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Title: "My Novel" — Volume 06
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
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 ""My Novel" — Volume 06" ***

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BOOK SIXTH.


INITIAL CHAPTER.

WHEREIN MR. CAXTON IS PROFOUNDLY METAPHYSICAL.

"Life," said my father, in his most dogmatical tone, "is a certain
quantity in time, which may be regarded in two ways,--First, as life
integral; Second, as life fractional.  Life integral is that complete
whole expressive of a certain value, large or small, which each man
possesses in himself.  Life fractional is that same whole seized upon and
invaded by other people, and subdivided amongst them.  They who get a
large slice of it say, 'A very valuable life this!'  Those who get but a
small handful say, 'So, so; nothing very great!'  Those who get none of
it in the scramble exclaim, 'Good for nothing!'"

"I don't understand a word you are saying," growled Captain Roland.

My father surveyed his brother with compassion: "I will make it all
clear, even to your understanding.  When I sit down by myself in my
study, having carefully locked the door on all of you, alone with my
books and thoughts, I am in full possession of my integral life.  I am
/totus, teres, atque rotundus/,--a whole human being, equivalent in
value, we will say, for the sake of illustration, to a fixed round sum,
L100 for example.  But when I go forth into the common apartment, each of
those to whom I am of any worth whatsoever puts his finger into the bag
that contains me, and takes out of me what he wants.  Kitty requires me
to pay a bill; Pisistratus to save him the time and trouble of looking
into a score or two of books; the children to tell them stories, or play
at hide-and-seek; and so on throughout the circle to which I have
incautiously given myself up for plunder and subdivision.  The L100 which
I represented in my study is now parcelled out; I am worth L40 or L50 to
Kitty, L20 to Pisistratus, and perhaps 30s.  to the children.  This is
life fractional.  And I cease to be an integral till once more returning
to my study, and again closing the door on all existence but my own.
Meanwhile, it is perfectly clear that to those who, whether I am in the
study or whether I am in the common sitting-room, get nothing at all out
of me, I am not worth a farthing.  It must be wholly indifferent to a
native of Kamschatka whether Austin Caxton be or be not razed out of the
great account-book of human beings.

"Hence," continued my father,--"hence it follows that the more fractional
a life be--that is, the greater the number of persons among whom it can
be subdivided--why, the more there are to say, 'A very valuable life
that!'  Thus the leader of a political party, a conqueror, a king, an
author, who is amusing hundreds or thousands or millions, has a greater
number of persons whom his worth interests and affects than a Saint
Simeon Stylites could have when he perched himself at the top of a
column; although, regarded each in himself, Saint Simeon, in his grand
mortification of flesh, in the idea that he thereby pleased his Divine
Benefactor, might represent a larger sum of moral value per se than
Bonaparte or Voltaire."

PISISTRATUS.--"Perfectly clear, sir; but I don't see what it has to do
with 'My Novel.'"

MR. CAXTON.--"Everything.  Your novel, if it is to be a full and
comprehensive survey of the 'Quicquid agunt homines' (which it ought to
be, considering the length and breadth to which I foresee, from the slow
development of your story, you meditate extending and expanding it), will
embrace the two views of existence,--the integral and the fractional. You
have shown us the former in Leonard, when he is sitting in his mother's
cottage, or resting from his work by the little fount in Riccabocca's
garden.  And in harmony with that view of his life, you have surrounded
him with comparative integrals, only subdivided by the tender hands of
their immediate families and neighbours,--your squires and parsons, your
Italian exile and his Jemima.  With all these, life is, more or less, the
life natural, and this is always, more or less, the life integral.  Then
comes the life artificial, which is always, more or less, the life
fractional.  In the life natural, wherein we are swayed but by our own
native impulses and desires, subservient only to the great silent law of
Virtue (which has pervaded the universe since it swung out of chaos), a
man is of worth from what he is in himself,--Newton was as worthy before
the apple fell from the tree as when all Europe applauded the discoverer
of the Principle of Gravity.  But in the life artificial we are only of
worth inasmuch as we affect others; and, relative to that life, Newton
rose in value more than a million per cent when down fell the apple from
which ultimately sprang up his discovery.  In order to keep civilization
going and spread over the world the light of human intellect, we have
certain desires within us, ever swelling beyond the ease and independence
which belongs to us as integrals.  Cold man as Newton might be (he once
took a lady's hand in his own, Kitty, and used her forefinger for his
tobacco-stopper,--great philosopher!), cold as he might be, he was yet
moved into giving his discoveries to the world, and that from motives
very little differing in their quality from the motives that make Dr.
Squills communicate articles to the 'Phrenological Journal' upon the
skulls of Bushmen and wombats.  For it is the property of light to
travel.  When a man has light in him, forth it must go.  But the first
passage of genius from its integral state (in which it has been reposing
on its own wealth) into the fractional is usually through a hard and
vulgar pathway.  It leaves behind it the reveries of solitude,--that
self-contemplating rest which may be called the Visionary,--and enters
suddenly into the state that may be called the Positive and Actual.
There it sees the operations of money on the outer life; sees all the
ruder and commoner springs of action; sees ambition without nobleness,
love without romance; is bustled about and ordered and trampled and
cowed,--in short, it passes an apprenticeship with some Richard Avenel,
and does not detect what good and what grandeur, what addition even to
the true poetry of the social universe, fractional existences like
Richard Avenel's bestow; for the pillars that support society are like
those of the Court of the Hebrew Tabernacle,--they are of brass, it is
true, but they are filleted with silver.  From such intermediate state
Genius is expelled and driven on its way, and would have been so in this
case had Mrs. Fairfield (who is but the representative of the homely
natural affections, strongest ever in true genius,--for light is warm)
never crushed Mr. Avenel's moss rose on her sisterly bosom.  Now, forth
from this passage and defile of transition into the larger world, must
Genius go on, working out its natural destiny amidst things and forms the
most artificial.  Passions that move and influence the world are at work
around it.  Often lost sight of itself, its very absence is a silent
contrast to the agencies present.  Merged and vanished for a while amidst
the Practical World, yet we ourselves feel all the while that it is
there; is at work amidst the workings around it.  This practical world
that effaces it rose out of some genius that has gone before; and so each
man of genius, though we never come across him, as his operations proceed
in places remote from our thoroughfares, is yet influencing the practical
world that ignores him, for ever and ever.  That is GENIUS!  We can't
describe it in books; we can only hint and suggest it by the accessories
which we artfully heap about it.  The entrance of a true Probationer into
the terrible ordeal of Practical Life is like that into the miraculous
cavern, by which, legend informs us, Saint Patrick converted Ireland."

BLANCHE.--"What is that legend?  I never heard of it."

MR. CAXTON.--"My dear, you will find it in a thin folio at the right on
entering my study, written by Thomas Messingham, and called 'Florilegium
Insulae Sanctorum,' etc.  The account therein is confirmed by the
relation of an honest soldier, one Louis Ennius, who had actually entered
the cavern.  In short, the truth of the legend is undeniable, unless you
mean to say, which I can't for a moment suppose, that Louis Ennius was a
liar.  Thus it runs: Saint Patrick, finding that the Irish pagans were
incredulous as to his pathetic assurances of the pains and torments
destined to those who did not expiate their sins in this world, prayed
for a miracle to convince them.  His prayer was heard; and a certain
cavern, so small that a man could not stand up therein at his ease, was
suddenly converted into a Purgatory, comprehending tortures sufficient to
convince the most incredulous.  One unacquainted with human nature might
conjecture that few would be disposed to venture voluntarily into such a
place; on the contrary, pilgrims came in crowds.  Now, all who entered
from vain curiosity or with souls unprepared perished miserably; but
those who entered with deep and earnest faith, conscious of their faults,
and if bold, yet humble, not only came out safe and sound, but purified,
as if from the waters of a second baptism.  See Savage and Johnson at
night in Fleet Street,--and who shall doubt the truth of Saint Patrick's
Purgatory!"  Therewith my father sighed; closed his Lucian, which had
lain open on the table, and would read none  but "good books" for the
rest of the evening.



CHAPTER II.

On their escape from the prison to which Mr. Avenel had condemned them,
Leonard and his mother found their way to a small public-house that lay
at a little distance from the town, and on the outskirts of the high
road.  With his arm round his mother's waist, Leonard supported her
steps, and soothed her excitement.  In fact, the poor woman's nerves
were greatly shaken, and she felt an uneasy remorse at the injury her
intrusion had inflicted on the young man's worldly prospects.  As the
shrewd reader has guessed already, that infamous tinker was the prime
agent of evil in this critical turn in the affairs of his quondam
customer; for, on his return to his haunts around Hazeldean and the
Casino, the tinker had hastened to apprise Mrs. Fairfield of his
interview with Leonard, and, on finding that she was not aware that the
boy was under the roof of his uncle, the pestilent vagabond (perhaps from
spite against Mr. Avenel, or perhaps from that pure love of mischief by
which metaphysical critics explain the character of Iago, and which
certainly formed a main element in the idiosyncrasy of Mr. Sprott) had so
impressed on the widow's mind the haughty demeanour of the uncle, and the
refined costume of the nephew, that Mrs. Fairfield had been seized with a
bitter and insupportable jealousy.  There was an intention to rob her of
her boy!--he was to be made too fine for her.  His silence was now
accounted for.  This sort of jealousy, always more or less a feminine
quality, is often very strong amongst the poor; and it was the more
strong in Mrs. Fairfield, because, lone woman that she was, the boy was
all in all to her.  And though she was reconciled to the loss of his
presence, nothing could reconcile her to the thought that his affections
should be weaned from her.  Moreover, there were in her mind certain
impressions, of the justice of which the reader may better judge
hereafter, as to the gratitude--more than ordinarily filial--which
Leonard owed to her.  In short, she did not like, as she phrased it, "to
be shaken off;" and after a sleepless night she resolved to judge for
herself, much moved thereto by the malicious suggestions to that effect
made by Mr. Sprott, who mightily enjoyed the idea of mortifying the
gentlemen by whom he had been so disrespectfully threatened with the
treadmill.  The widow felt angry with Parson Dale and with the
Riccaboccas: she thought they were in the plot against her; she
communicated.  therefore, her intentions to none, and off she set,
performing the journey partly on the top of the coach, partly on foot.
No wonder that she was dusty, poor woman!

"And, oh, boy!" said she, half sobbing, "when I got through the lodge-
gates, came on the lawn, and saw all that power o' fine folk, I said to
myself, says I--for I felt fritted--I'll just have a look at him and go
back.  But ah, Lenny, when I saw thee, looking so handsome, and when thee
turned and cried 'Mother,' my heart was just ready to leap out o' my
mouth, and so I could not help hugging thee, if I had died for it.  And
thou wert so kind, that I forgot all Mr. Sprott had said about Dick's
pride, or thought he had just told a fib about that, as he had wanted me
to believe a fib about thee.  Then Dick came up--and I had not seen him
for so many years--and we come o' the same father and mother; and so--and
so--"  The widow's sobs here fairly choked her.  "Ah," she said, after
giving vent to her passion, and throwing her arms round Leonard's neck,
as they sat in the little sanded parlour of the public-house,--"ah, and
I've brought thee to this.  Go back; go back, boy, and never mind me."

With some difficulty Leonard pacified poor Mrs. Fairfield, and got her to
retire to bed; for she was, indeed, thoroughly exhausted.  He then
stepped forth into the road; musingly.  All the stars were out; and
Youth, in its troubles, instinctively looks up to the stars.  Folding his
arms, Leonard gazed on the heavens, and his lips murmured.

From this trance, for so it might be called, he was awakened by a voice
in a decidedly London accent; and, turning hastily round, saw Mr.
Avenel's very gentlemanlike butler.

Leonard's first idea was that his uncle had repented, and sent in search
of him.  But the butler seemed as much surprised at the rencontre as
himself: that personage, indeed, the fatigues of the day being over, was
accompanying one of Mr. Gunter's waiters to the public-house (at which
the latter had secured his lodging), having discovered an old friend in
the waiter, and proposing to regale himself with a cheerful glass, and-
THAT of course--abuse of his present sitivation.

"Mr. Fairfield!" exclaimed the butler, while the waiter walked discreetly
on.

Leonard looked, and said nothing.  The butler began to think that some
apology was due for leaving his plate and his pantry, and that he might
as well secure Leonard's propitiatory influence with his master.

"Please, sir," said he, touching his hat, "I was just a showing Mr. Giles
the way to the Blue Bells, where he puts up for the night.  I hope my
master will not be offended.  If you are a going back, sir, would you
kindly mention it?"

"I am not going back, Jarvis," answered Leonard, after a pause; "I am
leaving Mr. Avenel's house, to accompany my mother,--rather suddenly.  I
should be very much obliged to you if you would bring some things of mine
to me at the Blue Bells.  I will give you the list, if you will step with
me to the inn."

Without waiting for a reply, Leonard then turned towards the inn, and
made his humble inventory: item, the clothes he had brought with him from
the Casino; item, the knapsack that had contained them; item, a few
books, ditto; item, Dr. Riccabocca's watch; item, sundry manuscripts, on
which the young student now built all his hopes of fame and fortune.
This list he put into Mr. Jarvis's hand.

"Sir," said the butler, twirling the paper between his finger and thumb,
"you're not a going for long, I hope?" and he looked on the face of the
young man, who had always been "civil spoken to him," with as much
curiosity and as much compassion as so apathetic and princely a personage
could experience in matters affecting a family less aristocratic than he
had hitherto condescended to serve.

"Yes," said Leonard, simply and briefly; "and your master will no doubt
excuse you for rendering me this service."  Mr. Jarvis postponed for the
present his glass and chat with the waiter, and went back at once to Mr.
Avenel.  That gentleman, still seated in his library, had not been aware
of the butler's absence; and when Mr. Jarvis entered and told him that he
had met Mr. Fairfield, and communicating the commission with which he was
intrusted, asked leave to execute it, Mr. Avenel felt the man's
inquisitive eye was on him, and conceived new wrath against Leonard for a
new humiliation to his pride.  It was awkward to give no explanation of
his nephew's departure, still more awkward to explain.  After a short
pause, Mr. Avenel said sullenly, "My nephew is going away on business for
some time,--do what he tells you;" and then turned his back, and lighted
his cigar.

"That beast of a boy," said he, soliloquizing, "either means this as an
affront, or an overture: if an affront, he is, indeed, well got rid of;
if an overture, he will soon make a more respectful and proper one.
After all, I can't have too little of relations till I have fairly
secured Mrs. M'Catchley.  An Honourable!  I wonder if that makes me an
Honourable too?  This cursed Debrett contains no practical information on
those points."

The next morning the clothes and the watch with which Mr. Avenel
presented Leonard were returned, with a note meant to express gratitude,
but certainly written with very little knowledge of the world; and so
full of that somewhat over-resentful pride which had in earlier life made
Leonard fly from Hazeldean, and refuse all apology to Randal, that it is
not to be wondered at that Mr. Avenel's last remorseful feelings
evaporated in ire.  "I hope he will starve!" said the uncle,
vindictively.



CHAPTER III.

"Listen to me, my dear mother," said Leonard the next morning, as, with
knapsack on his shoulder and Mrs. Fairfield on his arm, he walked along
the high road; "I do assure you from my heart that I do not regret the
loss of favours which I see plainly would have crushed out of me the very
sense of independence.  But do not fear for me; I have education and
energy,--I shall do well for myself, trust me.--No, I cannot, it is true,
go back to our cottage; I cannot be a gardener again.  Don't ask me,--I
should be discontented, miserable.  But I will go up to London!  That's
the place to make a fortune and a name: I will make both.  Oh, yes, trust
me, I will.  You shall soon be proud of your Leonard; and then we will
always live together,--always!  Don't cry," "But what can you do in
Lunnon,--such a big place, Lenny?"

"What!  Every year does not some lad leave our village, and go and seek
his fortune, taking with him but health and strong hands?  I have these,
and I have more: I have brains and thoughts and hopes, that--again I say,
No, no; never fear for me!"

The boy threw back his head proudly; there was something sublime in his
young trust in the future.

"Well.  But you will write to Mr. Dale or to me?  I will get Mr. Dale or
the good mounseer (now I know they were not agin me) to read your
letters."

"I will, indeed!"

"And, boy, you have nothing in your pockets.  We have paid Dick; these,
at least, are my own, after paying the coach fare."  And she would thrust
a sovereign and some shillings into Leonard's waistcoat pocket.

After some resistance, he was forced to consent.

"And there's a sixpence with a hole in it.  Don't part with that, Lenny;
it will bring thee good luck."

Thus talking, they gained the inn where the three roads met, and from
which a coach went direct to the Casino.  And here, without entering the
inn, they sat on the greensward by the hedgerow, waiting the arrival of
the coach--Mrs.  Fairfield was much subdued in spirits, and there was
evidently on her mind something uneasy,--some struggle with her
conscience.  She not only upbraided herself for her rash visit, but she
kept talking of her dead Mark.  And what would he say of her, if he could
see her in heaven?

"It was so selfish in me, Lenny."

"Pooh, pooh!  Has not a mother a right to her child?"

"Ay, ay, ay!" cried Mrs. Fairfield.  "I do love you as a child,--my own
child.  But if I was not your mother, after all, Lenny, and cost you all
this--oh, what would you say of me then?"

"Not my own mother!" said Leonard, laughing as he kissed her.  "Well, I
don't know what I should say then differently from what I say now,--that
you, who brought me up and nursed and cherished me, had a right to my
home and my heart, wherever I was."

"Bless thee!" cried Mrs. Fairfield, as she pressed him to her heart.
"But it weighs here,--it weighs," she said, starting up.

At that instant the coach appeared, and Leonard ran forward to inquire if
there was an outside place.  Then there was a short bustle while the
horses were being changed; and Mrs. Fairfield was lifted up to the roof
of the vehicle, so all further private conversation between her and
Leonard ceased.  But as the coach whirled away, and she waved her hand to
the boy, who stood on the road-side gazing after her, she still murmured,
"It weighs here,--it weighs!"



CHAPTER IV.

Leonard walked sturdily on in the high road to the Great City.  The day
was calm and sunlit, but with a gentle breeze from gray hills at the
distance; and with each mile that he passed, his step seemed to grow more
firm, and his front more elate.  Oh, it is such joy in youth to be alone
with one's daydreams!  And youth feels so glorious a vigour in the sense
of its own strength, though the world be before and--against it!  Removed
from that chilling counting-house, from the imperious will of a patron
and master, all friendless, but all independent, the young adventurer
felt a new being, felt his grand nature as Man.  And on the Man rushed
the genius long interdicted and thrust aside,--rushing back, with the
first breath of adversity, to console--no! the Man needed not
consolation,--to kindle, to animate, to rejoice!  If there is a being in
the world worthy of our envy, after we have grown wise philosophers of
the fireside, it is not the palled voluptuary, nor the careworn
statesman, nor even the great prince of arts and letters, already crowned
with the laurel, whose leaves are as fit for poison as for garlands; it
is the young child of adventure and hope.  Ay, and the emptier his purse,
ten to one but the richer his heart, and the wider the domains which his
fancy enjoys as he goes on with kingly step to the Future.

Not till towards the evening did our adventurer slacken his pace and
think of rest and refreshment.  There, then, lay before him on either
side the road those wide patches of uninclosed land which in England
often denote the entrance to a village.  Presently one or two neat
cottages came in sight; then a small farmhouse, with its yard and barns.
And some way farther yet, he saw the sign swinging before an inn of some
pretensions,--the sort of inn often found on a long stage between two
great towns commonly called "The Halfway House."  But the inn stood back
from the road, having its own separate sward in front, whereon was a
great beech-tree (from which the sign extended) and a rustic arbour; so
that to gain the inn, the coaches that stopped there took a sweep from
the main thoroughfare.  Between our pedestrian and the inn there stood,
naked and alone, on the common land, a church; our ancestors never would
have chosen that site for it;  therefore it was a modern church,--modern
Gothic; handsome to an eye not versed in the attributes of ecclesiastical
architecture, very barbarous to an eye that was.  Somehow or other the
church looked cold and raw and uninviting.  It looked a church for show,
--much too big for the scattered hamlet, and void of all the venerable
associations which give their peculiar and unspeakable atmosphere of
piety to the churches in which succeeding generations have knelt and
worshipped.  Leonard paused and surveyed the edifice with an unlearned
but poetical gaze; it dissatisfied him.  And he was yet pondering why,
when a young girl passed slowly before him, her eyes fixed on the ground,
opened the little gate that led into the churchyard, and vanished.  He
did not see the child's face; but there was something in her movements so
utterly listless, forlorn, and sad that his heart was touched.  What did
she there?  He approached the low wall with a noiseless step, and looked
over it wistfully.

There by a grave, evidently quite recent, with no wooden tomb nor
tombstone like the rest, the little girl had thrown herself, and she was
sobbing loud and passionately.  Leonard opened the gate, and approached
her with a soft step.  Mingled with her sobs, he heard broken sentences,
wild and vain, as all human sorrowings over graves must be.

"Father!  oh, Father, do you not really hear me?  I am so lone, so lone!
Take me to you,--take me!"  And she buried her face in the deep grass.

"Poor child!" said Leonard, in a half whisper,--"he is not there.  Look
above!"

The girl did not heed him; he put his arm round her waist gently; she
made a gesture of impatience and anger, but she would not turn her face,
and she clung to the grave with her hands.

After clear, sunny days the dews fall more heavily; and now, as the sun
set, the herbage was bathed in a vaporous haze,--a dim mist rose around.
The young man seated himself beside her, and tried to draw the child to
his breast.  Then she turned eagerly, indignantly, and pushed him aside
with jealous arms.  He profaned the grave!  He understood her with his
deep poet-heart, and rose.  There was a pause.  Leonard was the first to
break it.

"Come to your home with me, my child, and we will talk of him by the
way."

"Him!  Who are you?  You did not know him!" said the girl, still with
anger.  "Go away!  Why do you disturb me?  I do no one harm.  Go! go!"

"You do yourself harm, and that will grieve him if he sees you yonder!
Come!"

The child looked at him through her blinding tears, and his face softened
and soothed her.

"Go!" she said, very plaintively, and in subdued accents.  "I will but
stay a minute more.  I--I have so much to say yet."

Leonard left the churchyard, and waited without; and in a short time the
child came forth, waived him aside as he approached her, and hurried
away.  He followed her at a distance, and saw her disappear within the
inn.



CHAPTER V.

"Hip-Hip-Hurrah!" Such was the sound that greeted our young traveller as
he reached the inn door,--a sound joyous in itself, but sadly out of
harmony with the feelings which the child sobbing on the tombless grave
had left at his heart.  The sound came from within, and was followed by
thumps and stamps, and the jingle of glasses.  A strong odour of tobacco
was wafted to his olfactory sense.  He hesitated a moment at the
threshold.

Before him, on benches under the beech-tree and within the arbour, were
grouped sundry athletic forms with "pipes in the liberal air."

The landlady, as she passed across the passage to the taproom, caught
sight of his form at the doorway, and came forward.  Leonard still stood
irresolute.  He would have gone on his way, but for the child: she had
interested him strongly.

"You seem full, ma'am," said he.  "Can I have accommodation for the
night?"

"Why, indeed, sir," said the landlady, civilly, "I can give you a
bedroom, but I don't know where to put you meanwhile.  The two parlours
and the tap-room and the kitchen are all choke-full.  There has been a
great cattle-fair in the neighbourhood, and I suppose we have as many as
fifty farmers and drovers stopping here."

"As to that, ma'am, I can sit in the bedroom you are kind enough to give
me; and if it does not cause you much trouble to let me have some tea
there, I should be glad; but I can wait your leisure.  Do not put
yourself out of the way for me."

The landlady was touched by a consideration she was not much habituated
to receive from her bluff customers.  "You speak very handsome, sir, and
we will do our best to serve you, if you will excuse all faults.  This
way, sir."  Leonard lowered his knapsack, stepped into the passage, with
some difficulty forced his way through a knot of sturdy giants in top-
boots or leathern gaiters, who were swarining in and out the tap-room,
and followed his hostess upstairs to a little bedroom at the top of the
house.

"It is small, sir, and high," said the hostess, apologetically.  "But
there be four gentlemen farmers that have come a great distance, and all
the first floor is engaged; you will be more out of the noise here."

"Nothing can suit me better.  But, stay,--pardon me;" and Leonard,
glancing at the garb of the hostess, observed she was not in mourning.
"A little girl whom I saw in the churchyard yonder, weeping very
bitterly--is she a relation of yours?  Poor child!  she seems to have
deeper feelings than are common at her age."

"Ah, sir," said the landlady, putting the corner of her apron to her
eyes, "it is a very sad story.  I don't know what to do.  Her father was
taken ill on his way to Lunnon, and stopped here, and has been buried
four days.  And the poor little girl seems to have no relations--and
where is she to go?  Laryer Jones says we must pass her to Marybone
parish, where her father lived last; and what's to become of her then?
My heart bleeds to think on it."

Here there rose such an uproar from below, that it was evident some
quarrel had broken out; and the hostess, recalled to her duties, hastened
to carry thither her propitiatory influences.

Leonard seated himself pensively by the little lattice.  Here was some
one more alone in the world than he; and she, poor orphan, had no stout
man's heart to grapple with fate, and no golden manuscripts that were to
be as the "Open-Sesame" to the treasures of Aladdin.  By and by, the
hostess brought him up a tray with tea and other refreshments, and
Leonard resumed his inquiries.  "No relatives?" said he; "surely the
child must have some kinsfolk in London?  Did her father leave no
directions, or was he in possession of his faculties?"

"Yes, sir; he was quite reasonable like to the last.  And I asked him if
he had not anything on his mind, and he said, 'I have.'  And I said,
'Your little girl, sir?'  And he answered me, 'Yes, ma'am;' and laying
his head on his pillow, he wept very quietly.  I could not say more
myself, for it set me off to see him cry so meekly; but my husband is
harder nor I, and he said, 'Cheer up, Mr. Digby; had not you better write
to your friends?'

"'Friends!' said the gentleman, in such a voice!  'Friends I have but
one, and I am going to Him!  I cannot take her there!'  Then he seemed
suddenly to recollect himself, and called for his clothes, and rummaged
in the pockets as if looking for some address, and could not find it.  He
seemed a forgetful kind of gentleman, and his hands were what I call
helpless hands, sir!  And then he gasped out, 'Stop, stop!  I never had
the address.  Write to Lord Les--', something like Lord Lester, but we
could not make out the name.  Indeed he did not finish it, for there was
a rush of blood to his lips; and though he seemed sensible when he
recovered (and knew us and his little girl too, till he went off
smiling), he never spoke word more."

"Poor man," said Leonard, wiping his eyes.  "But his little girl surely
remembers the name that he did not finish?"

"No.  She says he must have meant a gentleman whom they had met in the
Park not long ago, who was very kind to her father, and was Lord
something; but she don't remember the name, for she never saw him before
or since, and her father talked very little about any one lately, but
thought he should find some kind friends at Screwstown, and travelled
down there with her from Lunnon.  But she supposes he was disappointed,
for he went out, came back, and merely told her to put up the things, as
they must go back to Lunnon.  And on his way there he--died.  Hush,
what's that?  I hope she did not overhear us.  No, we were talking low.
She has the next room to your'n, sir.  I thought I heard her sobbing.
Hush!"

"In the next room?  I hear nothing.  Well, with your leave, I will speak
to her before I quit you.  And had her father no money with him?"

"Yes, a few sovereigns, sir; they paid for his funeral, and there is a
little left still,--enough to take her to town; for my husband said, says
he, 'Hannah, the widow gave her mite, and we must not take the orphan's;'
and my husband is a hard man, too, sir--bless him!"

"Let me take your hand, ma'am.  God reward you both."  "La, sir! why,
even Dr. Dosewell said, rather grumpily though, 'Never mind my bill; but
don't call me up at six o'clock in the morning again, without knowing a
little more about people.'  And I never afore knew Dr. Dosewell go
without his bill being paid.  He said it was a trick o' the other doctor
to spite him."

"What other doctor?"

"Oh, a very good gentleman, who got out with Mr. Digby when he was taken
ill, and stayed till the next morning; and our doctor says his name is
Morgan, and he lives in Lunnou, and is a homy--something."

"Homicide," suggested Leonard, ignorantly.

"Ah, homicide; something like that, only a deal longer and worse.  But he
left some of the tiniest little balls you ever see, sir, to give the
child; but, bless you, they did her no good,--how should they?"

"Tiny balls, oh--homoeopathist--I understand.  And the doctor was kind to
her; perhaps he may help her.  Have you written to him?"

"But we don't know his address, and Lunnon is a vast place, sir."

"I am going to London and will find it out."

"Ah, sir, you seem very kind; and sin' she must go to Lunnon (for what
can we do with her here?--she's too genteel for service), I wish she was
going with you."

"With me!" said Leonard, startled,--"with me!  Well, why not?"

"I am sure she comes of good blood, sir.  You would have known her father
was quite the gentleman, only to see him die, sir.  He went off so kind
and civil like, as if he was ashamed to give so much trouble,--quite a
gentleman, if ever there was one.  And so are you, sir, I'm sure," said
the land lady, courtesying; "I know what gentlefolk be.  I've been a
housekeeper in the first of families in this very shire, sir, though I
can't say I've served in Lunnon; and so, as gentlefolks know each other,
I 've no doubt you could find out her relations.  Dear, dear!  Coming,
coming!"

Here there were loud cries for the hostess, and she hurried away.  The
farmers and drovers were beginning to depart, and their bills were to be
made out and paid.  Leonard saw his hostess no more that night.  The last
Hip-hip-hurrah was heard,--some toast, perhaps to the health of the
county members,--and the chamber of woe beside Leonard's rattled with the
shout.  By and by, silence gradually succeeded the various dissonant
sounds below.  The carts and gigs rolled away; the clatter of hoofs on
the road ceased; there was then a dumb dull sound as of locking-up, and
low, humming voices below, and footsteps mounting the stairs to bed, with
now and then a drunken hiccough or maudlin laugh, as some conquered
votary of Bacchus was fairly carried up to his domicile.

All, then, at last was silent, just as the clock from the church sounded
the stroke of eleven.

Leonard, meanwhile, had been looking over his manuscripts.  There was
first a project for an improvement on the steam-engine,--a project that
had long lain in his mind, begun with the first knowledge of mechanics
that he had gleaned from his purchases of the tinker.  He put that aside
now,--it required too great an effort of the reasoning faculty to
re-examine.

He glanced less hastily over a collection of essays on various subjects,
--some that he thought indifferent, some that he thought good.  He then
lingered over a collection of verses written in his best hand with loving
care,--verses first inspired by his perusal of Nora's melancholy
memorials.  These verses were as a diary of his heart and his fancy,--
those deep, unwitnessed struggles which the boyhood of all more
thoughtful natures has passed in its bright yet murky storm of the cloud
and the lightning-flash, though but few boys pause to record the crisis
from which slowly emerges Man.  And these first desultory grapplings with
the fugitive airy images that flit through the dim chambers of the brain
had become with each effort more sustained and vigorous, till the
phantoms were spelled, the flying ones arrested, the Immaterial seized,
and clothed with Form.  Gazing on his last effort, Leonard felt that
there at length spoke forth the poet.  It was a work which though as yet
but half completed, came from a strong hand; not that shadow trembling on
unsteady waters, which is but the pale reflex and imitation of some
bright mind, sphered out of reach and afar, but an original substance,--
a life, a thing of the Creative Faculty,--breathing back already the
breath it had received.  This work had paused during Leonard's residence
with Mr. Avenel, or had only now and then, in stealth, and at night,
received a rare touch.  Now, as with a fresh eye he reperused it, and
with that strange, innocent admiration, not of self--for a man's work is
not, alas!  himself,--it is the beautified and idealized essence,
extracted he knows not how from his own human elements of clay;
admiration known but to poets,--their purest delight, often their sole
reward.  And then with a warmer and more earthly beat of his full heart,
he rushed in fancy to the Great City, where all rivers of fame meet, but
not to be merged and lost, sallying forth again, individualized and
separate, to flow through that one vast Thought of God which we call
THE WORLD.

He put up his papers; and opened his window, as was his ordinary custom,
before he retired to rest,--for he had many odd habits; and he loved to
look out into the night when he prayed.  His soul seemed to escape from
the body--to mount on the air, to gain more rapid access to the far
Throne in the Infinite--when his breath went forth among the winds, and
his eyes rested fixed on the stars of heaven.

So the boy prayed silently; and after his prayer he was about,
lingeringly, to close the lattice, when he heard distinctly sobs close at
hand.  He paused, and held his breath, then looked gently out; the
casement next his own was also open.  Someone was also at watch by that
casement,--perhaps also praying.  He listened yet more intently, and
caught, soft and low, the words, "Father, Father, do you hear me now?"



CHAPTER VI.

Leonard opened his door and stole towards that of the room adjoining; for
his first natural impulse had been to enter and console.  But when his
touch was on the handle, he drew back.  Child though the mourner was, her
sorrows were rendered yet more sacred from intrusion by her sex.
Something, he knew not what, in his young ignorance, withheld him from
the threshold.  To have crossed it then would have seemed to him
profanation.  So he returned, and for hours yet he occasionally heard the
sobs, till they died away, and childhood wept itself to sleep.

But the next morning, when he heard his neighbour astir, he knocked
gently at her door: there was no answer.  He entered softly, and saw her
seated very listlessly in the centre of the room,--as if it had no
familiar nook or corner as the rooms of home have, her hands drooping on
her lap, and her eyes gazing desolately on the floor.  Then he approached
and spoke to her.

Helen was very subdued, and very silent.  Her tears seemed dried up;
and it was long before she gave sign or token that she heeded him.  At
length, however, he gradually succeeded in rousing her interest; and the
first symptom of his success was in the quiver of her lip, and the
overflow of her downcast eyes.

By little and little he wormed himself into her confidence; and she told
him in broken whispers her simple story.  But what moved him the most
was, that beyond her sense of loneliness she did not seem to feel her own
unprotected state.  She mourned the object she had nursed and heeded and
cherished, for she had been rather the protectress than the protected to
the helpless dead.  He could not gain from her any more satisfactory
information than the landlady had already imparted, as to her friends and
prospects; but she permitted him passively to look among the effects her
father had left, save only that, if his hand touched something that
seemed to her associations especially holy, she waved him back, or drew
it quickly away.  There were many bills receipted in the name of Captain
Digby, old yellow faded music-scores for the flute, extracts of Parts
from Prompt Books, gay parts of lively comedies, in which heroes have so
noble a contempt for money,--fit heroes for a Sheridan and a Farquhar;
close by these were several pawnbroker's tickets; and, not arrayed
smoothly, but crumpled up, as if with an indignant nervous clutch of the
helpless hands, some two or three letters.  He asked Helen's permission
to glance at these, for they might afford a clew to friends.  Helen gave
the permission by a silent bend of the head.  The letters, however, were
but short and freezing answers from what appeared to be distant
connections or former friends, or persons to whom the deceased had
applied for some situation.  They were all very disheartening in their
tone.  Leonard next endeavoured to refresh Helen's memory as to the name
of the nobleman which had been last on her father's lips; but there he
failed wholly.  For it may be remembered that Lord L'Estrange, when he
pressed his loan on Mr. Digby, and subsequently told that gentleman to
address him at Mr. Egerton's, had, from a natural delicacy, sent the
child on, that she might not witness the charity bestowed on the father;
and Helen said truly that Mr. Digby had sunk latterly into an habitual
silence on all his affairs.  She might have heard her father mention the
name, but she had not treasured it up; all she could say was, that she
should know the stranger again if she met him, and his dog too.  Seeing
that the child had grown calm, Leonard was then going to leave the room,
in order to confer with the hostess, when she rose suddenly, though
noiselessly, and put her little hand in his, as if to detain him.  She
did not say a word; the action said all,--said, "Do not desert me."  And
Leonard's heart rushed to his lips, and he answered to the action, as he
bent down, and kissed her cheek, "Orphan, will you go with me?  We have
one Father yet to both of us, and He will guide us on earth.  I am
fatherless like you."  She raised her eyes to his, looked at him long,
and then leaned her head confidingly on his strong young shoulder.



CHAPTER VII.

At noon that same day the young man and the child were on their road to
London.  The host had at first a little demurred at trusting Helen to so
young a companion; but Leonard, in his happy ignorance, had talked so
sanguinely of finding out this lord, or some adequate protectors for the
child; and in so grand a strain, though with all sincerity, had spoken of
his own great prospects in the metropolis (he did not say what they
were!) that had he been the craftiest impostor he could not more have
taken in the rustic host.  And while the landlady still cherished the
illusive fancy that all gentlefolks must know each other in London, as
they did in a county, the landlord believed, at least, that a young man
so respectably dressed, although but a foot-traveller, who talked in so
confident a tone, and who was so willing to undertake what might be
rather a burdensome charge, unless he saw how to rid himself of it, would
be sure to have friends older and wiser than himself, who would judge
what could best be done for the orphan.

And what was the host to do with her?  Better this volunteered escort, at
least, than vaguely passing her on from parish to parish, and leaving her
friendless at last in the streets of London.  Helen, too, smiled for the
first time on being asked her wishes, and again put her hand in
Leonard's.  In short, so it was settled.

The little girl made up a bundle of the things she most prized or needed.
Leonard did not feel the additional load, as he slung it to his knapsack;
the rest of the luggage was to be sent to London as soon as Leonard wrote
(which he promised to do soon) and gave an address.

Helen paid her last visit to the churchyard; and she joined her companion
as he stood on the road, without the solemn precincts.  And now they had
gone on some hours; and when he asked her if she were tired, she still
answered "No."  But Leonard was merciful, and made their day's journey
short; and it took them some days to reach London.  By the long lonely
way they grew so intimate, at the end of the second day, they called each
other brother and sister; and Leonard, to his delight, found that as her
grief, with the bodily movement and the change of scene, subsided from
its first intenseness and its insensibility to other impressions, she
developed a quickness of comprehension far beyond her years.  Poor child!
that had been forced upon her by Necessity.  And she understood him in
his spiritual consolations, half poetical, half religious; and she
listened to his own tale, and the story of his self-education and
solitary struggles,--those, too, she understood.  But when he burst out
with his enthusiasm, his glorious hopes, his confidence in the fate
before them, then she would shake her head very quietly and very sadly.
Did she comprehend them!  Alas!  perhaps too well.  She knew more as to
real life than he did.  Leonard was at first their joint treasurer; but
before the second day was over, Helen seemed to discover that he was too
lavish; and she told him so, with a prudent grave look, putting her hand
on his arm as he was about to enter an inn to dine; and the gravity would
have been comic, but that the eyes through their moisture were so meek
and grateful.  She felt he was about to incur that ruinous extravagance
on her account.  Somehow or other, the purse found its way into her
keeping, and then she looked proud and in her natural element.

Ah! what happy meals under her care were provided; so much more enjoyable
than in dull, sanded inn-parlours, swarming with flies, and reeking with
stale tobacco.  She would leave him at the entrance of a village, bound
forward, and cater, and return with a little basket and a pretty blue
jug--which she had bought on the road,--the last filled with new milk;
the first with new bread, and some special dainty in radishes or water-
tresses.  And she had such a talent for finding out the prettiest spot
whereon to halt and dine: sometimes in the heart of a wood,--so still,
it was like a forest in fairy tales, the hare stealing through the
alleys, or the squirrel peeping at them from the boughs; sometimes by a
little brawling stream, with the fishes seen under the clear wave, and
shooting round the crumbs thrown to them.  They made an Arcadia of the
dull road up to their dread Thermopylae, the war against the million that
waited them on the other side of their pass through Tempo.

"Shall we be as happy when we are great?" said Leonard, in his grand
simplicity.

Helen sighed, and the wise little head was shaken.



CHAPTER VIII.

At last they came within easy reach of London; but Leonard had resolved
not to enter the metropolis fatigued and exhausted, as a wanderer needing
refuge, but fresh and elate, as a conqueror coming in triumph to take
possession of the capital.  Therefore they halted early in the evening of
the day preceding this imperial entry, about six miles from the
metropolis, in the neighbourhood of Ealing (for by that route lay their
way).  They were not tired on arriving at their inn.  The weather was
singularly lovely, with that combination of softness and brilliancy which
is only known to the rare true summer days of England; all below so
green, above so blue,--days of which we have about six in the year, and
recall vaguely when we read of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, of Damsel and
Knight in Spenser's golden Summer Song, or of Jacques, dropped under the
oak-tree, watching the deer amidst the dells of Ardennes.  So, after a
little pause at their inn, they strolled forth, not for travel but
pleasure, towards the cool of sunset, passing by the grounds that once
belonged to the Duke of Kent, and catching a glimpse of the shrubs and
lawns of that beautiful domain through the lodge-gates; then they crossed
into some fields, and came to a little rivulet called the Brent.  Helen
had been more sad that day than on any during their journey,--perhaps
because, on approaching London, the memory of her father became more
vivid; perhaps from her precocious knowledge of life, and her foreboding
of what was to befall them, children that they both were.  But Leonard
was selfish that day; he could not be influenced by his companion's
sorrow; he was so full of his own sense of being, and he already caught
from the atmosphere the fever that belongs to anxious capitals.

"Sit here, sister," said he, imperiously, throwing himself under the
shade of a pollard-tree that overhung the winding brook, "sit here and
talk."

He flung off his hat, tossed back his rich curls, and sprinkled his brow
from the stream that eddied round the roots of the tree that bulged out,
bald and gnarled, from the bank and delved into the waves below.  Helen
quietly obeyed him, and nestled close to his side.

"And so this London is really very vast,--VERY?" he repeated
inquisitively.

"Very," answered Helen, as, abstractedly, she plucked the cowslips near
her, and let them fall into the running waters.  "See how the flowers are
carried down the stream!  They are lost now.  London is to us what the
river is to the flowers, very vast, very strong;" and she added, after a
pause, "very cruel!"

"Cruel!  Ah, it has been so to you; but now--now I will take care of
you!"  he smiled triumphantly; and his smile was beautiful both in its
pride and its kindness.  It is astonishing how Leonard had altered since
he had left his uncle's.  He was both younger and older; for the sense of
genius, when it snaps its shackles, makes us both older and wiser as to
the world it soars to, younger and blinder as to the world it springs
from.

"And it is not a very handsome city, either, you say?"

"Very ugly indeed," said Helen, with some fervour; "at least all I have
seen of it."

"But there must be parts that are prettier than others?  You say there
are parks: why should not we lodge near them and look upon the green
trees?"

"That would be nice," said Helen, almost joyously; "but--" and here the
head was shaken--"there are no lodgings for us except in courts and
alleys."

"Why?"

"Why?" echoed Helen, with a smile, and she held up the purse.

"Pooh! always that horrid purse; as if, too, we were not going to fill
it!  Did not I tell you the story of Fortunio?  Well, at all events, we
will go first to the neighbourhood where you last lived, and learn there
all we can; and then the day after to-morrow I will see this Dr. Morgan,
and find out the lord."

The tears started to Helen's soft eyes.  "You want to get rid of me soon,
brother."

"I!  Ah, I feel so happy to have you with me it seems to me as if I had
pined for you all my life, and you had come at last; for I never had
brother nor sister nor any one to love, that was not older than myself,
except--"

"Except the young lady you told me of," said Helen, turning away her
face; for children are very jealous.

"Yes, I loved her, love her still.  But that was different," said
Leonard.  "I could never have talked to her as to you: to you I open my
whole heart; you are my little Muse, Helen: I confess to you my wild
whims and fancies as frankly as if I were writing poetry."  As he said
this, a step was heard, and a shadow fell over the stream.  A belated
angler appeared on the margin, drawing his line impatiently across the
water, as if to worry some dozing fish into a bite before it finally
settled itself for the night.  Absorbed in his occupation, the angler did
not observe the young persons on the sward under the tree, and he halted
there, close upon them.

"Curse that perch!" said he, aloud.

"Take care, sir," cried Leonard; for the man, in stepping back, nearly
trod upon Helen.

The angler turned.  "What 's the matter?  Hist! you have frightened my
perch.  Keep still, can't you?"

Helen drew herself out of the way, and Leonard remained motionless.  He
remembered Jackeymo, and felt a sympathy for the angler.

"It is the most extraordinary perch, that!" muttered the stranger,
soliloquizing.  "It has the devil's own luck.  It must have been born
with a silver spoon in its mouth, that damned perch!  I shall never catch
it,--never!  Ha! no, only a weed.  I give it up."  With this, he
indignantly jerked his rod from the water and began to disjoint it.
While leisurely engaged in this occupation, he turned to Leonard.

"Humph! are you intimately acquainted with this stream, sir?"

"No," answered Leonard.  "I never saw it before."

ANGLER, (solemnly).--"Then, young man, take my advice, and do not give
way to its fascinations.  Sir, I am a martyr to this stream; it has been
the Delilah of my existence."

LEONARD (interested, the last sentence seemed to him poetical).--"The
Delilah!  sir, the Delilah!"

ANGLER.--"The Delilah.  Young man, listen, and be warned by example.
When I was about your age, I first came to this stream to fish.  Sir, on
that fatal day, about three p.m., I hooked up a fish,--such a big one, it
must have weighed a pound and a half.  Sir, it was that length; "and the
angler put finger to wrist.  "And just when I had got it nearly ashore,
by the very place where you are sitting, on that shelving bank, young
man, the line broke, and the perch twisted himself among those roots,
and--cacodaemon that he was--ran off, hook and all.  Well, that fish
haunted me; never before had I seen such a fish.  Minnows I had caught in
the Thames and elsewhere, also gudgeons, and occasionally a dace.  But a
fish like that--a PERCH, all his fins up, like the sails of a man-of-war
--a monster perch,--a whale of a perch!  No, never till then had I known
what leviathans lie hid within the deeps.  I could not sleep till I
had returned; and again, sir,--I caught that perch.  And this time I
pulled him fairly out of the water.  He escaped; and how did he escape?
Sir, he left his eye behind him on the hook.  Years, long years, have
passed since then; but never shall I forget the agony of that moment."

LEONARD.--"To the perch, sir?"

ANGLER.--"Perch! agony to him!  He enjoyed it.  Agony to me!  I gazed on
that eye, and the eye looked as sly and as wicked as if it were laughing
in my face.  Well, sir, I had heard that there is no better bait for a
perch than a perch's eye.  I adjusted that eye on the hook, and dropped
in the line gently.  The water was unusually clear; in two minutes
I saw that perch return.  He approached the hook; he recognized his eye,
frisked his tail, made a plunge, and, as I live, carried off the eye,
safe and sound; and I saw him digesting it by the side of that water-
lily.  The mocking fiend!  Seven times since that day, in the course of a
varied and eventful life, have I caught that perch, and seven times has
that perch escaped."

LEONARD (astonished).--"It can't be the same perch; perches are very
tender fish.  A hook inside of it, and an eye hooked out of it--no perch
could withstand such havoc in its constitution."

ANGLER (with an appearance of awe).--"It does seem supernatural.  But it
is that perch; for hark ye, sir, there is ONLY ONE perch in the whole
brook!  All the years I have fished here, I have never caught another
perch; and this solitary inmate of the watery element I know by sight
better than I knew my own lost father.  For each time that I have raised
it out of the water, its profile has been turned to me, and I have seen
with a shudder that it has had only--One Eye!  It is a most mysterious
and a most diabolical phenomenon, that perch!  It has been the ruin of my
prospects in life.  I was offered a situation in Jamaica: I could not go
with that perch left here in triumph.  I might afterwards have had an
appointinent in India, but I could not put the ocean between myself and
that perch: thus have I frittered away my existence in the fatal
metropolis of my native land.  And once a week from February to December
I come hither.  Good heavens!  if I should catch the perch at last, the
occupation of my existence will be gone."

Leonard gazed curiously at the angler, as the last thus mournfully
concluded.  The ornate turn of his periods did not suit with his costume.
He looked wofully threadbare and shabby,--a genteel sort of shabbiness
too,--shabbiness in black.  There was humour in the corners of his lip;
and his hands, though they did not seem very clean--indeed his occupation
was not friendly to such niceties--were those of a man who had not known
manual labour.  His face was pale and puffed, but the tip of the nose was
red.  He did not seem as if the watery element was as familiar to himself
as to his Delilah, the perch.

"Such is Life!" recommenced the angler, in a moralizing tone, as he slid
his rod into its canvas case.  "If a man knew what it was to fish all
one's life in a stream that has only one perch, to catch that one perch
nine times in all, and nine times to see it fall back into the water,
plump,--if a man knew what it was, why, then "--here the angler looked
over his shoulder full at Leonard--"why then, young sir, he would know
what human life is to vain ambition.  Good-evening."

Away he went treading over the daisies and kingcups.  Helen's eyes
followed him wistfully.

"What a strange person!" said Leonard, laughing.

"I think he is a very wise one," murmured Helen; and she came close up to
Leonard, and took his hand in both hers, as if she felt already that he
was in need of the Comforter,--the line broken, and the perch lost!



CHAPTER IX.

At noon the next day, London stole upon them through a gloomy, thick,
oppressive atmosphere; for where is it that we can say London bursts on
the sight?  It stole on them through one of its fairest and most gracious
avenues of approach,--by the stately gardens of Kensington, along the
side of Hyde Park, and so on towards Cumberland Gate.

Leonard was not the least struck.  And yet with a very little money, and
a very little taste, it would be easy to render this entrance to London
as grand and as imposing as that to Paris from the Champs Elysees.  As
they came near the Edgware Road, Helen took her new brother by the hand
and guided him; for she knew all that neighbourhood, and she was
acquainted with a lodging near that occupied by her father (to that
lodging itself she could not have gone for the world), where they might
be housed cheaply.

But just then the sky, so dull and overcast since morning, seemed one
mass of black cloud.  There suddenly came on a violent storm of rain.
The boy and girl took refuge in a covered mews, in a street running out
of the Edgware Road.  This shelter soon became crowded; the two young
pilgrims crept close to the wall, apart from the rest, Leonard's arm
round Helen's waist, sheltering her from the rain that the strong wind
contending with it beat in through the passage.  Presently a young
gentleman of better mien and dress than the other refugees entered, not
hastily, but rather with a slow and proud step, as if, though he deigned
to take shelter, he scorned to run to it.  He glanced somewhat haughtily
at the assembled group, passed on through the midst of it, came near
Leonard, took off his hat, and shook the rain from its brim.  His head
thus uncovered, left all his features exposed; and the village youth
recognized, at the first glance, his old victorious assailant on the
green at Hazeldean.



CHAPTER IX.

Yet Randal Leslie was altered.  His dark cheek was as thin as in boyhood,
and even yet more wasted by intense study and night vigils; but the
expression of his face was at once more refined and manly, and there was
a steady concentrated light in his eye, like that of one who has been in
the habit of bringing all his thoughts to one point.  He looked older
than he was.  He was dressed simply in black, a colour which became him;
and altogether his aspect and figure were, not showy indeed, but
distinguished.  He looked to the common eye a gentleman; and to the more
observant a scholar.

Helter-skelter! pell-mell!  the group in the passage now pressed each on
each, now scattered on all sides, making way, rushing down the mews,
against the walls, as a fiery horse darted under shelter.  The rider, a
young man with a very handsome face, and dressed with that peculiar care
which we commonly call dandyism, cried out, good-humouredly, "Don't be
afraid; the horse sha'n't hurt any of you.  A thousand pardons--so ho!
so ho!"  He patted the horse, and it stood as still as a statue, filling
up the centre of the passage.  The groups resettled; Randal approached
the rider.

"Frank Hazeldean!"

"Ah, is it indeed Randal Leslie?"

Frank was off his horse in a moment, and the bridle was consigned to the
care of a slim 'prentice-boy holding a bundle.

"My dear fellow, how glad I am to see you.  How lucky it was that I
should turn in here.  Not like me either, for I don't much care for a
ducking.  Staying in town, Randal?"

"Yes; at your uncle's, Mr. Egerton.  I have left Oxford."

"For good?"

"For good."

"But you have not taken your degree, I think?  We Etonians all considered
you booked for a double-first.  Oh, we have been so proud of your fame,--
you carried off all the prizes."

"Not all; but some, certainly.  Mr. Egerton offered me my choice,--to
stay for my degree, or to enter at once into the Foreign Office.  I
preferred the end to the means.  For, after all, what good are academical
honours but as the entrance to life?  To enter now is to save a step in a
long way, Frank."

"Ah, you were always ambitious, and you will make a great figure, I am
sure."

"Perhaps so--if I work for it.  Knowledge is power."  Leonard started.

"And you!" resumed Randal, looking with some curious attention at his old
schoolfellow.  "You never came to Oxford.  I did hear you were going into
the army."

"I am in the Guards," said Frank, trying hard not to look too conceited
as he made that acknowledgment.  "The governor pished a little, and would
rather I had come to live with him in the old Hall, and take to farming.
Time enough for that, eh?  By Jove, Randal, how pleasant a thing is life
in London!  Do you go to Almack's to-night?"

"No; Wednesday is a holiday in the House.  There is a great parliamentary
dinner at Mr. Egerton's.  He is in the Cabinet now, you know; but you
don't see much of your uncle, I think."

"Our sets are different," said the young gentleman, in a tone of voice
worthy of Brummel.  "All those parliamentary fellows are devilish dull.
The rain's over.  I don't know whether the governor would like me to call
at Grosvenor Square; but pray come and see me.  Here's my card to remind
you; you must dine at our mess.  Such capital fellows!  What day will you
fix?"

"I will call and let you know.  Don't you find it rather expensive in the
Guards?  I remember that you thought the governor, as you call him, used
to chafe a little when you wrote for more pocket-money; and the only time
I ever saw you with tears in your eyes was when Mr. Hazeldean, in sending
you L5, reminded you that his estates were not entailed,--were at his own
disposal, and they should never go to an extravagant spendthrift.  It was
not a pleasant threat that, Frank."

"Oh!" cried the young man, colouring deeply.  "It was not the threat that
pained me; it was that my father could think so meanly of me as to fancy
that---Well, well, but those were schoolboy days.  And my father was
always more generous than I deserved.  We must see a great deal of each
other, Randal.  How good-natured you were at Eton, making my longs and
shorts for me; I shall never forget it.  Do call soon."

Frank swung himself into his saddle, and rewarded the slim youth with
half-a-crown,--a largess four times more ample than his father would have
deemed sufficient.  A jerk of the reins and a touch of the heel, off
bounded the fiery horse and the gay young rider.  Randal mused, and as
the rain had now ceased, the passengers under shelter dispersed and went
their way.  Only Randal, Leonard, and Helen remained behind.  Then, as
Randal, still musing, lifted his eyes, they fell full upon Leonard's
face.  He started, passed his hand quickly over his brow, looked again,
hard and piercingly; and the change in his pale cheek to a shade still
paler, a quick compression and nervous gnawing of his lip, showed that he
too recognized an old foe.  Then his glance ran over Leonard's dress,
which was somewhat dust-stained, but far above the class amongst which
the peasant was born.  Randal raised his brows in surprise, and with a
smile slightly supercilious--the smile stung Leonard--and with a slow
step, Randal left the passage, and took his way towards Grosvenor Square.
The Entrance of Ambition was clear to him.

Then the little girl once more took Leonard by the hand, and led him
through rows of humble, obscure, dreary streets.  It seemed almost like
an allegory personified, as the sad, silent child led on the penniless
and low-born adventurer of genius by the squalid shops and through the
winding lanes, which grew meaner and meaner, till both their forms
vanished from the view.



CHAPTER X.

"But do come; change your dress, return and dine with me; you will have
just time, Harley.  You will meet the most eminent men of our party;
surely they are worth your study, philosopher that you affect to be."

Thus said Audley Egerton to Lord L'Estrange, with whom he had been riding
(after the toils of his office).  The two gentlemen were in Audley's
library,--Mr. Egerton, as usual, buttoned up, seated in his chair, in the
erect posture of a man who scorns "inglorious ease;"  Harley, as usual,
thrown at length on the sofa., his long hair in careless curls, his
neckcloth loose, his habiliments flowing simplex mundit is, indeed, his
grace all his own; seemingly negligent, never slovenly; at ease
everywhere and with every one, even with Mr. Audley Egerton, who chilled
or awed the ease out of most people.

"Nay, my dear Audley, forgive me.  But your eminent men are all men of
one idea, and that not a diverting one, politics! politics! politics!
The storm in the saucer."

"But what is your life, Harley?--the saucer without the storm?"

"Do you know, that's very well said, Audley?  I did not think you had so
much liveliness of repartee.  Life! life! it is insipid,  it is shallow,
--no launching Argosies in the saucer.  Audley, I have the oddest
fancy--"

"That of course," said Audley, dryly; "you never had any other.  What is
the new one?"

HARLEY (with great gravity).--"Do you believe in Mesmerism?"

AUDLEY.--"Certainly not."

HARLEY.--"If it were in the power of an animal magnetizer to get me out
of my own skin into somebody's else!  That's my fancy!  I am so tired of
myself,--so tired!  I have run through all my ideas,--know every one of
them by heart.  When some pretentious impostor of an idea perks itself up
and says, 'Look at me,--I 'm a new acquaintance,' I just give it a nod,
and say 'Not at all, you have only got a new coat on; you are the same
old wretch that has bored me these last twenty years; get away.'  But if
one could be in a new skin, if I could be for half-an-hour your tall
porter, or one of your eminent matter-of-fact men, I should then really
travel into a new world.'  Every man's brain must be a world in itself,
eh?  If I could but make a parochial settlement even in yours, Audley,--
run over all your thoughts and sensations.  Upon my life, I 'll go and
talk to that French mesmerizer about it."

     [If, at the date in which Lord L'Estrange held this conversation
     with Mr. Egerton, Alfred de Musset had written his comedies, we
     should suspect that his lordship had plagiarized from one of them
     the whimsical idea that he here vents upon Audley.  In repeating it,
     the author at least cannot escape from the charge of obligation to a
     writer whose humour is sufficiently opulent to justify the loan.]

AUDLEY (who does not seem to like the notion of having his thoughts and
sensations rummaged, even by his friend, and even in fancy)--"Pooh, pooh,
pooh!  Do talk like a man of sense."

HARLEY.--"Man of sense!  Where shall I find a model?  I don't know a man
of sense!--never met such a creature.  Don't believe it ever existed.  At
one time I thought Socrates must have been a man of sense: a delusion; he
would stand gazing into the air, and talking to his Genius from sunrise
to sunset.  Is that like a man of sense?  Poor Audley!  how puzzled he
looks!  Well, I'll try and talk sense to oblige you.  And first" (here
Harley raised himself on his elbow),--"first, is it true, as I have heard
vaguely, that you are paying court to the sister of that infamous Italian
traitor?"

"Madame di Negra?  No: I am not paying court to her," answered Audley,
with a cold smile.  "But she is very handsome; she is very clever; she is
useful to me,--I need not say how or why; that belongs to my metier as a
politician.  But I think, if you will take my advice, or get your friend
to take it, I could obtain from her brother, through my influence with
her, some liberal concessions to your exile.  She is very anxious to know
where he is."

"You have not told her?"

"No; I promised you I would keep that secret."

"Be sure you do; it is only for some mischief, some snare, that she could
desire such information.  Concessions! pooh!  This is no question of
concessions, but of rights."

"I think you should leave your friend to judge of that."

"Well, I will write to him.  Meanwhile, beware of this woman.  I have
heard much of her abroad, and she has the character of her brother for
duplicity and--"

"Beauty," interrupted Audley, turning the conversation with practised
adroitness.  "I am told that the count is one of the handsomest men in
Europe, much handsomer than his sister still, though nearly twice her
age.  Tut, tut, Harley; fear not for me.  I am proof against all feminine
attractions.  This heart is dead."

"Nay, nay; it is not for you to speak thus,--leave that to me.  But even
I will not say it.  The heart never dies.  And you; what have you lost?--
a wife; true: an excellent, noble-hearted woman.  But was it love that
you felt for her?  Enviable man, have you ever loved?"

"Perhaps not, Harley," said Audley, with a sombre aspect and in dejected
accents; "very few men ever have loved, at least as you mean by the word.
But there are other passions than love that kill the heart, and reduce us
to mechanism."

While Egerton spoke, Harley turned aside, and his breast heaved.  There
was a short silence; Audley was the first to break it.

"Speaking of my lost wife, I am sorry that you do not approve what I have
done for her young kinsman, Randal Leslie."

HARLEY (recovering himself with an effort).--"Is it true kindness to bid
him exchange manly independence for the protection of an official
patron?"

AUDLEV.--"I did not bid him.  I gave him his choice.  At his age, I
should have chosen as he has done."

HARLEY.--"I trust not; I think better of you.  But answer me one question
frankly, and then I will ask another.  Do you mean to make this young man
your heir?"

AUDLEY (with a slight embarrassment).--"Heir, pooh!  I am young still.  I
may live as long as he--time enough to think of that."

HARLEY.--"Then now to my second question.  Have you told this youth
plainly that he may look to you for influence, but not for wealth?"

AUDLEY (firmly).--"I think I have; but I shall repeat it more
emphatically."

HARLEY.--"Then I am satisfied as to your conduct, but not as to his.
For he has too acute an intellect not to know what it is to forfeit
independence; and, depend on it, he has made his calculations, and would
throw you into the bargain in any balance that he could strike in his
favour.  You go by your experience in judging men; I by my instincts.
Nature warns us as it does the inferior animals,--only we are too
conceited, we bipeds, to heed her.  My instincts of soldier and gentleman
recoil from that old young man.  He has the soul of the Jesuit.  I see it
in his eye, I hear it in the tread of his foot; /volto sciolto/ he has
not; /i pensieri stretti/ he has.  Hist!  I hear now his step in the
hall.  I should know it from a thousand.  That's his very touch on the
handle of the door."

Randal Leslie entered.  Harley--who, despite his disregard for forms, and
his dislike to Randal, was too high-bred not to be polite to his junior
in age or inferior in rank-rose and bowed.  But his bright piercing eyes
did not soften as they caught and bore down the deeper and more latent
fire in Randal's.  Harley did not resume his seat, but moved to the
mantelpiece, and leaned against it.

RANDAL.--"I have fulfilled your commissions, Mr. Egerton.  I went first
to Maida Hill, and saw Mr. Burley.  I gave him the check, but he said it
was too much, and he should return half to the banker; he will write the
article as you suggested.  I then--"

AUDLEY.--"Enough, Randal!  we will not fatigue Lord L'Estrange with these
little details of a life that displeases him,--the life political."

HARLEY.---"But these details do not displease me; they reconcile me to my
own life.  Go on, pray, Mr. Leslie."

Randal had too much tact to need the cautioning glance of Mr. Egerton.
He did not continue, but said with a soft voice, "Do you think, Lord
L'Estrange, that the contemplation of the mode of life pursued by others
can reconcile a man to his own, if he had before thought it needed a
reconciler?"  Harley looked pleased, for the question was ironical; and
if there was a thing in the world be abhorred, it was flattery.

"Recollect your Lucretius, Mr. Leslie, the /Suave mare/, etc., 'pleasant
from the cliff to see the mariners tossed on the ocean.'  Faith, I think
that sight reconciles one to the cliff, though, before, one might have
been teased by the splash from the spray, and deafened by the scream of
the sea-gulls.  But I leave you, Audley.  Strange that I have heard no
more of my soldier!  Remember I have your promise when I come to claim
it.  Good-by, Mr. Leslie, I hope that Burley's article will be worth the
check."

Lord L'Estrange mounted his horse, which was still at the door, and rode
through the Park.  But he was no longer now unknown by sight.  Bows and
nods saluted him on every side.

"Alas, I am found out, then," said he to himself.  "That terrible Duchess
of Knaresborough, too--I must fly my coun try."  He pushed his horse into
a canter, and was soon out of the Park.  As he dismounted at his father's
sequestered house, you would have hardly supposed him the same whimsical,
fantastic, but deep and subtle humourist that delighted in perplexing the
material Audley, for his expressive face was unutterably serious.  But
the moment he came into the presence of his parents, the countenance was
again lighted and cheerful.  It brightened the whole room like sunshine.



CHAPTER XI.

"Mr. Leslie," said Egerton, when Harley had left the library, "you did
not act with your usual discretion in touching upon matters connected
with politics in the presence of a third party."

"I feel that already, sir; my excuse is, that I held Lord L'Estrange to
be your most intimate friend."

"A public man, Mr. Leslie, would ill serve his country if he were not
especially reserved towards his private friends--when they do not belong
to his party."

"But pardon me my ignorance.  Lord Lansmere is so well known to be one of
your supporters, that I fancied his son must share his sentiments, and be
in your confidence."

Egerton's brows slightly contracted, and gave a stern expression to a
countenance always firm and decided.  He however answered in a mild tone,

"At the entrance into political life, Mr. Leslie, there is nothing in
which a young man of your talents should be more on his guard than
thinking for himself; he will nearly always think wrong.  And I believe
that is one reason why young men of talent disappoint their friends, and
remain so long out of office."

A haughty flush passed over Randal's brow, and faded away quickly; he
bowed in silence.

Egerton resumed, as if in explanation, and even in kindly apology,

"Look at Lord L'Estrange himself.  What young man could come into life
with brighter auspices?  Rank, wealth, high animal spirits (a great
advantage those same spirits, Mr. Leslie), courage, self-possession,
scholarship as brilliant perhaps as your own; and now see how his life is
wasted!  Why?  He always thought fit to think for himself.  He could
never be broken into harness, and never will be.  The state coach, Mr.
Leslie, requires that all the horses should pull together."

"With submission, sir," answered Randal, "I should think that there were
other reasons why Lord L'Estrange, whatever be his talents--and of these
you must be indeed an adequate judge--would never do anything in public
life."

"Ay, and what?" said Egerton, quickly.

"First," said Randal, shrewdly, "private life has done too much for him.
What could public life give to one who needs nothing?  Born at the top of
the social ladder, why should he put himself voluntarily at the last
step, for the sake of climbing up again?  And secondly, Lord L'Estrange
seems to me a man in whose organization /sentiment/ usurps too large a
share for practical existence."

"You have a keen eye," said Audley, with some admiration,--"keen for one
so young.  Poor Harley!"

Mr. Egerton's last words were said to himself.  He resumed quickly,

"There is something on my mind, my young friend.  Let us be frank with
each other.  I placed before you fairly the advantages and disadvantages
of the choice I gave you.  To take your degree with such honours as no
doubt you would have won, to obtain your fellowship, to go to the Bar,
with those credentials in favour of your talents,--this was one career.
To come at once into public life, to profit by my experience, avail
yourself of my interest, to take the chances of rise or fall with a
party,--this was another.  You chose the last.  But in so doing, there
was a consideration which might weigh with you, and on which, in stating
your reasons for your option, you were silent."

"What is that, sir?"

"You might have counted on my fortune, should the chances of party fail
you: speak, and without shame if so; it would be natural in a young man,
who comes from the elder branch of the House whose heiress was my wife."

"You wound me, Mr. Egerton," said Randal, turning away.

Mr. Egerton's cold glance followed Randal's movements; the face was hid
from the glance, and the statesman's eye rested on the figure, which is
often as self-betraying as the countenance itself.  Randal baffled Mr.
Egerton's penetration,--the young man's emotion might be honest pride and
pained and generous feeling, or it might be something else.  Egerton
continued slowly,

"Once for all, then, distinctly and emphatically, I say, never count upon
that; count upon all else that I can do for you, and forgive me when I
advise harshly or censure coldly; ascribe this to my interest in your
career.  Moreover, before decision becomes irrevocable, I wish you to
know practically all that is disagreeable or even humiliating in the
first subordinate steps of him who, without wealth or station, would rise
in public life.  I will not consider your choice settled till the end of
a year at least,--your name will be kept on the college books till then;
if on experience you should prefer to return to Oxford, and pursue the
slower but surer path to independence and distinction, you can.  And now
give me your hand, Mr. Leslie, in sign that you forgive my bluntness: it
is time to dress."

Randal, with his face still averted, extended his hand.  Mr. Egerton held
it a moment, then dropping it, left the room.  Randal turned as the door
closed; and there was in his dark face a power of sinister passion, that
justified all Harley's warnings.  His lips moved, but not audibly; then
as if struck by a sudden thought, he followed Egerton into the hall.

"Sir," said he, "I forgot to say, that on returning from Maida Hill,
I took shelter from the rain under a covered passage, and there I met
unexpectedly with your nephew, Frank Hazeldean."

"Ah!" said Egerton, indifferently, "a fine young man; in the Guards.
It is a pity that my brother has such antiquated political notions;
he should put his son into parliament, and under my guidance; I could
push him.  Well, and what said Frank?"

"He invited me to call on him.  I remember that you once rather cautioned
me against too intimate an acquaintance with those who have not got their
fortunes to make."

"Because they are idle, and idleness is contagious.  Right,--better not
to be too intimate with a young Guardsman."

"Then you would not have me call on him, sir?  We were rather friends
at Eton; and if I wholly reject his overtures, might he not think that
you--"

"I!" interrupted Egerton.  "Ah, true; my brother might think I bore him a
grudge; absurd.  Call then, and ask the young man here.  Yet still, I do
not advise intimacy."  Egerton turned into his dressing-room.  "Sir,"
said his valet, who was in waiting, "Mr. Levy is here,--he says by
appointment; and Mr. Grinders is also just come from the country."

"Tell Mr. Grinders to come in first," said Egerton, seating himself.
"You need not wait; I can dress without you.  Tell Mr. Levy I will see
him in five minutes."

Mr. Grinders was steward to Audley Egerton.

Mr. Levy was a handsome man, who wore a camellia in his button-hole;
drove, in his cabriolet, a high-stepping horse that had cost L200; was
well known to young men of fashion, and considered by their fathers a
very dangerous acquaintance.



CHAPTER XII.

As the company assembled in the drawing-rooms, Mr. Egerton introduced
Randal Leslie to his eminent friends in a way that greatly contrasted the
distant and admonitory manner which he had exhibited to him in private.
The presentation was made with that cordiality and that gracious respect,
by which those who are in station command notice for those who have their
station yet to win.

"My dear lord, let me introduce to you a kinsman of my late wife's" (in a
whisper),--"the heir to the elder branch of her family.  Stanmore, this
is Mr. Leslie, of whom I spoke to you.  You, who were so distinguished at
Oxford, will not like him the worse for the prizes he gained there.
Duke, let me present to you Mr. Leslie.  The duchess is angry with me for
deserting her balls; I shall hope to make my peace, by providing myself
with a younger and livelier substitute.  Ah, Mr. Howard, here is a young
gentleman just fresh from Oxford, who will tell us all about the new sect
springing up there.  He has not wasted his time on billiards and horses."

Leslie was received with all that charming courtesy which is the /To
Kalon/ of an aristocracy.

After dinner, conversation settled on politics.  Randal listened with
attention, and in silence, till Egerton drew him gently out; just enough,
and no more,--just enough to make his intelligence evident, and without
subjecting him to the charge of laying down the law.  Egerton knew how to
draw out young men,--a difficult art.  It was one reason why he was so
peculiarly popular with the more rising members of his party.

The party broke up early.

"We are in time for Almack's," said Egerton, glancing at the clock, "and
I have a voucher for you; come."

Randal followed his patron into the carriage.  By the way Egerton thus
addressed him,

"I shall introduce you to the principal leaders of society; know them and
study them: I do not advise you to attempt to do more,--that is, to
attempt to become the fashion.  It is a very expensive ambition: some men
it helps, most men it ruins.  On the whole, you have better cards in your
hands.  Dance or not as it pleases you; don't flirt.  If you flirt people
will inquire into your fortune,--an inquiry that will do you little good;
and flirting entangles a young man into marrying.  That would never do.
Here we are."

In two minutes more they were in the great ballroom, and Randal's eyes
were dazzled with the lights, the diamonds, the blaze of beauty.  Audley
presented him in quick succession to some dozen ladies, and then
disappeared amidst the crowd.  Randal was not at a loss: he was without
shyness; or if he had that disabling infirmity, he concealed it.  He
answered the languid questions put to him with a certain spirit that kept
up talk, and left a favourable impression of his agreeable qualities.
But the lady with whom he got on the best was one who had no daughters
out, a handsome and witty woman of the world,--Lady Frederick Coniers.

It is your first ball at Almack's then, Mr. Leslie?"

"My first."

"And you have not secured a partner?  Shall I find you one?  What do you
think of that pretty girl in pink?"

"I see her--but I cannot think of her."

"You are rather, perhaps, like a diplomatist in a new court, and your
first object is to know who is who."

"I confess that on beginning to study the history of my own day I should
like to distinguish the portraits that illustrate the memoir."

"Give me your arm, then, and we will come into the next room.  We shall
see the different notabilites enter one by one, and observe without being
observed.  This is the least I can do for a friend of Mr. Egerton's."

"Mr. Egerton, then," said Randal,--as they threaded their way through the
space without the rope that protected the dancers,--"Mr. Egerton has had
the good fortune to win your esteem even for his friends, however
obscure?"

"Why, to say truth, I think no one whom Mr. Egerton calls his friend need
long remain obscure, if he has the ambition to be otherwise; for Mr.
Egerton holds it a maxim never to forget a friend nor a service."

"Ah, indeed!" said Randal, surprised.

"And therefore," continued Lady Frederick, "as he passes through life,
friends gather round him.  He will rise even higher yet.  Gratitude, Mr.
Leslie, is a very good policy."

"Hem," muttered Mr. Leslie.

They had now gained the room where tea and bread and butter were the
homely refreshments to the habitues of what at that day was the most
exclusive assembly in London.  They ensconced themselves in a corner by a
window, and Lady Frederick performed her task of cicerone with lively
ease, accompanying each notice of the various persons who passed
panoramically before them with sketch and anecdote, sometimes good-
natured, generally satirical, always graphic and amusing.

By and by Frank Hazeldean, having on his arm a young lady of haughty air
and with high though delicate features, came to the tea-table.

"The last new Guardsman," said Lady Frederick; "very handsome, and not
yet quite spoiled.  But he has got into a dangerous set."

RANDAL.--"The young lady with him is handsome enough to be dangerous."

LADY FREDERICK (laughing).--"No danger for him there,--as yet at least.
Lady Mary (the Duke of Knaresborough's daughter) is only in her second
year.  The first year, nothing under an earl; the second, nothing under a
baron.  It will be full four years before she comes down to a commoner.
Mr. Hazeldean's danger is of another kind.  He lives much with men who
are not exactly /mauvais ton/, but certainly not of the best taste.  Yet
he is very young; he may extricate himself,--leaving half his fortune
behind him.  What, he nods to you!  You know him?"

"Very well; he is nephew to Mr. Egerton."

"Indeed!  I did not know that.  Hazeldean is a new name in London.  I
heard his father was a plain country gentleman, of good fortune, but not
that he was related to Mr. Egerton."

"Half-brother."

"Will Mr. Egerton pay the young gentleman's debts?  He has no sons
himself."

RANDAL.---"Mr. Egerton's fortune comes from his wife, from my family,
--from a Leslie, not from a Hazeldean."  Lady Frederick turned sharply,
looked at Randal's countenance with more attention than she had yet
vouchsafed to it, and tried to talk of the Leslies.  Randal was very
short there.

An hour afterwards, Randal, who had not danced, was still in the
refreshment-room, but Lady Frederick had long quitted him.  He was
talking with some old Etonians who had recognized him, when there entered
a lady of very remarkable appearance, and a murmur passed through the
room as she appeared.

She might be three or four and twenty.  She was dressed in black velvet,
which contrasted with the alabaster whiteness of her throat and the clear
paleness of her complexion, while it set off the diamonds with which she
was profusely covered.  Her hair was of the deepest jet, and worn simply
braided.  Her eyes, too, were dark and brilliant, her features regular
and striking; but their expression, when in repose, was not prepossessing
to such as love modesty and softness in the looks of woman.  But when she
spoke and smiled, there was so much spirit and vivacity in the
countenance, so much fascination in the smile, that all which might
before have marred the effect of her beauty strangely and suddenly
disappeared.

"Who is that very handsome woman?" asked Randal.  "An Italian,--
a Marchesa something," said one of the Etonians.

"Di Negra," suggested another, who had been abroad: "she is a widow; her
husband was of the great Genoese family of Negra,--a younger branch of
it."

Several men now gathered thickly around the fair Italian.  A few ladies
of the highest rank spoke to her, but with a more distant courtesy than
ladies of high rank usually show to foreigners of such quality as Madame
di Negra.  Ladies of rank less elevated seemed rather shy of her,--that
might be from jealousy.  As Randal gazed at the marchesa with more
admiration than any woman, perhaps, had before excited in him, he heard a
voice near him say,

"Oh, Madame di Negra is resolved to settle amongst us, and marry an
Englishman."

"If she can find one sufficiently courageous," returned a female voice.

"Well, she's trying hard for Egerton, and he has courage enough for
anything."

The female voice replied, with a laugh, "Mr Egerton knows the world too
well, and has resisted too many temptations to be--"

"Hush!  there he is."

Egerton came into the room with his usual firm step and erect mien.
Randal observed that a quick glance was exchanged between him and the
marchesa; but the minister passed her by with a bow.

Still Randal watched, and, ten minutes afterwards, Egerton and the
marchesa were seated apart in the very same convenient nook that Randal
and Lady Frederick had occupied an hour or so before.

"Is this the reason why Mr. Egerton so insultingly warns me against
counting on his fortune?" muttered Randal.  "Does he mean to marry
again?"

Unjust suspicion!--for, at that moment, these were the words that Audley
Egerton was dropping forth from his lips of bronze,

"Nay, dear madam, do not ascribe to my frank admiration more gallantry
than it merits.  Your conversation charms me, your beauty delights me;
your society is as a holiday that I look forward to in the fatigues of my
life.  But I have done with love, and I shall never marry again."

"You almost pique me into trying to win, in order to reject you," said
the Italian, with a flash from her bright eyes.

"I defy even you," answered Audley, with his cold hard smile.  "But to
return to the point.  You have more influence, at least, over this subtle
ambassador; and the secret we speak of I rely on you to obtain me.  Ah,
Madam, let us rest friends.  You see I have conquered the unjust
prejudices against you; you are received and feted everywhere, as becomes
your birth and your attractions.  Rely on me ever, as I on you.  But I
shall excite too much envy if I stay here longer, and am vain enough to
think that I may injure you if I provoke the gossip of the ill-natured.
As the avowed friend, I can serve you; as the supposed lover, No--"
Audley rose as he said this, and, standing by the chair, added
carelessly, "--propos, the sum you do me the honour to borrow will
be paid to your bankers to-morrow."

"A thousand thanks! my brother will hasten to repay you."

Audley bowed.  "Your brother, I hope, will repay me in person, not
before.  When does he come?"

"Oh, he has again postponed his visit to London; he is so much needed in
Vienna.  But while we are talking of him, allow me to ask if your friend,
Lord L'Estrange, is indeed still so bitter against that poor brother of
mine?"

"Still the same."

"It is shameful!" cried the Italian, with warmth; "what has my brother
ever done to him that he should actually intrigue against the count in
his own court?"

"Intrigue!  I think you wrong Lord L'Estrange; he but represented what he
believed to be the truth, in defence of a ruined exile."

"And you will not tell me where that exile is, or if his daughter still
lives?"

"My dear marchesa, I have called you friend, therefore I will not aid
L'Estrange to injure you or yours.  But I call L'Estrange a friend also;
and I cannot violate the trust that--"  Audley stopped short, and bit his
lip.  "You understand me," he resumed, with a more genial smile than
usual; and he took his leave.

The Italian's brows met as her eye followed him; then, as she too rose,
that eye encountered Randal's.

"That young man has the eye of an Italian," said the marchesa to herself,
as she passed by him into the ballroom.



CHAPTER XIII.

Leonard and Helen settled themselves in two little chambers in a small
lane.  The neighbourhood was dull enough, the accommodation humble; but
their landlady had a smile.  That was the reason, perhaps, why Helen
chose the lodgings: a smile is not always found on the face of a landlady
when the lodger is poor.  And out of their windows they caught sight of a
green tree, an elm, that grew up fair and tall in a carpenter's yard at
the rear.  That tree was like another smile to the place.  They saw the
birds come and go to its shelter; and they even heard, when a breeze
arose, the pleasant murmur of its boughs.

Leonard went the same evening to Captain Digby's old lodgings, but he
could learn there no intelligence of friends or protectors for Helen.
The people were rude and surly, and said that the captain still owed them
L1 17s.  The claim, however, seemed very disputable, and was stoutly
denied by Helen.  The next morning Leonard set out in search of Dr.
Morgan.  He thought his best plan was to inquire the address of the
doctor at the nearest chemist's, and the chemist civilly looked into the
"Court Guide," and referred him to a house in Bulstrode Street,
Manchester Square.  To this street Leonard contrived to find his way,
much marvelling at the meanness of London: Screwstown seemed to him the
handsomer town of the two.

A shabby man-servant opened the door, and Leonard remarked that the
narrow passage was choked with boxes, trunks, and various articles of
furniture.  He was shown into a small room containing a very large round
table, whereon were sundry works on homoeopathy, Parry's "Cymbrian
Plutarch," Davies's "Celtic Researches," and a Sunday news paper.  An
engraved portrait of the illustrious Hahnemann occupied the place of
honour over the chimneypiece.  In a few minutes the door to an inner room
opened, and Dr. Morgan appeared, and said politely, "Come in, sir."

The doctor seated himself at a desk, looked hastily at Leonard, and then
at a great chronometer lying on the table.  "My time's short, sir,--going
abroad: and now that I am going, patients flock to me.  Too late.  London
will repent its apathy.  Let it!"

The doctor paused majestically, and not remarking on Leonard's face the
consternation he had anticipated, he repeated peevishly, "I am going
abroad, sir, but I will make a synopsis of your case, and leave it to my
successor.  Hum!

"Hair chestnut; eyes--what colour?  Look this way,--blue, dark blue.
Hem!  Constitution nervous.  What are the symptoms?"

"Sir," began Leonard, "a little girl--"

DR. MORGAN (impatiently).--"Little girl; never mind the history of your
sufferings; stick to the symptoms,--stick to the symptoms."

LEONARD.--"YOU mistake me, Doctor, I have nothing the matter with me.  A
little girl--"

DR. MORGAN.--"Girl again!  I understand!  it is she who is ill.  Shall I
go to her?  She must describe her own symptoms,--I can't judge from your
talk.  You'll be telling me she has consumption, or dyspepsia, or some
such disease that don't exist: mere allopathic inventions,--symptoms,
sir, symptoms."

LEONARD (forcing his way).--"You attended her poor father, Captain Digby,
when he was taken ill in the coach with you.  He is dead, and his child
is an orphan."

DR. MORGAN (fumbling in his medical pocket-book).--"Orphan!  nothing for
orphans, especially if inconsolable, like aconite and chamomilla."

     [It may be necessary to observe that bomoeopathy professes to deal
     with our moral affections as well as with our physical maladies, and
     has a globule for every sorrow.]

With some difficulty Leonard succeeded in bringing Helen to the
recollection of the homoeopathist, stating how he came in charge of her,
and why he sought Dr. Morgan.

The doctor was much moved.

"But, really," said he, after a pause, "I don't see how I can help the
poor child.  I know nothing of her relations.  This Lord Les--whatever
his name is--I know of no lords in London.  I knew lords, and physicked
them too, when I was a blundering allopathist.  There was the Earl of
Lansmere,--has had many a blue pill from me, sinner that I was.  His son
was wiser; never would take physic.  Very clever boy was Lord
L'Estrange--"

"Lord L'Estrange! that name begins with Les--"

"Stuff!  He's always abroad,--shows his sense.  I'm going abroad too.
No development for science in this horrid city,--full of prejudices,
sir, and given up to the most barbarous allopathical and phlebotomical
propensities.  I am going to the land of Hahnemann, sir,--sold my good-
will, lease, and furniture, and have bought in on the Rhine.  Natural
life there, sir,--homeeopathy needs nature: dine at one o'clock, get up
at four, tea little known, and science appreciated.  But I forget.  Cott!
what can I do for the orphan?"

"Well, sir," said Leonard, rising, "Heaven will give me strength to
support her."

The doctor looked at the young man attentively.  "And yet," said he, in a
gentler voice, "you, young man, are, by your account, a perfect stranger
to her, or were so when you undertook to bring her to London.  You have a
good heart, always keep it.  Very healthy thing, sir, a good heart,--that
is, when not carried to excess.  But you have friends of your own in
town?"

LEONARD.--"Not yet, sir; I hope to make them."

DOCTOR.--"Pless me, you do?  How?--I can't make any."

Leonard coloured and hung his'head.  He longed to say, "Authors find
friends in their readers,--I am going to be an author."  But he felt that
the reply would savour of presumption, and held his tongue.

The doctor continued to examine him, and with friendly interest.  "You
say you walked up to London: was that from choice or economy?"

LEONARD.--"Both, sir."

DOCTOR.--"Sit down again, and let us talk.  I can give you a quarter of
an hour, and I'll see if I can help either of you, provided you tell me
all the symptoms,--I mean all the particulars."

Then, with that peculiar adroitness which belongs to experience in the
medical profession, Dr. Morgan, who was really an acute and able man,
proceeded to put his questions, and soon extracted from Leonard the boy's
history and hopes.  But when the doctor, in admiration at a simplicity
which contrasted so evident an intelligence, finally asked him his name
and connections, and Leonard told them, the homoeopathist actually
started.  "Leonard Fairfield, grandson of my old friend, John Avenel of
Lansmere!  I must shake you by the hand.  Brought up by Mrs. Fairfield!--

"Ah, now I look, strong family likeness,--very strong"

The tears  stood  in the  doctor's  eyes.  "Poor Nora!" said he.

"Nora!  Did you know my aunt?"

"Your aunt!  Ah! ah! yes, yes!  Poor Nora!  she died almost in these
arms,--so young, so beautiful.  I remember it as if yesterday."

The doctor brushed his hand across his eyes, and swallowed a globule; and
before the boy knew what he was about, had, in his benevolence, thrust
another between Leonard's quivering lips.

A knock was heard at the door.

"Ha! that 's my great patient," cried the doctor, recovering his self-
possession,--"must see him.  A chronic case, excellent patient,--tic,
sir, tic.  Puzzling and interesting.  If I could take that tic with me, I
should ask nothing more from Heaven.  Call again on Monday; I may have
something to tell you then as to yourself.  The little girl can't stay
with you,--wrong and nonsensical!  I will see after her.  Leave me
your address,--write it here.  I think I know a lady who will
take charge of her.  Good-by.  Monday next, ten o'clock."  With this, the
doctor thrust out Leonard, and ushered in his grand patient, whom he was
very anxious to take with him to the banks of the Rhine.

Leonard had now only to discover the nobleman whose name had been so
vaguely uttered by poor Captain Digby.  He had again recourse to the
"Court Guide;" and finding the address of two or three lords the first
syllable of whose titles seemed similar to that repeated to him, and all
living pretty near to each other, in the regions of Mayfair, he
ascertained his way to that quarter, and, exercising his mother-wit,
inquired at the neighbouring shops as to the personal appearance of these
noblemen.  Out of consideration for his rusticity, he got very civil and
clear answers; but none of the lords in question corresponded with the
description given by Helen.  One was old, another was exceedingly
corpulent, a third was bedridden,--none of them was known to keep a great
dog.  It is needless to say that the name of L'Estrange (no habitant of
London) was not in the "Court Guide."  And Dr. Morgan's assertion that
that person was always abroad unluckily dismissed from Leonard's mind the
name the homoeopathist had so casually mentioned.  But Helen was not
disappointed when her young protector returned late in the day, and told
her of his ill-success.  Poor child!  she was so pleased in her heart not
to be separated from her new brother; and Leonard was touched to see how
she had contrived, in his absence, to give a certain comfort and cheerful
grace to the bare room devoted to himself.  She had arranged his few
books and papers so neatly, near the window, in sight of the one green
elm.  She had coaxed the smiling landlady out of one or two extra
articles of furniture, especially a walnut-tree bureau, and some odds and
ends of ribbon, with which last she had looped up the curtains.  Even the
old rush-bottom chairs had a strange air of elegance, from the mode in
which they were placed.  The fairies had given sweet Helen the art that
adorns a home, and brings out a smile from the dingiest corner of hut and
attic.

Leonard wondered and praised.  He kissed his blushing ministrant
gratefully, and they sat down in joy to their abstemious meal; when
suddenly his face was overclouded,--there shot through him the
remembrance of Dr. Morgan's words, "The little girl can't stay with you,
--wrong and nonsensical.  I think I know a lady who will take charge of
her."

"Ah," cried Leonard, sorrowfully, "how could I forget?" And he told Helen
what grieved him.  Helen at first exclaimed that she would not go.
Leonard, rejoiced, then began to talk as usual of his great prospects;
and, hastily finishing his meal, as if there were no time to lose, sat
down at once to his papers.  Then Helen contemplated him sadly, as he
bent over his delightful work.  And when, lifting his radiant eyes from
his manuscripts, he exclaimed, "No, no, you shall not go.  This must
succeed,--and we shall live together in some pretty cottage, where we can
see more than one tree,"--then Helen sighed, and did not answer this
time, "No, I will not go."

Shortly after she stole from the room, and into her own; and there,
kneeling down, she prayed, and her prayer was somewhat this, "Guard me
against my own selfish heart; may I never be a burden to him who has
shielded me."

Perhaps as the Creator looks down on this world, whose wondrous beauty
beams on us more and more, in proportion as our science would take it
from poetry into law,--perhaps He beholds nothing so beautiful as the
pure heart of a simple loving child.



CHAPTER XIV.

Leonard went out the next day with his precious manuscripts.  He had read
sufficient of modern literature to know the names of the principal London
publishers; and to these he took his way with a bold step, though a
beating heart.

That day he was out longer than the last; and when he returned, and came
into the little room, Helen uttered a cry, for she scarcely recognized
him,--there was on his face so deep, so silent, and so concentrated a
despondency.  He sat down listlessly, and did not kiss her this time, as
she stole towards him.  He felt so humbled.  He was a king deposed.

He take charge of another life!  He!

She coaxed him at last into communicating his day's chronicle.  The
reader beforehand knows too well what it must be to need detailed
repetition.  Most of the publishers had absolutely refused to look at his
manuscripts; one or two had good-naturedly glanced over and returned them
at once with a civil word or two of flat rejection.  One publisher alone
--himself a man of letters, and who in youth had gone through the same
bitter process of disillusion that now awaited the village genius--
volunteered some kindly though stern explanation and counsel to the
unhappy boy.  This gentleman read a portion of Leonard's principal poem
with attention, and even with frank admiration.  He could appreciate the
rare promise that it manifested.  He sympathized with the boy's history,
and even with his hopes; and then he said, in bidding him farewell,

"If I publish this poem for you, speaking as a trader, I shall be a
considerable loser.  Did I publish all I admire, out of sympathy with the
author, I should be a ruined man.  But suppose that, impressed as I
really am with the evidence of no common poetic gifts in this manuscript,
I publish it, not as a trader, but a lover of literature, I shall in
reality, I fear, render you a great disservice, and perhaps unfit your
whole life for the exertions on which you must rely for independence."

"How, sir?" cried Leonard.  "Not that I would ask you to injure yourself
for me," he added, with proud tears in his eyes.

"How, my young friend?  I will explain.  There is enough talent in these
verses to induce very flattering reviews in some of the literary
journals.  You will read these, find yourself proclaimed a poet, will cry
'I am on the road to fame.'  You will come to me, 'And my poem, how does
it sell?'  I shall point to some groaning shelf, and say, 'Not twenty
copies!  The journals may praise, but the public will not buy it.'
'But you will have got a name,' you say.  Yes, a name as a poet just
sufficiently known to make every man in practical business disinclined to
give fair trial to your talents in a single department of positive life;
none like to employ poets;--a name that will not put a penny in your
purse,--worse still, that will operate as a barrier against every escape
into the ways whereby men get to fortune.  But having once tasted praise,
you will continue to sigh for it: you will perhaps never again get a
publisher to bring forth a poem, but you will hanker round the purlieus
of the Muses, scribble for periodicals, fall at last into a bookseller's
drudge.  Profits will be so precarious and uncertain, that to avoid debt
may be impossible; then, you who now seem so ingenuous and so proud, will
sink deeper still into the literary mendicant, begging, borrowing--"

"Never!  never!  never!" cried Leonard, veiling his face with his hands.

"Such would have been my career," continued the publisher; "but I luckily
had a rich relative, a trader, whose calling I despised as a boy, who
kindly forgave my folly, bound me as an apprentice, and here I am; and
now I can afford to write books as well as sell them.

"Young man, you must have respectable relations,--go by their advice and
counsel; cling fast to some positive calling.  Be anything in this city
rather than poet by profession."

"And how, sir, have there ever been poets?  Had they other callings?"

"Read their biography, and then--envy them!"

Leonard was silent a moment; but lifting his head, answered loud and
quickly, "I have read their biography.  True, their lot was poverty,--
perhaps hunger.  Sir, I--envy them!"

"Poverty and hunger are small evils," answered the bookseller, with a
grave, kind smile.  "There are worse,--debt and degradation, and--
despair."

"No, sir, no, you exaggerate; these last are not the lot of all poets."

"Right, for most of our greatest poets had some private means of their
own.  And for others--why, all who have put into a lottery have not drawn
blanks.  But who could advise another man to set his whole hope of
fortune on the chance of a prize in a lottery?  And such a lottery!"
groaned the publisher, glancing towards sheets and reams of dead authors,
lying, like lead, upon his shelves.

Leonard clutched his manuscripts to his heart, and hurried away.

"Yes," he muttered, as Helen clung to him, and tried to console,--"yes,
you were right: London is very vast, very strong, and very cruel;" and
his head sank lower and lower yet upon his bosom.

The door was flung widely open, and in, unannounced, walked Dr. Morgan.

The child turned to him, and at the sight of his face she remembered her
father; and the tears that for Leonard's sake she had been trying to
suppress found way.

The good doctor soon gained all the confidence of these two young hearts;
and after listening to Leonard's story of his paradise lost in a day, he
patted him on the shoulder and said, "Well, you will call on me on
Monday, and we will see.  Meanwhile, borrow these of me!"--and he tried
to slip three sovereigns into the boy's hand.  Leonard was indignant.
The bookseller's warning flashed on him.  Mendicancy!  Oh, no, he had not
yet come to that!  He was almost rude and savage in his rejection; and
the doctor did not like him the less for it.

"You are an obstinate mule," said the homoeopathist, reluctantly putting
up his sovereigns.  "Will you work at something practical and prosy, and
let the poetry rest a while?"

"Yes," said Leonard, doggedly.  "I will work."

"Very well, then.  I know an honest bookseller, and he shall give you
some employment; and meanwhile, at all events, you will be among books,
and that will be some comfort."

Leonard's eyes brightened.  "A great comfort, sir."  He pressed the hand
he had before put aside to his grateful heart.

"But," resumed the doctor, seriously, "you really feel a strong
predisposition to make verses?"

"I did, sir."

"Very bad symptom indeed, and must be stopped before a relapse!  Here,
I have cured three prophets and ten poets with this novel specific."

While thus speaking he had got out his book and a globule.  "Agaricus
muscarius dissolved in a tumbler of distilled water,--teaspoonful
whenever the fit comes on.  Sir, it would have cured Milton himself."

"And now for you, my child," turning to Helen, "I have found a lady who
will be very kind to you.  Not a menial situation.  She wants some one to
read to her and tend on her; she is old and has no children.  She wants a
companion, and prefers a girl of your age to one older.  Will this suit
you?"

Leonard walked away.

Helen got close to the doctor's ear, and whispered, "No, I cannot leave
him now,--he is so sad."

"Cott!" grunted the doctor, "you two must have been reading 'Paul and
Virginia.'  If I could but stay in England, I would try what ignatia
would do in this case,--interesting experiment!  Listen to me, little
girl, and go out of the room, you, sir."

Leonard, averting his face, obeyed.  Helen made an involuntary step after
him; the doctor detained and drew her on his knee.

"What's your Christian name?--I forget."

"Helen."

"Helen, listen.  In a year or two you will be a young woman, and it would
be very wrong then to live alone with that young man.  Meanwhile you have
no right to cripple all his energies.  He must not have you leaning on
his right arm,--you would weigh it down.  I am going away, and when I am
gone there will be no one to help you, if you reject the friend I offer
you.  Do as I tell you, for a little girl so peculiarly susceptible (a
thorough pulsatilla constitution) cannot be obstinate and egotistical."

"Let me see him cared for and happy, sir," said she, firmly, "and I will
go where you wish."

"He shall be so; and to-morrow, while he is out, I will come and fetch
you.  Nothing so painful as leave-taking, shakes the nervous system, and
is a mere waste of the animal economy."

Helen sobbed aloud; then, writhing from the doctor, she exclaimed, "But
he may know where I am?  We may see each other sometimes?  Ah, sir, it
was at my father's grave that we first met, and I think Heaven sent him
to me.  Do not part us forever."

"I should have a heart of stone if I did," cried the doctor, vehemently;
"and Miss Starke shall let him come and visit you once a week.  I'll give
her something to make her.  She is naturally indifferent to others.  I
will alter her whole constitution, and melt her into sympathy--with
rhododendron and arsenic!"



CHAPTER XV.

Before he went the doctor wrote a line to "Mr. Prickett, Bookseller,
Holborn," and told Leonard to take it the next morning, as addressed.
"I will call on Prickett myself tonight and prepare him for your visit.
But I hope and trust you will only have to stay there a few days."

He then turned the conversation, to communicate his plans for Helen.
Miss Starke lived at Highgate,--a worthy woman, stiff and prim, as old
maids sometimes are; but just the place for a little girl like Helen, and
Leonard should certainly be allowed to call and see her.

Leonard listened and made no opposition,--now that his day-dream was
dispelled, he had no right to pretend to be Helen's protector.  He could
have prayed her to share his wealth and his fame; his penury and his
drudgery--no.

It was a very sorrowful evening,--that between the adventurer and the
child.  They sat up late, till their candle had burned down to the
socket; neither did they talk much; but his hand clasped hers all the
time, and her head pillowed it self on his shoulder.  I fear when they
parted it was not for sleep.

And when Leonard went forth the next morning, Helen stood at the street
door watching him depart--slowly, slowly.  No doubt, in that humble lane
there were many sad hearts; but no heart so heavy as that of the still,
quiet child, when the form she had watched was to be seen no more, and,
still standing on the desolate threshold, she gazed into space, and all
was vacant.



CHAPTER XVI.

Mr. Prickett was a believer in homeeopathy, and declared, to the
indignation of all the apothecaries round Holborn, that he had been cured
of a chronic rheumatism by Dr. Morgan.  The good doctor had, as he
promised, seen Mr. Prickett when he left Leonard, and asked him as a
favour to find some light occupation for the boy, that would serve as an
excuse for a modest weekly salary.  "It will not be for long," said the
doctor: "his relations are respectable and well off.  I will write to his
grandparents, and in a few days I hope to relieve you of the charge.  Of
course, if you don't want him, I will repay what he costs meanwhile."

Mr. Prickett, thus prepared for Leonard, received him very graciously;
and, after a few questions, said Leonard was just the person he wanted to
assist him in cataloguing his books, and offered him most handsomely L1 a
week for the task.

Plunged at once into a world of books vaster than he had ever before won
admission to, that old divine dream of knowledge, out of which poetry had
sprung, returned to the village student at the very sight of the
venerable volumes.  The collection of Mr. Prickett was, however, in
reality by no means large; but it comprised not only the ordinary
standard works, but several curious and rare ones.  And Leonard paused in
making the catalogue, and took many a hasty snatch of the contents of
each tome, as it passed through his hands.  The bookseller, who was an
enthusiast for old books, was pleased to see a kindred feeling (which his
shop-boy had never exhibited) in his new assistant; and he talked about
rare editions and scarce copies, and initiated Leonard into many of the
mysteries of the bibliographist.

Nothing could be more dark and dingy than the shop.  There was a booth
outside, containing cheap books and odd volumes, round which there was
always an attentive group; within, a gas-lamp burned night and day.

But time passed quickly to Leonard.  He missed not the green fields, he
forgot his disappointments, he ceased to remember even Helen.  O strange
passion of knowledge! nothing like thee for strength and devotion!

Mr. Prickett was a bachelor, and asked Leonard to dine with him on a cold
shoulder of mutton.  During dinner the shop-boy kept the shop, and Mr.
Prickett was really pleasant, as well as loquacious.  He took a liking to
Leonard, and Leonard told him his adventures with the publishers, at
which Mr. Prickett rubbed his hands and laughed, as at a capital joke.
"Oh, give up poetry, and stick to a shop," cried he; "and to cure you
forever of the mad whim to be author, I'll just lend you the 'Life and
Works of Chatterton.'  You may take it home with you and read before you
go to bed.  You'll come back quite a new man to-morrow."

Not till night, when the shop was closed, did Leonard return to his
lodging.  And when he entered the room, he was struck to the soul by the
silence, by the void.  Helen was gone!

There was a rose-tree in its pot on the table at which he wrote, and by
it a scrap of paper, on which was written,

     DEAR, dear brother Leonard, God bless you.  I will let you know when
     we can meet again.  Take care of this rose, Brother, and don't
     forget poor

     HELEN.

Over the word "forget" there was a big round blistered spot that nearly
effaced the word.

Leonard leaned his face on his hands, and for the first time in his life
he felt what solitude really is.  He could not stay long in the room.  He
walked out again, and wandered objectless to and fro the streets.  He
passed that stiller and humbler neighbourhood, he mixed with the throng
that swarmed in the more populous thoroughfares.  Hundreds and thousands
passed him by, and still--still such solitude.

He came back, lighted his candle, and resolutely drew forth the
"Chatterton" which the bookseller had lent him.  It was an old edition,
in one thick volume.  It had evidently belonged to some contemporary of
the poet's,--apparently an inhabitant of Bristol,--some one who had
gathered up many anecdotes respecting Chatterton's habits, and who
appeared even to have seen him, nay, been in his company; for the book
was interleaved, and the leaves covered with notes and remarks, in a
stiff clear hand,--all evincing personal knowledge of the mournful
immortal dead.  At first, Leonard read with an effort; then the strange
and fierce spell of that dread life seized upon him,--seized with pain
and gloom and terror,--this boy dying by his own hand, about the age
Leonard had attained himself.  This wondrous boy, of a genius beyond all
comparison the greatest that ever yet was developed and extinguished at
the age of eighteen,--self-taught, self-struggling, self-immolated.
Nothing in literature like that life and that death!

With intense interest Leonard perused the tale of the brilliant
imposture, which had been so harshly and so absurdly construed into the
crime of a forgery, and which was (if not wholly innocent) so akin to the
literary devices always in other cases viewed with indulgence, and
exhibiting, in this, intellectual qualities in themselves so amazing,
--such patience, such forethought, such labour, such courage, such
ingenuity,--the qualities that, well directed, make men great, not only
in books, but action.  And, turning from the history of the imposture to
the poems themselves, the young reader bent before their beauty,
literally awed and breathless.  How this strange Bristol boy tamed and
mastered his rude and motley materials into a music that comprehended
every tune and key, from the simplest to the sublimest!  He turned back
to the biography; be read on; he saw the proud, daring, mournful spirit
alone in the Great City, like himself.  He followed its dismal career, he
saw it falling with bruised and soiled wings into the mire.  He turned
again to the later works, wrung forth as tasks for bread,--the satires
without moral grandeur, the politics without honest faith.  He shuddered
and sickened as he read.  True, even here his poet mind appreciated (what
perhaps only poets can) the divine fire that burned fitfully through that
meaner and more sordid fuel,--he still traced in those crude, hasty,
bitter offerings to dire Necessity the hand of the young giant who had
built up the stately verse of Rowley.  But alas! how different from that
"mighty line."  How all serenity and joy had fled from these later
exercises of art degraded into journey-work!  Then rapidly came on the
catastrophe,--the closed doors, the poison, the suicide, the manuscripts
torn by the hands of despairing wrath, and strewed round the corpse upon
the funereal floors.  It was terrible!  The spectre of the Titan boy (as
described in the notes written on the margin), with his haughty brow, his
cynic smile, his lustrous eyes, haunted all the night the baffled and
solitary child of song.



CHAPTER XVII.

It will often happen that what ought to turn the human mind from some
peculiar tendency produces the opposite effect.  One would think that the
perusal in the newspaper of some crime and capital punishment would warn
away all who had ever meditated the crime, or dreaded the chance of
detection.  Yet it is well known to us that many a criminal is made by
pondering over the fate of some predecessor in guilt.  There is a
fascination in the Dark and Forbidden, which, strange to say, is only
lost in fiction.  No man is more inclined to murder his nephews, or
stifle his wife, after reading "Richard the Third" or "Othello."  It is
the reality that is necessary to constitute the danger of contagion.
Now, it was this reality in the fate and life and crowning suicide of
Chatterton that forced itself upon Leonard's thoughts, and sat there like
a visible evil thing, gathering evil like cloud around it.  There was
much in the dead poet's character, his trials, and his doom, that stood
out to Leonard like a bold and colossal shadow of himself and his fate.
Alas! the book seller, in one respect, had said truly.  Leonard came back
to him the next day a new man; and it seemed even to himself as if he had
lost a good angel in losing Helen.  "Oh, that she had been by my side!"
thought he.  "Oh, that I could have felt the touch of her confiding hand;
that, looking up from the scathed and dreary ruin of this life, that had
sublimely lifted itself from the plain, and sought to tower aloft from a
deluge, her mild look had spoken to me of innocent, humble, unaspiring
childhood!  Ah!  If indeed I were still necessary to her,--still the sole
guardian and protector,--then could I say to myself; 'Thou must not
despair and die!  Thou hast her to live and to strive for.'  But no, no!
Only this vast and terrible London,--the solitude of the dreary garret,
and those lustrous eyes, glaring alike through the throng and through the
solitude."



CHAPTER XVIII.

On the following Monday Dr. Morgan's shabby man-servant opened the door
to a young man in whom he did not at first remember a former visitor.  A
few days before, embrowned with healthful travel, serene light in his
eye, simple trust on his careless lip, Leonard Fairfield had stood at
that threshold.  Now again he stood there, pale and haggard, with a cheek
already hollowed into those deep anxious lines that speak of working
thoughts and sleepless nights; and a settled sullen gloom resting heavily
on his whole aspect.

"I call by appointment," said the boy, testily, as the servant stood
irresolute.  The man gave way.  "Master is just gone out to a patient:
please to wait, sir;" and he showed him into the little parlour.  In a
few moments, two other patients were admitted.  These were women, and
they began talking very loud.  They disturbed Leonard's unsocial
thoughts.  He saw that the door into the doctor's receivingroom was half
open, and, ignorant of the etiquette which holds such penetralia as
sacred, he walked in to escape from the gossips.  He threw himself into
the doctor's own wellworn chair, and muttered to himself, "Why did he
tell me to come?  What new can he think of for me?  And if a favour,
should I take it?  He has given me the means of bread by work: that is
all I have a right to ask from him, from any man,--all I should accept."

While thus soliloquizing, his eye fell on a letter lying open on the
table.  He started.  He recognized the handwriting,--the same as that of
the letter which had inclosed.  L50 to his mother,--the letter of his
grandparents.  He saw his own name: he saw something more,--words that
made his heart stand still, and his blood seem like ice in his veins.  As
he thus stood aghast, a hand was laid on the letter, and a voice, in an
angry growl, muttered, "How dare you come into my room, and pe reading my
letters?  Er-r-r!"

Leonard placed his own hand on the doctor's firmly, and said, in a fierce
tone, "This letter relates to me, belongs to me, crushes me.  I have seen
enough to know that.  I demand to read all,--learn all."

The doctor looked round, and seeing the door into the waiting-room still
open, kicked it to with his foot, and then said, under his breath, "What
have you read?  Tell me the truth."

"Two lines only, and I am called--I am called--" Leonard's frame shook
from head to foot, and the veins on his forehead swelled like cords.  He
could not complete the sentence.  It seemed as if an ocean was rolling up
through his brain, and roaring in his ears.  The doctor saw at a glance
that there was physical danger in his state, and hastily and soothingly
answered, "Sit down, sit down; calm yourself; you shall know all,--read
all; drink this water;" and he poured into a tumbler of the pure liquid a
drop or two from a tiny phial.

Leonard obeyed mechanically, for he was no longer able to stand.  He
closed his eyes, and for a minute or two life seemed to pass from him;
then he recovered, and saw the good doctor's gaze fixed on him with great
compassion.  He silently stretched forth his hand towards the letter.
"Wait a few moments," said the physician, judiciously, "and hear me
meanwhile.  It is very unfortunate you should have seen a letter never
meant for your eye, and containing allusions to a secret you were never
to have known.  But if I tell you more, will you promise me, on your word
of honour, that you will hold the confidence sacred from Mrs. Fairfield,
the Avenels,--from all?  I myself am pledged to conceal a secret, which I
can only share with you on the same condition."

"There is nothing," announced Leonard, indistinctly, and with a bitter
smile on his lip,--" nothing, it seems, that I should be proud to boast
of.  Yes, I promise; the letter, the letter!"

The doctor placed it in Leonard's right hand, and quietly slipped to the
wrist of the left his forefinger and thumb, as physicians are said to do
when a victim is stretched on the rack.  "Pulse decreasing," he muttered;
"wonderful thing, aconite!"  Meanwhile Leonard read as follows, faults in
spelling and all:--

     DR. MORGAN

     SIR,--I received your favur duly, and am glad to hear that the pore
     boy is safe and Well.  But he has been behaving ill, and ungrateful
     to my good son Richard, who is a credit to the whole Famuly and has
     made himself a Gentleman and Was very kind and good to the boy, not
     knowing who and What he is--God forbid!  I don't want never to see
     him again--the boy.  Pore John was ill and Restless for days
     afterwards.  John is a pore cretur now, and has had paralyticks.
     And he Talked of nothing but Nora--the boy's eyes were so like his
     Mother's.  I cannot, cannot see the Child of Shame.  He can't cum
     here--for our Lord's sake, sir, don't ask it--he can't, so
     Respectable as we've always been!--and such disgrace!  Base
     born! base born!  Keep him where he is, bind him prentis, I'll pay
     anything for That.  You says, sir, he's clever, and quick at
     learning; so did Parson Dale, and wanted him to go to Collidge and
     make a Figur,--then all would cum out.  It would be my death, sir; I
     could not sleep in my grave, sir.  Nora, that we were all so proud
     of.  Sinful creturs that we are!  Nora's good name that we've saved,
     now gone, gone.  And Richard, who is so grand, and who was so fond
     of pore, pore Nora!  He would not hold up his Head again.  Don't let
     him make a Figur in the world; let him be a tradesman, as we were
     afore him,--any trade he takes to,--and not cross us no more while
     he lives.  Then I shall pray for him, and wish him happy.  And have
     not we had enuff of bringing up children to be above their birth?
     Nora, that I used to say was like the first lady o' the land-oh, but
     we were rightly punished!  So now, sir, I leave all to you, and will
     Pay all you want for the boy.  And be sure that the secret's kept.
     For we have never heard from the father, and, at leest, no one knows
     that Nora has a, living son but I and my daughter Jane, and Parson
     Dale and you--and you Two are good Gentlemen--and Jane will keep her
     word, and I am old, and shall be in my grave Soon, but I hope it
     won't be while pore John needs me.  What could he do without me?
     And if that got wind, it would kill me straght, sir.  Pore John is a
     helpless cretur, God bless him.  So no more from your servant in all
     dooty,

                              M. AVENEL.


Leonard laid down this letter very calmly, and, except by a slight
heaving at his breast, and a deathlike whiteness of his lips, the
emotions he felt were undetected.  And it is a proof how much exquisite
goodness there was in his heart that the first words he spoke were,
"Thank Heaven!"

The doctor did not expect that thanksgiving, and he was so startled that
he exclaimed, "For what?"

"I have nothing to pity or excuse in the woman I knew and honoured as a
mother.  I am not her son--her-" He stopped short.

"No: but don't be hard on your true mother,--poor Nora!"

Leonard staggered, and then burst into a sudden paroxysm of tears.

"Oh, my own mother!  my dead mother!  Thou for whom I felt so mysterious
a love,--thou from whom I took this poet soul! pardon me, pardon me!
Hard on thee!  Would that thou wert living yet, that I might comfort
thee!  What thou must have suffered!"

These words were sobbed forth in broken gasps from the depth of his
heart.  Then he caught up the letter again, and his thoughts were changed
as his eyes fell upon the writer's shame and fear, as it were, of his
very existence.  All his native haughtiness returned to him.  His crest
rose, his tears dried.  "Tell her," he said, with astern, unfaltering
voice, "tell Mrs. Avenel that she is obeyed; that I will never seek her
roof, never cross her path, never disgrace her wealthy son.  But tell
her, also, that I will choose my own way in life,--that I will not take
from her a bribe for concealment.  Tell her that I am nameless, and will
yet make a name."

A name!  Was this but an idle boast, or was it one of those flashes of
conviction which are never belied, lighting up our future for one lurid
instant, and then fading into darkness?

"I do not doubt it, my prave poy," said Dr. Morgan, growing exceedingly
Welsh in his excitement; "and perhaps you may find a father, who--"

"Father! who is he, what is he?  He lives, then!  But he has deserted
me,--he must have betrayed her!  I need him not.  The law gives me no
father."

The last words were said with a return of bitter anguish: then, in a
calmer tone, he resumed, "But I should know who he is--as another one
whose path I may not cross."

Dr. Morgan looked embarrassed, and paused in deliberation.  "Nay," said
he, at length, "as you know so much, it is surely best that you should
know all."

The doctor then proceeded to detail, with some circumlocution, what we
will here repeat from his account more succinctly.

Nora Avenel, while yet very young, left her native village, or rather the
house of Lady Lansinere, by whom she had been educated and brought up, in
order to accept the place of companion to a lady in London.  One evening
she suddenly presented herself at her father's house, and at the first
sight of her mother's face she fell down insensible.  She was carried to
bed.  Dr. Morgan (then the chief medical practitioner of the town) was
sent for.  That night Leonard came into the world, and his mother died.
She never recovered her senses, never spoke intelligibly from the time
she entered the house.  "And never, therefore, named your father," said
Dr. Morgan.  "We knew not who he was."

"And how," cried Leonard, fiercely,--"how have they dared to slander this
dead mother?  How knew they that I--was--was--was not the child of
wedlock?"

"There was no wedding-ring on Nora's finger, never any rumour of her
marriage; her strange and sudden appearance at her father's house; her
emotions on entrance, so unlike those natural to a wife returning to a
parent's home,--these are all the evidence against her.  But Mrs. Avenel
deemed them strong, and so did I.  You have a right to think we judged
too harshly,--perhaps we did."

"And no inquiries were ever made?" said Leonard, mournfully, and after a
long silence,--"no inquiries to learn who was the father of the
motherless child?"

"Inquiries!  Mrs. Avenel would have died first.  Your grandmother's
nature is very rigid.  Had she come from princes, from Cadwallader
himself," said the Welshman, "she could not more have shrunk from the
thought of dishonour.  Even over her dead child, the child she had loved
the best, she thought but how to save that child's name and memory from
suspicion.  There was luckily no servant in the house, only Mark
Fairfield and his wife (Nora's sister): they had arrived the same day on
a visit.

"Mrs. Fairfield was nursing her own infant two or three months old; she
took charge of you; Nora was buried and the secret kept.  None out of the
family knew of it but myself and the curate of the town,--Mr. Dale.  The
day after your birth, Mrs. Fairfield, to prevent discovery, moved to a
village at some distance.  There her child died; and when she returned to
Hazeldean, where her husband was settled, you passed as the son she had
lost.  Mark, I know, was as a father to you, for he had loved Nora: they
had been children together."

"And she came to London,--London is strong and cruel," muttered Leonard.
"She was friendless and deceived.  I see all,--I desire to know no more.
This father--he must in deed have been like those whom I have read of in
books.  To love, to wrong her,--that I can conceive; but then to leave,
to abandon; no visit to her grave, no remorse, no search for his own
child.  Well, well; Mrs. Avenel was right.  Let us think of him no more."

The man-servant knocked at the door, and then put in his head.  "Sir, the
ladies are getting very impatient, and say they'll go."

"Sir," said Leonard, with a strange calm return to the things about him,
"I ask your pardon for taking up your time so long.  I go now.  I will
never mention to my moth--I mean to Mrs. Fairfield--what I have learned,
nor to any one.  I will work my way somehow.  If Mr. Prickett will keep
me, I will stay with him at present; but I repeat, I cannot take Mrs.
Avenel's money and be bound apprentice.  Sir, you have been good and
patient with me,--Heaven reward you."

The doctor was too moved to answer.  He wrung Leonard's hand, and in
another minute the door closed upon the nameless boy.  He stood alone in
the streets of London; and the sun flashed on him, red and menacing, like
the eye of a foe!



CHAPTER XIX.

Leonard did not appear at the shop of Mr. Prickett that day.  Needless it
is to say where he wandered, what he suffered, what thought, what felt.
All within was storm.  Late at night he returned to his solitary lodging.
On his table, neglected since the morning, was Helen's rose-tree.  It
looked parched and fading.  His heart smote him: he watered the poor
plant,--perhaps with his tears.

Meanwhile Dr. Morgan, after some debate with himself whether or not to
apprise Mrs. Avenel of Leonard's discovery and message, resolved to spare
her an uneasiness and alarm that might be dangerous to her health, and
unnecessary in itself.  He replied shortly, that she need not fear
Leonard's coming to her house; that he was disinclined to bind himself an
apprentice, but that he was provided for at present; and in a few weeks,
when Dr. Morgan heard more of him through the tradesman by whom he was
employed, the doctor would write to her from Germany.  He then went to
Mr. Prickett's, told the willing bookseller to keep the young man for the
present,--to be kind to him, watch over his habits and conduct, and
report to the doctor in his new home, on the Rhine, what avocation he
thought Leonard would be best suited for, and most inclined to adopt.
The charitable Welshman divided with the bookseller the salary given to
Leonard, and left a quarter of his moiety in advance.  It is true that he
knew he should be repaid on applying to Mrs. Avenel; but being a man of
independent spirit himself, he so sympathized with Leonard's present
feelings, that he felt as if he should degrade the boy did he maintain
him, even secretly, out of Mrs. Avenel's money,--money intended not to
raise, but keep him down in life.  At the worst, it was a sum the doctor
could afford, and he had brought the boy into the world.  Having thus, as
he thought, safely provided for his two young charges, Helen and Leonard,
the doctor then gave himself up to his final preparations for departure.
He left a short note for Leonard with Mr. Prickett, containing some brief
advice, some kind cheering; a postscript to the effect that he had not
communicated to Mrs. Avenel the information Leonard had acquired, and
that it were best to leave her in that ignorance; and six small powders
to be dissolved in water, and a teaspoonful every fourth hour,--
"Sovereign against rage and sombre thoughts," wrote the doctor.

By the evening of the next day Dr. Morgan, accompanied by his pet patient
with the chronic tic, whom he had talked into exile, was on the steamboat
on his way to Ostend.

Leonard resumed his life at Mr. Prickett's; but the change in him did not
escape the bookseller.  All his ingenuous simplicity had deserted him.
He was very distant and very taciturn; he seemed to have grown much
older.  I shall not attempt to analyze metaphysically this change.  By
the help of such words as Leonard may himself occasionally let fall, the
reader will dive into the boy's heart, and see how there the change had
worked, and is working still.  The happy, dreamy peasant-genius gazing on
Glory with inebriate, undazzled eyes is no more.  It is a man, suddenly
cut off from the old household holy ties,--conscious of great powers, and
confronted on all sides by barriers of iron, alone with hard Reality and
scornful London; and if he catches a glimpse of the lost Helicon, he
sees, where he saw the Muse, a pale melancholy spirit veiling its face in
shame,--the ghost of the mournful mother, whose child has no name, not
even the humblest, among the family of men.

On the second evening after Dr. Morgan's departure, as Leonard was just
about to leave the shop, a customer stepped in with a book in his hand,
which he had snatched from the shop-boy, who was removing the volumes for
the night from the booth without.

"Mr. Prickett, Mr. Prickett!" said the customer, "I am ashamed of you.
You presume to put upon this work, in two volumes, the sum of eight
shillings."

Mr. Prickett stepped forth from the Cimmerian gloom of some recess, and
cried, "What!  Mr. Burley, is that you?  But for your voice, I should not
have known you."

"Man is like a, book, Mr. Prickett; the commonalty only look to his
binding.  I am better bound, it is very true."  Leonard glanced towards
the speaker, who now stood under the gas-lamp, and thought he recognized
his face.  He looked again.  Yes; it was the perch-fisher whom he had met
on the banks of the Brent, and who had warned him of the lost fish and
the broken line.

MR. BURLEY (continuing).--"But the 'Art of Thinking'!--you charge eight
shillings for the 'Art of Thinking.'"

MR. PRICKETT.--"Cheap enough, Mr. Burley.  A very clean copy."

MR. BURLEY.--"Usurer!  I sold it to you for three shillings.  It is more
than one hundred and fifty per cent you propose to gain from my 'Art of
Thinking.'"

MR. PRICKETT (stuttering and taken aback).--"You sold it to me!  Ah, now
I remember.  But it was more than three shillings I gave.  You forget,--
two glasses of brandy-and-water."

MR. BURLEY.--"Hospitality, sir, is not to be priced.  If you sell your
hospitality, you are not worthy to possess my 'Art of Thinking.'  I
resume it.  There are three shillings, and a shilling more for interest.
No; on second thoughts, instead of that shilling, I will return your
hospitality: and the first time you come my way you shall have two
glasses of brandy-and-water."

Mr. Prickett did not look pleased, but he made no objection; and Mr.
Burley put the book into his pocket, and turned to examine the shelves.
He bought an old jest-book, a stray volume of the Comedies of Destouches,
paid for them, put them also into his pocket, and was sauntering out,
when he perceived Leonard, who was now standing at the doorway.

"Hem! who is that?" he asked, whispering Mr. Prickett.  "A young
assistant of mine, and very clever."

Mr. Burley scanned Leonard from top to toe.

"We have met before, sir.  But you look as if you had returned to the
Brent, and been fishing for my perch."

"Possibly, sir," answered Leonard.  "But my line is tough, and is not yet
broken, though the fish drags it amongst the weeds, and buries itself in
the mud."

He lifted his hat, bowed slightly, and walked on.

"He is clever," said Mr. Burley to the bookseller: "he understands
allegory."

MR. PRICKETT.---"Poor youth!  He came to town with the idea of turning
author: you know what that is, Mr. Burley."

MR. BURLEY (with an air of superb dignity).--"Bibliopole, yes!  An author
is a being between gods and men, who ought to be lodged in a palace, and
entertained at the public charge upon ortolans and Tokay.  He should be
kept lapped in down, and curtained with silken awnings from the cares of
life, have nothing to do but to write books upon tables of cedar, and
fish for perch from a gilded galley.  And that 's what will come to pass
when the ages lose their barbarism and know their benefactors.
Meanwhile, sir, I invite you to my rooms, and will regale you upon
brandy-and-water as long as I can pay for it; and when I cannot--you
shall regale me."

Mr. Prickett muttered, "A very bad bargain indeed," as Mr. Burley, with
his chin in the air, stepped into the street.



CHAPTER XX.

At first Leonard had always returned home through the crowded
thoroughfares,--the contact of numbers had animated his spirits.  But the
last two days, since the discovery of his birth, he had taken his way
down the comparatively unpeopled path of the New Road.

He had just gained that part of this outskirt in which the statuaries and
tomb-makers exhibit their gloomy wares, furniture alike for gardens and
for graves,--and, pausing, contemplated a column, on which was placed an
urn, half covered with a funeral mantle, when his shoulder was lightly
tapped, and, turning quickly, he saw Mr. Burley standing behind him.

"Excuse me, sir, but you understand perch-fishing; and since we find
ourselves on the same road, I should like to be better acquainted with
you.  I hear you once wished to be an author.  I am one."

Leonard had never before, to his knowledge, seen an author, and a
mournful smile passed his lips as he surveyed the perch-fisher.

Mr. Burley was indeed very differently attired since the first interview
by the brooklet.  He looked much less like an author,--but more perhaps
like a perch-fisher.  He had a new white hat, stuck on one side of his
head, a new green overcoat, new gray trousers, and new boots.  In his
hand was a whalebone stick, with a silver handle.  Nothing could be more
vagrant, devil-me-Garish, and, to use a slang word, tigerish, than his
whole air.  Yet, vulgar as was his costume, he did not himself seem
vulgar, but rather eccentric, lawless,--something out of the pale of
convention.  His face looked more pale and more puffed than before, the
tip of his nose redder; but the spark in his eye was of a livelier light,
and there was self-enjoyment in the corners of his sensual, humorous lip.

"You are an author, sir," repeated Leonard.  "Well; and what is your
report of the calling?  Yonder column props an urn.  The column is tall,
and the urn is graceful.  But it looks out of place by the roadside: what
say you?"

MR. BURLEY.--"It would look better in the churchyard."

LEONARD.--"So I was thinking.  And you are an author!"

MR. BURLEY.--"Ah, I said you had a quick sense of allegory.  And so you
think an author looks better in a churchyard, when you see him but as a
muffled urn under the moonshine, than standing beneath the gas-lamp in a
white hat, and with a red tip to his nose.  Abstractedly, you are right.
But, with your leave, the author would rather be where he is.  Let us
walk on."  The two men felt an interest in each other, and they walked
some yards in silence.

"To return to the urn," said Mr. Burley,--"you think of fame and
churchyards.  Natural enough, before illusion dies; but I think of the
moment, of existence,--and I laugh at fame.  Fame, sir--not worth a glass
of cold-without!  And as for a glass of warm, with sugar--and five
shillings in one's pocket to spend as one pleases--what is there in
Westminster Abbey to compare with it?"

"Talk on, sir,--I should like to hear you talk.  Let me listen and hold
my tongue."  Leonard pulled his hat over his brows, and gave up his
moody, questioning, turbulent mind to his new acquaintance.

And John Burley talked on.  A dangerous and fascinating talk it was,--
the talk of a great intellect fallen; a serpent trailing its length on
the ground, and showing bright, shifting, glorious hues, as it
grovelled,--a serpent, yet without the serpent's guile.  If John Burley
deceived and tempted, he meant it not,--he crawled and glittered alike
honestly.  No dove could be more simple.

Laughing at fame, he yet dwelt with an eloquent enthusiasm on the joy of
composition.  "What do I care what men without are to say and think of
the words that gush forth on my page?" cried he.  "If you think of the
public, of urns, and laurels, while you write, you are no genius; you are
not fit to be an author.  I write because it rejoices me, because it
is my nature.  Written, I care no more what becomes of it than the lark
for the effect that the song has on the peasant it wakes to the plough.
The poet, like the lark, sings 'from his watch-tower in the skies.'  Is
this true?"

"Yes, very true!"

"What can rob us of this joy?  The bookseller will not buy; the public
will not read.  Let them sleep at the foot of the ladder of the angels,
--we climb it all the same.  And then one settles down into such good-
tempered Lucianic contempt for men.  One wants so little from them, when
one knows what one's self is worth, and what they are.  They are just
worth the coin one can extract from them, in order to live.

"Our life--that is worth so much to us.  And then their joys, so vulgar
to them, we can make them golden and kingly.  Do you suppose Burns
drinking at the alehouse, with his boors around him, was drinking, like
them, only beer and whiskey?  No, he was drinking nectar; he was imbibing
his own ambrosial thoughts,--shaking with the laughter of the gods.  The
coarse human liquid was just needed to unlock his spirit from the clay,--
take it from jerkin and corduroys, and wrap it in the 'singing robes'
that floated wide in the skies: the beer or the whiskey needed but for
that, and then it changed at once into the drink of Hebe.  But come, you
have not known this life,--you have not seen it.  Come, give me this
night.  I have moneys about me,--I will fling them abroad as liberally as
Alexander himself, when he left to his share but hope.  Come!"

"Whither?"

"To my throne.  On that throne last sat Edmund Kean, mighty mime!  I am
his successor.  We will see whether in truth these wild sons of genius,
who are cited but 'to point a moral and adorn a tale,' were objects of
compassion.  Sober-suited tits to lament over a Savage or a Morland, a
Porson and a Burns!"

"Or a Chatterton," said Leonard, gloomily.

"Chatterton was an impostor in all things; he feigned excesses that he
never knew.  He a bacchanalian, a royster!  HE!  No.  We will talk of
him.  Come!"

Leonard went.



CHAPTER XXI.

The Room!  And the smoke-reek, and the gas glare of it!  The whitewash of
the walls, and the prints thereon of the actors in their mime-robes, and
stage postures,--actors as far back as their own lost Augustan era, when
the stage was a real living influence on the manners and the age!  There
was Betterton, in wig and gown,--as Cato, moralizing on the soul's
eternity, and halting between Plato and the dagger.  There was Woodward
as "The Fine Gentleman," with the inimitable rake-hell in which the
heroes of Wycherly and Congreve and Farquhar live again.  There was
jovial Quin as Falstaff, with round buckler and "fair round belly."
There was Colley Cibber in brocade, taking snuff as with "his Lord," the
thumb and forefinger raised in air, and looking at you for applause.
There was Macklin as Shylock, with knife in hand: and Kemble in the
solemn weeds of the Dane; and Kean in the place of honour over the
chimneypiece.

When we are suddenly taken from practical life, with its real workday
men, and presented to the portraits of those sole heroes of a world
Fantastic and Phantasmal, in the garments wherein they did "strut and
fret their hour upon the stage," verily there is something in the sight
that moves an inner sense within ourselves,--for all of us have an inner
sense of some existence, apart from the one that wears away our days: an
existence that, afar from St. James's and St. Giles's, the Law Courts and
Exchange, goes its way in terror or mirth, in smiles or in tears, through
a vague magic-land of the poets.  There, see those actors--they are the
men who lived it--to whom our world was the false one, to whom the
Imaginary was the Actual!  And did Shakspeare himself, in his life, ever
hearken to such applause as thundered round the personators of his airy
images?  Vague children of the most transient of the arts, fleet shadows
on running waters, though thrown down from the steadfast stars, were ye
not happier than we who live in the Real?  How strange you must feel in
the great circuit that ye now take through eternity!  No prompt-books,
no lamps, no acting Congreve and Shakspeare there!  For what parts in the
skies have your studies on the earth fitted you?  Your ultimate destinies
are very puzzling.  Hail to your effigies, and pass we on!

There, too, on the whitewashed walls, were admitted the portraits of
ruder rivals in the arena of fame,--yet they, too, had known an applause
warmer than his age gave to Shakspeare; the Champions of the Ring,--Cribb
and Molyneux and Dutch Sam.  Interspersed with these was an old print of
Newmarket in the early part of the last century, and sundry engravings
from Hogarth.  But poets, oh, they were there too! poets who might be
supposed to have been sufficiently good fellows to be at home with such
companions,--Shakspeare, of course, with his placid forehead; Ben Jonson,
with his heavy scowl; Burns and Byron cheek by jowl.  But the strangest
of all these heterogeneous specimens of graphic art was a full-length
print of William Pitt!---William Pitt, the austere and imperious.  What
the deuce did he do there amongst prize-fighters and actors and poets?
It seemed an insult to his grand memory.  Nevertheless there he was, very
erect, and with a look of ineffable disgust in his upturned nostrils.
The portraits on the sordid walls were very like the crambo in the minds
of ordinary men,--very like the motley pictures of the FAMOUS hung up in
your parlour, O my Public!  Actors and prize-fighters, poets and
statesmen, all without congruity and fitness, all whom you have been to
see or to hear for a moment, and whose names have stared out in your
newspapers, O my public!

And the company?  Indescribable!  Comedians, from small theatres, out of
employ; pale, haggard-looking boys, probably the sons of worthy traders,
trying their best to break their fathers' hearts; here and there the
marked features of a Jew.  Now and then you might see the curious puzzled
face of some greenhorn about town, or perhaps a Cantab; and men of grave
age, and grayhaired, were there, and amongst them a wondrous proportion
of carbuncled faces and bottle-noses.  And when John Burley entered,
there was a shout that made William Pitt shake in his frame.  Such
stamping and hallooing, and such hurrahs for "Burley John."  And the
gentleman who had filled the great high leathern chair in his absence
gave it up to John Burley; and Leonard, with his grave, observant eye,
and lip half sad and half scornful, placed himself by the side of his
introducer.  There was a nameless, expectant stir through the assembly,
as there is in the pit of the opera when some great singer advances to
the lamps, and begins, "Di tanti palpiti."  Time flies.  Look at the
Dutch clock over the door.  Half-an-hour.  John Burley begins to warm.  A
yet quicker light begins to break from his Eye; his voice has a mellow
luscious roll in it.

"He will be grand to-night," whispered a thin man, who looked like a
tailor, seated on the other side of Leonard.  Time flies,--an hour.  Look
again at the Dutch clock.  John Burley is grand, he is in his zenith, at
his culminating point.  What magnificent drollery! what luxuriant humour!
How the Rabelais shakes in his easy-chair!  Under the rush and the roar
of this fun (what word else shall describe it?) the man's intellect is as
clear as gold sand under a river.  Such wit and such truth, and, at
times, such a flood of quick eloquence!  All now are listeners,--silent,
save in applause.

And Leonard listened too.  Not, as he would some nights ago, in innocent
unquestioning delight.  No; his mind has passed through great sorrow,
great passion, and it comes out unsettled, inquiring, eager, brooding
over joy itself as over a problem.  And the drink circulates, and faces
change; and there are gabbling and babbling; and Burley's head sinks in
his bosom, and he is silent.  And up starts a wild, dissolute,
bacchanalian glee for seven voices.  And the smoke-reek grows denser and
thicker, and the gaslight looks dizzy through the haze.  And John
Burley's eyes reel.

Look again at the Dutch clock.  Two hours have gone.  John Burley has
broken out again from his silence, his voice thick and husky, and his
laugh cracked; and he talks, O ye gods!  such rubbish and ribaldry; and
the listeners roar aloud, and think it finer than before.  And Leonard,
who had hitherto been measuring himself in his mind against the giant,
and saying inly, "He soars out of my reach," finds the giant shrink
smaller and smaller, and saith to himself, "He is but of man's common
standard after all!"

Look again at the Dutch clock.  Three hours have passed.  Is John Burley
now of man's common standard?  Man himself seems to have vanished from
the scene,--his soul stolen from him, his form gone away with the fumes
of the smoke, and the nauseous steam from that fiery bowl.  And Leonard
looked round, and saw but the swine of Circe,--some on the floor, some
staggering against the walls, some hugging each other on the tables, some
fighting, some bawling, some weeping.  The divine spark had fled from the
human face; the Beast is everywhere growing more and snore out of the
thing that had been Man.  And John Burley, still unconquered, but clean
lost to his senses, fancies himself a preacher, and drawls forth the most
lugubrious sermon upon the brevity of life that mortal ever beard,
accompanied with unctuous sobs; and now and then in the midst of
balderdash gleams out a gorgeous sentence, that Jeremy Taylor might have
envied, drivelling away again into a cadence below the rhetoric of a
Muggletonian.  And the waiters choked up the doorway, listening and
laughing, and prepared to call cabs and coaches; and suddenly some one
turned off the gaslight, and all was dark as pitch,--howls and laughter,
as of the damned, ringing through the Pandemonium.  Out from the black
atmosphere stepped the boy-poet; and the still stars rushed on his sight,
as they looked over the grimy roof-tops.



CHAPTER XXII.

Well, Leonard, this is the first time thou hast shown that thou hast in
thee the iron out of which true manhood is forged and shaped.  Thou hast
the power to resist.  Forth, unebriate, unpolluted, he came from the
orgy, as yon star above him came from the cloud.

He had a latch-key to his lodgings.  He let himself in and walked
noiselessly up the creaking wooden stair.  It was dawn.  He passed on to
his window and threw it open.  The green elm-tree from the carpenter's
yard looked as fresh and fair as if rooted in solitude, leagues away from
the smoke of Babylon.

"Nature, Nature!" murmured Leonard, "I hear thy voice now.  This stills,
this strengthens.  But the struggle is very dread.  Here, despair of
life,--there, faith in life.  Nature thinks of neither, and lives
serenely on."

By and by a bird slid softly from the heart of the tree, and dropped on
the ground below out of sight.  But Leonard heard its carol.  It awoke
its companions; wings began to glance in the air, and the clouds grew red
towards the east.

Leonard sighed and left the window.  On the table, near Helen's rose-
tree, which he bent over wistfully, lay a letter.  He had not observed it
before.  It was in Helen's hand.  He took it to the light, and read it by
the pure, healthful gleams of morn:--

     IVY LODGE.

     Oh, my dear brother Leonard, will this find you well, and (more
     happy I dare not say, but) less sad than when we parted?  I write
     kneeling, so that it seems to me as if I wrote and prayed at the
     same time.  You may come and see me to-morrow evening, Leonard.  Do
     come, do,--we shall walk together in this pretty garden; and there
     is an arbour all covered with jessamine and honeysuckle, from which
     we can look down on London.  I have looked from it so many times,--
     so many--trying if I can guess the roofs in our poor little street,
     and fancying that I do see the dear elm-tree.

     Miss Starke is very kind to me; and I think after I have seen you,
     that I shall be happy here,--that is, if you are happy.

     Your own grateful sister,

     HELEN.

     P. S.--Any one will direct you to our house; it lies to the left
     near the top of the hill, a little way down a lane that is overhung
     on one side with chestnut-trees and lilacs.  I shall be watching for
     you at the gate.

Leonard's brow softened, he looked again like his former self.  Up from
the dark sea at his heart smiled the meek face of a child, and the waves
lay still as at the charm of a spirit.



CHAPTER XXIII.

"And what is Mr. Burley, and what has he written?" asked Leonard of Mr.
Prickett, when he returned to the shop.

Let us reply to that question in our own words, for we know more about
Mr. Burley than Mr. Prickett does.

John Burley was the only son of a poor clergyman, in a village near
Ealing, who had scraped and saved and pinched, to send his son to an
excellent provincial school in a northern county, and thence to college.
At the latter, during his first year, young Burley was remarked by the
undergraduates for his thick shoes and coarse linen, and remarkable to
the authorities for his assiduity and learning.  The highest hopes were
entertained of him by the tutors and examiners.  At the beginning of the
second year his high animal spirits, before kept down by study, broke
out.  Reading had become easy to him.  He knocked off his tasks with a
facile stroke, as it were.  He gave up his leisure hours to Symposia by
no means Socratical.  He fell into an idle, hard-drinking set.  He got
into all kinds of scrapes.  The authorities were at first kind and
forbearing in their admonitions, for they respected his abilities, and
still hoped he might become an honour to the University.  But at last he
went drunk into a formal examination, and sent in papers, after the
manner of Aristophanes, containing capital jokes upon the Dons and Big-
wigs themselves.  The offence was the greater and seemed the more
premeditated for being clothed in Greek.  John Burley was expelled.  He
went home to his father's a miserable man, for, with all his follies, he
had a good heart.  Removed from ill example, his life for a year was
blameless.  He got admitted as usher into the school in which he had
received instruction as a pupil.  This school was in a large town.  John
Burley became member of a club formed among the tradesmen, and spent
three evenings a week there.  His astonishing convivial and
conversational powers began to declare themselves.  He grew the oracle of
the club; and, from being the most sober, peaceful assembly in which
grave fathers of a family ever smoked a pipe or sipped a glass, it grew
under Mr. Burley's auspices the parent of revels as frolicking and
frantic as those out of which the old Greek Goat Song ever tipsily rose.
This would not do.  There was a great riot in the streets one night, and
the next morning the usher was dismissed.  Fortunately for John Burley's
conscience, his father had died before this happened,--died believing in
the reform of his son.  During his ushership Mr. Burley had scraped
acquaintance with the editor of the county newspaper, and given him some
capital political articles; for Burley was, like Parr and Porson, a
notable politician.  The editor furnished him with letters to the
journalists in London, and John came to the metropolis and got employed
on a very respectable newspaper.  At college he had known Audley Egerton,
though but slightly: that gentleman was then just rising into repute in
parliament.  Burley sympathized with some question on which Audley had
distinguished himself, and wrote a very good article thereon,--an article
so good that Egerton inquired into the authorship, found out Burley, and
resolved in his own mind to provide for him whenever he himself came into
office.  But Burley was a man whom it was impossible to provide for.  He
soon lost his connection with the news paper.  First, he was so irregular
that he could never be depended upon.  Secondly, he had strange, honest,
eccentric twists of thinking, that could coalesce with the thoughts of no
party in the long run.  An article of his, inadvertently admitted, had
horrified all the proprietors, staff, and readers of the paper.  It was
diametrically opposite to the principles the paper advocated, and
compared its pet politician to Catiline.  Then John Burley shut himself
up and wrote books.  He wrote two or three books, very clever, but not at
all to the popular taste,--abstract and learned, full of whims that were
caviare to the multitude, and larded with Greek.  Nevertheless they
obtained for him a little money, and among literary men some reputation.
Now Audley Egerton came into power, and got him, though with great
difficulty,--for there were many prejudices against this scampish,
harum-scarum son of the Muses,--a place in a public office.  He kept it
about a month, and then voluntarily resigned it.  "My crust of bread and
liberty!" quoth John Burley, and he vanished into a garret.  From that
time to the present he lived--Heaven knows how!  Literature is a
business, like everything else; John Burley grew more and more incapable
of business.  "He could not do task-work," he said; he wrote when the
whim seized him, or when the last penny was in his pouch, or when he was
actually in the spunging-house or the Fleet,--migrations which occurred
to him, on an average, twice a year.  He could generally sell what he had
actually written, but no one would engage him beforehand.  Editors of
magazines and other periodicals were very glad to have his articles, on
the condition that they were anonymous; and his style was not necessarily
detected, for he could vary it with the facility of a practised pen.
Audley Egerton continued his best supporter, for there were certain
questions on which no one wrote with such force as John Burley,--
questions connected with the metaphysics of politics, such as law reform
and economical science.  And Audley Egerton was the only man John Burley
put himself out of the way to serve, and for whom he would give up a
drinking bout and do task-work; for John Burley was grateful by nature,
and he felt that Egerton had really tried to befriend him.  Indeed, it
was true, as he had stated to Leonard by the Brent, that even after he
had resigned his desk in the London office, he had had the offer of an
appointment in Jamaica, and a place in India, from the minister.  But
probably there were other charms then than those exercised by the one-
eyed perch that kept him to the neighbourhood of London.  With all his
grave faults of character and conduct, John Burley was not without the
fine qualities of a large nature.  He was most resolutely his own enemy,
it is true, but he could hardly be said to be any one else's.  Even when
he criticised some more fortunate writer, he was good-humoured in his
very satire: he had no bile, no envy.  And as for freedom from malignant
personalities, he might have been a model to all critics.  I must except
politics, however, for in these he could be rabid and savage.  He had a
passion for independence, which, though pushed to excess, was not without
grandeur.  No lick-platter, no parasite, no toad-eater, no literary
beggar, no hunter after patronage and subscriptions; even in his dealings
with Audley Egerton, he insisted on naming the price for his labours.  He
took a price, because, as the papers required by Audley demanded much
reading and detail, which was not at all to his taste, he considered
himself entitled fairly to something more than the editor of the journal
wherein the papers appeared was in the habit of giving.  But he assessed
this extra price himself, and as he would have done to a bookseller.  And
when in debt and in prison, though he knew a line to Egerton would have
extricated him, he never wrote that line.  He would depend alone on his
pen,--dipped it hastily in the ink, and scrawled himself free.  The most
debased point about him was certainly the incorrigible vice of drinking,
and with it the usual concomitant of that vice,--the love of low company.
To be King of the Bohemians, to dazzle by his wild humour, and sometimes
to exalt by his fanciful eloquence, the rude, gross natures that gathered
round him,--this was a royalty that repaid him for all sacrifice of solid
dignity; a foolscap crown that he would not have changed for an emperor's
diadem.  Indeed, to appreciate rightly the talents of John Burley, it was
necessary to hear him talk on such occasions.  As a writer, after all, he
was now only capable of unequal desultory efforts; but as a talker, in
his own wild way, he was original and matchless.  And the gift of talk is
one of the most dangerous gifts a man can possess for his own sake,--the
applause is so immediate, and gained with so little labour.  Lower and
lower and lower had sunk John Burley, not only in the opinion of all who
knew his name, but in the habitual exercise of his talents.  And this
seemed wilfully--from choice.  He would write for some unstamped journal
of the populace, out of the pale of the law, for pence, when he could
have got pounds from journals of high repute.  He was very fond of
scribbling off penny ballads, and then standing in the street to hear
them sung.  He actually once made himself the poet of an advertising
tailor, and enjoyed it excessively.  But that did not last long, for John
Burley was a Pittite,--not a Tory, he used to say, but a Pittite.  And if
you had heard him talk of Pitt, you would never have known what to make
of that great statesman.  He treated him as the German commentators do
Shakspeare, and invested him with all imaginary meanings and objects,
that would have turned the grand practical man into a sibyl.  Well, he
was a Pittite; the tailor a fanatic for Thelwall and Cobbett.  Mr. Burley
wrote a poem wherein Britannia appeared to the tailor, complimented him
highly on the art he exhibited in adorning the persons of her sons; and
bestowing upon him a gigantic mantle, said that he, and he alone, might
be enabled to fit it to the shoulders of living men.  The rest of the
poem was occupied in Mr. Snip's unavailing attempts to adjust this mantle
to the eminent politicians of the day, when, just as he had sunk down in
despair, Britannia reappeared to him, and consoled him with the
information that he had done all mortal man could do, and that she had
only desired to convince pigmies that no human art could adjust to THEIR
proportions the mantle of William Pitt. /Sic itur ad astra/,--she went
back to the stars, mantle and all!  Mr. Snip was exceedingly indignant at
this allegorical effusion, and with wrathful shears cut the tie between
himself and his poet.

Thus, then, the reader has, we trust, a pretty good idea of John Burley,
--a specimen of his genus not very common in any age, and now happily
almost extinct, since authors of all degrees share in the general
improvement in order, economy, and sober decorum, which has obtained in
the national manners.  Mr. Prickett, though entering into less historical
detail than we have done, conveyed to Leonard a tolerably accurate notion
of the man, representing him as a person of great powers and learning,
who had thoroughly thrown himself away.

Leonard did not, however, see how much Mr. Burley himself was to be
blamed for his waste of life; he could not conceive a man of genius
voluntarily seating himself at the lowest step in the social ladder.  He
rather supposed he had been thrust down there by Necessity.

And when Mr. Prickett, concluding, said, "Well, I should think Burley
would cure you of the desire to be an author even more than Chatterton,"
the young man answered gloomily, "Perhaps," and turned to the book-
shelves.

With Mr. Prickett's consent, Leonard was released earlier than usual from
his task, and a little before sunset he took his way to Highgate.  He was
fortunately directed to take the new road by the Regent's Park, and so on
through a very green and smiling country.  The walk, the freshness of the
air, the songs of the birds, and, above all, when he had got half-way,
the solitude of the road, served to rouse him from his stern and sombre
meditations.  And when he came into the lane overhung with chestnut-
trees, and suddenly caught sight of Helen's watchful and then brightening
face, as she stood by the wicket, and under the shadow of cool, murmurous
boughs, the blood rushed gayly through his veins, and his heart beat loud
and gratefully.



CHAPTER XXIV.

She drew him into the garden with such true childlike joy.  Now behold
them seated in the arbour,--a perfect bower of sweets and blossoms; the
wilderness of roof-tops and spires stretching below, broad and far;
London seen dim and silent, as in a dream.

She took his hat from his brows gently, and looked him in the face with
tearful penetrating eyes.

She did not say, "You are changed."  She said, "Why, why did I leave
you?" and then turned away.

"Never mind me, Helen.  I am man, and rudely born; speak of yourself.
This lady is kind to you, then?"

"Does she not let me see you?  Oh, very kind,--and look here."

Helen pointed to fruits and cakes set out on the table.  "A feast,
brother."

And she began to press her hospitality with pretty winning ways, more
playful than was usual to her, and talking very fast, and with forced,
but silvery, laughter.

By degrees she stole him from his gloom and reserve; and though he could
not reveal to her the cause of his bitterest sorrow, he owned that he had
suffered much.  He would not have owned that to another living being.
And then, quickly turning from this brief confession, with assurances
that the worst was over, he sought to amuse her by speaking of his new
acquaintance with the perch-fisher.  But when he spoke of this man with a
kind of reluctant admiration, mixed with compassionate yet gloomy
interest, and drew a grotesque, though subdued, sketch of the wild scene
in which he had been spectator, Helen grew alarmed and grave.

"Oh, brother, do not go there again,--do not see more of this bad man."

"Bad!--no!  Hopeless and unhappy, he has stooped to stimulants and
oblivion--but you cannot understand these things, my pretty preacher."

"Yes, I do, Leonard.  What is the difference between being good and bad?
The good do not yield to temptations, and the bad do."

The definition was so simple and so wise that Leonard was more struck
with it than he might have been by the most elaborate sermon by Parson
Dale.

"I have often murmured to myself since I lost you, 'Helen was my good
angel; '--say on.  For my heart is dark to myself, and while you speak
light seems to dawn on it."

This praise so confused Helen that she was long before she could obey the
command annexed to it.  But, by little and little, words came to both
more frankly.  And then he told her the sad tale of Chatterton, and
waited, anxious to hear her comments.

"Well," he said, seeing that she remained silent, "how can I hope, when
this mighty genius laboured and despaired?  What did he want, save birth
and fortune and friends and human justice?"

"Did he pray to God?" asked Helen, drying her tears.  Again Leonard was
startled.  In reading the life of Chatterton he had not much noted the
scepticism, assumed or real, of the ill-fated aspirer to earthly
immortality.  At Helen's question, that scepticism struck him forcibly.
"Why do you ask that, Helen?"

"Because, when we pray often, we grow so very, very patient," answered
the child.  "Perhaps, had he been patient a few months more, all would
have been won by him, as it will be by you, brother, for you pray, and
you will be patient."

Leonard bowed his head in deep thought, and this time the thought was not
gloomy.  Then out from that awful life there glowed another passage,
which before he had not heeded duly, but regarded rather as one of the
darkest mysteries in the fate of Chatterton.

At the very time the despairing poet had locked himself up in his garret,
to dismiss his soul from its earthly ordeal, his genius had just found
its way into the light of renown.  Good and learned and powerful men were
preparing to serve and save him.  Another year--nay, perchance another
month--and he might have stood acknowledged sublime in the foremost ranks
of his age.

"Oh, Helen!" cried Leonard, raising his brows, from which the cloud had
passed, "why, indeed, did you leave me?"

Helen started in her turn as he repeated this regret, and in her turn
grew thoughtful.  At length she asked him if he had written for the box
which had belonged to her father and been left at the inn.

And Leonard, though a little chafed at what he thought a childish
interruption to themes of graver interest, owned, with self-reproach,
that he had forgotten to do so.  Should he not write now to order the box
to be sent to her at Miss Starke's?

"No; let it be sent to you.  Take care of it.  I should like to know that
something of mine is with you; and perhaps I may not stay here long."

"Not stay here?  That you must, my dear Helen,--at least as long as Miss
Starke will keep you, and is kind.  By and by" (added Leonard, with
something of his former sanguine tone) "I may yet make my way, and we
shall have our cottage to ourselves.  But--oh, Helen!--I forgot--you
wounded me; you left your money with me.  I only found it in my drawers
the other day.  Fie!  I have brought it back."

"It was not mine,--it is yours.  We were to share together,--you paid
all; and how can I want it here, too?" But Leonard was obstinate; and as
Helen mournfully received back all that of fortune her father had
bequeathed to her, a tall female figure stood at the entrance of the
arbour, and said, in a voice that scattered all sentiment to the winds,
"Young man, it is time to go."



CHAPTER XXV.

"Already?" said Helen, with faltering accents, as she crept to Miss
Starke's side while Leonard rose and bowed.  "I am very grateful to you,
madam," said he, with the grace that comes from all refinement of idea,
"for allowing me to see Miss Helen.  Do not let me abuse your kindness."

Miss Starke seemed struck with his look and manner, and made a stiff half
courtesy.

A form more rigid than Miss Starke's it was hard to conceive.  She was
like the Grim White Woman in the nursery ballads.  Yet, apparently, there
was a good-nature in allowing the stranger to enter her trim garden, and
providing for him and her little charge those fruits and cakes which
belied her aspect.  "May I go with him to the gate?" whispered Helen, as
Leonard had already passed up the path.

"You may, child; but do not loiter.  And then come back, and lock up the
cakes and cherries, or Patty will get at them."

Helen ran after Leonard.

"Write to me, brother,--write to me; and do not, do not be friends with
this man, who took you to that wicked, wicked place."

"Oh, Helen, I go from you strong enough to brave worse dangers than
that," said Leonard, almost gayly.

They kissed each other at the little wicket gate, and parted.

Leonard walked home under the summer moonlight, and on entering his
chamber looked first at his rose-tree.  The leaves of yesterday's flowers
lay strewn around it; but the tree had put forth new buds.

"Nature ever restores," said the young man.  He paused a moment, and
added, "Is it that Nature is very patient?"  His sleep that night was not
broken by the fearful dreams he had lately known.  He rose refreshed, and
went his way to his day's work,--not stealing along the less crowded
paths, but with a firm step, through the throng of men.  Be bold,
adventurer,--thou hast more to suffer!  Wilt thou sink?  I look into thy
heart, and I cannot answer.





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