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Title: Tales from "Blackwood," Volume 6
Author: Various
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 from "Blackwood," Volume 6" ***

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     TALES FROM "BLACKWOOD"


     Contents of this Volume

     _My Friend the Dutchman. By Frederick Hardman, Esq._

     _My College Friends. No. II. Horace Leicester._

     _The Emerald Studs. By Professor Aytoun._

     _My College Friends. No. III. Mr W. Wellington Hurst._

     _Christine: a Dutch Story. By Frederick Hardman, Esq._

     _The Man in the Bell._


     WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
     EDINBURGH AND LONDON



TALES FROM "BLACKWOOD."



MY FRIEND THE DUTCHMAN.

BY FREDERICK HARDMAN.

[_MAGA._ OCTOBER 1847.]


"And you will positively marry her, if she will have you?"

"Not a doubt of either. Before this day fortnight she shall be Madame
Van Haubitz."

"You will make her your wife without acquainting her with your true
position?"

"Indeed will I. My very position requires it. There's no room for a
scruple. She expects to live on my fortune; thinks to make a great catch
of the rich Dutchman. Instead of that I shall spend her salary. The old
story; going out for wool and returning shorn."

The conversation of which this is the concluding fragment, occurred in
the public room of the Hotel de Hesse, in the village of Homburg on the
Hill--then an insignificant handful of houses, officiating as capital
of the important landgravate of Hesse-Homburg. The table-d'hôte had been
over some time; the guests had departed to repose in their apartments
until the hour of evening promenade should summon them to the excellent
band of music, provided by the calculating liberality of the
gaming-house keepers, and to loiter round the _brunnen_ of more or less
nauseous flavour, the pretext of resort to this rendezvous of idlers and
gamblers. The waiters had disappeared to batten on the broken meats from
the public table, and to doze away the time till the approach of supper
renewed their activity. My interlocutor, with whom I was alone in the
deserted apartment, was a man of about thirty years of age, whose dark
hair and mustaches, marked features, spare person, and complexion
bronzed by a tropical sun, entitled him to pass for a native of southern
Europe, or even of some more ardent clime. Nevertheless he answered to
the very Dutch patronymic of Van Haubitz, and was a native of Holland,
in whose principal city his father was a banker of considerable wealth
and financial influence.

It was towards the close of a glorious August, and for two months I had
been wandering in Rhine-land. Not after the fashion of deluded Cockneys,
who fancy they have seen the Rhine when they have careered from Cologne
to Mannheim astride of a steam-engine, gaping at objects passed as soon
as perceived; drinking and paying for indifferent vinegar as
Steinberger-Cabinet, eating vile dinners on the decks of steamers, and
excellent ones in the capital hotels which British cash and patronage
have raised upon the banks of the most renowned of German streams. On
the contrary, I had early dispensed with the aid of steam, to wander on
foot, with the occasional assistance of a lazy country diligence or
rickety _einspänner_, through the many beautiful districts that lie upon
either bank of the river; pedestrianising in Rhenish Bavaria, losing
myself in the Odenwald, and pausing, when occasion offered, to pick a
trout out of the numerous streamlets that dash and meander through dell
and ravine, on their way to swell the waters of old Father Rhine. At
last, weary of solitude--scarcely broken by an occasional gossip with a
heavy German boor, village priest, or strolling student--I thirsted
after the haunts of civilisation, and found myself, within a day of the
appearance of the symptom, installed in a luxurious hotel in the free
city of Frankfort on the Maine. But Frankfort at that season is
deserted, save by passing tourists, who escape as fast as possible from
its lifeless streets and sun-baked pavements; so, after glancing over an
English newspaper at the Casino, taking one stroll in the beautiful
garden surrounding the city, and another through the Jew-quarter--always
interesting and curious, although anything but savoury at that warm
season--I gathered together my baggage and was off to Homburg. There I
could not complain of solitude, of deserted streets and shuttered
windows. It seemed impossible that the multitude of gaily dressed belles
and cavaliers, English, French, German, and Russ, who, from six in the
morning until sunset, lounged and flirted on the walks, watered
themselves at the fountains, and perilled their complexions in the
golden sunbeams, could ever bestow themselves in the two or three
middling hotels and few score shabby lodging-houses composing the town
of Homburg. Manage it they did, however; crept into their narrow cells
at night, to emerge next morning, like butterflies from the chrysalis,
gay, bright, and brilliant, and to recommence the never-varying but
pleasant round of eating, sauntering, love-making, and gambling. Homburg
was not then what it has since become. That great house of cards, the
new Cursaal, had not yet arisen; and its table-d'hôte, reading-room, and
profane mysteries of roulette and rouge-et-noir, found temporary
domicile in a narrow, disreputable-looking den in the main street, where
accommodation of all kinds, but especially for dinner, was scanty in the
extreme. The public tables at the hotels were consequently thronged, and
there acquaintances were soon made. The day of my arrival at Homburg I
was seated next to Van Haubitz; his manner was off-hand and frank; we
entered into conversation, took our after-dinner cigar and evening
stroll together, and by bed-time had knocked up that sort of intimacy
easily contracted at a watering-place, which lasts one's time of
residence, and is extinguished and forgotten on departure. Van Haubitz,
like many Continentals and very few Englishmen, was one of those
free-and-easy communicative persons who are as familiar after twelve
hours' acquaintance as if they had known you twelve years, and who do
not hesitate to confide to a three days' acquaintance the history of
their lives, their pursuits, position, and prospects. I was soon made
acquainted, to a very considerable extent, at least, with those of my
friend Van Haubitz, late lieutenant of artillery in the service of his
majesty the King of Holland. He was the youngest of four sons, and
having shown, at a very early age, a wild and intractable disposition
and precocious addiction to dissipation, his father pronounced him
unsuited to business, and decided on placing him in the army. To this
the _Junker_ (he claimed nobility, and displayed above his arms a
species of coronet, bearing considerable resemblance to a fragment of
chevaux-de-frise, which he might have been puzzled to prop with a
parchment) had no particular objection, and might have made a good
enough officer, but for his reckless, spendthrift manner of life, which
entailed negligence of duty and frequent reprimands. Extravagant beyond
measure, unable to deny himself any gratification, squandering money as
though millions were at his command, he was constantly overwhelmed with
debts and a martyr to duns. At last his father, after thrice clearing
him with his creditors, consented to do so a fourth time only on
condition of his getting transferred to a regiment stationed in the
Dutch East Indies, and remaining there until his return had the paternal
sanction. To avoid a prison, and perhaps not altogether sorry to leave a
country where his cash and credit were alike exhausted, he embarked for
Batavia. But any pleasant day-dreams he may have cherished of tropical
luxuries, of the indulgence of a _farniente_ life in a grass hammock,
gently balanced by Javan houris beneath banana shades, of spice-laden
breezes and cool sherbets, and other attributes of a Mohammedan
paradise, were speedily dissipated by the odious realities of filth and
vermin, marsh-fever and mosquitoes. He wrote to his father, describing
the horrors of the place, and begging to be released from his pledge and
allowed to return to Holland. His obdurate progenitor replied by a
letter of reproach, and swore that if he left Batavia he might live on
his pay, and never expect a stiver from the paternal strong-box, either
as gift or bequest. To live upon his pay would have been no easy matter,
even for a more prudent person than Van Haubitz. He grumbled
immoderately, swore like a pagan, but remained where he was. A year
passed and he could hold out no longer. Disregarding the paternal
displeasure, and reckless of consequences, he applied to the chief
military authority of the colony for leave of absence. He was asked his
plea, and alleged ill health. The general thought he looked pretty well,
and requested the sight of a medical certificate of his invalid state.
Van Haubitz assumed a doleful countenance and betook him to the
surgeons. They agreed with the general that his aspect was healthy:
asked for symptoms; could discover none more alarming than regularity of
pulse, sleep, appetite, and digestion, laughed in his face and refused
the certificate. The sickly gunner, who had the constitution of a
rhinoceros, and had never had a day's illness since he got over the
measles at the age of four years, waited a little, and tried the second
"dodge," usually resorted to in such cases. "Urgent private affairs"
were now the pretext. The general expressed his regret that urgent
public affairs rendered it impossible for him to dispense with the
valuable services of Lieutenant Van Haubitz. Whereupon Lieutenant Van
Haubitz passed half an hour in heaping maledictions on the head of his
disobliging commander, and then sat down and wrote an application for an
exchange to the authorities in Holland. The reply was equally
unsatisfactory, the fact being that Haubitz senior, like an implacable
old savage as he was, had made interest at the war-office for the
refusal of all such requests on the part of his scapegrace offspring.
Haubitz junior took patience for another year, and then, in a moment of
extreme disgust and ennui, threw up his commission and returned to
Europe, trusting, he told me, that after five years' absence, the
governor's bowels would yearn towards his youngest-born. In this he was
entirely mistaken; he greatly underrated the toughness of paternal
viscera. Far from killing the fatted calf on the prodigal's return, the
incensed old Hollander refused him the smallest cutlet, and, shutting
the door in his face, consigned him, with more energy than affection, to
the custody of the evil one. Van Haubitz found himself in an awkward
fix. Credit was dead, none of his relatives would notice or assist him;
his whole fortune consisted of a dozen gold Wilhelms. At this critical
moment an eccentric maiden aunt, to whom, a year or two previously, he
had sent a propitiatory offering of a ring-tailed monkey and a leash of
pea-green parrots, and who had never condescended to acknowledge the
present, departed this life, bequeathing him ten thousand florins as a
return for the addition to her menagerie. A man of common prudence, and
who had seen himself so near destitution, would have endeavoured to
employ this sum, moderate as it was, in some trade or business, or, at
any rate, would have lived sparingly till he found other resources. But
Haubitz had not yet sown all his wild-oats; he had a soul above barter,
a glorious disregard of the future, the present being provided for. He
left Holland, shaking the dust from his boots, dashed across Belgium,
and was soon plunged in the gaieties of a Paris carnival. Breakfasts at
the Rocher, dinners at the Café, balls at the opera, and the concomitant
_petits soupers_ and écarté parties with the fair denizens of the
Quartier Lorette, soon operated a prodigious chasm in the monkey-money,
as Van Haubitz irreverently styled his venerable aunt's bequest. Spring
having arrived, he beat a retreat from Paris, and established himself at
Homburg, where he was quietly completing the consumption of the ten
thousand florins, at rather a slower pace than he would have done at
that headquarters of pleasant iniquity, the capital of France. From
hints he let fall, I suspected a short time would suffice to see the
last of the legacy. On this head, however, he had been less confidential
than on most other matters, and certainly his manner of living would
have led no one to suppose he was low in the locker. Nothing was too
good for him; he drank the best of wines, got up parties and pic-nics
for the ladies, and had a special addiction to the purchase of costly
trinkets, which he generally gave away before they had been a day in his
possession. He did not gamble; he had done so, he told me, once since
he was at Homburg, and had won, but he had no faith in his luck, or
taste for that kind of excitement, and should play no more. He was
playing another game just now, which apparently interested him greatly.
A few days before myself, a young actress, who, within a very short
time, had acquired considerable celebrity, had arrived at Homburg,
escorted by her mother. Fraülein Emilie Sendel was a lively lady of
four-and-twenty or thereabouts, possessing a smart figure and pretty
face, the latter somewhat wanting in refinement. Her blue eyes, although
rather too prominent, had a merry sparkle; her cheeks had not yet been
entirely despoiled by envious rouge of their natural healthful tinge;
her hair, of that peculiar tint of red auburn which the French call a
_blonde hasardé_, was more remarkable for abundance and flexibility than
for fineness of texture. As regarded her qualities and accomplishments,
she was good-humoured and tolerably unaffected, but wilful and
capricious as a spoiled child; she spoke her own language pretty well,
with an occasional slight vulgarism or bit of greenroom slang; had a
smattering of French, and played the piano sufficiently to accompany the
ballads and vaudeville airs which she sang with spirit and considerable
freedom of style. I had met German actresses who were far more lady-like
off the stage, but there was nothing glaringly or repulsively vulgar
about Emilie, and as a neighbour at a public dinner-table, she was
amusing and quite above par. As if to vindicate her nationality, she
would occasionally look sentimental; but the mood sat ill upon her, and
never lasted long: comedy was evidently her natural line. Against her
reputation, rumour, always an inquisitive censor, often a mean libeller,
of ladies of her profession, had as yet, so far as I could learn, found
nothing to allege. Her mother, a dingy old dowager, with bad teeth,
dowdy gowns, a profusion of artificial flowers, and a strong addiction
to tea and knitting, perfectly understood the duties of duennaship, and
did propriety by her daughter's side at dinner-table and promenade. To
the heart of the daughter, Van Haubitz, almost from the first hour he
had seen her, had laid persevering and determined siege.

During our after-dinner tête-à-tête on the day now referred to, my
friend the gunner had shown himself exceedingly unreserved, and, without
any attempt on my part to draw him out, he had elucidated, with a
frankness that must have satisfied the most inquisitive, whatever small
points of his recent history and present position he had previously left
in obscurity. The conversation began, so soon as the cloth was removed
and the guests had departed, by a jesting allusion on my part to his
flirtation with the actress, and to her gracious reception of his
attentions.

"It is no mere flirtation," said Van, gravely. "My intentions are
serious. You may depend Mademoiselle Sendel understands them as such."

"Serious! you don't mean that you want to marry her?"

"Unquestionably I do. It is my only chance."

"Your only chance!" I repeated, considerably puzzled. "Are you about to
turn actor, and do you trust to her for instruction in histrionics?"

"Not exactly. I will explain. La Sendel, you must know, has just
terminated her last engagement, which was at a salary of ten thousand
florins. She has already received and accepted an offer of a new one, at
fifteen thousand, from the Vienna theatre. Vienna is a very pleasant
place. Fifteen thousand florins are thirty-two thousand francs, or
twelve hundred of your English pounds sterling. Upon that sum two
persons can live excellently well--in Germany at least."

Unable to contradict any of these assertions, I held my tongue. The
Dutchman resumed.

"You know the history of my past life; I will tell you my present
position. It is critical enough, but I shall improve it, for here," and
he touched his forehead, "is what never fails me. This letter," (he
produced an epistle of mercantile aspect, bearing the Amsterdam
post-mark), "I received last week from my eldest brother. The shabby
_schelm_ declares he will reply to no more of mine, that his efforts to
arrange matters with my father have been fruitless, and that the old
gentleman has strictly forbidden him and his brothers to hold any
communication with me, a command they seem willing enough to obey. So
much for that. And now for the finances."

He took out his pocket-book, opened and shook it--a flimsy crumpled bit
of paper fell out. It was a note of the bank of France, for one thousand
francs.

"My last," said he. "That gone, I am a beggar. But it won't come to
that, either, thanks to Fraülein Emilie."

"Surely," said I, "you are too reckless of money, too extravagant and
unreflecting. Six months ago, you told me you had twenty such notes."

"Ay, twenty-two exactly, at the end of January, when I left Amsterdam.
But whither was I bound? To Paris; and who can economise there? I've had
my money's worth, and could have had no more, had I dribbled the dirty
ten thousand florins over three years, instead of three months. I take
great credit for making it last so long. Such suppers, and balls, and
orgies, with the pleasantest fellows and prettiest actresses in Paris.
But the louis-d'or roll rapidly in that sort of society. One must be a
Russian prince, or a French _feuilletoniste_, to keep it up. I never
flinched at anything so long as the money lasted. Then, when I found
myself reduced to the last note, I got into the Frankfort mail, and
came to rusticate at this rural roulette-table. My next change will be
to conjugation and Vienna."

"But if you had only a thousand francs on leaving Paris, and have got
them still, how have you lived since?"

"You don't suppose these are the same? There are not many ways of
getting through money here unless one gambles, which I do not; but coin
has somehow or other a peculiar aptitude to slip through my fingers, and
the thousand francs soon evaporated. Meanwhile, I had written dozens of
letters to my brothers, who seldom answered, and to my father, who never
did. I promised reform and a respectable life, if they would either get
me a snug place with little to do and good pay, or make me a reasonable
yearly allowance, something better than the paltry three thousand
florins they doled out to me when I was in the artillery, and on which,
as I could not live, I was obliged to get in debt. They paid no
attention to my request, reasonable as it was. The best offer they made
me was five francs a-day, paid weekly, to live in a Silesian village.
This was adding insult to injury, and I left off writing to them. A few
days afterwards, taking out my purse to pay for cigars, a dollar dropped
out. It was my last. I paid it away, walked home, lay down upon my bed,
smoked and reflected. My position was gloomy enough, and the more I
looked at it, the blacker it seemed. From my undutiful relatives there
was no hope; the abominable Silesian project was evidently their
ultimatum. I had no friend to turn to, no resource left. I might
certainly have obtained the mere necessaries of life at this hotel,
where my credit was excellent, and have vegetated for a month or two, as
a man must vegetate, without ready money. But I had no fancy for such an
expedient, a mere protraction of the agony. I lay ruminating for two
hours, two such hours as I should be sorry to pass again, and then my
mind was made up. I had a brace of small travelling-pistols amongst my
baggage; these I loaded and put in my pocket; and then, leaving the
hotel and the town, I struck across the country for some distance and
plunged into a wood. There I sat down upon a grass bank, my back against
an old beech. It was evening, and the solitary little glade before me
was striped with the last sunbeams darting between the tree-trunks. I
have difficulty in defining my sensations at that moment. I was quite
resolved, did not waver an instant in my purpose, but my head was dizzy,
and I had a sickly sensation about the heart. Determined that the
physical shrinking from death should not have time to weaken my moral
determination, I hastily opened my waistcoat, felt for the pulsations of
my heart, placed the muzzle of a pistol where they were strongest,
steadying it on that spot with my left hand. Then I looked straight
before me and pulled the trigger. There was the click of the lock, but
no report; the cap was bad, and had been crushed without exploding. That
was a horrible moment. I snatched up another pistol, which lay cocked to
my hand, and thrust the muzzle into my mouth. As before, the sharp noise
of the hammer upon the nipple was the sole result. The caps had been
some time in my possession, and had become worthless through age or
damp."

I looked at Van Haubitz, doubtful whether he was not hoaxing me. But
hitherto I had observed in him no addiction to the Munchausen vein, and
now his countenance and voice were serious: there was a slight flush on
his cheek, and he was evidently excited at the recollection of his
abortive attempt at suicide,--perhaps a little ashamed of it. I was
convinced he told the truth.

"I do not know," he continued, "whether, had I had surer weapons with
me, I should have had courage to make a third attempt upon my life.
Honestly, I think not; the self-preservative instinct was rapidly
gaining strength. I walked slowly back to the town, my brain still
confused from the agitating moments I had passed. I was unable quite to
collect my thoughts, and felt as if I had just awakened from a long
heavy sleep. It was now dark; lights streamed from the open windows of
the gambling-rooms; the voices of the croupiers, the stir and hum of
the players and jingling of money were distinctly heard in the street
without. I have already told you I am no gambler, not from scruple, but
choice. Nevertheless, I used often to stroll up to the Cursaal for an
hour of an evening, when the play was at the highest, to look on and
chat with chance acquaintances. Mechanically, I now ascended the stairs.
On the landing-place, I found myself face to face with a man with whom I
was slightly intimate, and who, a few evenings before, had borrowed
forty francs of me. I had not seen him since, and he now returned me the
piece of gold. 'Try your luck with it,' said he; 'there is a run against
the bank to-night, everybody wins, and M. Blanc looks blue.' And he
pointed to one of the proprietors of the tables, who, however, wore a
tolerably tranquil air, knowing well that what was carried away one
night, would come back with compound interest the next. The play was
heavy at the rouge-et-noir table; a Russian and two Frenchmen--the
latter of whom, judging from their appearance, and from the complicated
array of calculations on the table before them, were professional
gamblers--extracted, at nearly every _coup_, notes or rouleaus of gold
from the grated boxes in front of the bankers. I drank a glass of water,
for my lips were dry and hot, and, placing myself as near the table as
the crowd of players and spectators permitted, watched the game. My
hand was in my pocket, the forty-franc piece still between its fingers.
But in spite of the advice of him who had paid it me, I felt no
disposition to risk the coin; not that I feared to lose it, for as my
only one it was useless, but because, as I tell you, I never had the
slightest love of gambling or expectation to win.

"A pause occurred in the game. The cards had run out, and the bankers
were subjecting them to those complicated and ostentatious shufflings
intended to convince the players of the fairness of their dealings.
During this operation the previous silence was exchanged for eager
gossip. The game, it appeared, had come out that night in a peculiar
manner, very favourable to those who had had the address and nerve to
avail themselves of it. There had been alternate long runs upon red and
black.

"'_Mille noms de Dieu!_' exclaimed a hoarse cracked voice just below me.
'What a series of black! Twenty-two, and only three red! And to be
unable to take advantage of it!'

"I looked down, and recognised the grey mustache, wrinkled features, and
snuffy black coat with a ribbon of the Legion of Honour, of an old
French colonel whom you may have seen limping in and out of the Cursaal,
and who ranks amongst the antiquities of Homburg. He served under
Napoleon, was shelved at the peace, and has lived since then on a
moderate annuity, of which one-fifth procures him the barest
necessaries of existence, whilst the other four parts are annually
absorbed in the vortex of rouge-et-noir. When gambling-houses were legal
at Paris, _le colonel rapé_, the threadbare colonel, as he was called,
was one of the most punctual attendants at Frascati's and the Palais
Royal. When they were abolished, he commenced a wandering existence
amongst the German baths, and finally settled down at Homburg, giving it
the preference, as the only place where he could follow his darling
pursuit alike in winter and in summer. From the opening to the close of
the play he is seen seated at the table, a number of cards, ruled in red
and black columns, on the green cloth before him, in which he pricks
with pins the progress of the game. That evening he had been
unfortunate, and had emptied his pocket, but nevertheless continued
puncturing cards with laudable perseverance, of course discovering, like
every penniless gambler, that, had he money to stake, he should
infallibly make a fortune; predicting what colour would come out, and
indulging, when he proved a true prophet, in a little subdued blasphemy
because he was unable to profit by his acuteness.

"'Extraordinary run! to be sure,' repeated the veteran dicer.
'Twenty-two black, and only three red! There'll be a series of red now;
I feel there will, and when I don't play myself, I'm always right. I bet
this deal begins with seven red. Who bets a hundred francs to fifty it
does not?'

"Nobody accepted this sporting offer, or placed upon the colour which
the colonel's prophetic soul foresaw was to come out. The cards were now
shuffled and cut for dealing. The hell relapsed into silence.

"'_Faites le jeu, Messieurs!_' was repeated in the harsh business-like
tones of the presiding demon.

"'Red wins,' croaked the colonel. 'Seven times at the least.'

"Nearly all the players backed the black. By an idle impulse I threw
down my forty francs, my entire fortune, upon the red. The old soldier
looked round to see the judicious individual who followed his advice,
smiled grimly, and nodded approvingly. The next moment red won. I let
the money lie, and walked into the next room. Eighty francs were of no
more use to me than forty, and I felt very sure that another turn of the
card would carry off both stake and winnings. I took up a newspaper, but
soon threw it down again, for my head was not clear enough to read, and
I felt exhausted with the emotions of the day. I was about to leave the
house when I heard a loud buzz in the card-room, and the next instant
somebody clutched my arm. It was the French colonel, in a state of
furious excitement; grinning, panting, perspiring, and stuttering with
eagerness.

"'Seven reds!' was all he could say. 'Seven reds, Monsieur. Take up your
money.'

"I hastened to the table. By a strange caprice of fortune, the colonel's
prophecy had come true. Red had won seven times, and my forty francs had
become five thousand. I took up my winnings, the colonel looking on with
a triumphant smile. This was suddenly exchanged for a portentous frown
and fierce twist of the grey mustache.

"'_Mille millions de tonnerres!_ Not a dollar left to follow up that
splendid run!' And with a furious gesture, he upset his chair, and
dashed his cards upon the ground.

"I took the hint, whether intended or not. I could not do less in return
for the five thousand francs the old gentleman had put in my pocket.

"'If Monsieur,' I said, 'will allow me the pleasure of lending him--'

"'_Impossible, Monsieur!_' interrupted the colonel, looking as stern as
if about to charge single-handed a whole pulk of Cossacks. But I knew my
man. He was the type of a class of which I have seen many.

"'_Cependant, Monsieur, entre militaires_, between brother-soldiers--'

"'_Ah! Monsieur est militaire!_' exclaimed the old gentleman, his
alarming contraction of brow and rigidity of feature instantaneously
dissolving into a smile of extreme benignity. 'That alters the case.
Certainly, between brothers in arms those little services may be
offered and accepted. Although, really, it is encroaching on Monsieur's
complaisance ... at the same time ... a hundred francs ... till
to-morrow ... quarters at some distance ... &c. &c.,' which ended in his
picking up his chair, cards, and pin, and applying all his faculties to
break the bank with ten _louis_ which I lent him, and which I need
hardly say I have not seen from that day to this.

"Such a sudden stroke of good fortune would have made gamblers of nine
men out of ten, but I decidedly want the organ of gaming, for I have
never played since. My narrow escape from suicide had made some
impression on me, and now that I had five thousand francs in my pocket,
I looked back at the attempt as an exceedingly foolish proceeding. For a
month or more, I lived with what even you would admit to be great
economy, writing frequent letters to Amsterdam, and trying to come to
terms and an arrangement with my family. All in vain. They had no
confidence in my promises, proposed nothing I could accept, talked of
Silesian exile--roots and water in the wilderness--and the like
absurdities, until I plainly saw they were determined to cast me off,
and that if I was to be helped at all, it must be by myself. How to do
this was the puzzle. There are few things I can do, that could in any
way be rendered profitable. I can ride a horse, lay a gun, and put a
battery through its exercise; but such accomplishments are sufficiently
common not to be paid at a very high rate; and besides, I had had enough
of garrison duty, even could I have got back my commission, which was
not likely. So I put soldiering out of the question; and yet, when I had
done so, I was puzzled to think of anything better. I had no fancy to
turn rook, and rove from place to place in search of pigeons--no
uncommon resource with younger brothers of an idle turn and exhausted
means. I had fallen in with a few birds of that breed, and had come to
the conclusion that, to save themselves work and trouble, they had
adopted by far the most laborious and painful of all professions. In the
midst of my doubts and uncertainties, the fair Sendel and her mother
made their appearance. The first sight of their names upon the hotel
book was a ray of light to me. Within an hour I made up my mind to
sacrifice my independence to my necessities, and become the virtuous and
domesticated spouse of the charming and well-paid Emilie. A hint and a
dollar to the waiter placed me next her at the table-d'hôte, and I
immediately opened my intrenchments, and began a siege in due form."

"Which you expect will soon terminate by the capitulation of the
garrison?"

"Undoubtedly. The result of the first day or two's operations was not
very satisfactory. I rattled away, and did the amiable to a furious
extent; but the divinity was shy, and the guardian of the temple (an
old gorgon whom I shall suppress before the honeymoon is out) looked
askance at me, and pulled her daughter by the sleeve whenever she seemed
disposed to listen. They evidently thought the rattle might belong to a
snake; did me the injustice to take me for an adventurer. On the third
day, however, the ice had melted. I soon found out the cause of the
thaw. The head-waiter, whom a little well-timed liberality had rendered
my devoted slave, informed me that Madame Sendel had been making minute
inquiries concerning me of the master of the hotel. The worthy man, who
adored me because I despised _vin ordinaire_ and looked only at the
sum-total of his bills, said that I was a son of Van Haubitz, the rich
banker of Amsterdam, which was perfectly true; adding, which was rather
less so, that I was a partner in the house, and a _millionaire_. The
effect of this information upon the speculative firm of Sendel _Mère et
Fille_, was perfectly electric. Medusa smoothed her horrid locks, and
came out at that day's dinner in cherry ribbons and fresh artificials.
Emilie was all smiles and suavity, laughed at my worst jokes, nearly
burst her stays by holding her breath to raise a blush at my soft
speeches, and returned from that evening's promenade talking about the
moon, and leaning tenderly on my arm."

"With such encouragement, I am surprised you did not propose at once."

"So hasty a measure--oh, most unsophisticated of Britons!" replied Van,
with a look of grave pity for my simplicity--"would have greatly
perilled the success of my scheme. Sendel Senior, having only the
innkeeper's report to rely on, would have had her ungenerous suspicions
re-awakened by my precipitation, and have instituted further inquiries;
have written, probably, to some friend in Holland, and learned that the
pretender to her daughter's hand, although unquestionably a son of the
wealthy banker Van Haubitz, is excluded beyond redemption from the good
graces of that respectable pillar of Dutch finance, who has further
announced his irrevocable determination to take not the slightest notice
of him in his testamentary dispositions. The excellent Herr
Bratenbengel, whose succulent dinner we are now digesting, and whose
very laudable _Rudesheimer_ stands before us, had unwittingly laid the
foundation of my success; it was for me to raise the superstructure. Now
it was that I rejoiced at my economy since the lucky hit at the
gaming-table. The greater part of my winnings still remained to me;
golden grain, which I profusely scattered, sure that it would yield rich
harvest. I had already made a favourable impression, and this I took
care to confirm by the liberal expenditure which you, in your ignorance,
have called extravagance; by treating money as if its abundance in my
coffers made it valueless in my eyes, and by delicate generosity in the
shape of presents to mother and daughter. The trap was too well set to
prove a failure; the birds are fairly snared, and to-night, when we take
our usual romantic stroll, I shall raise the fair Sendel to the seventh
heaven of happiness by asking her to become Madame Van Haubitz."

Although the tenor and tone of these confessions by no means tended to
elevate the Dutchman in my opinion, I could not but smile at the
coolness with which they were made, and at the skill of his manoeuvres.
There was some good about the scamp; he had his own code of honour, such
as it was, and from that he would not easily have been induced to
swerve. He would have scorned to do a dirty thing, to cheat at cards, or
leave a debt of honour unpaid; but would readily have got in debt to
tradesmen and money-lenders beyond all possibility of reimbursement. And
as regarded his present conspiracy against the celibacy and salary of
Mademoiselle Sendel, a senate of sages and logicians would have failed
to convince him of its impropriety. He looked upon it as a most
justifiable stratagem, a lawful spoiling of the spoiler, praiseworthy in
the sight of men, gods, and columns, and which he would perhaps have
boasted of to a considerable extent to many besides myself, had not
secresy been essential to the welfare of his combinations. I did not
feel myself bound to betray his plot, or to put the Sendel on her guard
against this snake amongst the roses. And whilst mentally resolving
rather to diminish than increase the intimacy which the confident and
confidential artilleryman had in great measure forced upon me, and which
I, through a sort of easy-going indolence of character, had perhaps
somewhat lightly accepted, I anticipated diversion in watching the
manoeuvres of the high contracting parties. I considered myself as a
spectator, called upon to witness an amusing comedy in real life, and
admitted behind the scenes by peculiar favour of an actor. I resolved to
watch the progress of the intrigue, and, if possible, to be present at
the _dénouement_.

"Are you quite certain," said I to Van, "that Mademoiselle Sendel's
pecuniary position and prospects are so very favourable? The sum you
mentioned is a large one for an actress who has been so short a time on
the stage. Public report, very apt to take liberties with the reputation
of theatrical ladies, often endeavours to compensate them by magnifying
their salaries."

Van, I may here mention, lest the reader should not have perceived it,
had a most inordinate opinion of his own abilities and acuteness. Like
certain Yankees, he "conceited" it was necessary to rise before the sun
to outwit him, and even then your chance was a poor one. He had been in
hot water all his life, never out of difficulties and scrapes--once, as
has been shown, kept from suicide by a mere accident and was now reduced
to the alternative of beggary or of marrying for a living. None of
these circumstances, which would have taken the conceit out of most men,
at all impaired his opinion of his talent and sharpness. Replying to my
observation merely by a slight shrug, and by a smile of pity for the man
who thus misappreciated his foresight, he again produced his
pocket-book, and extracted from its innermost recesses a fragment of a
German newspaper, reputed oracular in matters theatrical. This he handed
to me, tapping a particular paragraph significantly with his forefinger.
The paragraph was thus conceived:--

"THEATRICAL INTELLIGENCE.--That promising young actress, Fraülein Emilie
Sendel--whose first appearance, in the spring of last year, at once
established her in the foremost line of the dramatic genius of the
day--has concluded her twelve months' engagement at the _Hof Theater_ of
B----, where she doubtless considered, and not without reason, that her
talents and exertions were inadequately compensated by a salary of ten
thousand florins. The gay society of that capital will sensibly feel the
loss of the accomplished and fascinating comedian, who has accepted an
engagement at Vienna, on the more suitable terms of fifteen thousand
florins, with two months' _congé_, and other advantages. Before
proceeding to ravish the eyes and ears of the pleasure-loving population
of the _Kaiser-Stadt, la belle_ Sendel is off to the baths, under the
protecting wing of the watchful guardian who has presided at all her
theatrical triumphs."

"Clear enough, I think," said Van, when I raised my eyes from the
protracted periods of the penny-a-liner.

I had nothing to say against the lucidity of the paragraph, nor anything
to urge, at all likely to avail, against the prosecution of Van's
designs upon the lady's hand and fifteen thousand florins, with "two
months' _congé_ and other advantages." No possible sophistry, to which I
was equal, could prove the marriage to be against his interest; and as
to trying him on the tack of delicacy--"imposition on an unprotected
woman, degrading dependence on her exertions," and so forth--I knew the
thick skin and indomitable self-conceit of the gunner would repel such
feather-shafts without feeling them, or that the utmost effect I could
expect to produce would be to get into a quarrel with the redoubtable
native of the Netherlands, a predicament in which, as a man of peace, I
was by no means anxious to find myself. So after hazarding the fruitless
hint with which the reader was made acquainted at the commencement of
this narrative, I abstained from all further intermeddling, and retired
to my apartment, leaving Van Haubitz to con the declaration with which
he was that evening to rejoice the ears of the fair and too-confiding
Sendel.

I went to bed early that night, and saw nothing more of the Hollander
till the next morning, when I was roused from a balmy slumber at the
untimely hour of seven, by his bursting into my room with more
impetuosity than ceremony, with the gestures of a maniac and the mien of
a conqueror. Before my eyes were half open, he was more than half
through the history of his proceedings on the previous evening. His
success had been complete. Emilie had faltered, with downcast eyes, a
sweet assent. The friendly gloom of eve, and the over-arching foliage,
beneath whose shade the momentous question was put, saved her the
necessity of practising upon her lungs to produce a blush. Mamma Sendel
had bestowed her blessing upon the happy pair, and in the ardour of her
maternal accolades had nearly extinguished her future son-in-law's left
ogle with the wire stalk of an artificial passion-flower. The first
burst of benevolence over, and the effervescence of feeling a little
calmed, the bridegroom elect, who could not afford delays, pressed for
an early day. Thereupon Emilie was, of course, horror-stricken, but her
maternal relative, nothing loth to land the fish thus satisfactorily
hooked, and well aware of the impediments that sometimes arise between
cup and lip, ranged herself upon the side of the eager lover, and their
combined forces bore down all opposition. Madame Sendel at first showed
an evident hankering after a preliminary jaunt to Amsterdam and a gay
wedding, graced by the presence of the bridegroom's numerous and wealthy
family. She also testified some anxiety as to the view Van Haubitz
Senior might take of his son's matrimonial project, and as to how far he
might approve of a hasty and unceremonious wedding. But the gallant
artilleryman had an answer to everything. He pledged himself, which he
was perfectly safe in doing, that his father would not attempt in the
slightest degree to control his inclinations or interfere with his
projects, extolled the delights of an autumnal tour with his wife and
mother-in-law before returning to Holland; in short, was so plausible in
his arguments, so specious and pressing, pleaded so eloquently the
violence of his love and inutility of delay, and overruled objections
with such cogent reasoning, that he achieved a complete triumph, and it
was agreed that in one week Van Haubitz should lead his adored Emilie to
the hymeneal altar.

"There will be a small matter to arrange with respect to Emilie," said
Madame Sendel in her blandest tones, and with affectation of
embarrassment. "She has an engagement at the Vienna theatre, which must
of course now be broken off. There is a forfeit to pay, no very heavy
sum," added she----

"Not a word about that," interrupted Van, whose blood curdled in his
veins at the mere idea of cancelling the engagement on which his hopes
were built. "There is no hurry for a few days. Let me once call Emilie
mine, and I take charge of all those matters."

Emilie smiled angelically; Madame patted her considerate son-in-law on
the shoulder, and applied to her snuff-box to conceal her emotion; and
all matters of business being thus satisfactorily settled, the evening
closed in harmony and bliss.

"Are you for Frankfort to-day?" said Van Haubitz, when he had concluded
his exulting narrative, and without giving me time for congratulations,
which I should have been at a loss to offer. "I am off, after breakfast,
to get some diamond earrings and other small matters for my adorable. I
shall be glad of your taste and opinion."

"Diamonds!" I exclaimed. "Farewell, then, to the thousand franc note--"

"Pooh! Nonsense! You don't suppose I throw away my last cash that way.
The Frankfort jewellers know me well, or think they do, which is the
same thing. They have seen enough of my coin since I have been at
Homburg. For them, as for my excellent mother-in-law, I am the wealthy
partner in the undoubted good firm of Van Haubitz, Krummwinkel, & Co. I
never told them so; if they choose to imagine it I am not to blame. My
credit is good. The diamonds shall be paid for--if paid for they must
be--out of Madame Van Haubitz's first quarter's salary."

I was meditating an excuse for not accompanying my pertinacious and
unscrupulous acquaintance on his cruise against the Frankfort
Israelites, when he resumed--

"By the by," he said, "you will come to church with us. I have arranged
it all. Quite private, for reasons good. Nobody but yourself, Madame
Sendel, and Emilie. You shall act as father, and give away the bride."

The start I gave, at this alarming announcement, nearly broke the bed.
This was carrying things rather too far. Not satisfied with rendering
me, by his intrusive and unsolicited confidence, a sort of tacit
accomplice in his manoeuvres, this Dutch Gil Blas would fain make me an
active participator. I drew at sight on my imagination, quickened by the
peril, for a letter received the previous evening from a dear and near
relative who lay dangerously ill at Baden-Baden, and to whose sick-bed
it was absolutely necessary I should immediately repair; and, jumping
up, I began to dress in all haste, rang furiously for the bill and a
carriage, and requested Van Haubitz to present my excuses to the ladies,
my unexpected departure at that early hour depriving me of the pleasure
of taking leave of them. The Dutchman swore all manner of
_donderwetters_ and _sacraments_ that he was grieved at my departure,
trusted I should find my friend better, and be able to return to
Frankfort in time for the marriage, but did not press me to do so, and
in reality was too exhilarated by the success of his machinations to
care a straw about the matter. And saying he must go and write to
Amsterdam, he shook me by the hand and left the room, whistling in loud
and joyous key the burthen of a Dutch march. In less than an hour I was
on the road to Frankfort, and that evening I reached Heidelberg, where
some friends of mine had passed the summer. I expected to find them
still there, but they had left for Baden-Baden. Thither I pursued them,
and--as if it were a judgment on me for my white lie to the
Dutchman--arrived there the morrow of their departure. Baden was
thinning, and they had gone down stream: I must have passed them on the
Rhine. Having strong reasons to see them before they left Germany, I
followed upon their trail. But their movements were rapid and eccentric,
and after tracking them to one or two of the minor baths, the chase led
me back to Frankfort. Here I made sure to catch them, or resolved to
give up the hunt.

A week had been consumed in thus travelling to and fro. I had no great
fancy for returning to Frankfort, lest my friend the Dutchman should
still be there, and press his society upon me, of which, after his
recent revelations, I was anything but ambitious. Upon the whole,
however, I thought it likely he would have departed. I knew he would
accelerate his marriage as much as possible; I had been nine days
absent, which gave him ample time to get over the ceremony and leave the
neighbourhood. By way of precaution I resolved to keep pretty close in
my hotel during the period of my stay, which was not to exceed one or
two days.

On arriving at the "White Swan," I found my friends were staying there,
but had driven over to Homburg. Unwilling to follow them, and risk
meeting my bugbear, I awaited their return, which was to take place to a
late dinner. As usual, there was much bustle at the "Swan;" many goings
and comings, several carriages in the courtyard, others in the street
packing for departure, a throng of greedy _lohn-kutschers_, warm
waiters, and bearded couriers hanging about the door, and running up and
down stairs. I entered the public room. It was past noon, and the tables
were laid for dinner, but there were only two persons in the apartment,
a gentleman and a lady. They stood at a window, outside of which a
handsome Vienna-made berline, with a count's coronet on the panels, was
being got ready for a journey. As I walked up the room, the lady turned
her head, and I was instantly struck by her resemblance to Emilie
Sendel. So strong was it that I for a moment thought I had fallen in
with the very persons I wished to avoid. A second glance convinced me
of my error. The likeness was certainly startling, but there were many
points of difference. Age and stature were the same, so were the hair
and complexion, save that the former was less ruddy, the latter paler
than in the case of the buxom Emilie. And there were grace and
refinement about this person, far beyond any to which the Dutchman's
lady-love could pretend. The expression of the interesting features was
rather pensive than gay, and there was something classical in the arch
of the eyebrow and outline of the face. The lady was plainly but richly
attired in an elegant travelling-dress, and had her hand upon the arm of
a tall and very handsome man, about forty years of age, of singularly
aristocratic but somewhat dissipated appearance. They were talking as I
entered, and a sentence or two of their conversation reached my ear.
They spoke French, with a scarcely perceptible foreign accent.

Curious to know who these persons were, I returned to the court of the
hotel, intending to question a waiter. It was first necessary to catch
one, not easy at that busy time of day; and after several fruitless
efforts to detain the jacketed gentry, I gave up the attempt, and took
my station at the gateway. Scarcely had I done so, when a carriage drove
up at a rattling pace, a small spit of a boy in a smart green suit, and
with an ambiguous sort of coronet embroidered in silver on the front of
his cap, jumped off and opened the door, and there emerged from the
vehicle, to my infinite dismay, the inevitable Van Haubitz. Retreat was
impossible, for he saw me directly; and after handing out Madame Sendel
and her daughter, seized me vehemently by both hands.

"Delighted to see you!" he cried; "I wish you had been a day sooner. We
were married yesterday," he added in a hurried voice, drawing me aside.
"Have left Homburg, paid everything _there_, and leave this to-morrow
for Heaven knows where. Explanations must come first (here he made a
grimace), for my purse is low, and my mother-in-law makes projects that
would ruin Rothschild. Lucky you are here to back me. Come in."

I was fairly caught, and in a pretty dilemma. My first thought was to
knock down the Dutchman, and run for it, but reflection checked the
impulse. Stammering a confused congratulation to the bride and her
mother, and meditating an escape at all hazards, I allowed Madame Sendel
to hook herself on my arm, and lead me into the hotel in the wake of the
newly-wedded pair, who made at once for the public room. A magnificent
courier, in a Hungarian dress, with beard, belt, and hunting-knife,
strode past us into the apartment.

"_Herr Graf_," said the man, addressing the distinguished-looking
stranger who had attracted my attention, "the horses are ready."

The Count and his companion turned at the announcement, and found
themselves face to face with our party. There was a general start and
exclamation from the three women. The strange lady turned very pale and
visibly trembled; Madame Van Haubitz gave a slight scream; her mother
flushed as red as the poppies in her head-dress, and hung like a log
upon my arm, glaring angrily at the strangers. For one moment all stood
still; Van Haubitz and I looked at each other in bewilderment. He was
evidently struck by the extraordinary resemblance I had noticed, and
which became more manifest, now that the two ladies were seen together.

"Come, Ameline," said the Count, who alone preserved complete
self-possession. And he hurried his companion from the room. Madame
Sendel released my arm, and letting herself fall upon a chair with an
hysterical giggle, closed her eyes and seemed preparing for a
comfortable swoon. Her daughter hastened to her assistance and untied
her bonnet; Van Haubitz grasped a decanter of water and made an alarming
demonstration of emptying it upon the full-moon countenance of his
respectable mother-in-law. I was curious to see him do it, for I had
always had my doubts whether the dowager's colours were what is
technically termed "fast." My curiosity was not gratified. Whether from
apprehension of the remedy or from some other cause, I cannot say, but
Madame Sendel abandoned her faint, and after two or three grotesque
contortions of countenance, and a certain amount of winking and
blinking, was sufficiently recovered to take a huge pinch of snuff, and
ascend the stairs to a private room, with her daughter and son-in-law
for supporters, and half-a-score waiters and chambermaids, whom her
hysterical symptoms had assembled, by way of a tail. Seeing her so well
guarded, I thought it unnecessary to add to the escort. As she left the
room, there was a clatter of hoofs outside, and looking through the
window, I saw the coroneted berline whirled rapidly away by four
vigorous posters. Just then the dinner-bell rang, and the obsequious
head-waiter, who with profound bows had assisted at the departure of the
travellers, bustled into the room.

"Who is the gentleman who has just left?" I inquired.

"His Excellency, Count J----," replied the man. It was the name of a
Hungarian nobleman of great wealth, and of reputation almost European as
one of the most fashionable and successful Lotharios of the dissipated
Austrian capital.

"And his companion?"

"The celebrated actress, Fraülein Sendel."

Had the cunning but unlucky Van Haubitz been a regular reader of the
_Theater Zeitung_, or Journal of the Theatres, he would have seen, in
the ensuing number to that whence he derived his information respecting
Mademoiselle Sendel's confirmed popularity and advantageous engagement,
the following short but important paragraph:

     "ERRATUM.--In our yesterday's impression an error occurred, arising
     from a similarity of names. It is Fraülein _Ameline_ Sendel who has
     concluded with the Vienna theatre an engagement equally
     advantageous to herself and the manager. Her elder sister, Fraülein
     _Emilie_, continues the engagement she has already held for two
     seasons, as a supernumerary _soubrette_. The amount stated
     yesterday as her salary would still be correct, with the
     abstraction of a zero. Talent does not always run in families."

This good-natured paragraph, evidently from the pen of a sulky
sub-editor, smarting under a lashing for his blunder of the preceding
day, did not come to my knowledge till some time afterwards, so that
the waiter's reply to my question concerning Count J----'s
travelling-companion perplexed me greatly, and plunged me into an ocean
of conjectures. In fact, my curiosity was so strongly roused, that
instead of availing myself of the absence of the Dutchman to escape from
the hotel, I sat down to dinner, resolved not to depart till I heard the
mystery explained. I had not long to wait. Dinner was just over, when I
received a message from Van Haubitz, who earnestly desired to see me. I
found him alone, seated at a table, his chin resting on his hand, anger,
shame, and mortification stamped upon his inflamed countenance. A
tumbler half full of water stood upon the table, beside a bottle of
smelling salts; and, upon entering, I was pretty sure I heard a sound of
sobbing from an inner room, which ceased, however, when I spoke. There
had evidently been a violent scene. Its cause was explained to me by Van
Haubitz, at first in rather a confused manner, for at each attempt to
detail the circumstances he interrupted himself by bursts of fury. Owing
to this, it was some time before I could arrive at a clear understanding
of the facts of the case. When I did, I could scarcely help feeling
sorry for the unfortunate schemer, although in truth he richly deserved
the disappointment he had met. Never was there a more glaring instance
of excess of cunning overreaching itself,--for no deception had been
practised by Madame Sendel and her daughter. They doubtless gave
themselves credit for some cleverness and more good fortune in enticing
a rich banker, with more ducats than brains, into their matrimonial
nets; and doubtless Fraülein Emilie put on her best looks and gowns, her
sweetest smiles and most becoming bonnets, to lure the lion into the
toils. But neither mother nor daughter had for a moment imagined that
Van Haubitz took the latter for the celebrated and successful actress
whose name was known throughout Germany, whilst that of poor Emilie,
whose talents were of the most humble order, had scarcely ever
penetrated beyond the wings and greenroom of the theatre, where she
enacted unimportant characters for the modest remuneration of a hundred
florins a month. By no means proud of her position as an actress, which
appeared the more lowly when contrasted with her sister's brilliant
success, Emilie had seldom referred to things theatrical since her
acquaintance with Van Haubitz. On his part, the Dutchman, conscious of
his real motives and anxious to conceal them, abstained from all direct
reference to Mademoiselle Sendel's great talents and their lucrative
results, contenting himself with general compliments, which passed
current without being closely scanned. If he had never heard either his
wife or mother-in-law make mention of Ameline, it was because they were
on the worst possible terms with that young lady, who had lived, nearly
from the period of her first appearance upon the boards, under the
protection of the accomplished libertine, Count J----, over whom she was
said to exercise extraordinary influence. When she formed this
connection, Madame Sendel--who, in spite of her paint and artificial
floriculture, had very strict notions of propriety--wrote her a letter
of furious reproach, renounced her as her daughter, and prohibited
Emilie from holding any communication with her. Emilie, against whose
virtue none had ever found aught to say, sorrowfully obeyed; and, after
two or three ineffectual attempts on the part of Ameline to soften her
mother's wrath, all communication ceased between them. Their next
meeting was that at which Van Haubitz and myself were present. Its
singularity, Madame Sendel's fainting fit, and the resemblance between
the sisters, brought on inquiries and an explanation; and the Dutchman
found, to his inexpressible disgust and consternation, that he had
encumbered himself with a wife he cared nothing for, and a mother-in-law
he detested, whose joint income was largely stated at one hundred and
fifty pounds sterling per annum. In his first paroxysm of rage he
taunted them with the mistake they had made when they thought to secure
the love-sick millionaire, proclaimed himself in debt, disinherited, and
a beggar; and, finally, by the violence of his reproaches, drove them
trembling and weeping from the room.

Van Haubitz had sent for me to implore my advice in his present
difficult position; but was so bewildered by passion, and overwhelmed by
this sudden awakening from his dream of success and prosperity, that he
was hardly in a condition to listen to reason. His regrets were so
selfish as to destroy the possibility of sympathy, and I should have
left him to his fate and his own devices, had I not thought that my so
doing would make matters worse for the poor girl who had thus
heedlessly linked herself to a fortune-hunter. So I remained; after a
while he became calmer, and we talked over plans for the future. By my
suggestion, Madame Sendel and her daughter were invited to the
conference. The old lady was sulky and frightened, and would hardly open
her lips; Emilie, on the other hand, made a more favourable impression
on me than she had ever previously done. I now saw, what I had not
before suspected, that she was really attached to Van Haubitz; hitherto,
I had taken her for a mere adventuress, speculating on his supposed
wealth. She spoke kindly and affectionately to him, smiled through the
tears brought to her eyes by his recent violence, and evidently trembled
each time her mother spoke, lest she should vent a reproach or refer to
his duplicity. She tried to speak confidently and cheerfully of the
future. They must go immediately to Vienna, she said; there she would
apply diligently to her profession; the manager had half promised her an
increase of salary after another year--she was sure she should deserve
it, and meanwhile Van Haubitz, with his abilities, could not fail to
find some lucrative employment. He must get rid of his accent, she added
with a smile (he spoke a voluble but most execrable jargon of mingled
Dutch and German), and then he might go upon the stage, where she was
certain he would succeed. This last suggestion was made timidly, as if
she feared to hurt the pride of the scapegrace by proposing such a
plan. There was not a word or an accent of reproach in all she said, and
I heartily forgave the little coquetry, affectation, and vulgarity I had
formerly remarked in her, in consideration of the intuitive delicacy and
good feeling she now displayed. Truly, thought I, it is humbling to us,
the bearded and baser moiety of humankind, to contrast our vile egotism
with the beautiful self-devotion of woman, as exhibited even in this
poor actress.

Madame Sendel by no means acquiesced in her daughter's project. The
flesh-pots of Amsterdam had attractions for her, far superior to those
of a struggling and uncertain existence at Vienna. She evidently leaned
upon the hope of a reconciliation between Van Haubitz and his father,
and hinted pretty plainly at the effect that might be produced by a
personal interview with the obdurate banker. I could see she was
arranging matters in her queer old noddle upon the approved theatrical
principle; the penitent son and fascinating daughter-in-law throwing
themselves at the feet of the melting father, who, with handkerchief to
eyes, bestows on them a blubbering benediction and ample subsidy. To my
surprise, Van Haubitz also seemed disposed to place hope in an appeal to
his father, perhaps as a drowning man clutches at a straw. He may have
thought that his marriage, imprudent as it was, would be taken as some
guarantee of future steadiness, or at least of abstinence from the
spendthrift courses which had hitherto destroyed all confidence in him.
He could hardly expect his union with a penniless actress to reinstate
him in his father's good graces; but he probably imagined he might
extract a small annuity, as a condition of living at a distance from the
friends he had disgraced. He asked me what I thought of the plan. I of
course did not dissuade him from its adoption, and upon the whole
thought it his best chance, for I really saw no other. After some
deliberation and discussion, he seemed nearly to have made up his mind,
when I was called away to my friends, who had returned from their
excursion.

I was getting into bed that night, when Van Haubitz knocked at my door,
and entered the room with a downcast and dejected air, very different
from his usual boisterous headlong manner.

"I am off to Holland," he said; "'tis my only chance, bad though it be."

"I sincerely wish you success," replied I. "In any case, do not despair;
something will turn up. You have friends in your own country, I have
heard you say. They will help you to occupation."

He shook his head.

"Good friends over a bottle and a dice-box," said he, "but useless at a
pinch like this. Pleasant fellows enough, but scamps like"--myself, he
was going to add, but did not. "I am come to say farewell," he
continued. "I must be off before daybreak. I have debts in Frankfort,
and if my departure gets wind, I shall have a dozen duns on my back.
Misfortunes never come alone. As for paying, it is out of the question.
Amongst us we have only about enough money to reach Amsterdam. Once
there--_à la grace de Dieu!_ but I confess my hopes are small. Thanks
for your advice--and for your sympathy too, for I saw this morning you
were sorry for me, though you did not think I deserved pity. Well,
perhaps not. God bless you."

He was leaving the room, but returned.

"I think you said you should stay at Coblenz before returning to
England."

"I shall probably be there a few days towards the end of the month."

"Good. If I succeed, you shall hear from me. What is your address
there?"

"_Poste restante_ will find me," I replied, not very covetous of the
correspondence, and unwilling to give a more exact direction.

Van Haubitz nodded and left me. At breakfast the next morning I learned
that the Dutch baron, as the waiter styled him, had taken his departure
at peep of day.

The first days of October found me still at Coblenz, lingering amongst
the valleys and vineyards, and loth to exchange them for the autumnal
fogs and emptiness of London. Thither, however, I was compelled to
return; and I endeavoured to console myself for the necessity by
discovering that the green Rhine grew brown, the trees scant of leaves,
the evenings long and chilly. I had heard nothing of Van Haubitz, and
had ceased to think of him, when, walking out at dusk on the eve of the
day fixed for my departure, I suddenly encountered him. He had just
arrived by a steamboat coming up stream; his wife and mother-in-law were
with him, and they were about to enter a fifth-rate inn, which, two
months previously, he would have felt insulted if solicited to
patronise. I was shocked by the change that had taken place in all three
of them. In five weeks they had grown five years older. Emilie had lost
her freshness, her eye its sparkle; and the melancholy smile with which
she welcomed me made my heart ache. Madame Sendel's rotund cheeks had
collapsed, she looked cross and jaundiced, and more snuffy than ever.
Van Haubitz was thin and haggard, his hair and mustaches, formerly
glossy and well-trimmed, were ragged and neglected, his dress, once so
smart and carefully arranged, was soiled and slovenly. My imagination
supplied a rapid and vivid sketch of the anxieties, and disappointments,
and heart-burnings, which, more than any actual bodily privations, had
worked so great a change in so short a time. Van Haubitz started on
seeing me, and faltered in his pace, as if unwilling to enter the
shabby hotel in my presence. The hesitation was momentary. "Worse
quarters than we used to meet in," said he, with a bitter smile. "I will
not ask you into this dog-hole. Wait an instant, and I will walk with
you."

Badly as I thought of Van Haubitz, and indisposed as I was to keep up
any acquaintance with him, I had not the heart, seeing him so miserable
and down in the world, to turn my back upon him at once. So I entered
the hotel, and waited in the public room. In a few minutes he reappeared
with the two ladies, and we all four strolled out in the direction of
the Rhine. I did not ask the Dutchman the result of his journey. It was
unnecessary. His disheartened air and general appearance told the tale
of disappointment, of humiliating petitions sternly rejected, of hopes
fled and a cheerless future. He kept silence the while we walked a
hundred yards, and then, having left his wife and mother-in-law out of
ear-shot, abruptly began the tale of his mishaps. As I conjectured, he
had totally failed in his attempt to mollify his father, who was furious
at his temerity in appearing before him, and whose rage redoubled when
he heard of his ill-omened marriage. Unfortunately for Van Haubitz, the
jeweller and some other tradesmen at Frankfort, so soon as they learned
his departure, had forwarded their accounts to the care of the
Amsterdam firm; and, although his father had not the remotest intention
of paying them, he was incensed in the extreme at the slur thus cast
upon his house and name. In short, the unlucky artilleryman at once saw
he had no chance of a single kreuzer, or of the slightest countenance
from his father. His applications to his brothers, and to one or two
more distant relatives, were equally unsuccessful. All were disgusted at
his irregularities, angry at his marriage, incredulous of his promises
of reform; and, after passing a miserable month in Amsterdam, he set out
to accompany his wife to Vienna, whither she was compelled to repair
under pain of fine and forfeiture of her engagement. Although living
with rigid economy--on bread and water, as Van Haubitz expressed
it--their finances had been utterly consumed by their stay in the Dutch
capital, and it was only by disposing of every trinket and superfluity
(and of necessaries too, I feared, when I remembered the slender baggage
that came up with them from the boat) that they had procured the means
of travelling, in the cheapest and most humble manner, and with the
disheartening certainty of arriving penniless at Vienna. Van Haubitz
told me all this, and many other details, with an air of gloomy
despondency. He was hopeless, heart-broken, desperate; and certain
circumstances of his position, which by some would have been held an
alleviation, aggravated it in his eyes. He said little of his wife;
but, from what escaped him, I easily gathered that she had shown
strength of mind, good feeling and affection for him, and was willing to
struggle by his side for a scanty and hard-earned subsistence. His cares
and irritable mood prevented his appreciating her attachment, and he
looked upon her as an encumbrance, without which he might again rise in
the world. He had always entertained a confident expectation of
enriching himself by marriage; and this hope, which had buoyed him up
under many difficulties, was now gone.

"I have one resource left," said Van Haubitz. "I have pondered over it
for the last two days, and have almost determined on its adoption."

"What is it?" I asked.

"If I decide upon it," he replied, "you shall shortly know. 'Tis a
desperate one enough."

We had insensibly slackened our pace, and at this moment the ladies came
up. Van Haubitz made a gesture, as of impatience at the interruption.

"Wait for me here," he said, and walked away. Without speculating upon
the motive of his absence, I stood still, and entered into conversation
with the ladies. We were on the quay. The night was mild and calm, but
overcast and exceedingly dark. A few feet below us rolled the dark mass
of the Rhine, slightly swollen by recent rains. A light from an
adjacent window illuminated the spot, and cast a flickering gleam across
the water. Unwilling to refer to their misfortunes, I spoke to Emilie on
some general topic. But Madame Sendel was too full of her troubles to
tolerate any conversation that did not immediately relate to them, and
she broke in with a long history of grievances, of the hard-heartedness
of the Amsterdam relations, the cruelty of Emilie's position, her
son-in-law's helplessness, and various other matters, in a querulous
tone, and with frightful volubility. The poor daughter, I plainly saw,
winced under this infliction. I was waiting the smallest opening to
interrupt the indiscreet old lady, and revert to common-place, when a
distant splash in the water reached my ears. The women also heard it,
and at the same instant a presentiment of evil came over us all. Madame
Sendel suddenly held her tongue and her breath; Emilie turned deadly
pale, and without saying a word, flew along the quay in the direction of
the sound. She had gone but a few yards when her strength failed her,
and she would have fallen, but for my support. There was a shout, and a
noise of men running. Leaving Madame Van Haubitz to the care of her
mother, I ran swiftly along the river side, and soon reached a place
where the deep water moaned and surged against the perpendicular quay.
Here several men were assembled, talking hurriedly and pointing to the
river. Others each moment arrived, and two boats were hastily shoved
off from an adjacent landing-place.

"A man in the river," was the reply to my hasty inquiry.

It was so dark that I could not distinguish countenances close to me,
and at a very few yards even the outline of objects was scarcely to be
discerned. There were no houses close at hand, and some minutes elapsed
before lights were procured. At last several boats put off, with men
standing in the bows, holding torches and lanterns high in the air.
Meanwhile I had questioned the bystanders, but could get little
information; none as to the person to whom the accident had happened.
The man who had given the alarm was returning from mooring his boat to a
neighbouring jetty, when he perceived a figure moving along the quay a
short distance in his front. The figure disappeared, a heavy splash
followed, and the boatman ran forward. He could see no one either on
shore or in the stream, but heard a sound as of one striking out and
struggling in the water. Having learned this much, I jumped into a boat
just then putting off, and bid the rowers pull down stream, keeping a
short distance from the quay. The current ran strong, and I doubted not
that the drowning man had been carried along by it. Two vigorous
oars-men pulled till the blades bent, and the boat, aided by the stream,
flew through the water. A third man held a torch. I strained my eyes
through the darkness. Presently a small object floated within a few feet
of the boat, which was rapidly passing it. It shone in the torchlight. I
struck at it with a boat-hook, and brought it on board. It was a man's
cap, covered with oilskin, and I remembered that Van Haubitz wore such a
one. Stripping off the cover, I beheld an officer's foraging cap, with a
grenade embroidered on its front. My doubts, slight before, were
entirely dissipated.

When the search, rendered almost hopeless by the extreme darkness and
power of the current, was at last abandoned, I hastened to the hotel,
and inquired for Madame Sendel. She came to me in a state of great
agitation. Van Haubitz had not returned, but she thought less of that
than of the state of her daughter, who, since recovering from a long
swoon, had been almost crazed with anxiety. She knew some one had been
drowned, and her mind misgave her it was her husband. The foraging-cap,
which Madame Sendel immediately recognised, removed all uncertainty. The
only hope remaining was, that Van Haubitz, although carried rapidly away
by the power of the current, had been able to maintain himself on the
surface, and had got ashore at some considerable distance down the
river, or had been picked up by a passing boat. But this was a very
feeble hope, and for my own part, and for more than one reason, I
placed no reliance on it. I left Madame Sendel to break the painful
intelligence to her daughter, and went home, promising to call again in
the morning.

As I had expected, nothing was heard of Van Haubitz, nor any vestige of
him found, save the foraging-cap I had picked up. Doubtless, the Rhine
had borne down his lifeless corpse to the country of his birth. The next
day Coblenz rang with the death of the unfortunate Dutchman. A stranger,
and unacquainted with the localities, he was supposed to have walked
over the quay by accident. I thought differently; and so I knew did
Madame Sendel and Emilie. I saw the former early the next day. She was
greatly cast down about her daughter, who had passed a sleepless night,
and was weak and suffering, but who nevertheless insisted on continuing
her journey the following morning.

"We must go," said her mother; "if we delay, Emilie loses her
engagement, and how can we both live on my poor jointure? Weeping will
not bring him back, were he worth it. To think of the misery he has
caused us!"

I ventured to hint an inquiry as to their means of prosecuting their
journey. The old lady understood the intention, and took it kindly. "But
she needed no assistance," she said; Van Haubitz (and this confirmed
our strong suspicion of suicide) had given their little stock of money
into his wife's keeping only a few hours before his death.

That afternoon I left Coblenz for England.

       *       *       *       *       *

On a certain Wednesday, about ten years after the incidents I have
sketched, I had been enjoying the excellent acting of Bouffé in two of
his best characters, and paused for a moment to speak to a friend in the
crowded lobby of the St James's Theatre. Whilst thus engaged, I became
aware that I was an object of attention to two persons, whom I had an
indistinct notion of having seen before, but when or where, or who they
might be, I had not the remotest idea. One of them was a
comfortable-looking, middle-aged man, with a bald head, a smooth,
clean-shaven face, and an incipient ventral rotundity. His complexion
was clear and wholesome, his countenance good-humoured, his whole
appearance bespoke an existence free from care, nights of sound sleep,
and days of tranquil enjoyment. His face was too sleek to be very
expressive, but there was a shrewd, quick look in the eye, and I set him
down in my mind as a wealthy German merchant or manufacturer (some small
peculiarities of costume betrayed the foreigner) come to show London to
his wife--a well-favoured dame, fat, fair, but some years short of
forty--who accompanied him, and who, as well as her better half, seemed
to honour me with very particular notice. My confabulation over, I was
leaving the theatre, when a sleek soft hand was gently passed through my
arm. It was my friend the stout foreigner. I strained my eyes and my
memory, but in vain; I felt very puzzled, and doubtless looked so, for
he smiled, and advancing his head, whispered a name in my ear. It was
that of Van Haubitz.

I started, looked again, doubted, and was at last convinced. _Minus_
mustache and whisker, which were closely shaven, and half his hair, of
which the remainder was considerably grizzled; _plus_ a degree of
corpulence such as I should never have thought the slender lieutenant of
artillery capable of acquiring; his heated, sunburnt complexion and
dissipated look, exchanged for a fresh colour and benevolent
placidity--the Dutchman I had left in the Rhine stood beside me in the
lobby of the French theatre. I turned to the lady: she was less changed
than her companion, and now that I was upon the track, I recognised
Emilie Sendel. By this time we were in the street. Van Haubitz handed
his wife into a carriage.

"Come and sup with us," he said, "and I will explain."

I mechanically obeyed, and in less than three minutes, still tongue-tied
by astonishment, I alighted at the door of a fashionable hotel in a
street adjoining Piccadilly.

A few lines will convey to the reader the substance of the long
conversation which kept the resuscitated Dutchman and myself from our
beds for fully two hours after our unexpected meeting. I had been right
in supposing that he had thrown himself voluntarily into the river;
wrong in my belief that he meditated suicide. An excellent swimmer, he
had taken the water to get rid of his wife. He might certainly have
chosen a drier method, and have given her the slip in the night-time or
on the road; but she had shown, whenever he referred to the possibility
of their separation, such a determination to remain with him at all
risks and sacrifices, that he felt certain she would pursue him as soon
as she discovered his absence. He had formed a wild scheme of returning
to Amsterdam, and haunting his family until, through mere weariness and
vexation, they supplied him with funds for an outfit to Sumatra. There
he trusted to redeem his fortunes, as he had heard that others of no
greater abilities or better character than himself had already done. A
more extravagant project was never formed, and indeed all his acts,
during the six weeks that followed his marriage, were more or less
eccentric and ill-judged. This he admitted, when relating them to me,
and probably would not have been sorry to place them to the score of
actual mental derangement. The redeeming touch in his conduct at that,
the most discreditable period of his life, was his leaving, as I have
already mentioned, what money he had to his wife and her mother,
reserving but a few florins for his own support. With these in his
pocket, he proposed proceeding on foot to Amsterdam. After landing on
the right bank of the Rhine, he walked the greater part of the night as
the best means of drying his saturated garments. When weariness at last
compelled him to pause, it was not yet daylight, no house was open, and
he threw himself on some straw in a farmyard. He awoke in a high fever,
the result of his immersion, of exposure and fatigue, acting on a frame
heated and weakened by anxiety and mental suffering. He obtained shelter
at the neighbouring farm-house, whose kind-hearted inhabitants carefully
tended him for several weeks, during which his life was more than once
despaired of. His convalescence was long, and not till the close of the
year could he resume his journey northwards, by short stages, chiefly on
foot. Unfavourable as his prospects were, his good star had not yet set.
This very illness, as occasioning a delay, was a stroke of good fortune.
Had he at once proceeded to Holland, his family, in hopes to get rid of
him for ever, would probably have given him the small sum he needed for
an outfit to the Indian Archipelago, and he would have sailed thither
before the 31st of December, on which day his father, a joyous liver
and confirmed votary of Bacchus, ate and drank to such an extent to
celebrate the exit of the old year and commencement of the new, that he
fell down, on his way to his bed, in a thundering fit of apoplexy, and
was a corpse before morning. The day of his funeral, Van Haubitz,
footsore and emaciated, and reduced to his last pfenning, walked wearily
into the city of Amsterdam. There a great surprise awaited him.

"Your father had not disinherited you?" I exclaimed, when the Dutchman
made a momentary pause at this point of his narrative.

"He had left a will devising his entire property to my brothers, and not
even naming me. But a slight formality was omitted, which rendered the
document of no more value than the parchment it was drawn upon. The
signature was wanting. My father had the weakness, no uncommon one, of
disliking whatever reminded him of his mortality. He would have fancied
himself nearer his grave had he signed his will. And thus he had delayed
till it was too late. I found myself joint heir with my brothers. By far
the greater part of my father's large capital was embarked in his bank,
and in extensive financial operations, which it would have been
necessary to liquidate at considerable disadvantage, to operate the
partition prescribed by law. Seeing this, I proposed to my brothers to
admit me as partner in the firm, with the stipulation that I should
have no active share in its direction, until my knowledge of business
and steadiness of conduct gave them the requisite confidence in me.
After some deliberation they agreed to this; and three years later their
opinion of me had undergone such a change, that two of them retired to
estates in the country, leaving me the chief management of the concern."

"And Madame Van Haubitz; when did she rejoin you?"

"Immediately the change in my fortunes occurred. Reckless as I at that
time was, and utterly devoid of feeling as you must have thought me, I
could not remember without emotion the disinterested affection,
delicacy, and unselfishness she had exhibited on discovery of my real
circumstances. During my long illness I had had time to reflect, and
when I left my sick-bed in that rude but hospitable German farm-house,
it was as a penitent for past offences, and with a strong resolution to
atone them. Within a week after my father's funeral, I was on my way to
Vienna, to fetch Emilie to the opulent home she had anticipated when she
married me. Her joy at seeing me was scarcely increased when she heard
that I had become the rich banker she had at first thought me."

"And Madame Sendel?"

"Returned to Amsterdam with us. There was good about the old lady, and
by purloining her artificials, limiting her snuff, and soaking her in
tea, she was made endurable enough. Until her death, which occurred a
couple of years ago, she passed her time alternately with us and her
younger daughter."

"She became reconciled to Mademoiselle Ameline?"

"Ameline had been Countess J---- all the time. She was privately
married. For certain family reasons the Count had conditioned that their
union should for a while be kept secret. Seeing that her equivocal
position and her mother's displeasure preyed upon her health and
spirits, he declared his marriage. She left the stage to become a
reigning beauty in the best society of Austria, lady of half-a-dozen
castles, and sovereign mistress of as many thousand Hungarian boors."

Van Haubitz remained some time in London, and I saw him often. He was as
much changed in character as in personal appearance. The sharp lessons
received about the period of our first acquaintance had made a strong
impression on him; and the summer tide of prosperity suddenly setting
in, had enabled him to realise good intentions and honourable resolves,
which the chill current of adversity might have frozen in the germ. Some
of those who read these lines may have occasion, when visiting the
country stigmatised by the snarling Frenchman as the land of _canards_,
_canaux_, and _canaille_, to receive cash in the busy counting-house,
and hospitality in the princely mansion of one of its most respected
bankers. None, I am well assured, will discern in their amiable and
exemplary entertainer any vestige of the disreputable impulses and evil
passions that sullied the early life of "My Friend the Dutchman."



MY COLLEGE FRIENDS.

No. II.

HORACE LEICESTER.

[_MAGA._ AUGUST 1845.]


Oxford! Alma Mater! not to love thee were indeed the ingratitude of a
degenerate son. Let the whiners of the Conventicle rail at thee for a
mother of heretics, and the Joseph Humes of domestic economy propose to
adapt the scale of thy expenses to their own narrow notions--I uphold
thee to be the queen of all human institutions--the incarnated union of
Church and State--royal in thy revenues as in thy expenditure--thy
doctrine as orthodox as thy dinners, thy politics as sound as thy port.

Oxford! who are they that rail at her? who dare to lift their voice
against that seat of high and holy memories? The man who boasts a
private education (so private, that his most intimate friends have never
found it out), who, innocent himself of all academic experiences and
associations, grudges to others that superiority which they never boast
indeed, but to which his secret soul bears envious witness. Or the rich
nonconformist, risen perhaps from obscurity to a rank in society which
gives him the choice of indulging either his spleen or his pride--either
to send his eldest son as a gentleman-commoner to Christ-Church, to
swallow the Thirty-nine Articles with his champagne; or to have his
fling at the Church through her universities--accusing Churchmen of
bigotry, and exclusiveness, and illiberality, because Dissenters do not
found colleges of their own. Or, worse than all, the unworthy disciple
who (like the noxious plant that has grown up beneath the shade of some
goodly tree) has drawn no nobility of soul from the associations which
surrounded his ungrateful youth: for whom all the reality and romance of
academic education were alike in vain: sneering at the honours which he
could not obtain, denying the existence of opportunities which he
neglected; the basest of approvers, he quotes to his own eternal infamy
the scenes of riot and dissipation, the alternations of idleness and
extravagance, which make up his sole recollections of university life:
and looking, without one glance of affection, upon the face of his fair
and graceful mother, makes the chance mole, or the early wrinkle, which
he traces there, the subject of his irreverent jest, forgets the
kindness of which he was unworthy, and remembers for evil the wholesome
discipline which was irksome only to such as him.

     "Non hæc jocosæ conveniunt lyræ;"

I admit mine is not the tongue or pen for such a subject; and Oxford
has, I hope, no lack of abler champions. But it was geese, you know, who
once saved the Capitol; and I must have my hiss at the iniquitous
quackeries which people seek to perpetrate under the taking title of
University Reform. And when I, loving Oxford as I do, see some of her
own sons arrayed against her, I can only remember this much of my
philosophy--that there are cases when to be angry becomes a duty. Men
who, knowing nothing of the universities from experience, think proper
to run them down, succeed at all events in exposing one crying evil--the
absurdity of meddling with what one does not understand. We who know
better may afford to smile at once at their spite and their ignorance.
But he who lifts his voice against the mother that bore him, can fix no
darker blot upon her fame than the disgrace of having given birth to
him.

Show me the man who did not like Oxford, and I will show you either a
sulky misanthrope or an affected ass. Many, many indeed, are the
unpleasant recollections which, in the case of nearly all of us, will
mingle with the joy with which we recall our college days. More than the
ghosts of duns departed, perhaps unpaid; more than the heart-burnings
of that visionary fellowship, for which we were beaten (we verily
believe, unfairly) by a neck; more than that loved and lost ideal of a
first class, which we deserved, but did not get (the opinions of our
examiners not coinciding in that point with our own); yes, more than all
these, comes forcibly to many minds, the self-accusing silent voice that
whispers of time wasted and talents misapplied--kind advice, which the
heat of youth misconstrued or neglected--jewels of price that once lay
strewed upon the golden sands of life, then wantonly disregarded, or
picked up but to be flung away, and which the tide of advancing years
has covered from our view for ever--blessed opportunities of acquiring
wisdom, human and divine, which never can return.

Yet in spite of all this, if there be any man who can say that Oxford is
not to him a land of pleasant memories, "Μήτ' ἐμοὶ παρέστιος
γένοιτο"--which is, being freely translated, "May he never put his legs
under my mahogany"--that's all. I never knew him yet, and have no wish
to make his acquaintance. He may have carried off every possible
university honour for what I care; he is more hopelessly stupid, in my
view of things, than if he had been plucked fifteen times. If he was
fond of reading, or of talking about reading; fond of hunting, or
talking about hunting; fond of walking, riding, rowing, leaping, or any
possible exercise besides dancing; if he loved pleasant gardens or
solemn cloisters; learned retirement or unlearned jollification--in a
word, if he had any imaginable human sympathies, and cared for anything
besides himself, he would have liked Oxford. Men's tastes differ, no
doubt; but to have spent four years of the spring of one's life in one
of the most magnificent cities and best societies in the world, and not
to have enjoyed it--this is not a variety of taste, but its privation.

I fancy there is a mistaken opinion very prevalent, that young and
foolish, older and wiser, are synonymous terms. Stout gentlemen of a
certain age, brimful of proprieties, shake their heads alarmingly, and
talk of the folly of boys; as if they were the only fools. And if at any
time, in the fulness of their hearts, they refer to some freak of their
own youth, they appear to do it with a sort of apology to themselves,
that such wise individuals as they are now should ever have done such
things! And as the world stands at present, it is the old story of the
Lion and the Painter; the elderly gentlemen are likely to have it their
own way; they say what they like, while the young ones are content to do
what they like. And the more absurdity a man displays in his teens (and
some, it must be confessed, are absurd enough), the more insupportable
an air of wisdom does he put on when he gets settled. As there is no
hope of these sedate gentry being sent to College again to teach the
rising generation of under-graduates the art of precocious gravity, and
still less hope of their arriving at it of themselves, perhaps there is
no harm in mooting the question on neutral ground, whether such a
consummation as that of putting old heads upon young shoulders is
altogether desirable.

Wherefore, I, Frank Hawthorne--being of the age of nine-and-twenty, or
thereabouts, and of sound mind, and about to renounce for ever all claim
and title to be considered a young man; having married a wife, and left
sack and all other bad habits; having no longer any fellowship with
under-graduates, or army subs, or medical students, or young men about
town, or any other class of the heterogeneous irregulars who make up
"Young England"--being a perfectly disinterested party in the question,
inasmuch as having lost my reputation for youth, I have never acquired
one for wisdom--hereby raise my voice against the intolerable cant,
which assumes every man to be a harebrained scapegrace at twenty, and a
Solomon at forty-five. Youth sows wild oats, it may be; too many men in
more advanced life seem to me to sow no crop of any kind. There are
empty fools at all ages; but "an old fool"----(musty as the proverb is,
it is rather from neglect than over-application). I have known men by
the dozen, who in their youth were either empty-headed coxcombs or noisy
sots; does my reader think that any given number of additional years has
made them able statesmen, sound lawyers, or erudite divines? that
because they have become honourable by a seat in Parliament, learned by
courtesy, reverend by office, they are therefore really more useful
members of society than when they lounged the High Street, or woke the
midnight echoes of the quadrangle? Nay, life is too short for the
leopard to change his spots, or the Ethiopian his skin; one can but pare
the claws of the first, and put a suit of the last European fashion upon
the other.

Let any man run over in his own mind the list of those school and
college companions with whom, after the lapse of ten years or so, he has
still an opportunity of occasionally renewing his acquaintance, and
judging of the effect which time has had upon their habits and
characters. In how many cases can he trace any material alteration,
beyond what results from the mere accidents of time and place? He finds,
it is to be hoped, good principles developed, warm impulses ripened into
active habits, exaggerations softened down (for I am giving him credit
for not choosing his companions, even in youth, among the vicious in
heart and principle); but if he finds in any what he can call a _change_
at all, then I ask, in how many instances is it a change for the better?
or does he not find it rather where there was no sterling value in the
metal, which, as the gloss of youth wears off, loses its only charm?

Thirty is the turning-point of a man's life; when marrying becomes a
now-or-never sort of business, and dinners begin to delight him more
than dancing. As I said just now, then, I stand just at the corner; and,
looking round before I turn it, I own somewhat of a shyness for the
company of those "grave and reverend seniors" who are to be my
fellow-travellers hereafter through life. There are certain points on
which I fear we are scarce prepared to agree. I must have one window
open for the first few miles of the journey at all events--that I may
look behind me. Life's a fast train, and one can't expect to be allowed
to get out at the stations; still less to ask the engineer to put back,
because we have left our youth behind us. Yet there are some things in
which I hope always to be a boy; I hope ever to prefer thoughtlessness
to heartlessness, imprudence to selfishness, impulse to calculation. It
is hard enough to part with all the fiery spirits, the glowing
imaginations, the elasticity of mind and body which we lose as age
creeps on; but if, with the bright summer weather and cloudless skies of
youth, to which we are content to bid farewell, we must lose, too, the
"sunshine of the breast"--the "bloom of heart"--then well might the poet
count him happy who died in early spring--who knew nothing of life but
its fair promises, and passed away in happy scepticism of the winter
which was to come.

Talk of putting old heads upon young shoulders! Heaven forbid! It would
but be making them stoop prematurely. If indeed we could put young
hearts into old bodies occasionally, we might do some good; or if there
could ever be combined in some fortunate individual, throughout his
life, the good qualities peculiar to each successive climacteric; if we
could mix just enough of the acid and the bitter, which are apt to
predominate so unhappily after a long rubbing through the world, to
qualify the fiery spirit of youth, and prevent its sweetness from
cloying, the compound would undoubtedly be a very pleasant one. But
this, it is to be feared, like many other desiderata, is too good to be
attainable; and the experience which we undoubtedly want in early life,
we acquire too often at the cost of that freshness of heart, which
nature intended as a gift still more valuable.

Nowhere does the old Stagyrite display a more consummate knowledge of
what men are made of, than in his contrasted characters of youth and
age. I wonder how many of the old gentlemen who call themselves
philosophers in this degenerate age, ever read or remember what he says
on the subject. It is a great comfort, when one is arguing against so
much collective wisdom, to feel that one has such authority to fall back
upon; and I have the less hesitation in bringing my old friend Aristotle
forward to help me, because I can assure my unlearned readers, ladies
and others, that I am not going to quote any thing nearly so grave and
sensible as modern philosophy. "Stingy, illnatured, suspicious,
selfish, narrow-minded"--these, with scarce a redeeming quality, are
some of the choice epithets which he strings together as the
characteristics of the respectable old governors and dowagers of his
day; while the young, although, as he confesses, somewhat too much the
creatures of impulse, and indebted to it for some of their virtues as
well as vices, are trustful towards others, honest in themselves,
open-handed and open-hearted, warm friends and brave enemies. It is
true, he observes, they have, in a large degree, the fault common to all
honest men, they are "easily humbugged;" an admitted failing which
perhaps may let us into the secret of their sitting down so quietly
under the imputation of a hundred others. He urges, too, elsewhere, a
fact I am not disposed to battle about, that young men do not make good
philosophers; but this is in a book which he wrote for the use of his
own son, wherein he probably thought it his duty to take the conceit out
of his heir-apparent; but if he ever allowed the young philosopher to
get a sight of the other book containing the two characters aforesaid,
it may be doubted whether he found him as "easily humbugged" afterwards.

Remember, reader, as I said before, I claim to occupy neutral ground. If
I essay to defend youth from some injustice which it suffers at the
hands of partial judges, it is as an amateur advocate rather than an
accredited champion--for I am young no longer. If I am rash enough to
couch a lance against that venerable phantom, which, under the name of
Wisdom, hovers round grey hairs, I am but preparing a rod for my own
back--for I feel myself growing old. I admit it with a sigh; but the
sigh is not for the past only, but even more for the present. I mourn
not so much for that which Time has taken away, as for the insufficiency
of that which it brings instead. I would rejoice to be relieved from the
dominion of the hot follies of youth, if I could escape at the same time
the degrading yoke of the cooler vices of maturity. I do not find men
grow better as they grow older; wiser they may grow, but it is the
wisdom of the serpent. We scarce grow less sensual, less vain, less
eager after what we think pleasure; I would we continued as generous and
as warm. We gain the cunning to veil our passions, to regulate even our
vices according to the scale (and that no parsimonious one) which what
we call "society" allows; we lose the enthusiasm which in some degree
excused our follies, with the light-heartedness which made them
delightful. Few men among us are they who can look back upon the years
gone by, and not feel that, if these may justly be charged with folly,
the writing of the accusation that stands against their riper age is of
a graver sort.

It is melancholy, rather than amusing, to hear men of a certain age
rail against the faults and extravagance of their juniors. Angry that
they themselves are no longer young, they visit with a rod of iron such
an intolerable offence in others. Even newspapers are always eloquent
against the disgusting immoralities of breaking knockers and bonneting
policemen. The _Times_ turns censor upon such an "ungentlemanly
outrage;" the _Weekly Despatch_ has its propriety shocked by such
"freaks of the aristocracy;" and both, in their zeal to reprobate
offences so dangerous to the best interests of society, sacrifice
somewhat of that "valuable space" which should have been devoted to the
bulletin of the health, or the history of the travels, of the "gallant
officer" who last deliberately shot his friend in a duel; or the piquant
details of the last _crim. con._, with the extraordinary disclosures
expected to be made by the "noble defendant." Society has no sympathy
with vices to which it has no temptation; it might have done foolish
things in its day, but has long ago seen the folly of them. So we make a
graceful acknowledgment of having been wrong once, for the sake of
congratulating ourselves upon being so very right now.

Let me then, for some few moments, recall those scenes which, on the
stage of life, have passed away for ever; and forgetting, as memory
loves to do, the evil that was in them, let it be not idle repining to
lament the good.

Oh! dark yet pleasant quadrangle, round whose wide area I might wander
now, a stranger among strangers, where are they who once gave life and
mirth to cheer those ancient walls? There were full a score of rooms,
congenial _lares_, in which no hour of day or night would have found me
other than a welcome guest. I had friends, yea, friends, within those
prison-like windows--warm hearts walled in by thy cold grey
stones--friends that had thoughts, and feelings, and pursuits in
common--who were not hospitable in words alone, suffering each other's
presence with well-concealed _ennui_--but friends in something more than
in the name. In vain, among the cold conventionalities of life, shall I
look for the warm and kindly welcome, the sympathy of feeling, the
unrestrained yet courteous familiarity of intercourse, which was part
and parcel of a college life; and if for this only I should say of
Oxford, that I shall not look upon its like again--if for this only, I
doubt whether the years of my youthful pilgrimage were altogether evil,
who shall gainsay me? Where, or in what society of wise, and orderly,
and respectable "grown-up children," shall I find the sincerity and
warm-heartedness that once were the atmosphere of my daily life? Where
is the friend of my maturer choosing, into whose house I can walk at any
time, and feel sure I am no intruder? Where is the man, among those with
whom I am by hard fate compelled to associate, who does not measure his
regard, his hospitality, his very smiles, by my income, my station in
society--anything but by myself? Older and wiser!--oh yes!--youthful
friendship is very foolish in such matters.

But I suppose I must put up, as I best may, with the accumulating weight
of years and wisdom. It won't do to give up one's degree, and begin
again at the university, even if they leave us a university worth going
to. At all events, one could not go back and find there those "old
familiar faces" that made it what it was; and it is more pleasant to
look upon it all--the place and its old occupants--as still existing in
some dream-land or other, than to return to find an old acquaintance in
every stick and stone, while every human face and voice is strange to
us.

Yet one does meet friends in old scenes, sometimes, when the meeting is
as unexpected as delightful. And just so, in my last visit to Oxford,
did I stumble upon Horace Leicester. We met in the quadrangle where we
had parted some six years back, just as we might if we had supped
together the night before; whereas we had been all the time hundreds of
miles asunder: and we met as unrestrainedly, only far more cordially.
Neither of us had much time to spare in Oxford, but we dined together of
course; talked over old friends, and told old stories. As to the first,
it was strange enough to moralise upon the after-fortunes of some of our
contemporaries. One--of whom, for habitual absence from lectures, and
other misdemeanours many and various, the tutors had prophesied all
manner of evil, and who had been dismissed by the Principal at his final
leave-taking, with the remark that he was the luckiest man he had ever
known, inasmuch as he had been perseveringly idle without being plucked,
and mixed up in every row without being rusticated--was now working hard
day and night as a barrister, engaged as a junior on committee business
the whole Session, and never taking a holiday except on the Derby day.
The ugliest little rascal of our acquaintance, and as stupid as a post,
was married to a pretty girl with a fortune of thirty thousand. Another,
and one of the best of us--Charley White--who united the business-habits
of a man with the frolic of a schoolboy, and who ought to have been
added to the roll of the College benefactors, as having been the founder
of the Cricket and the Whist Club, and having restored to its old place
on the river, at much cost and pains, the boat which had been withdrawn
for the last five years, and reduced the sundry desultory idlenesses of
the under-graduates into something like method and order--Charley White
was now rector of a poor and populous parish in Yorkshire, busily
engaged in building a new church and schools, opening Provident
Societies, and shutting up beer-shops, and instructing the rising
generation of his parishioners in catechism and cricket alternately.
While the steadiest (I was very near saying the only steady man) among
our mutual acquaintance, who looked at every sixpence before he spent
it, checked his own washing-lists, went to bed at ten o'clock, and was,
in short, an exemplary character (he was held out to me, on my first
entrance, as a valuable acquaintance for any young man, but I soon
despaired of successfully imitating so bright a model)--well, this
gentleman having been taken into partnership, somewhat prematurely
perhaps on the strength of the aforesaid reputation, by his father's
firm--they were Liverpool merchants of high standing--had thought
proper, disgusted probably with the dissipations and immoralities of
trade, to retire to America in search of purity and independence,
without going through the form of closing his accounts with the house.
The Liverpudleians, indeed, according to Horace's account, gave a
somewhat ugly name to the transaction; he had been cashier to the firm,
they said, who were minus some tens of thousands thereby; but as the
senior partner was known to have smoked cigars at a preparatory school
(thereby showing what he _would_ have done had he been sent to Oxford),
whereas our friend was always "a steady man," I leave the reader to
judge which party is entitled to the most credit.

It was after we had separated that a friend of mine, not an Oxford man,
who had dined with us, and appeared much amused by some of Horace's
reminiscences, asked me the very puzzling question, "Was your friend
Leicester what they call a '_rowing_ man' at College?" Now, I protest
altogether against the division of under-graduates into reading men and
rowing men, as arbitrary and most illogical; there being a great many
who have no claim to be reckoned either in one class or the other, and a
great many who hover between both. And this imaginary distinction,
existing as it notoriously does at Oxford, and fostered and impressed
upon men by the tutors (often unintentionally, or with the very best
intentions), is productive in many cases of a great deal of harm. A man
(or _boy_ if you please) is taught to believe, upon his very first
entrance, that one of these characters will infallibly cling to him, and
that he has only to choose between the two. For the imaginary division
creates a real one; in many colleges, a man who joins a boat's crew, or
a cricket club, or goes out now and then with the harriers, is looked
upon with suspicion by the authorities at once; and by a very natural
consequence, a man who wants to read his five or six hours a-day
quietly, finds that some of his pleasantest companions look upon him as
a slow coach. So, probably before the end of his first term, he is
hopelessly committed, at nineteen, to a consistency of character rarely
met with at fifty. If he lays claim to the reputation of a reading man,
and has an eye to the loaves and fishes in the way of scholarships and
fellowships, he is compelled, by the laws of his _caste_, to renounce
some of the most sensible and healthful amusements which a university
life offers. He must lead a very humdrum sort of life indeed. It is not
enough that he should be free from the stains of vice and immorality;
that his principles and habits should be those of a gentleman; that he
should avoid excesses, and be observant of discipline; this the
university would have a right to expect from all who are candidates for
her honours and emoluments. But there is a conventional character which
he must put on besides this. I say "put on;" because, however natural it
may be to some men, it cannot possibly be so to all. His exercise must
be taken at stated times and places: it must consist principally of
walking, whether he be fond of it or not, varied occasionally by a
solitary skiffing expedition down the river, or a game of billiards with
some very steady friend on the sly. His dress must exhibit either the
negligence of a sloven (in case he be an aspirant for very high honours
indeed), or the grave precision of a respectable gentleman of forty. He
must eschew all such vanities as white trousers and well-cut boots. He
must be profoundly ignorant of all university intelligence that does not
bear in some way on the schools; must be utterly indifferent what boat
is at the head of the river, or whether Drake's hounds are fox or
harriers. He must never be seen out of his rooms, except at lecture,
before two o'clock, and never return to a wine-party after chapel. His
judgment of the merits of port and sherry must be confined principally
to the fact of one being red and the other white, and the compounding of
punch must be to him a mystery unfathomable. Now, if he can be, or
assume to be, all this, then he will be admitted into the most orthodox
and steady set in his college; and if he have, besides, an ordinary
amount of scholarship, and tact enough to talk judiciously about his
books and his reading, he may get up a very fair reputation indeed. And
when at his final examination he makes, as nine-tenths of such men do
make, a grand crash, and his name comes out in the third or fourth
class, or he gets "gulfed" altogether--it is two to one but his friends
and his tutor look upon him, and talk of him, as rather an ill-used
individual. He was "unlucky in his examination"--"the essay did not suit
him"--they were "quite surprised at his failure"--"his health was not
good the last term or two"--"he was too nervous." These are cases which
have occurred in every man's experience: men read ten hours a-day, with
a watch by their side, cramming in stuff that they do not understand,
are talked about as "sure firsts" till one gets sick of their very
names, assume all the airs which really able men seldom do assume, and
take at last an equal degree with others who have been acquiring the
same amount of knowledge with infinitely less pretension, and who,
without moping the best part of their lives in an artificial existence,
will make more useful members of society in the end. "How was it," said
an old lady in the country to me one day, "that young Mr C---- did not
get a first class? I understand he read very hard, and I know he refused
every invitation to dinner when he was down here in the summer
vacation?" "That was the very reason, my dear madam," said I; "you may
depend upon it." She stared, of course; but I believe I was not far out.

Let men read as much as they will, and as hard as they will, on any
subjects for which they have the ability and inclination; but never let
them suppose they are to lay down one code of practice to suit all
tempers and constitutions. Cannot a man be a scholar, and a gentleman,
and a good fellow at the same time?

And, after all, where is the broad moral distinction between these
_soi-disant_ steady men, and those whom they are pleased to consider as
"rowing" characters? it has always seemed to me rather apocryphal. If a
man thinks proper to amuse himself with a chorus in his own rooms at one
o'clock in the morning, it seems hardly material whether it be Greek or
English--Sophocles or Tom Moore. It's a matter of taste, and tastes
differ. Nor do I think the morality of Horace or Aristophanes, or the
theology of Lucretius, so peculiarly admirable, as to render them, _per
se_, fitter subjects for the exclusive exercise of a young man's
faculties than "the Pickwick Papers," or "The Rod and the Gun." I have
heard--(I never saw, nor will I believe it)--of the profanity of certain
sporting under-graduates, who took into chapel the racing calendar,
bound in red morocco, instead of a prayer-book; I hold it to have been
the malicious fiction of some would-be university reformer; but, even if
true, I am not sure that I much prefer that provident piety which I have
noticed getting up its Greek within the same walls by means of a
Septuagint and Greek liturgy. Religion is one thing, classical learning
another, and sporting information another; all totally distinct, and
totally different; the first immeasurably above the other two, but
standing equidistant from both. It does not make a man one whit the
better to know that Coræbus won the cup at Olympia B.C. 776, than it
does to know that Priam did _not_ win the St Leger at Doncaster A.D.
1830; from all I can make out, the Greeks on the turf at present are not
much worse than their old namesakes; I dare say there was a fair amount
of black-legism on both occasions. Men injure their moral and physical
health by reading as much as by other things; it takes quite as much out
of a man, and puts as little in him to any good purpose, to get up his
logic as to pull in an eight-oar.

Besides, if one is to read and enter into the spirit of a dozen
different authors, one dull monotonous round of physical existence seems
ill-fitted to call out the requisite variety of mental powers. I hold
that there are divers and sundry fit times, and places, and states of
mind, suited to different lines of reading. If a man is at work upon
history, by all means let him sport oak rigidly against all visitors;
let him pile up his authorities and references on every vacant chair all
round him, and get a clear notion of it by five or six hours'
uninterrupted and careful study. Or, if he has a system of philosophy to
get up, let him sit down with his head cool, his window open (not the
one looking into quad.), let him banish from his mind all minor matters,
and not break off in the chain of argument so long as he can keep his
brain clear and his eyes open. Even then, a good gallop afterwards, or a
cigar and a glass of punch, with some lively fellow who is no
philosopher, will do him far more good than a fagging walk of so many
measured miles, with the studious companion whose head is stuffed as
full of such matter as his own, and whose talk will be of disputed
passages, and dispiriting anticipations of a "dead floorer" in the
schools. But if a man wants to make acquaintance with such books as
Juvenal, or Horace, or Aristophanes, he may surely do it to quite as
good purpose, and with far more relish, basking under a tree in summer,
or with a friend over a bottle in winter.

The false tone of society of which I have been speaking had its
influence upon Horace Leicester. Coming up to the university from a
public school, with a high character, a fair amount of scholarship, and
a host of acquaintances, he won the good-will at once of dons and of
under-graduates, and bid fair to be as universal a favourite at college
as he had been at Harrow. Never did a man enter upon an academic life
under happier auspices, nor, I believe, with a more thorough
determination to enjoy it in every way. He did not look upon his
emancipation from school discipline as a license for idleness, nor
intend to read the less because he could now read what he pleased, and
when he pleased. For, not to mention that Horace was ambitious, and had
at one time an eye to the class list--he had a taste for reading, and a
strong natural talent to appreciate what he read. But if he had a taste
for reading, he had other tastes as well, and, as he thought, not
incompatible; much as he admired his Roman namesake, he could not devote
his evenings exclusively to his society, but preferred carrying his
precepts into practice occasionally with more modern companions; and he
had no notion that during the next four years of his life he was to take
an interest in no sports but those of the old Greeks and Romans, and
mount no horse but Pegasus. For a term or two, Leicester got on very
well; attended lectures, read steadily till one or two o'clock, when
there was nothing particular going on, kept a horse, hired an alarm, and
seldom cut morning chapel, or missed a meet if within reasonable
distance. It was a course of life which, in after days, he often
referred to with a sigh as having been most exemplary; and I doubt
whether he was far wrong. But it did not last. For a time his
gentlemanly manners, good humour, and good taste, carried it off with
all parties; but it was against the ordinary routine, and could not hold
up against the popular prejudice. The reading men eyed his top-boots
with suspicion; the rowing men complained he was growing a regular
_sap_, always sporting oak when they wanted him. Then his wine-parties
were a source of endless tribulation to him. First of all, he asked all
those with whom he was most intimate among his old schoolfellows to meet
each other, adding one or two of his new acquaintances: and a pretty
mess he made of it. Men who had sat on the same form with him and with
each other at Harrow, and had betrayed no such marked differences in
their tastes as to prevent their associating very pleasantly there, at
Oxford, he found, had been separated wide as the poles by this
invisible, but impassable, line of demarcation: to such a degree,
indeed, that although all had called upon Horace, as they had upon each
other, before it seemed decided on which side they were to settle, yet
when they now met at his rooms, they had become strangers beyond a mere
civil recognition, and had not a single subject to converse upon in
common. In fact, they were rather surprised than pleased to meet at all;
and it was in vain their host tried to get them to amalgamate. Many
seemed to take a pleasure in showing how decidedly they belonged to one
set or the other. One would talk of nothing on earth besides hunting,
and sat silent and sulky when Horace turned the conversation; another
affected an utter ignorance of all that was going on in the University
that was not connected with class-lists, scholarships, &c. What provoked
him most was, that some of those who gave themselves the most pedantic
airs, and would have been double first-class men undeniably, if talking
could have done it, were those whose heads he well knew were as empty as
the last bottle, and which made him think that some men must take to
reading at Oxford, simply because they had faculties for nothing else.

At all events, Horace found the mixed system would not answer for
entertaining his friends. So the next time he asked a few of the reading
men, some of whom he knew used to be good fellows, together; and as he
really had a kindred taste with them on many subjects, he found an hour
or so pass away very pleasantly: when just as he was passing the wine
about the third round, and his own brilliancy and good-humour were
beginning to infect some of his guests--so that one grave genius of
twenty had actually so far forgotten himself as to fill a bumper by
mistake--up jumped the senior man of the party, and declaring that he
had an engagement to walk with a friend at seven, politely took his
leave. This was the signal for a general dispersion; in vain did Horace
assure them they should have some coffee in the course of an hour, and
entreat some one or two to return. Off they all went, with sundry smiles
and shakes of the head, and left their unfortunate host sitting alone in
his glory over the first glass of a newly opened bottle of claret.

I happened to be crossing the quadrangle from chapel in company with
Savile, at the moment when Leicester put his head out of his window as
if to inquire of the world in general what on earth he was to do with
himself for the next hour or two. Savile he hailed at once, and begged
him to come up; and though I knew but little of him, and had never been
in his rooms before, still, as I was one or two terms his senior, there
was nothing contrary even to Oxford etiquette in my accompanying Savile.
We laughed heartily when he explained his disappointment. Savile tried
to comfort him by the assurance that, as he had an hour to spare, he
would sit down and help him to finish a bottle or two of claret with a
great deal of pleasure; and was inclined to attribute the failure of the
evening, in a great measure, to his name not having been included in
the list of invitations--an omission by which he declared all parties
had been the losers; Horace's reading friends standing very much in need
of some one to put a little life into them, and himself, as a candidate
for a degree, having missed a fair opportunity of meeting, among so many
choice fellows, some one to "put him up to the examiners' dodges." But
Leicester was irrecoverably disgusted. Nothing, he declared, would ever
induce him to ask a party of reading men to his rooms again; and from
that hour he seemed to eschew fellowship with the whole fraternity. Not
that he became idle all at once; on the contrary, I believe, for some
time he worked on steadily, or at least tried to work; but he was
naturally fond of society, and having failed to find what he wanted, was
reduced to make the best of such as he could find. So he gradually
became acquainted with a set of men who, whatever their good qualities
might be, had certainly no claim whatever to be considered hard readers,
and who would have considered a symposium which broke up at seven
o'clock as unsatisfactory as a tale without a conclusion. Amongst these,
his gentlemanly manners and kindness of heart made him beloved, while
his talents gave him a kind of influence; and, though he must have felt
occasionally that he was not altogether in his right place, and that,
besides his popular qualities, he had higher tastes and endowments with
which the majority of his companions could hardly sympathise, he was
too light-hearted to philosophise much on the subject, and contented
himself with enjoying his popularity, occasionally falling back upon his
own resources, and keeping up, in a desultory kind of way, his
acquaintance with scholarship and literature. The reading men of course
looked upon him as a lost sheep; the tutors shook their heads about him;
if he did well, it was set down as the result of accident; while all his
misdoings were labouring in his vocation. For, agreeably to the grand
division aforesaid, Horace was now set down as a "rowing-man;" and he
soon made the discovery, and did more thereupon to deserve the character
than he ever would have done otherwise. He was very willing to go on in
his own way, if all parties would but let him alone; he was not going to
be made a proselyte to long walks, and toast and water, nor had he any
conscientious abhorrence of supper-parties; and, as his prospects in
life were in no way dependent upon a class or a scholarship, and he
seemed to be tacitly repudiated by the _literati_ of his college, young
and old, on account of some of his aforesaid heterodox notions on the
subject of study, he accustomed himself gradually to set their opinions
at defiance; while the moderate reading, which encouragement and
emulation had made easy at school, became every day more and more
distasteful.

Horace's tottering reputation was at last completely overset in the eyes
of the authorities by a little affair which was absurd enough, but in
which he himself was as innocent as they were. It happened that a
youthful cousin of his, whose sole occupation for the last twelve months
of his life had been the not over-profitable one of waiting for a
commission, had come up to Oxford for two or three days, pursuant to
invitation, to see a little of the manners and customs of the
inhabitants. I think he had some slight acquaintance with our then
vice-principal--a good-natured, easy man--and Horace had got leave for
him to occupy a set of very small, dark rooms, which, as the college was
not very full, had been suffered to remain vacant for the last two or
three terms; they were so very unattractive a domicile that the last
Freshman to whom they were offered as a Hobson's choice, was currently
reported, in the plenitude of his disgust, to have taken his name off
the books _instanter_. It is not usual to allow strangers to sleep
within college walls at all; but our discipline was somewhat lax in
those days. So Mr Carey had a bed put up for him in the aforesaid
quarters. He was, of course, duly _fêted_, and made much of by Horace
and his friends; and a dozen of us sat down to a capital dinner in the
rooms of the former, on the strength of having to entertain a "stranger
from the country;" the hospitality of Oxford relaxing its rules even in
favour of under-graduates upon such occasions. It must have been
somewhere towards the next morning, when two or three of us accompanied
young Carey down to No. 8; and, after chatting with him till he was half
undressed, left him, as we thought, safe and quiet. However, soon after
we had retired, some noisy individual in the same staircase thought
proper to give a view-hollo out of his window, for the purpose of
wishing the public good-night. Now there was one of the Fellows, a
choleric little old gentleman, always in residence, holding some office,
in which there was as little to do, and as much to get as might be, and
who seldom troubled himself much about college discipline, and looked
upon under-graduates with a sort of silent contempt; never interfering
with them, as he declared himself, so long as they did not interfere
with him. But one point there was, in which they did interfere with his
personal comfort occasionally, and whereby his peace of mind and rest of
body were equally disturbed. Mr Perkins always took a tumbler of negus
at ten precisely, and turned in as the college clock struck the quarter
past; by the half-hour he was generally asleep, for his digestion was
good and his cares few. But his slumbers were not heavy, and anything
like a row in the quadrangle infallibly awoke him, and then he was like
a lion roused. He was wont to jump up, throw up his window, thrust out a
red face and a white nightcap, and after listening a few seconds for
the chance of the odious sounds being repeated, would put the very
pertinent question usual in such circumstances, to which one so seldom
gets an equally pertinent reply--"Who's that?" In case this intimation
of Mr Perkins being wide awake proved sufficient, as it often did, to
restore quiet, then after the lapse of a few more seconds the head and
the nightcap disappeared, and the window was shut down again. But if the
noise was continued, as occasionally it was out of pure mischief, then
in a minute or two the said nightcap would be seen to emerge hastily
from the staircase below, in company with a dressing-gown and slippers,
and Mr Perkins in this disguise would proceed to the scene of
disturbance as fast as his short legs could carry him. He seldom
succeeded in effecting a capture; but if he had that luck, or if he
could distinguish the tone of any individual voice so as to be able to
identify the performer, he had him up before the "seniority" next
morning, where his influence as one of the senior fellows insured a
heavy sentence. But he had been engaged in so many unsuccessful chases
of the kind, and his short orations from his window so often elicited
only a laugh, though including sometimes brief but explicit threats of
rustication against the noisy unknown, strengthened by little expletives
which, when quoted by under-graduates, were made to sound somewhat
doubtfully--that at last he altered his tactics, and began to act in
silence. And so he did, when upon opening his window he saw a light in
the ground-floor rooms of the staircase whence the sounds proceeded on
the evening in question. Carey, by his own account, was proceeding
quietly in his preparations for bed, singing to himself an occasional
stanza of some classical ditty which he had picked up in the course of
the evening, and admiring the power of the man's lungs in the room above
him, when he heard a short quick step, and then a double rap at his
door. He was quite sufficiently acquainted, by this time, with the ways
of the place, not to be much surprised at the late visit, and at the
same time to consider it prudent to learn the name and _status_ of his
visitor before admitting him; so he retorted upon Mr Perkins, quite
unconsciously, his own favourite query--"Who's that?" his first and
obvious impression being that it was one of the party he had just
quitted, coming probably in the plenitude of good fellowship, to bring
him an invitation to wine or breakfast next day.

"It's me, sir--open the door," was the reply from a deep baritone, which
the initiated would never have mistaken.

"Who are you?" said Carey again.

"My name is Perkins, sir: have the goodness to let me in." He was
getting more angry, and consequently more polite.

"Perkins," said Carey, pausing in his operations, in the vain endeavour
to recall the name among the score or two to whom he had been
introduced. "I'm just in bed--were you up at Leicester's?"

"Open the door, sir, if you please, immediately," and then came what our
friend took for a smothered laugh, but was really a sort of shiver, for
there was a draft in the passage playing all manner of pranks with the
dressing-gown, and Mr Perkins was getting cold.

An indistinct notion came into Carey's mind, that some one who had met
him in College might have taken him for a Freshman, and had some
practical joke in view; so he contented himself with repeating that he
was going to bed, and could let no one in.

"I tell you, sir, I'm Mr Perkins; don't you know me?"

"I wish you a very good night, Mr Perkins."

"What's your name, sir? eh? You impudent young puppy, what's your
infernal name? I'll have you rusticated, you dog--do you hear me, sir?"

On a sudden it struck Carey that this might possibly be a domiciliary
visit from one of the authorities, and that his best plan was to open
the door at once, though what had procured him such an honour he was at
a loss to imagine. He drew back the spring lock, therefore, and the next
moment stood face to face with the irate Mr Perkins.

His first impulse was to laugh at the curious figure before him; but
when demands for his name, and threats of unknown penalties, were
thundered forth upon him with no pause for a reply, then he began to
think that he had made a mistake in opening the door at all--that he
might get Leicester into a scrape if not himself--and as his person was
as unknown to Mr Perkins as that gentleman's to him, it struck him that
if he could give him the slip at once it would be all right. In a moment
he blew out his solitary candle, bolted through the open door, all but
upsetting his new acquaintance, whom he left storming in the most
unconnected manner, alone, and in total darkness. Up to Leicester's
rooms he rushed, related his adventure, and was rather surprised that
his cousin did not applaud it as a very clever thing.

What Mr Perkins thought or said to himself, what degree of patience he
exhibited in such trying circumstances, or in what terms he
apostrophised his flying enemy, must ever remain a secret with himself.
Five minutes after, Solomon the porter, summoned from his bed just as he
had made himself snug once more after letting out Horace's out-college
friends, confronted Mr Perkins in about as sweet a temper as that worthy
individual himself, with this difference, that one was sulky and the
other furious.

"Who lives in the ground-floor on the left in No. 8?"

"What, in 'Coventry?' Why, nobody, sir."

"Nobody! you stupid old sinner, you're asleep."

"No, sir, I ain't," and Solomon flashed his lantern in Mr Perkins's face
as if to ascertain whether _his_ eyes were open. Mr Perkins started
back, and Solomon turned half round as if to disappear again.

"Who lives there, Solomon, I ask you? Do you mean to tell me you don't
know? You are not fit----"

"I knows every gentleman's rooms well enough: nobody hasn't lived in
them as you means not these four terms. Mr Pears kept his fox in 'em one
time, till the vice-principal got wind of him. There may be some varmint
in 'em now for all I knows--they a'n't fit for much else."

"There's some confounded puppy of a Freshman in them now--at least there
was--and he lives there too."

"I know there _be'n't_," said the persevering Solomon. And, without
deigning a word more, he set off with his lantern towards the place in
dispute, followed by Mr Perkins, who contented himself with an angry
"Now you'll see."

"Ay, now we shall see," replied Solomon, as, somewhat to Mr Perkins's
astonishment, they found the oak sported. Having made a selection from a
huge bunch of keys, the porter succeeded, after some fumbling, in
getting the door open. The room bore no traces of recent occupation.
Three or four broken chairs and a rickety table were the only
furniture: as far as the light of Solomon's lantern could penetrate, it
looked the very picture of desolation. Solomon chuckled.

"There _is_ a man living here. I'll swear there is. He was undressing
when I came. Look in the bedroom."

They opened the door, and saw a bare feather-bed and bolster, the usual
_matériel_ in an unoccupied college chamber. "Seeing's believing," said
the porter.

But, with Mr Perkins, seeing was not believing. He saw Solomon, and he
saw the empty room, but he did not believe either. But he had evidently
the worst side of the argument as it stood, so he wished the porter a
sulky good-night, and retreated.

The fact was, that the noisy gentleman in the rooms above, as soon as he
caught the tones of Mr Perkins's voice at Carey's door, had entered into
the joke with exceeding gusto, well aware that the visit was really
intended as a compliment to his own vocal powers. Carey's sudden bolt
puzzled him rather; but as soon as he heard Mr Perkins's foot-steps take
the direction of the porter's lodge, he walked softly down-stairs to the
field of action, and, anticipating in some degree what would follow,
bundled up together sheets, blankets, pillow, dressing apparatus, and
all other signs and tokens of occupation, and made off with them to his
own rooms, sporting the oak behind him, and thus completing the
mystification.

As the facts of the case were pretty sure to transpire in course of
time, Horace took the safe course of getting his cousin out of college
next morning, and calling on Mr Perkins with a full explanation of the
circumstances, and apologies for Carey as a stranger unacquainted with
the police regulations of their learned body, and the respect due
thereto. Of course the man in authority was obliged to be gracious, as
Leicester could not well be answerable for all the faults of his family;
but there never from that time forth happened a row of any kind with
which he did not in his own mind, probably unconsciously, associate poor
Horace.

Whether my readers will set down Horace Leicester as a rowing man or
not, is a point which I leave to their merciful consideration: a reading
man was a title which he never aspired to. He took a very creditable
degree in due season, and was placed in the fourth class with a man who
took up a very long list of books, and was supposed to have read himself
stupid.

"He ought to have done a good deal more," said one of the tutors; "he
had it in him." "I think he was lucky not to have been plucked, myself,"
said Mr Perkins; "he was a very noisy man."



THE EMERALD STUDS

A REMINISCENCE OF THE CIRCUIT.

BY PROFESSOR AYTOUN.

[_MAGA._ AUGUST 1847.]


CHAPTER I.

"Hallo, Tom! Are you not up yet? Why, man, the judges have gone down to
the court half an hour ago, escorted by the most ragged regiment of
ruffians that ever handled a Lochaberaxe."

Such was my matutinal salutation to my friend Thomas Strachan, as I
entered his room on a splendid spring morning. Tom and I were early
college allies. We had attended, or rather, to speak more correctly,
taken out tickets for the different law classes during the same
sessions. We had fulminated together within the walls of the Juridical
Society on legal topics which might have broken the heart of Erskine,
and rewarded ourselves diligently thereafter with the usual relaxations
of a crab and a comfortable tumbler. We had aggravated the same grinder
with our deplorable exposition of the Pandects; and finally assumed, on
the same day, the full-blown honours of the Advocate's wig and gown. Nor
did our fraternal parallel end there: for although we had walked the
boards of the Parliament House with praiseworthy diligence for a couple
of sessions, neither of us had experienced the dulcet sensation which is
communicated to the palm by the contact of the first professional
guinea. In vain did we attempt to insinuate ourselves into the good
graces of the agents, and coin our intellects into such jocular remarks
as are supposed to find most favour in the eyes of facetious
practitioners. In vain did I carry about with me, for a whole week, an
artificial process most skilfully made up; and in vain did Tom compound
and circulate a delectable ditty, entitled "The Song of the
Multiplepoinding." Not a single solicitor would listen to our wooing, or
even intrust us with the task of making the simplest motion. I believe
they thought me too fast, and Tom too much of a genius; and, therefore,
both of us were left among the ranks of the briefless army of the stove.
This would not do. Our souls burned within us with a noble thirst for
legal fame and fees. We held a consultation (without an agent) at the
Rainbow, and finally determined that since Edinburgh would not hear us,
Jedburgh should have the privilege of monopolising our maiden eloquence
at the ensuing justiciary circuit. Jedburgh presents a capital field to
the ambition of a youthful advocate. Very few counsel go that way; the
cases are usually trifling, and the juries easily bamboozled. It has
besides this immense advantage--that should you by any accident happen
to break down, nobody will in all probability be the wiser for it,
provided you have the good sense to ingratiate yourself with the
circuit-clerk.

Tom and I arrived at Jedburgh the afternoon before the circuit began. I
was not acquainted with a human being within the parliamentary
boundaries of that respectable borough, and therefore experienced but a
slight spasm of disappointment when informed by the waiter at the inn,
that no inquiries had yet been made after me, on the part of writers
desirous of professional assistance. Strachan had been wiser. Somehow or
other, he had got a letter of introduction to one Bailie Beerie, a
notable civic dignitary of the place; and, accordingly, on presenting
his credentials, was invited by that functionary to dinner, with a hint
that he "might maybe see a wheen real leddies in the evening." This
pointed so plainly to a white choker and dress boots, that Strachan
durst not take the liberty of volunteering the attendance of his friend;
and accordingly I had been left alone to wile away, as I best might, the
tedium of a sluggish evening. Before starting, however, Tom pledged
himself to return in time for supper; as he entertained a painful
conviction that the party would be excessively slow.

So long as it was light, I amused myself pretty well by strolling along
the banks of the river, and enunciating a splendid speech for the panel
in an imaginary case of murder. However, before I reached the peroration
(which was to consist of a vivid picture of the deathbed of a despairing
jury-man, conscience-stricken by the recollection of an erroneous
verdict), the shades of evening began to close in; the trouts ceased to
leap in the pool, and the rooks desisted from their cawing. I returned
to discuss my solitary mutton at the inn; and then, having nothing to
do, sat down to a moderate libation, and an odd number of the
_Temperance Magazine_, which valuable tract had been left for the
reformation of the traveller by some peripatetic disciple of Father
Mathew.

Nine o'clock came, but so did not Strachan. I began to wax wroth,
muttered anathemas against my faithless friend, rang for the waiter,
and--having ascertained the fact that a Masonic Lodge was that evening
engaged in celebrating the festival of its peculiar patron--I set out
for the purpose of assisting in the pious and mystic labours of the
Brethren of the Jedburgh St Jeremy. At twelve, when I returned to my
quarters, escorted by the junior deacon, I was informed that Strachan
had not made his appearance, and accordingly I went to bed.

Next morning I found Tom, as already mentioned, in his couch. There was
a fine air of negligence in the manner in which his habiliments were
scattered over the room. One glazed boot lay within the fender, whilst
the other had been chucked into a coal-scuttle; and there were evident
marks of mud on the surface of his glossy kerseymeres. Strachan himself
looked excessively pale, and the sole rejoinder he made to my
preliminary remark was, a request for soda-water.

"Tom," said I, inexpressibly shocked at the implied confession of the
nature of his vespers--"I wonder you are not ashamed of yourself! Have
you no higher regard for the dignity of the bar you represent, than to
expose yourself before a Jedburgh Bailie?"

"Dignity be hanged!" replied the incorrigible Strachan. "Bailie Beerie
is a brick, and I won't hear a word against him. But, O Fred! if you
only knew what you missed last night! Such a splendid woman--by Jove,
sir, a thoroughbred angel. A bust like one of Titian's beauties, and the
voice of a lovelorn nightingale!"

"One of the Misses Beerie, I presume. Come, Tom, I think I can fill up
your portrait. Hair of the auburn complexion, slightly running into the
carrot--skin fair, but freckled--greenish eyes--red elbows--culpable
ankles--elephantine waist--and sentiments savouring of the Secession."

"Ring the bell for the waiter, and hold your impious tongue. You never
were farther from the mark in your life. The wing of the raven is not
more glossy than her hair--and oh, the depth and melting lustre of those
dark unfathomable eyes! Waiter! a bottle of soda-water, and you may put
in a thimbleful of cognac."

"Come, Tom!--none of your ravings. Is this an actual Armida, or a new
freak of your own imagination?"

"_Bonâ fide_--an angel in everything, barring the wings."

"Then how the deuce did such a phenomenon happen to emerge at the
Bailie's?"

"That's the very question I was asking myself during the whole time of
dinner. She was clearly not a Scotswoman. When she spoke, it was in the
sweet low accents of a southern clime; and she waved away the proffered
haggis with an air of the prettiest disgust!"

"But the Bailie knew her?"

"Of course he did. I got the whole story out of him after dinner, and,
upon my honour, I think it is the most romantic one I ever heard. About
a week ago, the lady arrived here without attendants. Some say she came
in the mail-coach--others in a dark travelling chariot and pair.
However, what matters it? the jewel can derive no lustre or value from
the casket!"

"Yes--but one always likes to have some kind of idea of the setting. Get
on."

"She seemed in great distress, and inquired whether there were any
letters at the post-office addressed to the Honourable Dorothea Percy.
No such epistle was to be found. She then interrogated the landlord,
whether an elderly lady, whose appearance she minutely described, had
been seen in the neighbourhood of Jedburgh; but except old Mrs
Slammingham of Summertrees, who has been bed-ridden for years, there was
nobody in the county who at all answered to the description. On hearing
this, the lady seemed profoundly agitated--shut herself up in a private
parlour, and refused all sustenance."

"Had she not a reticule with sandwiches, Tom?"

"Do not tempt me to commit justifiable homicide--you see I am in the act
of shaving.--At last the landlady, who is a most respectable person, and
who felt deeply interested at the desolate situation of the poor young
lady, ventured to solicit an interview. She was admitted. There are
moments when the sympathy of even the humblest friend is precious. Miss
Percy felt grateful for the interest so displayed, and confided the tale
of her griefs to the matronly bosom of the hostess."

"And she told you?"

"No,--but she told Bailie Beerie. That active magistrate thought it his
duty to interfere. He waited upon Miss Percy, and from her lips he
gathered the full particulars of her history. Percy is not her real
name, but she is the daughter of an English peer of very ancient family.
Her father having married a second time, Dorothea was exposed to the
persecutions of a low-minded vulgar woman, whose whole ideas were of
that mean and mercenary description which characterise the Caucasian
race. Naomi Shekels was the offspring of a Jew, and she hated, whilst
she envied, the superior charms of the noble Norman maiden. But she had
gained an enormous supremacy over the wavering intellect of the elderly
Viscount; and Dorothea was commanded to receive, with submission, the
addresses of a loathsome apostate, who had made a prodigious fortune in
the railways."

"One of the tribe of Issachar?"

"Exactly. A miscreant whose natural function was the vending of cast
habiliments. Conceive, Fred, what the fair young creature must have felt
at the bare idea of such shocking spousals! She besought, prayed,
implored,--but all in vain. Mammon had taken too deep a root in the
paternal heart,--the old coronet had been furbished up by means of
Israelitish gold, and the father could not see any degradation in
forcing upon his child an alliance similar to his own."

"You interest me excessively."

"Is it not a strange tale?" continued Thomas, adjusting a false collar
round his neck. "I knew you would agree with me when I came to the
pathetic part. Well, Fred, the altar was decked, the ornaments ready,
the Rabbi bespoke----"

"Do you mean to say, Strachan, that Lady Dorothea was to have been
married after the fashion of the Jews?"

"I don't know exactly. I think Beerie said it was a Rabbi; but that may
have been a flight of his own imagination. However, somebody was ready
to have tied the nuptial knot, and all the joys of existence, and its
hopes, were about to fade for ever from the vision of my poor Dorothea!"

"_Your_ Dorothea!" cried I in amazement. "Why, Tom--you don't mean to
insinuate that you have gone that length already?"

"Did I say mine?" repeated Strachan, looking somewhat embarrassed. "It
was a mere figure of speech: you always take one up so uncommonly
short.--Nothing remained for her but flight, or submission to the cruel
mandate. Like a heroic girl, in whose veins the blood of the old
crusaders was bounding, she preferred the former alternative. The only
relation to whom she could apply in so delicate a juncture, was an aged
aunt, residing somewhere in the north of Scotland. To her she wrote,
beseeching her, as she regarded the memory of her buried sister, to
receive her miserable child; and she appointed this town, Jedburgh, as
the place of meeting."

"But where's the aunt?"

"That's just the mysterious part of the business. The crisis was so
imminent that Dorothea could not wait for a reply. She disguised
herself,--packed up a few jewels which had been bequeathed to her by her
mother,--and, at the dead of night, escaped from her father's mansion.
Judge of her terror when, on arriving here, panting and perhaps pursued,
she could obtain no trace whatever of her venerable relative. Alone,
inexperienced and unfriended, I tremble to think what might have been
her fate, had it not been for the kind humanity of Beerie."

"And what was the Bailie's line of conduct?"

"He behaved to her, Fred, like a parent. He supplied her wants, and
invited her to make his house her home, at least until the aunt should
appear. But the noble creature would not subject herself to the weight
of so many obligations. She accepted, indeed, his assistance, but
preferred remaining here until she could place herself beneath
legitimate guardianship. And doubtless," continued Strachan with
fervour, "her good angel is watching over her."

"And this is the whole story?"

"The whole."

"Do you know, Tom, it looks uncommonly like a piece of deliberate
humbug!"

"Your ignorance misleads you, Fred. You would not say so had you seen
her. So sweet--so gentle--with such a tinge of melancholy resignation in
her eye, like that of a virgin martyr about to suffer at the stake! No
one could look upon her for a moment and doubt her purity and truth."

"Perhaps. But you must allow that we are not living exactly in the age
of romance. An elopement with an officer of dragoons is about the
farthest extent of legitimate enterprise which is left to a modern
damsel; and, upon my word, I think the story would have told better, had
some such hero been inserted as a sort of counterpoise to the Jew. But
what's the matter? Have you lost anything?"

"It is very odd!" said Strachan, "I am perfectly certain that I had on
my emerald studs last night. I recollect that Dorothea admired them
exceedingly. Where on earth can I have put them?"

"I don't know, I'm sure. I suspect, Tom, you and the Bailie were rather
convivial after supper. Is your watch wound up?"

"Of course it is. I assure you you are quite wrong. It was a mere matter
of four or five tumblers. Very odd this! Why--I can't find my watch
neither!"

"Hallo! what the deuce! Have we fallen into a den of thieves? This is a
nice beginning to our circuit practice."

"I could swear, Fred, that I put it below my pillow before I went to
sleep. I remember, now, that it was some time before I could fit in the
key. What can have become of it?"

"And you have not left your room since?"

"No, on my word of honour!"

"Pooh--pooh! Then it can't possibly be gone. Look beneath the bolster."

But in vain did we search beneath bolster, mattress, and blankets; yea,
even downwards to the fundamental straw. Not a trace was to be seen of
Cox Savoury's horizontal lever, jewelled, as Tom pathetically remarked,
in four special holes, and warranted to go for a year without more than
a minute's deviation. Neither were the emerald studs, the pride of
Strachan's heart, forthcoming. Boots, chambermaid, and waiter were
collectively summoned--all assisted in the search, and all asseverated
their own integrity.

"Are ye sure, sir, that ye brocht them hame?" said the waiter, an acute
lad, who had served his apprenticeship at a commercial tavern in the
Gorbals; "Ye was gey an' fou when ye cam in here yestreen."

"What do you mean, you rascal?"

"Ye ken ye wadna gang to bed till ye had anither tumbler."

"Don't talk trash! It was the weakest cold-without in the creation."

"And then ye had a sair fecht on politics wi' anither man in the
coffee-room."

"Ha! I remember now--the bagman, who is a member of the League! Where is
the commercial villain?"

"He gaed aff at sax preceesely, this morning, in his gig, to Kelso."

"Then, by the head of Thistlewood!" cried Strachan, frantically, "my
ticker will be turned into tracts against the Corn-laws!"

"Hoot na!" said the waiter, "I canna think that. He looked an unco
respectable-like man."

"No man can be respectable," replied the aristocratic Thomas, "who
sports such infernal opinions as I heard him utter last night. My poor
studs! Fred--they were a gift from Mary Rivers before we quarrelled, and
I would not have lost them for the universe! Only think of them being
exposed for sale at a free-trade bazaar!"

"Come, Tom--they may turn up yet."

"Never in this world, except at a pawnbroker's. I could go mad to think
that my last memorial of Mary is in all probability glittering in the
unclean shirt of a bagman!"

"Had you not better apply to the Fiscal?"

"For what purpose? Doubtless the scoundrel has driven off to the nearest
railway, and is triumphantly counting the mile-posts as he steams to
his native Leeds. No, Fred. Both watch and studs are gone beyond the
hope of redemption."

"The loss is certainly a serious one."

"No doubt of it: but a thought strikes me. You recollect the edict,
_nautæ_, _caupones_, _stabularii_? I have not studied the civil law for
nothing, and am clearly of opinion that in such a case the landlord is
liable."

"By Jove! I believe you are right. But it would be as well to turn up
Shaw and Dunlop for a precedent before you make any row about it.
Besides, it may be rather difficult to establish that you lost them at
the inn."

"If they only refer the matter to my oath, I can easily settle that
point," replied Strachan. "Besides, now that I think of it, Miss Percy
can speak to the watch. She asked me what o'clock it was just before we
parted on the stairs."

"Eh, what! Is the lady in this house?"

"To be sure--did I not tell you so?"

"I say, Tom--couldn't you contrive to let one have a peep at this angel
of yours?"

"Quite impossible. She is the shyest creature in the world, and would
shrink from the sight of a stranger."

"But, my dear Tom----"

"I can't do it, I tell you; so it's no use asking me."

"Well, I must say you are abominably selfish. But what on earth are you
going to do with that red-and-blue Joinville? You can't go down to court
without a white neckcloth."

"I am not going down to court."

"Why, my good fellow! what on earth is the meaning of this?"

"I am not going down to court, that's all. I say, Fred, how do I look in
this sort of thing?"

"Uncommonly like a cock-pheasant in full plumage. But tell me what you
mean?"

"Why, since you must needs know, I am going up-stairs to breakfast with
Miss Percy."

So saying, Mr Strachan made me a polite bow, and left the apartment. I
took my solitary way to the court-house, marvelling at the extreme
rapidity of the effect which is produced by the envenomed darts of
Cupid.


CHAPTER II.

On entering the court, I found that the business had commenced. An
enormous raw-boned fellow, with a shock of the fieriest hair, and hands
of such dimensions that a mere glimpse of them excited unpleasant
sensations at your windpipe, was stationed at the bar, to which, from
previous practice, he had acquired a sort of prescriptive right.

"James M'Wilkin, or Wilkinson, or Wilson," said the presiding judge, in
a tone of disgust which heightened with each successive alias, "attend
to the indictment which is about to be preferred against you."

And certainly, if the indictment contained a true statement of the
facts, James M'Wilkin, or Wilkinson, or Wilson, was about as
thoroughpaced a marauder as ever perambulated a common. He was charged
with sheep-stealing and assault; inasmuch as, on a certain night
subsequent to the Kelso fair, he, the said individual with the plural
denominations, did wickedly and feloniously steal, uplift, and away take
from a field adjoining to the Northumberland road, six wethers, the
property, or in the lawful possession, of Jacob Gubbins, grazier, then
and now, or lately, residing in Morpeth; and, moreover, on being
followed by the said Gubbins, who demanded restitution of his property,
he, the said M'Wilkin, &c. had, in the most brutal manner, struck,
knocked down, and lavished divers kicks upon the corporality of the
Northumbrian bumpkin, to the fracture of three of his ribs, and
otherwise to the injury of his person.

During the perusal of this formidable document by the clerk, M'Wilkin
stood scratching his poll, and leering about him as though he considered
the whole ceremony as a sort of solemn joke. I never in the course of my
life cast eyes on a more nonchalant or unmitigated ruffian.

"How do you say, M'Wilkin?" asked the judge; "are you guilty or not
guilty?"

"Not guilty, aff course. D'ye tak me for a fule?" and M'Wilkin flounced
down upon his seat, as though he had been an ornament to society.

"Have you a counsel?" asked the judge.

"De'il ane--nor a bawbee," replied the free-booter.

Acting upon the noble principle of Scottish jurisprudence, that no man
shall undergo his trial without sufficient legal advice, his lordship in
the kindest manner asked me to take charge of the fortunes of the
forlorn M'Wilkin. Of course I made no scruples; for, so long as it was
matter of practice, I should have felt no hesitation in undertaking the
defence of Beelzebub. I therefore leaned across the dock, and exchanged
a few hurried sentences with my first client.

"Why don't you plead guilty?"

"What for? I've been here before. Man, I'm thinking ye're a saft ane!"

"Did you not steal the sheep?"

"Ay--that's just the question. Let them find that out."

"But the grazier saw you?"

"I blackened his e'es."

"You'll be transported to a dead certainty."

"Deevil a fears, if ye're worth the price o' half a mutchkin. I'm
saying--get me a Hawick jury, and it's a' richt. They ken me gey and
weel thereabouts."

Although I was by no means satisfied in my own mind that an intimate
acquaintance with M'Wilkin and his previous pursuits would be a strong
recommendation in his favour to any possible assize, I thought it best
to follow his instructions, and managed my challenges so well that I
secured a majority of Hawickers. The jury being sworn in, the cause
proceeded; and certainly, before three witnesses had been examined, it
appeared to me beyond all manner of doubt, that, in the language of Tom
Campbell, my unfortunate client was

     "Doom'd the long coves of Sydney isle to see,"

as a permanent addition to that cultivated and Patagonian population.
The grazier stood to his story like a man, and all efforts to break him
down by cross-examination were fruitless. There was also another hawbuck
who swore to the sheep, and was witness to the assault; so that, in
fact, the evidence was legally complete.

Whilst I was occupied in the vain attempt to make Gubbins contradict
himself, there had been a slight commotion in the court-room. On looking
round afterwards, I was astonished to behold my friend Strachan seated
in the Magistrate's box, next to a very pretty and showily-dressed
woman, to whom he was paying the most marked and deliberate attention.
On the other side of her was an individual in a civic chain, whose fat,
pursy, apoplectic appearance, and nose of the colour of an Orleans plum,
thoroughly realised my mental picture of the Bailie. His small,
blood-shot eyes twinkled with magisterial dignity and importance; and he
looked, beside Miss Percy--for I could not doubt that it was she--like a
satyr in charge of Florimel.

The last witness for the crown, a very noted police-officer from
Glasgow, was then put into the box, to prove a previous conviction
against my friend M'Wilkin. This man bore a high reputation in his
calling, and was, indeed, esteemed as a sort of Scottish Vidocq, who
knew by headmark every filcher of a handkerchief between Caithness and
the Border. He met the bold broad stare of the prisoner with a kind of
nod, as much as to assure him that his time was very nearly up; and then
deliberately proceeded to take a hawk's-eye view of the assembly. I
noticed a sort of quiet sneer as he glanced at the Magistrate's box.

"Poor Strachan!" thought I. "His infatuation must indeed be palpable,
since even a common officer can read his secret in a moment."

I might just as well have tried to shake Ailsa Craig as to make an
impression upon this witness; however, heroically devoted to my trust, I
hazarded the attempt, and ended by bringing out several additional
tales of turpitude in the life and times of M'Wilkin.

"Make room there in the passage! The lady has fainted," cried the macer.

I started to my feet, and was just in time to see Miss Percy conveyed
from the court, in an apparently inanimate state, by the Bailie and the
agitated Strachan.

"Devilish fine-looking woman that!" observed the Advocate-Depute across
the table. "Where did your friend Mr Strachan get hold of her?"

"I really don't know. I say--are you going to address the jury for the
crown?"

"It is quite immaterial. The case is distinctly proved, and I presume
you don't intend to speak?"

"I'm not so sure of that."

"Oh, well,--in that case I suppose I must say a word or two. This closes
the evidence for the crown, my lord;" and the Depute began to turn over
his papers, preparatory to a short harangue.

He had just commenced his speech, when I felt a hand laid upon my
shoulder. I looked around: Strachan was behind me, pale and almost
breathless with excitement.

"Fred--can I depend upon your friendship?"

"Of course you can. What's the row?"

"Have you ten pounds about you?"

"Yes--but what do you mean to do with them? Surely you are not going to
make a blockhead of yourself by bolting?"

"No--no! give me the money--quick!"

"On your word of honour, Tom?"

"On my sacred word of honour!--That's a good fellow--thank you, Fred;"
and Strachan pocketed the currency. "Now," said he, "I have just one
other request to make."

"What's that?"

"Speak against time, there's a dear fellow! Spin out the case as long as
you can, and don't let the jury retire for at least three quarters of an
hour. I know you can do it better than any other man at the bar."

"Are you in earnest, Tom?"

"Most solemnly. My whole future happiness--nay, perhaps the life of a
human being depends upon it."

"In that case I think I shall tip them an hour."

"Heaven reward you, Fred! I never can forget your kindness!"

"But where shall I see you afterwards?"

"At the hotel. Now, my dear boy, be sure that you pitch it in, and, if
possible, get the judge to charge after you. Time's all that's
wanted--adieu!" and Tom disappeared in a twinkling.

I had little leisure to turn over the meaning of this interview in my
mind, for the address of my learned opponent was very short and pithy.
He merely pointed out the clear facts, as substantiated by evidence,
and brought home to the unhappy M'Wilkin; and concluded by demanding a
verdict on both charges contained in the indictment against the
prisoner.

"Do you wish to say anything, sir?" said the judge to me, with a kind of
tone which indicated his hope that I was going to say nothing. Doubtless
his lordship thought that, as a very young counsel, I would take the
hint; but he was considerably mistaken in his man. I came to the bar for
practice--I went on the circuit with the solemn determination to speak
in every case, however desperate; and it needed not the admonition of
Strachan to make me carry my purpose into execution. What did I care
about occupying the time of the court? His lordship was paid to listen,
and could very well afford to hear the man who was pleading for M'Wilkin
without a fee. I must say, however, that he looked somewhat disgusted
when I rose.

A first appearance is a nervous thing, but there is nothing like going
boldly at your subject. "_Fiat experimentum in corpore vili_" is a
capital maxim in the Justiciary Court. The worse your case, the less
chance you have to spoil it; and I never had a worse than M'Wilkin's.

I began by buttering the jury on their evident intelligence and the high
functions they had to discharge, which of course were magnified to the
skies. I then went slap-dash at the evidence; and, as I could say
nothing in favour of my client, directed a tremendous battery of abuse
and insinuation against his accuser.

"And who is this Gubbins, gentlemen, that you should believe this most
incredible, most atrocious, and most clumsy apocrypha of his? I will
tell you. He is an English butcher--a dealer in cattle and in
bestial--one of those men who derive their whole subsistence from the
profits realised by the sale of our native Scottish produce. This is the
way in which our hills are depopulated, and our glens converted into
solitudes. It is for him and his confederates--not for us--that our
shepherds watch and toil, that our herds and flocks are reared, that the
richness of the land is absorbed! And who speaks to the character of
this Gubbins? You have heard the pointless remarks made by my learned
friend upon the character of my unfortunate client; but he has not dared
to adduce in this court one single witness in behalf of the character of
his witness. Gentlemen, he durst not do it! Gubbins has deponed to you
that he bought those sheep at the fair of Kelso, from a person of the
name of Shiells, and that he paid the money for them. Where is the
evidence of that? Where is Shiells to tell us whether he actually sold
these sheep, or whether, on the contrary, they were not stolen from him?
Has it been proved to you, gentlemen, that M'Wilkin is not a friend of
Shiells--that he did not receive notice of the theft--that he did not
pursue the robber, and, recognising the stolen property by their mark,
seize them for the benefit of their owner? No such proof at least has
been led upon the part of the crown, and in the absence of it, I ask you
fearlessly, whether you can possibly violate your consciences by
returning a verdict of guilty? Is it not possible--nay, is it not
extremely probable, that Gubbins was the actual thief? Was it not his
interest, far more than M'Wilkin's, to abstract those poor unhappy
sheep, because it is avowedly his trade to fill the insatiable maw of
the Southron? And in that case, who should be at the bar? Gubbins!
Gubbins, I say, who this day has the unparalleled audacity to appear
before an enlightened Scottish jury, and to give evidence which, in
former times, might have led to the awful consequence of the execution
of an innocent man! And this is what my learned friend calls evidence!
Evidence to condemn a fellow-countryman, gentlemen? No--not to condemn a
dog!"

Having thus summarily disposed of Gubbins, I turned my artillery against
the attendant drover and the policeman. The first I indignantly
denounced as either an accomplice or a tool: the second I smote more
severely. Policemen are not popular in Hawick; and, knowing this, I
contrived to blacken the Scottish Vidocq as a bloodhound.

But by far the finest flight of fancy in which I indulged was reserved
for the peroration. I was not quite sure of the effect of my commentary
on the evidence, and therefore thought it might be advisable to touch
upon a national law.

"And now, gentlemen," said I, "assuming for one moment that all my
learned friend has said to you is true--that the sheep really belonged
to this Gubbins, and were taken from him by M'Wilkin--let us calmly and
deliberately consider how far such a proceeding can be construed into a
crime. What has my unfortunate client done that he should be condemned
by a jury of his countrymen? What he stands charged with is simply
this--that he has prevented an Englishman from driving away the produce
of our native hills. And is this a crime? It may be so, for aught I
know, by statute; but sure I am, that in the intention, to which alone
you must look, there lies a far deeper element of patriotism than of
deliberate guilt. Think for one moment, gentlemen, of the annals of
which we are so proud--of the ballads still chanted in the hall and in
the hamlet--of the lonely graves and headstones that are scattered all
along the surface of the southern muirs. Do not these annals tell us how
the princes and the nobles of the land were wont to think it neither
crime nor degradation to march with their retainers across the Borders,
and to harry with fire and sword the fields of Northumberland and
Durham? Randolph and the Bruce have done it, and yet no one dares to
attach the stigma of dishonour to their names. Do not our ballads tell
how at Lammas-tide,

     'The doughty Earl of Douglas rade
       Into England to fetch a prey?'

And who shall venture to impeach the honour of the hero who fell upon
the field of Otterbourne? Need I remind you of those who have died in
their country's cause, and whose graves are still made the object of
many a pious pilgrimage? Need I speak of Flodden, that woeful place,
where the Flowers of the Forest were left lying in one ghastly heap
around their king? Ah, gentlemen! have I touched you now? True, it was
in the olden time that these things were done and celebrated; but
remember this, that society may change its place, states and empires may
rise and be consolidated, but patriotism still lives enduring and
undying as of yore! And who shall dare to say that patriotism was not
the motive of M'Wilkin? Who shall presume to analyse or to blame the
instinct which may have driven him to the deed? Call him not a
felon--call him rather a poet; for over his kindling imagination fell
the mighty shadow of the past. Old thoughts, old feelings, old impulses,
were burning in his soul. He saw in Gubbins, not the grazier, but the
lawless spoiler of his country; and he rose, as a Borderer should, to
vindicate the honour of his race. He may have been mistaken in what he
did, but the motive, at least, was pure. Honour it then, gentlemen, for
it is the same motive which is at all times the best safeguard of a
nation's independence; and do honour likewise to yourselves by
pronouncing a unanimous verdict of acquittal in favour of the prisoner
at the bar!"

By the time I had finished this harangue, I was wrought up to such a
pitch of enthusiasm, that I really considered M'Wilkin in the light of
an extremely ill-used individual, and the tears stood in my eyes as I
recapitulated the history of his wrongs. Several of the jury, too, began
to get extremely excited, and looked as fierce as falcons when I
reminded them of the field of Flodden. But my hopes were considerably
damped when I heard the charge of his lordship. With all respect for the
eminent senator who that day presided on the bench, I think he went
rather too far when he designated my maiden-effort a rhapsody which
could only be excused on account of the inexperience of the gentleman
who uttered it. Passing from that unpleasant style of stricture, he went
_seriatim_ over all the crimes of M'Wilkin, and very distinctly
indicated his opinion that a more consummate ruffian had seldom figured
in the dock. When he concluded, however, there was a good deal of
whispering in the jury-box, and at last the gentlemen of the assize
requested permission to retire.

"That was a fine flare-up of yours, Freddy," said Anthony Whaup, the
only other counsel for the prisoners upon the circuit. "You came it
rather strong, though, in the national line. I don't think our venerable
friend overhead half likes your ideas of international law."

"Why, yes--I confess he gave me a tolerable wigging. But what would you
have me do? I must have said some thing."

"Oh, by Jove, your were perfectly right! I always make a point of
speaking myself; and I can assure you that you did remarkably well. It
was a novel view, but decidedly ingenious, and may lead to great
results. If that fellow gets off, you may rely upon it there will be
some bloodshed again upon the Border."

"And a jolly calendar, of course, for next circuit. I say, Anthony,--how
many cases have you got?"

"Two thefts with habit and repute, a hamesucken, rather a good forgery,
and an assault with intent to commit."

"Long?"

"Rather--but poor pay. I haven't sacked more than nine guineas
altogether. Gad!" continued Anthony, stretching himself, "this is slow
work. I'd rather by a great deal be rowing on the canal."

"Hush! here come the jury."

They entered, took their seats, and each man in succession answered to
his name. I stole a glance at M'Wilkin. He looked as leonine as ever,
and kept winking perseveringly to the Hawickers.

"Now, gentlemen," said the clerk of court, "what is your verdict?"

The foreman rose.

"The jury, by a majority, find the charges against the prisoner NOT
PROVEN."

"Hurrah!" shouted M'Wilkin, reckless of all authority. "Hurrah! I
say--you counsellor in the wig--ye shanna want a sheep's head thae three
years, if there's ane to be had on the Border!"

And in this way I gained my first acquittal.


CHAPTER III.

I found Strachan in his room with his face buried in the bed-clothes. He
was kicking his legs as though he suffered under a violent fit of the
toothache.

"I say, Tom, what's the matter? Look up, man! Do you know I've got that
scoundrel off?"

No answer.

"Tom, I say? Tom, you dunderhead--what do you mean by making an ass of
yourself this way? Get up, for shame, and answer me!"

Poor Strachan raised his head from the coverlet. His eyes were
absolutely pink, and his cheeks of the tint of a lemon.

"O Fred, Fred!" said he with a series of interjectional gasps, "I am the
most unfortunate wretch in the universe. All the hopes I had formerly
cherished are blighted at once in the bud! She is gone, my friend--gone
away from me, and, alas! I fear, for ever!"

"The deuce she has! and how?"

"Oh what madness tempted me to lead her to the court?--what infatuation
it was to expose those angelic features to the risk of recognition! Who
that ever saw those dove-like eyes could forget them?"

"I have no objection to the eyes--they were really very passable. But
who twigged her?"

"An emissary of her father's--that odious miscreant who was giving
evidence at the trial."

"The policeman? Whew! Tom!--I don't like that."

"He was formerly the land-steward of the Viscount;--a callous, cruel
wretch, who was more than suspected of having made away with his wife."

"And did he recognise her?"

"Dorothea says that she felt fascinated by the glitter of his cold grey
eye. A shuddering sensation passed through her frame, just as the poor
warbler of the woods quivers at the approach of the rattle-snake. A
dark mist gathered before her sight, and she saw no more until she awoke
to consciousness within my arms."

"Very pretty work, truly! And what then?"

"In great agitation, she told me that she durst tarry no longer here.
She was certain that the officer would make it his business to track
her, and communicate her hiding-place to her family; and she shook with
horror when she thought of the odious Israelitish bridegroom. 'The
caverns of the deep green sea--the high Tarpeian rock--the Leucadian
cliff of Sappho,' she said, 'all would be preferable to that! And yet, O
Thomas, to think that we should have met so suddenly, and that to part
for ever!' 'Pon my soul, Fred, I am the most miserable of created
beings."

"Why, what on earth has become of her?"

"Gone--and I don't know whither. She would not even apprise the Bailie
of her departure, lest she might leave some clue for discovery. She
desired me to see him, to thank him, and to pay him for her,--all of
which I promised to do. With one kiss--one deep, burning, agonised
kiss--which I shall carry with me to my grave--she tore herself away,
sprang into the postchaise, and in another moment was lost to me for
ever!"

"And my ten pounds?" said I, in a tone of considerable emotion.

"Would you have had me think twice," asked Strachan indignantly,
"before I tendered my assistance to a forlorn angel in distress, even
though she possessed no deeper claims on my sympathy? I thought,
Frederick, you had more chivalry in your nature. You need not be uneasy
about that trifle; I shall be in funds some time about Christmas."

"Humph! I thought it was a P. P. transaction, but no matter. And is this
all the clue you have got to the future residence of the lady?"

"No,--she is to write me from the nearest post-town. You will see, Fred,
when the letter arrives, how well worthy she is of my adoration."

I have found, by long experience, that it is no use remonstrating with a
man who is head-over-ears in love. The tender passion affects us
differently, according to our constitutions. One set of fellows, who are
generally the pleasantest, seldom get beyond the length of flirtation.
They are always at it, but constantly changing, and therefore manage to
get through a tolerable catalogue of attachments before they are finally
brought to book. Such men are quite able to take care of themselves, and
require but little admonition. You no doubt hear them now and then
abused for trifling with the affections of young women--as if the latter
had themselves the slightest remorse in playing precisely the same
game!--but in most cases such censure is undeserved, for they are quite
as much in earnest as their neighbours, so long as the impulse lasts.
The true explanation is, that they have survived their first passion,
and that their faith is somewhat shaken in the boyish creed of the
absolute perfectibility of woman. The great disappointment of life does
not make them misanthropes--but it forces them to caution, and to a
closer appreciation of character than is usually undertaken in the first
instance. They have become, perhaps, more selfish--certainly more
suspicious, and though often on the verge of a proposal, they never
commit themselves without an extreme degree of deliberation.

Another set seem designed by nature to be the absolute victims of woman.
Whenever they fall in love, they do it with an earnestness and an
obstinacy which is actually appalling. The adored object of their
affections can twine them round her finger, quarrel with them, cheat
them, caricature them, or flirt with others, without the least risk of
severing the triple cord of attachment. They become as tame as
poodle-dogs, will submit patiently to any manner of cruelty or caprice,
and in fact seem rather to be grateful for such treatment than
otherwise. Clever women usually contrive to secure a captive of this
kind. He is useful to them in a hundred ways, never interferes with
their schemes, and, if the worst comes to the worst, they can always
fall back upon him as a _pis-aller_.

My friend Tom Strachan belonged decidedly to this latter section. Mary
Rivers, a remarkably clever and very showy girl, but as arrant a flirt
as ever wore rosebud in her bosom, had engrossed the whole of his heart
before he reached the reflecting age of twenty, and kept him for nearly
five years in a state of uncomplaining bondage. Not that I believe she
ever cared about him. Tom was as poor as a church-mouse, and had nothing
on earth to look to except the fruits of his professional industry,
which, judging from all appearances, would be a long time indeed in
ripening. Mary was not the sort of person to put up with love in a
cottage, even had Tom's circumstances been adequate to defray the rent
of a tenement of that description: she had a vivid appreciation, not
only of the substantials but of the higher luxuries of existence. But
her vanity was flattered at having in her train at least one devoted
dangler, whom she could play off, whenever opportunity required, against
some more valuable admirer. Besides, Strachan was a man of family, tall,
good-looking, and unquestionably clever in his way: he also danced the
polka well, and was useful in the ball-room or the picnic. So Mary
Rivers kept him on in a kind of blissful dream, just sunning him
sufficiently with her smiles to make him believe that he was beloved,
but never allowing matters to go so far as to lead to the report that
they were engaged. Tom asked for nothing more. He was quite contented
to indulge for years in a dream of future bliss, and wrote during the
interval a great many more sonnets than summonses. Unfortunately sonnets
don't pay well, so that his worldly affairs did not progress at any
remarkable ratio. And he only awoke to a sense of his real situation,
when Miss Rivers, having picked a quarrel with him one day in the
Zoological Gardens, announced on the next to her friends that she had
accepted the hand of a bilious East India merchant.

Tom made an awful row about it--grew as attenuated and brown as an
eel--and garnished his conversation with several significant hints about
suicide. He was, however, saved from that ghastly alternative by being
drafted into a Rowing Club, who plied their gondolas daily on the Union
Canal. Hard exercise, beer, and pulling had their usual sanatory effect,
and Tom gradually recovered his health, if not his spirits.

It was at this very crisis that he fell in with this mysterious Miss
Percy. There was an immense hole in his affections which required to be
filled up; and, as nature abhors a vacuum, he plugged it with the image
of Dorothea. The flight, therefore, of the fair levanter, after so brief
an intercourse, was quite enough to upset him. He was in the situation
of a man who is informed over-night that he has succeeded to a large
fortune, and who gets a letter next morning explaining that it is a
mere mistake. I was therefore not at all astonished either at his
paroxysms or his credulity.

We had rather a dreary dinner that day. The judges always entertain the
first day of circuit, and it is considered matter of etiquette that the
counsel should attend. Sometimes these forensic feeds are pleasant
enough; but on the present occasion there was a visible damp thrown over
the spirits of the party. His lordship was evidently savage at the
unforeseen escape of M'Wilkin, and looked upon me, as I thought, with
somewhat of a prejudiced eye. Bailie Beerie and the other magistrates
seemed uneasy at their unusual proximity to a personage who had the
power of death and transportation, and therefore abstained from emitting
the accustomed torrent of civic facetiousness. One of the sheriffs
wanted to be off on a cruise, and another was unwell with the gout. The
Depute Advocate was fagged; Whaup surly as a bear with a sore ear, on
account of the tenuity of his fees; and Strachan, of course, in an
extremely unconversational mood. So I had nothing for it but to eat and
drink as plentifully as I could, and very thankful I was that the claret
was tolerably sound.

We rose from table early. As I did not like to leave Tom to himself in
his present state of mind, we adjourned to his room for the purpose of
enjoying a cigar; and there, sure enough, upon the table lay the
expected missive. Strachan dashed at it like a pike pouncing upon a
parr; I lay down upon the sofa, lit my weed, and amused myself by
watching his physiognomy.

"Dear suffering angel!" said Tom at last, with a sort of whimper,
"Destiny has done its worst! We have parted, and the first fond dream of
our love has vanished before the cold and dreary dawn of reality! O my
friend--we were like the two birds in the Oriental fable, each doomed to
traverse the world before we could encounter our mate--we met, and
almost in the same hour the thunderbolt burst above us!"

"Yes--two very nice birds," said I. "But what does she say in the
letter?"

"You may read it," replied Tom, and he handed me the epistle. It was
rather a superior specimen of penmanship, and I don't choose to
criticise the style. Its tenor was as follows:--

     "I am hardly yet, my dear friend, capable of estimating the true
     extent of my emotions. Like the buoyant seaweed torn from its
     native bed among the submarine forest of the corals, I have been
     tossed from wave to wave, hurried onwards by a stream more
     resistless than that which sweeps through the Gulf of Labrador, and
     far--far away as yet is the wished-for haven of my rest. Hitherto
     my life has been a tissue of calamity and woe. Over my head since
     childhood, has stretched a dull and dreary canopy of clouds,
     shutting me out for ever from a glimpse of the blessed sun. Once,
     and but once only have I seen a chasm in that envious veil--only
     once and for a few, a _very_ few moments, have I gazed upon the
     blue empyrean, and felt my heart expand and thrill to the glories
     of its liquid lustre. That once--oh, Mr Strachan, can I ever forget
     it?--that once comprises the era of the few hours which were the
     silent witnesses of our meeting!

     "Am I weak in writing to you thus? Perhaps I am; but then, Thomas,
     I have never been taught to dissemble. Did I, however, think it
     probable that we should ever meet again--that I should hear from
     your lips a repetition of that language which now is chronicled in
     my soul--it may be that I would not have dared to risk an avowal
     so candid and so dear! As it is, it matters not. You have been my
     benefactor, my kind consoler--my friend. You have told me that you
     love; and in the fulness and native simplicity of my heart, I
     believe you. And if it be any satisfaction to you to know that
     your sentiments have been at least appreciated, believe that of
     all the pangs which the poor Dorothea has suffered, this last
     agony of parting has been incomparably the most severe.

     "You asked me if there was no hope. Oh, my Thomas! what would I
     not give could I venture to answer, yes? But it cannot be! You are
     young and happy, and will yet be fortunate and beloved: why,
     then, should I permit so fair an existence to be blighted by the
     upas-tree of destiny under which I am doomed to languish? You
     shall not say that I am selfish--you shall not hereafter reproach
     me for having permitted you to share a burden too great for both
     of us to carry. You must learn the one great lesson of existence,
     to submit and to forget!

     "I am going far away, to the margin of that inhospitable shore
     which receives upon its rocks the billows of the unbroken
     Atlantic--or haply, amongst the remoter isles, I shall listen to
     the sea-mew's cry. Do not weep for me. Amidst the myriad of bright
     and glowing things which flutter over the surface of this green
     creation, let one feeble, choking, overburdened heart be
     forgotten! Follow me not--seek me not--for, like the mermaid on
     the approach of the mariner, I should shrink from the face of man
     into the glassy caverns of the deep.

     "Adieu, Thomas, adieu! Say what you will for me to the noble and
     generous Beerie. Would to heaven that I could send him some token
     in return for all his kindness! But a good and gallant heart is
     its own most adequate reward.

     "They are putting to the horses--I can hear the rumble of the
     chariot! Oh, once more, dear friend--alas, too inexpressibly
     dear!--take my last farewell. Adieu--my heart is breaking as I
     write the bitter word!--forget me."

                                                           "DOROTHEA."

"Do you wonder at my sorrow now?" said Strachan, as I laid down the
passionate epistle.

"Why, no. It is well got up upon the whole, and does credit to the
lady's erudition. But I don't see why she should insist so strongly upon
eternal separation. Have you no idea whereabouts that aunt of hers may
happen to reside?"

"Not the slightest."

"Because, judging from her letter, it must be somewhere about Benbecula
or Tiree. I shouldn't even wonder if she had a summer box on St Kilda."

"Right! I did not think of that--you observe she speaks of the remoter
isles."

"To be sure, and for half a century there has not been a mermaid seen to
the east of the Lewis. Now, take my advice, Tom--don't make a fool of
yourself in the meantime, but wait until the Court of Session rises in
July. That will allow plenty of time for matters to settle; and if the
old Viscount and that abominable Abiram don't find her out before then,
you may depend upon it they will abandon the search. In the interim, the
lady will have cooled. Walks upon the sea-shore are uncommonly dull
without something like reciprocal sentimentality. The odds are, that the
old aunt is addicted to snuff, tracts, and the distribution of flannel,
and before August, the fair Dorothea will be yearning for a sight of her
adorer. You can easily gammon Anthony Whaup into a loan of that yacht of
his which he makes such a boast of; and if you go prudently about it,
and flatter him on the score of his steering, I haven't the least doubt
that he will victual his hooker and give you a cruise in it for
nothing."

"Admirable, my dear Fred! We shall touch at all the isles from Iona to
Uist; and if Miss Percy be indeed there--"

"You can carry her off on five minutes' notice, and our long friend will
be abundantly delighted. Only, mind this! If you want my candid opinion
on the wisdom of such an alliance, I should strongly recommend you to
meddle no farther in the matter, for I have my doubts about the
Honourable Dorothea, and----"

"Bah, Fred! Doubts after such a letter as that? Impossible! No, my dear
friend--your scheme is admirable--unexceptionable, and I shall certainly
act upon it. But oh--it is a weary time till July!"

"Merely a short interval of green pease and strawberries. I advise you,
however, to fix down Whaup as early as you can for the cruise."

The hint was rapidly taken. We sent for our facetious friend, ordered
supper, and in the course of a couple of tumblers, persuaded him that
his knowledge of nautical affairs was not exceeded by that of T. P.
Cooke, and that he was much deeper versed in the mysteries of
sky-scraping than Fenimore Cooper. Whaup gave in. By dint of a little
extra persuasion, I believe we might have coaxed him into a voyage for
Otaheite; and before we parted for the evening it was agreed that
Strachan should hold himself in readiness to start for the Western
Islands about the latter end of July--Whaup being responsible for the
provisions and champagne, whilst Tom pledged himself to cigars.


CHAPTER IV.

I never ascertained the exact amount of the sum which Tom handed over to
the Bailie. It must, however, have been considerable, for he took to
retrenching his expenditure, and never once dropped a hint about the ten
pounds which I was so singularly verdant as to lend him. The summer
session stole away as quickly as its predecessors, though not, in so far
as I was concerned, quite as unprofitably, for I got a couple of
Sheriff-court papers to draw in consequence of my M'Wilkin appearance.
Tom, however, was very low about himself, and affected solitude. He
would not join in any of the strawberry lunches or fish dinners so
attractive to the junior members of the bar; but frequented the
Botanical Gardens, where he might be seen any fine afternoon, stretched
upon the bank beside the pond, concocting sonnets, or inscribing the
name of Dorothea upon the monument dedicated to Linnæus.

Time, however, stole on. The last man who was going to be married got
his valedictory dinner at the close of the session. Gowns were thrown
off, wigs boxed up, and we all dispersed to the country wheresoever our
inclination might lead us. I resolved to devote the earlier part of the
vacation to the discovery of the town of Clackmannan--a place of which I
had often heard, but which no human being whom I ever encountered had
seen. Whaup was not oblivious of his promise, and Strachan clove unto
him like a limpet.

We did not meet again until September was well-nigh over. In common with
Strachan, I had adopted the resolution of changing my circuit, and
henceforth adhering to Glasgow, which, from its superior supply of
criminals, is the favourite resort of our young forensic aspirants. So I
packed my portmanteau, invoked the assistance of Saint Rollox, and
started for the balmy west.

The first man I met in George's Square was my own delightful Thomas. He
looked rather thin; was fearfully sun-burned; had on a pair of canvass
trousers most wofully bespattered with tar, and evidently had not shaved
for a fortnight.

"Why, Tom, my dear fellow!" cried I, "can this possibly be you? What the
deuce have you been doing with yourself? You look as hairy as Robinson
Crusoe."

"You should see Whaup,--he's rather worse off than Friday. We have just
landed at the Broomielaw, but I was obliged to leave Anthony in a tavern
for fear we should be mobbed in the street. I'm off by the rail to
Edinburgh, to get some decent toggery for us both. Lend me a pound-note,
will you?"

"Certainly--that's eleven, you recollect. But what's the meaning of all
this? Where is the yacht?"

"Safe--under twenty fathoms of dark blue water, at a place they call the
Sneeshanish Islands. Catch me going out again, with Anthony as
steersman!"

"No doubt he is an odd sort of Palinurus. But when did this happen?"

"Ten days ago. We were three days and nights upon the rock, with nothing
to eat except two biscuits, raw mussels and tangle!"

"Mercy on us! and how did you get off?"

"In a kelp-boat from Harris. But I haven't time for explanation just
now. Go down, like a good fellow, to the Broomielaw, No. 431--you will
find Anthony enjoying himself with beef steaks and bottled stout, in the
back parlour of the Cat and Bagpipes. I must refer you to him for the
details."

"One word more--you'll be back to the circuit?"

"Decidedly. To-morrow morning: as soon as I can get my things
together."

"And the lady--what news of her?"

The countenance of Strachan fell.

"Ah, my dear friend! I wish you had not touched upon that string--you
have set my whole frame a-jarring. No trace of her--none--none! I fear I
shall never see her more!"

"Come! don't be down-hearted. One never can tell what may happen.
Perhaps you may meet her sooner than you think."

"You are a kind-hearted fellow, Fred. But I've lost all hope. Nothing
but a dreary existence is now before me, and--but, by Jupiter, there
goes the starting bell!"

Tom vanished, like Aubrey's apparition, with a melodious twang, and a
perceptible odour of tar; and so, being determined to expiscate the
matter, I proceeded towards the Broomielaw, and in due time became
master of the locality of the Cat and Bagpipes.

"Is there a Mr Whaup here?" I inquired of Mrs M'Tavish, the landlady,
who was filling a gill-stoup at the bar.

"Here you are, old chap!" cried the hilarious voice of Anthony from an
inner apartment. "Turn to the right, steer clear of the scrubbing
brushes, and help yourself to a mouthful of Guinness."

I obeyed. Heavens, what a figure he was! His trousers were rent both at
the knees and elsewhere, and were kept together solely by means of
whip-cord. His shirt had evidently not benefited by the removal of the
excise duties upon soap, and was screened from the scrutiny of the
beholder by an extempore paletot, fabricated out of sail-cloth, without
the remotest apology for sleeves.

Anthony, however, looked well in health, and appeared to be in
tremendous spirits.

"Tip us your fin, my old coxs'un!" said he, winking at me over the rim
of an enormous pewter vessel which effectually eclipsed the lower
segment of his visage. "Blessed if I ain't as glad to see you as one of
Mother Carey's chickens in a squall."

"Come, Anthony! leave off your nautical nonsense, and talk like a man of
the world. What on earth have you and Tom Strachan been after?"

"Nothing on earth, but a good deal on sea, and a trifle on as
uncomfortable a section of basalt as ever served two unhappy buccaniers
for bed, table, and sofa. The chillness is not off me yet."

"But how did it happen?"

"Very simply: but I'll tell you all about it. It's a long story, though,
so if you please I shall top off with something hot. I'm glad you've
come, however, for I had some doubts how far this sort of original
Petersham would inspire confidence as to my credit in the bosom of the
fair M'Tavish. It's all right now, however, so here goes for my yarn."

But I shall not follow my friend through all the windings of his
discourse, varied though it certainly was, like the adventures of the
venerated Sinbad. Suffice it to say, that they were hardly out of sight
of the Cumbraes before Tom confided the whole tale of his sorrows to the
callous Anthony, who, as he expressed it, had come out for a lark, and
had no idea of rummaging the whole of the west coast and the adjacent
islands for a petticoat. Moved, however, by the pathetic entreaties of
Strachan, and, perhaps, somewhat reconciled to the quest by the dim
vision of an elopement, Anthony magnanimously waived his objections, and
the two kept cruising together in a little shell of a yacht, all round
the western Archipelago. Besides themselves, there were only a man and a
boy on board.

"It was slow work," said Anthony,--"deucedly slow. I would not have
minded the thing so much if Strachan had been reasonably sociable; but
it was rather irksome, you will allow, when, after the boy had brought
in the kettle, and we had made everything snug for the night, Master
Strachan began to maunder about the lady's eyes, and to tear his hair,
and to call himself the most miserable dog in existence. I had serious
thoughts, at one time, of leaving him ashore on Mull or Skye, and making
off direct to the Orkneys; but good-nature was always my foible, so I
went on, beating from one place to another, as though we had been
looking for the wreck of the Florida.

"I'll never take another cruise with a lover so long as I live. Tom led
me all manner of dances, and we were twice fired at from farm-houses
where he was caterwauling beneath the windows with a guitar. It seems he
had heard that flame of his sing a Spanish air at Jedburgh. Tom must
needs pick it up, and you have no idea how he pestered me. Go where we
would, he kept harping on that abominable ditty, in the hope that his
mistress might hear him; and, when I remonstrated on the absurdity of
the proceeding, he quoted the case of Blondel, and some trash out of
Uhland's ballads. Serenading on the west coast is by no means a pleasant
pastime. The nights are as raw as an anchovy, and the midges
particularly plentiful.

"Well, sir, we could find no trace of the lady after all. Strachan got
into low spirits, and I confess that I was sometimes sulky--so we had an
occasional blow-up, which by no means added to the conviviality of the
voyage. One evening, just at sundown, we entered the Sound of
Sneeshanish--an ugly place, let me tell you, at the best, but especially
to be avoided in any thing like a gale of wind. The clouds in the
horizon looked particularly threatening, and I got a little anxious, for
I knew that there were some rocks about, and not a lighthouse in the
whole of the district.

"In an hour or two it grew as dark as a wolf's throat. I could not for
the life of me make out where we were, for the Sound is very narrow in
some parts, and occasionally I thought that I could hear breakers ahead.

"'Tom,' said I, 'Tom, you lubber!--for our esteemed friend was, as
usual, lying on the deck, with a cigar in his mouth, twangling at that
eternal guitar--'take hold of the helm, will you, for a minute, while I
go down and look at the chart.'

"I was as cold as a cucumber; so, after having ascertained, as I best
could, the bearings about the Sound, I rather think I _did_ stop below
for one moment--but not longer--just to mix a glass of swizzle by way of
fortification, for I didn't expect to get to bed that night. All of a
sudden I heard a shout from the bows, bolted upon deck, and there, sure
enough, was a black object right ahead, with the surf shooting over it.

"'Luff, Tom! or we are all dead men;--Luff, I say!' shouted I. I might
as well have called to a millstone. Tom was in a kind of trance.

"'O Dorothea!' said our friend.

"'To the devil with Dorothea!' roared I, snatching the tiller from his
hand.

"'It was too late. We went smash upon the rock, with a force that sent
us headlong upon the deck, and Strachan staggered to his feet, bleeding
profusely at the proboscis.

"Down came the sail rattling about our ears, and over lurched the yacht.
I saw there was no time to lose, so I leaped at once upon the rock, and
called upon the rest to follow me. They did so, and were lucky to escape
with no more disaster than a ruffling of the cuticle on the basalt; for
in two minutes more all was over. Some of the timbers had been staved in
at the first concussion. She rapidly filled,--and down went, before my
eyes, the Caption, the tidiest little craft that ever pitched her
broadside into the hull of a Frenchman!"

"Very well told indeed," said I, "only, Anthony, it does strike me that
the last paragraph is not quite original. I've heard something like it
in my younger days, at the Adelphi. But what became of you afterwards?"

"Faith, we were in a fix, as you may easily conceive. All we could do
was to scramble up the rocks,--which, fortunately, were not too
precipitous,--until we reached a dry place, where we lay, huddled
together, until morning. When light came, we found that we were not on
the main land, but on a kind of little stack in the very centre of the
channel, without a blade of grass upon it, or the prospect of a sail in
sight. This was a nice situation for two members of the Scottish bar!
The first thing we did was to inquire into the state of provisions,
which we found to consist of a couple of biscuits, that little Jim, the
boy, happened to have about him. Of course we followed the example of
the earlier navigators, and confiscated these _pro bono publico_. We
had not a drop of alcohol among us, but, very luckily, picked up a small
keg of fresh water, which, I believe, was our salvation. Strachan did
not behave well. He wanted to keep half-a-dozen cigars to himself; but
such monstrous selfishness could not be permitted, and the rest of us
took them from him by force. I shall always blame myself for having
weakly restored to him a cheroot."

"And what followed?"

"Why, we remained three days upon the rock. Fortunately the weather was
moderate, so that we were not absolutely washed away, but for all that
it was consumedly cold of nights. The worst thing, however, was the
deplorable state of our larder. We finished the biscuits the first day,
trusting to be speedily relieved; but the sun set without a vestige of a
sail, and we supped sparingly upon tangle. Next morning we were so
ravenous that we could have eaten raw squirrels. That day we subsisted
entirely upon shell-fish, and smoked out all our cigars. On the third we
bolted two old gloves, buttons and all; and, do you know, Fred, I began
to be seriously alarmed about the boy Jim, for Strachan kept eyeing him
like an ogre, began to mutter some horrid suggestions as to the
propriety of casting lots, and execrated his own stupidity in being
unprovided with a jar of pickles."

"O Anthony--for shame!"

"Well--I'm sure he was thinking about it, if he did not say so. However,
we lunched upon a shoe, and for my own part, whenever I go upon another
voyage, I shall take the precaution of providing myself with pliable
French boots--your Kilmarnock leather is so very intolerably tough!
Towards evening, to our infinite joy, we descried a boat entering the
Sound. We shouted, as you may be sure, like demons. The Celtic
Samaritans came up, and, thanks to the kindness of Rory M'Gregor the
master, we each of us went to sleep that night with at least two gallons
of oatmeal porridge comfortably stowed beneath our belts. And that's the
whole history."

"And how do you feel after such unexampled privation?"

"Not a hair the worse. But this I know, that if ever I am caught again
on such idiotical errand as hunting for a young woman through the
Highlands, my nearest of kin are at perfect liberty to have me cognosced
without opposition."

"Ah--you are no lover, Anthony. Strachan, now, would go barefooted
through Stony Arabia for the mere chance of a casual glimpse at his
mistress."

"All I can say, my dear fellow, is, that if connubial happiness cannot
be purchased without a month's twangling on a guitar and three
consecutive suppers upon seaweed, I know at least one respectable young
barrister who is likely to die unmarried. But I say, Fred, let us have
a coach and drive up to your hotel. You can lend me a coat, I suppose,
or something of the sort, until Strachan arrives; and just be good
enough, will you, to settle with Mrs M'Tavish for the bill, for, by all
my hopes of a sheriffship, I have been thoroughly purged of my tin."

The matter may not be of any especial interest to the public; at the
same time I think it right to record the fact that Anthony Whaup owes me
seven shillings and eightpence unto this day.


CHAPTER V.

"That is all I can tell you about it," said Mr Hedger, as he handed me
the last of three indictments, with the joyful accompaniment of the
fees. "That is all I can tell you about it. If the _alibi_ will hold
water, good and well--if not, M'Closkie will be transported."

Hedger is the very best criminal agent I ever met with. There is always
a point in his cases--his precognitions are perfect, and pleading, under
such auspices, becomes a kind of realised romance.

"By the way," said he, "is there a Mr Strachan of your bar at circuit? I
have a curious communication from a prisoner who is desirous to have him
as her counsel."

"Indeed! I am glad to hear it. Mr Strachan is a particular friend of
mine, and will be here immediately. I shall be glad to introduce you. Is
it a heavy case?"

"No, but rather an odd one--a theft of money committed at the Blenheim
hotel. The woman seems a person of education, but, as she obstinately
refuses to tell me her story, I know very little more about it than is
contained in the face of the indictment."

"What is her name?"

"Why you know that is a matter not very easily ascertained. She called
herself Euphemia Saville when brought up for examination, and of course
she will be tried as such. She is well dressed, and rather pretty, but
she won't have any other counsel than Mr Strachan; and singularly
enough, she has positively forbidden me to send him a fee on the ground
that he would take it as an insult."

"I should feel particularly obliged if the whole public would take to
insulting me perpetually in that manner! But really this is an odd
history. Do you think she is acquainted with my friend?"

Hedger winked.

"I can't say," said he, "for, to tell you the truth, I know nothing
earthly about it. Only she was so extremely desirous to have him
engaged, that I thought it not a little remarkable. I hope your friend
won't take offence if I mention what the woman said?"

"Not in the least, you may be sure of that. And, _apropos_, here he
comes."

And in effect Whaup and Strachan now walked into the counsel's
apartment, demure, shaven, and well dressed--altogether two very
different-looking individuals from the tatterdemalions of yesterday.

"Good morning, Fred," cried Whaup; "Servant, Mr Hedger--lots of work
going, eh? Are the pleas nearly over yet?"

"Very nearly, I believe, Mr Whaup. Would you have the kindness to----"

"Oh, certainly," said I. "Strachan, allow me to introduce my friend Mr
Hedger, who is desirous of your professional advice."

"I say, Freddy," said Whaup, looking sulkily at the twain as they
retired to a window to consult, "what's in the wind now? Has old Hedger
got a spite at any of his clients?"

"How should I know? What do you mean?"

"Because I should rather think," said Anthony, "that in our friend
Strachan's hands the lad runs a remarkably good chance of a sea voyage
to the colonies, that's all."

"Fie for shame, Anthony! You should not bear malice."

"No more I do--but I can't forget the loss of the little Caption all
through his stupid blundering; and this morning he must needs sleep so
long that he lost the early train, and has very likely cut me out of
business for the sheer want of a pair of reputable trousers."

"Never mind--there is a good time coming."

"Which means, I suppose, that you have got the pick of the cases? Very
well: it can't be helped, so I shall even show myself in court by way of
public advertisement."

So saying, my long friend wrestled himself into his gown, adjusted his
wig knowingly upon his cranium, and rushed toward the court-room as
vehemently as though the weal of the whole criminal population of the
west depended upon his individual exertions.

"Freddy, come here, if you please," said Strachan, "this is a very
extraordinary circumstance! Do you know that this woman, Euphemia
Saville, though she wishes me to act as her counsel, has positively
refused to see me!"

"Very odd, certainly! Do you know her?"

"I never heard of the name in my life. Are you sure, Mr Hedger, that
there is no mistake?"

"Quite sure, sir. She gave me, in fact, a minute description of your
person, which perhaps I may be excused from repeating."

"Oh, I understand," said Tom, fishingly; "complimentary, I
suppose--eh?"

"Why yes, rather so," replied Hedger hesitatingly; and he cast at the
same time a glance at the limbs of my beloved friend, which convinced me
that Miss Saville's communication had, somehow or other, borne reference
to the shape of a parenthesis. "But, at all events, you may be sure she
has seen you. I really can imagine no reason for an interview. We often
have people who take the same kind of whims, and you have no idea of
their obstinacy. The best way will be to let the Crown lead its
evidence, and trust entirely to cross-examination. I shall take care, at
all events, that her appearance shall not damage her. She is well
dressed, and I don't doubt will make use of her cambric handkerchief."

"And a very useful thing that same cambric is," observed I. "Come, Tom,
my boy, pluck up courage! You have opportunity now for a grand display;
and if you can poke in something about chivalry and undefended
loveliness, you may be sure it will have an effect on the jury. There is
a strong spice of romance in the composition of the men of the Middle
Ward."

"The whole thing, however, seems to me most mysterious."

"Very; but that is surely an additional charm. We seldom find a chapter
from the Mysteries of Udolfo transferred to the records of the
Justiciary Court of Scotland."

"Well, then, I suppose it must be so. Fred, will you sit beside me at
the trial? I'm not used to this sort of thing as yet, and I possibly may
feel nervous."

"Not a bit of you. At any rate I shall be there, and of course you may
command me."

In due time the case was called. Miss Euphemia Saville ascended the trap
stair, and took her seat between a pair of policemen with exceedingly
luxuriant whiskers.

I must allow that I felt a strong curiosity about Euphemia. Her name was
peculiar; the circumstances under which she came forward were unusual;
and her predilection for Strachan was tantalising. Her appearance,
however, did little to solve the mystery. She was neatly, even elegantly
dressed in black, with a close-fitting bonnet and thick veil, which at
first effectually obscured her countenance. This, indeed, she partially
removed when called upon to plead to the indictment; but the law of no
civilised country that I know of is so savage as to prohibit the use of
a handkerchief, and the fair Saville availed herself of the privilege by
burying her countenance in cambric. I could only get a glimpse of some
beautiful black braided hair and a forehead that resembled alabaster. To
all appearance she was extremely agitated, and sobbed as she answered to
the charge.

The tender-hearted Strachan was not the sort of man to behold the
sorrows of his client without emotion. In behalf of the junior members
of the Scottish bar I will say this, that they invariably fight tooth
and nail when a pretty girl is concerned, and I have frequently heard
bursts of impassioned eloquence poured forth in defence of a pair of
bright eyes or a piquant figure, in cases where an elderly or wizened
dame would have run a strong chance of finding no Cicero by her side.
Tom accordingly approached the bar for the purpose of putting some
questions to his client, but not a word could he extract in reply.
Euphemia drew down her veil, and waved her hand with a repulsive
gesture.

"I don't know what to make of her," said Strachan; "only she seems to be
a monstrous fine woman. It is clear, however, that she has mistaken me
for somebody else. I never saw her in my life before."

"Hedger deserves great credit for the way he has got her up. Observe,
Tom, there is no finery about her; no ribbons or gaudy scarfs, which are
as unsuitable at a trial as at a funeral. Black is your only wear to
find favour in the eyes of a jury."

"True. It is a pity that so little attention is paid to the æsthetics of
criminal clothing. But here comes the first witness--Grobey, I think,
they call him--the fellow who lost the money."

Mr Grobey mounted the witness-box like a cow ascending a staircase. He
was a huge, elephantine animal of some sixteen stone, with bushy
eyebrows and a bald pate, which he ever and anon affectionately caressed
with a red and yellow bandana. Strachan started at the sound of his
voice, surveyed him wistfully for a moment, and then said to me in a
hurried whisper--

"As I live, Fred, that is the identical bagman who boned my emerald
studs at Jedburgh!"

"You don't mean to say it?"

"Fact, upon my honour! There is no mistaking his globular freetrading
nose. Would it not be possible to object to his evidence on that
ground?"

"Mercy on us! no.--Reflect--there is no conviction."

"True. But he stole them nevertheless. I'll ask him about them when I
cross."

Mr Grobey's narrative, however, as embraced in an animated dialogue with
the public prosecutor, threw some new and unexpected light upon the
matter. Grobey was a traveller in the employment of the noted house of
Barnacles, Deadeye, and Company, and perambulated the country for the
benevolent purpose of administering to deficiency of vision. In the
course of his wanderings he had arrived at the Blenheim, where, after a
light supper of fresh herrings, toasted cheese, and Edinburgh ale,
assisted, _more Bagmannorum_, by several glasses of stiff
brandy-and-water, he had retired to his apartment to sleep off the
labours of the day. Somnus, however, did not descend that night with
his usual lightness upon Grobey. On the contrary, the deity seemed
changed into a ponderous weight, which lay heavily upon the chest of the
moaning and suffocated traveller; and notwithstanding a paralysis which
appeared to have seized upon his limbs, every external object in the
apartment became visible to him as by the light of a magic lantern. He
heard his watch ticking, like a living creature, upon the dressing-table
where he had left it. His black morocco pocket-book was distinctly
visible beside the looking-glass, and two spectral boots stood up amidst
the varied shadows of the night. Grobey was very uncomfortable. He began
to entertain the horrid idea that a fiend was hovering through his
chamber.

All at once he heard the door creaking upon its hinges. There was a
slight rustling of muslin, a low sigh, and then momentary silence.
"What, in the name of John Bright, can that be?" thought the terrified
traveller; but he had not to wait long for explanation. The door opened
slowly--a female figure, arrayed from head to foot in robes of virgin
whiteness, glided in, and fixed her eyes, with an expression of deep
solemnity and menace, upon the countenance of Grobey. He lay breathless
and motionless beneath the spell. This might have lasted for about a
minute, during which time, as Grobey expressed it, his very entrails
were convulsed with fear. The apparition then moved onwards, still
keeping her eyes upon the couch. She stood for a moment near the window,
raised her arm with a monitory gesture to the sky, and then all at once
seemed to disappear as if absorbed in the watery moonshine. Grobey was
as bold a bagman as ever flanked a mare with his gig-whip, but this
awful visitation was too much. Boots, looking-glass, and table swam with
a distracting whirl before his eyes; he uttered a feeble yell, and
immediately lapsed into a swoon.

It was bright morning when he awoke. He started up, rubbed his eyes, and
endeavoured to persuade himself that it was all an illusion. To be sure
there were the boots untouched, the coat, the hat, and the portmanteau;
but where--oh where--were the watch and the plethoric pocket-book, with
its bunch of bank-notes and other minor memoranda? Gone--spirited away;
and with a shout of despair old Grobey summoned the household.

The police were straightway taken into his confidence. The tale of the
midnight apparition--of the Demon Lady--was told and listened to, at
first with somewhat of an incredulous smile; but when the landlord
stated that an unknown damosel had been sojourning for two days at the
hotel, that she had that morning vanished in a hackney-coach without
leaving any trace of her address, and that, moreover, certain spoons of
undeniable silver were amissing, Argus pricked up his ears, and after
some few preliminary inquiries, issued forth in quest of the fugitive.
Two days afterwards the fair Saville was discovered in a temperance
hotel; and although the pocket-book had disappeared, both the
recognisable notes and the watch were found in her possession. A number
of pawn-tickets, also, which were contained in her reticule, served to
collect from divers quarters a great mass of _bijouterie_, amongst which
were the Blenheim spoons.

Such was Mr Grobey's evidence as afterwards supplemented by the police.
Tom rose to cross-examine.

"Pray, Mr Grobey," said he, adjusting his gown upon his shoulders with a
very knowing and determined air, as though he intended to expose his
victim--"Pray, Mr Grobey, are you any judge of studs?"

"I ain't a racing man," replied Grobey, "but I knows an oss when I sees
it."

"Don't equivocate, sir, if you please. Recollect you are upon your
oath," said Strachan, irritated by a slight titter which followed upon
Grobey's answer. "I mean studs, sir--emerald studs for example?"

"I ain't. But the lady is," replied Grobey.

"How do you mean, sir?"

"'Cos there vos five pair on them taken out of pawn with her tickets."

"How do you know that, sir?"

"'Cos I see'd them."

"Were you at Jedburgh, sir, in the month of April last?"

"I was."

"Do you recollect seeing me there?"

"Perfectly."

"Do you remember what passed upon that occasion?"

"You was rather confluscated, I think."

There was a general laugh.

"Mr Strachan," said the judge mildly, "I am always sorry to interrupt a
young counsel, but I really cannot see the relevancy of these questions.
The court can have nothing to do with your communications with the
witness. I presume I need not take a note of these latter answers."

"Very well, my lord," said Tom, rather discomfited at being cut out of
his revenge on the bagman, "I shall ask him something else;" and he
commenced his examination in right earnest. Grobey, however, stood
steadfast to the letter of his previous testimony.

Another witness was called; and to my surprise the Scottish Vidocq
appeared. He spoke to the apprehension and the search, and also to the
character of the prisoner. In his eyes she had long been chronicled as
habit and repute a thief.

"You know the prisoner, then?" said Strachan rising.

"I do. Any time these three years."

"Under what name is she known to you?"

"Betsy Brown is her real name, but she has gone by twenty others."

"By twenty, do you say?"

"There, or thereabouts. She always flies at high game; and, being a
remarkably clever woman, she passes herself off for a lady."

"Have you ever seen her elsewhere than in Glasgow?"

"I have."

"Where?"

"At Jedburgh."

I cannot tell what impulse it was that made me twitch Strachan's gown at
this moment. It was not altogether a suspicion, but rather a
presentiment of coming danger. Strachan took the hint and changed his
line.

"Can you specify any of her other names?"

"I can. There are half-a-dozen of them here on the pawn-tickets. Shall I
read them?"

"If you please."

"One diamond ring, pledged in name of Lady Emily Delaroche. A garnet
brooch and chain--Miss Maria Mortimer. Three gold seals--Mrs Markham
Vere. A watch and three emerald studs--the Honourable Dorothea
Percy----"

There was a loud shriek from the bar, and a bustle--the prisoner had
fainted.

I looked at Strachan. He was absolutely as white as a corpse.

"My dear Tom," said I, "hadn't you better go out into the open air?"

"No!" was the firm reply; "I am here to do my duty, and I'll do it."

And in effect, the Spartan boy with the fox gnawing into his side did
not acquit himself more heroically than my friend. The case was a clear
one, no doubt, but Tom made a noble speech, and was highly complimented
by the Judge upon his ability. No sooner, however, had he finished it
than he left the Court.

I saw him two hours afterwards.

"Tom," said I, "about these emerald studs--I think I could get them back
from the Fiscal."

"Keep them to yourself. I'm off to India."

"Bah!--go down to the Highlands for a month."

Tom did so; purveyed himself a kilt; met an heiress at the Inverness
Meeting, and married her. He is now the happy father of half-a-dozen
children, and a good many of us would give a trifle for his practice.
But to this day he is as mad as a March hare if an allusion is made in
his presence to any kind of studs whatsoever.



MY COLLEGE FRIENDS.

No. III.

MR W. WELLINGTON HURST.

[_MAGA._ JANUARY 1846.]


It would probably puzzle Mr William Wellington Hurst, as much as any
man, to find out on what grounds I placed him on the list of my College
friends; for certainly our intimacy was hardly sufficient to warrant
such a liberty; and he was one of those happy individuals who would
never have suspected that it could be out of gratitude for much
amusement afforded me by sundry of his sayings and doings. But so it is;
and it happens, that while the images of many others of my
companions--very worthy good sort of fellows, whom I saw more or less of
nearly every day--have vanished from my memory, or only flit across
occasionally, like shadows, the full-length figure of Mr W. Wellington
Hurst, exactly as he turned out, after a satisfactory toilet, in the
patent boots and scarf of many colours, stands fixed there like a
daguerreotype--more faithful than flattering.

My first introduction to him was by running him down in a skiff, when I
was steering the College eight--not less to his astonishment than our
own gratification. It is (or used to be) perfectly allowable, by the
laws of the river, if, after due notice, these small craft fail to get
out of your way; but it is not very easy to effect. However, in this
instance, we went clean over him, very neatly indeed. The men helped him
into our boat, just as his own sunk from under him; and he accepted a
seat by my side in the stern-sheets, with many apologies for being so
wet, appearing considerably impressed with a sense of my importance, and
still more of my politeness. When we reached Sandford, I prescribed a
stiff tumbler of hot brandy and water, and advised him to run all the
way home, to warm himself, and avoid catching cold; and, from that time,
I believe he always looked upon me as a benefactor. The claim, on my
part, certainly rested on a very small foundation originally; it was
strengthened afterwards by a less questionable act of patronage. Like
many other under-graduates of every man's acquaintance in those days,
Hurst laboured under the delusion, that holding two sets of reins in a
very confused manner, and flourishing a long whip, was driving; and that
to get twenty miles out of Oxford in a "team," without an upset, or an
imposition from the proctor, was an _opus operatum_ of the highest
possible merit. To do him justice, he laboured diligently in the only
exercise which he seemed to consider strictly academical--he spent an
hour every morning, standing upon a chair, "catching flies," as he
called it, and occasionally flicking his scout, with a tandem whip; and
practised incessantly upon tin horns of all lengths, with more zeal than
melody, until he got the erysipelas in his lower lip, and a hint of
rustication from the tutors. Yet he was more ambitious than successful.
His reputation on the road grew worse and worse every day. He had a
knack of shaving turnpike gates, and cutting round corners on one wheel,
and getting his horses into every possible figure but a straight line,
which made every mile got over without an accident almost a miracle. At
last, after taking a four-in-hand over a narrow bridge, at the bottom of
a hill, pretty much in the Olympic fashion--all four abreast--men got
rather shy of any expeditions of the kind in his company. There was
little credit in it, and a good deal of danger. First, he was reduced to
soliciting the company of freshmen, who were flattered by any proposal
that sounded _fast_. But they, too, grew shy, after one or two ventures;
and poor Hurst soon found a difficulty in getting a companion at all. He
was a liberal fellow enough, and not pushed for a guinea when his
darling science was concerned: so he used to offer to "sport the team"
himself; but even when he condescended to the additional self-devotion
of "standing a dinner and champagne," he found that the closest
calculators among his sporting acquaintance had as much regard for their
necks as their pockets.

To this inglorious position was his fame as a charioteer reduced, when
Horace Leicester and myself, early in his third term, had determined
somewhat suddenly to go to see a steeple-chase about twelve miles off,
where Leicester had some attraction besides the horses, in the shape of
a pretty cousin; (_two_, he told me, and bribed me with the promise of
an introduction to "the other," but she did not answer to sample at
all.) We had engaged a very nice mare and stanhope, which we knew we
could depend upon, when, the day before the race, the chestnut was
declared lame, and not a presentable four-legged animal was to be hired
in Oxford. Hurst had engaged his favourite pair of greys (which would
really go very well with any other driver) a week beforehand, but had
been canvassing the last batch of freshmen in vain for an occupant of
the vacant seat. A huge red-headed north-country man, who had never seen
a tandem in his life, but who, as far as pluck went, would have ridden
postilion to Medea's dragons, was listening with some apparent
indecision to Hurst's eloquence upon the delights of driving, just as we
came up after a last unsuccessful search through the livery stables; and
the pair were proceeding out of college arm in arm, probably to look at
the greys, when Leicester, to my amusement, stepped up with--"Hurst,
who's going with you to B----?"

"I--why, I hardly know yet; I think Sands here will, if"----

"I'll go with you then, if you like; and if you've got a cart,[1]
Hawthorne can come too, and it will be very jolly."

  [1] "_Carts_" of that day held three.

If the university had announced their intention of creating him a B.A.
by diploma, without examination, Hurst could hardly have looked more
surprised and delighted. Leicester, it should be borne in mind, was one
of the most popular men in the college--a sort of _arbiter elegantiarum_
in the best set. Hurst knew very little of him, but was no doubt highly
flattered by his proposal. From coaxing freshmen to come out by the
bribe of paying all expenses, to driving to B---- steeple-chase side by
side with Horace (my modesty forbids me to include myself), was a step
at once from the ridiculous to the sublime of tandemizing. For this
advancement in life, he always, I fancy, considered himself indebted to
me, as I had originally introduced him to Leicester's acquaintance; and
when we both accepted an invitation, which he delivered himself of with
some hesitation, to breakfast in his rooms on the morning of the
expedition, his joy and gratitude appeared to know no bounds. It is not
usual, be it remembered, for a junior man in college to ask a senior to
a party from whom he has never received an invitation himself; but
hunting and tandem-driving are apt occasionally to set ordinary
etiquette at defiance. "Don't ask a lot of men, that's all--there's a
good fellow," said Horace, whose good-natured smile, and off-hand and
really winning manner, enabled him to carry off, occasionally, a degree
of impudence which would not have been tolerated from others--"I hate a
large formal breakfast party of all things; it disgusts me to see a
score of men jostling each other over tough beefsteaks."

"I asked Sands yesterday," apologised Hurst. "I thought perhaps he would
come out with me; but I daresay I can put him off, if"----

"Oh! on no account whatever; you mean the carroty freshman I saw you
with just now? Have him by all means; it will be quite refreshing to
meet any man so regularly green. So there will be just four of us; eight
o'clock, I suppose? it won't do to be much later."

And Horace walked off, having thus arranged matters to his own
satisfaction and his host's. I was an interested party in the business,
however, and had my own terms to make. "You've disposed of me rather
coolly," said I; "you don't surely imagine that at my time of life I'm
going to trust my neck to that fellow's abominable driving?"

"Make your mind easy, Frank; William Wellington sha'n't finger a
riband."

"Nonsense, Leicester; you can't treat a man in that kind of way--not to
let him drive his own team. Hurst _is_ a bit of an ass, certainly; but
you can't with any decency first ask a man for a seat, and then refuse
to give him up the reins."

"Am I in the habit, sir, of doing things in the very rude and
ungentlemanly style you insinuate?" And Horace looked at me with mock
dignity for a second or two, and then burst into a laugh. "Leave it to
me, Hawthorne, and I'll manage it to the satisfaction of all parties:
I'll promise you that Hurst shall have a capital day's fun, and your
valuable neck shall be as safe as if you were tried by a Welsh jury."

With this indefinite assurance I was obliged to be content; and
accordingly, at half-past eight the next morning, after a very correct
breakfast, we mounted the tandem-cart at the college back-gates, got the
leader hitched on, as usual, a mile out of the city, for fear of
proctors, and were bowling merrily along, in the slight frost of an
autumn morning, towards B----. Leicester took the driving first, by
Hurst's special request, after one or two polite but faint refusals, the
latter sitting by his side; while I occupied, for the present, the queer
little box which in those days was stuck on behind, (the more modern
carts, which hold four, are an improvement introduced into the
University since my driving days). With wonderful gravity and importance
did Leicester commence his lectures on the whip to his admiring
companion: I almost think he began in the approved style, with a slight
allusion to the Roman _biga_, and deduced the progress of the noble
science from Ericthonius down to "Peyton and Ward." I have a lively
recollection of a comparison between Automedon of the Homeric times, and
"Black Will" of Oxford celebrity--the latter being decided as only
likely to be less immortal, because there was no Homer among the
contemporary under-graduates. A good deal was lost to me, no doubt, from
my position behind; but Hurst seemed to suck it all in with every
disposition to be edified. From the history of his subject, Horace
proceeded, in due course, to the theory, from theory to facts, from
facts to illustrations. In the practical department, Horace, I suspect,
like many other lecturers, was on his weakest ground; for his own
driving partook of the general under-graduate character.

"You throw the lash out so--you see--and bring it back sharp, so--no,
not _so_ exactly--so--hang the thing, I can't do it now; but that's the
principle, you understand--and then you take up your double thong,
so--pshaw, I did it very well just now--to put it into the wheeler,
so--ah, I missed it then, but that's the way to do it."

He put me considerably in mind of a certain professor of chemistry,
whose lectures on light and heat I once was rash enough to attend, who,
after a long dry disquisition which had nearly put us all to sleep, used
to arouse our attention to the "beautiful effects" produced by certain
combinations, which he would proceed to illustrate, as he said, by a
"little experiment." But, somehow or other, these little experiments
always, or nearly always, failed: and after the room had been darkened,
perhaps, for five minutes or so, in order to give the exhibition full
effect, the result would be, a _fizz_ or two, a faint blue light, and a
stink, varying according to circumstances, but always abominable. "It's
very odd, John," the discomfited operator used to exclaim to his
assistant; "very odd; and we succeeded so well this morning, too: it's
most unaccountable: I'm really very sorry, gentlemen, but I can assure
you, this very same experiment we tried to-day with the most beautiful
result; didn't we, John?" "We did, sir," was John's invariably dutiful
reply; and so the audience took John's word for it, and the experiment
was considered to have been, virtually, successful.

So we rattled on to the ground: Leicester occasionally putting the reins
into his companion's hand, teaching him to perform some impossible
movement with his third finger, and directing his attention to
non-existent flies, which he professed to remove from the leader, out
of sheer compassion, with the point of the whip.

"You are sure you wouldn't like to take the reins now? Well, you'll
drive home then, of course? Hawthorne, will you try your hand now?
Hurst's going to take up the tooling when we come back."

"No, thank you," said I; "I won't interfere with either of your
performances."--"And if Hurst does drive home," was my mental
determination, expressed to Leicester as far as a nod could do it, "I'll
walk."

There was no difficulty in finding out the localities: the field in
which the winning-flag was fixed was not far from the turnpike road, and
conspicuous enough by the crowd already there collected. Of course,
pretty nearly all the sporting characters among the gownsmen were there,
the distance from the University being so trifling. Mounted on that
seedy description of animal peculiar to Oxford livery-stables, which can
never by any possibility be mistaken for anything but a hired affair,
but will generally go all day, and scramble through almost anything;
with showily mounted jockey-whips in their hands, bad cigars (at two
guineas a-pound) in their mouths, bright blue scarfs, or something
equivalent, round their necks--their neat white cords and tops (things
which they _did_ turn out well in Oxford) being the only really
sportsmanlike article about them; flattering themselves they looked
exceedingly knowing, and, in nine cases out of ten, being deceived
therein most lamentably; clustered together in groups of four or five,
discussing the merits of the horses, or listening, as to an oracle, to
the opinion of some Oxford horse-dealer, delivered with insolent
familiarity--here were the men who drank out of a fox's head, and
recounted imaginary runs with the Heythrop. Happy was he amongst them,
and a positive hero for the day, who could boast a speaking acquaintance
with any of those anomalous individuals, at present enshrouded in
great-coats, but soon to appear in all the varieties of jockey costume,
known by the style and title of "gentlemen riders;" who could point out,
confidentially, to his admiring companions, "Jack B----," and "Little
M----," and announce, from authority, how many ounces under weight one
was this morning, and how many blankets were put upon the other the
night before, to enable him to come to the scales at all. Here and
there, more plainly dressed, moving about quickly on their own
thorough-breds, or talking to some neighbouring squire who knew the
ground, were the few really sporting men belonging to the University;
who kept hunters in Oxford, simply because they were used to keep them
at home, and had been brought up to look upon fox-hunting as their
future vocation. Lolling on their saddles, probably voting it all a
bore, were two or three tufts, and their "tail;" and stuck into all
sorts of vehicles, lawful and unlawful, buggies, drags, and tandems,
were that ignoble herd, who, like myself, had come to the steeple-chase,
just because it was the most convenient idleness at hand, and because
other men were going. There were all sorts of people there besides, of
course: carriages of all grades of pretension, containing pretty bonnets
and ugly faces, in the usual proportion; "all the beauty and fashion of
the neighbourhood," nevertheless, as the county paper assured us; and as
I may venture to add, from personal observation, a very fair share of
its disreputability and blackguardism besides.

After wandering for a short time among these various groups, Leicester
halted us at last in front of one of those old-fashioned
respectable-looking barouches, which one now so seldom sees, in which
were seated a party, who turned out to consist of an uncle and aunt, and
the pair of cousins before alluded to. Hurst and I were duly introduced;
a ceremony which, for my own part, I could have very readily excused,
when I discovered that the only pair of eyes in the party worth
mentioning bestowed their glances almost exclusively on Horace, and any
attempt at cutting into the conversation in that quarter was as
hopeless, apparently, as ungracious. Our friend's taste in the article
of cousins was undeniably correct; Flora Leicester was a most desirable
person to have for a cousin; very pretty, very good-humoured, and (I am
sure she was, though I pretend to no experience of the fact) very
affectionate. If one could have put in any claim of kindred, even in the
third or fourth degree, it would have been a case in which to stickle
hard for the full privileges of relationship. As matters stood, it was
trying enough to the sensibilities of us unfortunate bystanders, whose
cousins were either ugly or at a distance; for the rest of our new
acquaintances were not interesting. The younger sister was shy and
insipid; the squire like ninety-nine squires in every hundred; and the
lady-mother in a perpetual state of real or affected nervous agitation,
to which her own family were happily insensible, but which taxed a
stranger's polite sympathies pretty heavily. Though constantly in the
habit, as she assured me, of accompanying her husband to race-courses,
and enjoying the sport, she was always on the look-out for an accident,
and was always having, as she said, narrow escapes; some indeed so very
narrow, that, according to her own account, they ought to have had, by
every rule of probability, fatal terminations. In fact, her tone might
have led one to believe that she looked upon herself as an ill-used
woman in getting off so easily--at least she was exceedingly angry when
the younger daughter ventured to remark, _en pendant_ to one of her most
thrilling adventures, that "there was no great danger of an upset when
the wheel stuck fast." Not content with putting her head out of the
carriage every five minutes, to see if her own well-trained bays were
standing quiet, as they always did, there was not a restive horse or
awkward rider on the ground but attracted the good lady's ever watchful
sense of danger. "He'll be thrown! I'm sure he will! foolish man, why
don't he get off!" "Oh, oh! there they go! they're off, those horrid
horses! they'll never stop 'em!" Such were the interjections,
accompanied with extraordinary shudderings and drawings of the breath,
with which Mrs John Leicester, her eyes fixed on some distant point,
occasionally broke in upon the general conversation, sometimes with a
vehemence that startled even her nephew and eldest daughter, though, to
do them justice, they paid very little attention to any of us.

Just as I was meditating something desperate, in order to relieve myself
from the office of soother-general of Mrs Leicester's imaginary terrors,
and to bring Flora's sunny face once more within my line of vision (she
had been turning the back of her bonnet upon me perseveringly for the
last ten minutes), a general commotion gave us notice that the horses
were started, and the race begun. The hill on which we were stationed
was close to the winning-post, and commanded a view of pretty nearly the
whole ground from the start. The race was, I suppose, pretty nearly
like other steeple-chases, and there is the less need for me to describe
it, because a very full and particular account appeared in the _Bell's
Life_ next ensuing. The principal impressions which remain on my mind,
are of a very smart gentleman in black and crimson, mounted on a very
powerful bay, who seemed as if he had been taking it easy, who came in
first, and after having been sufficiently admired by an innocent public,
myself among the number, as the winner, turned out to have gone on the
right hand instead of the left of some flag or other, and to have lost
the race accordingly; and of a very dirty-looking person, who arrived
some minute or two afterwards without a cap, whose jacket was green and
his horse grey, so far as the mud left any colour visible, and who, to
the great disappointment of the ladies especially, turned out to be the
real hero after all.

We had made arrangements to have an independent beefsteak together after
the race, in preference to joining the sporting ordinary announced as
usual on such occasions; but the squire insisted on Leicester bringing
us both to dine with his party at five. After a few modest and
conscientious scruples on my part, at intruding on the hospitality of
comparative strangers, and a strong private remonstrance from Hurst, on
the impropriety of sitting down to dinner with ladies in a surtout and
white cords, we accepted the invitation, and betook ourselves to kill
the intervening hour or so as we best could.

"Well, Horace," said I, as Hurst went off to make his apology for a
toilette--"how are you going to settle about the driving home?"

"Oh! never fear; I'll manage it: I have just seen Miller and Fane;
they've got a drag over here, and there's lots of room inside; so
they've promised to take Hurst home with them, if we can only manage to
leave him behind: they are going to dine here, and are sure not to go
home till late; and we must be off early, you know, because I have some
men coming to supper; so we'll leave our friend behind, somehow or
other. A painful necessity, I admit; but it must be done, even if I have
to lock him up in the stable."

Leicester seemed to have more confidence in his own resources than I
had; but he was in too great a state of excitement to listen to any
demurrers of mine on the point, and hurried us off to join his friends.
Ushered into the drawing-room A.1. of the Saracen's Head, we found _la
bella_ Flora awaiting us alone, the rest of the family being not as yet
visible. There was not the slightest necessity for inquiring whether she
felt fatigued, for she was looking even more lovely than in the morning;
or whether she had been amused or not, for if the steeple-chase had not
delighted her, something else had, for there was a radiant smile on her
face which could not be mistaken. Hurst was cut short rather abruptly in
a speech which appeared tending towards a compliment, by Leicester's
inquiring--"My good fellow, have you seen the horses fed?"

"No, upon my word," said Hurst, "I"----

"Well, I have then; but I wish you would just step across the yard, and
see if that stupid ostler has rubbed them dry, as I told him. You
understand those things, I know, Hurst--the fellows won't humbug you
very easily; as to Hawthorne, I wouldn't trust him to see to anything of
the sort. Flora here knows more about a horse than he does."

Any compliment to Hurst's acuteness in the matter of horse-flesh was
sure to have its effect, and he walked off with an air of some
importance to discharge his commission.

"Now, then," said Horace eagerly, "we have got rid of him for ten
minutes, which was all I wanted; if you please, Flora dear, we must have
your cleverness to help us in a little difficulty."

"Indeed!" said Miss Leicester, colouring a little, as her cousin, in his
eagerness, seized her hand in both of his--"what scrape have you got
into now, Horace, and how can I possibly help you?"

"Oh, I want you to hit upon some plan for keeping that fellow Hurst here
after we are gone."

"Upon my word!"

"Stay; you don't know what I mean. I'll tell you why--if he drives home
to Oxford, he'll infallibly upset us; and drive he must if he goes home
with us, because, in fact, the team is his, and I drove them all the way
here, and it's his turn back, you see."

"Then why, in the multitude of absurdities which you Oxonians
perpetrate--I beg your pardon, Mr Hawthorne--but why need you have come
out in a tandem at all, with a man who can't drive?"

"Simply, Flora, because I had no other way of coming at all."

"It was very absurd in us, Miss Leicester, I allow," said I, "but you
know what an attraction a steeple-chase is, to your cousin especially;
and after having made up his mind to come--altogether, you see, it would
have been a disappointment"--(to all parties, I had a mind to add, but I
thought the balance was on my side without it.)

"After all," said Horace, "I shouldn't care a straw to run the chance,
as far as I am concerned. I dare say the horses will go home straight
enough, if he'll only let them: or if he wouldn't, I shouldn't mind
knocking him off the box at once--by accident; but Frank here is rather
particular, and I promised him I would not let Hurst drive. I thought
once, if we had dined by ourselves, of persuading him he was drunk, and
sending him home in a fly; but I am afraid, as matters stand, that plea
is hardly practicable."

"Could I persuade him to let you or Mr Hawthorne drive, do you think?"

Horace looked at her as if he thought, as I dare say he did, that his
cousin Flora could, if she were so minded, persuade a man to do
anything; so I was compelled, somewhat at the expense of my reputation
for gallantry, to assure them both, that if Ulysses of old, among his
various arts and accomplishments, had piqued himself upon his
tandem-driving, his vanity would have stopped his ears effectually, and
the Syren might have sung herself hoarse before he would have given up
the reins.

"I'll give the Boots half-a-crown to steal his hat," said Horace, "and
start while he is looking for it."

"Stay," said his cousin; "I dare say it may be managed." But I thought
she looked disappointed. "Did you know we were all going to the
B---- theatre to-night?"

"No! really! what fun!"

"No fun for you; for you must start early, as you said just now. The
owners of the horses here patronise a play, and they have made papa
promise to go, and so we must, I suppose, and"----

"Oh! we'll all go, of course," said Horace decidedly.--"You'll stay and
go, won't you, Hawthorne?"

"You forget your supper party," said I.

"Oh! hang it, they'll take care of themselves, so long as the supper's
there; they won't miss me much."

"Didn't I hear something of your being confined to college after nine?"

"Ah, yes; I believe I am--but it won't matter much for once; I'll call
on the dean to-morrow, and explain."

"No, no, Horace, that won't do; you and Mr Hawthorne must go home like
good boys," said Flora, with a smile only half as merry as usual, "and
Mary and I will persuade Mr Hurst to stay and go to the theatre with
us."

"Oh! confound it!"--Horace began.

"Hush! here comes papa; remember this is my arrangement; you ought to be
very much obliged, instead of beginning to swear in that way; I'm sure
Mr Hawthorne is very grateful to me for taking so much interest in the
question of his breaking his neck, if you are not. Oh! papa," she
continued, "do you know that we shall lose all our beaux to-night; they
have some horrid supper party to go back to, and we shall have to go to
the play by ourselves!"

Most of the Squire's sympathies were at this moment absorbed in the fact
that dinner was already four minutes late, so that he had less to spare
for his daughter's disappointment than Mrs Leicester, who on her arrival
took up the lamentation with all her heart. She attacked her nephew at
once upon the subject, whose replies were at first wavering and evasive,
till he caught Flora's eye, and then he answered with a dogged sort of
resolution, exceedingly amusing to me who understood his position, and
at last got quite cross with his aunt for persisting in her entreaties.
I declared, for my part, that I was dependent on Horace's movements;
that, if I could possibly have anticipated the delightful evening which
had awaited us, every other arrangement should have given way, &c. &c.;
when Hurst's reappearance turned the whole force of Mrs Leicester's
persuasions upon him, backed, too, as she was by both her daughters.
"Won't _you_ stay, Mr Hurst? Must you go too? Will you be so shabby as
to leave us?" How could any man stand it? William Wellington Hurst could
not, it was very plain. At first he looked astonished; wondered why on
earth we couldn't all stay; then protested he couldn't think of letting
us go home by ourselves; a piece of self-devotion which we at once
desired might not be thought of; then hesitated--he was meditating, no
doubt, on the delight of driving--how was he to get home? the inglorious
occupant of the inside of a drag; or the solitary tenant of a fly
(though I suggested he might drive that if he pleased); couldn't
Leicester go home, and I and he follow together? I put in a decided
negative; he looked from Mrs Leicester's anxious face to Flora's, and
surrendered at discretion. We were to start at eight precisely in the
tandem, and Miller and his party, who were sure to wait for the play,
were to pick up Mr Wellington Hurst as a supernumerary passenger at some
hour unknown. And so we went to dinner. Mrs Leicester marched off in
triumph with her new capture, as if fearful he might give her the slip
after all, and committed Flora to my custody. I was charitable enough,
however, in consideration of all circumstances, to give up my right of
sitting next to her to Horace, and established myself on the other side
of the table, between Mrs Leicester and her younger daughter; and a hard
post I had of it. Mary would not talk at all, and her mamma would do
nothing else; and she was one of those pertinacious talkers, too, who,
not content with running on themselves, and leaving you to put in an
occasional interjection, inflict upon you a cross-examination in its
severest form, and insist upon a definite and rational answer to every
question. However, availing myself of those legitimate qualifications of
a witness, an unlimited amount of impudence, and a determination not to
criminate myself, I got on pretty tolerably. Who did I think her
daughter Flora like? I took the opportunity of diligently examining that
young lady's features for about four minutes--not in the least to her
confusion, for she scarcely honoured me with a glance the whole
time--and then declared the resemblance to mamma quite startling. Mary?
Oh, her father's eyes decidedly; upon which the squire, whose pet she
appeared to be--I suppose it was the contrast between her quietness and
Mrs Leicester's incessant fidgetting that was so delightful--laughed,
and took wine with me. Then she took up the subject of my private tastes
and habits. Was I fond of riding? Yes. Driving? Pretty well. Reading?
Very. Then she considerately hoped that I did not read much by
candle-light--above all by an oil-lamp--it was very injurious. I assured
her that I would be cautious for the future. Then she offered me a
receipt for eye-water, in case I suffered from weakness arising from
over-exertion of those organs;--declined, with thanks. Hoped I did not
read above twelve hours a-day; some young men, she had heard, read
sixteen, which she considered as really inconsistent with a due regard
to health. I assured her that our sentiments on that point perfectly
coincided, and that I had no tendency to excesses of that kind. At last
she began to institute inquiries about certain under-graduates with
whose families she was acquainted; and the two or three names which I
recognised being hunting men, I referred her to Hurst as quite _au fait_
in the sporting circles of Oxford, and succeeded in hooking them into a
conversation which effectually relieved me.

Leicester, as I could overhear, had been still rather rebellious against
going home before the play was over, and was insisting that his being
in college by nine was not really material; nor did he appear
over-pleased, when, in answer to an appeal from Flora, I said plainly,
that the consequences of his "knocking in" late, when under sentence of
strict confinement to the regular hour, might not be pleasant--a fact,
however, which he himself, though with a very bad grace, was compelled
to admit.

At last the time arrived for our party to separate: Horace and I to
return to Oxford, and the others to adjourn to see _Richard the Third_
performed at the B---- theatre, under the distinguished patronage of the
members of the H---- Hunt. It was a beautiful moonlight night, and as
Hurst accompanied us to the stable-yard to "start us," as he
complacently phrased it, it was clear that he was suffering, like a
great many unfortunate individuals in public and private life, under an
overweening sense of his own importance. "You'll have an uncommon
pleasant drive of it; upon my word you will," he remarked; "it wouldn't
do for me to say I would not stay, you know, as Miss Leicester--Mrs
Leicester, that is--seemed to make such a point of it; but really"----

"Oh, come, Hurst," said I, "don't pretend to say you've made any
sacrifice in the matter; I know you are quite delighted; I'm sure I
should have liked to stay of all things, only it would have been uncivil
to our friend here to send him home by himself from his own party."

"Oh! hang it, I don't mean to call it a sacrifice; I have no doubt I
shall have a very pleasant evening; only I wish we could all have
stayed, and driven home together afterwards."

"You may keep Hawthorne with you now, if you like," said Horace, who was
not in the best of tempers; "I can take the horses home myself."

"No, no, that would be hardly fair," said I.

"Oh! no--off with you both," said Hurst; "stay, Leicester, you'll find
the grey go more pleasantly if you drive him from the cheek; I'll alter
it in a second."

"Have the goodness just to let them alone, my good fellow; as I'm to
drive, I prefer putting them my own way, if you have no objection."

"Well, as you please; good-night."

"Miller's coming to my rooms when he gets home; if you like to look in
with him, you'll find some supper, I dare say."

Horace continued rather sulky for the first few miles, and only opened
to anathematise, briefly but comprehensively, steeple-chases, tandems,
deans and tutors, and "fellows like Hurst." I thought it best to let him
cool down a little; so, after this ebullition, we rattled on in silence
as long as his first cigar lasted.

"Come," said I, as I gave him a light, "we got rid of our friend's
company pretty cleverly, thanks to your cousin."

"Ay, I told you I'd take care of that; ha, ha! poor Hurst! he little
bargained, when he ordered his team, how precious little driving he was
to get out of it; a strong instance of the vanity of human expectations.
I wish him joy of it, stuck up in an old barn, as I suppose he is by
this time, gaping at a set of strolling players; how Flora will laugh at
him! I really shouldn't wonder if she were to tell him, before the
evening is over, how nicely he has been humbugged, just for the fun of
it!"

"At all events," said I, "I think we must have a laugh at him to-night
when he comes home; though he's such a good-tempered fellow, it's rather
a shame, too."

It was very plain, however, that it was not quite such a good joke to
Master Horace himself as he was trying to make out; and that, in point
of fact, he would have considerably preferred being seated, as Hurst
probably was at that moment, by his pretty cousin's side in the B----
theatre, wherever and whatever that might chance to be (even with the
full expectation of being laughed at afterwards), to holding the reins
of the best team that ever was turned out of Oxford.

We reached Oxford just in time to hear the first stroke of "Old Tom." By
the time I joined Leicester in his rooms, supper was ready, and most of
the party assembled. The sport of the day was duly discussed; those who
knew least about such matters being proportionately the most noisy and
positive in giving their opinions. One young hero of eighteen, fresh
from Winchester, in all the importance of a probationary Fellow of New
College, explained for our benefit, by the help of the forks and
salt-cellars, the line which the horses undoubtedly ought to have taken,
and which they did not take; until one of his old schoolfellows, who was
present, was provoked to treat us to an anecdote of the young
gentleman's first appearance in the hunting-field--no longer ago than
the last term--when he mistook the little rough Scotch terrier that
always accompanied ----'s pack for the fox, and tally-ho'd him so
lustily as to draw upon himself sundry very energetic, but not very
complimentary, remarks from the well-known master of the hounds. By
degrees Leicester recovered his usual good-humour; and supper passed
over, and several songs had been sung with the usual amount of applause
(except one very sentimental one which had no chorus), and we had got
pretty deep into punch and politics, without Hurst's name having once
been mentioned by either of us. A knock at the oak, and in walked Fane.

"So you're come back at last?" said Horace. "Sit down, if you can find
room. Allow me to introduce your left-hand neighbour--Powell of
Merton,--Fane, one of our brightest ornaments; quite the _spes gregis_
we consider him; passed his little go, and started a pink only last
week; give him a glass of punch. Perhaps you are not aware we've been
drinking your health. But, by the way, Fane, where's our friend
Wellington?"

"Who?" said Fane; "what on earth are you talking about?"

"Wellington Hurst; didn't _you_ bring him home with you?"

"Certainly not; didn't you bring him home?"

"No; Miller promised me he should have a seat inside your drag, because
we could not wait for him; did you stay to the play?"

"Yes, and capital fun it was; by the way, the last time I saw your
friend Hurst was mounted up in a red baise place that was railed off for
the patrons and patronesses, as they called them; there he was in the
front row, doing the civil to a very odd-looking old dowager in bright
blue velvet, with a neck like an ostrich."

"Thank you," said Leicester, "that's my aunt."

"Well, on that ground, we'll drink her health," said Fane, whose
coolness was proverbial. "There was Hurst, however, sitting between her
and an uncommonly pretty girl, with dark hair and eyes, dressed in--let
me see"----

"Never mind; it was one of my cousins, I suppose," interposed Horace,
who was engaged in lighting a cigar at the candle, apparently with more
zeal than success.

"Well, we'll drink _her_ health for her own sake, if you have no
particular objection. I've no doubt the rest of the company will take my
word for her being the prettiest girl on the ground to-day; Hurst would
second me if he were here, for I never saw a man making love more
decidedly in my life."

"Stuff!" said Horace, pitching his cigar into the fire; "pass that
punch."

"What! jealous, Leicester?" said two or three of the party--"preserved
ground, eh?"

"Not at all, not at all," said Horace, trying with a very bad grace to
laugh off his evident annoyance; "at all events, I don't consider Hurst
a very formidable poacher; but what I want to know is, how he didn't
come home with Miller and your party?"

"Miller said he was coming up directly, so you can ask him; I really
heard nothing of it. Hark, there are steps coming up the staircase now."

It proved to be Miller himself, followed by the under-porter, a
good-tempered fellow, who was the factotum of the under-graduates at
late hours, when the ordinary staff of servants had left college for the
night.

"How are you, Leicester?" said he, as he walked straight to the little
pantry, or "scouts' room," immediately opposite the door, which forms
part of the usual suite of college apartments; "come here, Bob."

"Where's Hurst?" was Horace's impatient query.

"Wait a bit," replied Miller from inside, where he was rattling the
plates in the course of investigating the remains of the supper--he was
not the man to go to bed supperless after a twelve miles' drive. "Here,
Bob," he continued, as he emerged at last with a cold fowl--"take this
fellow down with you, and grill him in no time; here's a lump of
butter--and Harvey's sauce--and--where do you keep the pickled
mushrooms, Leicester? here they are--make a little gravy; and here,
Bob--it's a cold night--here's a glass of wine; now you'll drink Mr
Leicester's health, and vanish."

Bob drank the toast audibly, floored his tumbler of port at two gulps,
and departed.

"Now," said Horace, "do just tell me--what _is_ become of Hurst? how
didn't you bring him home?"

"Confound it!" said Miller, as he looked into all the jugs--"no whisky
punch?"

"Oh, really I forgot it; here's bishop, and that brandy punch is very
good. But how didn't he come home with you?"

"Forgot it!" soliloquised Miller pathetically.

"Forgot it? how the deuce came you to forget it? and how will he come
now?" rejoined Horace.

"How came _you_ to forget it? I was talking about the whisky punch,"
said Miller, as we all roared with laughter. "I couldn't bring Hurst,
you know, if he wouldn't come. He left the playhouse even before we did,
with some ladies--and we came away before it was over--so I sent up to
tell him we were going to start in ten minutes, and had a place for him;
and the Boots came down and said they had just had supper in, and the
gentleman could not possibly come just yet. Well, I sent up again, just
as we were ready harnessed, and then he threatened to kick Boots down
stairs."

"What a puppy!" said Horace.

"I don't quite agree with you there: I don't pretend to much sentiment
myself, as you are all aware; but with a lady _and_ a supper in the
case, I should feel perfectly justified in kicking down stairs any Boots
that ever wore shoes, if he hinted at my moving prematurely."

Miller's unusual enthusiasm amused us all except Horace. "Gad," said he,
at last, "I hope he won't be able to get home to-night at all!" In this
friendly wish he was doomed to be disappointed. It was now long past
twelve o'clock; the out-college members of the party had all taken their
leave; Miller and Fane, having finished their grilled chicken at a
little table in the corner, had now drawn round the fire with the three
or four of us who remained, and there was a debate as to the expediency
of brewing more punch, when we heard a running step in the Quadrangle,
which presently began to ascend the staircase in company with a not very
melodious voice, warbling in a style which bespoke the owner's high
state of satisfaction.

"Hush! that's Hurst to a certainty!"

     "Queen of my soul, whose starlike eyes
     Are all the light I seek"----

(Here came an audible stumble, as if our friend were beginning his way
down again involuntarily by half-a-dozen steps at a time.) "Hallo!
Leicester! just lend us a candle, will you? The lamp is gone out, and
it's as dark as pitch; I've dropped my hat."

"Open the door, somebody," said Horace; and Hurst was admitted. He
looked rather confused at first, certainly; for the sudden transition
from outer darkness into a small room lighted by a dozen wax candles
made him blink, and our first greeting consisting of "ha--ha's" in
different keys, was perhaps somewhat embarrassing; but he recovered
himself in a second.

"Well," said he, "how are you all? glad you got home safe, Hawthorne;
hope I didn't keep you waiting, Miller? you got the start of me, all of
you, coming home; but really I spent an uncommon jolly evening."

"Glad to hear it," said Leicester, with a wink to us.

"Yes;--'pon my life; I don't know when I ever spent so pleasant a one;"
and, with a sort of chuckle to himself, Hurst filled a glass of punch.

"What did you think of _Richard the Third_?" said I.

"Oh! hang the play! there might have been six Richards in the field for
all I can say: I was better engaged."

"Ay," said Fane, "I rather fancy you were."

"We had a very pleasant drive home," said I, willing to effect a
diversion in favour of Leicester, who was puffing desperately at his
cigar in a savage kind of silence;--"and a capital supper afterwards; I
wish you had been with us."

"And I had a very jolly drive too: I got a gig, and galloped nearly all
the way; and a very good supper, too, before I started; but I won't
return your compliment; we were a very snug party without you. Upon my
word, Leicester, your eldest cousin is one of the very nicest girls I
ever met: the sort of person you get acquainted with at once, and so
very lively and good-humoured--no nonsense about her."

"I'll make a point of letting her know your good opinion," replied
Horace, in a tone conveying pretty plainly a rebuke of such presumption.
But it was lost upon Hurst.

"Probably you need not trouble yourself," said Fane: "I dare say he has
let her know it himself already."

"No--really no"--said Hurst, as if deprecating anything so decided; "but
Miss Leicester is a _very_ nice girl; clever, I should say, decidedly;
there's a shade of--one can hardly call it rusticity--about her manner;
but I like it, myself--I like it."

"Do you?"--said Horace, very drily.

"Oh! a season in London would take all that off." And Hurst began to
quaver again--

     "Queen of my soul, whose"--

"I'll tell you what," said Horace, rising, and standing with his back to
the fire, with his hands under his coat-tails--"You may not be aware of
it, but you're rather drunk, Hurst."

"Drunk!" said Hurst; "no, that's quite a mistake; three glasses, I think
it was, of champagne at supper; and you men have sat here drinking punch
all the evening; if anybody's drunk, it's not me."

Hurst's usually modest demeanour was certainly so very much altered as
to justify, in some measure, Leicester's supposition; but I really
believe Flora Leicester's bright eyes had more to answer for in that
matter than the champagne, whether the said three glasses were more or
less.

However, as Horace's temper was evidently not improving, Miller, Fane,
and myself wished him good night, and Hurst came with us. We got him
into Fane's rooms, and then extracted from him a full history of the
adventures of that delightful evening, to our infinite amusement, and
apparently to his own immense satisfaction. It was evident that Miss
Flora Leicester had made an impression, of which I do not give that
young lady credit for being in the least unconscious.

The impression, however, like many others of its kind, soon wore off, I
fancy; for the next time I saw Mr Wellington Hurst, he had returned to
his usual frame of mind, and appeared quite modest and deferential; but
it will not perhaps surprise my readers any more than it did myself,
that Horace was never fond of referring to our drive to the
steeple-chase at B----, and did not appear to appreciate, as keenly as
before, the trick we had played Hurst in leaving him behind; while all
the after-reminiscences of the latter bore reference, whenever it was
possible, to his favourite date--"That day when you and I and Leicester
had that team to B---- together."



CHRISTINE

A DUTCH STORY.

FROM THE FRENCH OF MADAME D'ARBOUVILLE

BY FREDERICK HARDMAN, ESQ.

[_MAGA._ DECEMBER 1847.]


It was the hour of sunrise. Not the gorgeous sunrise of Spain or Italy,
when the horizon's ruddy blaze suddenly revives all that breathes, when
golden rays mingle with the deep azure of a southern sky, and nature
bursts into vitality and vigour, as if light gave life. The sun rose
upon the chilly shores of Holland. The clouds opened to afford passage
to a pale light, without heat or brilliancy. Nature passed insensibly
from sleep to waking, but continued torpid when ceasing to slumber. No
cry or joyous song, no flight of birds, or bleating of flocks, hail the
advent of a new day. On the summit of the dykes, the reed-hedges bend
before the breeze, and the sea-sand, whirled over the slight obstacle,
falls upon the meadows, covering their verdure with a moving veil. A
river, yellow with the slime of its banks, flows peaceably and patiently
towards the expectant ocean. Seen from afar, its waters and its shore
appear of one colour, resembling a sandy plain; save where a ray of
light, breaking upon the surface, reveals by silvery flashes the passage
of the stream. Ponderous boats descend it, drawn by teams of horses,
whose large feet sink into the sand as they advance leisurely and
without distress to the goal of their journey. Behind them strides a
peasant, whip on shoulder; he hurries not his cattle, he looks neither
at the stream that flows, nor at the beasts that draw, nor at the boat
that follows; he plods steadily onwards, trusting to perseverance to
attain his end.

Such is a corner of the picture presented to the traveller in Holland,
the country charged, it would seem, more than any other, to enforce
God's command to the waters, _Thou shalt go no farther!_ This silent
repose of creatures and things, this mild light, these neutral tints and
vast motionless plains, are not without a certain poetry of their own.
Wherever space and silence are united, poetry finds place; she loves all
things more or less, whether smiling landscape or dreary desert; light
of wing, a trifle will detain and support her--a blade of grass often
suffices. And Holland, which Butler has called a large ship always at
anchor, has its beauties for the thoughtful observer. Gradually one
learns to admire this land at war with ocean and struggling daily for
existence; those cities which compel the waters to flow at their
ramparts' foot to follow the given track, and abide in the allotted bed;
then those days of revolt, when the waves would fain reconquer their
independence, when they overflow, and inundate, and destroy, and at
last, constrained by the hand of man, subside and again obey.

As the sun rose, a small boat glided rapidly down the stream. It had a
single occupant, a tall young man, lithe, skilful, and strong, who,
although apparently in haste, kept near the shore, following the
windings of the bank, and avoiding the centre of the current, which
would have accelerated his progress. At that early hour the fields were
deserted; the birds alone had risen earlier than the boatman, whose
large hat of grey felt lay beside him, whilst his brown locks, tossed
backward by the wind, disclosed regular features, a broad open forehead,
and eyes somewhat thoughtful, like those of the men of the north. His
costume denoted a student from a German university. One gathered from
his extreme youth that his life had hitherto passed on academic benches,
and that it was still a new and lively pleasure to him to feel the
freshness of morning bathe his brow, the breeze play with his hair, the
stream bear along his bark. He hastened, for there are times when we
count the hours ill; when we outstrip and tax them with delay. Then, if
we cannot hurry the pace of time, we prefer at least to wait at the
appointed spot. It calms impatience, and seems a commencement of
happiness.

When the skiff had rounded a promontory of the bank, its speed
increased, as if the eye directing it had gained sight of the goal. At a
short distance the landscape changed its character. A meadow sloped down
to the stream, fringed by a thick hedge of willows, half uprooted and
bending over the water. The boat reached the shadow of the trees, and
stopping there, rocked gently on the river, secured by a chain cast
round a branch. The young man stood up and looked anxiously through the
foliage; then he sang, in a low tone, the burthen of a ballad, a
love-plaint, the national poetry of all countries. His voice, at first
subdued, as if not to break too suddenly the surrounding silence,
gradually rose as the song drew to a close. The clear mellow notes
escaped from the bower of drooping leaves, and expired without echo or
reply upon the surface of the pasture. Then he sat down and contemplated
the peaceful picture presented to his view. The grey sky had that
melancholy look so depressing to the joyless and hopeless; the cold dull
water rolled noiselessly onward; to the left, the plain extended afar
without variety of surface. A few windmills reared their gaunt arms,
waiting for wind; and the wind, too weak to stir them, passed on and
left them motionless. To the right, at the extremity of the little
meadow, stood a square house of red bricks and regular construction,
isolated, silent, and melancholy. The thick greenish glass of the
windows refused to reflect the sunbeams; the roof supported gilded vanes
of fantastical form; the garden was laid out in formal parterres. A few
tulips, drooping their heavy heads, and dahlias, propped with white
sticks, were the sole flowers growing there, and these were hemmed in
and stifled by hedges of box. Trees, stunted and shabby, and with
dust-covered leaves, were cut into walls and into various eccentric
shapes. At the corners of the formal alleys, whose complicated windings
were limited to a narrow space, stood a few plaster figures. One of
these alleys led to the willow hedge. There nature resumed her rights;
the willows grew free and unrestrained, stretching out from the land and
drooping into the water; their inclined trunks forming flying-bridges,
supported but at one end. The bank was high enough for a certain space
to intervene between the stream and the horizontal stems. A few
branches, longer than the rest, swept the surface of the river, and were
kept in constant motion by its current.

Beneath this dome of verdure the boat was moored, and there the young
man mused, gazing at the sky--melancholy as his heart--and at the
stream, in its course uncertain as his destiny. A few willow leaves
fluttered against his brow, one of his hands hung in the water, a gentle
breeze stirred his hair; nameless flowerets, blooming in the shelter of
the trees, gave out a faint perfume, detectable at intervals, at the
wind's caprice. A bird, hidden in the foliage, piped an amorous note,
and the student, cradled in his skiff, awaited his love. Ungrateful that
he was! he called time a laggard, and bid him speed; he was insensible
to the charm of the present hour. Ah! if he grows old, how well will he
understand that fortune then lavished on him the richest treasures of
life--hope and youth!

Suddenly the student started, stood up, and, with outstretched neck, and
eyes riveted on the trees, he listened, scarce daring to breathe. The
foliage opened, and the face of a young girl was revealed to his gaze.
"Christine!" he exclaimed.

Christine stepped upon the trunk of the lowest tree, and seated herself
with address on this pliant bench, which her weight, slight as it was,
caused to yield and rock. One of her hands, extended through the
branches that drooped towards the water, reached that of her lover, who
tenderly clasped it. Then she drew herself up again, and the tree, less
loaded, seemed to obey her will by imitating her movement. The young man
sat in his boat, with eyes uplifted towards the willow on which his love
reposed.

Christine Van Amberg had none of the distinguishing features of the
country of her birth. Hair black as the raven's wing formed a frame to a
face full of energy and expression. Her large eyes were dark and
penetrating; her eyebrows, strongly marked and almost straight, would
perhaps have imparted too decided a character to her young head, if a
charming expression of candour and _naïveté_ had not given her the
countenance of a child rather than of a woman. Christine was fifteen
years of age. A slender silver circlet bound her brow and jet-black
tresses--a holiday ornament, according to her country's custom: but her
greatest festival was the sight of her lover. She wore a simple muslin
dress of a pale blue colour; a black silk mantle, intended to envelop
her figure, was placed upon her hair, and fell back upon her shoulders,
as if the better to screen her from the gaze of the curious. Seated on a
tree trunk, surrounded by branches and beside the water, like
Shakespeare's Ophelia, Christine was charming. But although young,
beautiful, and beloved, deep melancholy was the characteristic of her
features. Her companion, too, gazed mournfully at her, with eyes to
which the tears seemed about to start.

"Herbert," said the young girl, stooping towards her lover, "Herbert, be
not so sad! we are both too young to despair of life. Herbert! better
times will come."

"Christine! they have refused me your hand, expelled me your dwelling;
they would separate us entirely: they will succeed, to-morrow
perhaps!..."

"Never!" exclaimed the young girl, with a glance like the lightning's
flash. But, like that flash, the expression of energy was momentary, and
gave way to one of calm melancholy.

"If you would, Christine, if you would! ... how easy were it to fly
together, to unite our destinies on a foreign shore, and to live for
each other, happy and forgotten!... I will lead you to those glorious
lands where the sun shines as you see it in your dreams--to the summit
of lofty mountains whence the eye discovers a boundless horizon--to
noble forests with their thousand tints of green, where the fresh breeze
shall quicken your cheek, and sweep from your memory these fogs, this
humid clime, these monotonous plains. Our days shall pass blissfully in
a country worthy of our loves."

As Herbert spoke, the young girl grew animated; she seemed to see what
he described, her eager eye sought the horizon as though she would
over-leap it, her lips parted as to inhale the mountain breeze. Then she
passed her hand hastily across her eyes, and sighed deeply. "No!" she
exclaimed; "no, I must remain here!... Herbert, it is my country: why
does it make me suffer? I remember another sky, another land,--but no,
it is a dream! I was born here, and have scarcely passed the boundary of
this meadow. My mother sang too often beside my cradle the ballads and
boleros of her native Seville; she told me too much of Spain, and I love
that unknown land as one pines after an absent friend!"

The young girl glanced at the river, over which a dense fog was
spreading. A few rain-drops pattered amongst the leaves; she crossed her
mantle on her breast, and her whole frame shivered with sudden chill.

"Leave me, Christine, you suffer!--return home, and, since you reject my
roof and hearth, abide with those who can shelter and warm you."

A sweet smile played upon Christine's lips. "My beloved," she said,
"near you I prefer the chilling rain, this rough branch, and the biting
wind, to my seat in the house, far from you, beside the blazing chimney.
Ah! with what joy and confidence would I start on foot for the farthest
corner of the earth, your arm my sole support, your love my only wealth.
But...."

"What retains you, Christine? your father's affection, your sisters'
tenderness, your happy home?"

The young girl grew pale. "Herbert, it is cruel to speak thus. Well do I
know that my father loves me not, that my sisters are often unkind, that
my home is unhappy; I know it, indeed I know it, and I will follow
you.... If my mother consents!"

Herbert looked at his mistress with astonishment. "Child!" he exclaimed,
"such consent will never leave your mother's lips. There are cases where
strength and resolution must be found in one's own heart. Your mother
will never say yes."

"Perhaps!" replied Christine, slowly and gravely. "My mother loves me; I
resemble her in most things, and her heart understands mine. She knows
that Scripture says a woman shall leave her father and mother to follow
her husband; she is in the secret of our attachment, and, since our door
has been closed against you, I have not shed a tear that she has not
detected and replied to by another. You misjudge my mother, Herbert!
Something tells me she has suffered, and knows that a little happiness
is essential to life as the air we breathe. Nor would it surprise me, if
one day, when embracing me, as she does each night when we are alone,
she were to whisper: Begone, my poor child!"

"I cannot think it, Christine. She will bid you obey, be comforted,
forget!"

"Forget! Herbert, my mother forgets nothing. To forget is the resource
of cowardly hearts. No,--none will bid me forget."

And once more a gloomy fire flashed in Christine's eyes, like the rapid
passage of a flame which illumines and instantly expires. It was a
revelation of the future rather than the expression of the present. An
ardent soul dwelt within her, but had not yet cast off all the
encumbrances of childhood. It struggled to make its way, and at times,
succeeding for a moment, a word or cry revealed its presence.

"No--I shall not forget," added Christine; "I love you, and you love me,
who am so little loved! You find me neither foolish, nor fantastical,
nor capricious; you understand my reveries and the thousand strange
thoughts that invade my heart. I am very young, Herbert; and yet, here,
with my hand in yours, I answer for the future. I shall always love
you! ... and see, I do not weep. I have faith in the happiness of our
love; how? when? I know not,--it is the secret of my Creator, who would
not have sent me upon earth only to suffer. Happiness will come when He
deems right, but come it will! Yes,--I am young, full of life, I have
need of air and space; I shall not live enclosed and smothered here. The
world is large, and I will know it; my heart is full of love, and will
love for ever. No tears, dearest! obstacles shall be overcome, they must
give way, for I will be happy!"

"But why delay, Christine? My love! my wife! an opportunity lost may
never be regained. A minute often decides the fate of a lifetime.
Perhaps, at this very moment, happiness is near us! A leap into my boat,
a few strokes of the oar, and we are united for ever!... Perhaps, if
you again return to land, we are for ever separated. Christine, come!
The wind rises: beneath my feet is a sail that will quickly swell and
bear us away rapidly as the wings of yon bird."

Tears flowed fast over Christine's burning cheeks. She shuddered, looked
at her lover, at the horizon, thought of liberty; she hesitated, and a
violent struggle agitated her soul. At last, hiding her face amongst the
leafage of the willow, she clasped her arms round its stem, as if to
withhold herself from entering the boat, and in a stifled voice muttered
the words,--"My mother!" A few seconds afterwards, she raised her pallid
countenance.

"If I fled," said she gently, "to whom would my mother speak of her dear
country? Who would weep with her when she weeps, if I were gone? She has
other children, but they are gay and happy, and do not resemble her.
Only my mother and myself are sad in our house. My mother would die of
my absence. I must receive her farewell blessing or remain by her side,
chilled like her by this inclement climate, imprisoned in yonder walls,
ill-treated by those who love me not. Herbert, I will not fly, I will
wait!" And she made a movement to regain the strand.

"One instant,--yet one second,--Christine! I know not what chilling
presentiment oppresses my heart. Dearest,--if we were to meet no more!
If this little corner of earth were our last trysting-place--these
melancholy willows the witnesses of our eternal separation! Is it--can
it be--the last happy hour of my life that has just slipped by?"

He covered his face with his hands, to conceal his tears. Christine's
heart beat violently--but she had courage.

Letting herself drop from the tree, she stood upon the bank, separated
from the boat, which could not come nearer to shore.

"Adieu, Herbert!" said she, "one day I will be your wife, faithful and
loving. It shall be, for I will have it so. Let us both pray God to
hasten that happy day. Adieu, I love you! Adieu, and till our next
meeting, for I love you!"

The barrier of reeds and willows opened before the young girl. A few
small branches crackled beneath her tread; there was a slight noise in
the grass and bushes, as when a bird takes flight; then all was silence.

Herbert wept.

       *       *       *       *       *

The clock in the red brick house struck eight, and the family of Van
Amberg the merchant were mustered in the breakfast-room. Christine was
the only absentee. Near the fire stood the head of the family--Karl Van
Amberg--and beside him his brother, who, older than himself, yielded the
prerogative of seniority, and left him master of the community. Madame
Van Amberg was working near a window, and her two elder daughters,
fair-haired, white-skinned Dutchwomen, prepared the breakfast.

Karl Van Amberg, the dreaded chief of this family, was of lofty stature;
his gait was stiff; his physiognomy passionless. His face, whose
features at first appeared insignificant, denoted a domineering temper.
His manners were cold. He spoke little; never to praise, but often in
terms of dry and imperious censure. His glance preceded his words and
rendered them nearly superfluous, so energetically could that small
sunken grey eye make itself understood. With the sole aid of his own
patience and ambition, Karl Van Amberg had made a large fortune. His
ships covered the seas. Never loved, always respected, his credit was
everywhere excellent. Absolute monarch in his own house, none dreamed of
opposing his will. All were mute and awed in his presence. At this
moment, he was leaning against the chimney-piece. His black garments
were very plain, but not devoid of a certain austere elegance.

William Van Amberg, Karl's brother, was quite of an opposite character.
He would have passed his life in poverty, subsisting on the scanty
income left him by his parents, had not Karl desired wealth. He placed
his modest fortune in his brother's hands, saying, "Act as for
yourself!" Attached to his native nook of land, he lived in peace,
smoking and smiling, and learning from time to time that he was a richer
man by a few hundred thousand francs. One day, he was told that he
possessed a million; in reply, he merely wrote, "Thanks, Karl; it will
be for your children." Then he forgot his riches, and changed nothing in
his manner of life, even adhering in his dress to the coarse materials
and graceless fashion of a peasant dreading the vicinity of cities. His
youthful studies had consisted of a course of theology. His father, a
fervent Catholic, destined him for the church; but it came to pass, as a
consequence of his indecision of character, that William neither took
orders nor married, but lived quietly in his brother's family. The
habitual perusal of religious books sometimes gave his language a
mystical tone, contrasting with the rustic simplicity of his exterior.
This was his only peculiarity; otherwise he had nothing remarkable but
his warm heart and strong good sense. He was the primitive type of his
family: his brother was an example of the change caused by
newly-acquired wealth.

Madame Van Amberg, seated at the window, sewed in silence. Her
countenance had the remains of great beauty, but she was weak and
suffering. A single glance sufficed to fix her birthplace far from
Holland. Her black hair and olive tint betrayed a southern origin.
Silently submissive to her husband, his iron character had pressed
heavily upon this delicate creature. She had never murmured; now she was
dying, but without complaint. Her look was one of deep melancholy.
Christine, her third daughter, resembled her. Of dark complexion, like
her mother, she contrasted strongly with her rosy-cheeked sisters. M.
Van Amberg did not love Christine. Rough and cold, even to those he
secretly cherished, he was severe and cruel to those he disliked. He had
never been known to kiss Christine. Her mother's were the only caresses
she knew, and even those were stealthily and tearfully bestowed. The two
poor women hid themselves to love each other.

At intervals, Madame Van Amberg coughed painfully. The damp climate of
Holland was slowly conducting to her grave the daughter of Spain's
ardent land. Her large melancholy eyes mechanically sought the
monotonous horizon, which had bounded her view for twenty years. Fog and
rain surrounded the house. She gazed, shivered as if seized with deadly
cold, then resumed her work.

Eight o'clock had just struck, and the two young Dutchwomen, who,
although rich heiresses, waited upon their father, had just placed the
tea and smoked beef upon the table, when Karl Van Amberg turned abruptly
to his wife.

"Where is your daughter, madam?"

He spoke of Christine, whom the restless gaze of Madame Van Amberg
vainly sought through the fog veiling the garden. At her husband's
question, the lady rose, opened the door, and, leaning on the banister,
twice uttered her daughter's name. There was no reply; she grew pale,
and again looked out anxiously through the fog.

"Go in, Madame," was the surly injunction of Gothon, the old servant
woman, who knelt on the hall flags, which she had flooded with soap and
water, and was now vigorously scrubbing,--"Go, in, Madame; the damp
increases your cough, and Mademoiselle Christine is far enough away! The
bird flew before daybreak."

Madame Van Amberg cast a mournful glance across the meadow, where
nothing moved, and into the parlour, where her stern husband awaited
her; then she went in and sat down at the table, around which the
remainder of the family had already placed themselves. No one spoke. All
could read displeasure upon M. Van Amberg's countenance, and none dared
attempt to change the course of his ideas. His wife kept her eyes fixed
upon the window, hoping her daughter's return. Her lips scarcely tasted
the milk that filled her cup; visible anguish increased the paleness of
her sweet, sad countenance.

"Annunciata, my dear, take some tea," said her brother-in-law. "The day
is chill and damp, and you seem to suffer."

Annunciata smiled sadly at William. For sole answer she raised to her
lips the tea he offered her, but the effort was too painful, and she
replaced the cup upon the table. M. Van Amberg looked at nobody; he ate,
his eyes fixed upon his plate.

"Sister," resumed William, "it is a duty to care for one's health, and
you, who fulfil all your duties, should not neglect that one."

A slight flush tinged the brow of Annunciata. Her eyes encountered those
of her husband, which he slowly turned towards her. Trembling, almost
weeping, she ceased her attempts to eat. And the silence was again
unbroken, as at the commencement of the meal. At last steps were heard
in the passage, the old servant grumbled something which did not reach
the parlour, then the door opened, and Christine entered; her muslin
dress damp with fog, her graceful curls disordered by the wind, her
black mantle glittering with a thousand little rain-drops. She was
crimson with embarrassment and fear. Her empty chair was beside her
mother; she sat down, and hung her head; none offered aught to the
truant child, and the silence continued. Yielding to maternal anxiety,
Madame Van Amberg took a handkerchief and wiped the moisture from
Christine's forehead and hair; then she took her hands to warm them in
her own. For the second time M. Van Amberg looked at his wife. She let
Christine's hands fall, and remained downcast and motionless as her
daughter. M. Van Amberg rose from table. A tear glistened in the
mother's eyes on seeing that her daughter had not eaten. But she said
nothing, and returning to the window, resumed her sewing. Christine
remained at table, preserving her frightened and abashed attitude. The
two eldest girls hastened to remove the breakfast things.

"Do you not see what Wilhelmina and Maria are about? Can you not help
them?"

At her father's voice, Christine hastily rose, seized the cups and
teapot, and hurried to and fro from parlour to pantry.

"Gently! You will break something!" cried M. Van Amberg. "Begin in time,
to finish without hurry."

Christine stood still in the middle of the room. Her two sisters smiled
as they passed her, and one of them muttered--for nobody spoke aloud in
M. Van Amberg's presence--"Christine will hardly learn housekeeping by
looking at the stars and watching the river flow!"

"Now, then, Mademoiselle, you are spoiling everything here!" said the
old servant, who had just come in; "go and change that wet gown, which
ruins all my furniture."

Christine remained where she was, not daring to stir without the
master's order.

"Go," said M. Van Amberg.

The young girl darted from the room and up the stairs, reached her
chamber, threw herself upon the bed and burst into tears. Below, Madame
Van Amberg continued to sew, her head bent over her work. When the cloth
was removed, Wilhelmina and Maria placed a large jug of beer, glasses,
long pipes, and a store of tobacco, upon the mahogany table, and pushed
forward two arm-chairs, in which Karl and William installed themselves.

"Retire to your apartment, madam," said M. Van Amberg, in the imperious
tone habitual to him when he addressed his wife,--"I have to discuss
matters which do not concern you. Do not leave the house; I will call
you by-and-by; I wish to speak with you."

Annunciata bowed in token of obedience, and left the room. Wilhelmina
and Maria approached their father, who silently kissed their pretty
cheeks. The two brothers lit their pipes, and remained alone. William
was the first to speak.

"Brother Karl!" said he, resting his arms upon the table, and looking M.
Van Amberg in the face, "before proceeding to business, and at risk of
offending you, I must relieve my heart. Here, all fear you, and counsel,
the salutary support of man, is denied you."

"Speak, William," coldly replied M. Van Amberg.

"Karl, you treat Annunciata very harshly. God commands you to protect
her, and you allow her to suffer, perhaps to die, before your eyes,
without caring for her fate. The strong should sustain the weak. In our
native land, we owe kindness to the stranger who cometh from afar. The
husband owes protection to her he has chosen for his wife. For all these
reasons, brother, I say you treat Annunciata ill."

"Does she complain?" said M. Van Amberg, filling his glass.

"No, brother; only the strong resist and complain. A tree falls with a
crash, the reed bends noiselessly to the ground. No, she does not
complain, save by silence and suffering, by constant and passive
obedience, like that of a soulless automaton. You have deprived her of
life, the poor woman! One day she will cease to move and breathe; she
has long ceased to live!"

"Brother, there are words that should not be inconsiderately spoken,
judgments that should not be hastily passed, for fear of injustice."

"Do I not know your whole life, Karl, as well as my own, and can I not
therefore speak confidently, as one well informed?"

M. Van Amberg inhaled the smoke of his pipe, threw himself back in his
arm-chair, and made no reply.

"I know you as I know myself," resumed William, gently, "although our
hearts were made to love and not to resemble each other. When you found
our father's humble dwelling too small, I said nothing; you were
ambitious; when a man is born with that misfortune or blessing, he must
do like the birds, who have wings to soar; he must strive to rise. You
departed; I pressed your hand, and reproached you not; it is right that
each man should be happy his own way. You gained much gold, and gave me
more than I needed. You returned married, and I did not approve your
marriage. It is wiser to seek a companion in the land where one's days
are to end; it is something to love the same places and things, and then
it is only generous to leave one's wife a family, friends, well-known
objects to gaze upon. It is counting greatly on one's-self to take sole
charge of her happiness. Happiness sometimes consists of so many things!
Often an imperceptible atom serves as base to its vast structure: for my
part I do not like presumptuous experiments on the hearts of others. In
short, you married a foreigner, who perishes with cold in this country,
and sighs, amidst our fogs, for the sun of Spain. You committed a still
greater fault--Forgive me, brother; I speak plainly, in order not to
return to this subject."

"I am attending to you, William; you are my elder brother."

"Thanks for your patience, Karl. No longer young, you married a very
young woman. Your affairs took you to Spain. There you met a needy
Spanish noble, to whom you rendered a weighty service. You were always
generous, and increasing wealth did not close your hand. This noble had
a daughter, a child of fifteen. In spite of your apparent coldness, you
were smitten by her beauty, and you asked her of her father. Only one
thing struck you--that she was poor and would be enriched by the
marriage. A refusal of your offer would have been ingratitude to a
benefactor. They gave you Annunciata, and you took her, brother, without
looking whether joy was in her eyes, without asking the child whether
she willingly followed you, without interrogating her heart. In that
country the heart is precocious in its awakening ... perhaps she left
behind her some youthful dream ... some early love.... Forgive me, Karl;
the subject is difficult to discuss."

"Change it, William," said M. Van Amberg, coldly.

"Be it so. You returned hither, and when your business again took you
forth upon the ocean, you left Annunciata to my care. She lived many
years with me in this house. Karl, her youth was joyless and sad.
Isolated and silent, she wore out her days without pleasure or variety.
Your two eldest daughters, now the life of our dwelling, were then in
the cradle. They were no society to their mother; I was a very grave
companion for that young and beautiful creature. I have little reading
and knowledge, no imagination; I like my quiet arm-chair, my old books,
and my pipe. I at first allowed myself to believe--because I loved to
believe it--that Annunciata resembled me--that tranquillity and a
comfortable dwelling would suffice for her happiness, as they sufficed
for mine. But at last I understood--what you, brother, I fear, have
never comprehended--that she was not born to be a Dutch housewife. In
the first place, the climate tortured her. She constantly asked me if
finer summers would not come,--if the winters were always so
rigorous,--the fogs so frequent. I told her no, that the year was a bad
one; but I told her a falsehood, for the winters were always the same.
At first she tried to sing her Sevillian romances and boleros, but soon
her song died away and she wept, for it reminded her too much of her own
native land. Silent and motionless she sat, desiring, as I have read in
the Bible,--'The wings of the dove to fly away and be at rest.' Brother,
it was a melancholy sight. You know not how slowly the winter evenings
passed in this parlour. It was dark at four, and she worked by
lamp-light till bed-time. I endeavoured to converse, but she knew
nothing of the things I knew, and I was ignorant of those that
interested her. I saw at last that the greatest kindness was to leave
her to herself. She worked or was idle, wept or was calm, and I averted
my eyes to give her the only consolation in my power,--a little liberty.
But it was very sad, brother!"

There was a moment's silence, broken by M. Van Amberg. "Madame Van
Amberg was in her own dwelling," said he, severely, "with her children,
and under the protection of a devoted friend. Her husband toiled in
foreign parts to increase the fortune of the family; she remained at
home to keep house and educate her daughters; all that is very natural."
And he filled his pipe.

"True," replied William; "but still she was unhappy. Was it a crime? God
will decide. Leave her to His justice, Karl, and let us be merciful!
During your long absence, chance conducted hither some Spaniards whom
Annunciata had known in her childhood, and amongst them the son of an
old friend of her father's. Oh! with what mingled joy and agitation did
the dear child welcome her countrymen! What tears she shed in the midst
of her joy ... for she had forgotten how to be happy, and every emotion
made her weep. How eagerly she heard and spoke her native tongue! She
fancied herself again in Spain; for a while she was almost happy. You
returned, brother, and you were cruel; one day, without explaining your
motives, you shut your door upon the strangers. Tell me, why would you
not allow fellow-countrymen, friends, a companion of her childhood, to
speak to your wife of her family and native land? Why require complete
isolation, and a total rupture with old friends? She obeyed without a
murmur, but she suffered more than you thought. I watched her closely;
I, her old friend. Since that fresh proof of your rigour, she is sadder
than before. A third time she became a mother; it was in vain; her
unhappiness continued. Brother, your hand has been too heavy on this
feeble creature."

M. Van Amberg rose, and slowly paced the room. "Have you finished,
William?" said he; "this conversation is painful, let it end here; do
not abuse the license I give you."

"No; I have yet more to say. You are a cold and severe husband, but that
is not all; you are also an unjust father. Christine, your third
daughter, is denied her share of your affection, and by this partiality
you further wound the heart of Annunciata. Christine resembles her; she
is what I can fancy her mother at fifteen--a lively and charming
Spaniard; she has all her mother's tastes; like her she lives with
difficulty in our climate, and although born in it, by a caprice of
nature she suffers from it as Annunciata suffered. Brother, the child is
not easy to manage; independent, impassioned, violent in all her
impressions, she has a love of movement and liberty which ill agrees
with our regular habits, but she has also a good heart, and by appealing
to it you might perhaps have tamed her wild spirit. For Christine you
are neither more nor less than a pitiless judge. Her childhood was one
long grief. And thus, far from losing her wild restlessness, she loves
more than ever to be abroad and at liberty; she goes out at daybreak;
she looks upon the house as a cage whose bars hurt her, and you vainly
endeavour to restrain her. Brother, if you would have obedience, show
affection. It is a power that succeeds when all others fail. Why prevent
her marrying the man she loves? Herbert the student is not rich, nor is
his alliance brilliant; but they love each other!"

M. Van Amberg, who had continued his walk, now stopped short, and coldly
replied to his brother's accusations: "Christine is only fifteen, and I
do my duty by curbing the foolish passion that prematurely disturbs her
reason. As to what you call my partiality, you have explained it
yourself by the defects of her character. You, who reproach others as
pitiless judges, beware yourself of judging too severely. Every man acts
according to his internal perceptions, and all things are not good to be
spoken. Empty your glass, William, and if you have finished your pipe,
do not begin another. The business I had to discuss with you will keep
till another day; it is late, and I am tired. It is not always wise to
rake up the memories of the past. I wish to be alone a while. Leave me,
and tell Madame Van Amberg to come to me in a quarter of an hour."

"Why not say, 'Tell Annunciata?' Why, for so long a time, has that
strange sweet name never passed your lips?"

"Tell Madame Van Amberg I would speak with her, and leave me, brother,"
replied Karl sternly.

William felt he had pushed Karl Van Amberg's patience to its utmost
limit; he got up and left the room. At the foot of the stairs he
hesitated a moment, then ascended, and sought Annunciata in Christine's
chamber. It was a narrow cell, shining with cleanliness, and containing
a few flowers in glasses, a wooden crucifix, with chaplets of beads
hanging on it, and a snow-white bed; a guitar (it was her mother's) was
suspended on the wall. From the window was seen the meadow, the river,
and the willows. Christine sat on the foot of the bed, still weeping;
her mother was beside her, offering her bread and milk, with which
Christine's tears mingled. Annunciata kissed her daughter's eyes, and
then furtively wiped her own. On entering, William stood for a few
moments at the door, mournfully contemplating this touching picture.

"My brother, my good brother," cried Annunciata, "speak to my child! She
has forgotten prayer and obedience; her heart is no longer submissive,
and her tears avail nothing, for she murmurs and menaces. Ask her,
brother, by whom it was told her that life is joy? that we live only to
be happy? Talk to her of duty, and give her strength to accomplish it!"

"Your husband inquires for you, sister. Go, I will remain with
Christine."

"I go, my brother," replied Annunciata. Approaching the little mirror
above the chimney-piece, she washed the tear-stains from her eyes,
pressed her hand upon her heart to check its throbbings, and when her
countenance had resumed its expression of calm composure, she descended
the stairs. Gothon was seated on the lower steps.

"You spoil her, madame," said she roughly to her mistress; "foolish ears
need sharp words. You spoil her."

Gothon had been in the house before Annunciata, and had been greatly
displeased by the arrival of her master's foreign lady, whose authority
she never acknowledged. But she had served the Van Ambergs' mother, and
therefore it was without fear of dismissal that she oppressed, after her
own fashion, her timid and gentle mistress.

Annunciata entered the parlour and remained standing near the door as if
waiting an order. Her husband's countenance was graver and more gloomy
than ever.

"Can no one hear us, madam? Are you sure we are alone?"

"Quite alone, sir," replied the astonished Annunciata.

M. Van Amberg recommenced his walk. For some moments he said nothing.
His wife, her hand resting on the back of an arm-chair, silently awaited
his pleasure. At last he again spoke.

"You bring up your daughter Christine badly; I left her to your care and
guidance, and you do not watch over her. Do you know where she goes and
what she does?"

"From her childhood, sir," replied Annunciata gently, pausing between
each phrase, "Christine has loved to live in the open air. She is
delicate, and requires sun and liberty to strengthen her. Till now you
have allowed her to live thus; I saw no harm in letting her follow her
natural bent. If you disapprove, sir, she will obey your orders."

"You bring up your daughter badly," coldly repeated M. Van Amberg. "She
will dishonour the name she bears."

"Sir!!" exclaimed Annunciata, her cheeks suffused with the deepest
crimson; her eyes emitting a momentary but vivid flash.

"Look to it, madam, I will have my name respected, that you know! You
also know I am informed of whatever passes in my house. Your daughter
secretly meets a man to whom I refused her hand; this morning, at six
o'clock, they were together on the river bank!"

"My daughter! my daughter!" cried Annunciata in disconsolate tones. "Oh!
it is impossible! She is innocent! she shall remain so! I will place
myself between her and evil, I will save my child! I will take her in my
arms, and close her ears to dangerous words. My daughter, I will say,
remain innocent, remain honoured, if you would not see me die!"

With unmoved eye M. Van Amberg beheld the mother's emotion. Beneath his
frozen gaze, Annunciata felt embarrassed by her own agitation; she made
an effort to calm herself; then, with clasped hands, and eyes filled
with tears, which she would not allow to flow, she resumed, in a
constrained voice:

"Is this beyond doubt, sir?"

"It is," replied M. Van Amberg: "I never accuse without certainty."

There was a moment's silence. M. Van Amberg again spoke.

"You will lock Christine in her room, and bring me the key. She will
have time to reflect, and I trust reflection will be of service to her;
in a prolonged seclusion she will lose that love of motion and liberty
which leads her into harm; the silence of complete solitude will allay
the tumult of her thoughts. None shall enter her room, save Gothon, who
shall take her her meals, and return me the key. This is what I have
decided upon as proper."

Madame Van Amberg's lips opened several times to speak, but her courage
failed her. At last she advanced a pace or two.

"But I, sir, I," said she in a stifled voice, "_I_ am to see my child!"

"I said no one," replied M. Van Amberg.

"But she will despair, if none sustain her. I will be severe with her;
you may be assured I will! Let me see her, if only once a-day. She may
fall ill of grief, and who will know it? Gothon dislikes her. For pity's
sake, let me see Christine! For a minute only, a single minute."

M. Van Amberg once more stood still, and fixed upon his wife a look that
made her stagger. "Not another word!" he said. "I allow no discussion,
madam. No one shall see Christine; do you hear?"

"I will obey," replied Annunciata.

"Convey my orders to your daughter. At dinner bring me the key of her
room. Go."

Madame Van Amberg found Christine alone, seated on her bed, and
exhausted by long weeping. Her beautiful face, at times so energetic,
wore an expression of profound and touching dejection. Her long hair
fell in disorder on her shoulders, her figure was bent, as if weighed
down by grief: her rosary had fallen from her half-open hand; she had
tried to obey her mother and to pray, but had been able only to weep.
Her black mantle, still damp with rain, lay upon a table, a few willow
sprays peeping from its silken folds. Christine eyed them with mingled
love and melancholy. She thought it a century since she saw the sun
rise on the river, on the old trees, and on Herbert's skiff. Her mother
slowly approached her.

"My child," said she, "where were you at daybreak this morning?"

Christine raised her eyes to her mother's face, looked at her, but did
not answer. Annunciata repeated her question without change of word or
tone. Then Christine let herself slide from the bed to the ground, and
kneeled before her mother.

"I was seated," she said, "upon the trunk of a willow that overhangs the
stream. I was near Herbert's boat."

"Christine!" exclaimed Madame Van Amberg, "can it be true? Oh, my child,
could you so infringe the commands laid upon you! Could you thus forget
my lessons and advice! Christine, you thought not of me when you
committed that fault!"

"Herbert said to me, 'Come, you shall be my wife, I will love you
eternally, you shall be free and happy; all is ready for our marriage
and our flight; come!' I replied, 'I will not leave my mother!' Mother,
you have been my safeguard; if it be a crime to follow Herbert, it is
the thought of you alone that prevented my committing it. I would not
leave my mother!"

A beam of joy illumined Annunciata's countenance. Murmuring a
thanksgiving to God, she raised her kneeling child and seated her by her
side.

"Speak to me, Christine," she said, "open your heart, and tell me all
your thoughts. Together we will regret your faults, and seek hope for
the future. Speak, my daughter; conceal nothing."

Christine laid her head upon her mother's shoulder, put one of her
little hands in hers, sighed deeply, as though her heart were too
oppressed for words, and spoke at last with effort and fatigue.

"Mother," she said, "I have nothing to confess that you do not already
know. I love Herbert. He is but a poor student, intrusted to my father's
care, but he has a noble heart--like mine, somewhat sad. He knows much,
and he is gentle to those who know nothing. Poor, he is proud as a king:
he loves, and he tells it only to her who knows it. My mother, I love
Herbert! He asked my hand of my father, whose reply was a smile of
scorn. Then he was kept from me, and I tried to exist without seeing
him. I could not do it. I made many _neuvaines_ on the rosary you gave
me. I had seen you weep and pray, mother, and I said to myself--Now that
I weep as she does, I must also pray like her. But it happened once, as
day broke, that I saw a small boat descend the stream, then go up again,
and again descend; from time to time a white sail fluttered in the air
as one flutters a kerchief to a departing friend. My thoughts, then as
now, were on Herbert; I ran across the meadow--I reached the
stream--Mother, it was he! hoping and waiting my coming. Long and
mournfully we bewailed our separation; fervently we vowed to love until
death. This morning Herbert, discouraged and weary of waiting a change
in our position, urged me to fly with him. I might have fled, mother,
but I thought of you and remained. I have told you all; if I have done
wrong, forgive me, dearest mother!"

With deep emotion Madame Van Amberg listened to her daughter, and
remained buried in reflection, when Christine paused. She felt that the
young girl's suffering heart needed gentle lessons, affectionate advice;
and, instead of these, she was the bearer of a sentence whose severity
must aggravate the evil--she was compelled to deny her sick child the
remedies that might have saved her.

"You love him very dearly, then," said she at last, fixing a long
melancholy look on her daughter's countenance.

"Oh, mother!" exclaimed Christine, "I love him with all my soul! My life
is passed in expecting, seeing, remembering him! I could never make you
understand how entirely my heart is his. Often I dream of dying for him,
not to save his life, that were too easy and natural, but uselessly at
his command."

"Hush! Christine, hush! you frighten me," cried Annunciata, placing both
hands upon her daughter's mouth. By a quick movement Christine
disengaged herself from her mother's arms.

"Ah!" she exclaimed, "you know not what it is to love as I do! My father
could never let himself be loved thus!"

"Be silent, my child! be silent!" repeated Annunciata energetically.
"Oh, my daughter! how to instil into your heart thoughts of peace and
duty! Almighty Father! bless my weak words, that they may touch her
soul! Christine, hear me!"

Annunciata took her daughter's hands, and compelled her to stand before
her. "My child," she said, "you know nothing of life; you walk at
random, and are about to wander from the right path. All young hearts
have been troubled as yours is now. The noble ones have struggled and
triumphed; the others have fallen! Life is no easy and pleasant passage;
its trials are many and painful--its struggles severe; believe me, for
us women there is no true happiness beyond the bounds of duty. And when
happiness is not our destiny, many great things still remain to us.
Honour, the esteem of others, are not mere empty words. Hear me, beloved
child! That God whom from your infancy I have taught you to love, do you
not fear offending him? Seek Him, and you will find better consolation
than I can offer. Christine, we love in God those from whom we are
severed on earth. He, who in his infinite wisdom imposed so many
fetters on the heart of woman, foresaw the sacrifices they would entail,
and surely he has kept treasures of love for hearts that break in
obedience to duty."

Annunciata rapidly wiped the tears inundating her fine countenance; then
clasping Christine's arm--

"On your knees, my child! on our knees both of us before the Christ I
gave you! 'Tis nearly dark, and yet we still discern Him--his arms
seeming to open for us. Bless and save and console my child, oh merciful
God! Appease her heart; make it humble and obedient!"

Her prayer at an end, she rose, and throwing her arms round Christine,
who had passively allowed herself to be placed on her knees and lifted
up again, she embraced her tenderly, pressed her to her heart, and
bathed her hair with tears. "My daughter," she murmured between her
kisses, "my daughter, speak to me! Utter one word that I may take with
me as a hope! My child, will you not speak to your mother?"

"Mother, I love Herbert!" was Christine's reply.

Annunciata looked despairingly at her child, at the crucifix upon the
wall, at the darkening sky seen through the open window. The dinner-bell
rang. Madame Van Amberg made a strong effort to collect and express her
ideas.

"M. Van Amberg," said she in broken voice, "orders you to remain in your
room. I am to take him the key. You are to see no one. The hour is come,
and he expects me."

"A prisoner!" cried Christine; "A prisoner,--alone, all day! Death
rather than that!"

"He will have it so," repeated Annunciata mournfully; "I must obey. He
will have it so." And she approached the door, casting upon Christine a
look of such ineffable love and grief, that the young girl, fascinated
by the gaze, let her depart without opposition. The key turned in the
lock, and Annunciata, supporting herself by the banister, slowly
descended. She found M. Van Amberg alone in the parlour.

"You have been a long time up stairs," said he. "Have you convinced
yourself that your daughter saw the student Herbert this morning?"

"She did," murmured Annunciata.

"You have told her my orders?"

"I have done so."

"Where is the key?" She gave it him.

"Now to dinner," said M. Van Amberg, walking into the dining-room.
Annunciata endeavoured to follow him, but her strength failed her, and
she sank upon a chair.

M. Van Amberg sat down alone to his dinner.

       *       *       *       *       *

"A prisoner!" repeated Christine in her solitude; "apart from all! shut
up! Yon meadow was too wide a range; the house too spacious a prison. I
must have a narrower cell, with more visible walls--a straiter
captivity! They deprive me of the little air I breathed--the scanty
liberty I found means to enjoy!"

She opened the window to its full extent; leaned upon the sill, and
looked at the sky. It was very dark; heavy clouds hid the stars; no
light fell upon the earth; different shades of obscurity alone marked
the outlines of objects. The willows, so beautiful when Herbert and the
sun were there, were now a black and motionless mass; dead silence
reigned around. In view of nature thus lifeless and lightless, hopes of
happiness could hardly enter the heart. Christine was in a fever: she
felt oppressed and crushed by unkindly influences, by the indifference
of friends, by a tyrant's will, even by the cold and mournful night. The
young girl's heart beat quickly and rebelliously.

"Be it so!" she exclaimed aloud; "let them have their way! They may
render me unhappy; I will not complain. They sanctify my love by
persecution. Happy, I should perhaps have been ashamed to love so much.
But they rob me of air and liberty; I suffer; I weep. Ah! I feel proud
that my heart still throbs with joy in the midst of so many evils. My
sufferings will hallow my love, will compel the respect of those who
scoffed and slighted it. Herbert! dear Herbert! where are you at this
moment? Do you joyfully anticipate to-morrow's dawn: are you busy with
your boat, preparing it for its early cruise? Or do you sleep, dreaming
of the old willows in the meadow, hearing the waters murmur through
their branches, and the voice of Christine promising her return? But no;
it cannot be; our hearts are too united for their feelings thus to
differ! You are sad, my love, and you know not why; I am sad with
knowledge of our misfortune--'tis the sole difference separation can
establish between us. When shall we meet again, Herbert? Alas! I know
not, but meet we surely shall. If God lets me live, he will let me love
you."

Christine shut the window and threw herself on her bed without
undressing. It was cold; she wrapped herself in her mantle, and
gradually her head sank upon her breast. Her hands, at first pressed
against each other, opened and fell by her sides. She dropped asleep,
like an infant, in the midst of her tears.

The first sun-rays, feeble though they were, awoke Christine, who sprang
hastily from her couch. "Herbert waits for me!" she exclaimed. At her
age memory is better for joy than for sorrow. For her the dawn of day
was still a rendezvous of love. The next moment she awoke to the
consciousness of her captivity. She went to the window, leaned out as on
the previous evening, and looked mournfully around. In a corner of the
heavens was a glow of light, intercepted by billows of cloud. The pale
foliage of the willows shivered in the breeze, which ruffled the leaves
without bending the branches; the long fine grass of the meadow was seen
through a veil of fog, as yet undispelled by the sun. The sounds of
awakening nature had scarce begun, when a white sail stood out upon the
surface of the stream, gliding lightly along like the open wing of a
graceful bird. It passed to and fro in front of the meadow; was lowered
before the trees, and then again displayed, bending the boat's gunwale
to the water's surface, hovering continually around a point of the bank,
as though confined within the circle of an invisible fascination. At
long intervals the wind brought a faint and scarce perceptible sound,
like the last notes of a song; then the little bark again manoeuvred,
and its sail flapped in the air. The pale tints of dawn gave way to the
warmer sunbeams; passengers appeared upon the bank; trading boats
ascended the river; the windows of the red brick house opened as if to
inhale the morning air. The boat lowered its sail, and floated slowly
away at the will of the current. Christine looked after it and wept.

Twice during that day, Gothon opened the door of the young girl's
chamber, and brought her a frugal meal. Twice did Gothon depart without
uttering a word. The whole day passed in silence and solitude. Christine
knew not how to get rid of the weary hours. She knelt before the
crucifix, her alabaster rosary in her hand, her head raised towards the
cross, and prayed. But her prayer was for Herbert, to see him again; she
never dreamed of praying to forget him. Then she took down the guitar,
passed round her neck the faded blue ribbon, tied on it at Seville, and
which her mother would never allow to be changed. She struck a few
chords of the songs she best loved; but her voice was choked, and her
tears flowed more abundantly when she tried to sing. She collected the
little sprays of willow, and placed them in a book to dry and preserve
them. But the day was very long; and the poor child fluttered in her
prison like a caged bird, with an anguish that each moment increased.
Her head burned, her bosom throbbed. At last night came. Seated near the
open window, the cold calmed her a little. They brought her no light,
and time passed more slowly than ever. She went to bed, but, deprived of
her accustomed exercise, tormented by a thousand anxieties, she could
not sleep; she got up, walked about in the darkness, and again lay down;
slumber still avoided her. This time her eyes, red with tears and
watchfulness, beheld the sun rise without illusion; she did not for a
moment forget her captivity, but looked mournfully out at the little
sail which, faithful to its rendezvous, came each morning with the sun.
Again, none but Gothon disturbed her solitude. During another long day,
Christine, alternately desponding and excited, walked, wept, lamented,
and prayed. Night came again. Nothing broke the silence; the lights in
the red house were extinguished one after the other. Profound darkness
covered the earth. Christine remained at her window, insensible to cold.
Suddenly she started: she heard her name pronounced in low tones at the
foot of the wall. She listened.

"Christine, my daughter!" repeated the voice.

"Mother," exclaimed Christine, "you out in this dreadful weather! I
conjure you to go in!"

"I have been two days in bed, my child; I have been unwell; to-night I
am better; I felt it impossible to remain longer without seeing you, who
are my life, my strength, my health! Oh! you were right not to leave me;
it would have killed me. Are you well, dear Christine? Have you all you
require? How do you live, deprived of my caresses?"

"Dearest mother, for heaven's sake, go in! The night is damp and cold;
it will be your death!"

"Your voice warms me; it is far from you that I feel chill and faint.
Dearest child, my heart sends you a thousand kisses."

"I receive them on my knees, mother, my arms extended towards you. But,
when shall I see you again?"

"When you submit, and promise to obey; when you no longer seek him you
are forbidden to see, and whom you must forget. My daughter, it is your
duty."

"Oh mother, I thought your heart could better understand what it never
felt. I thought you respected the true sentiments of the soul, and that
your lips knew not how to utter the word 'forget.' If I forgot, I should
be a mere silly child, capricious, unruly, unworthy your tenderness. If
my malady is without remedy, I am a steadfast woman, suffering and
self-sacrificing. Good God! how is it you do not understand that?"

"I understand," murmured Annunciata, but in so low a tone that she was
sure her daughter could not hear her.

"Mother," resumed Christine, "go to my father! summon up that courage
which fails you when you alone are concerned; speak boldly to him, tell
him what I have told you; demand my liberty, my happiness."

"I!" exclaimed Annunciata in terror; "I brave M. Van Amberg, and oppose
his will!"

"Not oppose, but supplicate! compel his heart to understand what mine
experiences; force him to see and hear and feel that my life may cease,
but not my love. Who can do it, if you cannot? I am a captive. My
sisters know not love, my uncle William has never known it. It needs a
woman's voice to express a woman's feelings."

"Christine, you know not what you ask. The effort is above my strength."

"I ask a proof of my mother's love; I am sure she will give it me."

"I shall die in so doing. M. Van Amberg can kill me by a word."

Christine started and trembled. "Do not go, then, dearest mother.
Forgive my egotism; I thought only of myself. If my father has such
terrible power, avoid his anger. I will wait, and entreat none but God."

There was a brief pause. "Christine," said Madame Van Amberg, "since I
am your only hope, your sole reliance, and you have called me to your
aid, I will speak to him. Our fate is in the hands of heaven."

Annunciata interrupted herself by a cry of terror; a hand rudely grasped
her arm; M. Van Amberg, without uttering a word, dragged her to the
house door, compelled her to enter, took out the key, and made her pass
before him into the parlour. A lamp burned dimly upon the table, its oil
nearly exhausted; at times it emitted a bright flash, and then suddenly
became nearly extinguished. The corners of the room were in darkness,
the doors and windows closed, perfect silence reigned; the only object
on which a strong light fell, was the countenance of M. Van Amberg. It
was calm, cold, motionless. His great height, the piercing look of his
pale grey eyes, the austere regularity of his features, combined to give
him the aspect of an implacable judge.

"You would speak with me, madam," said he to Annunciata; "I am here,
speak!"

On entering the parlour, Annunciata let herself fall into a chair. Her
clothes streamed with water; her hair, heavy with rain, fell upon her
shoulders; her extreme paleness gave her the appearance of a corpse
rather than of a living creature. Terror obliterated memory, even of
what had just occurred; her mind was confused; she felt only that she
suffered horribly. Her husband's voice and words restored the chain of
her ideas; the poor woman thought of her child, made a violent effort,
rallied her strength, and rose to her feet.

"Now then," she murmured, "since it must be so!"

M. Van Amberg waited in silence, his arms crossed upon his breast, his
eyes fixed upon his wife; he stood like a statue, assisting neither by
word nor gesture the poor creature who trembled before him. Annunciata
looked long at him before speaking; she hoped that at sight of her
tears and sufferings, M. Van Amberg would remember he had loved her. She
threw her whole soul into her eyes, but not a muscle of her husband's
countenance moved. He waited for her to break silence.

"I need your indulgence," she at last said; "it costs me a fearful
effort to address you. In general I do but answer; I am unaccustomed to
speak first, and I am afraid. I dread your anger; have compassion on a
trembling woman, who would fain be silent, and who must speak.
Christine's happiness is in your hands. The poor child implores me to
soften your rigour.... Did I refuse, not a creature upon earth would
intercede for her. This is why I venture to petition you, sir."

M. Van Amberg continued silent. Annunciata wiped the tears from her
cheeks and resumed with more courage.

"She is much to be pitied; she has inherited the faults you blame in me.
Believe me, sir, I have laboured hard to check them in the bud. I have
striven, exhorted, punished, have spared neither advice nor prayers, but
all in vain. God has not been pleased to spare me this new grief. Her
nature is unchangeable; she is to blame, but she is also much to be
pitied. Christine loves with all her soul. Women die of such love as
hers, and when they do not die, they suffer frightfully. For pity's
sake, sir, let her marry him she loves!"

Annunciata covered her face with her hands, and awaited in an agony of
anxiety her husband's reply.

"Your daughter," said M. Van Amberg, "is still a child; she has
inherited, as you say, a character that needs restraint. I will not
yield to the first caprice that traverses her silly head. Herbert is
only two-and-twenty; we know nothing of his character. Your daughter
requires a protector, and a judicious guide. Herbert has neither family,
fortune, nor position. He shall never be the husband of a woman who
bears the name of Mademoiselle Van Amberg!"

"Sir!" cried Annunciata, clasping her hands and breathless with emotion,
"Sir! the best guidance for a woman's life is a union with the man she
loves! It is her best safeguard, it strengthens her against the cares of
the world. I entreat you, Karl!" exclaimed Madame Van Amberg, falling
upon her knees, "have compassion on my daughter! Do not render duty a
torture; do not exact from her too much courage! We are weak creatures:
we have need both of love and virtue. Place her not in the terrible
necessity of choosing between them. Pity, Karl, pity!"

"Madam," cried M. Van Amberg, and this time his frame was agitated by a
slight nervous trembling, "Madam, you are very bold to speak to me thus!
You! you! to dare to hold such language to me! Silence! and teach your
daughter not to hesitate in her choice between good and evil. Do that,
instead of weeping uselessly at my feet."

"Yes, it is bold of me, sir, thus to address you; but I have found
courage in suffering. I am ill,--in pain,--my life is worthless, save as
a sacrifice--let my child take it, I will speak for her! Her fate is in
your hands, do not crush her by a cruel decision! An absolute judge and
master should be guarded in word and deed, for a reckoning will be asked
of him! Be merciful to my child!"

M. Van Amberg approached his wife, took her arm, placed his other hand
on her mouth, and said:--

"Silence! I command you; no such scenes in my house, no noise and
whimpering. Your daughters sleep within a few yards of you, do not
disturb their repose. Your servants are above, do not awaken them.
Silence! you had no business to speak; I was wrong to listen to you.
Never dare again to discuss my orders; it is I whom your children must
obey, I whom you must obey yourself. Retire to your apartment, and
to-morrow let me find you what you yesterday were."

M. Van Amberg had regained his usual calmness. He walked slowly from the
room.

"Oh, my daughter!" exclaimed Annunciata, despairingly, "nothing can I do
for you! Merciful Father! what will become of me, placed between him and
her, both inflexible in their resolves!"

The lamp which feebly illuminated this scene of sorrow, now suddenly
went out and left the unhappy mother in profound darkness. The rain beat
against the windows,--the wind howled,--the house clock struck four.

Christine had seen M. Van Amberg seize Annunciata's arm, and lead her
away with him; afterwards, she had distinguished, through the slight
partitions of the house, a faint echo as of mingled sobs, entreaties,
and reproaches. She understood that her fate was deciding,--that her
poor mother had devoted herself for her, and was face to face with the
stern ruler whose look alone she usually dared not brave. Christine
passed the night in terrible anxiety, abandoning herself alternately to
discouragement and to joyful hopes. At her age it is not easy to
despair. Fear, however, predominated over every other emotion, and she
would have given years of existence to learn what had passed. But the
day went by like the previous one. She saw none but Gothon. Her she
ventured to question, but the old servant had orders not to answer.

Another day elapsed. Christine's solitude was still unbroken, no
friendly voice reached her ear, no kindly hand lifted the veil shrouding
her future. The poor girl was exhausted, she had not even the energy of
grief. She wept without complaint, almost without a murmur. Night came,
and she fell asleep, exhausted by her sorrow. She had scarcely slept an
hour when she was awakened by the opening of the door, and Gothon, lamp
in hand, approached her bed. "Get up Mademoiselle," said the servant,
"and follow me."

Christine dressed herself as in a dream, and hastily followed Gothon,
who conducted her to her mother's room, opened the door, and drew back
to let her pass. A sad spectacle met the young girl's eyes. Annunciata,
pale and almost inanimate, lay in the agonies of death. Her presentiment
had not deceived her; suffering and agitation had snapped the slender
strings that bound her to the earth. The light of the lamp fell full
upon her features, whose gentle beauty pain was impotent to deface.
Resignation and courage were upon her countenance, over which came a
gleam of joy when Christine appeared. Wilhelmina and Maria knelt and
wept at the foot of their mother's bed. William stood a little apart,
holding a prayer-book, but his eyes had left the page to look at
Annunciata, and two large tears trembled on their lids. M. Van Amberg,
seated beside his wife's pillow, had his face shaded by his hand, so
that none could see its expression.

With a piercing cry, Christine rushed to Madame Van Amberg, who received
her in her arms. "Mother!" she cried, her cheek against Annunciata's,
"it is I who have killed you! For love of me you have exceeded your
strength."

"No, my beloved, no," replied Annunciata, kissing her daughter between
each word, "I die of an old and incurable malady. But I die happy, since
I once more clasp you in my arms."

"And they did not let me nurse you!" cried Christine, indignantly
raising her head; "they concealed your illness! They let me weep for
other sorrows than yours, my mother!"

"Dearest child," replied Annunciata gently, "this crisis has been very
sudden; two hours ago they knew not my danger, and I wished to fulfil my
religious duties before seeing you. I wished to think only of God. Now I
can abandon myself to the embraces of my children." And she clasped her
weeping daughters to her heart. "Dear children," said she, "God is full
of mercy to the dying, and sanctifies a mother's benediction. I bless
you, my daughters; remember and pray for me."

The three young girls bowed their heads upon their mother's hand, and
replied by tears alone to this solemn farewell.

"My good brother," resumed Annunciata to William, "my good brother, we
have long lived together, and to me you have ever been a devoted friend,
indulgent and gentle. I thank you, brother!"

William averted his head to conceal his tears, but a deep sob escaped
him, and he turned his venerable face towards Annunciata.

"Do not thank me, sister," he said, "I have done little for you. I loved
you, that is certain, but I could not enliven your solitude. My sister,
you will still live for the happiness of us all."

Annunciata gently shook her head. Her glance sought her husband, as if
she would fain have addressed her last words to him. But they expired on
her lips. She looked at him timidly, sadly, and then closed her eyes, to
check the starting tears. She grew visibly weaker, and as death
approached, a painful anxiety took possession of her. Resigned, she was
not calm. It was ordained her soul should suffer and be troubled to the
end. The destiny of one of her daughters disturbed her last moments; she
dared not pronounce the name of Christine, she dared not ask compassion
for her; a thousand conflicting doubts and fears agitated her poor
heart. She died as she had lived, repressing her tears, concealing her
thoughts. From time to time she turned to her husband, but his head
continued sunk upon his hand; not one look of encouragement could she
obtain. At last came the spasm that was to break this frail existence.
"Adieu! Adieu!" she murmured in unintelligible accents. Her eyes no
longer obeyed her, and none could tell whom they sought. William
approached his brother, and placed his hand upon his shoulder. "Karl!"
he whispered in tones audible but to him he addressed, "she is dying!
Have you nothing to say to a poor creature who has so long lived with
you and suffered by you? Living, you loved her not; do not let her die
thus! Fear you not, Karl, lest this woman, oppressed and slighted by
you, should expire with a leaven of resentment in her heart? Crave her
pardon before she departs."

For an instant all was silent. M. Van Amberg stirred not. Annunciata,
her head thrown back, seemed to have already ceased to exist. On a
sudden, she moved, raised herself with difficulty, leaned over towards
M. Van Amberg, and groped for his hand as though she had been blind.
When she found it, she bowed her face upon it, kissed it twice, and
expired in that last kiss.

"On your knees!" cried William, "on your knees, she is in heaven! let us
implore her intercession!" And all knelt down.

Of all the prayers addressed to God by man during his life of trial, not
one is more solemn than that which escapes the desolate heart, when a
beloved soul flies from earth to heaven, to stand, for the first time,
in the presence of its Creator.

M. Van Amberg rose from his knees.

"Leave the room!" said he to his brother and daughters, "I would be
alone with my wife."

Alone, beside the bed of his dead wife, Karl Van Amberg gazed upon the
pale countenance, to which death had restored all the beauty of youth. A
tear, left there by human suffering, a tear which none other was to
follow, glittered upon the clay-cold cheek; one arm still hung out of
bed, as when it held his hand; the head was in the position in which it
had kissed his fingers. He gazed at her, and the icy envelope that bound
his heart was at last broken. "Annunciata!" he exclaimed, "Annunciata!"

For fifteen years that name had not passed his lips. Throwing himself on
his wife's corpse, he clasped her in his arms and kissed her forehead.

"Annunciata!" he cried, "can you not feel this kiss of peace and love!
Annunciata, we have both suffered terribly! God did not grant us
happiness. I loved you from the first day that I saw you, a joyous child
in Spain, till this sad moment that I press you dead upon my heart. Oh
Annunciata, how great have been our sufferings!"

Karl Van Amberg wept.

"Repose in peace, poor woman!" he murmured; "may you find in heaven the
repose denied you upon earth!" And with trembling hand he closed
Annunciata's eyes. Then he knelt down beside her.

"Almighty God!" he said, "I have been severe. Be thou merciful!"

       *       *       *       *       *

When, at break of day, M. Van Amberg left the chamber of death, his face
had resumed its habitual expression; his inflexible soul, for a moment
bowed, had regained its usual level. To Annunciata had been given the
last word of love, the last tear of that heart of adamant. To the eyes
of all he reappeared as the stern master and father, the man on whose
brow no sorrow left a trace. His daughters bowed themselves upon his
passage, William spoke not to him, order and regularity returned to the
house. Annunciata was buried without pomp or procession. She left, to
revisit it no more, the melancholy abode where her suffering soul had
worn out its mortal envelope; she ceased to live, as a sound ceases to
be heard, as a cloud passes, as a flower fades; nothing stopped or
altered because she went. If any mourned her, they mourned in silence;
if they thought of her, they proclaimed not their thoughts; her name was
no more heard; only the interior of the little red house was rather more
silent, and M. Van Amberg's countenance appeared to all more rigid than
before. During the day, Christine's profound grief obeyed the iron will
that weighed on each member of the family. The poor child was silent,
worked, sat at table, lived on as if her heart had not been crushed; but
at night, alone in the little room where her mother had so often wept
with her, she gave free course to grief; she invoked her mother, spoke
to her, extended her arms to her, and would fain have left the earth to
be with her in heaven. "Take me to you, dear mother!" she would exclaim.
"Deprived of you, apart from him, I cannot live! Since I saw you die, I
no longer fear death."

Since the death of Annunciata, Christine was allowed her liberty, M. Van
Amberg doubtless thinking, and with reason, that she would make no use
of it during her first grief. Or, perhaps, with his wife's corpse
scarcely cold, he hesitated to recur to the severity that had caused her
so many tears. Whatever his motive, Christine was free, at least to all
appearance. The three sisters, in deep mourning, never passed the
threshold; they sat all day at work near the low window of the parlour,
supped with their uncle and father, then retired to bed. During the long
hours of their silent work, Christine often thought of her lover. She
dared not attempt to see him; she would have expected to hear her
mother's voice murmur in her ear,--"My daughter, it is too soon to be
happy! Mourn me yet a little, alone and without consolation."

One morning, after a night of tears, Christine fell into a tardy
slumber, broken by dreams. Now it was her mother, who took her in her
arms, and flew with her towards heaven. "I will not let you live," said
Annunciata, "for life is sorrow. I have prayed of God to let you die
young, that you may not weep as I have wept!"

The next instant she beheld herself clothed in white and crowned with
flowers. Herbert was there, love sparkling in his eyes. "Come, my
betrothed!" he said, "life is joy! My love shall guard you from all
evil; come, we will be happy!"

She started up, awakened by a sudden noise in her chamber. The window
was open, and on the floor lay a pebble with a letter attached. Her
first impulse was to fly to the window; a bush stirred in the direction
of the river, but she saw no one. She snatched up the letter, she
guessed it was Herbert's writing. It seems as if one never saw for the
first time the writing of him one loves; the heart recognises as if the
eyes had already seen it. Christine was alone, a beam of the rising sun
tinted the summits of the willows, and hope and love revived in the
young girl's heart, as she read what follows:

"Christine, I can write but a few lines; a long letter, difficult to
conceal, might never reach you. Hear me with your heart, and guess what
I am unable to write. As you know, dearest, my family intrusted me to
your father, and gave him all authority over me. He can employ me at his
will, and according to the convenience of his commercial establishments.
Christine, I have just received orders to embark in one of his ships,
sailing for Batavia."

A cry escaped Christine's lips, and her eyes, suffused with tears,
devoured the subsequent lines.

"Your father places the immensity of ocean between us; he separates us
for ever. We are to meet no more! Christine, has your heart, since I
last saw you, learned to comprehend those words? No, my adored
Christine, we must live or die together! Your poor mother is no more;
your presence is no longer essential to the happiness of any one. Your
family is pitiless and without affection for you. Your future is gloom
and unhappiness. Come, then, let us fly together. In the Helder are
numerous ships; they will bear us far from the scene of our sufferings.
All is foreseen and arranged. Christine, my life depends on your
decision. For ever separated! ... subscribe to that barbarous decree,
and I terminate an existence which henceforward would be all bitterness!
And you, Christine! will you love another, or live without love? Oh!
come! I have suffered so much without you! I summon you, I await you,
Christine! my bride! At midnight--on the riverbank--I will be there! and
a world of happiness is before us. Come, dear Christine, come!"

As Christine read, her tears fell fast on Herbert's letter. She
experienced a moment of agonising indecision. She loved passionately,
but she was young and innocent, and love had not yet imparted to her
pure soul the audacity that braves all things. The wise counsels heard
in her father's house, uncle William's pious exhortations, the holy
prayers she had learned from her infancy upwards, resounded in her
ears; the Christ upon her wooden crucifix seemed to look at her; the
beads of her rosary were still warm with the pressure of her fingers.

"Oh! my dream! my dream!" she exclaimed; "Herbert who calls his bride!
my mother claiming her daughter! With him, life and love! With her,
death and heaven!..." And Christine sobbed aloud. For an instant she
tried calmly to contemplate an existence in that melancholy house,
weeping for Herbert, growing old without him, without love, within those
gloomy walls, where no heart sympathised with hers. The picture was too
terrible; she felt that such a future was unendurable. She wept
bitterly, kissed her rosary, her prayer-book, as if bidding adieu to all
that had witnessed the innocence of her early years. Then her heart beat
violently. The fire of her glance dried her tears. She looked out at the
river, at the white sail which seemed to remind her of her vows of love;
she gave one last sob, as if breaking irrevocably the links between her
past and future. The image of her mother was no longer before her.
Christine, abandoned to herself, followed the impulse of her passionate
nature; she wept, trembled, hesitated, and at last exclaimed,--

"At midnight, I will be there!"

Then she wiped her tears, and remained quite still for a few moments, to
calm her violent agitation. A vast future unrolled itself before her;
liberty would be hers; a new world was revealed to her eyes; a new life
began for her.

At last night came. A lamp replaced the fading daylight. The window was
deserted for the table. William and Karl Van Amberg came in. The former
took a book; his brother busied himself with commercial calculations.
The lamp gave a dull light; all was silent, sad, and monotonous in the
apartment. The clock slowly told the successive hours. When its hammer
struck ten, there was a movement round the table; books were shut, work
was folded. Karl Van Amberg rose; his two eldest daughters approached
him, and he kissed their foreheads in silence. Christine no longer a
captive, but still in disgrace, bowed herself before her father. Uncle
William, grown drowsy over his book, put up his spectacles, muttering a
"good-night." The family left the parlour, and the three sisters
ascended the wooden staircase. At her chamber door, Christine felt a
tightness at her heart. She turned and looked after her sisters.
"Good-night, Wilhelmina! good-night, Maria!"

The sisters turned their heads. By the faint light of their tapers
Christine saw them smile and kiss their hands to her. Then they entered
their rooms without speaking. Christine found herself alone. She opened
her window; the night was calm; at intervals clouds flitted across the
moon, veiling its brightness. Christine made no preparations for
departure; she only took her mother's rosary, and the blue ribbon so
long attached to the guitar; then she wrapped herself in her black
mantle and sat down by the window. Her heart beat quick, but no distinct
thought agitated her mind. She trembled without terror; her eyes were
tearful, but she felt no regret. For her, the hour was rather solemn
than sad; the struggle was over, and she was irrevocably decided.

At last midnight came; each stroke of the clock thrilled Christine's
heart; for an instant she stood still, summoning strength and courage;
then, turning towards the interior of the room,--

"Adieu, my mother!" she whispered. Many living creatures dwelt under
that roof. It seemed to Christine as if she left her only who was no
longer there. "Adieu, my mother!" she repeated.

Then she stepped out of the window; a trellis, twined with creepers,
covered the wall. With light foot and steady hand, Christine descended,
aiding herself by the branches, and pausing when they cracked under her
tread or grasp. The stillness was so complete that the slightest sound
assumed importance. Christine's heart beat violently; at last she
reached the ground, raised her head, and looked at the house. Her
father's window was still lighted. Again she shuddered with
apprehension; then, feeling more courage for a minute's daring than for
half an hour's precautions, she darted across the meadow and arrived
breathless at the clump of willows. Before plunging into it, she again
looked round. All was quiet and deserted; she breathed more freely and
disappeared amongst the branches. Leaning upon the old tree, the witness
of her former rendezvous, she whispered, so softly that none but a lover
could hear, "Herbert, are you there?"

A cautious oar skimmed the water; a well-known voice replied. The boat
approached the willow; the young student stood up and held out his arms
to Christine, who leaped lightly into the skiff. In an instant, they
were out of the willow-shaded inlet; in another, the sail--the signal of
their loves--was hoisted to the breeze; the bark sped swiftly over the
water, and Herbert, scarce daring to believe his happiness, was seated
at Christine's feet. His hand sought hers; he heard her weep, and he
wept for sympathy. Both were silent, agitated, uneasy, and happy.

But the night was fine, the moon shed its softest light, the ripple of
the stream had a harmony of its own, the light breeze cooled their
cheeks, the sail bent over them like the wing of an invisible being;
they were young, they loved, it was impossible that joy should not
revive in their hearts.

"Thanks, Christine, thanks!" exclaimed Herbert, "thanks a thousand
times for so much devotedness, for such confidence and love! Oh how
beautiful will life now appear! We are united for ever!"

"For ever!" repeated Christine, her tears flowing afresh. For the first
time she felt that great happiness, like great grief, expresses itself
by tears. Her hand in Herbert's, her eyes raised to heaven, she gazed
upon bright stars and fleecy clouds, sole and silent witnesses of her
happiness. Presently she was roused from this sweet reverie.

"See there, Herbert!" she exclaimed; "the sail droops along the mast,
the wind has fallen, we do not advance."

Herbert took the oars, and the boat cut rapidly through the water.
Wrapped in her mantle, Christine sat opposite, and smiled upon him.
Onwards flew the boat, a track of foam in its wake. Daylight was still
distant; all things favoured the fugitives. Again Christine broke
silence.

"Herbert, dear Herbert, do you hear nothing?"

Herbert ceased to row, and listened. "I hear nothing," he said, "save
the plash of the river against its banks." He resumed the oars; again
the boat moved rapidly forward. Christine was pale; half risen from her
seat, her head turned back, she strove to see, but the darkness was too
great.

"Be tranquil, best beloved," said Herbert with a smile. "Fear creates
sounds. All is still."

"Herbert," cried Christine, this time starting up in the boat, "I am not
mistaken! I hear oars behind us ... pause not to listen ... row, for
Heaven's love, row!"

Her terror was so great, she seemed so sure of what she said, that
Herbert obeyed in silence, and a sensation of alarm chilled his heart.
Christine seated herself at his feet.

"We are pursued!" she said; "the noise of your own oars alone prevented
your hearing. A boat follows us."

"If it be so," Herbert cried, "what matter! That boat does not bear
Christine--is not guided by a man who defends his life, his happiness,
his love. My arm will weary his, his bark will not overtake mine." And
Herbert redoubled his efforts. The veins of his arms swelled to
bursting; his forehead was covered with sweat-drops. The skiff clove the
waters as though impelled by wings. Christine remained crouched at the
young man's feet, pressing herself against him, as to seek refuge.

Other oars, wielded by stalwart arms, now struck the water not far from
Herbert's boat. The young student heard the sound; he bent over his oars
and made desperate efforts. But he felt his strength failing; as he
rowed he looked with agony at Christine; no one spoke, only the noise of
the two boats interrupted the silence. Around, all was calm and serene
as when the fugitives set out. But the soul of the young girl had
passed from life to death; her eyes, gleaming with a wild fire, followed
with increasing terror each movement of Herbert's; she saw by the
suffering expression of his countenance, that little hope of escape
remained. Still he rowed with the energy of despair; but the fatal bark
drew nearer, its shadow was seen upon the water, it followed hard in the
foamy track of Herbert's boat. Christine stood up and looked back; just
then the moon shone out, casting its light full upon the pale,
passionless features of M. Van Amberg. Christine uttered a piercing cry.

"My father!" she cried; "Herbert, 'tis my father!"

Herbert also had recognised his pursuer. The youth had lived too long in
Karl Van Amberg's house not to have experienced the strange kind of
fascination which that man exercised over all around him. Darkness had
passed away to reveal to the fugitives the father, master, and judge!

"Stop, Herbert!" cried Christine, "we are lost, escape is impossible! Do
you not see my father?"

"Let me row!" replied Herbert, disengaging himself from Christine, who
had seized his arm. He gave so violent a pull with the oars, that the
skiff bounded out of the water and seemed to gain a little on its
pursuer.

"Herbert," cried Christine, "I tell you we are lost! 'Tis my father, and
resistance is useless! God will not work a miracle in our favour!
Herbert, I will not return to my father's house! Let us die together,
dear Herbert!"

And Christine threw herself into her lover's arms. The oars fell from
the young man's hands; with a cry of anguish he pressed Christine
convulsively to his heart. For a single instant he thought of obeying
her, and of plunging with her into the dark tide beneath; but Herbert
had a noble heart, and he repelled the temptation of despair. The next
moment a violent shock made the boat quiver, and M. Van Amberg stepped
into it. Instinctively Herbert clasped Christine more tightly, and
retreated, as if his strength could withhold her from her father--as if,
in that little boat, he could retreat far enough not to be overtaken.
With a vigorous arm, M. Van Amberg seized Christine, whose slender form
bent like a reed over his shoulder.

"Have mercy on her!" cried the despairing Herbert; "I alone am guilty!
Punish her not, and I promise to depart, to renounce her! Pity, sir!
pity for Christine!"

He spoke to a deaf and silent statue. Wresting Christine's hand from the
student's grasp, M. Van Amberg stepped back into his boat, and pushed
Herbert's violently with his foot. Yielding to the impulse, the boats
separated; one was pulled swiftly up the river, whilst the other,
abandoned to itself, was swept by the current in a contrary direction.
Erect on the prow of his bark, his head thrown back, his arms folded on
his breast, M. Van Amberg fixed a terrible look upon Herbert and then
disappeared in the darkness. All was over. The father had taken his
daughter, and no human power could henceforward tear her from his arms.

Within a week from that fatal night, the gates of a convent closed upon
Christine Van Amberg.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the frontier of Belgium, on the summit of a hill, stands a large
white building of irregular architecture, a confused mass of walls,
roofs, angles, and platforms. At the foot of the hill is a village,
whose inhabitants behold with a feeling of respect the edifice towering
above their humble dwellings. For there is seen the belfry of a church,
and thence is heard unceasingly the sound of pious bells, proclaiming
afar that on the mountain's summit a few devout souls pray to God for
all men. The building is a convent; the poor and the sick well know the
path leading to the hospitable threshold of the Sisters of the
Visitation.

To this convent was Christine sent. To this austere dwelling, the abode
of silence and self-denial, was she, the young, the beautiful, the
loving, pitilessly consigned. It was as though a gravestone had suddenly
closed over her head. With her, the superior of the convent received
the following letter:--

     "MADAME LA SUPÉRIEURE,--I send you your niece, Christine Van
     Amberg, and beg you to oblige me by keeping her with you. I intend
     her to embrace a religious life; employ the influence of your wise
     counsels to predispose her to it. Her misconduct compels me to
     exclude her my house; she requires restraint and watching, such as
     are only to be found in a convent. Be pleased, dear and respected
     kinswoman, to receive her under your roof; the best wish that can
     be formed for her is, that she may make up her mind to remain there
     for ever. Should she inquire concerning a young man named Herbert,
     you may inform her that he has sailed to Batavia, whence he will
     proceed to our most remote settlements.

     "I am, with respect, _Madame la Supérieure_, your kinsman and
     friend,

                                                    "KARL VAN AMBERG."

Five years had elapsed since the date of this letter, when one day the
convent gate opened to admit a stranger, who craved to speak with the
superior. The stranger was an old man; a staff sustained his feeble
steps. Whilst waiting in the parlour, he looked about him with surprise
and emotion, and several times he passed his hand across his eyes as if
to brush away a tear. "Poor, poor child!" he muttered. When the superior
appeared behind the grating, he advanced quickly towards her.

"I am William Van Amberg," he said, "the brother of Karl Van Amberg. I
come, madam, to fetch Christine, his daughter and my niece."

"You come very late!" replied the superior; "sister Martha-Mary is on
the eve of pronouncing her vows."

"Martha-Mary!--I do not know the name!" said William Van Amberg; "I seek
Christine--my niece Christine."

"Christine Van Amberg, now sister Martha-Mary, is about to take the
veil."

"Christine a nun! Oh, impossible! Madame, they have broken the child's
heart; from despair only would she take the veil; they have been
cruel--they have tortured her; but I bring her liberty and the certainty
of happiness,--permission to marry him she loves. Let me speak to her
and she will quickly follow."

"Speak to her then; and let her depart if such be her will."

"Thanks, madam,--a thousand thanks! Send me my child, send me my
Christine--with joy and impatience I await her."

The superior retired. Left alone, William again contemplated the
melancholy abode in which he found himself, and the more he gazed, the
sadder his heart became. He would fain have taken Christine in his arms,
as he did when she was little, and have fled with her from those chilly
walls and dismal gratings.

"Poor child!" he repeated, "what a retreat for the bright years of your
youth!... How you must have suffered! But console thyself, dearest
child, I am here to rescue thee!"

He remembered Christine as a wild young girl, delighting in liberty,
air, and motion; then as an impassioned woman, full of love and
independence. And a smile crossed the old man's lips as he thought of
her burst of joy, when he should say to her,--"You are free, and Herbert
waits to lead you to the altar!" His heart beat as it had never beaten
in the best days of his youth; he counted the minutes and kept his eyes
fixed upon the little door through which Christine was to come. He could
not fold her in his arms, the grating prevented it, but at least he
should see and hear her. Suddenly all his blood rushed to his heart, for
the hinges creaked and the door opened. A novice, clothed in white,
slowly advanced; he looked at her, started back, hesitated, and
exclaimed: "Oh God! is that Christine?"

William had cherished in his heart the memory of a bright-eyed, sunburnt
girl, alert and lively, quick and decided in her movements, running
more often than she walked, like the graceful roe that loves the
mountain-steeps. He beheld a tall young woman, white and colourless as
the robes that shrouded her; her hair concealed under a thick linen
band, her slender form scarcely to be distinguished beneath the heavy
folds of her woollen vestments. Her movements were slow, her black eyes
veiled by an indescribable languor; a profound calm was the
characteristic of her whole being--a calm so great, that it resembled
absence of life. One might have thought her eyes looked without seeing,
that her lips could not open to speak, that her ears listened without
hearing. Sister Martha-Mary was beautiful, but her beauty was not of the
earth--it was the beauty of infinite repose,--of a calm that nothing
could disturb.

The old man was touched to the bottom of his soul; the words expired on
his lips, and he extended his hands towards Christine. On beholding her
uncle, Martha-Mary endeavoured to smile, but moved not, and said
nothing.

"Oh my child!" cried William at last, "how you must suffer here!"

Martha-Mary gently shook her head, and the tranquil look she fixed upon
her uncle, protested against his supposition.

"Is it possible that five years have thus changed my Christine! My heart
recognises you, my child, not my eyes! They have compelled you to great
austerities, severe privations?"

"No."

"A cruel bondage has weighed heavily upon you?"

"No."

"You have been ill then?"

"No."

"Your poor heart has suffered too much, and has broken. You have shed
many tears?"

"I remember them no longer."

"Christine! Christine! do you live? or has the shade of Annunciata risen
from the grave? Oh my child! in seeing you, I seem to see her corpse,
extended on the bed of death!"

Martha-Mary raised her large eyes to heaven; she joined her hands, and
murmured, "My mother!"

"Christine, speak to me! weep with me! you frighten me by your calm and
silence.... Ah! in my trouble and emotion, I have as yet explained
nothing.... Listen: my brother Karl, by the failure of a partner,
suddenly found his whole fortune compromised. To avoid total ruin he was
obliged to embark immediately for the colonies. He set sail expecting to
return in a few years; but his affairs prolong his absence, and his
return is indefinitely postponed. His two eldest daughters are with him.
To me, who am too old to follow him, too old to remain alone, he has
given Christine. I would not accept the precious charge, my child,
without the possibility of rendering you happy. I implored permission to
marry you to Herbert. You are no longer a rich heiress: your father
gone, you need protection, and that of an old man cannot long avail you.
In short, your father has agreed to all I asked: he sends you, as a
farewell gift, your liberty and his consent to your marriage....
Christine! you are free, and Herbert awaits his bride!"

The long drapery of the novice was slightly agitated, as if the limbs it
covered trembled; she remained some seconds without speaking, and then
replied, "It is too late! I am the affianced of the Lord!"

William uttered a cry of grief, and looked with alarm at the pale calm
girl, who stood immovable before him.

"Christine!" he cried, "you no longer love Herbert?"

"I am the affianced of the Lord!" repeated the novice, her hands crossed
upon her breast, her eyes raised to heaven.

"Oh my God! my God!" cried William, weeping bitterly, "my brother has
killed his child! Her soul has been sad even unto death! Poor victim of
severity, tell me, Christine, tell me, what has passed within you,
during your abode here?"

"I saw others pray, and I prayed also. There was a great stillness, and
I was silent; none wept, and I dried my tears; a something, at first
cold, then soothing, enveloped my soul. The voice of God made itself
heard to me, and I listened; I loved the Lord, and gave myself to Him."

Then, as if fatigued with speaking so much, Martha-Mary relapsed into
silence, and into that absorbing meditation which rendered her
insensible to surrounding things. Just then a bell tolled. The novice
started, and her eyes sparkled.

"God calls me!" she said; "I go to pray!"

"Christine! my daughter, will you leave me thus?"

"Hear you not the bell? It is the hour of prayer."

"But, Christine, dearest child, I came to take you hence."

"I shall never leave these walls!" said Martha-Mary, gliding slowly
away. As she opened the parlour door, she turned towards William; her
eyes fixed upon him with a sad and sweet expression; her lips moved, as
if to send him a kiss; then she disappeared. William made no attempt to
detain her; his head was pressed against the grating, and big tears
chased each other down his cheeks. How long he remained thus plunged in
mournful reflection, he noted not. He was roused by the voice of the
superior, who seated herself, wrapped in her black robes, on the other
side of the grating.

"I foresaw your grief," she said. "Our sister Martha-Mary refuses to
follow you."

With a despairing look, William answered the nun.

"Alas! alas!" he said, "the child I so dearly loved met me without joy,
and left me without regret."

"Listen, my son," resumed the superior; "listen to me.--Five years ago,
there came to this convent a young girl overwhelmed with grief and sunk
in terrible despair; her entrance here was to her a descent into the
tomb. During one entire year, none saw her but with tears on her face.
Only God knows how many tears the eyes must shed before a broken spirit
regains calm and resignation; man cannot count them. This young girl
suffered much; in vain we implored pardon for her, in vain we summoned
her family to her relief. She might say, as is written in the
psalm,--'_I am weary with my groaning: mine eye is consumed because of
grief._' What could we do, save pray for her, since none would receive
her back!..."

"Alas!" cried William, "your letters never reached us. My brother was
beyond sea; and I, having then no hope of changing his determination,--I
had quitted his empty and melancholy house."

"Man abandoned her," continued the superior, "but God looked upon His
servant, and comforted her soul. If He does not see fit to restore
strength to her body, exhausted by suffering--His will be done! Perhaps
it would now be wise and generous to leave her to that love of God which
she has attained after so many tears; perhaps it would be prudent to
spare her fresh shocks."

"No! no!" interrupted William, "I cannot give up, even to God, this last
relic of my family, the sole prop of my old age. I will try every means
to revive in her heart its early sentiments. Give me Christine for a few
days only! Let me conduct her to the place of her birth, to the scenes
where she loved. She is deaf to my entreaties, but she will obey an
order from you; bid her return for a while beneath her father's roof!
Should she still wish it, after this last attempt, I will restore her
hither."

"Take her, my son," replied the superior; "I will bid her follow. If God
has indeed spoken to her soul, no worldly voice will move her. If it be
otherwise, may she return no more to the cloister, but be blessed
wherever she goes! Adieu, my son; the peace of the Lord be with you!"

Hope revived in the heart of William Van Amberg; it seemed to him as
if--the convent threshold once passed--Christine would revert to her
former character--to her youth and love. He believed he was about to
remove his beloved child for ever from these gloomy walls, and with
painful impatience he awaited her coming. Soon a light step was heard in
the corridor; William threw open the door, Christine was there, and no
grating now separated her from her uncle.

"My beloved Christine!" exclaimed William; "at last, then, you are
restored to me; at last I can press you to my heart! Come, we will
return to our own country, and revisit the house where we all dwelt
together."

Sister Martha-Mary was still paler than at her first interview with
William. If any expression was discernible upon that calm countenance,
it was one of sadness. She allowed herself to be taken by the hand and
conducted to the convent gate; but when the gate was opened, and,
passing into the open air, she encountered the broad daylight and the
fresh breeze, she tottered and leaned for support against the wall. Just
then the sun rent the clouds, and threw its golden beams on plain and
mountain; the air was clear and transparent, and the flat and monotonous
horizon acquired beauty from the burst of light.

"See, my daughter!" said William; "see how lovely is the earth! How soft
is the air we breathe! How good it is to be free, and to move towards
that immense horizon!"

"Oh, my dear uncle!" replied the novice; "how beautiful are the heavens!
See how the sun shines above our heads! It is in heaven that his glory
should be admired! His rays are already dim and feeble when they touch
the earth!"

William led Christine to a carriage; they got in, and the horses set
off. Long did the gaze of the novice remain fixed on her convent's
walls; when these were hidden from her by the windings of the road, she
closed her eyes and seemed to sleep. During the journey, William
endeavoured in vain to make her converse; she had forgotten how to
express her thoughts. When compelled to reply, fatigue overwhelmed her;
her whole existence was concentrated in her soul, and detached entirely
from the external world. At intervals she would say to herself, "How
long the morning is! Nothing marks the hours; I have not heard a single
bell to-day!"

At last they reached the red house, and the carriage drove into the
court, where the grass grew between the stones. Gothon came out to
receive them, and Martha-Mary, leaning on her uncle's arm, entered the
parlour where the family of Van Amberg had so often assembled. The room
was deserted and cold; no books or work gave it the look of habitation;
abandoned by its last occupants, it awaited new ones. Christine slowly
traversed this well-known apartment, and sat down upon a chair near the
window. It was there her mother had sat for twenty years; there had her
childhood passed at the knees of Annunciata.

William opened the window, showed her the meadow, the willows, and the
river. Christine looked at them in silence, her head resting on her
hand, her eyes fixed on the horizon. For a long while William stood
beside her, then he placed his hand on her shoulder and pronounced her
name. She rose and followed him. They ascended the stairs, traversed the
gallery, and William opened a door. "Your mother's room," said he to
Christine. The novice entered and paused in the middle of the chamber;
tears flowed from her eyes, she clasped her hands and prayed.

"My daughter," said William, "_she_ ardently desired your happiness."

"She has obtained it!" replied the novice.

The old man felt a profound sadness come over him. It was like pressing
to his heart a corpse to which his love restored neither breath nor
warmth. Martha-Mary approached her mother's bed, knelt down, and kissed
the pillow that had supported the dying head of Annunciata.

"Mother," she murmured, "soon we shall meet again."

William shuddered. He took Christine's hand, and led her to the room she
had formerly occupied. The little white-curtained bed was still there,
the guitar hung against the wall, Christine's favourite volumes filled
the shelves of her modest book-case; through the open window were seen
the willows and the river. Martha-Mary noticed none of these things: the
wooden crucifix was still upon the wall; she rapidly approached it,
knelt, bowed her head upon the feet of Christ, closed her eyes and
breathed deeply, like one finding repose after long fatigue. Like the
exile returning to his native land, like the storm-tossed mariner
regaining the port, she remained with her brow resting upon her
Saviour's feet.

Standing by her side, William looked on in tearful silence. Farther off,
Gothon wiped her eyes with her apron. Several hours elapsed. The house
clock struck, the birds sang in the garden; the wind rustled among the
trees; in the lofty pigeon-house the doves cooed; the cock crowed in the
poultry-yard. None of these loved and familiar sounds could divert
Martha-Mary from her devout meditation. Sick at heart, her uncle
descended to the parlour. He remained there long, plunged in gloomy
reflections. Suddenly hasty steps were heard; a young man rushed into
the room, and into William's arms.

"Christine! Christine!" cried Herbert; "where is Christine? Is it not a
dream? M. Van Amberg gives me Christine!... Once more in my native land,
and Christine mine!"

"Karl Van Amberg gives, but God refuses her to you!" replied William,
mournfully. Then he told Herbert what had passed at the convent, and
since their arrival at the house: he gave a thousand details--he
repeated them a thousand times, but without convincing Herbert of the
melancholy truth.

"It is impossible!" cried the young man; "if Christine is alive, if
Christine is here, to the first word uttered by her lover, Christine
will reply."

"God grant it!" exclaimed William; "my last hope is in you."

Herbert sprang up the stairs, his heart too full of love to have room
for fear. Christine free, was for him Christine ready to become his
wife. He hastily opened her chamber door; but then he paused, as if
petrified, upon the threshold. The day was closing in, and its fading
light fell upon Martha-Mary, whose form stood out like a white shadow
from the gloom of the room. She was still on her knees, her head resting
on the feet of Christ, her fragile person lost in the multiplied folds
of her conventual robes. She heard not the opening of the door, and
Herbert stood gazing at her, till a flood of tears burst from his eyes.
William took his hand and silently pressed it.

"I am frightened!" said Herbert, in a low tone. "That is not my
Christine! A phantom risen from the earth, or an angel descended from
heaven, has taken her place!"

"No, she is no longer Christine!" replied William, sadly.

For a few moments more Herbert stood in mournful contemplation. Then he
exclaimed--"Christine, dear Christine!"

At the sound of his voice the novice started, rose to her feet, and
pronounced his name. As in former days, when her lover called
"Christine!" Martha-Mary replied "Herbert!"

The young man's heart beat violently; he stood beside the novice, he
took her hands. "It is I, it is Herbert!" he said, kneeling down before
her.

The novice fixed her large black eyes upon him with a long inquiring
gaze; a slight flush passed across her brow; then she became pale as
before, and said gently to Herbert--"I thought not to see you again upon
earth."

"Dear Christine! tears and suffering have long been our portion; but
happy days at last dawn upon us! My love! my bride! we will never part
again!"

Martha-Mary extricated her hands from those of Herbert, and retreated
towards the image of Christ.

"I am the bride of the Lord," she said in trembling accents. "He expects
me."

Herbert uttered a cry of grief.

"Christine! dear Christine! remember our oft-repeated pledges, our
loves, our tears, our hopes. You left me vowing to love me always.
Christine, if you would not have me die of despair, remember the past!"

Martha-Mary's eyes continued riveted on the crucifix; her hands,
convulsively clasped, were extended towards it.

"Gracious Lord!" she prayed, "speak to his heart as you have spoken to
mine! It is a noble heart, worthy to love you. Stronger than I, Herbert
may survive, even after much weeping! Console him, oh Lord!"

"Christine! my first and only love! sole hope and joy of my life! do you
thus abandon me? That heart, once entirely mine, is it closed to me for
ever?"

Her gaze upon the crucifix, her hands still joined, the novice, as if
able to speak only to her God, gently replied:--"Lord! he suffers as I
suffered! shed upon him the balm wherewith you healed my wounds! Leaving
him life, take his soul as you have taken mine. Give him that ineffable
peace which descends upon those thou lovest!"

"Oh Christine! my beloved!" cried Herbert, once more taking her hand,
"do but look at me! turn your eyes upon me and behold my tears! Dearest
treasure of my heart! you seem to slumber! Awake! Have you forgotten our
tender meetings, the willows bending over the stream, the boat in which
we sailed a whole night, dreaming the joy of eternal union? See! the
moon rises as it rose that night. We were near each other as now; but
then they tore us asunder, and now we are free to be together!
Christine, have you ceased to love? Is all forgotten?"

William took her other hand. "Dear child," he said, "we entreat you not
to leave us! To you we look for happiness; remain with us, Christine."

One hand in the hands of Herbert, the other in those of William, the
novice slowly and solemnly replied:

"The corpse that reposes in the tomb lifts not the stone to re-enter the
world. The soul that has seen heaven, does not leave it to return to
earth. The creature to whom God has said, 'Be thou the spouse of
Christ,' does not quit Christ to unite herself to a man; and she who is
about to die should turn her affections from mortal things!"

"Herbert!" cried William, "be silent! Not another word! I can scarcely
feel the throbbing of her pulse! She is paler even than when I first saw
her behind the convent grating. We give her pain. Enough, Herbert,
enough! Better yield her to God upon earth, than send her to Him in
heaven!"

The old man placed the almost inanimate head of Martha-Mary upon his
shoulder, and pressed her to his heart as a mother embraces her child.
"Recover yourself, my daughter," he said; "I will restore you to the
house of God."

Martha-Mary turned her sad and gentle gaze upon her uncle, and her hand
feebly pressed his. Then addressing herself to Herbert:

"You, Herbert," she said, in a scarcely audible voice--"you, who will
live, do not abandon him!"

"Christine!" cried Herbert, on his knees before his betrothed.
"Christine! do we part for ever?"

The novice raised her eyes to heaven.

"Not for ever!" she replied.

Some days afterwards the convent gates opened to receive sister
Martha-Mary. They closed upon her for the last time. With feeble and
unsteady step the novice traversed the cloisters to prostrate herself on
the altar-steps. The superior came to her.

"Oh my mother!" exclaimed Christine, the fountain of whose tears was
opened, and who wept as in the days of her childhood, "I have seen him
and left him! To thee I return, oh Lord! Faithful to my vows, I await
the crown that shall consecrate me thy spouse. Thy voice alone shall
henceforward reach my ears; I come to sing thy praises, to pray and
serve thee until the end of my life!--Holy mother, prepare the robe of
serge, the white crown, the silver cross; I am ready!"

"My daughter," replied the superior, "you are very ill--much exhausted
by so many shocks; will you not delay the ceremony of profession?"

"No, holy mother! no; delay it not! I would die the bride of the
Lord!... And I have little time!" replied sister Martha-Mary.



THE MAN IN THE BELL.

[_MAGA._ NOVEMBER 1821.]


In my younger days, bell-ringing was much more in fashion among the
young men of ---- than it is now. Nobody, I believe, practises it there
at present except the servants of the church, and the melody has been
much injured in consequence. Some fifty years ago, about twenty of us
who dwelt in the vicinity of the Cathedral, formed a club, which used to
ring every peal that was called for; and, from continual practice and a
rivalry which arose between us and a club attached to another steeple,
and which tended considerably to sharpen our zeal, we became very
Mozarts on our favourite instruments. But my bell-ringing practice was
shortened by a singular accident, which not only stopped my performance,
but made even the sound of a bell terrible to my ears.

One Sunday, I went with another into the belfry to ring for noon
prayers, but the second stroke we had pulled showed us that the clapper
of the bell we were at was muffled. Some one had been buried that
morning, and it had been prepared, of course, to ring a mournful note.
We did not know of this, but the remedy was easy. "Jack," said my
companion, "step up to the loft, and cut off the hat;" for the way we
had of muffling was by tying a piece of an old hat, or of cloth (the
former was preferred), to one side of the clapper, which deadened every
second toll. I complied, and mounting into the belfry, crept as usual
into the bell, where I began to cut away. The hat had been tied on in
some more complicated manner than usual, and I was perhaps three or four
minutes in getting it off; during which time my companion below was
hastily called away--by a message from his sweetheart, I believe--but
that is not material to my story. The person who called him was a
brother of the club, who, knowing that the time had come for ringing for
service, and not thinking that any one was above, began to pull. At this
moment I was just getting out, when I felt the bell moving; I guessed
the reason at once--it was a moment of terror; but by a hasty and almost
convulsive effort, I succeeded in jumping down, and throwing myself on
the flat of my back under the bell.

The room in which it was, was little more than sufficient to contain it,
the bottom of the bell coming within a couple of feet of the floor of
lath. At that time I certainly was not so bulky as I am now, but as I
lay it was within an inch of my face. I had not laid myself down a
second, when the ringing began.--It was a dreadful situation. Over me
swung an immense mass of metal, one touch of which would have crushed me
to pieces; the floor under me was principally composed of crazy laths,
and if they gave way, I was precipitated to the distance of about fifty
feet upon a loft, which would, in all probability, have sunk under the
impulse of my fall, and sent me to be dashed to atoms upon the marble
floor of the chancel, an hundred feet below. I remembered--for fear is
quick in recollection--how a common clockwright, about a month before,
had fallen, and, bursting through the floors of the steeple, driven in
the ceilings of the porch, and even broken into the marble tombstone of
a bishop who slept beneath. This was my first terror, but the ringing
had not continued a minute, before a more awful and immediate dread came
on me. The deafening sound of the bell smote into my ears with a thunder
which made me fear their drums would crack: there was not a fibre of my
body it did not thrill through. It entered my very soul; thought and
reflection were almost utterly banished; I only retained the sensation
of agonising terror. Every moment I saw the bell sweep within an inch of
my face; and my eyes--I could not close them, though to look at the
object was bitter as death--followed it instinctively in its
oscillating progress until it came back again. It was in vain I said to
myself that it could come no nearer at any future swing than it did at
first; every time it descended, I endeavoured to shrink into the very
floor to avoid being buried under the down-sweeping mass; and then,
reflecting on the danger of pressing too weightily on my frail support,
would cower up again as far as I dared.

At first my fears were mere matter of fact. I was afraid the pulleys
above would give way, and let the bell plunge on me. At another time,
the possibility of the clapper being shot out in some sweep, and dashing
through my body, as I had seen a ramrod glide through a door, flitted
across my mind. The dread also, as I have already mentioned, of the
crazy floor, tormented me; but these soon gave way to fears not more
unfounded, but more visionary, and of course more tremendous. The
roaring of the bell confused my intellect, and my fancy soon began to
teem with all sort of strange and terrifying ideas. The bell pealing
above, and opening its jaws with a hideous clamour, seemed to me at one
time a ravening monster, raging to devour me; at another, a whirlpool
ready to suck me into its bellowing abyss. As I gazed on it, it assumed
all shapes; it was a flying eagle, or rather a roc of the Arabian
story-tellers, clapping its wings and screaming over me. As I looked
upward into it, it would appear sometimes to lengthen into indefinite
extent, or to be twisted at the end into the spiral folds of the tail of
a flying dragon. Nor was the flaming breath or fiery glance of that
fabled animal wanting to complete the picture. My eyes, inflamed,
blood-shot, and glaring, invested the supposed monster with a full
proportion of unholy light.

It would be endless were I to merely hint at all the fancies that
possessed my mind. Every object that was hideous and roaring presented
itself to my imagination. I often thought that I was in a hurricane at
sea, and that the vessel in which I was embarked tossed under me with
the most furious vehemence. The air, set in motion by the swinging of
the bell, blew over me, nearly with the violence, and more than the
thunder, of a tempest; and the floor seemed to reel under me, as under a
drunken man. But the most awful of all the ideas that seized on me were
drawn from the supernatural. In the vast cavern of the bell hideous
faces appeared, and glared down on me with terrifying frowns, or with
grinning mockery still more appalling. At last, the devil himself,
accoutred as in the common description of the evil spirit, with hoof,
horn, and tail, and eyes of infernal lustre, made his appearance, and
called on me to curse God and worship him, who was powerful to save me.
This dread suggestion he uttered with the full-toned clangour of the
bell. I had him within an inch of me, and I thought on the fate of the
Santon Barsisa. Strenuously and desperately I defied him and bade him
begone. Reason, then, for a moment, resumed her sway, but it was only to
fill me with fresh terror, just as the lightning dispels the gloom that
surrounds the benighted mariner, but to show him that his vessel is
driving on a rock, where she must inevitably be dashed to pieces. I
found I was becoming delirious, and trembled lest reason should utterly
desert me. This is at all times an agonising thought, but it smote me
then with tenfold agony. I feared lest, when utterly deprived of my
senses, I should rise--to do which I was every moment tempted by that
strange feeling which calls on a man, whose head is dizzy from standing
on the battlement of a lofty castle, to precipitate himself from it, and
then death would be instant and tremendous. When I thought of this, I
became desperate. I caught the floor with a grasp which drove the blood
from my nails; and I yelled with the cry of despair. I called for help,
I prayed, I shouted, but all the efforts of my voice were of course
drowned in the bell. As it passed over my mouth, it occasionally echoed
my cries, which mixed not with its own sound, but preserved their
distinct character. Perhaps this was but fancy. To me, I know, they then
sounded as if they were the shouting, howling, or laughing of the
fiends with which my imagination had peopled the gloomy cave which swung
over me.

You may accuse me of exaggerating my feelings; but I am not. Many a
scene of dread have I since passed through, but they are nothing to the
self-inflicted terrors of this half hour. The ancients have doomed one
of the damned, in their Tartarus, to lie under a rock, which every
moment seems to be descending to annihilate him--and an awful punishment
it would be. But if to this you add a clamour as loud as if ten thousand
furies were howling about you--a deafening uproar banishing reason, and
driving you to madness--you must allow that the bitterness of the pang
was rendered more terrible. There is no man, firm as his nerves may be,
who could retain his courage in this situation.

In twenty minutes the ringing was done. Half of that time passed over me
without power of computation,--the other half appeared an age. When it
ceased, I became gradually more quiet, but a new fear retained me. I
knew that five minutes would elapse without ringing, but, at the end of
that short time, the bell would be rung a second time, for five minutes
more. I could not calculate time. A minute and an hour were of equal
duration. I feared to rise, lest the five minutes should have elapsed,
and the ringing be again commenced, in which case I should be crushed,
before I could escape, against the walls or framework of the bell. I
therefore still continued to lie down, cautiously shifting myself,
however, with a careful gliding, so that my eye no longer looked into
the hollow. This was of itself a considerable relief. The cessation of
the noise had, in a great measure, the effect of stupifying me, for my
attention, being no longer occupied by the chimeras I had conjured up,
began to flag. All that now distressed me was the constant expectation
of the second ringing, for which, however, I settled myself with a kind
of stupid resolution. I closed my eyes, and clenched my teeth as firmly
as if they were screwed in a vice. At last the dreaded moment came, and
the first swing of the bell extorted a groan from me, as they say the
most resolute victim screams at the sight of the rack, to which he is
for a second time destined. After this, however, I lay silent and
lethargic, without a thought. Wrapt in the defensive armour of
stupidity, I defied the bell and its intonations. When it ceased, I was
roused a little by the hope of escape. I did not, however, decide on
this step hastily, but, putting up my hand with the utmost caution, I
touched the rim. Though the ringing had ceased, it still was tremulous
from the sound, and shook under my hand, which instantly recoiled as
from an electric jar. A quarter of an hour probably elapsed before I
again dared to make the experiment, and then I found it at rest. I
determined to lose no time, fearing that I might have lain then already
too long, and that the bell for evening service would catch me. This
dread stimulated me, and I slipped out with the utmost rapidity, and
arose. I stood, I suppose, for a minute, looking with silly wonder on
the place of my imprisonment, penetrated with joy at escaping, but then
rushed down the stony and irregular stair with the velocity of
lightning, and arrived in the bell-ringers' room. This was the last act
I had power to accomplish. I leant against the wall, motionless and
deprived of thought, in which posture my companions found me, when, in
the course of a couple of hours, they returned to their occupation.

They were shocked, as well they might, at the figure before them. The
wind of the bell had excoriated my face, and my dim and stupified eyes
were fixed with a lack-lustre gaze in my raw eyelids. My hands were torn
and bleeding; my hair dishevelled; and my clothes tattered. They spoke
to me, but I gave no answer. They shook me, but I remained insensible.
They then became alarmed, and hastened to remove me. He who had first
gone up with me in the forenoon, met them as they carried me through the
churchyard, and through him, who was shocked at having, in some
measure, occasioned the accident, the cause of my misfortune was
discovered. I was put to bed at home, and remained for three days
delirious, but gradually recovered my senses. You may be sure the bell
formed a prominent topic of my ravings, and if I heard a peal, they were
instantly increased to the utmost violence. Even when the delirium
abated, my sleep was continually disturbed by imagined ringings, and my
dreams were haunted by the fancies which almost maddened me while in the
steeple. My friends removed me to a house in the country, which was
sufficiently distant from any place of worship, to save me from the
apprehensions of hearing the church-going bell; for what Alexander
Selkirk, in Cowper's poem, complained of as a misfortune, was then to me
as a blessing. Here I recovered; but, even long after recovery, if a
gale wafted the notes of a peal towards me, I started with nervous
apprehension. I felt a Mohammedan hatred to all the bell tribe, and
envied the subjects of the Commander of the Faithful the sonorous voice
of their Muezzin. Time cured this, as it does the most of our follies;
but even at the present day, if, by chance, my nerves be unstrung, some
particular tones of the cathedral bell have power to surprise me into a
momentary start.


PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS, EDINBURGH.



Transcriber's Note


Apparent printer's errors and archaic spelling have been retained,
unless stated below.

Punctuation markup has been made consistent.

"_" surrounding text represents italics.

In the original, pages are numbered 1-100 three times consecutively.
In this Transcriber's Note, they have been differentiated by
using 1a-100a, 1b-100b, 1c-100c.

Page 58a, "cause" changed to "case". (In due time the case was called.)

Page 60a, "eat" changed to "ate". (... and he would have sailed thither
before the 31st of December, on which day his father, a joyous liver and
confirmed votary of Bacchus, ate and drank to such an extent to
celebrate the exit of the old year and commencement of the new, that he
fell down, on his way to his bed, in a thundering fit of apoplexy, and
was a corpse before morning.)

Page 67a, "Μητ' ἐμοὶ παρέστιος γένοιτο" has been changed to "Μήτ' ἐμοὶ
παρέστιος γένοιτο".

Page 25b, "raw" changed to "law". (I was not quite sure of the effect of
my commentary on the evidence, and therefore thought it might be
advisable to touch upon a national law.)

Page 67c, "Amburg" changed to "Amberg" for consistency. (With a vigorous
arm, M. Van Amberg seized Christine, whose slender form bent like a reed
over his shoulder.)





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