeralder. "The water is never more than lukewarm, and there 's more
smoke out of the chap's pipe that stands in front than out of the
funnel. They 've generally an engine at each end, and it takes twenty
minutes at every station to decide which way they'll go,--one wanting
this way, and the other that."

"Is it not better in Belgium?" asked I.

"Belgium, is it?--bad luck to it for Belgium: I ought to know something
of how _they_ manage. There is n't a word of truth among them. Were you
ever at Antwerp?"

"Yes; I have passed through it several times."

"Well, how long does it take to go from Antwerp to Brussels?"

"Something more than an hour, if I remember aright."

"Something more!--on my conscience I think it does. See now, it's four
days and a half travelling the same journey."

A burst of laughter irrepressible met this speech, for scarcely any
one of the party had not had personal experience of the short distance
alluded to.

"You may laugh as much as you please,--you're welcome to your fun; but I
went the road myself, and I 'd like to see which of you would say I did
n't."

There was no mistaking the tone nor the intention of the speech; it was
said without any elevation of voice or any bravado of manner, but with
the quiet, easy determination of a man who only asked reasonable grounds
for an opportunity to blow some other gentleman's brains out. Some
disclaimed all idea of a contradiction, others apologized for the mirth
at the great disparity of the two statements,--one alleging an hour for
what another said four days were required; while I, anxious to learn
the Irishman's explanation, timidly hinted a desire to hear more of his
travelling experiences.

He acceded to my wish with as much readiness as he would probably have
done had I made overtures of battle, and narrated the following short
incident, which, for memory's sake, I have called


"MR. BLAKE IN BELGIUM."

"I was persuaded," quoth Mr. Blake,--"I was persuaded by my wife that we
ought to go and live abroad for economy,--that there would be no end to
the saving we 'd make by leaving our house in Galway, and taking up our
residence in France or Belgium. First, we 'd let the place for at least
six hundred a year,--the garden and orchard we set down for one hundred;
then we 'd send away all the lazy 'old hangers on,' as my wife called
them, such as the gatekeepers and gardeners and stable boys. These,
her sister told her, were 'eating us up' entirely; and her sister was
a clever one too,--a widow woman that had lived in every part of the
globe, and knew all the scandal of every capital in Europe, on less than
four hundred a year. She told my wife that Ireland was the lowest
place at all; nobody would think of bringing up their family there; no
education, no manners, and, worst of all, no men that could afford to
marry. This was a home-stroke, for we had five grown-up girls.

"'My dear,' said she, 'you'll live like the Duchess of Sutherland,
abroad, for eight hundred a year; you 'll have a beautiful house, see
company, keep your carriage and saddle horses, and drink Champagne every
day of the week, like small beer; then velvets and lace are to be had
for a song; the housemaids wear nothing but silk;' in fact, from my wife
down to little Joe, that heard sugar candy was only a penny an ounce, we
were all persuaded there was nothing like going abroad for economy.

"Mrs. Fitzmaurice--that was my sister-in-law's name--explained to us how
there was nothing so expensive as Ireland.

"''T is not, my dear,' said she, 'that things are not cheap; but that's
the reason it's ruinous to live here. There's old Molly the cook uses
more meat in a day than would feed a foreign family for a month. If you
want a beefsteak, you must kill a heifer. Now abroad you just get the
joint you want, to the very size you wish,--no bone, if you don't ask
for it. And look at the waste. In the stables you keep eight horses, and
you never have a pair for the carriage. The boys are mounted; but you
and the girls have nothing to drive out with. Besides, what can you do
with that overgrown garden? It costs you £50 a year, and you get nothing
out of it but crab-apples and cabbages. No, no; the Continent is the
place; and as for society, instead of old Darcy, of Ballinamuck, or
Father Luke, for company, you 'll have Prince this, and Count that,
foreign ministers and plenipotentiaries, archdukes, and attachés without
end. There will be more stars round your dinner-table than ever you saw
in the sky on a frosty night And the girls. I would n't wonder if the
girls, by giving a sly hint that they had a little money, might n't
marry some of the young Coburgs.'

"These were flattering visions, while for me the trap was baited with
port, duty free, and strong Burgundy, at one and sixpence a bottle. My
son Tom was taught to expect cigars at twopence a dozen; and my second
daughter, Mary, was told that, with the least instruction, her Irish jig
could be converted into a polka. In fact, it was clear we had only to
go abroad to save two-thirds of our income, and become the most
accomplished people into the bargain.

"From the hour this notion was mooted amongst us, Ireland became
detestable. The very pleasures and pastimes we once liked, grew
distasteful; even the society of our friends came associated with ideas
of vulgarity that deprived it of all enjoyment.

"'That miserable satin-turque,' exclaimed my wife, 'it is a mere
rag, and it cost me five and ninepence a yard. Mrs. Fitz. says that a
shop-girl would n't wear it in Paris.'

"'Infernal climate!' cries Tom; 'nothing but rain above and mud
beneath.'

"'And, dear papa,' cries Sophy, 'old Flannigan has no more notion
of French than I have of fortification. He calls the man that sells
sausages the 'Marchand de combustibles.'

"If these were not reasons for going abroad, I know nothing of Ireland;
and so we advertised 'Castle Blake' to be let, and the farming-stock to
be sold. The latter wasn't difficult. My neighbors bought up everything
at short bills, to be renewed whenever they became due. As for the
house, it was n't so easy to find a tenant. So I put in the herd to take
care of it, and gave him the garden for his pains. I turned in my cattle
over the lawn, which, after eating the grass, took to nibbling the
young trees and barking the older ones. This was not a very successful
commencement of economy; but Mrs. Fitz. always said,--

"'What matter? you 'll save more than double the amount the first year
you are abroad.'

"To carry out their economical views, it was determined that Brussels,
and not Paris, should be our residence for the first year; and thither
my wife and two sons and five daughters repaired, under the special
guidance of Mrs. Fitz., who undertook the whole management of our
affairs, both domestic and social. I was left behind to arrange certain
money matters, and about the payment of interest on some mortgages,
which I consoled myself by thinking that a few years of foreign economy
would enable me to pay off in full.

"It was nearly six months after their departure from Ireland that I
prepared to follow,--not in such good spirits, I confess, as I
once hoped would be my companions on the journey. The cheapness of
Continental life requires, it would appear, considerable outlay at the
first, probably on the principle that a pastry-cook's apprentice is
always surfeited with tarts during the first week, so that he never
gets any taste for sweetmeats afterwards. This might account for my wife
having drawn about twelve hundred pounds in that short time, and always
accompanying every fresh demand for money with an eloquent panegyric
on her own economy. To believe her, never was there a household so
admirably managed. The housemaid could dress hair; the butler could
drive the carriage; the writing-master taught music; the dancing-master
gave my eldest daughter a lesson in French without any extra charge.
Everything that was expensive was the cheapest in the end. Genoa velvet
lasted for ever; real Brussels lace never wore out; it was only the
'mock things' that were costly. It was frightful to think how many
families were brought to ruin by cheap articles!

"'I suppose it's all right,' said I to myself; 'and so far as I am
concerned I 'll not beggar my family by taking to cheap wines. If they
have any Burgundy that goes so high as one and eightpence, I will drink
two bottles every day.'

"Well, sir, at last came the time that I was to set out to join them;
and I sailed from London in the Princess Victoria, with my passport in
one pocket, and a written code of directions in the other, for of French
I knew not one syllable. It was not that my knowledge was imperfect or
doubtful; but I was as ignorant of the language as though it was a dead
one.

"'The place should be cheap,' thought I, 'for certainly it has no charms
of scenery to recommend it,' as we slowly wended our way up the sluggish
Scheldt, and looked with some astonishment at the land the Dutchmen
thought worth fighting for. Arrived at Antwerp, I went through the
ordeal of having my trunks ransacked, and my passport examined by some
warlike-looking characters, with swords on. They said many things to
me; but I made no reply, seeing that we were little likely to benefit
by each other's conversation; and at last, when all my formalities were
accomplished, I followed a concourse of people who, I rightly supposed,
were on their way to the railroad.

"It is a plaguy kind of thing enough, even for a taciturn man, not to
speak the language of those about him; however, I made myself tolerably
well understood at this station, by pulling out a handful of silver
coin, and repeating the word Brussels, with every variety of accent I
could think of. They guessed my intentions, and in acknowledgment of my
inability to speak one word of French, pulled and shoved me along till
I reached one of the carriages. At last a horn blew, another replied to
it, a confused uproar of shouting succeeded, like what occurs on board
a merchant ship when getting under weigh, and off jogged the train, at
a very honest eight miles an hour; but with such a bumping, shaking,
shivering, and rickety motion, it was more like travelling over a Yankee
corduroy road than anything else. I don't know what class of carriage I
was in, but the passengers were all white-faced, smoky-looking fellows,
with very soiled shirts and dirty hands; with them, of course, I had no
manner of intercourse. I was just thinking whether I should n't take
a nap, when the train came to a dead stop, and immediately after, the
whole platform was covered with queer-looking fellows, in shovelled
hats, and long petticoats like women. These gentry kept bowing and
saluting each other in a very droll fashion, and absorbed my attention,
when my arm was pulled by one of the guards of the line, while he said
something to me in French. What he wanted, the devil himself may know;
but the more I protested that I could n't speak, the louder he replied,
and the more frantically he gesticulated, pointing while he did so to a
train about to start, hard by.

"'Oh! that's it,' said I to myself, 'we change coaches here;' and so
I immediately got out, and made the best of my way over to the other
train. I had scarcely time to spare, for away it went at about the same
lively pace as the last one. After travelling about an hour and a half
more, I began to look out for Brussels, and, looking at my code of
instructions, I suspected I could not be far off; nor was I much
mistaken as to our being nigh a station, for the speed was diminished to
a slow trot, and then a walk, after a mile of which we crept up to
the outside of a large town. There was no nse in losing time in asking
questions; so I seized my carpet-bag, and jumped out, and, resisting all
the offers of the idle vagabonds to carry my luggage, I forced my way
through the crowd, and set out in search of my family. I soon got into
an intricate web of narrow streets, with shops full of wooden shoes,
pipes, and blankets of all the colors of the rainbow; and after walking
for about three-quarters of an hour, began to doubt whether I was not
traversing the same identical streets,--or was it that they were only
brothers? 'Where's the Boulevard?' thought I, 'this beautiful place
they have been telling me of, with houses on one side, and trees on the
other; I can see nothing like it;' and so I sat down on my carpet-bag,
and began to ruminate on my situation.

"'Well, this will never do,' said I, at last; 'I must try and ask for
the Boulevard de Regent.' I suppose it was my bad accent that amused
them, for every fellow I stopped put on a broad grin: some pointed this
way, and some pointed that; but they all thought it a high joke. I spent
an hour in this fashion, and then gave up the pursuit. My next thought
was the hotel where my family had stopped on their arrival, which I
found, on examining my notes, was called the 'Hôtel de Suède.' Here I
was more lucky,--every one knew that; and after traversing a couple of
streets, I found myself at the door of a great roomy inn, with a door
like a coach-house gate. 'There is no doubt about this,' said I; for the
words 'Hôtel de Suède' were written up in big letters. I made signs for
something to eat, for I was starving; but before my pantomime was well
begun, the whole household set off in search of a waiter who could speak
English.

"'Ha! ha!' said a fellow with an impudent leer, 'roa bif, eh?'

"I did not know whether it was meant for me, or the bill of fare, but
I said 'Yes, and potatoes;' but before I let him go in search of the
dinner, I thought I would ask him a few words about my family, who had
stopped at the hotel for three weeks.

"'Do you know Mrs. Blake,' said I, 'of Castle Blake?'

"'Yees, yees, I know her very veil.'

"'She was here about six months ago.'

"'Yees, yees; she vas here sex months.'

"'No; not for six months,--three weeks.'

"'Yees; all de same.'

"'Did you see her lately?'

"'Yees, dis mornin'.'

"'This morning! was she here this morning?'

"'Yees; she come here vith a captain of Cuirassiers--ah! droll fellow
dat!'

"'That's a lie anyhow,' said I, 'my young gentleman;' and with that I
planted my fist between his eyes, and laid him flat on the floor. Upon
my conscience you would have thought it was murder I had done; never
was there such yelling, and screaming, and calling for the police, and
Heaven knows what besides; and sure enough, they marched me off between
a file of soldiers to a place like a guard-room, where, whatever the
fellow swore against me, it cost me a five-pound note before I got free.

"'Keep a civil tongue in your head, young man, about Mrs. Blake, anyway;
for by the hill of Maam, if I hear a word about the Cuirassier, I'll not
leave a whole bone in your skin.'

"Well, sir, I got a roast chicken, and a dish of water-cress, and I got
into a bed about four feet six long; and what between the fleas and the
nightmare, I had n't a pleasant time of it till morning.

"After breakfast I opened my map of Brussels, and, sending for the
landlord, bid him point with his finger to the place I was in. He soon
understood my meaning; but, taking me by the arm, he led me to the wall,
on which was a large map of Belgium, and then, my jewell what do you
think I discovered? It was not in Brussels I was at all, but in Louvain!
seventeen miles on the other side of it! Well, there was nothing for it
now but to go back; so I paid my bill and set off down to the station.
In half an hour the train came up, and when they asked me where I was
going, I repeated the word 'Brussels' several times over. This did
not seem to satisfy them; and they said something about my being an
Englishman.

"'Yes, yes,' said I, 'Angleterre, Angleterre.'

"'Ah, Angleterre!' said one, who looked shrewder than the rest; and as
if at once comprehending my intentions, he assisted me into a carriage,
and, politely taking off his hat, made me a salute at parting, adding
something about a 'voyage.' 'Well, he 'll be a cunning fellow that sees
me leave this train till it comes to its destination,' said I; 'I'll
not be shoved out by any confounded guard, as I was yesterday.' My
resolution was not taken in vain, for just at the very place I got
out, on the day before, a fellow came, and began making signs for me to
change to another train.

"'I'll tell you what,' says I, laying hold of my cotton umbrella at the
same moment, 'I 'll make a Belgian of you, if you will not let me alone.
Out of this place I 'll not budge for King Leopold himself.'

"And though he looked very savage for a few minutes, the way I handled
my weapon satisfied him that I was not joking, and he gave it up for a
bad job, and left me at peace. The other passengers said something, I
suppose, in explanation.

"'Yes,' said I, 'I 'm an Englishman, or an Irishman,--It's all
one,--Angleterre.'

"'Ah, Angleterre!' said three or four in a breath; and the words seemed
to act like a charm upon them, for whatever I did seemed all fair and
reasonable now. I kept a sharp look-out for Brussels; but hour after
hour slipped past, and though we passed several large towns, there was
no sign of it. After six hours' travelling, an old gentleman pulled out
his watch, and made signs to me that we should be in in less than ten
minutes more; and so we were, and a droll-looking place it was,--a town
built in a hole, with clay ditches all round it, to keep out the sea.

"'My wife never said a word about this,' said I; 'she used to say Castle
Blake was damp, but this place beats it hollow. Where's the Boulevards?'
said I.

"And a fellow pointed to a sod bank, where a sentry was on guard.

"'If it's a joke you 're making me,' said I, 'you mistake your man; 'and
I aimed a blow at him with my umbrella, that sent him running down the
street as fast as his wooden slippers would let him.

"'It ought to be cheap here, anyhow,' said I. 'Faith, I think a body
ought to be paid for living in it; but how will I find out _the_
family!'

"I was two hours walking through this cursed hole, always coming back
to a big square, with a fish-market, no matter which way I turned; for
devil a one could tell me a word about Mrs. Blake or Mrs. Fitz. either.

"'Is there a hotel?' said I; and the moment I said the word, a dozen
fellows were dragging me here and there, till I had to leave two or
three of them sprawling with my umbrella, and give myself up to the
guidance of one of the number. Well, the end of it was--if I passed the
last night at Louvain, the present I was destined to pass at Ostend!

"I left this mud town, by the early train, next morning; and having
altered my tactics, determined now to be guided by any one who would
take the trouble to direct me,--neither resisting nor opposing. To be
brief, for my story has grown too lengthy, I changed carriages four
times, at each place there being a row among the bystanders which party
should decide my destination,--the excitement once running so high that
I lost one skirt of my coat, and had my cravat pulled off; and the
end of this was that I arrived, at four in the afternoon, at Liège,
sixty-odd miles beyond Brussels! for, somehow, these intelligent people
have contrived to make their railroads all converge to one small town
called 'Malines:' so that you may--as was my case--pass within twelve
miles of Brussels every day, and yet never set eyes on it.

[Illustration: 644]

"I was now so fatigued by travelling, so wearied by anxiety and fever,
that I kept my bed the whole of the following day, dreaming, whenever I
did sleep, of everlasting railroads, and starting put of my slumbers to
wonder if I should ever see my family again. I set out once more, and
for the last time,--my mind being made up, that if I failed now, I 'd
take up my abode wherever chance might drop me, and write to my wife to
come and look for me. The bright thought flashed on me, as I watched the
man in the baggage office labelling the baggage, and, seizing one of
the gummed labels marked 'Bruxelles,' I took off my coat, and stuck
it between the shoulders. This done, I resumed my garment, and took my
place.

"The plan succeeded; the only inconvenience I sustained being the
necessity I was under of showing my way-bill whenever they questioned
me, and making a pirouette to the company,--a performance that kept
the passengers in broad grins for the whole day's journey. So you see,
gentlemen, they may talk as they please about the line from Antwerp to
Brussels, and the time being only one hour fifteen minutes; but take
my word for it, that even--if you don't take a day's rest--it's a good
three days' and a half, and costs eighty-five francs, and some coppers
besides."

"The economy of the Continent, then, did not fulfil your expectations?"

"Economy is it?" echoed Mr. Blake, with a groan; "for the matter of
that, my dear, it was like my own journey,--a mighty roundabout way of
gaining your object, and"--here he sighed heavily--"nothing to boast of
when you got it."

[Illustration: Last Drawing]





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