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Title: Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 730 - December 22, 1877
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 730 - December 22, 1877" ***

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[Illustration: CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL

OF

POPULAR

LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND ART.

Fourth Series

CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS.

NO. 730.      SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1877.      PRICE 1½_d._]



CHRISTMAS-TIME.


'So many men so many minds' has been a proverb long before our days,
and will be to the end of time and human history; and uniformity of
sentiment is the one thing which men need never hope to attain.

Christmas-time is one of these battle-fields of feeling. To some it is
just the consecration of so many circumstances of torture; to others
the meeting-point of so many facts of pleasure. From the conventional
greeting to the orthodox dinner--from the 'seasonable gifts' that are
more obligatory than voluntary, to the toast that heralds the punch,
and the dreams that follow on that last glass--all is so much pain to
the flesh and weariness to the spirit; and they wonder how any one
can find it otherwise. What is there in Christmas-time to make it
pleasurable? they say. The gathering together of the family? A lot
of rough boys home from school, who spoil the furniture and tease
the dogs, lame the horses and ravage the garden, make the servants
cross, the girls rude, and the younger children insubordinate; who
upset all the order of the house, destroy its comfort like its quiet,
and to whose safe return to discipline and your own restoration to
tranquillity you look forward with impatient longing from the first
hour of their arrival to the last of their stay? Or the advent of your
married daughter with her two spoilt babies, who cry if they are looked
at and want everything that they see, and that very objectionable young
man her husband, with his ultra opinions and passion for argument,
whom she would marry in spite of all that you could say, but to whom
you can scarcely force yourself to be decently civil, not to speak of
cordial, and whose presence is a perpetual blister while it lasts? Is
this the family gathering about which you are expected to gush?--this
with the addition of your son's fine-lady wife who snubs his mother
and sisters with as little breeding as reserve, finds nothing at your
table that she can eat, lives with her smelling-bottle to her nose and
propped up with cushions on the sofa, and gives you to understand that
she considers herself humiliated by her association with your family,
and your son as much exalted as she is degraded? This is the domestic
aspect of Christmas-time which is to make you forget all the ordinary
troubles of life, creating in their stead a Utopia where ill-feeling
is as little known as _ennui_, and family jars are as impossible as
personal discomfort and dissent. Holding this picture in your hand, you
decline to subscribe your name to the Io pæan universally chanted in
praise of Christmas, and wrap yourself up in sullen silence when your
neighbour congratulates you on having all your family about you, and
wishes you a merry Christmas as if he meant it.

If the domestic aspect is disagreeable, what is the social?--A round
of dinners of which the _menu_ is precisely the same from Alpha to
Omega:--turbot and thick lobster-sauce; roast-beef and boiled turkey;
indigestible plum-pudding and murderous mince-pies; with sour oranges
and sweet sherry to keep the balance even, and by the creation of two
acids perhaps neutralise each other and the third. This is the food
set before unoffending citizens under the name and style of Christmas
dinners for the month or six weeks during which the idiotic custom of
Christmas dinners at all is supposed to last. You are expected to live
in this monotony of dyspepsia and antipathetic diet till you loathe the
very sight of the familiar food, and long for a change with a vehemence
which makes you ashamed of yourself, and more than half afraid that you
are developing into a gourmand of the worst kind.

As if your nights were not sufficiently broken by the horrible
compounds which trouble your digestion and disturb your brain,
torturers known as the 'waits' prowl through the streets from midnight
to dawn, causing you agonies beyond those which even the hurdy-gurdy
men inflict. You are just falling to sleep--painfully courted and
hardly won--when a hideous discord worse than the wailings of cats
startles you into a nervous wakefulness which banishes all hope for
that night. What can you do? They are too far off for that jug of
water to take effect, and you must not fire; anathemas do not hurt
them, and if said aloud only waken up your wife and make her cry if
she does not preach. You have nothing for it then but to lie still
and groan inwardly, devoting to the infernal gods all the idiotic
circumstances by which your life is rendered wretched, and your health,
already frail, set still further wrong. In the morning, when wearied
and nervously feverish from want of sleep, you go into the garden for
a little quiet and delectation, you find your greenhouses stripped of
the flowers which you had been lovingly watching for weeks, and your
evergreens as ridiculously cropped as a shaved poodle. This is the day
for the decoration of the church, and you, having made an expensive
hobby of your garden, have to contribute what has cost months and good
money to rear, for the childish satisfaction of John and Joan, lasting
just two hours and five minutes. Not only have you lost your flowers
and your evergreens--that splendid holly, which yesterday glowed like a
flame, today nothing but a bundle of chopped ends!--but you know that
your favourite daughter is flirting with the curate, and that a great
deal is going on under cover of wreaths and crosses, laurustinus and
chrysanthemum, of which you strongly disapprove yet cannot check. It is
Christmas-time; decorating the church has become in these later days a
kind of religious duty; and as a conscript father of your village, you
must not forbid your daughter this pious pleasure any more than you can
refuse your costly contribution in kind.

Turn to the financial side of the time; and what have you?--bills
coming in that you neither expected nor knew of, and every one looking
for a Christmas-box, and insolent or irritated if they do not get it.
The servants obsequious to the worth of half a sovereign--tradesmen
and their lads punctual in anticipation of half-crowns--postmen
levying blackmail, and watermen and dustmen demanding as their
right that they should be fee'd for their persistent neglect of
duty--every one making a dead set at your pocket and trying to get
your money for themselves--the very children more caressing and
affectionate because it is Christmas and papa always gives them
something on Christmas-day:--You groan as you ask yourself where is
disinterestedness on this earth?--and you groan still more as you draw
your cheques and reduce your balance and wonder by what law of right it
is that you should be the pipe by which other folks are to be supplied.

No; you see no good or pleasure in this boasted Christmas-time as
we keep it up in our benighted country. Its mirth is a sham and its
inflictions are only too real. A time of tumult and expense, of
indigestion and discomfort, you wait, grimly or fretfully as your mood
may be, till it has passed and the current of your life is allowed
to flow evenly as before. When you hear people sing its praises you
long to stop their mouths, as you longed to silence the waits who
woke you up out of your first sleep and spoilt your rest for the
night. What manner of men are these, you think, who can find cause of
congratulation in so much absurdity, if the fun is real to them--so
much dreary make-believe, if it is unreal? You despise your genial,
laughing, merry-hearted neighbour who goes into everything _con amore_,
and accepts it all, from forfeits and snapdragon to plum-pudding and
Christmas-boxes, as if he really liked it. You think what a fool he
must be to be pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw like this.
But for the most part you do not believe in his mirth; and then you
despise him still more as a hypocrite as well. For a hypocrite shamming
folly is an offender against reason as well as truth, whom you find it
hard to forgive, let the motive of his mummery be what it may.

This is one side of the question; your neighbour takes the other.

Who on earth, he says with his hands in his pockets, his back to the
fire and his kindly smiling face to the room, who on earth can grumble
at the facts of Christmas-time? For his part he finds it the jolliest
season of the year, and he finds each season as jolly as the other,
and all perfect in their own appointed way. He is none of your crying
philosophers who go through life bewailing its miseries and oppressed
by its misfortunes. Not he! He thinks the earth beautiful, men and
women pleasant, and God very good; and of all occasions wherein he can
transact his cheerful philosophy, Christmas is the best. The boys are
home for their holidays; and it is a pleasure to him to take them out
hunting and shooting, and initiate them into the personal circumstances
belonging to English country gentlemen. He looks forward to the time
when they will take his place and carry on the traditions of the
family, and he wishes them to be worthy of their name and an honour
to their country. He is not one of those nervous self-centred men who
live by rule and measure and cannot have a line of the day's ordering
disturbed. He likes his own way certainly; and he has it; but he can
press his elbows to his sides on occasions, and give room for others
to expand. He does not find it such an unbearable infliction that his
boys should come home and racket about the place, even though they are
a little upsetting, and do not leave everything quite as smooth and
straight as they found it. He remembers his own youth and how happy it
made him to come home and racket; and he supposes that his lads are
very much the same as he was at their age. He thinks too that they do
the girls good--wake them up a little--and while not making them rough
or rude--the mother takes care of that--yet that they prevent them from
becoming prim and missy, as girls are apt to be who have no brothers
and are left too much to themselves. Certainly he does not approve of
the flood of slang which is let loose in the house during their stay;
but school-boy slang at the worst is not permanent, and in a week's
time will be forgotten.

As for the married daughter's children, they are the merriest little
rogues in the world; and his wife looks ten years younger since they
came. She was always fond of babies; and her grandchildren seem to
renew her own past nursery with all the pleasure and none of the
anxiety of the olden time. He rather wonders at his girl's taste in
the matter of her husband--most fathers do--and cannot for the life of
him see what there is to love in him. But if not an Alcibiades he is
a good fellow in the main, and makes his young wife happy; which is
the principal thing. And if his daughter-in-law is a trifle stiff, and
fond of giving herself fine-lady airs, he for his part never stands
that kind of nonsense, and will laugh her out of it before she has
been twenty-four hours in the house. He finds good-humour and taking no
offence the best weapons in the world against folly and ill-temper; and
prefers them as curative agents to any other. The girl is a nice girl
enough, but she has been badly brought up--had a lot of false ideas
instilled into her by a foolish mother--but when she has been away
from the old influences, and associated with themselves for a little
while, she will open her eyes and see things in their right light.
Who indeed could resist the sweet sensible influence of his wife, her
mother-in-law?--and are not his girls the very perfection of honest
wholesome English ladies? It will all come right in time; he has no
doubt of that; and meanwhile they must be patient and forbearing for
Dick's sake, and not make matters worse than they are by their own want
of self-control.

Then as to the Christmas-boxes and the tips sacred to the season--well!
well! after all they do not amount to much in the year, and see what
pleasure they give! A man must be but a poor-spirited surly kind of
hound who does not like to see his fellow-creatures happy; and a very
little kindness goes a great way in that direction. He takes care to
live within his income, and therefore he has always a margin to go on;
and he does not object to use it. The servants have been very good on
the whole, and do their duty fairly enough. And when they fail--as
they do at times--why, to fail is human, and are they alone of all
mankind to be blameless and never swerving in the right way? And are
they alone of all mankind to be judged of by their worst and not by
their best?--to be blamed for failure, but not praised for well-doing?
He does not think so; and not thinking this, his half-sovereigns are
given freely without the grudging which makes them an ungracious
tax instead of a kindly voluntary gift. The tradespeople, too, do
fairly well, and--they must have their profit like any one else!
Those Christmas-boxes to their lads may be the nest-eggs for future
savings; and even if they do go in a little finery or personal pleasure
instead--young people will be young, and his own boys are fond of being
smart and amused: so why not these others? You grumble at the waits? If
you in your warm bed, well fed, well clothed, prosperous altogether,
fret at the loss of an hour's sleep, what must these poor fellows feel,
out in the cold frosty night, with the wind blowing and the sleet
falling fast, and they not half fed nor a quarter clothed? For his own
part he would like to give them a glass of hot grog all round; and as
for grumbling at the few coppers which they brave all this physical
discomfort to earn, he makes it shillings, and hopes it will do them
good. We must live and let live, he says with his broad smile; and
if we are sometimes a little inconvenienced by the efforts made by
the poor to accomplish the art of living for their own parts--we must
remember that our loss is their gain, and that they are men and women
like ourselves--fathers of families who want to keep the pot boiling
and the fire alight--mothers who love their children, and are anxious
to do the best for them that nature and man will allow.

You complain of indigestion and grumble at the monotony of your
Christmas fare?--That is strange! Who can grumble at good plain
succulent meat?--and why do you eat the sweets if they disagree with
you? Neither pudding nor mince-pie comes into the eternal necessities
of things, and you would do very well if only you would refrain. He
does not eat things that he cannot digest, and in consequence he sleeps
well, and when he wakes has neither regret nor remorse. Surely that is
not such a painful trial--to forbear eating what is hurtful to your
health, and in touching your health corroding your happiness as well.

In a word, the whole difference of the spirit in which we meet the
facts of Christmas depends on the good or ill humour with which we are
naturally endowed, and which we have cultivated by common-sense on the
one hand, or suffered to ride rough-shod over our reason on the other.
If we are unselfish and sympathetic, Christmas-time is as pleasant
to us as popular tradition would make it; if we are egotistical and
peevish, it is a wearisome infliction and a sham which no honest man
can pretend to believe in, nor any sensible one to admire.

For our own part we believe in Christmas, because we believe in the
kindness of man to man, in genial good-humour, in unselfishness, and
the liking of wholesome natures to give happiness; and so far as we
have gone yet we have seen no reason to change our views. A merry
Christmas then to you all, friends, readers, and countrymen; and a
happy New Year to follow after; and may God bless the rich and care
for the poor, and lead us all in the right way while the day lasts and
before the night has come!



A CAST OF THE NET.

THE STORY OF A DETECTIVE OFFICER.


CHAPTER IV.

Long after it had grown quite dark, all remained quiet, and at last
I resolved upon making a move. I had determined upon fetching Peter
Tilley. I had plenty of assistance, but I thought I should like to have
Peter with me. So I went down to the ferry; a gas-light which burned at
the corner shewed me before I left my post that the bony ferryman was
not there; and choosing a pretty good boat, with a strong young fellow
to pull, I got in. It was a most unpleasant night; as dark as pitch,
which was bad enough, but every now and then it lightened, which was
worse, as it dazzled my eyes, and made me think we were running smash
on board some great vessel which I had not seen a moment before, and
couldn't see a moment after. However, the boatman was used to all kinds
of weather, I suppose, and knew the river thoroughly; so through the
darkness and the rain, which never left off for a moment, we reached
the other side.

I left the boat to wait for me, and ran up to the _Yarmouth Smack_. I
looked in, and saw Peter leaning against the bar and smoking a short
pipe, as a labourer ought to do; and he was talking in a friendly way
to some rough-looking fellows. I slipped in, and using the name we had
agreed upon, spoke to him. He knew my voice of course; but seeing me
so changed, for my make-up was really splendid (it was, although I say
so that shouldn't), it gave him such a shock that he was obliged to
put the pewter down he was going to drink from and look steadily at me
before he answered. 'I'm acoming,' he said at last, and we got outside;
when, as we walked down to the ferry, I gave him a sort of idea of what
was going on, and how I expected to make a great catch that night.
Peter of course was very glad to be in for such a big thing as this,
for he had never been mixed up with anything so important.

Not to trust the boatman too much, I kept Peter back a few yards from
the water while I finished my story, standing a little on one side, so
as to be out of the way of the people who came and went to and from the
ferry. While I was talking to him, a wherry ran in; we heard her grate
on the pebbles and the sculls rattle as the man laid 'em in; but that
we had heard before. It's a part of my habit to notice little things
however, and I looked to see who had come in by this boat. There was
only one passenger, a woman, and she passed us walking quickly; but
quick as she walked, I saw her, and she saw me. Blessed if it wasn't
Miss Doyle! My being there was no odds to Miss Doyle, nor could it have
signified to her if she had seen me fifty times; yet I felt I would
rather not have met her just then; it looked unlucky, and she was such
an uncommonly sharp one too. Sharp or not, I couldn't see what she
could make out of my standing under a wall on a wet night talking to
another labourer.

Having finished my explanation, we both got into the wherry, and I
asked the man if he would like a good long job, which might perhaps
last all night.

'The longer the better, governor,' he says, 'if the pay is accordin'.'

'The pay _will_ be accordin',' I answered; 'and so you are engaged.'

The first thing I made him do was to row round that oyster-smack, for
the tide had risen enough to take us round her. I shewed no light, but
we went inside her twice; and the fellow on the watch was very sharp,
so he was leaning over the side when we came round the second time, and
I could say quite quiet-like: 'I am in this boat now--watch the river.'
That was quite enough; he knew he would not now have to look to the
_Anchor_ for signals.

After this began what I believe was the most disagreeable sort of
patrol I ever had. There was a time when I used to envy the Thames
police; but I can't say I ever did after that night. We were obliged
to be in motion almost continually, because we did not know from which
side of the river the paper might come, and we weren't quite sure that
it would come at all, especially on that night; and I don't know,
speaking from my own experience, that there is anything more trying to
the spirits than the pulling backwards and forwards and loitering about
on the river Thames in a raw October night with a small thick rain
falling. Twice we landed, and went once to the _Smack_ and once to the
_Anchor_. I couldn't grudge the men a glass of hot grog; in fact I was
obliged to have some myself, even if I missed my capture through it.

It grew later and later; the flashes of lightning still came at long
intervals; but the lights on the shore went out, and excepting the
gas-lamps which burnt at street-corners, ferries, and wharfs, all was
dark. The traffic on the river had long ceased, no shouts or rattle
of wheels came from the shore; and the rain still falling, it was,
I give you my word, most horribly miserable, dull and sloppy beyond
description. Twelve o'clock had struck, and one, and perhaps half an
hour beyond it. I had cautioned my companions to speak very low; so the
boatman only whispered when he said: 'It's as quiet as it is likely
to be, governor, if you've got anything to run. I have just seen the
police galley creep along on the other side; I see her under that lamp.
Now's your time.'

He thought we were smugglers! Perhaps he didn't care if we were
thieves. I told him to be patient; when at that very instant, just as
we were creeping along under the lee of a coal-barge, a wherry shot
very silently by, right in front of us, going across stream, and not
six feet from our bows. In her sat the sulky ferryman; I knew him at a
glance, dark as it was. 'Pull after that wherry,' I said.

'Peter Tilley, my lad,' I continued, turning to Peter, 'the time's
acoming, I think.'

'I'm precious glad of it,' says Peter; 'for I'm catching a cold in my
head every minute I sit in this confounded boat; and it's all soaking
wet where I'm sitting.'

Our man pulled on; he was a very strong fellow, as I have said, and
we could have overtaken the other boat directly; but this of course I
did not want. I knew where to look for the old scamp; and sure enough,
after a few strokes across stream, he bent to the left and ran under
the bows of the Dutch trader.

All was dark and silent as the grave aboard the ship; but that didn't
deceive the old boatman, nor did it deceive me. I stopped our man in
the shade of the next vessel, if you can call anywhere a shade, when
it was all pitch dark. We had not been there a minute before I heard a
slight noise--it was impossible to see any one unless he stood between
you and the sky--and then I could tell by the sound that a man had
dropped into the wherry. There was no need to tell me what man it was.
With an almost noiseless dip, the ferryman dropped his sculls into the
river again and rowed on, we still after him. I took it for granted he
was going to the other side of the ferry; but he suddenly bore off to
the right, and rowed on for some little time, then striking in between
two vessels, he went straight for the land.

'Where is he going to?' I whispered.

'To the landing at Byrle's wharf,' says the boatman in the same tone.

So he was; and it appeared this landing-place was at the farther side
of the wharf; that is, lower down the river.

It was so dark we could hardly see them--for we could just make out
there were now two persons in the boat--but as they reached the shore,
a lamp that was burning on the wharf helped us a little. We could not
clearly see what they were doing; but they certainly got out of the
boat, and as certainly there were then more than two figures moving
about, and seemingly engaged in placing parcels in the wherry. But it
was very gloomy there; they were in the shade of the wharf, and the
lamp glimmered weak and faint through the thick rain. It was the more
difficult to see what was being done, because there were several boats
tied up to the landing-place, making some confusion in the darkness. At
last, however, we could see that they were pushing off from the shore;
so it was time for us to move. We pulled back for a while (there was no
doubt as to which way the others would come), and then sheering off,
lay between two colliers until we saw the wherry we had watched go by,
and then we once more pulled after them.

'I'm blest if I don't think there's another boat following _us_,' says
Peter Tilley, staring as hard as he could behind us. I looked, but
couldn't see anything; and Peter owned he might have been mistaken.

We could not make out how many there were in the foremost boat. There
was only one man rowing, that was plain; and he pulled short round
at the proper place, as I knew he would, and rowed towards the Dutch
trader. As he did so, we lost him for a second, a big steamer lying
between us; but the hull of this vessel did not obstruct the view up
the river. I seized the moment, and waved my lantern twice. It was all
right. As quick as thought the light on board the oyster-smack was
moved twice also, and then we too were pulling across the stream. I
wanted to capture my men on board the trader, as otherwise the paper
might be got rid of, because I couldn't be positively certain that it
was not already on board. In fact, Mr Edmund Byrle was my chief aim,
not the skipper.

The wherry pulled under the bows of the vessel; we followed just in
time to see, by a very convenient flash of lightning, two packages
handed up; then a figure, which we had recognised by the same flash as
the bony ferryman, got into the ship. As he disappeared, our wherry
touched the vessel; and at the same instant, to my great relief, a
long black Thames police galley came alongside us, and its crew, five
constables, with Barney Wilkins, who was there as guide, clambered
up like cats. I and Peter imitated them, but not quite so quickly;
and when I looked over the bulwark, I saw by the light of a couple of
lanterns, screened from the outside, four or five men, the boatman
and the skipper being two, lifting up a great lid which fitted in
the deck--the hatches I heard it called--while by their side lay the
packages of paper. I could not see Mr Byrle; but there was no time to
consider; we all jumped in at once, the men looking round in amazement
at the noise. I fancied that just then I heard a shout from the boat.

'What do you all want here?' said the skipper angrily.

'We hold a warrant'--I began.

'Oh, it is _you_, is it?' he screeched, like a hyena, or something of
that sort. 'I owe you a little for a past score, and you shall have
it.' As quick as lightning he pulled a long straight knife from the
side of his trousers, where it must have been in some sort of sheath,
and jumped at me with such suddenness that he would have stabbed me,
only Barney Wilkins snatched a handspike from the deck, and dashing
between us, hit him down with such a blow, that the skipper fell with a
crash like a bullock when it is killed, the blood pouring from his head
instantly.

It was all as quick as thought. The other men were all seized in a
breath. So quick was it all done, that I had no idea Barney was hurt,
until he reeled, made a wild clutch as if he caught at something for
support, and then pitched forward on his hands and knees.

'Hollo, Barney!' I said, stooping down to him. 'What's the matter, old
fellow?'

'It's all up, Mr Nickham,' he gasped; 'he's done me. I only hope I've
killed him. Where's the other?'

'Oh, never mind the other, Barney,' I says. 'Where are you hurt?'

But as I spoke, one of the men came with a lantern, and Barney had
no occasion to answer me, for I could see a straight stream of blood
running from his chest on to the deck; and his hands giving way from
weakness, he fell over on his side.

'Pull in for the shore, you, sir!' said the sergeant of the Thames
police to my waterman. 'You know Marigold Street? Knock up Mr Gartley,
and tell him what has happened. Say we are afraid to move the man to
his house, so he had better come aboard.'

'Send one of your own men, will you?' answers the boatman. 'I've got
something to tell the governor' (that was me), 'as I think he ought to
know.'

'Cut away then, Bill,' says the sergeant to a constable; 'these fellows
are ironed, and we can manage all that are aboard this craft.'

So the man went off in my wherry; and the Thames men tried to make poor
Barney a little more comfortable, while I undid his waistcoat, hoping
to stop the bleeding.

'It ain't no use,' he said; but in that short time his voice was almost
gone, and we could tell that he was dying. 'I'm done for, Mr Nickham.
If there's a reward, you'll act fair and square, I know; you always was
a gentleman--let my sister have'---- And with that he gave a gasp, and
was dead.

I rose up, dreadfully vexed for the poor chap. The sergeant and one of
his men were looking after the skipper, when I felt myself touched on
the arm.

'I say, sir,' said the boatman, 'when I'm in for a thing, I go through
with it honourable. Did you know as you was followed?'

'Followed? no!' I said.

'I thought we was!' said Peter Tilley.

'We was followed, sir, by a light wherry with two people in it,'
continues the boatman; 'and when they see our boats, they held hard;
and as you all boarded the ship and the noise began, they rowed away as
hard as they could go.'

'Which way did they go?' I said.

'Down river,' says the man. 'But it's of no use thinking of looking
after them now. They are ashore long afore this.'

This was likely enough; and it was quite certain that Mr Edmund Byrle
was one of the two in the boat, and I had lost him for the present.
Well, it couldn't be helped; so we set to work to question the men and
search the ship, till the doctor came. The men knew nothing more about
the business than that they were going to have two passengers, a lady
and a gentleman, this voyage. One of the Thames men understood Dutch,
or we should not have heard even this scrap of information. The sulky
boatman never uttered a word, except that once he said as I passed him,
and he said it with a bitter curse: 'I always had my doubts of _you_.'

The doctor came off; but poor Barney was stone-dead, while the
skipper's skull was badly fractured. However, the paper was all there;
so I supposed, and so it proved; and I shouldn't have cared if the
skipper's head had been broken fifty times over.

We got our prisoners to the shore, leaving the craft in charge of a
Thames police galley that came in answer to our signals; and late as
it was, I drove with Peter Tilley in a cab to the City. Our people
there were immensely glad, I can tell you; and when I went over to the
Bank (for there was no need for secrecy or dodging now), I thought the
gentlemen never would have left off paying me compliments. Poor Barney
Wilkins that was dead deserved most credit; but it could not do him
any good to say so now, so I let them go on. The paper was examined,
and found to be exactly the quantity required; enough, I believe, to
have made about twenty thousand bank-notes. Ah! if they _had_ got into
circulation!

I hope you will understand, however, that I did act fair and square;
and when the reward was paid (and the Bank people did come down most
liberal; I bought my house at Pentonville with my share), I told the
gentlemen about poor Barney and his wishes; and I'm proud to say they
found his sister out and took her away; and after a time she went
abroad with kind people who looked after her, and took care of her
money till she got married, and did well. Why, she sent me a snuff-box
made out of pure Australian gold, with a letter signed by herself and
her husband, who was a butcher in a great way of business out there;
and they sent it as an acknowledgment of my having acted all fair and
square. I promised so to do, and I did.

Edmund Byrle was never caught, and so far as we were concerned, was
never heard of; and if it hadn't been for his father, I should never
have understood a lot of things that puzzled me. I had given a pretty
good guess as to how Miss Doyle came in the first place to inquire
about Mr Byrle and the detective; a very clever idea in itself, but
like many other clever things, it lost her the game. Mr Byrle had
talked with his friends about employing detectives; and Miss Doyle
knowing about the Bank paper, and being always on the watch, had got
hold of just enough to mislead her. She went out with Edmund Byrle to
Turkey, I think, and was married to him; and old Mr Byrle sent out
a friend to see them; and it was in this way I got the particulars.
It appears she knew me again--only as the limping labourer, of
course--when she saw me talking at the ferry to Tilley. But she knew
_him_ as the detective at the _Yarmouth Smack_, and she thought that
although it might be all right, yet a detective was a dangerous
customer, and his acquaintances might be dangerous also. Consequently
she tried to persuade Edmund to put off his journey; but he wanted
the money for the paper, and wouldn't listen to her. But he agreed at
last to go aboard in another boat, which satisfied her, as she felt so
certain the skipper's boat would be attacked. As I have explained, her
precaution saved him from fifteen years' 'penal,' which is the least
he would have had. The skipper was sent for life, having killed a man
in his arrest; but he didn't live six months in prison; he never got
over the tremendous blow he received from Barney. All the reports spoke
of his being a receiver of 'stolen goods.' The Bank paper was never
mentioned, for the authorities did not want to unsettle the public
again, or let them see what a narrow escape they had had.

And now comes about the queerest part of my story. Call me names if I
didn't stop the thieving at Byrle's factory as well as recover the Bank
paper, killing two birds with one stone.

It was all through my catching the bony ferryman. Finding that things
was going hard with him, and hoping to make them easier, and being
disappointed that those who were concerned with him did not come
forward with money to provide for his defence, he 'rounded' on them; he
split on them all, and owned how he was the means of taking the metal
over to a fence on his side of the water, the things being stolen by a
mechanic and a watchman who were in league. (I see I have used the word
'fence;' this means a receiver of stolen goods; but though I have been
warned by the editor of this magazine, we can't do without _some_ slang
words.)

Peter Tilley got a tidy present, and was noted for promotion through
this business. I was glad of it, for Peter was a capital chap--never
wanted to play first-fiddle; and I admire people of that disposition. I
tell you what I did: I got the newest five-pound note of all what the
Bank gave me, and they were all very clean and crisp, and I wrapped old
Bob the gatekeeper's own sixpence in it; and I went to the factory and
I stood a pint of ale, and says: 'Bob, here's your sixpence!' He hadn't
known exactly who I was till then, for I had made excuses as usual; and
then I'm blessed if he didn't quite cry over his luck. Mr Byrle too
thought a lot of Bob's kindness, for I told the old gent about it; and
I heard that on that very account he put six shillings a week on Bob's
wages, and I was glad to hear it.

They couldn't keep me off the detective staff after this; and although
I am free to confess--now I am on my pension and nothing matters to
me--that I only stumbled upon these discoveries by accident, I was
praised to the skies by those for whom I worked. However, it all
died away, as such things do; but I had managed to get my house at
Pentonville, as I have hinted; and a pleasanter neighbourhood I don't
know, or one more convenient for getting about. I have had some rather
odd adventures since I have lived in my street; you can't help seeing
strange things, if you keep your eyes open in London. But I didn't
begin to tell about _them_. I have finished my account of the robberies
at Byrle & Co.'s and my story finishes in consequence.



FEATS OF ENDURANCE.


London, which has witnessed many strange doings in its day, was
lately the scene of the most wonderful feats of pedestrianism ever
accomplished within a given period.

Every hour, day and night, for six weary weeks a man plodded on his way
round a measured track, until the grand total of fifteen hundred miles
in one thousand hours had been made up, finishing his self-imposed task
with his physical and mental faculties apparently unimpaired.

The task of walking fifteen hundred miles in a thousand hours had never
before been attempted, and henceforth the new achievement will throw
into the cold shade of obscurity even the marvellous act of walking a
thousand miles in as many hours, which was once accomplished in 1809
by Captain Robert Barclay of Ury, a Scotchman, who proposed to perform
the then incredible task of walking a thousand miles in a thousand
consecutive hours. The proposition was received with every sign of
incredulity, though, when the affair was finally arranged to take
place, many thousands of pounds were staked on the event. Newmarket
Heath was selected as the scene of the exploit, and the famous walk
began on the 1st of June 1809, at midnight. It is unnecessary to
repeat the details of this feat; it will suffice to mention that the
enterprising captain completed his task on the 12th July, at four
o'clock in the afternoon.

Since then, an attempt has, we believe, been made to walk the same
distance _backwards_; and within the past twelve months, Weston, the
American pedestrian, has performed some remarkable exploits of the
kind; being however at last beaten by an Irishman named Kelly.

The hero of the lately completed task (fifteen hundred miles in a
thousand hours) is a little Welshman of not more than five feet three
and a half inches in height, and about forty-two years of age; while
in personal appearance and general _physique_ he presents anything but
what is usually supposed to be the characteristic of a good pedestrian.
His name is William Gale, and he is a bookbinder by trade, living at
Clerkenwell.

At the commencement of his task on Sunday the 26th of August, he
weighed no more than eight stone four pounds (8 st. 4 lbs.); and from
that day until Saturday the 6th October, during a portion of every hour
day and night, he pursued his monotonous way around the inclosure at
Lillie Bridge grounds, Brompton. When the attempt was first announced,
even those most acquainted with pedestrian feats where great endurance
was required, expressed themselves dubious as to the result; and in
order to have a reliable record of his proceedings, Gale requested the
different sporting papers to appoint competent men as judges--a request
which was at once generously complied with.

Thus we have an official report of his great exploit, and the public
are enabled to judge for themselves on the nature of the feat
performed. Gale's average pace appears to have been about four miles
an hour; but when he had reached his thousandth mile he assumed a
brave spurt, and footed it in ten minutes, or at the rate of six miles
an hour. During the last few days of his walking he started rather
stiffly at first, owing to the pain caused by the swelling of some
varicose veins in his left leg; but undaunted by so great and manifest
a disadvantage, and other disadvantages which we shall presently
refer to, the gallant little Welshman 'plodded his weary way' with a
determined pluck that won the admiration and applause of every one
present.

On Friday the 5th October, the day before the finish of the tramp,
Dr Gant of the Royal Free Hospital was called in to see this
extraordinary walker, and after examining his legs, he pronounced
Gale to be in excellent condition so far as his physical powers were
concerned; there being no fever, the pulse only seventy, no murmur
at the heart; and the varicose veins which had been the cause of so
much pain to him, were rather better than worse, having considerably
decreased in size. Perhaps the most remarkable part of the performance
is, that it has been accomplished on a system of training which
entirely sets at variance all athletic rules, for Gale partook of no
fixed refreshment, neither did he have his meals at stated hours. His
chief food was plain mutton-chops; and as an instance of how he varied
his dishes, his afternoon meal on Friday the 5th October, which might
have been either breakfast, dinner, or supper (so irregular had he been
in this respect), consisted of a lobster and bread and butter, followed
by a fried sole, and one or two cups of ordinarily strong tea. During
the walk he also drank a good deal of beer--not strong beer, but the
ale which is usually sold at fourpence per quart, which he seemed to
prefer to any other kind, probably on account of its freedom from that
tendency to increase rather than assuage thirst, so remarkably apparent
in the stronger beers.

Many strange incidents occurred in the course of the six weeks, which
were calculated to while away the time, and occasionally to bring a
smile to the pedestrian's lips. For instance, a certain illustrated
sheet, notorious for its very sensational cartoons, published a picture
of Gale on the track followed by Old Time with the conventional scythe
on his shoulder; and many people it would seem actually paid their
money with the idea that they were going to see the two figures as
thus represented. One man, who had evidently gone to the grounds for
this purpose, had watched Gale go round the track several times, when
he could no longer control his disappointment. He shouted aloud,
angrily demanding his money back, because, as he said with the greatest
_naïveté_ possible, 'the beggar with the scythe hadn't turned up!'

As the last week of the great walking match wore on, signs of weariness
in the indomitable pedestrian became painfully apparent, and many
persons began to fear that the task he had set himself would after all
remain unaccomplished. On several of the rounds he fell asleep whilst
walking, and dropped to the ground; but this contact with mother earth
seemed to revive him instantly, and he plodded on as pluckily as before.

At length success crowned his efforts; and at seventeen minutes past
five o'clock (less a second) on Saturday afternoon the 6th October
1877, Gale terminated his long and dreary walk in the presence of a
large, fashionable, and enthusiastic assemblage, who rewarded his
efforts with several rounds of hearty applause.

From the commencement of his task to the finish Gale bore up against
all obstacles with extraordinary pluck and determination, his last mile
being performed in _ten minutes and eight seconds_. He was at once
removed to the tent or pavilion under which he had snatched so many
brief half-hours' rest, and was examined by three medical men, who
found that his heart was quite natural in its movements, and that the
temperature of his body did not exceed one hundred and six degrees.

The great feat which has thus been accomplished without the aid of
artificial training, is a marvellous instance of what human endurance,
allied with courage and determination, can effect; though of what
particular benefit it may be to the world at large it is utterly
impossible to imagine.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since the preceding account was written, Gale has accomplished a
still more extraordinary feat, and one which for strength of will
and physical endurance far surpasses his previous efforts. We still
fail, however, to see the benefit which can accrue from exhibitions
of this kind, and well might he have been contented with the laurels
he had already won. He had scarcely allowed himself time to recover
from his former task, when he once more appeared at a public place of
entertainment, namely the Agricultural Hall at Islington, to walk four
thousand quarter-miles under the astounding condition, that it was to
be done in four thousand consecutive periods of ten minutes.

This of course deprived him of the half-hour's rest which he could
obtain at one time in the former race, and only allowed him a few
minutes between each round to get a little sleep. Despite these
drawbacks, however, Gale finished his task at eleven o'clock P.M.
on the 17th November, after a dreary walk of nearly four weeks. By
accomplishing his task, he has placed himself at the head of all the
famous pedestrians the world has known; and we trust that this fact
will be sufficient to satisfy his craving after what is at best but
ephemeral fame.

Men have on many occasions attempted walking feats which required a
vast amount of physical endurance, and have failed from their utter
inability to go without the natural quantum of sleep; but Gale has not
only shewn himself to be possessed of the former, but to be altogether
independent of the latter. This, however, instead of indicating 'pluck'
merely, would rather seem to point to a peculiarity in the man's
constitution; as there are doubtless many persons whose courage would
enable them to perform the same or even a greater task if, like Gale,
they could walk about in a state of somnolency or semi-sleep--a state
in which, to use his own words, he was as one in a dream, unconscious
of all that was going on around him, and believing himself to be
walking in forests and other places of silvan beauty; and the truth of
this was made evident by the fact that he would have often exceeded the
limit of his walk had not the voice of his attendant aroused him from
his stupor.

The average time occupied by this extraordinary walker was by day
about three minutes for each quarter of a mile, and by night about
five minutes; and the fastest round recorded was done in two minutes
and forty-two seconds. His pulse was always found to indicate a
perfect state of health, and was as regular when he left off as when
he commenced his task. His food consisted principally of fish, fowl,
chops, eggs, and light puddings; and his drink was, with only one
exception during the whole time, tea.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the whole affair was the fact
that, although he sank into a deep sleep directly he reached his chair
behind the curtain, which hid him from view between his walks, the
moment the bell rang the second time, he would appear as fresh as ever
and begin trudging away again.

When the feat was accomplished, Sir John Astley stepped forward, and
amid a scene of great enthusiasm, presented the undaunted Welshman with
a silver belt of the value of a hundred guineas, bearing the following
inscription: 'This belt was presented to WILLIAM GALE of Cardiff, on
the 17th November 1877, by some of the nobility and gentry of Great
Britain, in commemoration of his hitherto unprecedented feat, namely
walking one thousand five hundred miles in one thousand hours at Lillie
Bridge Grounds, August 26th to October 6th, 1877; and four thousand
quarter-miles in four thousand consecutive periods of ten minutes, at
the Agricultural Hall, London, October 21st to November 17th, 1877.'
The belt is of lion's skin, mounted on velvet, the metal portion of it
weighing one hundred ounces of sterling silver.

None will begrudge Gale his well-earned reward; but it is to be hoped
that such exhibitions will in future be discountenanced by the general
public, as they not only detract from the dignity of man, but are
needless and unwarrantable in a country which, we trust, will ever
pride itself on a nobler civilisation than that which is founded upon
mere physical endurance.



A DIFFICULT QUESTION.

THE STORY OF TWO CHRISTMAS EVES.


IN TWO CHAPTERS.--PROLOGUE.

In the gray light of an Indian dawn, with the cool breeze blowing
through the curtains of the tent, and his friend's sorrowful eyes
looking down on him, a soldier lay on his rough couch--waiting for
death. They were soon to be parted those two, who had lived and fought
together; but the face of the one who was starting on that journey
of which none has measured the distance, was smilingly calm, while
the eyes of the other glistened with regretful tears as he spoke low,
faltering, remorseful words.

'Hush, Ralph, hush!' the other said at last. 'Don't you think, dear
old fellow, I would sooner lose my life in having saved yours, than in
any other way? After all, a few days or years sooner or later, what
does it signify? My fate is perhaps the happiest, though I hope it is
not. I don't think life is so very desirable,' he continued; 'I am only
twenty-six; but mine has not been a happy one. It was my own fault,
though. Take my advice, Ralph; don't marry young. There is only one
thing that troubles me'----

'Your little girl,' Ralph interrupted. 'Wrayworth, let me take care
of her; if I can make her happy, it will be some slight atonement,
some'----

'You would take care of her, Ralph? would you?' The dying man's eyes
shone gratefully as he looked up in his friend's face. 'She has
nothing, poor little thing,' he went on sadly--'motherless, fatherless,
scarcely more than a baby either. It would be a heavy charge to leave
you, Ralph.'

'Wrayworth! how can you speak so; you will drive me mad! You--you'----
He broke down utterly; it was something so terrible to see this friend
dying there--for him. 'Anything on earth that I can do'---- he murmured.

'You will do for her,' said Wrayworth. 'Thank you. I have no friends to
send her to. I meant to have made her very happy.'

'She shall be; I swear it!' Ralph answered fervently, thankful for
this charge, which might in some degree help him to pay that debt of
gratitude, and forgetful that he had no control of fate, that the
promise he gave of happiness was a fearfully presumptuous one. But he
made it willingly, gladly, solemnly, before God; and as far as lay in
his power it should sacredly be kept; any sacrifice he would make for
this child.

His friend's eyes rested on him searchingly for a moment. 'I trust
you,' he said--'I trust you.'

The hours passed on, the blazing sun arose, and Ralph went out into
the burning glare with bent head and staggering footsteps, while words
he had heard long since seemed floating round him in letters of fire:
'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for
his friend.'--'Is there _none_ greater?' he thought. 'Is there nothing
_I_ can do to repay--nothing?'


CHAPTER I.--ASKED.

The years were well on in their teens since that melancholy scene was
enacted in the Indian tent--since Wrayworth consigned his only child
to the guardianship of the friend whose life, at the expense of his
own, he had saved on the battle-field. A carriage rolled along the
snowy high-road through the cold clear air; the short winter's day
was drawing to its close, and up in the darkening sky the stars were
beginning to shine upon the world's most joyful season, upon Christmas
eve. The world's most joyful season? We call it so, this festival, more
than eighteen hundred years old; but does the world think it so?--the
world, with its thousand cares and crosses, its deep and hidden
sorrows, its partings and its tears? Of those amongst the myriads who
keep the Yule-tide feast, how many hold it with a chastened joy! For
on that day most of all our thoughts go back to other years, to other
faces, to other lips that have wished us 'a merry Christmas;' to other
hands, which have clasped ours so loyally, to those who have loved us
so long ago!

But Major Loraine had no sad memories connected with the season as he
drove up to the old house, from which duty had so frequently called
him, and which he had not seen for five years. In the wide, dark,
panelled hall his step-mother stood waiting to welcome him, as gladly
as though he had been her own son. He was only a boy when she first
came there, when the pink was fresh on her cheek and the gold bright in
her hair; they had been drawn to each other then; and through the long
years of her widowhood his loving care had helped to lighten her load
of sorrow; so it was not wonderful that for months past she had been
eagerly looking forward to his return.

The greetings over, they sat down side by side, talking, as those
talk after long separation, of past, present, and future; of their
acquaintances married, dead, or far away; of things on the estate,
prosperous or failures; of the ball to be given next month, of the one
they were going to, to-night; of how much Emma was improved since she
'came out,' how Katharine was considered one of the handsomest girls
in the place, and how she might marry Sir Michael Leyland with thirty
thousand a year if she liked.

'But why ever doesn't she like?' asked the Major, astonished at this
new phase in the character of his worldly-minded sister.

'That is just what troubles me,' answered Mrs Loraine. 'They are all at
the church now, helping to decorate. Louise wanted to stay at home to
welcome you, but I sent them all off, so as to have you to myself for
an hour. You will see a great alteration in Louise, Ralph.'

'Shall I, mother?' he said smiling. 'I think not. Her letters are the
same always; they have altered in style a little of course in the last
year or two, but it is the same spirit--the same creature.'

'But not the same face, Ralph. Remember you have not seen her for five
years, which have not altered you, but which have changed her from an
unformed girl of fourteen to a lovely woman; with that bright changing
beauty, which has more charm for a man than regularity of feature. It
is a very difficult question.'

'What is a difficult question?' asked Ralph, as his mother paused.

'What to do with Louise.'

'You hinted something of the kind in your last letter, mother,' he said
gravely. 'I am sorry, but I must confess this house seems large enough
for four women. You know how I am situated; you know the promise which
binds me. But tell me,' he added smiling, 'what has Louise done? She
seemed to me gentle and tractable enough when I was last at home.'

'I have not the slightest fault to find,' Mrs Loraine replied; 'you
know I am very fond of her. You will think my difficulty very womanish;
simply, Louise is too pretty.'

'And some one has told her so,' said Ralph, laughing. 'Go on.'

'It is not that; but I cannot bear to see my own child's happiness
destroyed by another, who, if not a stranger, has at least no claim
upon her.'

Ralph frowned slightly. 'Perhaps not,' he answered; 'the claim is upon
me, and it is a sacred one. So,' he continued, 'it is a case of rivals,
I see.'

'Simply this, Ralph. You remember the Levesons of Leigh Court, where
we are going to-night? Their eldest son is in the --th Dragoons, and
has been home on leave. Louise was away when he first came here, and he
appeared very much struck with Katharine; and no wonder; she is very
handsome. Well--don't laugh at me; I don't like match-making as a rule;
but I thought as she seemed interested in him, there was no harm in
inviting him sometimes. But as soon as Louise came home, he transferred
his attentions to her. Katharine says nothing; but it makes a kind
of awkwardness between them. I know she feels it, poor child; though
indeed I believe Vere Leveson is simply flirting with Louise.'

Major Loraine laughed. 'Poor mother!' he said, 'you will have enough to
do if you take all your children's love affairs to heart so seriously.
These things always right themselves, you know. But I confess I am
surprised to hear of Katharine going in for sentiment; I should have
thought Sir Michael more in her line. Is that all, mother?'

'No; only the first of my difficulties,' she answered half sadly. 'You
know what my health has been for the last few years; you know---- Well,
you do not wish me to speak of that; but it is better to look in the
face of possibility. Suppose anything happened to me, Ralph, what would
become of Louise?'

'You speak of what I hope may be far distant, mother,' he answered
tenderly. 'But why should you be uneasy about her? In the event of her
not marrying, she would always have a home here with me.'

Mrs Loraine shook her head. 'Turn round and look in the glass,' she
said; 'thirty-nine is not such a very formidable age.'

He turned, and contemplated his bronzed face in the glass; such a
handsome, noble face, telling of a nature that could not act falsely or
meanly. The broad square forehead, marred by a sabre-cut, and the dark
hair flecked here and there, by the Indian sun, with gray; nothing else
to find fault with in the frank kind smile, the fine regular features,
the dark true eyes.

'I think there is no fear of my being taken for younger than I am,
mother,' he said, smiling.

'It is an awkward position for you, though,' she answered; 'and as
I said, a difficult question what to do. We must hope for the best,
Ralph. You are going to join the others now, I suppose?'

'Yes; I think I can find my way.'

He went out into the keen frosty air, walking slowly, though it was
unpleasantly cold to one accustomed to tropical climates. He was
thinking over his mother's words, and knew she was right as to the
awkwardness of the position. He saw the peace of the household was
troubled, without knowing how to set matters right, and he thought
of the old friend who had trusted his child to him. He had vowed she
should be happy, and now it seemed a difficult vow to keep; but for the
sake of the man who had died for him sixteen long years ago, the pledge
then given must be redeemed.

Louise Wrayworth's life had been a bright one hitherto; her guardian's
home was the only one she could remember, and he had striven to fill in
some degree her father's place. To him, from infancy to womanhood, she
had looked up with loving grateful reverence, regarding him, present or
absent, as the noblest of created beings.

He reached the old church, and made his way round to the open vestry
door. The steps were encumbered with bundles of evergreens; the voices
of the workers, who had finished their task, were audible. He pushed
the door further open, and went in. The floor was covered with boughs,
and around the pillars were wreathed holly and other evergreens in
honour of the joyous season. Some of the choristers stood waiting
for the choir-practice, and the organist was softly playing _Adeste
Fideles_.

'Ralph!' cried a young fresh voice; and a slight fair girl with a merry
face sprang up from the floor, with her hands full of the scarlet
berries, which fell hither and thither in bright-hued rain, as with
complete indifference to the by-standers, she gave the returned soldier
a sisterly embrace. 'You dear old thing to come for us!' she exclaimed.

'Emma, Emma!' exclaimed Ralph, laughing and disengaging himself; 'you
have not learned to behave any better in five years.'

But his young sister had vanished, and he turned to greet the vicar;
and one or two of the ladies he recognised. In a few minutes Emma
reappeared; and behind her came a tall fair girl with masses of golden
hair, and great beautiful cold blue eyes. She greeted Major Loraine
affectionately, but with the quiet stately grace habitual to her. Five
years had not changed Katharine Loraine; at twenty-four she was still
the same majestic Queen Katharine as at nineteen, with whom he had
always had so little sympathy, whose nature he had found so difficult
to understand.

'Where is Louise?' he asked presently. 'Is she not here?'

'She went into the churchyard just now,' answered Emma, 'to put a
wreath on Nellie Bryant's grave. You remember her, Ralph?'

'Louise's friend? Yes.'

'A _triste_ employment for Christmas eve,' observed one of the
gentlemen decorators to Katharine, as he stooped to disentangle her
dress from a long sprig of ivy.

'Oh, Mr Leveson went to hold a lantern for her,' Katharine answered,
with the slightest possible shade of contempt in the silvery tones of
her voice; 'and Louise is never _triste_, unless she is by herself.'

The choir was now fully assembled; the organist struck up the anthem,
the rest were silent to listen, and Ralph Loraine went out to look
for his ward. He came round the east end of the old church, and stood
still for a moment in the shadow. There were two people standing at
the edge of the path, looking down on the grave at their feet, where
the lantern's light shewed the shining holly upon the upright marble
cross. It shewed too the face of his friend's child; a beautiful face,
as his step-mother had said, with large dark eyes and wavy dusky hair,
a clear delicate complexion with a little rose-flush on the cheeks, and
full red lips half-parted by the sweetest smile he had ever seen; with
the same erect carriage of the head, the same fearless straight regard
which had characterised her father.

It was so strange to see her there a woman, whom he had left a mere
girl; and as he looked on the fair face, something seemed to whisper
that the ideal beauty he had so often dreamed of was before him at
last. They moved away, and came slowly nearer, and paused again where
he could see her companion; and for a moment he almost hated the man
for his youth, and his handsome face, and the deep-blue eyes aflame
with passion-fire as they rested on the child of his dead friend; and
another whisper which silenced the first, told him how fitted was each
for the other.

'If _I_ were lying there,' said Vere Leveson, and Ralph could hear
every one of the foolish, softly spoken words, 'would you ever make
wreaths for _me_, I wonder?'

'I don't know.'

'Don't you? I wish you did; for I thought just now I should be glad to
be lying there, if you would remember me.'

Ralph had heard enough, and tried to slip away unseen; but the gravel
crunched under his feet and betrayed him.

Louise started, and a bright vivid blush covered her face as she sprang
forward. 'Lorrie! Oh, how glad I am to see you again!' she cried, as
she took both his hands in hers and lifted her cheek for his kiss.

He felt half sorry she had done so; that and the old childish name put
him immediately in his place as guardian, and made him ashamed of his
thoughts. 'How you are altered, Louise!' he said, looking down at her
admiringly. 'I think I should hardly have known you!'

'I should have known you, Lorrie, anywhere,' she said reproachfully.

'That is rather different,' he said; 'when we once get old, we don't
change so quickly.'

'You would not like it if I said you were old, Lorrie. But tell me, am
_I_ altered for the worse? or'----

'You have no need to come to me for compliments, surely,' he said
smiling.

'I should think more of yours than of any one's,' she whispered, with
that sweet dangerous smile; a smile which a man like Ralph Loraine
should have taken as a warning not to feel its influence too often.

'How rude I am!' she said at last.--'Mr Leveson, do you know my
guardian?' She turned to her companion, who stood holding the lantern a
few yards from them.

'I had the honour of dining in your company once, Major Loraine,' he
answered, stepping forward. 'It is some time ago, when I first joined
at Madras; but I well remember my anxiety to see such a distinguished
soldier as yourself.'

There was a ring of truth and honest admiration in the words, which
raised them above an ordinary compliment, and which made Ralph hold out
his hand and answer cordially: 'I have a bad memory for faces, or I
think I should have remembered yours.'

'Thanks,' said Vere, laughing. 'We shall have the pleasure of seeing
you to-night, I hope?'

'Yes; my mother told me of the invitation.'

'Of course he is coming,' said Louise. 'And you will dance with me all
the evening, Lorrie; won't you?'

'Not quite all, Miss Wrayworth; please, don't forget my waltzes,' said
Vere, holding out his hand. 'I must be off now; so good-bye for the
present. You won't forget?'

She looked up quickly. 'Perhaps,' the lips said laughingly; but the
dark eyes gave a sweet silent answer Ralph did not see, though he was
watching them. But after Vere Leveson had gone, he walked home beneath
the Christmas stars, with Louise's hand resting on his arm, dreaming as
he went, a fair, fond, foolish dream.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Christmas-eve ball at Leigh Park was a regular institution, one
which Sir Harry Leveson had kept up for years. It was a pretty sight,
Ralph thought, as he stood leaning against a window, and looking round
to select a partner. And amongst all the fair women, the one he thought
the fairest was his young ward Louise Wrayworth, in her white floating
dress, with its wreaths of holly, and the red clustering berries in her
dark hair.

Ralph had been watching Vere Leveson, trying to decide in his own
mind whether Mrs Loraine's verdict of flirtation was a just one;
and he judged that it was; for the attentions of the young officer
were apparently equally divided between Louise and Katharine. Ralph
did not happen to be near when, later on, he led Louise to one of
the cool empty rooms, where through the open window could be heard
the merry Christmas bells. He did not see the hand-clasp or the
light that flashed in the eyes of each. He did not hear the hurried
whisper: 'Louise, you won't forget me, you will trust me till next
Christmas-time?'

The ball was over, the rooms were dark and silent; the whole world
waited for the sun to rise on Christmas-day.



IS THE TELEPHONE A PRACTICAL SUCCESS?


In September last appeared in this _Journal_ an article entitled
'Singing and Talking by Telegraph;' and in that paper we attempted
to describe the mechanism of that wonderful little instrument the
telephone. It is now our purpose to say something regarding the
progress that has been made towards perfecting the invention; but in
order to make the article as clear as possible, we venture once more
upon a few words explanatory of the instrument.

The telephone as it is now made is an exceedingly simple-looking
apparatus similar in appearance to a stethoscope; to the handle of a
girl's skipping-rope; or better still, to a large-sized penny wooden
trumpet. Inside this hollow cylinder, and within an inch or so of the
wider end, is fixed a plate of iron as thin as a well-worn sixpence,
and about the size of a half-crown piece. This is called the diaphragm.
Behind the diaphragm, nearly touching it, and extending to the narrower
end of the cylinder, is a piece of 'soft' iron enveloped in wire
coils, with a permanent magnet beyond. Outside the narrower end of
the cylinder, and communicating with the coils that surround the iron
inside, are attached two screws or 'terminals,' which are 'joined up'
to a main wire, communicating with the distant or receiving telephone
wherever that may be, and which is precisely similar to the one we
have described. When we apply our mouth to the bell-shaped end of the
apparatus, and speak or shout or sing, we set the diaphragm vibrating
as in a tuning-fork; the vibrations thus created are electrically
communicated through the wire to a distant telephone, and are repeated
on its diaphragm with more or less distinctness.

It is known that the motion of an iron plate contiguous to the poles
of a magnet creates a disturbance of electricity in coils surrounding
those poles; and the duration of this current will coincide with the
vibratory motion of the plate or diaphragm. When, therefore, the human
voice (or any other suitable sound) impinges through the tube against
this diaphragm, the diaphragm begins to vibrate, and awakens, so to
speak, electrical action in the coils of wire surrounding the poles
of the magnet; not a current, but a series of undulations, something
like those produced by the voice in the air around us. In short the
telephone is an apparatus designed to transmit sound through a wire
of indefinite length; the voice being, so to speak, 'converted into
electricity at one end, the electricity becoming voice at the other.'

With these few explanatory remarks, we now proceed to offer to our
readers the following interesting experiments made by a gentleman well
skilled in telegraphy.

'Journalists,' he says, 'with no special knowledge of the difficulties
the invention has to encounter as a telegraph instrument, have
expatiated in such enthusiastic terms upon the results said to have
been achieved by the telephone, that a somewhat exaggerated notion of
its powers and capabilities has been accepted by the general public.
It appears, therefore, to the writer of those lines that a statement
of the experiences of a person practically engaged in the work of
telegraphy may assist in placing the phenomena of the telephone on a
proper footing.

'Scientifically, the telephone is a great and undoubted success; and
a person would be grievously in error if, because of some undoubted
hindrances to its practical use, he pronounced it unworthy of further
experiment. The emergence of telegraphy from the domain of experiment
into that of daily practical use is a fact so undoubted, and one with
which we are now so familiar, that it is impossible to say at what
moment the telephone, at present a scientific toy, may become a daily
necessity not only of telegraphic but of ordinary commercial work.

'Being engaged in daily contact with a large telegraphic centre, and
in association with men who have the command of every means of testing
the invention in a practical work-a-day manner, the writer was able to
gauge pretty accurately the range within which the telephone can work.
It must be understood, however, that in recording the effects observed
by him and his associates, he has no desire to invalidate, or even to
call in question the experiences of others who may have been able to
arrive at better results. The telephone is in the hands of some of
the first electricians and telegraphists of the day, and differences
of conditions (not to speak of differences of capacity on the part
of the operator) may give variety in the observations made. The very
difficulties and drawbacks now to be recorded will no doubt some day
suggest to a master-mind the method by which they may be overcome. But
till that day arrives, the telephone must be content to remain where
the writer leaves it, an undoubted success from a scientific point of
view, but overwhelmed with obstacles to its practical use, in this
country at least, in general telegraphy.

'When a telegraphist first gets into his hand this beautifully simple
and electrically delicate instrument, his first inclination is to test
its carrying-power. This is of course a closet experiment, not working
with actual telegraph line, but with "resistance" equivalent to a
telegraph line of stated length. An experiment of this nature gives
better results than could be obtained by a veritable line, because the
insulation is, so to speak, perfect. No leakage at undesigned points of
contact, or disturbance from unfavourable atmospheric conditions, is
felt, and the experiment is entirely under the observer's control. The
apparatus used is designed to offer the same labour for the electric
current to overcome, as would be offered by a stated length of outside
telegraph line. This artificial resistance is nicely graduated, and
as the method of testing was suggested by Ohm, a German electrician,
the unit of resistance is, as we once previously explained, termed an
"ohm." Removing the telephone to such a distance that the two observers
were "out of earshot," the test with resistance was tried, and with a
resistance of one thousand ohms--roughly speaking, equal to seventy
miles of a well-constructed line--the sound was perfect, although not
very loud. Every articulation of the speaker at the other end could be
distinguished so long as silence was maintained in the room, or so long
as no heavy lorry rumbling over the stones outside sent in harsh noises
which drowned the faint whisper of the instrument. The resistance
was gradually raised to four thousand ohms--nearly three hundred
miles--with like favourable results; and for some little distance
beyond, articulation could still be made out. But by the time ten
thousand ohms had been applied, putting the speaker at a distance of,
say, seven hundred miles, sound only, but not articulate sound, reached
the ear. The tone was there, and every inflection of the voice could
be followed; but articulation was absent, although the listener strove
every nerve to catch the sound, which the speaker, as was afterwards
ascertained, was shouting in a loud clear voice. The prolonged notes
of an air sung could be heard with the resistance named, but again
no words could be distinguished. The voice, whether in speaking or
singing, has a weird curious sound in the telephone. It is in a measure
ventriloqual in character; and with the telephone held an inch or two
from the ear, it has the effect as if some one were singing far off
in the building, or the sound were coming up from a vaulted cellar or
through a massive stone wall.

'Proceeding to our next experiment, we joined up the telephones in one
office to several wires in succession, putting ourselves in circuit
with lines going to various distances and working with different
instruments. When this was done, the real obstacle to telephonic
progress at once asserted itself in the shape of "induction." The first
wire experimented with was partly "overhouse" and partly underground,
and the offices upon it were working Wheatstone A B C instruments. It
is difficult to render clear to the person ignorant of telegraphic
phenomena the idea expressed by the word _induction_. Briefly it may
be put thus, that when a strong electric current is passing on a wire,
it has the faculty of setting up a current of opposite character in
any wire not then working, or working with a feebler current, that may
be in its vicinity. The why or the wherefore cannot be explained, but
there is the fact.

'In various recent articles on the telephone, mention has been made of
"contact" as the cause of disturbance. This word, however, although it
has been used by telegraphists, is misleading, and can only be used
as an endeavour to express popularly an electric fact. Actual contact
of one wire with another would spoil the business altogether. A wire
bearing an electric current seems to be for the time surrounded, to an
undefined distance, by an electric atmosphere, and all wires coming
within this atmosphere have a current in an opposite direction set up
in them. This is as near an explanation of the phenomena of induction
as the state of telegraph science at present affords. Now the telephone
works with a very delicate magnetic current, and is easily overpowered
by the action of a stronger current in any wire near which the
telephone wire may come. To work properly it "requires a silent line."

'In the place where the observations were made, there are a large
number of wires, travelling under the floor, through the test-box,
along passages to the battery-room and to a pole on the outside,
whence they radiate, or out to a pipe underground, where many
gutta-percha-covered wires lie side by side. On applying the ear to a
telephone joined into a circuit working in such an office a curious
sound is heard, comparable most nearly to the sound of a pot boiling.
But the practised ear could soon separate the boiling into distinct
sounds. There was one masterful Morse instrument--probably on the wire
lying nearest the one on which we were joined up--whose peremptory
"click, cli-i-i-ck, click," representing "dot, dash, dot" on the
printed slip we read from, could be heard over all. Then there was the
rapid whir of a Wheatstone fast-speed transmitter, sending dots and
dashes at express speed by mechanical means; the sharp well-pronounced
rattle in sounds of equal length of a needle instrument; and most
curious of all, the "rrrrr-op, rr-op, rrrrrrrrrrrrr-op, rrrrr-op,
rr-op" of the A B C, the deadliest foe to the telephone in its
endeavours to gain admission into the family of telegraph instruments.
There may be reason in this, for as the Wheatstone A B C is the
instrument used for private telegraphy, or for the least important
public offices, because it requires no "code" to be learned by the
manipulator, so it would likely be the first to be displaced if an
acoustic telegraph permanently took the field. So the sentient little
A B C opens its mitrailleuse fire on the intruder, on whose delicate
currents, in the words of an accomplished electrician, it plays "old
harry." The peculiar character of the sounds we borrow on the telephone
from this instrument arises from the fact that as the needle flies
round the dial, a distinct current or pulsation passes for each letter,
and the final "op" we have tried to represent shews the stoppage of the
needle at the letters as words were spelled out.

'It must not be understood that the _sounds_ of those various
instruments are actually heard in the telephone. What happens is, that
the currents stealing along the telephone wire by induction produce
vibrations in the diaphragm of that instrument, the little metal
membrane working on the magnet in ready response to every current set
up in the latter. When it is remembered that the principle of the
telephone is that the sound-caused vibrations in the filmy diaphragm
at one end create similar but magnetically-caused vibrations in the
diaphragm at the other end, and so reproduce the sound, it will be
obvious why the rapid roll of the A B C currents, or the swift sending
of the fast-speed transmitter, when brought by induction into the
telephone wire, cause disturbances in the sound vibrations, and thereby
cripple the instrument. One instrument of either kind named would have
a certain effect, but one Morse or single needle would not have any
greatly prejudicial effect. But a number of Morses or needles going
together, such as were heard in our experiments, would combine to be
nearly as bad as one A B C or fast-speed Morse. So delicate is the
diaphragm to sound (and necessarily so), that in all experiments with
the telephone itself, such as those with "resistance," or those made
at home to test the instrument apart from telegraphic considerations,
every sound from without broke in, giving an effect like the well-known
"murmur of the shell."

'Joining up our wire now to a more distant station at some miles
along the railway, and having on its poles a number of what are known
as "heavy" circuits, the pot-boiling sound assumed even more marked
characteristics. The A B C no longer affected us; but a number of Morse
instruments were in full gear, and the fast-speed transmitter was also
at work. While we were listening, the circuit to which we were joined
began to work, and the effect was literally electrical. Hitherto we had
only borrowed currents--or, seeing they were so unwelcome, we might
call them currents thrust upon us--and the sounds, though sharp and
incessant, were gentle and rather low. But when the strong current was
set up in the wire itself, the listener who held one of our telephones
nearly jumped from the floor when an angry "pit-_pat_, pit-_pat_,
pit-_pat_-pit" assailed his ear, causing him to drop the instrument as
if he had been shot! It was a result none of us had expected, for it
did not seem possible that the delicate metal diaphragm and the little
magnet of the telephone could produce a sound so intense. Of course
it was only intense when the ear was held close to the orifice of the
instrument. Held in the hand away from the ear, the telephone now made
a first-rate "sounder," and we could tell without difficulty not only
the signals that were passing, but found in it a more comfortable tone
than that given by the Morse sounder in common use.

'Other experiments of a like character led to results so similar,
that they may be left unnoticed; and we proceed now to describe one
of a different character, designed to test the telephone itself.
At a distance of about half a mile, access was obtained to a Morse
instrument in private use, and joined to the office by "overhouse"
wire. Dividing our party and arranging a programme of operations, two
remained with a telephone in the office, while other two, of whom the
writer was one, proceeded with the second telephone to the distant
instrument. By an arrangement which a practical telegraphist will
understand, the key of the Morse was kept in circuit, so that signals
could be exchanged in that way. It may be noticed, however, that this
was hardly necessary, as the diaphragm of the telephone can be used as
a key, with the finger or a blunt point, so that dot and dash signals
are interchangeable, should the voice fail to be heard. As the wire in
this instance travelled almost alone over part of its course, we were
in hopes that induced currents would be conspicuous by their absence.
In this we were, however, disappointed, for the pot was boiling away,
rather more faintly, but with the "plop-plop-plop" distinctly audible,
and once more a sharp masterful Morse click was heard coming in now and
again. The deadly A B C was, however, absent, so that our experiment
proved highly successful. For some reason or another--probably an
imperfect condition of the wire, or the effects of "induction" over and
above what made itself audible to us--the spoken sounds were deficient
in distinctness; but songs sung at either end were very beautifully
heard, and indeed the sustained note of sung words had always a better
carrying-power than rapidly spoken words. Every syllable, and every
turn of melody of such a song as _My Mother bids me bind my Hair_, sung
by a lady at one end, or _When the Heart of a Man_, sung at the other,
could be distinctly heard, but with the effect before noticed, that the
voice was muffled or shut in, as if the singer were in a cellar, while
it was not always possible to say at once whether the voice was that of
a man or a woman.

'In the course of some domestic experiments, it was remarked that in
playing the scale downwards from C in alt. on the piano, the result
to the listener was a "tit" only for the four upper notes, although
all below that had a clear "ting," and the octaves below were mostly
distinct, although at the low notes of the piano the sound was again
lost. The ringing notes of a musical box were not so successful, but
with close attention, its rapid execution of _Tommy Dodd_ could be well
enough made out. An endeavour was made to catch the ticking of a watch,
but this was not successful, and the experiment is not recommended,
as the near presence of a watch to a magnet is not desirable; and the
watch exposed to it in this instance was, it is thought, affected for a
short time thereafter, although it received no permanent damage.

'The observations made in the course of these experiments convinced
those present that the telephone presents facilities for the dangerous
practice of "tapping the wires," which may make it useful or dangerous,
according as it is used for proper or improper purposes. It might be
an important addition for a military commander to make to his flying
cavalry; as an expert sound-reader, accompanying a column sent to
cut off the enemy's telegraph connections, might precede the act of
destruction by robbing him of some of his secrets. The rapidity and
simplicity of the means by which a wire could be "milked," without
being cut or put out of circuit, struck the whole of the party engaged
in the various trials that are described above. Of course the process
of tapping by telephone could not be carried out if the instrument in
use was an A B C or single needle, or if the wire was being worked
duplex or with a fast-speed Morse, for in these cases the sounds are
too rapid or too indefinite to be read by ear. The danger is thus
limited to ordinary sounder or Morse telegraphs; but these still form
the mainstay of every public system.

'Since the trials above described were made, the newspapers have
recorded a beautiful application by Sir William Thomson, of the
electric part of the telephone to exhibit at a distance the motions
of an anemometer; the object being to shew the force of air-currents
in coal-mines. This is a useful application of an electric fact, and
doubtless points the way to further discoveries. But it is to be
noticed that the experiment, interesting as it is, hardly comes under
the head of a tele_phone_, what is reproduced at a distance being not
sound but motion.

'Obviously the invention cannot rest where it is; and no one more
readily than the practical telegraphist will welcome an instrument
at once simple, direct, and reliable. Even in its present form the
telephone may be successfully used where its wire is absolutely
_isolated_ from all other telegraph wires. But the general impression
is that its power of reproducing the sound must be intensified before
its use can become general even as a substitute in works or offices for
the speaking-tube.'



SINGING MICE.


These interesting animals are said to be smaller than ordinary mice,
to be usually of a brownish colour, and to have long ears. Naturalists
have not come to any exact reason as to why they sing. Some persons
impute the singing to disease, as in the wheezing of any one from a
cold. Others attribute it to an internal parasite. But these seem
unsatisfactory explanations; for when the little creatures sing they
are as lively as common domestic mice. The faculty of singing in a
small way with various modulations appears to be quite natural to the
animals. It has been noticed that during their musical performances
there is a throbbing in the throat, and that the snout is elevated
in giving play to the voice, as in the warbling of birds. The song
or warble of these mice is said to be sweet and varied. Hitherto not
much attention has been given by zoologists to the phenomenon; but we
observe by various notices in _Land and Water_ and in _Nature_, two
periodicals devoted to pleasant discussions on subjects of natural
history, &c., that singing mice are becoming objects of careful
investigation.

An amusing account of a singing mouse appears in _Nature_, Nov. 9, from
the pen of Mr Joseph Sidebotham, dating from Menton, south of France.

'Last winter we occupied the rooms we now do at Menton. Early in
February we heard as we thought the song of a canary, and fancied it
was outside our balcony; however, we soon discovered that the singing
was in our _salon_, and that the songster was a mouse. At that time the
weather was rather cold, and we had a little fire, and the mouse spent
most of the day under the fender, where we kept it supplied with bits
of biscuit. In a few days it became quite tame, and would come on the
hearth in an evening and sing for several hours. Sometimes it would
climb up the chiffonier and ascend a vase of flowers to drink at the
water, and then sit and sing on the edge of the table and allow us to
go quite near to it without ceasing its warble. One of its favourite
haunts was the wood-basket, and it would often sit and sing on the
edge of it. On February 12, the last night of the Carnival, we had
a number of friends in our _salon_, and the little mouse sang most
vigorously, much to their delight and astonishment, and was not in the
least disturbed by the talking. In the evening the mouse would often
run about the room and under the door into the corridor and adjoining
rooms, and then return to its own hearth. After amusing us for nearly
a month, it disappeared; and we suspect it was caught in a trap set in
one of the rooms beyond. The mouse was small and had very large ears,
which it moved about much whilst singing. The song was not unlike that
of the canary in many of its trills, and it sang quite as beautifully
as any canary, but it had more variety, and some of its notes were
much lower, more like those of the bullfinch. One great peculiarity
was a sort of double song, which we had now and then--an air with an
accompaniment. The air was loud and full, the notes being low and the
accompaniment quite subdued. Some of our party were sure that there was
more than one mouse, until we had the performance from the edge of the
wood-basket and were within a yard or two of it. My son has suggested
that many or all mice may have the same power, but that the notes are
usually so much higher in the scale that, like the cry of the dormouse
and the bat, they are at the verge of the pitch to which the human ear
is sensitive. This may be so; but the notes of our mouse were so low,
and even the highest so far within the limits of the human ear, that I
am inclined to think the gift of singing in mice is but of very rare
occurrence.'

In the same periodical, the following additional particulars as regards
singing mice are presented by Mr George J. Romanes, Regent's Park.

'Several years ago I received some of these animals from a friend, and
kept them in confinement for one or two months. The description which
your correspondent gives of their performance leaves very little to
be added by me, as in all respects this description agrees perfectly
with my own observations. I write, however, to remark one curious
fact about the singing of these mice, namely, that it seemed to be
evoked by two very opposite sets of conditions. When undisturbed, the
little animals used for the most part to remain quiet during the day,
and begin to sing at night; but if at any time they were alarmed, by
handling them or otherwise, whether during the day or night, they were
sure to sing vigorously. Thus the action seemed to be occasioned either
by contentment or by fear. The character of the song, however, was
slightly different in the two cases.

'That these mice did not learn this art from singing birds there can
be no doubt, for they were captured in a house where no such birds
were kept. It may be worth while to add that this house (a London one)
seemed to have been suddenly invaded, so to speak, by a number of these
animals, for although my friend has lived in this house since the year
1862, it was only during a few months that singing mice were heard
in it, and during these few months they were heard in considerable
numbers.'

As corroborative of the foregoing notices, we give the following very
interesting account of a singing mouse, obligingly sent to us by a
correspondent, Mr Alfred Wright.

'In the early spring of last year I was invited by an old widow lady
to see a singing mouse, which she had at night heard singing and
scratching beneath the floor of her bed, and been so fortunate as to
catch in a trap. I went, and found the little animal in a cage with
a revolving wheel, similar to that in which a squirrel is usually
confined. Whether the mouse was shy at the presence of a stranger, I
do not know. It remained silent; but at length, after my patience had
been nearly exhausted, it began to sing in clear warbling notes like
those of a bird. When I called the next evening to hear the mouse
again, I heard him to perfection; and was so filled with interest in
the novelty, that I begged permission to bring any friend who was
a sceptic of the fact, or who might desire to see the phenomenon.
My request was readily granted. One friend of course had heard of
a singing mouse, but he certainly would not allow that a prolonged
squeak was a song--not he! Another friend of course had heard a mouse
sing when he was a boy; but he was told, he perfectly well remembered,
that the _noise_ produced by the mouse was the result of some internal
disease. Well, both of these went with me to hear the little creature.
Unfortunately, at first it was again shy; but after an interval of
silence it commenced to sing--sweetly, like the low notes, the jug, of
the nightingale. My friends had come, had heard, and were conquered!
The one acknowledged it was really a song and not a squeak; the other,
that the noise was certainly dulcet; but still he thought it possibly
might be the result of disease, and not natural to the little animal.
We suggested that this wonderful natural curiosity (as we deemed it)
should be sent to an eminent naturalist who resided near. Great,
therefore, was my astonishment and pleasure when it was presented to
me, who could only treat it like a schoolboy would his white mouse--as
a pet. And truly it became a great pet to both my wife and myself.

'In form, the singing mouse did not differ from his humbler brethren;
but in colour he was of a darkish brown, and had very bright eyes. It
soon became used to the presence of my wife, and sang constantly while
revolving the wheel of his cage. The notes proceeded from the throat.
He became exceedingly gentle, and was pleased at being caressed.

'I deemed him so rare a curiosity that I ventured to offer to exhibit
him to the distinguished naturalist referred to above, and in my letter
described the little creature and its peculiarities, as I have done
here. The naturalist most courteously replied: "The case of the singing
mouse is very extraordinary, but the fact is now well established....
The best account which has ever been published is by an American
naturalist, and I have given an abstract of his account in my _Descent
of Man_.

"The American referred to is the Rev. S. Lockwood, author of _The
American Naturalist_, and he gives an account of his observations of
the _Hesperomys cognatus_, an American species, belonging to a genus
distinct from that of the English mouse. This little animal gave two
chief songs. Mr Lockwood gives both songs in musical notation; and
adds, that though this mouse 'had no ear for time,' yet she would keep
to the key of B (two flats) and strictly in the major key.... Her soft
clear voice falls an octave with all the precision possible; then at
the wind up it rises again into a very quick trill in C sharp and D."
I have made this quotation, as it far better describes the peculiar
qualifications of a singing mouse, than my inexperienced observations
could announce.

'My mouse remained in contented confinement upwards of a year, feeding
upon a little sopped bread and canary-seed; and great was the grief of
my wife (who was his keeper) and myself when he was found dead in his
little nest. During the previous evening he had been heard singing with
more than usual ardour.'

We shall probably return to this interesting subject.



USING UP WASTE SUBSTANCES.


The subject denoted by the above title, more than once treated in the
_Journal_, is adverted to by an obliging Lancashire correspondent
who, surrounded by one of the busiest and most ingenious clusters
of townsmen in England, has had his attention drawn to various
substances waiting (as it were), for application to useful purposes.
His suggestions are not wholly new, having to some extent been already
anticipated; but they are sufficiently valuable to call for notice here.

One relates to the waste that presents itself in the processes of
manufacturing cotton. A residue known technically as _willowings_,
that falls into a receptacle during the preparatory beating and
disentangling of raw cotton-wool, consists of a dusty heap of
seed-husks and short broken fibres. It is used by farmers to absorb the
liquid manure of their cowsheds and middens or dung-heaps. Although
some of the cottony fibre may be separated through a sieve, so much
adheres to the seed-husk as to render it unsuitable for paper-making,
for which it has often been tried. The suggestion now made is, that
though unfitted for paper, this refuse may possibly be found useful
in the manufacture of _millboard_. Large quantities of this tough and
durable product are employed for bookbinding, for making the discs of
railway wheels, &c.; and as colour is not a matter of moment, the idea
is that the mingled residue of cottony fibre and seed-husk might be
rendered available. It is known that millboard made from wood-pulp is
imported to a considerable extent from abroad; and we are told that
'a large portion of the private income of the great German Chancellor
Prince Bismarck is derived from the manufacture of wood-millboard on
his Varzin estate.' Many hundred tons of willowings could be obtained
in Lancashire at a very cheap rate, even as low as two shillings per
hundredweight.

Another suggestion bears relation to the utilisation of refuse from
the manufacture of prussiate of potash, a most valuable product in
the hands of the manufacturing chemist. The prussiate is obtained in
large ratio from woollen rags, after the separation of all the pieces
that can be worked up into shoddy for cheap cloth. The refuse is
calcined in cast-iron retorts, lixiviated with water, and drained off
for subsequent treatment: leaving behind it a thick black sediment of
impure animal charcoal. The suggestion relates to the application of
this residue to the manufacture of blacking--a humble but valuable
agent for those who appreciate tidiness in the appearance of boots and
shoes and economy in the preservation of leather. If useful for this
purpose, it might be found advantageous and economical as an ingredient
in printers' ink. Whether this carbon residue is at present applied to
any other useful purpose, we are not fully informed.

A third suggestion relates to the preparation of animal size for the
carpet-manufacture and for that of many kinds of woollen and worsted
goods. This size is made from the clippings and scrapings of skins
and hides, from rejected scraps of parchment and vellum, and from
the worn-out buffalo skin pickers and skips largely used in textile
manufactures; also from the pith of cattle-horns, which contain a large
amount of valuable gelatine. The suggestion is, to utilise the refuse
left after making this size. One large carpet factory in Yorkshire
rejects as utterly useless a ton or more of this refuse every week.
The horn-pith contains as one of its components phosphate of lime, and
is on that account recommended to the notice of the manufacturers of
chemical manures on a large scale.

One more suggestion comes from our ingenious correspondent. Old corks
are applicable to a greater number of purposes than we are generally
in the habit of supposing. That many of them are ground up to make
cork-stuffing for cushions, padding, &c. is well known; but there are
other uses for them as corks or half corks, besides making floating
buoys and life-preservers. A taverner in a Lancashire town covered the
floor of his lobby and bar with very open rope-matting, and filled up
the openings with old corks cut down to the level of the surface of
the mats. This combination is found to be almost indestructible under
the feet; while it gives a good grip or foothold. As the making of
rope-mats is one of the trades carried on in reformatories and some
other large establishments, it is suggested that the managers should
take into consideration the feasibility of adding old corks to their
store of manufacturing materials.

As this _Journal_ finds its way into every corner of the busy hives
of industry, it may possibly be that some of our readers are already
acquainted with such applications of waste refuse to useful purposes as
those which our esteemed correspondent suggests. But this is a point
of minor importance. The primary question is, not whether an idea is
absolutely new, but whether it is practicably susceptible of useful
application. The history of manufactures teaches us that apparently
humble trifles like these have proved to be worth millions sterling to
the country.



LET BYGONES BE BYGONES.


    Let bygones be bygones; if bygones were clouded
      By aught that occasioned a pang of regret,
    Oh, let them in darkest oblivion be shrouded;
      'Tis wise and 'tis kind to forgive and forget.

    Let bygones be bygones, and good be extracted
      From ill over which it is folly to fret;
    The wisest of mortals have foolishly acted--
      The kindest are those who forgive and forget.

    Let bygones be bygones; oh, cherish no longer
      The thought that the sun of Affection has set;
    Eclipsed for a moment, its rays will be stronger,
      If you, like a Christian, forgive and forget.

    Let bygones be bygones; your heart will be lighter,
      When kindness of yours with reception has met;
    The flame of your love will be purer and brighter
      If, Godlike, you strive to forgive and forget.

    Let bygones be bygones; oh, purge out the leaven
      Of malice, and try an example to set
    To others, who craving the mercy of heaven,
      Are sadly too slow to forgive and forget.

    Let bygones be bygones; remember how deeply
      To heaven's forbearance we all are in debt;
    They value God's infinite goodness too cheaply
      Who heed not the precept, 'Forgive and forget.'

       *       *       *       *       *

Printed and Published by W. & R. CHAMBERS, 47 Paternoster Row, LONDON,
and 339 High Street, EDINBURGH.

       *       *       *       *       *

_All rights reserved._





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