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Title: Hard Cash
Author: Reade, Charles
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Hard Cash" ***

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HARD CASH

By Charles Reade



     [Transcriber’s Note: Italics are indicated by underscores.
     The pound sign is indicated by L. No attempt has been made
     to transcribe Greek text or sheet music. Accent marks in
     foreign words are ignored. Two chapters named Chapter XLI.]



PREFACE

“HARD CASH,” like “The Cloister and the Hearth,” is a matter-of-fact
Romance--that is, a fiction built on truths; and these truths have
been gathered by long, severe, systematic labour, from a multitude
of volumes, pamphlets, journals, reports, blue-books, manuscript
narratives, letters, and living people, whom I have sought out,
examined, and cross-examined, to get at the truth on each main topic I
have striven to handle.


The madhouse scenes have been picked out by certain disinterested
gentlemen, who keep private asylums, and periodicals to puff them;
and have been met with bold denials of public facts, and with timid
personalities, and a little easy cant about Sensation* Novelists; but
in reality those passages have been written on the same system as the
nautical, legal, and other scenes: the best evidence has been ransacked;
and a large portion of this evidence I shall be happy to show at my
house to any brother writer who is disinterested, and really cares
enough for truth and humanity to walk or ride a mile in pursuit of them.

CHARLES READE.

6 BOLTON ROW, MAYFAIR,

December 5, 1868.


     * This slang term is not quite accurate as applied to me.
     Without sensation there can be no interest: but my plan is
     to mix a little character and a little philosophy with the
     sensational element.



HARD CASH



PROLOGUE

IN a snowy villa, with a sloping lawn, just outside the great commercial
seaport, Barkington, there lived a few years ago a happy family. A
lady, middle-aged, but still charming; two young friends of hers; and a
periodical visitor.

The lady was Mrs. Dodd; her occasional visitor was her husband; her
friends were her son Edward, aged twenty, and her daughter Julia,
nineteen, the fruit of a misalliance.

Mrs. Dodd was originally Miss Fountain, a young lady well born,
high bred, and a denizen of the fashionable world. Under a strange
concurrence of circumstances she coolly married the captain of an East
Indiaman. The deed done, and with her eyes open, for she was not,
to say, in love with him, she took a judicious line--and kept it: no
hankering after Mayfair, no talking about “Lord this” and “Lady that,”
 to commercial gentlewomen; no amphibiousness. She accepted her place
in society, reserving the right to embellish it with the graces she had
gathered in a higher sphere. In her home, and in her person, she
was little less elegant than a countess; yet nothing more than a
merchant-captain’s wife; and she reared that commander’s children in a
suburban villa, with the manners which adorn a palace. When they happen
to be there. She had a bugbear; Slang. Could not endure the smart
technicalities current; their multitude did not overpower her distaste;
she called them “jargon”--“slang” was too coarse a word for her to apply
to slang: she excluded many a good “racy idiom” along with the real
offenders; and monosyllables in general ran some risk of’ having to show
their passports. If this was pedantry, it went no further; she was open,
free, and youthful with her young pupils; and had the art to put herself
on their level: often, when they were quite young, she would feign
infantine ignorance, in order to hunt trite truth in couples with them,
and detect, by joint experiment, that rainbows cannot, or else will
not, be walked into, nor Jack-o’-lantern be gathered like a cowslip; and
that, dissect we the vocal dog--whose hair is so like a lamb’s--never so
skilfully, no fragment of palpable bark, no sediment of tangible squeak,
remains inside him to bless the inquisitive little operator, &c., &c.
When they advanced from these elementary branches to Languages, History,
Tapestry, and “What Not,” she managed still to keep by their side
learning with them, not just hearing them lessons down from the top of
a high tower of maternity. She never checked their curiosity, but made
herself share it; never gave them, as so many parents do, a white-lying
answer; wooed their affections with subtle though innocent art, thawed
their reserve, obtained their love, and retained their respect. Briefly,
a female Chesterfield; her husband’s lover after marriage, though not
before; and the mild monitress the elder sister, the favourite companion
and bosom friend of both her children.

They were remarkably dissimilar; and perhaps I may be allowed to preface
the narrative of their adventures by a delineation; as in country
churches an individual pipes the keynote, and the tune comes raging
after.

Edward, then, had a great calm eye, that was always looking folk full
in the face, mildly; his countenance comely and manly, but no more; too
square for Apollo; but sufficed for John Bull. His figure it was that
charmed the curious observer of male beauty. He was five feet ten;
had square shoulders, a deep chest, masculine flank, small foot, high
instep. To crown all this, a head, overflowed by ripples of dark brown
hair, sat with heroic grace upon his solid white throat, like some
glossy falcon new lighted on a Parian column.

This young gentleman had decided qualities, positive and negative. He
could walk up to a five-barred gate and clear it, alighting on the other
side like a fallen feather; could row all day, and then dance all night;
could fling a cricket ball a hundred and six yards; had a lathe and
a tool-box, and would make you in a trice a chair, a table, a doll,
a nutcracker, or any other moveable, useful, or the very reverse. And
could not learn his lessons, to save his life.

His sister Julia was not so easy to describe. Her figure was tall,
lithe, and serpentine; her hair the colour of a horse-chestnut fresh
from its pod; her ears tiny and shell-like, her eyelashes long and
silky; her mouth small when grave, large when smiling; her eyes pure
hazel by day, and tinged with a little violet by night. But in jotting
down these details, true as they are, I seem to myself to be painting
fire, with a little snow and saffron mixed on a marble pallet. There is
a beauty too spiritual to be chained in a string of items; and Julia’s
fair features were but the china vessel that brimmed over with the
higher loveliness of her soul. Her essential charm was, what shall I
say? Transparence.

     “You would have said her very body thought.”

Modesty, Intelligence, and, above all, Enthusiasm, shone through her,
and out of her, and made her an airy, fiery, household joy. Briefly, an
incarnate sunbeam.

This one could learn her lessons with unreasonable rapidity, and until
Edward went to Eton, would insist upon learning his into the bargain,
partly with the fond notion of coaxing him on, as the company of a swift
horse incites a slow one; partly because she was determined to share his
every trouble, if she could not remove it. A little choleric, and indeed
downright prone to that more generous indignation which fires at the
wrongs of others. When heated with emotion, or sentiment, she lowered
her voice, instead of raising it like the rest of us. She called her
mother “Lady Placid,” and her brother “Sir Imperturbable.” And so much
for outlines.

Mrs. Dodd laid aside her personal ambition with her maiden name; but she
looked high for her children. Perhaps she was all the more ambitious for
them, that they had no rival aspirant in Mrs. Dodd. She educated Julia
herself from first to last: but with true feminine distrust of her power
to mould a lordling of creation, she sent Edward to Eton, at nine. This
was slackening her tortoise; for at Eton is no female master, to coax
dry knowledge into a slow head. However, he made good progress in two
branches--aquatics and cricket.

After Eton came the choice of a profession. His mother recognised but
four; and these her discreet ambition speedily sifted down to two. For
military heroes are shot now and then, however pacific the century; and
naval ones drowned. She would never expose her Edward to this class
of accidents. Glory by all means; glory by the pail; but safe glory,
please; or she would none of it. Remained the church and the bar: and,
within these reasonable limits, she left her dear boy free as air;
and not even hurried--there was plenty of time to choose: he must pass
through the university to either. This last essential had been settled
about a twelvemonth, and the very day for his going to Oxford was at
hand, when one morning Mr. Edward formally cleared his throat: it was
an unusual act, and drew the ladies’ eyes upon him. He followed the
solemnity up by delivering calmly and ponderously a connected discourse,
which astonished them by its length and purport. “Mamma, dear, let us
look the thing in the face.” (This was his favourite expression, as
well as habit.) “I have been thinking it quietly over for the last six
months. Why send me to the university? I shall be out of place there.
It will cost you a lot of money, and no good. Now, you take a fool’s
advice; don’t you waste your money and papa’s, sending a dull fellow
like me to Oxford. I did bad enough at _Eton._ Make me an engineer, or
something. If you were not so fond of me, and I of you, I’d say send me
to Canada, with a pickaxe; you know I have got no headpiece.”

Mrs. Dodd had sat aghast, casting Edward deprecating looks at the close
of each ponderous sentence, but too polite to interrupt a soul, even a
son talking nonsense. She now assured him she could afford very well to
send him to Oxford, and begged leave to remind him that he was too good
and too sensible to run up bills there, like the young men who did
not really love their parents. “Then, as for learning, why, we must be
reasonable in our turn. Do the best you can, love. We know you have no
great turn for the classics; we do not expect you to take high honours
like young Mr. Hardie; besides, that might make your head ache: he
has sad headaches, his sister told Julia. But, my dear, an university
education is indispensable Do but see how the signs of it follow a
gentleman through life, to say nothing of the valuable acquaintances and
lasting friendships he makes there: even those few distinguished persons
who have risen in the would without it, have openly regretted the want,
and have sent their children: and _that_ says volumes to me.”

“Why, Edward, it is the hall-mark of a gentleman,” said Julia eagerly.
Mrs. Dodd caught a flash of her daughter: “And my silver shall never be
without it,” said she warmly. She added presently, in her usual placid
tone, “I beg your pardon, my dears, I ought to have said my gold.” With
this she kissed Edward tenderly on the brow, and drew an embrace and a
little grunt of resignation from him. “Take the dear boy and show him
our purchases, love!” said Mrs. Dodd, with a little gentle accent of
half reproach, scarce perceptible to a male ear.

“Oh, yes,” and Julia rose and tripped to the door. There she stood
a moment, half turned, with arching neck, colouring with innocent
pleasure. “Come, darling. Oh, you good-for-nothing thing.”

The pair found a little room hard by, paved with china, crockery, glass,
baths, kettles, &c.

“There, sir. Look them in the face; and us, if you can.”

“Well, you know, I had no idea you had been and bought a cart-load of
things for Oxford.” His eye brightened; he whipped out a two-foot rule,
and began to calculate the cubic contents. “I’ll turn to and make the
cases, Ju.”


The ladies had their way; the cases were made and despatched; and one
morning the Bus came for Edward, and stopped at the gate of Albion
Villa. At this sight mother and daughter both turned their heads quickly
away by one independent impulse, and set a bad example. Apparently
neither of them had calculated on this paltry little detail; they were
game for theoretical departures; to impalpable universities: and “an
air-drawn Bus, a Bus of the mind,” would not have dejected for a moment
their lofty Spartan souls on glory bent; safe glory. But here was a Bus
of wood, and Edward going bodily away inside it. The victim kissed them,
threw up his portmanteau and bag, and departed serene as Italian skies;
the victors watched the pitiless Bus quite out of sight; then went up
to his bedroom, all disordered by packing, and, on the very face of it,
vacant; and sat down on his little bed intertwining and weeping.

Edward was received at Exeter College, as young gentlemen are received
at college; and nowhere else, I hope, for the credit of Christendom.
They showed him a hole in the roof, and called it an “Attic;” grim
pleasantry! being a puncture in the modern Athens. They inserted him;
told him what hour at the top of the morning he must be in chapel;
and left him to find out his other ills. His cases were welcomed like
Christians, by the whole staircase. These undergraduates abused one
another’s crockery as their own: the joint stock of breakables had just
dwindled very low, and Mrs. Dodd’s bountiful contribution was a godsend.

The new comer soon found that his views of a learned university had been
narrow. Out of place in it? why, he could not have taken his wares to a
better market; the modern Athens, like the ancient, cultivates muscle
as well as mind. The captain of the university eleven saw a cricket-ball
thrown all across the ground; he instantly sent a professional bowler
to find out who that was; through the same ambassador the thrower was
invited to play on club days; and proving himself an infallible catch
and long-stop, a mighty thrower, a swift runner, and a steady, though
not very brilliant bat, he was, after one or two repulses, actually
adopted into the university eleven. He communicated this ray of glory
by letter to his mother and sister with genuine delight, coldly and
clumsily expressed; they replied with feigned and fluent rapture.
Advancing steadily in that line of academic study towards which his
genius lay, he won a hurdle race, and sent home a little silver hurdle;
and soon after brought a pewter pot, with a Latin inscription recording
the victory at “Fives” of Edward Dodd: but not too arrogantly; for in
the centre of the pot was this device, “The Lord Is My Illumination.”
 The Curate of Sandford, who pulled number six in the Exeter boat, left
Sandford for Witney: on this he felt he could no longer do his college
justice by water, and his parish by land, nor escape the charge of
pluralism, preaching at Witney and rowing at Oxford. He fluctuated,
sighed, kept his Witney, and laid down his oar. Then Edward was solemnly
weighed in his jersey and flannel trousers, and proving only eleven
stone eight, whereas he had been ungenerously suspected of twelve
stone,* was elected to the vacant oar by acclamation. He was a picture
in a boat; and, “Oh!!! well pulled, six!!” was a hearty ejaculation
constantly hurled at him from the bank by many men of other colleges,
and even by the more genial among the cads, as the Exeter glided at ease
down the river, or shot up it in a race.

     *There was at this time a prejudice against weight, which
     has yielded to experience

He was now as much talked of in the university as any man of his
college, except one. Singularly enough that one was his townsman; but
no friend of his; he was much Edward’s senior in standing, though not in
age; and this is a barrier the junior must not step over--without direct
encouragement--at Oxford. Moreover, the college was a large one, and
some of “the sets” very exclusive: young Hardie was Doge of a studious
clique; and careful to make it understood that he was a reading man who
boated and cricketed, to avoid the fatigue of lounging; not a boatman or
cricketer who strayed into Aristotle in the intervals of Perspiration.

His public running since he left Harrow was as follows: the prize poem
in his fourth term; the sculls in his sixth; the Ireland scholarship
in his eighth (he pulled second for it the year before); Stroke of the
Exeter in his tenth; and reckoned sure of a first class to consummate
his twofold career.

To this young Apollo, crowned with variegated laurel, Edward looked up
from a distance. The brilliant creature never bestowed a word on him by
land; and by water only such observations as the following: “Time, Six!”
 “Well pulled, Six!” “Very well pulled, Six!” Except, by-the-bye, one
race; when he swore at him like a trooper for not being quicker at
starting. The excitement of nearly being bumped by Brasenose in the
first hundred yards was an excuse. However, Hardie apologised as they
were dressing in the barge after the race; but the apology was so stiff,
it did not pave the way to an acquaintance.

Young Hardie, rising twenty-one, thought nothing human worthy of
reverence, but Intellect. Invited to dinner, on the same day, with the
Emperor of Russia, and with Voltaire, and with meek St. John, he would
certainly have told the coachman to put him down at Voltaire.

His quick eye detected Edward’s character; but was not attracted by it:
says he to one of his adherents, “What a good-natured spoon that Dodd
is; Phoebus, what a name!” Edward, on the other hand, praised this
brilliant in all his letters, and recorded his triumphs and such of his
witty sayings as leaked through his own set, to reinvigorate mankind.
This roused Julia’s ire. It smouldered through three letters; but burst
out when there was no letter; but Mrs. Dodd, meaning, Heaven knows, no
harm, happened to say meekly, _a propos_ of Edward, “You know, love,
we cannot all be young Hardies.” “No, and thank Heaven,” said Julia
defiantly. “Yes, mamma,” she continued, in answer to Mrs. Dodd’s
eyebrow, which had curved; “your mild glance reads my soul; I detest
that boy.” Mrs. Dodd smiled: “Are you sure you know what the word
‘detest’ means? And what has young Mr. Hardie done, that you should
bestow so violent a sentiment on him?”

“Mamma, I am Edward’s sister,” was the tragic reply; then, kicking off
the buskin pretty nimbly, “There! he beats our boy at everything, and
ours sits quietly down and admires him for it: oh! how can a man let
anybody or anything beat him! I wouldn’t; without a desperate struggle.”
 She clenched her white teeth and imagined the struggle. To be sure, she
owned she had never seen this Mr. Hardie; but after all it was only Jane
Hardie’s brother, as Edward was hers; “And would I sit down and let Jane
beat me at Things? Never! never! never! I couldn’t.”

“Your friend to the death, dear; was not that your expression?”

“Oh, that was a slip of the tongue, dear mamma; I was off my guard. I
generally am, by the way. But now I am on it, and propose an amendment.
Now I second it. Now I carry it.”

“And now let me hear it.”

“She is my friend till death--or Eclipse; and that means until she
eclipses me, of course.” But she added softly, and with sudden gravity:
“Ah! Jane Hardie has a fault which will always prevent her from
eclipsing your humble servant in this wicked world.”

“What is that?”

“She is too good. Much.”

“Par exemple?”

“Too religious.”

“Oh, that is another matter.”

“For shame, mamma! I am glad to hear it: for I scorn a life of
frivolity; but then, again, I should not like to give up everything, you
know.” Mrs. Dodd looked a little staggered, too, at so vast a scheme
of capitulation But “everything” was soon explained to mean balls,
concerts, dinner-parties in general, tea-parties without exposition of
Scripture, races, and operas, cards, charades, and whatever else amuses
society without perceptibly sanctifying it. All these, by Julia’s
account, Miss Hardie had renounced, and was now denouncing (with the
young the latter verb treads on the very heels of the former). “And, you
know, she is a district visitor.”

This climax delivered, Julia stopped short, and awaited the result.

Mrs. Dodd heard it all with quiet disapproval and cool incredulity.
She had seen so many young ladies healed of many young enthusiasms by
a wedding ring. But, while she was searching diligently in her mine
of ladylike English--mine with plenty of water in it, begging her
pardon--for expressions to convey inoffensively, and roundabout, her
conviction that Miss Hardie was a little, furious simpleton, the post
came and swept the subject away in a moment.

Two letters; one from Calcutta, one from Oxford.

They came quietly in upon one salver, and were opened and read with
pleasurable interest, but without surprise, or misgiving; and without
the slightest foretaste of their grave amid singular consequences.

Rivers deep and broad start from such little springs.


David’s letter was of unusual length for him. The main topics were,
first, the date and manner of his return home. His ship, a very old one,
had been condemned in port: and he was to sail a fine new teak-built
vessel, the _Agra,_ as far as the Cape; where her captain, just
recovered from a severe illness, would come on board, and convey her
and him to England. In future, Dodd was to command one of the Company’s
large steamers to Alexandria and back.

“It is rather a come-down for a sailor, to go straight ahead like a
wheelbarrow in all weathers with a steam-pot and a crew of coalheavers
But then I shall not be parted from my sweetheart such long dreary
spells as I have been thus twenty years, my dear love: so is it for me
to complain?”

The second topic was pecuniary; the transfer of their savings from
India, where interest was higher than at home, but the capital not so
secure.

And the third was ardent and tender expressions of affection for
the wife and children he adored. These effusions of the heart had no
separate place, except in my somewhat arbitrary analysis of the honest
sailor’s letter; they were the under current. Mrs. Dodd read part of it
out to Julia; in fact all but the money matter: that concerned the heads
of the family more immediately; and Cash was a topic her daughter did
not understand, nor care about. And when Mrs. Dodd had read it with
glistening eyes, she kissed it tenderly, and read it all over again
to herself, and then put it into her bosom as naively as a milkmaid in
love.

Edward’s letter was short enough, and Mrs. Dodd allowed Julia to read
it to her, which she did with panting breath, and glowing cheeks, and a
running fire of comments.

“‘Dear Mamma, I hope you and Ju are quite well----’”

“Ju,” murmured Mrs. Dodd plaintively.

“‘And that there is good news about papa coming home. As for me, I
have plenty on my hands just now; all this term I have been [‘training’
scratched out, and another word put in: C -- R -- oh, I know)
‘cramming.’”

“‘Cramming,’ love?”

“Yes, that is the Oxfordish for studying.”

“‘--For smalls.’”

Mrs. Dodd contrived to sigh interrogatively. Julia, who understood her
every accent, reminded her that “smalls” was the new word for “little
go.”

“‘--Cramming for smalls; and now I am in two races at Henley, and that
rather puts the snaffie on reading and gooseberry pie’ (Goodness me),
‘and adds to my chance of being ploughed for smalls.’”

“What does it all mean?” inquired mamma, “‘gooseberry pie’? and ‘the
snaffle’? and ‘ploughed’?”

“Well, the gooseberry pie is really too deep for me: but ‘ploughed’
is the new Oxfordish for ‘plucked.’ O mamma, have you forgotten that?
‘Plucked’ was vulgar, so now they are ‘ploughed.’ ‘For smalls; but I
hope I shall not be, to vex you and Puss.’”

“Heaven forbid he should be so disgraced! But what has the cat to do
with it?”

“Nothing on earth. Puss? that is me. How dare he? Did I not forbid all
these nicknames and all this Oxfordish, by proclamation, last Long.”

“Last Long?”

“Hem! last protracted vacation.”

“‘--Dear mamma, sometimes I cannot help being down in the mouth,’
(why, it is a string of pearls) ‘to think you have not got a son like
Hardie.’” At this unfortunate reflection it was Julia’s turn to suffer.
She deposited the letter in her lap, and fired up. “Now, have not I
cause to hate, and scorn, and despise le petit Hardie?”

“Julia!”

“I mean to dislike with propriety, and gently to abominate--Mr. Hardie,
junior.”

“‘--Dear mamma, do come to Henley on the tenth, you and Ju. The
university eights will not be there, but the head boats of the Oxford
and Cambridge river will; and the Oxford head boat is Exeter, you know;
and I pull Six.’”

“Then I am truly sorry to hear it; my poor boy will overtask his
strength; and how unfair of the other young gentlemen; it seems
ungenerous; unreasonable; my poor child against so many.”

“‘--And I am entered for the sculls as well, and if you and “the
Impetuosity”’ (Vengeance!) ‘were looking on from the bank, I do think I
should be lucky this time. Henley is a long way from Barkington, but it
is a pretty place; all the ladies admire it, and like to see both the
universities out and a stunning race.’ Oh, well, there _is_ an epithet.
One would think thunder was going to race lightning, instead of Oxford
Cambridge.”

“‘--If you can come, please write, and I will get you nice lodgings; I
will not let you go to a noisy inn. Love to Julia and no end of kisses
to my pretty mamma. --From your affectionate Son,

“‘EDWARD DODD.’”


They wrote off a cordial assent, and reached Henley in time to see the
dullest town in Europe; and also to see it turn one of the gayest in
an hour or two; so impetuously came both the universities pouring into
it--in all known vehicles that could go _their_ pace--by land and water.



CHAPTER I

IT was a bright hot day in June. Mrs. Dodd and Julia sat half reclining,
with their parasols up, in an open carriage, by the brink of the Thames
at one of its loveliest bends.

About a furlong up stream a silvery stone bridge, just mellowed by time,
spanned the river with many fair arches. Through these the coming river
peeped sparkling a long way above, then came meandering and shining
down; loitered cool and sombre under the dark vaults, then glistened on
again crookedly to the spot where sat its two fairest visitors that
day; but at that very point flung off its serpentine habits, and shot
straight away in a broad stream of scintillating water a mile long, down
to an island in mid-stream: a little fairy island with old trees, and
a white temple. To curl round this fairy isle the broad current parted,
and both silver streams turned purple in the shade of the grove; then
winded and melted from the sight.

This noble and rare passage of the silvery Thames was the Henley
racecourse. The starting-place was down at the island, and the goal was
up at a point in the river below the bridge, but above the bend
where Mrs. Dodd and Julia sat, unruffled by the racing, and enjoying
luxuriously the glorious stream, the mellow bridge crowded with
carriages--whose fair occupants stretched a broad band of bright colour
above the dark figures clustering on the battlements--and the green
meadows opposite with the motley crowd streaming up and down.

Nor was that sense, which seems especially keen and delicate in women,
left unregaled in the general bounty of the time. The green meadows
on the opposite bank, and the gardens at the back of our fair friends,
flung their sweet fresh odours at their liquid benefactor gliding by;
and the sun himself seemed to burn perfumes, and the air to scatter
them, over the motley merry crowd, that bright, hot, smiling, airy day
in June.

Thus tuned to gentle enjoyment, the fair mother and her lovely daughter
leaned back in a delicious languor proper to their sex, and eyed with
unflagging though demure interest, and furtive curiosity, the wealth of
youth, beauty, stature, agility, gaiety, and good temper, the two great
universities had poured out upon those obscure banks; all dressed in
neat but easy-fitting clothes, cut in the height of’ the fashion; or
else in jerseys white or striped, and flannel trousers, and straw hats,
or cloth caps of bright and various hues; betting, strolling, laughing,
chaffing, larking, and whirling stunted bludgeons at Aunt Sally.

But as for the sport itself they were there to see, the center of all
these bright accessories, “The Racing,” my ladies did not understand
it, nor try, nor care a hook-and-eye about it. But this mild dignified
indifference to the main event received a shock at 2 p. m.: for then
the first heat for the cup came on, and Edward was in it. So then Racing
became all in a moment a most interesting pastime--an appendage to
Loving. He left to join his crew. And, soon after, the Exeter glided
down the river before their eyes, with the beloved one rowing quietly
in it: his jersey revealed not only the working power of his arms,
as sunburnt below the elbow as a gipsy’s, and as corded above as a
blacksmith’s, but also the play of the great muscles across his broad
and deeply indented chest: his oar entered the water smoothly, gripped
it severely, then came out clean, and feathered clear and tunably on the
ringing rowlock: the boat jumped and then glided, at each neat, easy,
powerful stroke. “Oh, how beautiful and strong he is!” cried Julia. “I
had no idea.”

Presently the competitor for this heat came down: the Cambridge boat,
rowed by a fine crew in broad-striped jerseys. “Oh, dear” said Julia,
“they are odious and strong in this boat too. I wish I was in it--with a
gimlet; he _should_ win, poor boy.”

Which corkscrew staircase to Honour being inaccessible, the race had to
be decided by two unfeminine trifles called “Speed” and “Bottom.”


Few things in this vale of tears are more worthy a pen of fire than an
English boat-race is, as seen by the runners; of whom I have often been
one. But this race I am bound to indicate, not describe; I mean, to show
how it appeared to two ladies seated on the Henley side of the Thames,
nearly opposite the winning-post. These fair novices then looked all
down the river, and could just discern two whitish streaks on the water,
one on each side the little fairy isle, and a great black patch on the
Berkshire bank. The threatening streaks were the two racing boats: the
black patch was about a hundred Cambridge and Oxford men, ready to run
and hallo with the boats all the way, or at least till the last puff of
wind should be run plus halloed out of their young bodies. Others less
fleet and enduring, but equally clamorous, stood in knots at various
distances, ripe for a shorter yell and run when the boats should come up
to them. Of the natives and country visitors, those who were not nailed
down by bounteous Fate ebbed and flowed up and down the bank, with
no settled idea but of getting in the way as much as possible, and of
getting knocked into the Thames as little as might be.

There was a long uneasy suspense.

At last a puff of smoke issued from a pistol down at the island; two
oars seemed to splash into the water from each white streak; and the
black patch was moving; so were the threatening streaks. Presently was
heard a faint, continuous, distant murmur, and the streaks began to get
larger, and larger, and larger; and the eight splashing oars looked four
instead of two.

Every head was now turned down the river. Groups hung craning over it
like nodding bulrushes.

Next the runners were swelled by the stragglers they picked up; so were
their voices; and on came the splashing oars and roaring lungs.

Now the colours of the racing jerseys peeped distinct. The oarsmen’s
heads and bodies came swinging back like one, and the oars seemed to
lash the water savagely, like a connected row of swords, and the spray
squirted at each vicious stroke. The boats leaped and darted side by
side, and, looking at them in front, Julia could not say which
was ahead. On they came nearer and nearer, with hundreds of voices
vociferating “Go it, Cambridge” “Well pulled, Oxford!” “You
are gaining, hurrah!” “Well pulled Trinity!” “Hurrah!” “Oxford!”
 “Cambridge!” “Now is your time, Hardie; pick her up!” “Oh, well pulled,
Six!” “Well pulled, Stroke!” “Up, up! lift her a bit!” “Cambridge!”
 “Oxford!” “Hurrah!”

At this Julia turned red and pale by turns. “O mamma!” said she,
clasping her hands and colouring high, “would it be very wrong if I was
to _pray_ for Oxford to win?”

Mrs. Dodd had a monitory finger; it was on her left hand; she raised it;
and that moment, as if she had given a signal, the boats, fore-shortened
no longer, shot out to treble the length they had looked hitherto, and
came broadside past our palpitating fair, the elastic rowers stretched
like greyhounds in a chase, darting forward at each stroke so boldly
they seemed flying out of the boats, and surging back as superbly, an
eightfold human wave: their nostrils all open, the lips of some pale and
glutinous their white teeth all clenched grimly, their young eyes all
glowing, their supple bodies swelling, the muscles writhing beneath
their jerseys, and the sinews starting on each bare brown arm; their
little shrill coxswains shouting imperiously at the young giants, and
working to and fro with them, like jockeys at a finish; nine souls
and bodies flung whole into each magnificent effort; water foaming and
flying, rowlocks ringing, crowd running, tumbling, and howling like mad;
and Cambridge a boat’s nose ahead.

They had scarcely passed our two spectators, when Oxford put on a
furious spurt, and got fully even with the leading boat. There was a
louder roar than ever from the bank. Cambridge spurted desperately in
turn, and stole those few feet back; and so they went fighting every
inch of water. Bang! A cannon on the bank sent its smoke over both
competitors; it dispersed in a moment, and the boats were seen pulling
slowly towards the bridge--Cambridge with four oars, Oxford with six, as
if that gum had winged them both.

The race was over.

But who had won our party could not see, and must wait to learn.


A youth, adorned with a blue and yellow rosette, cried out, in the
hearing of Mrs. Dodd, “I say, they are properly pumped, both crews
are:” then, jumping on to a spoke of her carriage-wheel, with a slight
apology, he announced that two or three were shut up in the Exeter.

The exact meaning of these two verbs passive was not clear to Mrs. Dodd;
but their intensity was. She fluttered, and wanted to go to her boy
and nurse him, and turned two most imploring eyes on Julia, and Julia
straightway kissed her with gentle vehemence, and offered to ruin and
see.

“What, amongst all those young gentlemen, love? I fear that would not
be proper. See, all the ladies remain apart.” So they kept quiet and
miserable, after the manner of females.

Meantime the Cantab’s quick eye had not deceived him; in each racing
boat were two young gentlemen leaning collapsed over their oars; and
two more, who were in a cloud, and not at all clear whether they were in
this world still, or in their zeal had pulled into a better. But their
malady was not a rare one in racing boats, and the remedy always at
hand: it combined the rival systems; Thames was sprinkled in their
faces--Homoeopathy: and brandy in a teaspoon trickled down their
throats--Allopathy: youth and spirits soon did the rest; and, the moment
their eyes opened, their mouths opened; and, the moment their mouths
opened, they fell a chaffing.

Mrs. Dodd’s anxiety and Julia’s were relieved by the appearance of Mr.
Edward, in a tweed shooting-jacket sauntering down to them, hands in
his pockets, and a cigar in his mouth, placidly unconscious of their
solicitude on his account. He was received with a little guttural cry of
delight; the misery they had been in about him was duly concealed from
him by both, and Julia asked him warmly who had won.

“Oh, Cambridge.”

“Cambridge! Why, then you are beaten?”

“Rather.” (Puff.)

“And you can come here with that horrible calm, and cigar, owning
defeat, and puffing tranquillity, with the same mouth. Mamma, we are
beaten. Beaten! actually.”

“Never mind,” said Edward kindly; “you have seen a capital race, the
closest ever known on this river; and one side or other must lose.”

“And if they did not quite win, they very nearly did,” observed Mrs.
Dodd composedly; then, with heartfelt content, “He is not hurt, and that
is the main thing.”

“Well, my Lady Placid, and Mr. Imperturbable, I am glad neither of your
equanimities is disturbed; but defeat is a Bitter Pill to me.”

Julia said this in her earnest voice, and drawing her scarf suddenly
round her, so as almost to make it speak, digested her Bitter Pill in
silence. During which process several Exeter men caught sight of Edward,
and came round him, and an animated discussion took place. They began
with asking him how it had happened, and, as he never spoke in a hurry,
supplied him with the answers. A stretcher had broken in the Exeter? No,
but the Cambridge was a much better built boat, and her bottom cleaner.
The bow oar of the Exeter was ill, and not fit for work. Each of these
solutions was advanced and combated in turn, and then all together. At
last the Babel lulled, and Edward was once more appealed to.

“Well, I will tell you the real truth,” said he, “how it happened.”
 (Puff.)

There was a pause of expectation, for the young man’s tone was that of
conviction, knowledge, and authority.

“The Cambridge men pulled faster than we did.” (Puff.)

The hearers stared and then laughed.

“Come, old fellows,” said Edward, “never win a boat-race on dry land!
That is such a _plain_ thing to do; gives the other side the laugh as
well as the race. I have heard a stretcher or two told, but I saw
none broken. (Puff.) Their boat is the worst I ever saw; it dips every
stroke. (Puff.) Their strength lies in the crew. It was a good race and
a fair one. Cambridge got a lead and kept it. (Puff.) They beat us
a yard or two at rowing; but hang it all, don’t let them beat us at
telling the truth, not by an inch.” (Puff.)

“All right, old fellow!” was now the cry. One observed, however, that
Stroke did not take the matter so coolly as Six; for he had shed a tear
getting out of the boat.

“Shed a fiddlestick!” squeaked a little sceptic.

“No” said another, “he didn’t quite shed it; his pride wouldn’t let
him.”

“So he decanted it, and put it by for supper, suggested Edward, and
puffed.

“None of your chaff, Six. He had a gulp or two, and swallowed the rest
by main force.”

“Don’t you talk: you can swallow anything, it seems.” (Puff.)

“Well, I believe it,” said one of Hardie’s own set. “Dodd doesn’t know
him as we do. Taff Hardie can’t bear to be beat.”

When they were gone, Mrs. Dodd observed, “Dear me! what if the young
gentleman did cry a little, it was very excusable; after such great
exertions it _was_ disappointing, mortifying. I pity him for one, and
wish he had his mother alive and here, to dry them.” *

     *Oh where, _and_ oh where, _was_ her Lindley Murray gone?

“Mamma, it is you for reading us,” cried Edward, slapping his thigh.
“Well, then, since you can feel for a fellow, Hardie _was_ a good deal
cut up. You know the university was in a manner beaten, and he took the
blame. He never cried; that was a cracker of those fellows. But he
did give one great sob, that was all, and hung his head on one side a
moment. But then he fought out of it directly, like a man; and there was
an end of it, or ought to have been. Hang chatterboxes!”

“And what did you say to console him, Edward?” inquired Julia warmly.

“What--me? Console my senior, and my Stroke? No, thank you.”

At this thunderbolt of etiquette both ladies kept their countenances
this was _their_ muscular feat that day--and the racing for the sculls
came on: six competitors, two Cambridge, three Oxford, one London.
The three heats furnished but one good race, a sharp contest between a
Cambridge man and Hardie, ending in favour of the latter; the Londoner
walked away from his opponent Sir Imperturbable’s competitor was
impetuous, and ran into him in the first hundred yards; Sir I.
consenting calmly. The umpire, appealed to on the spot, decided that it
was a foul, Mr. Dodd being in his own water. He walked over the course,
and explained the matter to his sister, who delivered her mind thus--

“Oh! if races are to be won by going slower than the other, we may shine
yet: _only,_ I call it Cheating, not Racing.”

He smiled unmoved; she gave her scarf the irony twist, and they all went
to dinner. The business recommenced with a race between a London boat
and the winner’ of yesterday’s heat, Cambridge. Here the truth of
Edward’s remark appeared. The Cambridge boat was too light for the men,
and kept burying her hose; the London craft, under a heavy crew,
floated like a cork. The Londoners soon found out their advantage, and,
overrating it, steered into their opponents water prematurely, inn spite
of a warning voice from the bank. Cambridge saw, and cracked on for a
foul; and for about a minute it was anybody’s race. But the Londoners
pulled gallantly, and just scraped clear ahead. This peril escaped,
they kept their backs straight and a clear lead to the finish. Cambridge
followed a few feet in their wake, pulling wonderfully fast to the end,
but a trifle out of form, and much distressed.

At this both universities looked blue, their humble aspiration being,
first to beat off all the external world, and then tackle each other for
the prize.

Just before Edward left his friends for “the sculls,” the final heat, a
note was brought to him. He ran his eye over it, and threw it open into
his sister’s lap. The ladies read it. Its writer had won a prize poem,
and so now is our time to get a hint for composition:


“DEAR SIR,--Oxford must win something. Suppose we go in for these
sculls. You are a horse that can stay; Silcock is hot for the lead at
starting, I hear; so I mean to work him out of wind; then you can wait
on us, and pick up the race. My head is not well enough to-day to
win, but I am good to pump the Cockney; he is quick, but a little
stale--Yours truly,

“ALFRED HARDIE”


Mrs. Dodd remarked that the language was sadly figurative; but she hoped
Edward might be successful in spite of his correspondent’s style.

Julia said she did not dare hope it. “The race is not always to the
slowest and the dearest.” This was in allusion to yesterday’s “foul.”

The skiffs started down at the island, and, as they were longer coming
up than the eight oars, she was in a fever for nearly ten minutes. At
last, near the opposite bank, up came the two leading skiffs struggling,
both men visibly exhausted--Silcock ahead, but his rudder overlapped by
Hardie’s bow; each in his own water.

“We are third,” sighed Julia, and turned her head away from the river
sorrowfully. But only for a moment, for she felt Mrs. Dodd start and
press her arm; and lo! Edward’s skiff was shooting swiftly across
from their side of the river. He was pulling Just within himself, in
beautiful forum, and with far more elasticity than the other two had got
left. As line passed his mother and sister, his eyes seemed to strike
fire, and he laid out all his powers, and went at the leading skiffs
hand over head There was a yell of astonishment and delight from both
sides of the Thames. He passed Hardie, who upon that relaxed his speed.
In thirty seconds more he was even with Silcock. Then came a keen
struggle: but the new comer was “the horse that could stay:” he drew
steadily ahead, and the stern of his boat was in a line with Silcock’s
person when the gun fired; and a fearful roar from the bridge, the
river, and the banks, announced that the favourite university had picked
up the sculls in the person of Dodd of Exeter.

In due course he brought the little silver sculls, and pinned them on
his mother.

While she and Julia were telling him how proud they were, and how happy
they should be, but for their fears that he would hurt himself, beating
gentlemen ever so much older than himself, came two Exeter men with wild
looks hunting for him.

“Oh, Dodd! Hardie wants you directly.”

“Don’t you go, Edward,” whispered Julia; “why should you be at Mr.
Hardie’s beck and call? I never heard of such a thing. That youth _will_
make me hate him.”

“Oh, I think I had better just go and see what it is about,” replied
Edward: “I shall be back directly.” And on this understanding he went
off with the men.

Half-an-hour passed; an hour; two hours, and he did not return. Mrs.
Dodd and Julia sat wondering what had become of him, and were looking
all around, and getting uneasy, when at last they did hear something
about him, but indirectly, and from an unexpected quarter. A tall young
man in a jersey and flannel trousers, and a little straw hat, with a
purple rosette, came away from the bustle to the more secluded part
where they sat, and made eagerly for the Thames as if he was a duck, and
going in. But at the brink line flung himself into a sitting posture,
and dipped his white handkerchief into the stream, then tied it
viciously round his brow, doubled himself up with his head in his hands,
and rocked himself hike an old woman--minus the patience, of course.

Mrs. Dodd and Julia, sitting but a few paces behind him, interchanged,
a look of intelligence. The young gentleman was a stranger; but they had
recognised a faithful old acquaintance at the bottom of his pantomime.
They discovered, too, that the afflicted one was a personage: for line
had not sat there long when quite a little band of men came after him.
Observing his semi-circularity and general condition, they hesitated a
moment; and then one of them remonstrated eagerly.: “For Heaven’s sake
come back to the boat! There is a crowd of all the colleges come round
us; and they all say Oxford is being sold. We had a chance for the
four-oared race, and you are throwing it away.”

“What do I care what they all say?” was the answer, delivered with a
kind of plaintive snarl.

“But we care.”

“Care then! I pity you.” And he turned his back fiercely on them, and
then groaned by way of half apology. Another tried him: “Come, give us a
civil answer, please.”

“People that intrude upon a man’s privacy, racked with pain, have
no right to demand civility,” replied the sufferer, more gently, but
sullenly enough.

“Do you call this privacy?”

“It was, a minute ago, Do you think I left the boat, and came here among
the natives, for company? and noise? With my head splitting?”

Here Julia gave Mrs. Dodd a soft pinch, to which Mrs. Dodd replied by a
smile. And so they settled who this petulant young invalid must be.

“‘There, it is no use,” observed one, _sotto voce,_ “the bloke really
has awful headaches, like a girl, and then he always shuts up this way.
You will only rile him, and get the rough side of his tongue.”

Here, then, the conference drew towards a close. But a Wadham man, who
was one of the ambassadors, interposed. “Stop a minute,” said he. “Mr.
Hardie, I have not the honour to be acquainted with you, and I am not
here to annoy you, nor to be affronted by you. But the university has a
stake in this race, and the university expostulates through us--through
me, if you like.”

“Who have I the honour?” inquired Hardie, assuming politeness sudden and
vast.

“Badham, of Wadham.”

“Badham o’ Wadham? Hear that, ye tuneful nine! Well, Badham o’ Wadham,
you are no acquaintance of mine; so you may possibly not be a fool. Let
us assume by way of hypothesis that you are a man of sense, a man of
reason as well as of rhyme. Then follow my logic. Hardie of Exeter is a
good man in a boat when he has not got a headache.

“When he has got a headache, Hardie of Exeter is not worth a straw in a
boat.

“Hardie of Exeter has a headache now.

“Ergo, the university would put the said Hardie into a race, headache
and all, and reduce defeat to a certainty.

“And, ergo, on the same premises, I, not being an egotist, nor an ass,
have taken Hardie of Exeter and his headache out of the boat, as I
should have done any other cripple.

“Secondly, I have put the best man on the river into this cripple’s
place.

“Total, I have given the university the benefit of my brains; and
the university, not having brains enough to see what it gains by the
exchange, turns again and rends me, like an animal frequently mentioned
in Scripture; but, _nota bene,_ never once with approbation.”

And the afflicted Rhetorician attempted a diabolical grin, but failed
signally; and groaned instead.

“Is this your answer to the university, sir?”

At this query, delivered in a somewhat threatening tone, the invalid sat
up all in a moment, like a poked lion. “Oh, if Badham o’ Wadham thinks
to crush me _auctoritate sua et totius universitatis,_ Badham o’
Wadham may just tell the whole university to go and be d----d, from
the Chancellor down to the junior cook at Skimmery Hall, with my
compliments.”

“Ill-conditioned brute!” muttered Badham of Wadham. “Serve you right if
the university were to chuck you into the Thames.” And with this comment
they left him to his ill temper. One remained; sat quietly down a little
way off, struck a sweetly aromatic lucifer, and blew a noisome cloud;
but the only one which betokens calm.

As for Hardie, he held his aching head over his knees, absorbed in pain,
and quite unconscious that sacred pity was poisoning the air beside him,
and two pair of dovelike eyes resting on him with womanly concern.

Mrs. Dodd and Julia had heard the greatest part of this colloquy. They
had terribly quick ears and nothing better to do with them just then.
Indeed, their interest was excited.

Julia went so far as to put her salts into Mrs. Dodd’s hand with a
little earnest look. But Mrs. Dodd did not act upon the hint. She had
learned who the young man was: had his very name been strange to her,
she would have been more at her ease with him. Moreover, his rudeness
to the other men repelled her a little. Above all, he had uttered a
monosyllable and a stinger: a thorn of speech not in her vocabulary,
nor even in society’s. Those might be his manners, even when not aching.
Still, it seems, a feather would have turned the scale in his favour,
for she whispered, “I have a great mind; if I could but catch his eye.”

While feminine pity and social reserve were holding the balance so
nicely, and nonsensically, about half a split straw, one of the racing
four-oars went down close under the Berkshire bank. “London!” observed
Hardie’s adherent.

“What, are you there, old fellow?” murmured Hardie, in a faint voice.
“Now, that is like a friend, a real friend, to sit by me, and not make a
row. Thank you! thank you!”

Presently the Cambridge four-oar passed: it was speedily followed by the
Oxford; the last came down in mid-stream, and Hardie eyed it keenly as
it passed. “There,” he cried, “was I wrong? There is a swing for you;
there is a stroke. I did not know what a treasure I had got sitting
behind me.”

The ladies looked, and lo! the lauded Stroke of the four-oar was their
Edward.

“Sing out and tell him it is not like the sculls. We must fight for the
lead at starting, and hold it with his eyelids when he has got it.”

The adherent bawled this at Edward, and Edward’s reply came ringing back
in a clear, cheerful voice, “We mean to try all we know.”

“What is the odds?” inquired the invalid faintly.

“Even on London; two to one against Cambridge; three to one against us.”

“Take all my tin and lay it on,” sighed the sufferer.

“Fork it out, then. Hallo! eighteen pounds? Fancy having eighteen pounds
at the end of term. I’ll get the odds up at the bridge directly. Here’s
a lady offering you her smelling-bottle.”

Hardie rose and turned round, and sure enough there were two ladies
seated in their carriage at some distance, one of whom was holding him
out three pretty little things enough, a little smile, a little blush,
and a little cut-glass bottle with a gold cork. The last panegyric on
Edward had turned the scale.

Hardie went slowly up to the side of the carriage, and took off his hat
to them with a half-bewildered air. Now that he was so near, his face
showed very pale; the more so that his neck was a good deal tanned;
his eyelids were rather swollen, and his young eyes troubled and almost
filmy with the pain. The ladies saw, and their gentle bosoms were
touched: they had heard of him as a victorious young Apollo trampling on
all difficulties of mind and body; and they saw him wan, and worn, with
feminine suffering: the contrast made him doubly interesting.

Arrived at the side of the carriage, he almost started at Julia’s
beauty. It was sun-like, and so were her two lovely earnest eyes,
beaming soft pity on him with an eloquence he had never seen in human
eyes before; for Julia’s were mirrors of herself; they did nothing by
halves.

He looked at her and her mother, and blushed, and stood irresolute,
awaiting their commands. This sudden contrast to his petulance with his
own sex paved the way. “You have a sad headache, sir,” said Mrs. Dodd;
“oblige me by trying my salts.”

He thanked her in a low voice.

“And, mamma,” inquired Julia, “ought he to sit in the sun?”

“Certainly not. You had better sit there, sir, and profit by our shade
and our parasols.”

“Yes, mamma, but you know the real place where he ought to be is Bed.”

“Oh, pray don’t say that,” implored the patient.

But Julia continued, with unabated severity, “And that is where he would
go this minute, if I was his mamma.”

“Instead of his junior, and a stranger,” said Mrs. Dodd, somewhat
coldly, dwelling with a very slight monitory emphasis on the “stranger.”

Julia said nothing, but drew in perceptibly, and was dead silent ever
after.

“Oh, madam!” said Hardie eagerly, “I do not dispute her authority, nor
yours. You have a right to send me where you please, after your kindness
in noticing my infernal head, and doing me the honour to speak to me,
and lending me this. But if I go to bed, my head will be my master.
Besides, I shall throw away what little chance I have of making your
acquaintance; and the race just coming off!”

“We will not usurp authority, sir,” said Mrs. Dodd quietly; “but we know
what a severe headache is, and should be glad to see you sit still in
the shade, and excite yourself as little as possible.”

“Yes, madam,” said the youth humbly, and sat down like a lamb. He
glanced now and then at the island, and now and then peered up at the
radiant young mute beside him.

The silence continued till it was broken by--a fish out of water. An
undergraduate in spectacles came mooning along, all out of his element.
It was Mr. Kennet, who used to rise at four every morning to his Plato,
and walk up Shotover Hill every afternoon, wet or dry, to cool his eyes
for his evening work. With what view he deviated to Henley has not yet
been ascertained. He was blind as a bat, and did not care a button about
any earthly boat-race, except the one in the AEneid, even if he could
have seen one. However, nearly all the men of his college went to
Henley, and perhaps some branch, hitherto unexplored, of animal
magnetism drew him after. At any rate, there was his body; and his mind
at Oxford and Athens, and other venerable but irrelevant cities. He
brightened at sight of his doge, and asked him warmly if he had heard
the news.

“No: what? Nothing wrong, I hope?”

“Why, two of our men are ploughed; that is all,” said Kennet, affecting
with withering irony to undervalue his intelligence.

“Confound it, Kennet, how you frightened me! I was afraid there was some
screw loose with the crew.”

At this very instant, the smoke of the pistol was seen to puff out from
the island, and Hardie rose to his feet. “They are off!” cried he to the
ladies, and after first putting his palms together with a hypocritical
look of apology, he laid one hand on an old barge that was drawn up
ashore, and sprang like a mountain goat on to the bow, lighting on the
very gunwale. The position was not tenable an instant, but he extended
one foot very nimbly and boldly, and planted it on the other gunwale;
and there he was in a moment, headache and all, in an attitude as
large and inspired as the boldest gesture antiquity has committed to
marble--he had even the advantage in stature over most of the sculptured
forms of Greece. But a double opera-glass at his eye “spoiled the lot,”
 as Mr. Punch says.

I am not to repeat the particulars of a distant race coming nearer and
nearer. The main features are always the same; only this time it was
more exciting to our fair friends, on account of Edward’s high stake in
it. And then their grateful though refractory patient, an authority
in their eyes, indeed all but a river-god, stood poised in air, and in
excited whispers interpreted each distant and unintelligible feature
down to them:

“Cambridge was off quickest.”

“But not much.”


“Anybody’s race at present, madam.”


“If this lasts long we may win. None of them can stay like us.”

“Come, the favourite is not so very dangerous.”

“Cambridge looks best.”

“I wouldn’t change with either, so far.”


“Now, in forty seconds more, I shall be able to pick out the winner.”

Julia went up this ladder of thrills to a high state of excitement; and,
indeed, they were all so tuned to racing pitch, that some metal nerve or
other seemed to jar inside all three, when the piercing, grating voice
of Kennet broke in suddenly with--

“How do you construe [Greek text]?”

The wretch had burrowed in the intellectual ruins of Greece the
moment the pistol went off, and college chat ceased. Hardie raised his
opera-glass, and his first impulse was to brain the judicious
Kennet, gazing up to him for an answer, with spectacles goggling like
supernatural eyes of dead sophists in the sun.

“How do you construe _‘Hoc age’_? you incongruous dog. Hold your tongue,
and mind the race.”


“There, I thought so. Where’s your three to one, now? The Cockneys
are out of this event, any way. Go on, Universities, and order their
suppers!”

“But which is first, sir?” asked Julia imploringly. “Oh, which is first
of all?”

“Neither. Never mind; it looks well. London is pumped; and if Cambridge
can’t lead him before this turn in the river, the race will be ours.
Now, look out! By Jove, we are _ahead!_”

The leading boats came on, Oxford pulling a long, lofty, sturdy stroke,
that seemed as if it never could compete with the quick action of its
competitor. Yet it was undeniably ahead, and gaining at every swing.

Young Hardie writhed on his perch. He screeched at them across the
Thames, “Well pulled, Stroke! Well pulled all! Splendidly pulled, Dodd!
You are walking away from them altogether. Hurrah, Oxford for ever,
hurrah!” The gun went off over the heads of the Oxford crew in advance,
and even Mrs. Dodd and Julia could see the race was theirs.

“We have won at last,” cried Julia, all on fire, “and fairly; only think
of that!”

Hardie turned round, grateful to beauty for siding with his university.
“Yes, and the fools may thank me; or rather my man, Dodd. Dodd for ever!
Hurrah!”

At this climax even Mrs. Dodd took a gentle share in the youthful
enthusiasm that was boiling around her, and her soft eyes sparkled, and
she returned the fervid pressure of her daughter’s hand; and both their
faces were flushed with gratified pride and affection.

“Dodd!” broke in “the incongruous dog,” with a voice just like a saw’s.
“Dodd? Ah, that’s the man who is just ploughed for smalls.”


Ice has its thunderbolts.



CHAPTER II

WINNING boat-races was all very fine; but a hundred such victories could
not compensate Mr. Kennet’s female hearers for one such defeat as he had
announced--a defeat that, to their minds, carried disgrace. Their Edward
plucked! At first they were benumbed, and sat chilled, with red cheeks,
bewildered between present triumph and mortification at hand. Then the
colour ebbed out of their faces, and they encouraged each other feebly
in whispers, “Might it not be a mistake?”

But unconscious Kennet robbed them of this timid hope. He was now in
his element, knew all about it, rushed into details, and sawed away all
doubt from their minds. The sum was this. Dodd’s general performance was
mediocre, but passable; he was plucked for his Logic. Hardie said he
was very sorry for it. “What does it matter?” answered Kennet; “he is a
boating-man.

“Well, and I am a boating-man. Why, you told me yourself, the other
day, poor Dodd was anxious about it on account of his friends. And,
by-the-bye, that reminds me they say he has got two pretty sisters
here.”

Says Kennet briskly, “I’ll go and tell him; I know him just to speak
to.”

“What! doesn’t he know?”

“How can he know?” said Kennet jealously; “the testamumrs were only
just out as I came away.” And within this line started on his congenial
errand.

Hardie took two or three of his long strides, and fairly collared him.
“You will do nothing of the kind.”

“What, not tell a man when he’s ploughed? That is a good joke.”

“No. There’s time enough. Tell him after chapel to-morrow, or in chapel
if you must; but why poison his triumphal cup? And his sisters, too, why
spoil their pleasure? Hang it all, not a word about ‘ploughing’ to any
living soul to-day.”

To his surprise, Kennet’s face expressed no sympathy, nor even bare
assent. At this Hardie lost patience, and burst out impetuously, “Take
care how you refuse me; take care how you thwart me in this. He is the
best-natured fellow in college. It doesn’t matter to you, and it does
to him; and if you _do,_ then take my name off the list of your
acquaintance, for I’ll never speak a word to you again in this world;
no, not on my death-bed, by Heaven!”

The threat was extravagant; but Youth’s glowing cheek and eye, and
imperious lip, and simple generosity, made it almost beautiful.

Kennet whined, “Oh, if you talk like that, there is an end to fair
argument.”

“End it then, and promise me; upon your honour!”

“Why not? What bosh! There, I promise. Now, how do you construe [Greek
text]?”

The incongruous dog (“I thank thee, Taff, for teaching me that word”)
put this query with the severity of an inquisitor bringing back a
garrulous prisoner to the point. Hardie replied gaily, “Any way you
like, now you are a good fellow again.”

“Come, that is evasive. My tutor says it cannot be rendered by any one
English word; no more can [Greek text].”

“Why, what on earth can he know about English? [Greek text] is a
Cormorant: [Greek text] is a Skinflint; and your tutor is a Duffer.
Hush! keep dark now! here he comes.” And he went hastily to meet Edward
Dodd: and by that means intercepted him on his way to the carriage.
“Give me your hand, Dodd,” he cried; “you have saved the university. You
must be stroke of the eight-oar after me. Let me see more of you than I
have, old fellow.”

“Within all my heart,” replied Edward calmly, but taking the offered
hand cordially; though he rather wanted to get away to his mother and
sister. “We will pull together, and read together into the bargain,”
 continued Hardie.

“Read together? You and I? What do you mean?”

“Well, you see I am pretty well up in the Imigliner books; what I have
got to rub up is my Divinity and my Logic--especially my Logic. Will you
grind Logic with me? Say ‘Yes,’ for I know you will keep your word.”

“It is too good an offer to refuse, Hardie; but now I look at you,
you are excited: wonderfully excited: within the race, eh? Now,
just--you--wait--quietly--till next week, and then, if you are so soft
as to ask me in cool blood----”

“Wait a week?” cried the impetuous youth. “No, not a minute. It is
settled. There, we cram Logic together next term.”

And he shook Edward’s hand again with glistening eyes and an emotion
that was quite unintelligible to Edward; but not to the quick, sensitive
spirits, who sat but fifteen yards off.

“You really must excuse me just now,” said Edward, and ran to the
carriage, and put out both hands to the fair occupants. They kissed him
eagerly, with little tender sighs; and it cost them no slight effort not
to cry publicly over “the beloved,” “the victorious,” “the ploughed.”

Young Hardie stood petrified. What? These ladies Dodd’s sisters. Why,
one of them had called the other mamma. Good heavens! all his talk in
their hearing had been of Dodd; and Kennet and he between them had
let out the very thing he wanted to conceal, especially from Dodd’s
relations. He gazed at them, and turned hot to the very forehead. Then,
not knowing what to do or say, and being after all but a clever boy,
not a cool, “never unready” man of the world, he slipped away, blushing.
Kennet followed, goggling.


Left to herself, Mrs. Dodd would have broken the bad news to Edward at
once, and taken the line of consoling him under her own vexation: it
would not have been the first time that she had played that card. But
young Mr. Hardie had said it would be unkind to poison Edward’s day: and
it is sweet woman’s nature to follow suit; so she and Julia put bright
faces on, and Edward passed a right jocund afternoon with them. He was
not allowed to surprise one of the looks they interchanged to relieve
their secret mortification. But, after dinner, as the time drew near
for him to go back to Oxford, Mrs. Dodd became silent, and a little
_distraite;_ and at last drew her chair away to a small table, and wrote
a letter.

In directing it she turned it purposely, so that Julia could catch the
address: _“Edward Dodd, Esq., Exeter College, Oxford._”

Julia was naturally startled at first, and her eye roved almost
comically to and fro the letter and its Destination, seated calm and
unconscious of woman’s beneficent wiles. But her heart soon divined the
mystery: it was to reach him the first thing in the morning, and spare
him the pain of writing the news to them; and, doubtless, so worded as
not to leave him a day in doubt of their forgiveness and sympathy.

Julia took the missive unobserved by the Destination, and glided out of
the room to get it quietly posted.

The servant-girl was waiting on the second-floor lodgers, and told her
so, with a significant addition, viz., that the post was in this street,
and only a few doors off. Julia was a little surprised at her coolness,
but took the hint with perfect good temper, and just put on her shawl
and bonnet, and went with it herself. The post-office was not quite so
near as represented; but she was soon there, for she was eager till she
had posted it. But she came back slowly and thoughtfully; here in the
street, lighted only by the moon, and an occasional gaslight, there was
no need for self-restraint, and soon her mortification betrayed itself
in her speaking countenance. And to think that her mother, on whom she
doted, should have to write to her son, there present, and post the
letter! This made her eyes fill, and before she reached the door of the
lodging, they were brimming over.

As shine put her foot on the step, a timid voice addressed her in a
low tone of supplication. “May I venture to speak one word to you, Miss
Dodd?--one single word?”

She looked up surprised; and it was young Mr. Hardie.

His tall figure was bending towards her submissively, and his face, as
well as his utterance, betrayed considerable agitation.


And what led to so unusual a rencontre between a young gentleman and
lady who had never been introduced?

“The Tender Passion,” says a reader of many novels.

Why, yes; the tenderest in all our nature:

Wounded Vanity.

Naturally proud and sensitive, and inflated by success and flattery,
Alfred Hardie had been torturing himself ever since he fled Edward’s
female relations. He was mortified to the core. He confounded “the
fools” (his favourite synonym for his acquaintance) for going and
calling Dodd’s mother an elder sister, and so not giving him a chance to
divine her. And then that he, who prided himself on his discrimination,
should take them for ladies of rank, or, at all events, of the highest
fashion and, climax of humiliation, that so great a man as he should
go and seem to court them by praising Dodd of Exeter, by enlarging upon
Dodd of Exeter, by offering to grind Logic with Dodd of Exeter. Who
would believe that this was a coincidence, a mere coincidence? They
could not be expected to believe it; female vanity would not let them.
He tingled, and was not far from hating the whole family; so bitter a
thing is that which I have ventured to dub “The Tenderest Passion.”
 He itched to soothe his irritation by explaining to Edward. Dodd was a
frank, good-hearted fellow; he would listen to facts, and convince the
ladies in turn. Hardie learned where Dodd’s party lodged, and waited
about the door to catch him alone: Dodd must be in college by twelve,
and would leave Henley before ten. He waited till he was tired of
waiting. But at last the door opened; he stepped forward, and out
tripped Miss Dodd. “Confound it!” muttered Hardie, and drew back.
However, he stood and admired her graceful figure and action, her
ladylike speed without bustling. Had she come back at the same pace, he
would never have ventured to stop her: on such a thread do things hang:
but she returned very slowly, hanging her head. Her look at him and his
headache recurred to him--a look brimful of goodness. She would do as
well as Edward, better perhaps. He yielded to impulse, and addressed
her, but with all the trepidation of a youth defying the giant Etiquette
for the first time in his life.

Julia was a little surprised and fluttered, but did not betray it; she
had been taught self-command by example, if not by precept.

“Certainly, Mr. Hardie,” said she, within a modest composure a young
coquette might have envied under the circumstances.

Hardie had now only to explain himself; but instead of that, he stood
looking at her within silent concern. The fair face she raised to him
was wet with tears; so were her eyes, and even the glorious eyelashes
were fringed with that tender spray; and it glistened in the moonlight.

This sad and pretty sight drove the vain but generous youth’s calamity
clean out of his head. “Why, you are crying! Miss Dodd, what is the
matter? I hope nothing has happened.”

Julia turned her head away a little fretfully, with a “No, no!” But soon
her natural candour and simplicity prevailed; a simplicity not without
dignity; she turned round to him and looked him in the face. “Why should
I deny it to you, sir, who have been good enough to sympathise with us?
We are mortified, sadly mortified, at dear Edward’s disgrace; and it has
cost us a struggle not to disobey you, and _poison his triumphal cup_
within sad looks. And mamma had to write to him, and console him against
to-morrow: but I hope he will not feel it so severely as she does: and I
have just posted it myself, and, when I thought of our dear mamma being
driven to such expedients, I--Oh!” And the pure young heart, having
opened itself by words, must flow a little more.

“Oh, pray don’t cry,” said young Hardie tenderly; “don’t take such
a trifle to heart so. You crying makes me feel guilty for letting it
happen. It shall never occur again. If I had only known, it should never
have happened at all.”

“Once is enough,” sighed Julia.

“Indeed, you take it too much to heart. It is only out of Oxford a
plough is thought much of; especially a single one; that is so very
common. You see, Miss Dodd, an university examination consists of
several items: neglect but one, and Crichton himself would be ploughed;
because brilliancy in your other papers is not allowed to count; that is
how the most distinguished man of our day got ploughed for Smalls. I had
a narrow escape, I know, for one. But, Miss Dodd, if you knew how far
your brother’s performance on the river outweighs a mere slip in the
schools, in all university men’s eyes, the dons’ and all, you would not
make this bright day end sadly to Oxford by crying. Why, I could find
you a thousand men who would be ploughed to-morrow with glory and
delight to win one such race as your brother has won two.”

Julia sighed again. But it sounded now half like a sigh of relief--the
final sigh, with which the fair consent to be consoled.

And indeed this improvement in the music did not escape Hardie. He felt
he was on the right tack: he enumerated fluently, and by name, many good
men, besides Dean Swift, who had been ploughed, yet had cultivated the
field of letters in their turn; and, in short, he was so earnest and
plausible, that something like a smile hovered about his hearer’s lips,
and she glanced askant at him with furtive gratitude from under her
silky lashes. But it soon recurred to her that this was rather a long
interview to accord to “a stranger,” and under the moon; so she said a
little stiffly, “And was this what you were good enough to wish to say
to me, Mr. Hardie?”

“No, Miss Dodd, to be frank, it was not. My motive in addressing you,
without the right to take such a freedom, was egotistical. I came here
to clear myself; I--I was afraid you must think me a humbug, you know.”

“I do not understand you, indeed.”

“Well, I feared you and Mrs. Dodd might think I praised Dodd so, and did
what little I did for him, knowing who you were, and wishing to curry
favour with you by all that; and that is so underhand and paltry a way
of going to work, I should despise myself.”

“Oh, Mr. Hardie,” said the young lady, smiling, “How foolish: why, of
course, we knew you had no idea.”

“Indeed I had not; but how could you know it?”

“Why, we saw it. Do you think we have no eyes? Ah, and much keener ones
than gentlemen have. It is mamma and I who are to blame, if anybody;
we ought to have declared ourselves: it would have been more generous,
more--manly. But we cannot all be gentlemen, you know. It was so sweet
to hear Edward praised by one who did not know us; it was like stolen
fruit; and by one whom others praise: so, if you can forgive us our
slyness, there is an end of the matter.”

“Forgive you? you have taken a thorn out of my soul.”

“Then I am so glad you summoned courage to speak to me without ceremony.
Mamma would have done better, though; but after all, do not I know her?
my mamma is all goodness and intelligence. And be assured, sir, she does
you justice; and is quite sensible of your _disinterested_ kindness to
dear Edward.” With this she was about to retire.

“Ah! But you, Miss Dodd? with whom I have taken this unwarrantable
liberty?” said Hardie imploringly.

“Me, Mr. Hardie? You do me the honour to require my opinion of your
performances: including of course this self-introduction?”

Hardie hung his head; there was a touch of satire in the lady’s voice,
he thought.

Her soft eyes rested demurely on him a moment; she saw he was a little
abashed.

“My opinion of it all is that you have been very kind to us; in being
most kind to our poor Edward. I never saw, nor read of anything more
generous, more manly. And then _so_ thoughtful, _so_ considerate, _so_
delicate! So instead of criticising you, as you seem to expect, his
sister only blesses you, and thanks you from the very bottom of her
heart.”

She had begun within a polite composure borrowed from mamma; but, once
launched, her ardent nature got the better: her colour rose and rose,
and her voice sank and sank, and the last words came almost in a
whisper; and such a lovely whisper: a gurgle from the heart; and, as
she concluded, her delicate hand came sweeping out with a heaven-taught
gesture of large and sovereign cordiality, that made even the honest
words and the divine tones more eloquent. It was too much; the young
man, ardent as herself, and not, in reality, half so timorous, caught
fire; and seeing a white, eloquent hand rather near him, caught it, and
pressed his warm lips on it in mute adoration and gratitude.

At this she was scared and offended. “Oh; keep that for the Queen!”
 cried she, turning scarlet, and tossing her fair head into the air,
like a startled stag; and she drew her hand away quickly and decidedly,
though not roughly. He stammered a lowly apology--in the very middle of
it she said quietly, “Good-bye, Mr. Hardie,” and swept, with a gracious
little curtsey, through the doorway, leaving him spell-bound.


And so the virginal instinct of self-defence carried her off swiftly and
cleverly. But none too soon; for, on entering the house, that external
composure her two mothers Mesdames Dodd and Nature had taught her, fell
from her like a veil, and she fluttered up the stairs to her own room
with hot cheeks, and panted there like some wild thing that has been
grasped at and grazed. She felt young Hardie’s lips upon the palm of her
hand plainly; they seemed to linger there still; it was like light but
live velvet This, and the ardent look he had poured into her eyes, set
the young creature quivering. Nobody had looked at her so before, and
no young gentleman had imprinted living velvet on her hand. She was
alarmed, ashamed, and uneasy. What right had he to look at her like
that? What shadow of a right to go and kiss her hand? He could not
pretend to think she had put it out to be kissed; ladies put forth
the back of the hand for that, not the palm. The truth was he was an
impudent fellow, and she hated him now, and herself too, for being so
simple as to let him talk to her: mamma would not have been so imprudent
when she was a girl.

She would not go down, for she felt there must be something of this kind
legibly branded on her face: “Oh! oh! just look at this young lady! She
has been letting a young gentleman kiss the palm of her hand; and the
feel has not gone off yet; you may see that by her cheeks.”

But then, poor Edward! she must go down.

So she put a wet towel to her tell-tale cheeks, and dried them by
artistic dabs, avoiding friction, and came downstairs like a mouse, and
turned the door-handle noiselessly, and glided into the sitting-room
looking so transparent, conscious, and all on fire with beauty and
animation, that even Edward was startled, and, in a whisper, bade his
mother observe what a pretty girl she was: “Beats all the country girls
in a canter.” Mrs. Dodd did look; and, consequently, as soon as ever
Edward was gone to Oxford, she said to Julia, “You are feverish, love;
you have been excited with all this. You had better go to bed.”

Julia complied willingly; for she wanted to be alone and think. She
retired to her own room, and went the whole day over again; and was
happy and sorry, exalted and uneasy, by turns; and ended by excusing Mr.
Hardie’s escapade, and throwing the blame on herself. She ought to have
been more distant; gentlemen were not expected, nor indeed much wanted,
to be modest. A little assurance did not misbecome them. “Really, I
think it sets them off,” said she to herself.

Grand total: “What _must_ he think of me?”

Time gallops in reverie: the town clock struck twelve, and with its iron
tongue remorse entered her youthful conscience. Was this obeying mamma?
Mamma had said, “Go to bed:” not, “Go upstairs and meditate: upon young
gentlemen.” She gave an expressive shake of her fair shoulders, like
a swan flapping the water off its downy wings, and so dismissed the
subject from her mind.

Then she said her prayers.

Then she rose from her knees, and in tones of honey said, “Puss! puss!
pretty puss!” and awaited a result.

Thieves and ghosts she did not believe in, yet credited cats under beds,
and thought them neither “harmless” nor “necessary” there.

After tenderly evoking the dreaded and chimerical quadruped, she
proceeded none the less to careful research, especially of cupboards.
The door of one resisted, and then yielded with a crack, and blew out
the candle. “There now,” said she.

It was her only light, except her beauty. They allotted each Hebe
but one candle, in that ancient burgh. “Well,” she thought, “there is
moonlight enough to _un_dress by.” She went to draw back one of the
curtains; but in the act she started back with a little scream. There
was a tall figure over the way watching the house.

The moon shone from her side of the street full on him, and in that
instant her quick eye recognised Mr. Hardie.

“Well!” said she aloud, and with an indescribable inflexion; and hid
herself swiftly in impenetrable gloom.

But, after a while, Eve’s daughter must have a peep. She stole with
infinite caution to one side of the curtain, and made an aperture just
big enough for one bright eye. Yes, there he was, motionless. “I’ll tell
mamma,” said she to him, malignantly, as if the sound could reach him.

Unconscious of the direful threat, he did not budge.

She was unaffectedly puzzled at this phenomenon; and, not being the
least vain, fell to wondering whether he played the nightly sentinel
opposite every lady’s window who exchanged civilities within him.
“Because, if he does, he is a fool,” said she, promptly. But on
reflection, she felt sure he did nothing of the kind habitually, for he
had too high an opinion of himself; she had noted that trait in him at
a very early stage. She satisfied herself, by cautious examination, that
he did not know her room. He was making a temple of the whole lodging.
“How ridiculous of him!” Yet he appeared to be happy over it; there was
an exalted look in his moonlit face; she seemed now first to see
his soul there. She studied his countenance like an inscription, and
deciphered each rapt expression that crossed it; and stored them in her
memory.

Twice she heft her ambuscade to go to bed, and twice Curiosity, or
Something, drew her back. At last, having looked, peered, and peeped,
till her feet were cold, and her face the reverse, she informed herself
that the foolish Thing had tired her out.

“Good-night, Mr. Policeman,” said she, pretending to bawl to him. “And
oh! Do rain! As hard as ever you can.” With this benevolent aspiration,
a little too violent to be sincere, she laid her cheek on her pillow
doughtily.

But her sentinel, when out of sight, had more power to disturb her. She
lay and wondered whether he was still there, and what it all meant, and
whatever mamma would say; and which of the two, she or he, was the head
culprit in this strange performance, to which Earth, she conceived,
had seen no parallel; and, above all, what he would do next. Her pulse
galloped, and her sleep was broken; and she came down in the morning a
little pale. Mrs. Dodd saw it at once, with the quick maternal eye; and
moralised: “It is curious; youth is so fond of pleasure; yet pleasure
seldom agrees with youth; this little excitement has done your mother
good, who is no longer young; but it has been too much for you. I shall
be glad to have you back to our quiet home.”

Ah! Will that home be as tranquil now?



CHAPTER III

THE long vacation commenced about a month afterwards, and Hardie came to
his father’s house, to read for honours, unimpeded by university races
and college lectures; and the ploughed and penitent one packed up his
Aldrich and his Whately, the then authorities in Logic, and brought
them home, together with a firm resolution to master that joyous science
before the next examination for Smalls in October. But lo! ere he had
been an hour at home, he found his things put neatly away in his drawers
on the feminine or vertical system--deep strata of waistcoats, strata of
trousers, strata of coats, strata of papers--and his Logic gone.

In the course of the evening he taxed his sister good-humouredly, and
asked “What earthly use that book was to her, not wearing curls.”

“I intend to read it, and study it, and teach you it,” replied Julia,
rather languidly--considering the weight of the resolve.

“Oh, if you have boned it to read, I say no more; the crime will punish
itself.”

“Be serious, Edward, and think of mamma! I cannot sit with my hands
before me, and let you be reploughed.”

“I don’t want. But--reploughed!--haw, haw! but you can’t help me at
Logic, as you used at Syntax. Why, all the world knows a girl can’t
learn Logic.”

“A girl can learn anything she chooses to learn. What she can’t learn is
things other people set her down to.” Before Edward could fully digest
this revelation, she gave the argument a new turn by adding fretfully,
“And don’t be so unkind, thwarting and teasing me!” and all in a moment
she was crying.

“Halloa!” ejaculated Edward, taken quite by surprise. “What is the
matter, dears?” inquired maternal vigilance from the other end of the
room. “You did not speak brusquely to her, Edward?”

“No, no,” said Julia eagerly. “It is I that am turned so cross and so
peevish. I am quite a changed girl. Mamma, what _is_ the matter with
me?” And she laid her brow on her mother’s bosom.

Mrs. Dodd caressed the lovely head soothingly with one hand, and made
a sign over it to Edward to leave them alone. She waited quietly till
Julia was composed: and then said, softly, “Come, tell me what it is:
nothing that Edward said to you; for I heard almost every word, and I
was just going to smile, or nearly, when you---- And, my love, it is not
the first time, you know. I would not tell Edward, but I have more than
once seen your eyes with tears in them.”

“Have you, mamma?” said Julia, scarcely above a whisper.

“Why, you know I have. But I said to myself it was no use forcing
confidence. I thought I would be very patient, and wait till you came
to me with it; so now, what is it, my darling? Why do you speak of one
thing and think of another? and cry without any reason that your mother
can see?”

“I don’t know, mamma,” said Julia, hiding her head. “I think it is
because I sleep so badly. I rise in the morning hot and quivering, and
more tired then I lay down.”

Mrs. Dodd inquired how long this had been.

Julia did not answer this question; she went on, with her face still
hidden: “Mamma, I do feel so depressed and hysterical, or else in
violent spirits: but not nice and cheerful as you are, and I used to be;
and I go from one thing to another, and can settle to nothing--even in
church I attend by fits and starts: I forgot to water my very flowers
last night: and I heard Mrs. Maxley out of my window tell Sarah I am
losing my colour. Am I? But what does it matter? I am losing my sense;
for I catch myself for ever looking in the glass, and that is a sure
sign of a fool, you know. And I cannot pass the shops: I stand and look
in, and long for the very dearest silks, and for diamonds in my hair.” A
deep sigh followed the confession of these multiform imperfections; and
the culprit half raised her head to watch their effect.

As for Mrs. Dodd, she opened her eyes wide with surprise; but at the end
of the heterogeneous catalogue she smiled, and said, “I cannot believe
_that._ If ever there was a young lady free from personal vanity, it is
my Julia. Why, your thoughts run by nature away from yourself; you were
born for others.”

Her daughter kissed her gratefully, and smiled: but after a pause, said,
sorrowfully, “Ah! that was the old Julia, as seen with your dear eyes. I
have almost forgotten _her._ The new one is what I tell you, dear
mamma, and that” (within sudden fervour) “is a dreamy, wandering, vain,
egotistical, hysterical, abominable girl.”

“Let me kiss this monster that I have brought into the world,” said Mrs.
Dodd. “And now let me think.” She rested her eyes calm and penetrating
upon her daughter; and at this mere look, but a very searching one, the
colour mounted and mounted in Julia’s cheek strangely.

“After all,” said Mrs. Dodd thoughtfully, “yours is a critical age.
Perhaps my child is turning to a woman; my rosebud to a rose. And she
sighed. Mothers will sigh at things none other ever sighed at.

“To a weed, I fear,” replied Julia. “What will you say when I own I felt
no real joy at Edward’s return this time? And yesterday I cried, ‘Do get
away, and don’t pester me!’”

“To your brother? Oh!”

“Oh, no, mamma, that was to poor Spot. He jumped on me in a reverie, all
affection, poor thing.”

“Well, for your comfort, dogs do not appreciate the niceties of our
language.”

“I am afraid they do; when we kick them.”

Mrs. Dodd smiled at the admission implied here, and the deep penitence
it was uttered with. But Julia remonstrated, “Oh no! no! don’t laugh at
me, but help me within your advice: you are so wise and so experienced:
you must have been a girl before you were an angel. You _must_ know
what is the matter with me. Oh, do pray cure me, or else kill me, for
I cannot go on like this, all my affections deadened and my peace
disturbed.”

And now the mother looked serious and thoughtful enough; and the
daughter watched her furtively. “Julia,” said Mrs. Dodd, very gravely,
“if it was not my child, reared under my eye, and never separated from
me a single day, I should say, this young lady is either afflicted
with some complaint, and it affects her nerves and spirits; or else she
has--she is--what inexperienced young people call ‘in love.’ You need
not look so frightened, child; nobody in their senses suspects _you_
of imprudence or indelicacy; and therefore I feel quite sure that
your constitution is at a crisis, or your health has suffered some
shock--pray Heaven it may not be a serious one. You will have the best
advice, and without delay, I promise you.”



CHAPTER IV


That very evening, Mrs. Dodd sent a servant into the town with a note
like a cocked-hat for Mr. Osmond, a consulting surgeon, who bore a
high reputation in Barkington. He came, and proved too plump for that
complete elegance she would have desired in a medical attendant; but
had a soft hand, a gentle touch, and a subdued manner. He spoke to the
patient with a kindness which won the mother directly; had every hope
of setting her right without any violent or disagreeable remedies; but,
when she had retired, altered his tone; and told Mrs. Dodd seriously she
had done well to send for him in time: it was a case of “Hyperaesthesia”
 (Mrs. Dodd clasped her hands in alarm), “or as unprofessional persons
would say, ‘excessive sensibility.’”

Mrs. Dodd was somewhat relieved. Translation blunts thunderbolts. She
told him she had always feared for her child on that score. But was
sensibility curable? Could a nature be changed?

He replied that the Idiosyncrasy could not; but its morbid excess could,
especially when taken in time. Advice was generally called in too late.
However, here the only serious symptom was the Insomnia. “We must treat
her for that,” said he, writing a prescription; “but for the rest,
active employment, long walks or rides, and a change of scene and
associations, will be all that will be required. In these cases,”
 resumed Mr. Osmond, “connected as they are with Hyperaemia, some medical
men considered moderate venesection to be indicated.” He then put on his
gloves saying, “The diet, of course, must be Antiphlogistic. Let us say
then, for breakfast, dry toast with very little butter--no coffee--cocoa
(from the nibs), or weak tea: for luncheon, beef-tea or mutton-broth:
for dinner, a slice of roast chicken, and tapioca or semolina pudding.
I would give her one glass of sherry, but no more, and barley-water; it
would be as well to avoid brown meats, at all events for the present.
With these precautions, my dear madam, I think your anxiety will soon be
happily removed.”

Julia took her long walks and light diet; and became a little pale
at times, and had fewer bursts of high spirits in the intervals of
depression. Her mother went with her case to a female friend. The lady
said she would not trust to surgeons and apothecaries; she would have
a downright physician. “Why not go to the top of the tree at once, and
call in Dr. Short? You have heard of him?”

“Oh, yes; I have even met him in society; a most refined person: I
will certainly follow your advice and consult him. Oh, thank you, Mrs.
Bosanquet! _A propos,_ do you consider him skilful?

“Oh, immensely; he is a particular friend of my husband’s.”

This was so convincing, that off went another three-cocked note, and
next day a dark-green carriage and pair dashed up to Mrs. Dodd’s door,
and Dr. Short bent himself in an arc, got out, and slowly mounted
the stairs. He was six feet two, wonderfully thin, livid, and
gentleman-like. Fine homing head, keen eye, lantern jaws. At sight
of him Mrs. Dodd rose and smiled. Julia started and sat trembling.
He stepped across the room inaudibly, and after the usual civilities,
glanced a! the patient’s tongue, and touched her wrist delicately.
“Pulse is rapid,” said he.

Mrs. Dodd detailed the symptoms. Dr. Short listened within the patient
politeness of a gentleman, to whom all this was superfluous. He asked
for a sheet of note-paper, and divided it so gently, he seemed to be
persuading one thing to be two. He wrote a pair of prescriptions, and
whilst thus employed looked up every now and then and conversed with the
ladies.

“You have a slight subscapular affection, Miss Dodd: I mean, a little
pain under the shoulder-blade.”

“No, sir,” said Julia quietly.

Dr. Short looked a little surprised; his female patients rarely
contradicted him. Was it for them to disown things he was so a good as
to assign them?

“Ah!” said he, “you are not conscious of it: all the better; it must be
slight; a mere uneasiness: no more.” He then numbered the prescriptions,
1, 2, and advised Mrs. Dodd to (1r01) No. I after the eighth day, and
substitute No. 2, to be continued until convalescence. He put on his
gloves to leave. Mrs. Dodd then, with some hesitation, asked him humbly
whether she might ask him what the disorder was. “Certainly, madam,”
 said he graciously; “your daughter is labouring under a slight torpidity
of the liver. The first prescription is active, and is to clear the
gland itself, and the biliary ducts, of the excretory accumulation;
and the second is exhibited to promote a healthy normal habit in that
important part of the vascular system.”

“What, then, it is not Hyperaemia?”

“Hyperaemia? There is no such disorder in the books.”

“You surprise me,” said Mrs. Dodd. “Dr. Osmond certainly thought it was
Hyperaemia.” And she consulted her little ivory tablets, whereon she had
written the word.

But meantime, Dr. Short’s mind, to judge by his countenance, was away
roaming distant space in search of Osmond.

“Osmond? Osmond? I do not know that name in medicine.”

“Oh, oh, oh!” cried Julia, “and they both live in the same street!” Mrs.
Dodd held up her finger to this outspoken patient.

But a light seemed to break in on Dr. Short. “Ah! you mean Mr. Osmond: a
surgeon. A very respectable man, a most respectable man. I do not know
a more estimable person--in his grade of the profession--than my good
friend Mr. Osmond. And so he gives opinions in medical cases, does he?”
 Dr. Short paused, apparently to realise this phenomenon in the world of
Mind. He resumed in a different tone: “You may have misunderstood him.
Hyperaemia exists, of course; since he says so. But Hyperaemia is not
a complaint; it is a symptom. Of biliary derangement. My worthy friend
looks at disorders from a mental point; very natural: his interest lies
that way, perhaps you are aware: but profounder experience proves that
mental sanity is merely one of the results of bodily health: and I
am happy to assure you that, the biliary canal once cleared, and the
secretions restored to the healthy habit by these prescriptions,
the Hyperaemia, and other concomitants of hepatic derangement, will
disperse, and leave our interesting patient in the enjoyment of her
natural intelligence, her friends’ affectionate admiration, and above
all, of a sound constitution. Ladies, I have the honour” and the Doctor
eked out this sentence by rising.

“Oh, thank you, Dr. Short,” said Mrs. Dodd, rising within him; “you
inspire me with confidence and gratitude.” As if under the influence of
these feelings only, she took Dr. Short’s palm and pressed it. Of the
two hands, which met for a moment then, one was soft and melting, the
other a bunch of bones; but both were very white, and so equally
adroit, that a double fee passed without the possibility of a bystander
suspecting it.

For the benefit of all young virgins afflicted like Julia Dodd, here are
the Doctor’s prescriptions:--

FOR MISS DODD.

     Rx Pil: Hydrarg: Chlor: Co:
     singuml: nocte sumend:
     Decoc: Aloes Co: 3j
     omni mane
     viii. Sept. J. S.

-------

FOR MISS DODD.

     Rx Conf: Sennae.
     Potass: Bitartrat.
     Extr: Tarax: a a 3ss
     Misft: Elect:
     Cujus sum: 3j omni mane.
     xviii. Sept. J. S.

-------

Id: Anglie reddit: per me Carol: Arundin:

The same done into English by me. C. R.


FOR MISS DODD.

1. O Jupiter aid us!! Plummer’s pill to be taken every night, 1 oz.
compound decoction of Aloes every morning.

8th Sept. J. S.

FOR MISS DODD.

2. O Jupiter aid us!! with Confection of Senna, Bitartrate of Potash,
extract of Dandelion, of each half an ounce, let an electuary be mixed;
of which let her take 1 drachm every morning.

18th Sept. J. S.

-------

“Quite the courtier,” said Mrs. Dodd, delighted. Julia assented: she
even added, with a listless yawn, “I had no idea that a skeleton was
such a gentlemanlike thing; I never saw one before.”

 Mrs. Dodd admitted he was very thin.

“Oh no, mamma; ‘thin’ implies some little flesh. When he felt my pulse,
a chill struck to my heart. Death in a black suit seemed to steal up to
me, and lay a finger on my wrist: and mark me for his own.”

Mrs. Dodd forbade her to give way to such gloomy ideas; and expostulated
firmly with her for judging learned men by their bodies. “However,” said
she, “if the good, kind doctor’s remedies do not answer his expectations
and mine, I shall take you to London directly. I do hope papa will soon
be at home.”

Poor Mrs. Dodd was herself slipping into a morbid state. A mother
collecting Doctors! It is a most fascinating kind of connoisseurship,
grows on one like Drink; like Polemics; like Melodrama; like the
Millennium; like any Thing.

Sure enough, the very next week she and Julia sat patiently at the
morning levee of an eminent and titled London surgeon. Full forty
patients were before them: so they had to wait and wait. At last they
were ushered into the presence-chamber, and Mrs. Dodd entered on the
beaten ground of her daughter’s symptoms. The noble surgeon stopped her
civilly but promptly. “Auscultation will give us the clue,” said he,
and drew his stethoscope. Julia shrank and cast an appealing look at
her mother; but the impassive chevalier reported on each organ in turn
without moving his ear from the key-hole: “Lungs pretty sound,” said he,
a little plaintively: “so is the liver. Now for the----Hum? There is no
kardiae insufficiency, I think, neither mitral nor tricuspid. If we find
no tendency to hypertrophy we shall do very well. Ah! I have succeeded
in diagnosing a slight diastolic murmur; very slight.” He deposited the
instrument, and said, not without a certain shade of satisfaction that
his research had not been fruitless, “The heart is the peccant organ.”

“Oh, sir! is it serious?” said poor Mrs. Dodd.

“By no means. Try this” (he scratched a prescription which would not
have misbecome the tomb of Cheops), “and come again in a month.” Ting!
He struck a bell. That “ting” said, “Go, live, Guinea; and let another
come.”

“Heart-disease now!” Said Mrs. Dodd, sinking back in her hired
carriage, and the tears were in her patient eyes.

“My own, own mamma,” said Julia earnestly, “do not distress yourself.
I have no disease in the world, but my old, old, old one, of being a
naughty, wayward girl. As for you, mamma, you have resigned your own
judgment to your inferiors, and that is both our misfortunes. Dear, dear
mamma, do take me to a doctress next time, if you have not had enough.”

“To a what, love?”

“A she-doctor, then.”

“A female physician, child? There is no such thing. No; assurance is
becoming a characteristic of our sex; but we have not yet intruded
ourselves into the learned professions, thank Heaven.”

“Excuse me, mamma, there are one or two; for the newspapers say so.”

“‘Well, dear, there are none in this country, happily.”

“‘What, not in London?”

“No.”

“Then what _is_ the use of such a great overgrown place, all smoke, if
there is nothing in it you cannot find in the country? Let us go back to
Barkington this very day, this minute, this instant; oh, pray, pray.”

“And so you shall--to-morrow. But you must pity your poor mother’s
anxiety, and see Dr. Chalmers first.”

“Oh, mamma, not another surgeon! He frightened me; he hurt me. I never
heard of such a thing; oh, please not another surgeon.”

“It is not a surgeon, dear; it is the Court Physician.”

The Court Physician detected “a somewhat morbid condition of the great
nervous centres.” To an inquiry whether there was heart-disease, he
replied, “Pooh!” On being told Sir William had announced heart-disease,
he said, “Ah! _that alters the case entirely._” He maintained, however,
that it must be trifling, and would go no further, the nervous system
once restored to its healthy tone. “O Jupiter, aid us! Blue pill and
Seidhitz powder.”

Dr. Kenyon found the mucous membrane was irritated and required
soothing. “O Jupiter, &c.”

Mrs. Dodd returned home consoled and confused; Julia listless and
apathetic. Tea was ordered, with two or three kinds of bread, thinnest
slices of meat, and a little blane mange, &c., their favourite repast
after a journey; and whilst the tea was drawing, Mrs. Dodd looked over
the card-tray and enumerated the visitors that had called during
their absence. “Dr. Short-- Mr. Osmond--Mrs. Hetherington--Mr. Alfred
Hardie--Lady Dewry--Mrs. and Miss Bosanquet. What a pity Edward was not
at home, dear; Mr. Alfred Hardie’s visit must have been to him.”

“Oh, of course, mamma.”

“A very manly young gentleman.”

“‘Oh, yes. No. He is so rude.”

“Is he? Ah! he was ill just then, and pain irritates gentlemen; they are
not accustomed to it, poor Things.”

“That is like you, dear mamma; making excuses for one.” Julia added
faintly, “But he is so impetuous.”

“I have a daughter who reconciles me to impetuosity. And he _must_ have
a good heart, he was so kind to my boy.”

Julia looked down smiling; but presently seemed to be seized with a
spirit of contradiction: she began to pick poor Alfred to pieces; he was
this, that, and the other; and then so bold, she might say impudent.

Mrs. Dodd replied calmly that he was very kind to her boy.

“Oh, mamma, you cannot approve all the words he spoke.”

“It is not worth while to remember all the words young gentlemen speak
now-a-days. He was very kind to my boy, I remember that.”

The tea was now ready, and Mrs. Dodd sat down, and patted a chair, with
a smile of invitation for Julia to come and sit beside her. But Julia
said, “In one minute, dear,” and left the room.

When she came back, she fluttered up to her mother and kissed her
vehemently, then sat down radiant. “Ah!” said Mrs. Dodd, “why, you are
looking yourself once more. How do you feel now? Better?”

“How do I feel? Let me see: The world seems one e-nor-mous
flower-garden, and Me the butterfly it all belongs to.” She spake,
and to confirm her words the airy thing went waltzing, sailing, and
fluttering round the room, and sipping mamma every now and then on the
wing.

In this buoyancy she remained some twenty-four hours; and then came
clouds and chills, which, in their turn, gave way to exultation, duly
followed by depression. Her spirits were so uncertain, that things too
minute to justify narration turned the scale either way: a word from
Mrs. Dodd--a new face at St. Anne’s Church looking devoutly her way--a
piece of town gossip distilled in her ear by Mrs. Maxley--and she was
sprightly or languid, and both more than reason.

One drizzly afternoon they were sitting silent and saddish in the
drawing-room, Mrs. Dodd correcting the mechanical errors in a drawing
of Julia’s, and admiring the rare dash and figure, and Julia doggedly
studying Dr. Whately’s Logic, with now and then a sigh, when suddenly a
trumpet seemed to articulate in the little hall: “Mestress Doedd at home?”

The lady rose from her seat, and said with a smile of pleasure, “I hear
a voice.”

The door opened, and in darted a grey-headed man, with handsome but
strongly marked features, laughing and shouting like a schoolboy broke
loose. He cried out, “Ah! I’ve found y’ out at last.” Mrs. Dodd glided
to meet him, and put out both her hands, the palms downwards, with
the prettiest air of ladylike cordiality; he shook them heartily. “The
vagabins said y’ had left the town; but y’ had only flitted from the
quay to the subbubs; ‘twas a pashint put me on the scint of ye. And how
are y’ all these years? an’ how’s Sawmill?”

“Sawmill! What is that?”

“It’s just your husband. Isn’t his name Sawmill?”

“Dear no! Have you forgotten?--David.”

“Ou, ay. I knew it was some Scripcher Petrarch or another, Daavid, or
Naathan, or Sawmill. And how is he, and where is he?”

Mrs. Dodd replied that he was on the seas, but expect----

“Then I wish him well off ‘em, confound ‘em oncannall! Halloa! why, this
will be the little girl grown up int’ a wumman while ye look round.”

“Yes, may good friend; and her mother’s darling.”

“And she’s a bonny lass, I can tell ye. But no freend to the Dockers, I
see.”

“Ah!” said Mrs. Dodd sadly, “looks are deceitful; she is under medical
advice at this very----”

“Well, that won’t hurt her, unless she takes it.” And he burst into a
ringing laugh: but in the middle of it, stopped dead short, and his face
elongated. “Lord sake, mad’m,” said he impressively, “mind what y’ are
at, though; Barkton’s just a trap for fanciful femuls: there’s a n’oily
ass called Osmond, and a canting cut-throat called Stephenson and a
genteel, cadaveris old assassin called Short, as long as a maypole;
they’d soon take the rose out of Miss Floree’s cheek here. Why, they’d
starve Cupid, an’ veneseck Venus, an’ blister Pomonee, the vagabins.”

Mrs. Dodd looked a little confused, and exchanged speaking glances with
Julia. “However,” she said calmly, “I _have_ consulted Mr. Osmond and
Dr. Short; but have not relied on them alone. I have taken her to Sir
William Best. And to Dr. Chalmers. And to Dr. Kenyon.” And she felt
invulnerable behind her phalanx of learning and reputation.

“Good Hivens!” roared the visitor, “what a gauntlet o’ gabies for one
girl to run; and come out alive! And the picter of health. My faith,
Miss Floree, y’ are tougher than ye look.”

“My daughter’s name is Julia,” observed Mrs. Dodd, a little haughtily;
but instantly recovering herself, she said, “This is Dr. Sampson,
love--an old friend of your mother’s.”

“And th’ Author an’ Invintor of th’ great Chronothairmal Therey o’
Midicine, th’ Unity Perriodicity an’ Remittency of all disease,” put in
the visitor, with such prodigious swiftness of elocution that the words
went tumbling over one another like railway carriages out on pleasure,
and the sentence was a pile of loud, indistinct syllables.

Julia’s lovely eyes dilated at this clishmaclaver, and she bowed
coldly. Dr. Sampson had revealed in this short interview nearly all the
characteristics of voice, speech, and manner, she had been taught from
infancy to shun: boisterous, gesticulatory, idiomatic; and had taken
the discourse out of her mamma’s mouth twice. Now Albion Villa was a Red
Indian hut in one respect: here nobody interrupted.

Mrs. Dodd had little personal egotism, but she had a mother’s, and could
not spare this opportunity of adding another Doctor to her collection:
so she said hurriedly, “Will you permit me to show you what your learned
confreres have prescribed her?” Julia sighed aloud, and deprecated the
subject with earnest furtive signs; Mrs. Dodd would not see them. Now,
Dr. Sampson was himself afflicted with what I shall venture to call a
mental ailment; to wit, a furious intolerance of other men’s opinions;
he had not even patience to hear them. “Mai--dear--mad’m,” said he
hastily, “when you’ve told me their names, that’s enough. Short treats
her for liver, Sir William goes in for lung disease or heart, Chalmers
sis it’s the nairves, and Kinyon the mookis membrin; and _I_ say they
are fools and lyres all four.”

“Julia!” ejaculated Mrs. Dodd, “this is very extraordinary.”

“No, it is not extraordinary,” cried Dr. Sampson defiantly; “nothing is
extraordinary. D’ye think I’ve known these shallow men thirty years, and
not plumbed ‘um?”

“Shallow, my good friend? Excuse me! they are the ablest men in your own
branch of your own learned profession.”

“Th’ ablest! Oh, you mean the money-makingest: now listen me! our
lairned Profession is a rascally one. It is like a barrel of beer. What
rises to the top?” Here he paused for a moment, then answered himself
furiously, “THE SCUM.”

This blast blown, he moderated a little. “Look see!” said he, “up to
three or four thousand a year, a Docker is often an honest man, and
sometimes knows something of midicine; not much, because it is not
taught anywhere. But if he is making over five thousand, he must be
a rogue or else a fool: either he has booed an’ booed, an’ cript
an’ crawled, int’ wholesale collusion with th’ apothecary an’ the
accoucheur--the two jockeys that drive John Bull’s faemily coach--and
they are sucking the pashint togither, like a leash o’ leeches: or else
he has turned spicialist; has tacked his name to some poplar disorder,
real or imaginary; it needn’t exist to be poplar. Now, those four you
have been to are spicialists, and that means monomaniues--their buddies
exspatiate in West-ind squares, but their souls dwell in a n’alley,
ivery man jack of ‘em: Aberford’s in Stomich Alley, Chalmers’s in Nairve
Court, Short’s niver stirs out o’ Liver Lane, Paul’s is stuck fast in
Kidney Close, Kinyon’s in Mookis Membrin Mews, and Hibbard’s in Lung
Passage. Look see! nixt time y’ are out of sorts, stid o’ consultin’
three bats an’ a n’owl at a guinea the piece, send direct to me, and
I’ll give y’ all their opinions, and all their prescriptions, _gratis._
And deevilich dear ye’ll find ‘em at the price, if ye swallow ‘m.”

Mrs. Dodd thanked him coldly for the offer, but said she would be more
grateful if he would show his superiority to persons of known ability by
just curing her daughter on the spot.

“Well, I will,” said he carelessly: and all his fire died out of him.
“Put out your tongue!--Now your pulse!”


Mrs. Dodd knew her man (ladies are very apt to fathom their male
acquaintance--too apt, _I_ think); and, to pin him to the only medical
theme which interested her, seized the opportunity while he was in
actual contact with Julia’s wrist, and rapidly enumerated her symptoms,
and also told him what Mr. Osmond had said about Hyperaesthesia.

“GOOSE GREECE!” barked Sampson, loud, clear, and sharp as an irritated
watch-dog; but this one bow-wow vented, he was silent as abruptly.

Mrs. Dodd smiled, and proceeded to Hyperaemia, and thence to the
Antiphlogistic Regimen.

At that unhappy adjective, Sampson jumped up, cast away his patient’s
hand, forgot her existence--she was but a charming individual--and
galloped into his native region, Generalities.

“Antiphlogistic! Mai--dear--mad’m, that one long fragmint of ass’s jaw
has slain a million. Adapted to the weakness of human nature, which
receives with rivirince ideas however childish, that come draped in
long-tailed and exotic words, that aasimine polysyllable has riconciled
the modern mind to the chimeras of th’ ancients, and outbutchered the
guillotine, the musket, and the sword: ay, and but for me

     Had barred the door
     For cinturies more

on the great coming sceince, the sceince of healing diseases, instead
of defining and dividing ‘em and lengthening their names and their
durashin, and shortening nothing but the pashint. Th’ Antiphlogistic
Therey is this: That disease is fiery, and that any artificial
exhaustion of vital force must cool the system, and reduce the morbid
fire, called, in their donkey Latin ‘flamma,’ and in their compound
donkey Latin ‘inflammation,’ and in their Goose Greece, ‘phlogosis,’
‘phlegmon,’ &c. And accordingly th’ Antiphlogistic Practice is, to cool
the sick man by bleeding him, and, when blid, either to rebleed him with
a change of instrument, bites and stabs instid of gashes, or else
to rake the blid, and then blister the blid and raked, and then push
mercury till the teeth of the blid, raked, and blistered shake in their
sockets, and to starve the blid, purged, salivated, blistered wretch
from first to last. This is the Antiphlogistic system. It is seldom
carried out entire, because the pashint, at the first or second link
in their rimedial chain, expires; or else gives such plain signs of
sinking, that even these ass-ass-ins take fright, and try t’ undo their
own work, not disease’s, by tonics an’ turtle, and stimulants: which
things given at the right time instead of the wrong, given when the
pashint was merely weakened by his disorder, and not enfeebled by their
didly rinmedies, would have cut th’ ailment down in a few hours.”

“Dear me,” said Mrs. Dodd; “and now, my good friend, with respect to _my
daughter_----

“N’ list _me!_” clashed Sampson; “ye’re goen to fathom th’
antiphlogistics, since they still survive an’ slay in holes and corners
like Barkton and d’Itly; I’ve driven the vamperes out o’ the cintres o’
civilisation. Begin with their coolers! Exhaustion is not a cooler, it
is a feverer, and they know it; the way parrots know sentences. Why are
we all more or less feverish at night? Because we are weaker. Starvation
is no cooler, it is an inflamer, and they know it--as parrots know
truths, but can’t apply them: for they know that burning fever rages in
ivery town, street, camp, where Famine is. As for blood-letting, their
prime cooler, it is inflammatory; and they know it (parrot-wise), for
the thumping heart and bounding pulse of pashints blid by butchers in
black, and bullocks blid by butchers in blue, prove it; and they have
recorded this in all their books: yet stabbed, and bit, and starved, and
mercuried, and murdered on. But mind ye, all their sham coolers are real
weakeners (I wonder they didn’t inventory Satin and his brimstin lake
among their refrijrators), and this is the point whence t’ appreciate
their imbecility, and the sairvice I have rendered mankind in been the
first t’ attack their banded school, at a time it seemed imprignable.”

“Ah! this promises to be very interesting,” sighed Mrs. Dodd; “and
before you enter on so large a field, perhaps it would be as well to
dispose of a little matter which lies at my heart. Here is _my poor
daughter_----”

“NLISSMEE! A human Bean is in a constant state of flux and reflux; his
component particles move, change, disappear, and are renewed; his life
is a round of exhaustion and repair. Of this repair the brain is
the sovereign ajint by night and day, and the blood the great living
material, and digestible food th’ indispensible supply. And this balance
of exhaustion and repair is too nice to tamper with: disn’t a single
sleepless night, or dinnerless day, write some pallor on the face,
and tell against the buddy? So does a single excessive perspiration, a
trifling diary, or a cut finger, though it takes but half an ounce of
blood out of the system. And what is the cause of that rare ivint--which
occurs only to pashmints that can’t afford docking--Dith from old age?
Think ye the man really succumms under years, or is mowed down by Time?
Nay, yon’s just Potry an’ Bosh. Nashins have been thinned by the lancet,
but niver by the scythe; and years are not forces, but misures of
events. No, Centenarius decays and dies bekase his bodil’ expindituire
goes on, and his bodil’ income falls off by failure of the reparative
and reproductive forces. And now suppose bodil’ exhaustion and repair
were a mere matter of pecuniary, instead of vital, economy: what would
you say to the steward or housekeeper, who, to balance your accounts and
keep you solvent, should open every known channel of expinse with one
hand, and with the other--stop the supplies? Yet this is how the Dockers
for thirty cinturies have burned th’ human candle at both ends, yet
wondered the light of life expired under their hands.”

“It seems irrational. Then in _my daughter’s_ case you would----”

“Looksee! A pashint falls sick. What haps directly? Why the balance is
troubled, and exhaustion exceeds repair. For proof obsairve the buddy
when Disease is fresh!

    And you will always find a loss of flesh

to put it economikly, and then you must understand it, bein a
housekeeper--

    Whativer the Disease, its form or essence,
    Expinditure goes on, and income lessens.

But to this sick and therefore weak man, comes a Docker purblind with
cinturies of Cant, Pricidint, Blood, and Goose Greece; imagines him
a fiery pervalid, though the common sense of mankind through its
interpreter common language, pronounces him an ‘invalid,’ gashes him
with a lancet, spills out the great liquid material of all repair by the
gallon, and fells this weak man, wounded now, and pale, and fainting,
with Dith stamped on his face, to th’ earth, like a bayoneted soldier or
a slaughtered ox. If the weak man, wounded thus, and weakened, survives,
then the chartered Thugs who have drained him by the bung-hole, turn to
and drain him by the spigot; they blister him, and then calomel him:
and lest Nature should have the ghost of a chance to conterbalance these
frightful outgoings, they keep strong meat and drink out of his
system emptied by their stabs, bites, purges, mercury, and blisters;
damdijjits! And that, Asia excipted, was profissional Midicine from
Hippocrates to Sampsin. Antiphlogistic is but a modern name for an
ass-ass-inating rouutine which has niver varied a hair since scholastic
midicine, the silliest and didliest of all the hundred forms of
Quackery, first rose--unlike Seeince, Art, Religion, and all true
Suns--in the West; to wound the sick; to weaken the weak; and mutilate
the hurt; and thin mankind.”

The voluble impugner of his own profession delivered these two last
words in thunder so sudden and effective as to strike Julia’s work out
of her hands. But here, as in Nature, a moment’s pause followed the
thunderclap; so Mrs. Dodd, who had long been patiently watching
her opportunity, smothered a shriek, and edged in a word: “This is
irresistible; you have confuted everybody, to their heart’s content; and
now the question is, what course shall we substitute?” She meant, “in
the great case, which occupies me.” But Sampson attached a nobler,
wider, sense to her query. “What course? Why the great Chronothairmal
practice, based on the remittent and febrile character of all disease;
above all, on

     The law of Perriodicity, a law
     Midicine yet has wells of light to draw.

By Remittency, I mean th’ ebb of Disease, by Perriodicity, th’ ebb and
also the flow, the paroxysm and the remission. These remit and recur,
and keep tune like the tides, not in ague and remittent fever only, as
the Profission imagines to this day, but in all diseases from a Scirrhus
in the Pylorus t’ a toothache. And I discovered this, and the new path
to cure of all diseases it opens. Alone I did it; and what my reward?
Hooted, insulted, belied, and called a quack by the banded school
of profissional assassins, who, in their day hooted Harvey and
Jinner--authors too of great discoveries, but discoveries narrow in
their consequences compared with mine. T’ appreciate Chronothairmalism,
ye must begin at the beginning; so just answer me--What is man?”

At this huge inquiry whirring tip all in a moment, like a cock-pheasant
in a wood, Mrs. Dodd sank back in her chair despondent. Seeing her _hors
de combat,_ Sampson turned to Julia and demanded, twice as loud, “WHAT
IS MAN?” Julia opened two violet eyes at him, and then looked at her
mother for a hint how to proceed.

“How can that child answer such a question?” sighed Mrs. Dodd. “Let us
return to the point.”

“I have never strayed an inch from it. It’s about ‘Young Physic.’”

“No, excuse me, it is about a young lady. Universal Medicine: what have
I to do with that?”

“Now this is the way with them all,” cried Sampson, furious; “there
lowed John Bull. The men and women of this benighted nashin have an
ear for anything, provided it matters nothing: talk Jology, Conchology,
Entomology, Theology, Meteorology, Astronomy, Deuteronomy, Botheronomy,
or Boshology, and one is listened to with rivirence, because these are
all far-off things in fogs; but at a word about the great, near,
useful art of Healing, y’all stop your ears; for why? your life and
dailianhourly happiness depend on it. But ‘no,’ sis John Bull, the
knowledge of our own buddies, and how to save our own Bakin--Beef I
mean--day by day, from disease and chartered ass-ass-ins, all that may
interest the thinkers in Saturn, but what the deevil is it t’ _us?_ Talk
t’ _us_ of the hiv’nly buddies, not of our own; babble o’ comets an’
meteors an’ Ethereal nibulae (never mind the nibulae in our own skulls).
Discourse t’ us of Predistinashin, Spitzbairgen seaweed, the last novel,
the siventh vile; of Chrisehinising the Patagonians on condition they
are not to come here and Chrischinise the Whitechapelians; of the
letter to the _Times_ from the tinker wrecked at Timbuctoo; and the dear
Professor’s lecture on the probabeelity of snail-shells in the backyard
of the moon: but don’t ask us to know ourselves--Ijjits!!”

The eloquent speaker, depressed by the perversity of Englishmen in
giving their minds to every part of creation but their bodies, suffered
a momentary loss of energy; then Mrs. Dodd, who had long been watching
lynx-like, glided in. “Let us compound. You are for curing all the
world, beginning with Nobody. My ambition is to cure _my girl,_ and
leave mankind in peace. Now, if you will begin with _my Julia,_ I will
submit to rectify the universe in its proper turn. Any time will do to
set the human race right; you own it is in no hurry: but _my child’s_
case presses; so do pray cure her for me. Or at least tell me what her
Indisposition is.”

“Oh! What! didn’t I tell you? Well, there’s nothing the matter with
her.”


At receiving this cavalier reply for the reward of all her patience,
Mrs. Dodd was so hurt, and so nearly angry, that she rose with dignity
from her seat, her cheek actually pink, and the water in her eyes.
Sampson saw she was ruffled, and appealed to Julia--of all people.
“There now, Miss Julia,” said he, ruefully; “she is in a rage because I
won’t humbug her. Poplus voolt decipee. I tell you, ma’am, it is not a
midical case. Give me disease and I’ll cure ‘t. Stop, I’ll tell ye
what do: let her take and swallow the Barkton Docks’ prescriptions,
and Butcher Best’s, and canting Kinyon’s, and after those four tinkers
there’ll be plenty holes to mend; then send for me!”

Here was irony. Mrs. Dodd retorted by _finesse._ She turned on him with
a treacherous smile, and said: “Never mind doctors and patients; it is
so long since we met; I do hope you will waive ceremony, and dine with
me _en ami._”

He accepted with pleasure; but must return to his inn first and get rid
of his dirty boots and pashints. And with this he whipped out his watch,
and saw that, dealing with universal medicine, he had disappointed more
than one sick individual; so shot out as hard as he had shot in, and
left the ladies looking at one another after the phenomenon.

“Well?” said Julia, with a world of meaning.

“Yes, dear,” replied Mrs. Dodd, “he _is_ a little eccentric. I think I
will request them to make some addition to the dinner.”

“No, mamma, if you please, not to put me off so transparently. If I had
interrupted, and shouted, and behaved so, you would have packed _me_ off
to bed, or somewhere, directly.”

“Don’t say ‘packed,’ love. Dismissed me to bed.”

“Ah!” cried Julia, “that privileged person is gone, and we must all mind
our P’s and Q’s once more.”

Mrs. Dodd, with an air of nonchalance, replied to the effect that Dr.
Sampson was not her offspring, and so she was not bound to correct his
eccentricities. “And I suppose,” said she, languidly, “we must accept
these extraordinary people as we find them. But that is no reason why
_you_ should say ‘P’s and Q’s,’ darling.”

That day her hospitable board was spread over a trap. Blessed with an
oracle irrelevantly fluent, and dumb to the point, she had asked him to
dinner with maternal address. He could not be on his guard eternally;
sooner or later, through inadvertence, or in a moment of convivial
recklessness, or in a parenthesis of some grand Generality, he would
cure her child: or, perhaps, at his rate of talking, would wear out
all his idle themes, down to the very “well-being of mankind;” and them
Julia’s mysterious indisposition would come on the blank tapis. With
these secret hopes she presided at the feast, all grace and gentle
amity. Julia, too, sat down with a little design, but a very different
one, viz., of being chilly company; for she disliked this new
acquaintance, and hated the science of medicine.

The unconscious Object chatted away with both, and cut their replies
very short, and did strange things: sent away Julia’s chicken,
regardless of her scorn, and prescribed mutton; called for champagne and
made her drink it and pout; and thus excited Mrs. Dodd’s hopes that he
was attending to the case by degrees.

But after dinner, Julia, to escape medicine universal and particular,
turned to her mother, and dilated on treachery of her literary guide,
the _Criticaster._ “It said ‘Odds and Ends’ was a good novel to read by
the seaside. So I thought then oh! how different it must be from most
books, if you can sit by the glorious sea and even look at it. So I sent
for it directly, and, would you believe, it was an ignoble thing; all
flirtations and curates. The sea indeed! A pond would be fitter to read
it by; and one with a good many geese on.”

“Was ever such simplicity!” said Mrs. Dodd. “Why, my dear, that phrase
about the sea does not _mean_ anything. I shall have you believing that
Mr. So-and-So, a novelist, can _‘wither fashionable folly,’_ and that
_‘a painful incident’_ to one shopkeeper has _‘thrown a gloom’_ over a
whole market-town, and so on. Now-a-days every third phrase is of this
character; a starling’s note. Once, it appears, there was an age of
gold, and then came one of iron, and then of brass. All these are gone,
and the age of ‘jargon’ has succeeded.”

She sighed, and Sampson generalised; he plunged from the seaside novel
into the sea of fiction. He rechristened that joyous art Feckshin, and
lashed its living professors. “You devour their three volumes greedily,”
 said he, “but after your meal you feel as empty as a drum; there is
no leading idea in ‘um; now there always is--in Moliere; and _he_
comprehended the midicine of his age. But what fundamental truth
d’our novelists iver convey? All they can do is pile incidents. Their
customers dictate th’ article: unideaed melodrams for unideaed girls.
The writers and their feckshins belong to one species, and that’s ‘the
non-vertebrated animals;’ and their midicine is Bosh; why, they bleed
still for falls and fevers; and niver mention vital chronometry. Then
they don’t look straight at Nature, but see with their ears, and repeat
one another twelve deep. Now, listen me! there are the cracters for an
‘ideaed feckshin’ in Barkington, and I’d write it, too, only I haven’t
time.”

At this, Julia, forgetting her resolution, broke out, “Romantic
characters in Barkington? Who? who?”

“Who _should_ they be, but my pashints? Ay, ye may lauch, Miss Julee,
but wait till ye see them.” He was then seized with a fit of candour,
and admitted that some, even of his pashints, were colourless; indeed,
not to mince the matter, six or seven of that sacred band were nullity
in person. “I can compare the beggars to nothing,” said he, “but the
globules of the Do-Nothings; dee----d insipid, and nothing in ‘em. But
the others make up. Man alive, I’ve got ‘a rosy-cheeked miser,’ and an
‘ill-used attorney,’ and an ‘honest Screw’--he is a gardener, with a
head like a cart-horse.”

“Mamma! mamma! that is Mr. Maxley,” cried Julia, clapping her hands, and
thawing in her own despite.

“Then there’s my virgin martyr and my puppy. They are brother and
sister; and there’s their father, but he is an impenetrable dog--won’t
unbosom. Howiver, he sairves to draw chicks for the other two, and so
keep ‘em goen. By-the-bye, you know my puppy?”

“We have not that honour. Do we know Dr. Sampson’s puppy, love?”
 inquired Mrs. Dodd, rather languidly.

“Mamma!--I--I--know no one of that name.”

“Don’t tell me! Why it was he sent me here told me where you lived, and
I was to make haste, for Miss Dodd was very ill: it is young Hardie, the
banker’s son, ye know.”

Mrs. Dodd said good-humouredly, but with a very slight touch of irony,
that really they were very much flattered by the interest Mr. Alfred
Hardie had shown; especially as her daughter had never exchanged ten
words with him. Julia coloured at this statement, the accuracy of which
she had good reason to doubt; and the poor girl felt as if an icicle
passed swiftly along her back. And then, for the first the in her life,
she thought her mother hardly gracious; and she wanted to say _she_ was
obliged to Mr. Alfred Hardie, but dared not, and despised herself for
not daring. Her composure was further attacked by Mrs. Dodd looking full
at her, and saying interrogatively, “I wonder how that young gentleman
could know about your being ill?”

At this Julia eyed her plate very attentively, and murmured, “I believe
it is all over the town: and seriously too; so Mrs. Maxley says, for she
tells me that in Barkington if more than one doctor is sent for, that
bodes ill for the patient.”

“Deevelich ill,” cried Sampson heartily.

     “For two physicians, like a pair of oars,
     Conduck him faster to the Styjjin shores.” *

     * Garth.

Julia looked him in the face, and coldly ignored this perversion of Mrs.
Maxley’s meaning; and Mrs. Dodd returned pertinaciously to the previous
topic. “Mr. Alfred Hardie interests me; he was good to Edward. I am
curious to know why you call him a puppy?”

“Only because he is one, ma’am. And that is no reason at all with ‘the
Six.’ He is a juveneel pidant and a puppy, and contradicts ivery new
truth, bekase it isn’t in Aristotle and th’ Eton Grammar; and he’s
such a chatterbox, ye can’t get in a word idgeways; and he and his
sister--that’s my virgin martyr--are a farce. _He_ keeps sneerin’ at
her relijjin, and that puts _her_ in such a rage, she threatens ‘t’
intercede for him at the throne.”

“Jargon,” sighed Mrs. Dodd, and just shrugged her lovely shoulders. “We
breathe it--we float in an atmosphere of it. My love?” And she floated
out of the room, and Julia floated after.

Sampson sat meditating on the gullibility of man in matters medical.
This favourite speculation detained him late, and almost his first word
on entering the drawing-room was, “Good night, little girl.”

Julia coloured at this broad hint, drew herself up, and lighted a
bedcandle. She went to Mrs. Dodd, kissed her, and whispered in her ear,
“I hate him!” and, as she retired, her whole elegant person launched
ladylike defiance; under which brave exterior no little uneasiness was
hidden. “Oh, what will become of me!” thought she, “if _he_ has gone and
told him about Henley?”


“Let’s see the prescriptions, ma’am,” said Dr. Sampson.

Delighted at this concession, Mrs. Dodd took them out of her desk and
spread them earnestly. He ran his eye over them, and pointed out that
the mucous-membrane man and the nerve man had prescribed the same
medicine, on irreconcilable grounds; and a medicine, moreover, whose
effect on the nerves was _nil,_ and on the mucous membrane was not
to soothe it, but plough it and harrow it; “and did not that open her
eyes?” He then reminded her that all these doctors in consultation would
have contrived to agree. “But you,” said he, “have baffled the collusive
hoax by which Dox arrived at a sham uniformity--honest uniformity can
never exist till scientific principles obtain. Listme! To begin, is the
pashint in love?”

The doctor put this query in just the same tone in which they inquire
“Any expectoration?” But Mrs. Dodd, in reply, was less dry and
business-like. She started and looked aghast. This possibility had once,
for a moment, occurred to her, but only to be rejected, the evidence
being all against it.

“In love?” said she. “That child, and I not know it!”

He said he had never supposed that. “But I thought I’d just ask ye;
for she has no bodily ailment, and the passions are all counterfeit
diseases; they are connected, like all diseases, with cerebral
instability, have their hearts and chills like all diseases, and their
paroxysms and remissions like all diseases. Nlistme! You have detected
the signs of a slight cerebral instability; I have ascertained th’
absence of all physical cause: then why make this healthy pashint’s
buddy a test-tube for poisons? Sovereign drugs (I deal with no other,
I leave the nullities to the noodles) are either counterpoisons or
poisons, and here there is nothing to counterpoison at prisent. So I’m
for caushin, and working on the safe side th’ hidge, till we are less in
the dark. Mind ye, young women at her age are kittle cattle; they have
gusts o’ this, and gusts o’ that, th’ unreasonable imps. D’ye see these
two pieces pasteboard? They are tickets for a ball,

     In Barkton town-hall.”

“Yes, of course I see them,” said Mrs. Dodd dolefully.

“Well, I prescribe ‘em. And when they have been taken,

     And the pashint well shaken,

perhaps we shall see whether we are on the right system: and if
so, we’ll dose her with youthful society in a more irrashinal form;
conversaziones, cookeyshines, et citera. And if we find ourselves on the
wrong _tack_ why then we’ll hark _back._

     Stick blindly to ‘a course,’ the Dockers cry.
     But it does me harm: _Then_ ‘twill do good _by-and-bye._
     Where lairned ye that, Echoes of Echoes, say!
     The killer ploughs ‘a course,’ the healer _‘feels his way.’_”

So mysterious are the operations of the human mind, that, when we have
exploded in verse tuneful as the above, we lapse into triumph instead of
penitence. Not that doggrel meets with reverence here below--the statues
to it are few, and not in marble, but in the material itself--But then
an Impromptu! A moment ago our Posy was not: and now is; with the speed,
if not the brilliancy, of lightning, we have added a handful to the
intellectual dust-heap of an oppressed nation. From this bad eminence
Sampson then looked down complacently, and saw Mrs. Dodd’s face as long
as his arm. She was one that held current opinions; and the world does
not believe Poetry can sing the Practical. Verse and useful knowledge
pass for incompatibles; and, though Doggrel is not Poetry, yet it has a
lumbering proclivity that way, and so forfeits the confidence of
grave sensible people. This versification, and this impalpable and
unprecedented prescription she had waited for so long, seemed all of
a piece to poor mamma: wild, unpractical, and--“oh, horror!
horror!”--eccentric.

Sampson read her sorrowful face after his fashion. “Oh, I see, ma’am,”
 cried he. “Cure is not welcome unless it comes in the form consecrated
by cinturies of slaughter. Well, then, give me a sheet.” He took the
paper and rent it asunder, and wrote this on the larger fragment:

     Rx Die Mercur. circa x. hor: vespert:
     eat in musca ad Aulam oppid:
     Saltet cum xiii canicul:
     praesertim meo. Dom: reddita,
     6 hora matutin: dormiat at prand:
     Repetat stultit: pro re nata.

He handed this with a sort of spiteful twinkle to Mrs. Dodd, and her
countenance lightened again. Her sex will generally compound with
whoever can give as well as take. Now she had extracted a real, grave
prescription, she acquiesced in the ball, though not a county one; “to
satisfy your whim, my good, kind friend, to whom I owe so much.”


Sampson called on his way back to town, and, in course of conversation,
praised nature for her beautiful instincts, one of which, he said,
had inspired Miss Julee, at a credulous age, not to swallow “the didly
drastics of the tinkering dox.”

Mrs. Dodd smiled, and requested permission to contradict him; her
daughter had taken the several prescriptions.

Sampson inquired brusquely if she took him for a fool.

She replied calmly: “No; for a very clever, but _rather_ opinionated
personage.

“Opinionated? So is ivery man who has grounnds for his opinin. D’ye
think, because Dockers Short, an’ Bist, an’ Kinyon, an’ Cuckoo, an’
Jackdaw, an’ Starling, an’ Co., don’t know the dire effecks of calomel
an’ drastics on the buddy, I don’t know’t? Her eye, her tongue, her
skin, her voice, her elastic walk, all tell _me_ she has not been robbed
of her vital resources. ‘Why, if she had taken that genteel old thief
Short’s rimidies alone, the girl’s gums would be sore,

     And herself at Dith’s door.”

Mrs. Dodd was amused. “Julia, this is so like the gentlemen; they are in
love with argumeunt. They go on till they reason themselves out of their
reason. Why beat about the bush; when there she sits?”

“What, go t’ a wumman for the truth, when I can go t’ infallible
Inference?”

“You may always go to my David’s daughter for the truth,” said Mrs.
Dodd, with dignity. She then looked the inquiry; and Julia replied to
her look as follows: first, she coloured very high; then, she hid her
face in both her hands; then rose, and turning her neck swiftly, darted
a glance of fiery indignation and bitter reproach on Dr. Meddlesome, and
left the apartment mighty stag-like.

“Maircy on us!” cried Sampson. “Did ye see that, ma’am? Yon’s just a
bonny basilisk. Another such thunderbolt as she dispinsed, and ye’ll be
ringing for your maid to sweep up the good physician’s ashes.”

Julia did not return till the good physician was gone back to London.
Then she came in with a rush, and, demonstrative toad, embraced Mrs.
Dodd’s knees, and owned she had cultivated her geraniums with all those
medicines, liquid and solid; and only one geranium had died.


There is a fascinating age, when an intelligent girl is said to
fluctuate between childhood and womanhood. Let me add that these seeming
fluctuations depend much on the company she is in: the budding virgin
is princess of chameleons; and, to confine ourselves to her two most
piquant contrasts, by her mother’s side she is always more or less
childlike; but, let a nice young fellow engage her apart, and, hey
presto! she shall be every inch a woman: perhaps at no period of her
life are the purely mental characteristics of her sex so supreme in
her; thus her type, the rosebud, excels in essence of rosehood the rose
itself.

My reader has seen Julia Dodd play both parts; but it is her child’s
face she has now been turning for several pages; so it may be prudent to
remind him she has shone on Alfred Hardie in but one light; a young but
Juno-like woman. Had she shown “my puppy” her childish qualities,
he would have despised her--he had left that department himself so
recently. But Nature guarded the budding fair from such a disaster.

We left Alfred Hardie standing in the moonlight gazing at her lodging.
This was sudden; but, let slow coaches deny it as loudly as they like,
fast coaches exist; and Love is a Passion, which, like Hate, Envy,
Avarice, &c., has risen to a great height in a single day. Not that
Alfred’s was “Love at first sight;” for he had seen her beauty in the
full blaze of day with no deeper feeling than admiration; but in the
moonlight he came under more sovereign spells than a fair face: her
virtues and her voice. The narrative of their meeting has indicated the
first, and as to the latter, Julia was not one of those whose beauty
goes out with the candle; her voice was that rich, mellow, moving organ,
which belongs to no rank nor station; is born, not made; and, flow it
from the lips of dairymaid or countess, touches every heart, gentle
or simple, that is truly male. And this divine contralto, full, yet
penetrating, Dame Nature had inspired her to lower when she was moved
or excited, instead of raising it; and then she was enchanting. All
unconsciously she cast this crowning spell on Alfred, and he adored her.
In a word, he caught a child-woman away from its mother; his fluttering
captive turned, put on composure, and bewitched him.

She left him, and the moonlight night seemed to blacken. But within his
young breast all was light, new light. He leaned opposite her window in
an Elysian reverie, and let the hours go by. He seemed to have vegetated
till then, and lo! true life had dawned. He thought he should love to
die for her; and, when he was calmer, he felt he was to live for her,
and welcomed his destiny with rapture. He passed the rest of the Oxford
term in a soft ecstasy; called often on Edward, and took a sudden and
prodigious interest in him; and counted the days glide by and the happy
time draw near, when he should be four months in the same town with
his enchantress. This one did not trouble the doctors; he glowed with a
steady fire; no heats and chills, and sad misgivings; for one thing, he
was not a woman, a being tied to that stake, Suspense, and compelled to
wait and wait for others’ actions. To him, life’s path seemed paved
with roses, and himself to march in eternal sunshine, buoyed by perfumed
wings.

He came to Barkington to try for the lovely prize. Then first he had
to come down from love’s sky, and realise how hard it is here below to
court a young lady--who is guarded by a mother--without an introduction
in the usual form. The obvious course was to call on Edward. Having
parted from him so lately, he forced himself to wait a few days, and
then set out for Albion Villa.

As he went along, he arranged the coming dialogue for all the parties.
Edward was to introduce him; Mrs. Dodd to recognise his friendship for
her son; he was to say he was the gainer by it; Julia, silent at first,
was to hazard a timid observation, and he to answer gracefully, and
draw her out and find how he stood in her opinion. The sprightly affair
should end by his inviting Edward to dinner. That should lead to their
uninviting him in turn, and then he should have a word with Julia,
and find out what houses she visited, and get introduced to their
proprietors. Arrived at this point, his mind went over hedge and ditch
faster than my poor pen can follow; as the crow flies, so flew he, and
had reached the church-porch under a rain of nosegays with Julia--in
imagination--by then he arrived at Albion Villa in the body. Yet he
knocked timidly; his heart beat almost as hard as his hand.

Sarah, the black-eyed housemaid, “answered the door.”

“Mr. Edward Dodd?”

“Not at home, sir. Left last week.”

“For long?”

“I don’t rightly know, sir. But he won’t be back this week, I don’t
think.”

“Perhaps,” stammered Alfred, “the ladies--Mrs. Dodd--might be able to
tell me.”

“Oh yes, sir. But my mistress, she’s in London just now.”

Alfred’s eyes flashed. “Could I learn from Miss Dodd?”

“La, sir, she is in London along with her ma; why, ‘tis for her they are
gone; to insult the great doctors.”

He started. “She is not ill? Nothing serious?”

“Well, sir, we do hope not. She is pinning a bit, as young ladies will.”

Alfred was anything but consoled by this off-hand account; he became
alarmed, and looked wretched. Seeming him so perturbed, Sarah, who was
blunt but good-natured, added, “But cook she says hard work would cure
our Miss of all _she_ ails. But who shall I say was asking? For my work
is a bit behind-hand.”

Alfred took the hint reluctantly, and drew out his card-case, saying,
“For Mr. Edward Dodd.” She gave her clean but wettish hand a hasty wipe
with her apron, and took the card. He retired; she stood on the step and
watched him out of sight, said “Oho!” and took his card to the kitchen
for preliminary inspection and discussion.

Alfred Hardie was resolute, but sensitive. He had come on the wings of
Love and Hope; he went away heavily; a housemaid’s tongue had shod his
elastic feet with lead in a moment; of all misfortunes, sickness was
what he had not anticipated, for she looked immortal. Perhaps it was
that fair and treacherous disease, consumption. Well, if it was, he
would love her all the more, would wed her as soon as he was of age, and
carry her to some soft Southern clime, and keep each noxious air at bay,
and prolong her life, perhaps save it.

And now he began to chafe at the social cobwebs that kept him from her.
But, just as his impatience was about to launch him into imprudence,
he was saved by a genuine descendant of Adam. James Maxley kept Mr.
Hardie’s little pleasaunce trim as trim could be, by yearly contract.
This entailed short but frequent visits; and Alfred often talked with
him; for the man was really a bit of a character; had a shrewd rustic
wit, and a ready tongue, was rather too fond of law, and much too fond
of money; but scrupulously honest: head as long as Cudworth’s, but
broader; and could not read a line. One day he told Alfred that he must
knock off now, and take a look in at Albion Villee. The captain was due:
and on no account would he, Maxley, allow that there ragged box round
the captains quarter-deck: “That is how he do name their little mossel
of a lawn: and there he walks for a wager, athirt and across, across and
athirt, five steps and then about; and I’d a’most bet ye a halfpenny he
thinks hisself on the salt sea ocean, bless his silly old heart.”

All this time Alfred, after the first start of joyful surprise, was
secretly thanking his stars for sending him an instrument. To learn
whether she had returned, he asked Maxley whether the ladies had sent
for him. “Not they,” said Maxley, rather contemptuously; “what do
women-folk care about a border, without ‘tis a lace one to their
nightcaps, for none but the father of all vanity to see. Not as I have
ought to say again the pair; they keep their turf tidyish--and pay
ready money--and a few flowers in their pots; but the rest may shift
for itself. Ye see, Master Alfred,” explained Maxley, wagging his head
wisely, “nobody’s pride can be everywhere. Now theirs is in-a-doors;
their with-drawing-room it’s like the Queen’s palace, my missus tells
me; she is wrapped up in ‘em, ye know. But the captain for my money.”

The sage shouldered his tools and departed. But he left a good hint
behind him. Alfred hovered about the back-door the next day till he
caught Mrs. Maxley; she supplied the house with eggs and vegetables.
“Could she tell him whether his friend Edward Dodd was likely to come
home soon?” She thought not; he was gone away to study. “He haven’t much
head-piece, you know, not like what Miss Julia have. Mrs. and Miss are
to be home to-day; they wrote to cook this morning. I shall be there
to-morrow, sartain, and I’ll ask in the kitchen when Master Edward is
a-coming back.” She prattled on. The ladies of Albion Villa were good
kind ladies; the very maid-servants loved them; Miss was more for
religion than her mother, and went to St. Anne’s Church Thursday
evenings, and Sundays morning and evening; and visited some poor women
in the parish with food and clothes; Mrs. Dodd could not sleep a wink
when the wind blew hard at night; but never complained, only came down
pale to breakfast. Miss Julia’s ailment was nothing to speak of, but
they were in care along of being so wrapped up in her, and no wonder,
for if ever there was a duck----!

Acting on this intelligence, Alfred went early the next Sunday to St.
Anne’s Church, and sat down in the side gallery at its east end. While
the congregation flowed quietly in, the organist played the _Agnus Dei_
of Mozart. Those pious tender tones stole over his hot young heart, and
whispered, “Peace, be still!” He sighed wearily, and it passed through
his mind that it might have been better for him, and especially for his
studies, if he had never seen her. Suddenly the aisle seemed to lighten
up; she was gliding along it, beautiful as May, and modesty itself
in dress and carriage. She went into a pew and kneeled a minute, then
seated herself and looked out the lessons for the day. Alfred gazed at
her face: devoured it. But her eyes never roved. She seemed to have put
off feminine curiosity, and the world, at the church door. Indeed
he wished she was not quite so heavenly discreet; her lashes were
delicious, but he longed to see her eyes once more; to catch a glance
from them, and, by it, decipher his fate.

But no; she was there to worship, and did not discern her earthly lover,
whose longing looks were glued to her, and his body rose and sank with
the true worshippers, but with no more spirituality than a piston or a
Jack-in-the-box.

In the last hymn before the sermon, a well-meaning worshipper in the
gallery delivered a leading note, a high one, with great zeal, but
small precision, being about a semitone flat; at this outrage on her
too-sensitive ear, Julia Dodd turned her head swiftly to discover
the offender, and failed; but her two sapphire eyes met Alfred’s
point-blank.

She was crimson in a moment, and lowered them on her book again, as if
to look that way was to sin. It was but a flash: but sometimes a flash
fires a mine.

The lovely blush deepened and spread before it melted away, and Alfred’s
late cooling heart warmed itself at that sweet glowing cheek. She never
looked his way again, not once: which was a sad disappointment; but she
blushed again and again before the service ended, only not so deeply.
Now there was nothing in the sermon to make her blush: I might add,
there was nothing to redden her cheek with religious excitement. There
was a little candid sourness--oil and vinegar--against sects and
Low Churchmen; but thin generality predominated. Total: “Acetate of
morphia,” for dry souls to sip.

So Alfred took all the credit of causing those sweet irrelevant blushes;
and gloated: the young wretch could not help glorying in his power to
tint that fair statue of devotion with earthly thoughts.

But stay! that dear blush, was it pleasure or pain? What if the sight of
him was intolerable?

He would know how he stood with her, and on the spot. He was one of the
first to leave the church; he made for the churchyard gate, and walked
slowly backwards and forwards by it, with throbbing heart till she came
out.

She was prepared for him now, and bowed slightly to him with the most
perfect composure, and no legible sentiment, except a certain marked
politeness many of our young ladies think wasted upon young gentlemen;
and are mistaken.

Alfred took off his hat in a tremor, and his eyes implored and inquired,
but met with no further response; and she walked swiftly home, though
without apparent effort. He looked longingly after her; but discretion
forbade.

He now crawled by Albion Villa twice every day, wet or dry, and had
the good fortune to see her twice at the drawing-room window. He was
constant at St. Anne’s Church, and one Thursday crept into the aisle to
be nearer to her, and he saw her steal one swift look at the gallery,
and look grave; but soon she detected him, and though she looked no more
towards him, she seemed demurely complacent. Alfred had learned to note
these subtleties now, for Love is a microscope. What he did not know
was, that his timid ardour was pursuing a masterly course; that to find
herself furtively followed everywhere, and hovered about for a look,
is apt to soothe womanly pride and stir womanly pity, and to keep the
female heart in a flutter of curiosity and emotions, two porters that
open the heart’s great gate to love.

Now the evening before his visit to the Dodds, Dr. Sampson dined with
the Hardies, and happened to mention the “Dodds” among his old patients:
“The Dodds of’ Albion Villa?” inquired Miss Hardie, to her brother’s
no little surprise. “Albyn fiddlestick!” said the polished doctor. “No!
they live by the water-side; used to; but now they have left the town,
I hear. He is a sea-captain and a fine lad, and Mrs. Dodd is just the
best-bred woman I ever prescribed for, except Mrs. Sampson.”

“It _is_ the Dodds of Albion Villa,” said Miss Hardie. “They have two
children: a son; his name is Edward; and a daughter, Julia; she is
rather good-looking; a Gentleman’s Beauty.”

Alfred stared at his sister. Was she blind? with her “rather
good-looking.”

Sampson was quite pleased at the information. “N’ listen me! I saved
that girl’s life when she was a year old.”

“Then she is ill now, doctor,” said Alfred hastily. “Do go and see her!
Hum! The fact is, her brother is a great favourite of mine.” He then
told him how to find Albion Villa. “Jenny, dear,” said he, when Sampson
was gone, “you never told me you knew her.”

“Knew who, dear?”

“Whom? Why Dodd’s sister.”

“Oh, she is a new acquaintance, and not one to interest you. We only
meet in the Lord; I do not visit Albion Villa; her mother is an amiable
worldling.”

“Unpardonable combination!” said Alfred with a slight sneer. “So you and
Miss Dodd meet only at church!”

“At church? Hardly. She goes to St. Anne’s: sits under a preacher who
starves his flock with moral discourses, and holds out the sacraments of
the Church as the means of grace.”

Alfred shook his head good-humouredly. “Now, Jenny, that is a challenge;
and you know we both got into a fury the last time we were betrayed into
that miserable waste of time and temper, Theological discussion. No,
no:--

     Let sects delight to bark and bite
     For ‘tis their nature to;
     Let gown and surplice growl and fight,
     For Satan makes them so.

But let you and I cut High Church and Low Church, and be brother and
sister. Do tell me in English where you meet Julia Dodd; that’s a dear;
for young ladies ‘meeting in the Lord’ conveys no positive idea to my
mind.”

Jane Hardie sighed at this confession. “We meet in the cottages of the
poor and the sick, whom He loved and pitied when on earth; and we, His
unworthy servants, try to soothe their distress, and lead them to Him
who can heal the soul as well as the body, and wipe away all the tears
of all His people.”

“Then it does you infinite credit, Jane,” said Alfred, warmly. “Now,
that is the voice of true religion; and not the whine of this sect,
nor the snarl of that. And so she joins you in this good work? I am not
surprised.”

“We meet in it now and then, dear; but she can hardly be said to have
joined me: I have a district, you know; but poor Mrs. Dodd will not
allow Julia to enlist in the service. She visits independently, and by
fits and starts; and I am afraid she thinks more of comforting their
perishable bodies than of feeding their souls. It was but the other day
she confessed to me her backwardness to speak in the way of instruction
to women as old as her mother. She finds it so much easier to let them
run on about their earthly troubles: and of course it is much _easier._
Ah! the world holds her still in some of its subtle meshes.”

The speaker uttered this sadly; but presently, brightening up, said,
with considerable _bonhomie,_ and almost a sprightly air: “But she is a
dear girl, and the Lord will yet light her candle.”

Alfred pulled a face as of one that drinketh verjuice unawares; but let
it pass: hypercriticism was not his cue just then. “Well, Jenny,” said
he, “I have a favour to ask you. Introduce me to your friend, Miss Dodd.
Will you?”

Miss Hardie coloured faintly. “I would rather not, dear Alfred: the
introduction could not be for her eternal good. Julia’s soul is in a
very ticklish state; she wavers as yet between this world and the other
world; and it won’t do; it won’t do; there is no middle path. You would
very likely turn the scale, and then I should have fought against her
everlasting welfare--my friend’s.”

“What, am I an infidel?” inquired Alfred angrily. Jane looked
distressed. “Oh no, Alfred; but you are a worldling.”

Alfred, smothering a strong sense of irritation, besought her to hear
reason; these big words were out of place here. “It is Dodd’s sister;
and he will introduce me at a word, worldling as I am.”

“Then why urge me to do it, against my conscience?” asked the young
lady, as sharply as if she had been a woman of the world. “You cannot
be in _love_ with her, as you do not know her.”

Alfred did not reply to this unlucky thrust, but made a last effort
to soften her. “Can you call yourself my sister, and refuse me this
trifling service, which her brother, who loves her and esteems her ten
times more sincerely than you do, would not think of refusing me if he
was at home?”

“Why should he? He is in the flesh himself; let the carnal introduce one
another. I really must decline; but I am very, very sorry that you feel
hurt about it.”

“And I am very sorry I have not an amiable worldling for my sister,
instead of an unamiable and devilish conceited Christian.” And with
these bitter words, Alfred snatched a candle and bounced to bed in a
fury. So apt is one passion to rouse up others.

Jane Hardie let fall a gentle tear: but consoled herself with the
conviction that she had done her duty, and that Alfred’s anger was quite
unreasonable, and so he would see as soon as he should cool.

The next day the lover, smarting under this check, and spurred to fresh
efforts, invaded Sampson. That worthy was just going to dine at Albion
Villa, so Alfred postponed pumping him till next day. Well, he called at
the inn next day, and if the doctor was not just gone back to London!

Alfred wandered disconsolate homewards.

In the middle of Buchanan Street, an agitated treble called after him,
“Mr. Halfred! hoh, Mr. Halfred!” He looked back and saw Dick Absalom,
a promising young cricketer, brandishing a document and imploring aid.
“Oh, Master Halfred, dooce please come here. I durstn’t leave the shop.”

There is a tie between cricketers far too strong for social distinctions
to divide, and, though Alfred muttered peevishly, “Whose cat is dead
now?” he obeyed the strange summons.

The distress was a singular one. Master Absalom, I must premise, was
the youngest of two lads in the employ of Mr. Jenner, a benevolent old
chemist, a disciple of Malthus. Jenner taught the virtues of drugs and
minerals to tender youths, at the expense of the public. Scarcely ten
minutes had elapsed since a pretty servant girl came into the shop,
and laid a paper on the counter, saying, “Please to make that up, young
man.” Now at fifteen we are gratified by inaccuracies of this kind
from ripe female lips: so Master Absalom took the prescription with
a complacent grin; his eye glanced over it; it fell to shaking in his
hand, chill dismay penetrated his heart; and, to speak with oriental
strictness, his liver turned instantly to water. However, he made a
feeble clutch at Mercantile Mendacity, and stammered out, “Here’s a many
ingredients, and the governor’s out walking, and he’s been and locked
the drawer where we keeps our haulhoppy. You couldn’t come again in
half an hour, Miss, could ye?” She acquiesced readily, for she was not
habitually called Miss, and she had a follower, a languid one, living
hard by, and belonged to a class which thinks it consistent to come
after its followers.

Dicky saw her safe off, and groaned at his ease. Here was a prescription
full of new chemicals, sovereign, no doubt, _i.e.,_ deadly when applied
Jennerically; and the very directions for use were in Latin words he
had encountered in no prescription before. A year ago Dicky would have
counted the prescribed ingredients on his fingers, and then taken
down an equal number of little articles, solid or liquid, mixed them,
delivered them, and so to cricket, serene; but now, his mind, to apply
the universal cant, was “in a transition state.” A year’s practice had
chilled the youthful valour which used to scatter Epsom salts or oxalic
acid, magnesia or corrosive sublimate. An experiment or two by himself
and his compeers, with comments by the coroner, had enlightened him as
to the final result on the human body of potent chemicals fearlessly
administered, leaving him dark as to their distinctive qualities applied
remedially. What should he do? Run with the prescription to old Taylor
in the next street, a chemist of forty years? Alas! at his tender age he
had not omitted to chaff that reverend rival persistently and publicly.
Humble his establishment before the King Street one? Sooner perish
drugs, and come eternal cricket! And after all, why not? Drummer-boys,
and powder-monkeys, and other imps of his age that dealt destruction,
did not depopulate gratis; Mankind acknowledged their services in cash:
but old Jenner, taught by Philosophy through its organ the newspapers
that “knowledge is riches,” was above diluting with a few shillings a
week the wealth a boy acquired behind his counter; so his apprentices
got no salary. Then why not shut up the old rogue’s shutters, and excite
a little sympathy for him, to be followed by a powerful reaction on
his return from walking; and go and offer his own services on the
cricket-ground to field for the gentlemen by the hour, or bowl at a
shilling on their balls?

“Bowling is the lay for me,” said he; “you get money for that, and you
only bruise the gents a bit and break their thumbs: you can’t put their
vital sparks out as you can at this work.”

By a striking coincidence the most influential member of the cricket
club passed while Dick was in this quandary.


“Oh, Mr. Halfred, you was always very good to me on the ground--you
couldn’t have me hired by the club, could ye? For I am sick of this
trade; I wants to bowl.”

“You little duffer!” said Alfred, “cricket is a recreation, not a
business. Besides, it only lasts five months. Unless you adjourn to the
anitipodes. Stick to the shop like a man, and make your fortune.”

“Oh, Mr. Halfred,” said Dick sorrowfully, “how can I find fortune here?
Jenner don’t pay. And the crowner declares he will not have it; and the
Barton _Chronicle_ says us young gents ought all to be given a holiday
to go and see one of us hanged by lot. But this is what have broke this
camel’s back at last; here’s a dalled thing to come smiling and smirking
in with, and put it across a counter in a poor boy’s hand. Oh! oh! oh!”

“Dick,” said Alfred, “if you blubber, I’ll give you a hiding. You have
stumbled on a passage you can’t construe. Well, who has not? But we
don’t shed the briny about it. Here, let me have a go at it.”

“Ah! I’ve heard you are a scholard,” said Dick, “but you won’t make out
this; there’s some new preparation of mercury, and there’s musk, and
there’s horehound, and there’s a neutral salt: and dal his old head that
wrote it!”

“Hold your jaw, and listen, while I construe it to you. _‘Die Mercurii,_
on Wednesday--_decima hora vespertina,_ at ten o’clock at night--_eat
in Musca:’_ what does that mean? _‘Eat in Musca?’_ I see! this is
modern Latin with a vengeance. ‘Let him go in a fly to the Towns-hall.
_Saltet,_ let him jump--_cum tredecim caniculis,_ with thirteen little
dogs--_praesertim meo,_ especially with my little dog.’ Dicky, this
prescription emanates from Bedlam direct. _‘Domum reddita’_--hallo! it
is a woman, then. ‘Let _her_ go in a fly to the--Town-hall, eh?’ ‘Let
_her_ jump, no, dance, with thirteen whelps, especially mine.’ Ha! ha!
ha! And who is the woman that is to do all this I wonder?”

“Woman, indeed!” said a treble at the door! “no more than I am; it’s for
a young lady. O jiminy!”

This polite ejaculation was drawn out by the speaker’s sudden
recognition of Alfred, who had raised his head at her remonstrance, and
now started in his turn; for it was the black-eyed servant of Albion
Villa. They looked at one another in expressive silence.

“Yes, sir, it is for my young lady. Is it ready, young man?”

“No, it ain’t: and never will,” squealed Dick angrily “It’s a vile ‘oax;
and you ought to be ashamed of yourself bringing it into a respectable
shop.”

Alfred silenced him, and told Sarah he thought Miss Dodd ought to know
the nature of this prescription before it went round the chemists.

He borrowed paper of Dick and wrote:

“Mr. Alfred Hardie presents his compliments to Miss Dodd, and begs
leave to inform her that he has, by the merest accident, intercepted
the enclosed prescription. As it seems rather a sorry jest, and tends to
attract attention to Miss Dodd and her movements, he has ventured with
some misgivings to send it back with a literal translation, on reading
which it will be for Miss Dodd to decide whether it is to circulate.

“‘On Wednesday, at ten P.M., let her go in a fly to the Town-hall, and
dance with thirteen little {little dogs, puppies, whelps,} especially
with mine: return home at six A.M. and sleep till dinner, and repeat the
folly as occasion serves.’”

“Suppose I could get it into Miss’s hands when she’s alone?” whispered
Sarah.

“You would earn my warmest gratitude.”

“‘Warmest gratitude!’ Is that a warm gownd, or a warm clock, I wonder?”

“It is both, when the man is a gentleman, and a pretty, dark-eyed girl
pities him and stands his friend.”

Sarah smiled, and whispered, “Give it me; I’ll do my best.”

Alfred enclosed the prescription and his note in one cover, handed
them to her, and slipped a sovereign into her hand. He whispered, “Be
prudent.”

“I’m dark, sir,” said she: and went off briskly homewards, and Alfred
stood rapt in dreamy joy, and so self-elated that, had he been furnished
like a peacock, he would have instantly become a “thing all eyes,”
 and choked up Jenner’s shop, and swept his counter. He had made a
step towards familiarity, had written her a letter; and then, if this
prescription came, as he suspected, from Dr. Sampson, she would perhaps
be at the ball. This opened a delightful vista. Meantime, Mrs. Dodd
had communicated Sampson’s opinion to Julia, adding that there was a
prescription besides, gone to be made up. “However, he insists on your
going to this ball.”

Julia begged hard to be excused: said she was in no humour for balls:
and Mrs. Dodd objecting that the tickets had actually been purchased,
she asked leave to send them to the Dartons. “They will be a treat to
Rose and Alice; they seldom go out: mamma, I do so fear they are poorer
than people think. May I?”

“It would be but kind,” said Mrs. Dodd. “Though really why my child
should always be sacrificed to other people’s children----”

“Oh, a mighty sacrifice!” said Julia. She sat down and enclosed the
tickets to Rose Darton, with a little sugared note. Sarah, being out,
Elizabeth took it. Sarah met her at the gate, but did not announce her
return: she lurked in ambush till Julia happened to go to her own room,
then followed her, and handed Alfred’s missive, and watched her slily,
and being herself expeditious as the wind in matters of the heart, took
it for granted the enclosure was something very warm indeed; so she
said with feigned simplicity, “I suppose it is all right now, miss?” and
retreated swelling with a secret, and tormented her fellow-servants all
day with innuendoes dark as Erebus.

Julia read the note again and again: her heart beat at those few
ceremonious lines. “He does not like me to be talked of,” she said to
herself. “How good he is! What trouble he takes about me! Ah! _he will
be there!_”

She divined rightly; on Wednesday, at ten, Alfred Hardie was in the
ball-room. It was a magnificent room, well lighted, and at present not
half filled, though dancing had commenced. The figure Alfred sought was
not there; and he wondered he had been so childish as to hope she would
come to a city ball. He played the fine gentleman; would not dance. He
got near the door with another Oxonian, and tried to avenge himself for
her absence on the townspeople who were there by quizzing them.

But in the middle of this amiable occupation, and indeed in the middle
of a sentence, he stopped short, and his heart throbbed, and he thrilled
from head to foot; for two ladies glided in at the door, and passed up
the room with the unpretending composure of well-bred people. They were
equally remarkable; but Alfred saw only the radiant young creature in
flowing muslin, with the narrowest sash in the room, and no ornament but
a necklace of large pearls and her own vivid beauty. She had altered
her mind about coming, with apologies for her vacillating disposition so
penitent and disproportionate that her indulgent and unsuspecting mother
was really quite amused. Alfred was not so happy as to know that she had
changed her mind with his note. Perhaps even this knowledge could have
added little to that exquisite moment, when, unhoped for, she passed
close to him, and the fragrant air from her brushed his cheek, and
seemed to whisper, “Follow me and be my slave.”



CHAPTER V

HE did follow her, and, convinced that she would be engaged ten deep in
five minutes, hustled up to the master of the ceremonies and begged an
introduction. The great banker’s son was attended to at once. Julia saw
them coming, as her sex can see, without looking. Her eyes were on
fire, and a delicious blush on her cheeks, when the M. C. introduced Mr.
Alfred Hardie with due pomp. He asked her to dance.

“I am engaged for this dance, sir,” said she softly.

“The next?” asked Hardie timidly.

“With pleasure.”

But when they had got so far they were both seized with bashful silence;
and just as Alfred was going to try and break it, Cornet Bosanquet,
aged 18, height 5 feet 4 inches, strutted up with clanking heel, and,
glancing haughtily up at him, carried Julia off, like a steam-tug towing
away some fair schooner. To these little thorns society treats all
anxious lovers, but the incident was new to Alfred, and discomposed him;
and, besides, he had nosed a rival in Sampson’s prescription. So now he
thought to himself, “that little ensign is ‘his puppy.’”

To get rid of Mrs. Dodd he offered to conduct her to a seat. She thanked
him; she would rather stand where she could see her daughter dance: on
this he took her to the embrasure of a window opposite where Julia and
her partner stood, and they entered a circle of spectators. The band
struck up, and the solemn skating began.

“Who is this lovely creature in white?” asked a middle-aged solicitor.
“In white? I did not see any beauty in white,” replied his daughter.
“Why there, before your eyes,” said the gentleman, loudly.

“What, that girl dancing with the little captain? I don’t see much
beauty in her. _And_ what a rubbishing dress.”

“It never cost a pound, making and all,” suggested another Barkingtonian
nymph.

“But what splendid pearls!” said a third: “can they be real?”

“Real! what an idea!” ejaculated a fourth: “who puts on real pearls as
big as peas with muslin at twenty pence the yard?”

“Weasels!” muttered Alfred, and quivered all over: and he felt to Mrs.
Dodd so like a savage going to spring, that she laid her hand upon his
wrist, and said gently, but with authority, “Be calm, sir! and oblige me
by not noticing these people.”

Then they threw dirt on her bouquet, and then on her shoes, while she
was winding in and out before their eyes a Grace, and her soft muslin
drifting and flowing like an appropriate cloud round a young goddess.

“A little starch would make it set out better. It’s as limp as a towel
on the line.”

“I’ll be sworn it was washed at home.”

“Where it was made.”

“I call it a rag, not a gown.”

“Do let us move,” whispered Alfred.

“I am very comfortable here,” whispered Mrs. Dodd. “How can these things
annoy my ears while I have eyes? Look at her: she is the best-dressed
lady in the room; her muslin is Indian, and of a quality unknown to
these provincial shopkeepers; a rajah gave it us: her pearls were my
mother’s, and have been in every court in Europe; and she herself
is beautiful, would be beautiful dressed like the dowdies who are
criticising her: and I think, sir, she dances as well as any lady can
encumbered with an Atom that does not know the figure.” All this with
the utmost placidity.

Then, as if to extinguish all doubt, Julia flung them a heavenly smile;
she had been furtively watching them all the time, and she saw they were
talking about her.

The other Oxonian squeezed up to Hardie. “Do you know the beauty? She
smiled your way.

“Ah!” said Hardie, deliberately, “you mean that young lady with
the court pearls, in that exquisite Indian muslin, which floats so
gracefully, while the other muslin girls are all crimp and stiff; like
little pigs clad in crackling.”

“Ha! ha! ha! Yes. Introduce me.”

“I could not take such a liberty with the queen of the ball.”

Mrs. Dodd smiled, but felt nervous and ill at ease. She thought to
herself, “Now here is a generous, impetuous thing.” As for the hostile
party, staggered at first by the masculine insolence of young Hardy, it
soon recovered, and, true to its sex, attacked him obliquely, through
his white ladye.

“Who _is_ the beauty of the ball?” asked one, haughtily.

“I don’t know, but not that mawkish thing in limp muslin.”

“I should say Miss Hetherington is the belle,” suggested a third.

“Which is Miss Hetherington?” asked the Oxonian coolly of Alfred.

“Oh, she won’t do for us. It is that little chalk-faced girl, dressed in
pink with red roses; the pink of vulgarity and bad taste.”

At this both Oxonians laughed arrogantly, and Mrs. Dodd withdrew her
hand from the speaker’s arm and glided away behind the throng. Julia
looked at him with marked anxiety. He returned her look, and was sore
puzzled what it meant, till he found Mrs. Dodd had withdrawn softly from
him; then he stood confused, regretting too late he had not obeyed her
positive request, and tried to imitate her dignified forbearance.

The quadrille ended. He instantly stepped forward, and bowing politely
to the cornet, said authoritatively, “Mrs. Dodd sends me to conduct you
to her. With your permission, sir.” His arm was offered and taken before
the little warrior knew where he was.

He had her on his arm, soft, light, and fragrant as zephyr, and her cool
breath wooing his neck; oh, the thrill of that moment! but her first
word was to ask him, with considerable anxiety, “Why did mamma leave
you?”

“Miss Dodd, I am the most unhappy of men.”

“No doubt! no doubt!” said she, a little crossly. She added with one
of her gushes of naivete, “and I shall be unhappy too if you go and
displease mamma.”

“What could I do? A gang of snobbesses were detracting from--somebody.
To speak plainly, they were running down the loveliest of her sex. Your
mamma told me to keep quiet. And so I did till I got a fair chance, and
then I gave it them in their teeth.” He ground his own, and added, “I
think I was very good not to kick them.”

Julia coloured with pleasure, and proceeded to turn it off. “Oh! most
forbearing and considerate,” said she. “Ah! by the way, I think I did
hear some ladies express a misgiving as to the pecuniary value of my
costume; ha! ha! Oh--you--foolish!--Fancy noticing that! Why it is in
little sneers that the approval of the ladies shows itself at a ball,
and it is a much sincerer compliment than the gentlemen’s bombastical
praises: ‘the fairest of her sex,’ and so on; that none but the
‘silliest of her sex’ believe.”

“Miss Dodd, I never said the fairest of her sex. I said the loveliest.”

“Oh, that alters the case entirely,” said Julia, whose spirits were
mounting with the lights and music, and Alfred’s company; “so now
come and be reconciled to the best and wisest of her sex; ay, and the
beautifullest, if you but knew her sweet, dear, darling face as I do.
There she is; let us fly.”

“Mamma, here is a penitent for you, real or feigned, I don’t know
which.”

“Real, Mrs. Dodd,” said Alfred. “I had no right to disobey you and risk
a scene. You served me right by abandoning me; I feel the rebuke and its
justice. Let me hope your vengeance will go no further.”

Mrs. Dodd smiled at the grandiloquence of youth, and told him he had
mistaken her character. “I saw I had acquired a generous, hot-headed
ally, who was bent on doing battle with insects; so I withdrew; but so
I should at Waterloo, or anywhere else where people put themselves in a
passion.”

The band struck up again.

“Ah!” said Julia, “and I promised you this dance; but it is a waltz and
my guardian angel objects to the _valse a deux temps._”

“Decidedly. Should all the mothers in England permit their daughters to
romp and wrestle in public, and call it waltzing, I must stand firm till
they return to their senses.”

Julia looked at Alfred despondently. He took his cue and said with a
smile, “Well, perhaps it is a little rompy; a donkey’s gallop and then
twirl her like a mop.”

“Since you admit that, perhaps you can waltz properly?” said Mrs. Dodd.

Alfred said he ought; he had given his whole soul to it in Germany last
Long.

“Then I can have the pleasure of dropping the tyrant. Away with you both
while there is room to circulate.”

Alfred took his partner delicately; they made just two catlike steps
forward, and melted into the old-fashioned waltz.

It was an exquisite moment. To most young people Love comes after a
great deal of waltzing. But this pair brought the awakened tenderness
and trembling sensibilities of two burning hearts to this their first
intoxicating whirl. To them, therefore, everything was an event,
everything was a thrill--the first meeting and timid pressure of their
hands, the first delicate enfolding of her supple waist by his strong
arm but trembling hand, the delightful unison of their unerring feet,
the movement, the music, the soft delicious whirl, her cool breath
saluting his neck, his ardent but now liquid eyes seeking hers
tenderly, and drinking them deep, hers that now and then sipped his so
sweetly--all these were new and separate joys, that linked themselves in
one soft delirium of bliss. It was not a waltz it was an Ecstasy.

Starting almost alone, this peerless pair danced a gauntlet. On each
side admiration and detraction buzzed all the time.

“Beautiful! They are turning in the air.”

“Quite gone by. That’s how the old fogies dance.”

Chorus of shallow males: “How well she waltzes.”

Chorus of shallow females: “How well he waltzes.”

But they noted neither praise nor detraction: they saw nothing, heard
nothing, felt nothing, but themselves and the other music, till two
valsers _a deux temps_ plunged into them. Thus smartly reminded they had
not earth all to themselves, they laughed good-humouredly and paused.

“Ah! I am happy!” gushed from Julia. She hushed at herself, and said
severely, “You dance very well, sir.” This was said to justify her
unguarded admission, and did, after a fashion. “I think it is time to go
to mamma,” said she demurely.

“So soon? And I had so much to say to you.”

“Oh, very well. I am all attention.”

The sudden facility offered set Alfred stammering a little. “I wanted
to apologise to you for something--you are so good you seem to have
forgotten it--but I dare not hope that--I mean at Henley--when the
beauty of your character, and your goodness, so overpowered me, that a
fatal impulse----”

“What do you mean, sir?” said Julia, looking him full in the face, like
an offended lion, while, with true feminine and Julian inconsistency her
bosom fluttered like a dove. “I never exchanged one word with you in
my life before to-day; and I never shall again if you pretend the
contrary.”

Alfred stood stupified, and looked at her in piteous amazement.

“I value your acquaintance highly, Mr. Hardie, now I have made it,
as acquaintances are made; but please to observe, I never saw you
before--scarcely; not even in church.”

“As you please,” said he, recovering his wits in part. “What you say
I’ll swear to.”

“Then I say, never remind a lady of what you ought to wish her to
forget.”

“I was a fool, and you are an angel of tact and goodness.”

“Oh, now I am sure it is time to join mamma,” said she in the driest,
drollest way. _“Valsons._”

They waltzed down to Mrs. Dodd, exchanging hearts at every turn, and
they took a good many in the space of a round table, for in truth both
were equally loth to part.


At two o’clock Mrs. Dodd resumed common-place views of a daughter’s
health, and rose to go.

Her fly had played her false, and, being our island home, it rained
buckets. Alfred ran, before they could stop him, and caught a fly. He
was dripping. Mrs. Dodd expressed her regrets; he told her it did not
matter; for him the ball was now over, the flowers faded, and the lights
darkness visible.

“The extravagance of these children!” said Mrs. Dodd to Julia, with a
smile, as soon as he was out of hearing. Julia made no reply.

Next day she was at evening church: the congregation was very sparse.
The first glance revealed Alfred Hardie standing in the very next
pew. He wore a calm front of conscious rectitude; under which peeped
sheep-faced misgivings as to the result of this advance; for, like all
true lovers, he was half impudence, half timidity; and both on the grand
scale.

Now Julia in a ball-room was one creature, another in church. After
the first surprise, which sent the blood for a moment to her cheek,
she found he had come without a prayer-book. She looked sadly and half
reproachfully at him; then put her white hand calmly over the wooden
partition, and made him read with her out of her book. She shared
her hymn-book with him, too, and sang her Maker’s praise modestly and
soberly, but earnestly, and quite undisturbed by her lover’s presence.
It seemed as if this pure creature was drawing him to heaven holding by
that good book, and by her touching voice. He felt good all over. To be
like her, he tried to bend his whole mind on the prayers of the church,
and for the first time realised how beautiful they are.

After service he followed her to the door. Island home again, by the
pailful; and she had a thick shawl but no umbrella. He had brought a
large one on the chance; he would see her home.

“Quite unnecessary; it is so near.”

He insisted; she persisted; and, persisting, yielded. They said but
little; yet they seemed to interchange volumes; and, at each gaslight
they passed, they stole a look and treasured it to feed on.

That night was one broad step more towards the great happiness, or great
misery, which awaits a noble love. Such loves, somewhat rare in Nature,
have lately become so very rare in Fiction that I have ventured, with
many misgivings, to detail the peculiarities of its rise and progress.
But now for a time it advanced on beaten tracks. Alfred had the right
to call at Albion Villa, and he came twice; once when Mrs. Dodd was out.
This was the time he stayed the two hours. A Mrs. James invited Jane and
him to tea and exposition. There he met Julia and Edward, who had just
returned. Edward was taken with Jane Hardie’s face and dovelike eyes;
eyes that dwelt with a soft and chastened admiration on his masculine
face and his model form, and their owner felt she had received “a call”
 to watch over his spiritual weal. So they paired off.

Julia’s fluctuating spirits settled now into a calm, demure,
complacency. Her mother, finding this strange remedial virtue in
youthful society, gave young parties, inviting Jane and Alfred in
their turn. Jane hesitated, but, as she could no longer keep Julia from
knowing her worldly brother, and hoped a way might be opened for her
to rescue Edward, she relaxed her general rule, which was to go into no
company unless some religious service formed part of the entertainment.
Yet her conscience was ill at ease; and, to set them an example, she
took care, when she asked the Dodds in return, to have a clergyman there
of her own party, who could pray and expound with unction.

Mrs. Dodd, not to throw cold water on what seemed to gratify her
children, accepted Miss Hardie’s invitation; but she never intended to
go, and at the last moment wrote to say she was slightly indisposed. The
nature of her _indisposition_ she revealed to Julia alone. “That young
lady keeps me on thorns. I never feel secure she will not say or do
something extravagant or unusual: she seems to suspect sobriety and good
taste of being in league with impiety. Here I succeed in bridling her
a little; but encounter a female enthusiast in her own house? _merci!_
After all, there must be something good in her, since she is your
friend, and you are hers. But I have something more serious to say
before you go there: it is about her brother. He is a flirt: in fact, a
notorious one, more than one lady tells me.”

Julia was silent, but began to be very uneasy; they were sitting and
talking after sunset, yet without candles. She profited for once by that
prodigious gap in the intelligence of “the sex.”

“I hear he pays you compliments, and I have seen a disposition to single
you out. Now, my love, you have the good sense to know that, whatever a
young gentleman of that age says to you, he says to many other ladies;
but your experience is not equal to your sense; so profit by mine. A
girl of your age must never be talked of with a person of the other sex:
it is fatal; fatal! but if you permit yourself to be singled out, you
will be talked of, and distress those who love you. It is easy to avoid
injudicious duets in society; oblige me by doing so to-night.” To show
how much she was in earnest, Mrs. Dodd hinted that, were her admonition
neglected, she should regret for once having kept clear of an
enthusiast.

Julia had no alternative; she assented in a faint voice. After a pause
she faltered out, “And suppose he should esteem me seriously?”

Mrs. Dodd replied quickly, “Then that would be much worse. But,” said
she, “I have no apprehensions on that score; you are a child, and he is
a precocious boy, and rather a flirt. But forewarned is forearmed. So
now run away and dress, sweet one: my lecture is quite ended.”

The sensitive girl went up to her room with a heavy heart. All the fears
she had lulled of late revived. She saw plainly now that Mrs. Dodd only
accepted Alfred as a pleasant acquaintance: as a son-in-law he was out
of the question. “Oh, what will she say when she knows all?” thought
Julia.

Next day, sitting near the window, she saw him coming up the road. After
the first movement of pleasure at the bare sight of him, she was sorry
he had come. Mamma’s suspicions awake at last, and here he was again;
the third call in one fortnight! She dared not risk an interview with
him, ardent and unguarded, under that penetrating eye, which she felt
would now be on the watch. She rose hurriedly, said as carelessly as
she could, “I am going to the school,” and tying her bonnet on all in a
flurry, whipped out at the back-door with her shawl in her hand just as
Sarah opened the front door to Alfred. She then shuffled on her shawl,
and whisked through the little shrubbery into the open field, and
reached a path that led to the school, and so gratified was she at her
dexterity in evading her favourite, that she hung her head, and went
murmuring, “Cruel, cruel, cruel!”

Alfred entered the drawing-room gaily, with a good-sized card and a
prepared speech. His was not the visit of a friend, but a functionary;
the treasurer of the cricket-ground come to book two of his eighteen to
play against the All-England Eleven next month. “As for you, my worthy
sir (turning to Edward), I shall just put you down without ceremony.
But I must ask leave to book Captain Dodd. Mrs. Dodd, I come at the
universal desire of the club; they say it is sure to be a dull match
without Captain Dodd. Besides, he is a capital player.”

“Mamma, don’t you be caught by his chaff,” said Edward, quietly. “Papa
is no player at all. Anything more unlike cricket than his way of making
runs!”

“But he makes them, old fellow; now you and I, at Lord’s the other day,
played in first-rate form, left shoulder well up, and achieved--with
neatness, precision, dexterity, and despatch--the British duck’s-egg.

_“Misericorde!_ What is that?” inquired Mrs. Dodd.

“Why, a round O,” said the other Oxonian, coming to his friend’s aid.

“And what is that, pray?”

Alfred told her “the round O,” which had yielded to “the duck’s egg,”
 and was becoming obsolete, meant the cypher set by the scorer against a
player’s name who is out without making a run.

“I see,” sighed Mrs. Dodd. “The jargon of the day penetrates to your
very sports and games. And why British?”

“Oh, ‘British’ is redundant: thrown in by the universities.”

“But what does it mean?”

“It means nothing. That is the beauty of it. British is inserted in
imitation of our idols, the Greeks; they adored redundancy.”

In short, poor Alfred, though not an M. P., was talking to put off time,
till Julia should come in: so he now favoured Mrs. Dodd, of all people,
with a flowery description of her husband’s play, which I, who have
not his motive for volubility, suppress. However, he wound up with the
captains “moral influence.” “Last match,” said he, “Barkington did
not do itself justice. Several, that could have made a stand, were
frightened out, rather than bowled, by the London professionals.
Then Captain Dodd went in, and treated those artists with the same
good-humoured contempt he would a parish bowler, and, in particular,
sent Mynne’s over-tossed balls flying over his head for five, or to
square leg for four, and, on his retiring with twenty-five, scored in
eight minutes, the remaining Barkingtonians were less funky, and made
some fair scores.”

Mrs. Dodd smiled a little ironically at this tirade, but said she
thought she might venture to promise Mr. Dodd’s co-operation, should he
reach home in time. Then, to get rid of Alfred before Julia’s return,
the amiable worldling turned to Edward. “Your sister will not be back,
so you may as well ring the bell for luncheon at once. Perhaps Mr.
Hardie will join us.”

Alfred declined, and took his leave with far less alacrity than he had
entered; Edward went down-stairs with him.

“Miss Dodd gone on a visit?” asked Alfred, affecting carelessness.

“Only to the school. By-the-bye, I will go and fetch her.”

“No, don’t do that; call on my sister instead, and then you will pull me
out of a scrape. I promised to bring her here; but her saintship was so
long adorning ‘the poor perishable body,’ that I came alone.”

“I don’t understand you,” said Edward. “I am not the attraction here; it
is Julia.”

“How do you know that? When a young lady interests herself in an
undergraduate’s soul, it is a pretty sure sign she likes the looks of
him. But perhaps you don’t want to be converted; if so, keep clear
of _her._ ‘Bar the fell dragon’s blighting way; but shun that lovely
snare.’”

“On the contrary,” said Edward calmly, “I only wish she could make me
as good as she is, or half as good.”

“Give her the chance, old fellow, and then it won’t be your fault if she
makes a mess of it. Call at two, and Jenny will receive you very kindly,
and will show you you are in the ‘gall of bitterness and the bond of
iniquity.’ Now, won’t that be nice?”

“I will go,” said Edward gravely.

They parted. Where Alfred went the reader can perhaps guess; Edward to
luncheon.

“Mamma,” said he, with that tranquillity which sat so well on him,
“don’t you think Alfred Hardie is spoony upon our Julia?”

Mrs. Dodd suppressed a start, and (perhaps to gain time before replying
sincerely) said she had not the honour of knowing what “spoony” meant.

“Why, sighs for her, and dies for her, and fancies she is prettier than
Miss Hardie. He must be over head and ears to think that.”

“Fie, child!” was the answer. “If I thought so, I should withdraw from
their acquaintance. Excuse me; I must put on my bonnet at once, not to
lose this fine afternoon.”

Edward did not relish her remark: it menaced more Spoons than one.
However, he was not the man to be cast down at a word: he lighted a
cigar, and strolled towards Hardie’s house. Mr. Hardie, senior, had left
three days ago on a visit to London; Miss Hardie received him; he
passed the afternoon in calm complacency, listening reverently to her
admonitions, and looking her softly out of countenance, and into earthly
affections, with his lion eyes.

Meantime his remark, so far from really seeming foolish to Mrs. Dodd,
was the true reason for her leaving him so abruptly “Even this dear slow
Thing sees it,” thought she. She must talk to Julia more seriously,
and would go to the school at once. She went up-stairs, and put on her
bonnet and shawl before the glass; then moulded on her gloves, and came
down equipped. On the stairs was a large window, looking upon the open
field; she naturally cast her eyes through it in the direction she was
going, and what did she see but a young lady and gentleman coming slowly
down the path towards the villa. Mrs. Dodd bit her lip with vexation,
and looked keenly at them, to divine on what terms they were. And the
more she looked the more uneasy she grew.

The head, the hand, the whole body of a sensitive young woman walking
beside him she loves, betray her heart to experienced eyes watching
unseen; and especially to female eyes. And why did Julia move so slowly,
especially after that warning? Why was her head averted from that
encroaching boy, and herself so near him? Why not keep her distance,
and look him full in the face? Mrs. Dodd’s first impulse was that of
leopardesses, lionesses, hens, and all the mothers in nature; to dart
from her ambush and protect her young; but she controlled it by a
strong effort; it seemed wiser to descry the truth, and then act with
resolution: besides, the young people were now almost at the shrubbery;
so the mischief if any, was done.

They entered the shrubbery.

To Mrs. Dodd’s surprise and dismay, they did not come out this side
so quickly. She darted her eye into the plantation; and lo! Alfred had
seized the fatal opportunity foliage offers, even when thinnish: he
held Julia’s hand, and was pleading eagerly for something she seemed not
disposed to grant; for she turned away and made an effort to leave him.
But Mrs. Dodd, standing there quivering with maternal anxiety, and
hot with shame, could not but doubt the sincerity of that graceful
resistance. If she had been quite in earnest, Julia had fire enough in
her to box the little wretch’s ears. She ceased even to doubt, when
she saw that her daughter’s opposition ended in his getting hold of two
hands instead of one, and devouring them with kisses, while Julia still
drew her head and neck away, but the rest of her supple frame seemed
to yield and incline, and draw softly towards her besieger by some
irresistible spell.

“I can bear no more!” gasped Mrs. Dodd aloud, and turned to hasten and
part them; but even as she curved her stately neck to go, she caught the
lovers’ parting; and a very pretty one too, if she could but have looked
at it, as these things ought always to be looked at: artistically.

Julia’s head and lovely throat, unable to draw the rest of her away,
compromised: they turned, declined, drooped, and rested one half moment
on her captor’s shoulder, like a settling dove: the next, she scudded
from him, and made for the house alone.

Mrs. Dodd, deeply indignant, but too wise to court a painful interview,
with her own heart beating high, went into the drawing-room, and there
sat down, to recover some little composure. But she was hardly seated
when Julia’s innocent voice was heard calling “Mamma, mamma!” and soon
she came bounding into the drawing-room, brimful of good news, her
cheeks as red as fire and her eyes wet with happy tears; and there
confronted her mother, who had started up at her footstep, and now,
with one hand nipping the back of the chair convulsively, stood lofty,
looking strangely agitated and hostile.

The two ladies eyed one another, silent, yet expressive, like a picture
facing a statue; but soon the colour died out of Julia’s face as well,
and she began to cower with vague fears before that stately figure, so
gentle and placid usually, but now so discomposed and stern.


“Where have you been, Julia?”

“Only at the school,” she faltered.

“Who was your companion home?”

“Oh, don’t be angry with me! It was Alfred.”

“Alfred! His Christian name! You try my patience too hard.”

“Forgive me. I was not to blame this time, indeed! indeed! You frighten
me. What will become of me? What have I done for my own mamma to look at
me so?”

Mrs. Dodd groaned. “Was that young coquette I watched from my window
the child I have reared? No face on earth is to be trusted after this.
‘What have you done’ indeed? Only risked your own mother’s esteem, and
nearly broken her heart!” And with these words her own courage began to
give way, and she sank into a chair with a deep sigh.

At this Julia screamed, and threw herself on her knees beside her, and
cried “Kill me! oh, pray kill me! but don’t drive me to despair with
such cruel words and looks!” and fell to sobbing so wildly that Mrs.
Dodd altered her tone with almost ludicrous rapidity. “There, do not
terrify me with your impetuosity, after grieving me so. Be calm, child;
let me see whether I cannot remedy your sad imprudence; and, that I may,
pray tell me the whole truth. How did this come about?”

In reply to this question, which she somewhat mistook, Julia sobbed out,
“He met me c-coming out of the school, and asked to s-see me home. I
said ‘No thank you,’ because I th-thought of your warning. ‘Oh yes!’
said he, and _would_ walk with me, and keep saying he loved me. So, to
stop him, I said, ‘M-much ob-liged, but I was b-busy and had no time
to flirt.’ ‘Nor have I the in-inclination,’ said he. ‘That is not what
others say of you,’ said I--you know what you t-told me, mamma--so at
last he said d-did ever he ask any lady to be his wife? ‘I suppose
not,’ said I, ‘or you would be p-p-private property by now instead of
p-public.’”

“Now there was a foolish speech; as much as to say nobody could resist
him.”

“W-wasn’t it? And n-no more they could. You have no idea how he makes
love; _so_ unladylike: keeps advancing and advancing, and never once
retreats, nor even st-ops. ‘But I ask _you_ to be my wife,’ said he.
Oh, mamma, I trembled so. Why did I tremble? I don’t know. I made myself
cold and haughty; ‘I should make no reply to such ridiculous questions;
say that to mamma, if you dare!’ I said.”

Mrs. Dodd bit her lip, and said, “Was there ever such simplicity?”

“Simple! Why that was my cunning. You are the only creature he is afraid
of; so I thought to stop his mouth with you. But instead of that, my
lord said calmly, ‘That was understood; he loved me too well to steal
me from her to whom he was indebted for me.’ Oh, he has always an answer
ready. And that makes him such a p-pest.”

“It was an answer that did him credit.”

“Dear mamma! now did it not? Then at parting he said he would come
to-morrow, and ask you for my hand; but I must intercede with you first,
or you would be sure to say ‘No.’ So I declined to interfere: ‘W-w-what
was it to me?’ I said. He begged and prayed me: ‘Was it likely you would
give him such a treasure as Me unless I stood his friend?’ (For the
b-b-brazen Thing turns humble now and then.) And, oh, mamma, he did so
implore me to pity him, and kept saying no man ever loved as he
loved me, and with his begging and praying me so passionately--oh, so
passionately--I felt something warm drop from his poor eyes on my hand.
Oh! oh! oh! oh!--What could I do? And then, you know, I wanted to
get away from him. So I am afraid I did just say ‘Yes.’ But only in a
whisper. Mamma! my own, good, kind, darling mamma, have pity on him and
on me; we love one another so.”

A shower of tender tears gushed out in support of this appeal and in a
moment she was caught up with Love’s mighty arms, and her head laid on
her mother’s yearning bosom. No word was needed to reconcile these two.

After a long silence, Mrs. Dodd said this would be a warning never
to judge her sweet child from a distance again, nor unheard. “And
therefore,” said she, “let me hear from your own lips how so serious an
attachment could spring up. Why, it is scarcely a month since you were
first introduced at that ball.”

“Mamma,” murmured Julia, hanging her head, “you are mistaken; we knew
each other before.”

Mrs. Dodd looked all astonishment.

“Now I _will_ ease my heart,” said Julia, impetuously, addressing some
invisible obstacle. “I tell you I am sick of having secrets from my own
mother.” And with this out it all came. She told the story of her heart
better than I have; and, woman-like, dwelt on the depths of loyalty
and delicate love she had read in Alfred’s moonlit face that night at
Henley. She said no eloquence could have touched her like it. “Mamma,
something said to me, ‘Ay, look at him well, for that is your husband to
be.’” She even tried to solve the mystery of her _soi-disant_ sickness:
“I was disturbed by a feeling so new and so powerful,* but, above all,
by having a secret from you; the first--the last.”

     *Perhaps even this faint attempt at self-analysis was due to
     the influence of Dr. Whately. For, by nature, young ladies
     of this age seldom turn the eye inward.

“Well, darling, then why have a secret? Why not trust me, your friend as
well as your mother?”

“Ah! why, indeed? I am a puzzle to myself. I wanted you to know, and yet
I could not tell you. I kept giving you hints, and hoped so you would
take them, and make me speak out. But when I tried to tell you plump,
something kept pull--pull--pulling me inside, and I couldn’t. Mark my
words! some day it will turn out that I am neither more nor less than a
fool.”

Mrs. Dodd slighted this ingenious solution. She said, after a moment’s
reflection, that the fault of this misunderstanding lay between the two.
“I remember now I have had many hints; my mind must surely have gone
to sleep. I was a poor simple woman who thought her daughter was to be
always a child. And you were very wrong to go and set a limit to your
mother’s love: there is none--none whatever.” She added: “I must import
a little prudence and respect for the world’s opinion into this new
connection; but whoever you love shall find no enemy in me.”

Next day Alfred came to know his fate. He was received with ceremonious
courtesy. At first he was a good deal embarrassed, but this was no
sooner seen than it was relieved by Mrs. Dodd with tact and gentleness.
When her turn came, she said, “Your papa? Of course you have
communicated this step to him?”

Alfred looked a little confused, and said, “No: he left for London two
days ago, as it happens.”

“That is unfortunate,” said Mrs. Dodd. “Your best plan would be to write
to him at once. I need hardly tell you that we shall enter no family
without an invitation from its head.”

Alfred replied that he was well aware of that, and that he knew his
father, and could answer for him. “No doubt,” said Mrs. Dodd, “but, as
a matter of reasonable form, I prefer he should answer for himself.”
 Alfred would write by this post. “It is a mere form,” said he, “for
my father has but one answer to his children, ‘Please yourselves.’ He
sometimes adds, ‘and how much money shall you want?’ These are his two
formulae.”

He then delivered a glowing eulogy on his father; and Mrs. Dodd, to
whom the boy’s character was now a grave and anxious study, saw with no
common satisfaction his cheek flush and his eyes moisten as he dwelt on
the calm, sober, unvarying affection, and reasonable indulgence he
and his sister had met with all their lives from the best of parents.
Returning to the topic of topics, he proposed an engagement. “I have a
ring in my pocket,” said this brisk wooer, looking down. But this Mrs.
Dodd thought premature and unnecessary. “You are nearly of age,” said
she, “and then you will be able to marry, if you are in the same mind.”
 But, upon being warmly pressed, she half conceded even this. “Well,”
 said she, “on receiving your father’s consent, you can _propose_ an
engagement to Julia, and she shall use her own judgment; but, until
then, you will not even mention such a thing to her. May I count on so
much forbearance from you, sir?”

“Dear Mrs. Dodd,” said Alfred, “of course you may. I should indeed be
ungrateful if I could not wait a post for that. May I write to my father
here?” added he, naively.

Mrs. Dodd smiled, furnished him with writing materials, and left him,
with a polite excuse.


“ALBION VILLA, _September 29._

“MY DEAR FATHER,--You are too thorough a man of the world, and too
well versed in human nature, to be surprised at hearing that I, so long
invulnerable, have at last formed a devoted attachment to one whose
beauty, goodness, and accomplishments I will not now enlarge upon;
they are indescribable, and you will very soon see them and judge for
yourself. The attachment, though short in weeks and months, has been a
very long one in hopes, and fears, and devotion. I should have told you
of it before you left, but in truth I had no idea I was so near the goal
of all my earthly hopes; there were many difficulties: but these have
just cleared away almost miraculously, and nothing now is wanting to my
happiness but your consent. It would be affectation, or worse, in me to
doubt that you will grant it. But, in a matter so delicate, I venture to
ask you for something more: the mother of my ever and only beloved Julia
is a lady of high breeding and sentiments: she will not let her daughter
enter any family without a cordial invitation from its head. Indeed she
has just told me so. I ask, therefore, not your bare consent, of which
I am sure, since my happiness for life depends on it, but a consent so
gracefully worded--and who can do this better than you?--as to gratify
the just pride and sensibilities of the high-minded family about to
confide its brightest ornament to my care.

“My dear father, in the midst of felicity almost more than mortal, the
thought has come that this letter is my first step towards leaving the
paternal roof under which I have been so happy all my life, thanks to
you. I should indeed be unworthy of all your goodness if this thought
caused me no emotion.

“Yet I do but yield to Nature’s universal law. And, should I be master
of my own destiny, I will not go far from you. I have been unjust to
Barkington: or rather I have echoed, without thought, Oxonian prejudices
and affectation. On mature reflection, I know no better residence for a
married man.

“Do you remember about a year ago you mentioned a Miss Lucy Fountain to
us as ‘the most perfect gentlewoman you had ever met?’ Well, strange to
say, it is that very lady’s daughter; and I think when you see her you
will say the breed has anything but declined, in spite of Horace mind
his _‘damnosa quid non.’_ Her brother is my dearest friend, and she is
Jenny’s; so a more happy alliance for all parties was never projected.

“Write to me by return, dear father, and believe me, ever your dutiful
and grateful son,

“ALFRED HARDlE.”


As he concluded, Julia came in, and he insisted on her reading this
masterpiece. She hesitated. Then he told her with juvenile severity that
a good husband always shares his letters with his wife.

“His wife! Alfred!” and she coloured all over. “Don’t call me _names,_”
 said she, turning it off after her fashion. “I can’t bear it: it makes
me tremble. With fury.”

“This will never do, sweet one,” said Alfred gravely. “You and I are
to have no separate existence now; you are to be I, and I am to be you.
Come!”

“No; you read me so much of it as is proper for me to hear. I shall not
like it so well from your lips: but never mind.”

When he came to read it, he appreciated the delicacy that had tempered
her curiosity. He did not read it all to her, but nearly.

“It is a beautiful letter,” said she; “a little pomposer than mamma
and I write. ‘The paternal roof!’ But all that becomes you; you are a
scholar: and, dear Alfred, if I should separate you from your papa,
I will never estrange you from him; oh, never, never. May I go for my
work? For methinks, O most erudite, the ‘maternal dame,’ on domestic
cares intent, hath confided to her offspring the recreation of your
highness.” The gay creature dropt him a curtsey, and fled to tell Mrs.
Dodd the substance of “the sweet letter the dear high-flown Thing had
written.”

By then he had folded and addressed it, she returned and brought her
work: charity children’s great cloaks: her mother had cut them, and
in the height of the fashion, to Jane Hardie’s dismay; and Julia was
binding, hooding, etcetering them.

How demurely she bent her lovely head over her charitable work, while
Alfred poured his tale into her ears! How careful she was not to speak,
when there was a chance of his speaking! How often she said one thing so
as to express its opposite, a process for which she might have taken out
a patent! How she and Alfred compared heart-notes, and their feelings
at each stage of their passion! Their hearts put forth tendril after
tendril, and so curled, and clung, round each other.

In the afternoon of the second blissful day, Julia suddenly remembered
that this was dull for her mother. To have such a thought was to fly
to her; and she flew so swiftly that she caught Mrs. Dodd in tears, and
trying adroitly and vainly to hide them.

“What is the matter? I am a wretch. I have left you alone.”

“Do not think me so peevish, love! you have but surprised the natural
regrets of a mother at the loss of her child.”

“Oh, mamma,” said Julia, warmly, “and do you think all the marriage in
the world can ever divide you and me--can make me lukewarm to my own
sweet, darling, beautiful, blessed, angel mother? Look at me: I am as
much your Julia as ever; and shall be while I live. Your son is your
son till he gets him a wife: but your daughter’s your daughter,
ALL--THE----DAYS--OF HER LIFE.”


Divine power of native eloquence: with this trite distich you made
hexameters tame; it gushed from that great young heart with a sweet
infantine ardour, that even virtue can only pour when young, and youth
when virtuous; and, at the words I have emphasised by the poor device
of capitals, two lovely, supple arms flew wide out like a soaring
albatross’s wings, and then went all round the sad mother, and gathered
every bit of her up to the generous young bosom.

“I know it, I know it!” cried Mrs. Dodd, kissing her; “I shall never
lose my daughter while she breathes. But I am losing my child. You are
turning to a woman visibly: and you were such a happy child. Hence my
misgivings, and these weak tears, which you have dried with a word:
see!” And she contrived to smile. “And now go down, dearest: he may be
impatient; men’s love is so fiery.”

The next day Mrs. Dodd took Julia apart and asked her whether there was
an answer from Mr. Hardie. Julia replied, from Alfred, that Jane had
received a letter last night, and, to judge by the contents, Mr. Hardie
must have left London before Alfred’s letter got there. “He is gone to
see poor Uncle Thomas.”

“Why do you call him ‘poor?’”

“Oh, he is not very clever; has not much mind, Alfred says; indeed,
hardly any.”

“You alarm me, Julia!” cried Mrs. Dodd. “What? madness in the family you
propose to marry into?”

“Oh no, mamma,” said Julia, in a great hurry; “no madness; only a little
imbecility.”

Mrs. Dodd’s lip curved at this Julian answer; but just then her mind
was more drawn to another topic. A serious doubt passed through her,
whether, if Mr. Hardie did not write soon, she ought not to limit his
son’s attendance on her daughter. “He follows her about like a little
dog,” said she half fretfully.

Next day, by previous invitation, Dr. Sampson made Albion Villa his
head-quarters. Darting in from London, he found Alfred sitting very
close to Julia over a book.

“Lordsake!” cried he, “here’s ‘my puppy,’ and ‘m’ enthusiast,’ cheek
by chowl.” Julia turned scarlet, and Alfred ejaculated so loudly, that
Sampson inquired “what on airth was the matter now?”

“Oh, nothing; only here have I been jealous of my own shadow, and
pestering her who ‘your puppy’ was: and she never would tell me. All
I could get from her,” added he, turning suddenly from gratitude to
revenge, “was that he was no greater a puppy than yourself, doctor.”

“Oh, Alfred, no; I only said no vainer,” cried Julia in dismay.

“Well, it is true,” said Sampson contentedly, and proceeded to dissect
himself just as he would a stranger. “I am a vain man; a remarkably vain
man. But then I’m a man of great mirit.”

“All vain people are that,” suggested Alfred dryly.

“Who should know better than you, young Oxford? Y’ have got a hidache.”

“No, indeed.”

“Don’t tell lies now. Ye can’t deceive me; man, I’ve an eye like a hawk.
And what’s that ye’re studying with her? Ovid, for a pound.”

“No; medicine; a treatise on your favourite organ, the brain, by one Dr.
Whately.”

“He is chaffing you, doctor,” said Edward; “it is logic. He is coaching
her; and then she will coach me.”

“Then I forbid the chaff-cutting, young Pidant. Logic is an ill plaster
to a sore head.”

“Oh, ‘the labour we delight in, physics pain.’”

    “Jinnyus, Jinnyus;
     Take care o’ your carkuss,”

retorted the master of doggrel. “And that is a profounder remark than
you seem to think, by your grinning, all of ye.”

Julia settled the question by putting away the book. And she murmured to
Alfred, “I wish I could steal your poor dear headaches: you might give
me half of them at least; you would, too, if you really loved me.”

This sound remonstrance escaped criticism by being nearly inaudible, and
by Mrs. Dodd entering at the same moment.

After the first greeting, Sampson asked her with merry arrogance, how
his prescription had worked? “Is her sleep broken still, ma’am? Are her
spirits up and down? Shall we have to go back t’ old Short and his black
draught? How’s her mookis membrin? And her biliary ducks? an’--she’s off
like a flash.”

“And no wonder,” said Mrs. Dodd reproachfully.

Thus splashed Sampson among the ducks: one of them did not show her face
again till dinner.

Jane Hardie accompanied her brother by invitation. The general amity was
diversified and the mirth nowise lessened by constant passages of arms
between Messrs. Sampson and Alfred Hardie.

After tea came the first _contretemps._ Sampson liked a game of cards:
he could play, yet talk chronothermalism, as the fair can knit babies’
shoes and imbibe the poetasters of the day.

Mrs. Dodd had asked Edward to bring a fresh pack. He was seen by his
guardian angel to take them out of his pocket and undo them; presently
Sampson, in his rapid way, clutched hold of them; and found a slip of
paper curled round the ace of spades, with this written very clear in
pencil,

     “REMEMBER THY CREATOR IN THE DAYS OF THY YOUTH!”

“What is this?” cried Sampson, and read it out aloud. Jane Hardie
coloured, and so betrayed herself. Her “word in season” had strayed. It
was the young and comely Edward she wished to save from the diabolical
literature, the painted perdition, and not the uninteresting old sinner
Sampson, who proceeded to justify her preference by remarking that
“Remember not to trump your partner’s best card, ladies,” would be more
to the point.

Everybody, except this hardened personage, was thoroughly uncomfortable.
As for Alfred, his face betrayed a degree of youthful mortification
little short of agony. Mrs. Dodd was profoundly disgusted, but
fortunately for the Hardies, caught sight of his burning cheeks and
compressed lips. “Dr. Sampson,” said she, with cold dignity, “you will,
I am sure, oblige me by making no more comments; sincerity is not always
discreet; but it is always respectable: it is one of your own titles to
esteem. I dare say,” added she with great sweetness, “our resources
are not so narrow that we need shock anybody’s prejudices, and, as it
happens, I was just going to ask Julia to sing: open the piano, love,
and try if you can persuade Miss Hardie to join you in a duet.”

At this, Jane and Julia had an earnest conversation at the piano, and
their words, uttered in a low voice, were covered by a contemporaneous
discussion between Sampson and Mrs. Dodd.

_Jane._ No, you must not ask me: I have forsworn these vanities. I have
not opened my piano this two years.

_Julia._ Oh, what a pity; music is so beautiful; and surely we can
choose our songs, as easily as our words; ah, how much more easily.

_Jane._ Oh, I don’t go so far as to call music wicked: but music in
society is _such_ a snare. At least I found it so; my playing was highly
praised, and that stirred up vanity: and so did my singing, with which I
had even more reason to be satisfied. Snares! snares!

_Julia._ Goodness me! I don’t find them so. Now you mention it,
gentlemen do praise one; but, dear me, they praise every lady, even when
we have been singing every other note out of tune. The little unmeaning
compliments of society, can they catch anything so great as a soul?

_Jane._ I pray daily not to be led into temptation, and shall I go into
it of my own accord?

_Julia._ Not if you find it a temptation. At that rate I ought to
decline.

_Jane._ That doesn’t follow. My conscience is not a law to yours.
Besides, your mamma said “sing:” and a parent is not to be disobeyed
upon a doubt. If papa were to insist on my going to a ball even, or
reading a novel, I think I should obey; and lay the whole case before
Him.

_Mrs. Dodd_ (from a distance). Come, my dears, Dr. Sampson is getting
_so_ impatient for your song.

_Sampson._ Hum! for all that, young ladies’ singing is a poor substitute
for cards, and even for conversation.

_Mrs. Dodd._ That depends upon the singer, I presume.

_Sampson._ Mai--dear--madam, they all sing alike; just as they all write
alike. I can hardly tell one fashionable tune from another; and nobody
can tell one word from another, when they cut out all the consonants. N’
listen me. This is what I heard sung by a lady last night.

Eu un Da’ ei u aa an oo. By oo eeeeyee aa Vaullee, Vaullee, Vaullee,
Vaullee, Vaullee om is igh eeaa An ellin in is ud.

_Mrs. Dodd._ That sounds like gibberish.

_Sampson._ It is gibberish, but it’s Drydenish in articulating mouths.
It is--

He sung Darius great and good, By too severe a fate Fallen, fallen,
fallen, fallen, Fallen from his high estate, And wiltering in his blood.

_Mrs. Dodd._ I think you exaggerate. I will answer for Julia that she
shall speak as distinctly to music as you do in conversation.

_Sampson_ (all unconscious of the tap). Time will show, madam. At
prisent they seem to be in no hurry to spatter us with their word-jelly.
Does some spark of pity linger in their marble bos’ms? or do they prefer
inaud’ble chit-chat t’ inarticulate mewing?

Julia, thus pressed, sang one of those songs that come and go every
season. She spoke the words clearly, and with such variety and
intelligence, that Sampson recanted, and broke in upon the--“very
pretty”--“how sweet”--and “who is it by?” of the others, by shouting,
“Very weak trash very cleanly sung. Now give us something worth the wear
and tear of your orgins. Immortal vairse widded t’ immortal sounds; that
is what I understand b’ a song.”

Alfred whispered, “No, no, dearest; sing something suitable to you and
me.”

“Out of the question. Then go farther away, dear; I shall have more
courage.”

He obeyed, and she turned over two or three music-books, and finally
sung from memory. She cultivated musical memory, having observed the
contempt with which men of sense visit the sorry pretenders to music,
who are tuneless and songless among the nightingales, and anywhere else
away from their books. How will they manage to sing in heaven? Answer me
that.

The song Julia Dodd sang on this happy occasion, to meet the humble but
heterogeneous views of Messrs. Sampson and Hardie, was a simple eloquent
Irish song called Aileen Aroon. Whose history, by-the-bye, was a curious
one. Early in this century it occurred to somebody to hymn a son of
George the Third for his double merit in having been born, and going to
a ball. People who thus apply the fine arts in modern days are seldom
artists; accordingly, this parasite could not invent a melody; so he
coolly stole Aileen Aroon, soiled it by inserting sordid and incongruous
jerks into the refrain, and called the stolen and adulterated article
Robin Adair. An artisan of the same kidney was soon found to write words
down to the degraded ditty: and, so strong is Flunkeyism, and so weak is
Criticism, in these islands, that the polluted tune actually superseded
the clean melody; and this sort of thing--

     Who was in uniform at the ball?
     Silly Billy,

smothered the immortal lines.

But Mrs. Dodd’s severe taste in music rejected those ignoble jerks, and
her enthusiastic daughter having the option to hymn immortal Constancy
or mortal Fat, decided thus:--

     When like the early rose,
     Aileen aroon,
     Beauty in childhood glows,
     Aileen aroon,

     When like a diadem,
     Buds blush around the stem,
     Which is the fairest gem?
     Aileen aroon.

     Is it the laughing eye?
     Aileen aroon.
     Is it the timid sigh?
     Aileen aroon.

     Is it the tender tone?
     Soft as the string’d harp’s mean?
     No; it is Truth alone,
     Aileen aroon.

     I know a valley fair,
     Aileen aroon.
     I know a cottage there,
     Aileen aroon.

     Far in that valley’s shade,
     I know a gentle maid,
     Flower of the hazel glade,
     Aileen aroon.

     Who in the song so sweet?
     Aileen aroon,
     Who in the dance so fleet?
     Aileen aroon.

     Dear are her charms to me,
     Dearer her laughter free,
     Dearest her constancy.
     Aileen aroon.

     Youth must with time decay,
     Aileen aroon,
     Beauty must fade away,
     Aileen aroon.

     Castles are sacked in war,
     Chieftains are scattered far,
     Truth is a fixed star,
     Aileen areon.

The way the earnest singer sang these lines is beyond the conception of
ordinary singers, public or private. Here one of nature’s orators spoke
poetry to music with an eloquence as fervid and delicate as ever rung in
the Forum. She gave each verse with the same just variety as if she had
been reciting, and, when she came to the last, where the thought rises
abruptly, and is truly noble, she sang it with the sudden pathos, the
weight, and the swelling majesty, of a truthful soul hymning truth with
all its powers.

All the hearers, even Sampson, were thrilled, astonished, spell-bound:
so can one wave of immortal music and immortal verse (alas! how seldom
they meet!) heave the inner man when genius interprets. Judge, then,
what it was to Alfred, to whom, with these great words and thrilling
tones of her rich, swelling, ringing voice, the darling of his own heart
vowed constancy, while her inspired face beamed on him like an angel’s.

Even Mrs. Dodd, though acquainted with the song, and with her daughter’s
rare powers, gazed at her now with some surprise, as well as admiration,
and kept a note Sarah had brought her, open, but unread, in her hand,
unable to take her eyes from the inspired songstress. However, just
before the song ended, she did just glance down, and saw it was signed
Richard Hardie. On this her eye devoured it; and in one moment she
saw that the writer declined, politely but peremptorily, the proposed
alliance between his son and her daughter.

The mother looked up from this paper at that living radiance and
incarnate melody in a sort of stupor: it seemed hardly possible to her
that a provincial banker could refuse an alliance with a creature
so peerless as that. But so it was; and despite her habitual
self-government, Mrs. Dodd’s white hand clenched the note till her nails
dented it; and she reddened to the brow with anger and mortification.

Julia, whom she had trained never to monopolise attention in society,
now left the piano in spite of remonstrance, and soon noticed her
mother’s face; for from red it had become paler than usual. “Are you
unwell, dear?” said she _sotto voce._

“No, love.”

“Is there anything the matter, then?”

“Hush! We have guests: our first duty is to them.” With this Mrs. Dodd
rose, and, endeavouring not to look at her daughter at all, went round
and drew each of her guests out in turn. It was the very heroism
of courtesy; for their presence was torture to her. At last, to her
infinite relief, they went, and she was left alone with her children.
She sent the servants to bed, saying she would undress Miss Dodd, and
accompanied her to her room. There the first thing she did was to lock
the door; and the next was to turn round and look at her full.

“I always thought you the most lovable child I ever saw; but I never
admired you as I have to-night, my noble, my beautiful daughter, who
would grace the highest family in England.” With this Mrs. Dodd began to
choke, and kissed Julia eagerly with the tears in her eyes, and drew her
with tender, eloquent defiance to her bosom.

“My own mamma,” said Julia softly, “what has happened?”

“My darling,” said Mrs. Dodd, trembling a little, “have you pride? have
you spirit?”

“I think I have.”

“I hope so: for you will need them both. Read that!”

And she held out Mr. Hardie’s letter, but turned her own head away, not
to see her girl’s face under the insult.



CHAPTER VI

JULIA took Mr. Hardie’s note and read it:--


“MADAM,--I have received a very juvenile letter from my son, by which I
learn he has formed a sudden attachment to your daughter. He tells me,
however, at the same time, that you await my concurrence before giving
your consent. I appreciate your delicacy; and it is with considerable
regret I now write to inform you this match is out of the question. I
have thought it due to you to communicate this to yourself and
without delay, and feel sure that you will, under the circumstances,
discountenance my son’s further visits at your house--I am, Madam, with
sincere respect, your faithful servant,

“RICHARD HARDIE.”

Julia read this letter, and re-read it in silence. It was an anxious
moment to the mother.

“Shall our pride be less than this _parvenu’s?_” she faltered. “Tell me
yourself, what ought we to do?”

“What we ought to do is, never to let the name of Hardie be mentioned
again in this house.”

This reply was very comforting to Mrs. Dodd.

“Shall I write to him, or do you feel strong enough?”

“I feel that, if I do, I may affront him. He had no right to pretend
that his father would consent. You write, and then we shall not lose our
dignity though we are insulted.”

“I feel so weary, mamma.” Life seems ended.

“I could have loved him well. And now show me how to tear him out of my
heart; or what will become of me?”

While Mrs. Dodd wrote to Alfred Hardie, Julia sank down and laid her
head on her mother’s knees. The note was shown her; she approved it
languidly. A long and sad conversation followed; and, after kissing her
mother and clinging to her, she went to bed chilly and listless, but did
not shed a single tear. Her young heart was benumbed by the unexpected
blow.

Next morning early, Alfred Hardie started gaily to spend the day at
Albion Villa. Not a hundred yards from the gate he met Sarah, with Mrs.
Dodd’s letter, enclosing a copy of his father’s to her. Mrs. Dodd
here reminded him that his visits had been encouraged only upon a
misapprehension of his father’s sentiments; for which misapprehension he
was in some degree to blame: not that she meant to reproach him on that
score, especially at this unhappy moment: no, she rather blamed herself
for listening to the sanguine voice of youth; but the error must now
be repaired. She and Julia would always wish him well, and esteem him,
provided he made no further attempt to compromise a young lady who could
not be his wife. The note concluded thus--

“Individually I think I have some right to count on your honourable
feeling to hold no communication with my daughter, and not in any way to
attract her attention, under the present circumstances.--I am, dear Mr.
Alfred Hardie, with many regrets at the pain I fear I am giving you,
your sincere friend and well-wisher,

“LUCY DODD.”

Alfred on reading this letter literally staggered: but proud and
sensitive, as well as loving, he manned himself to hide his wound from
Sarah, whose black eyes were bent on him in merciless scrutiny. He said
doggedly, though tremulously, “Very well!” then turned quickly on his
heel, and went slowly home. Mrs. Dodd, with well-feigned indifference,
questioned Sarah privately: the girl’s account of the abrupt way in
which he had received the missive added to her anxiety. She warned the
servants that no one was at home to Mr. Alfred Hardie.

Two days elapsed, and then she received a letter from him. Poor fellow,
it was the eleventh. He had written and torn up ten.


“DEAR MRS. DODD,--I have gained some victories in my life; but not one
without two defeats to begin with; how then can I expect to obtain such
a prize as dear Julia without a check or two? You need not fear that I
shall intrude after your appeal to me as a gentleman: but I am not going
to give in because my father has written a hasty letter from Yorkshire.
He and I must have many a talk face to face before I consent to be
miserable for life. Dear Mrs. Dodd, at first receipt of your cruel
letter, so kindly worded, I was broken-hearted; but now I am myself
again: difficulties are made for ladies to yield to, and for men to
conquer. Only for pity’s sake do not you be my enemy; do not set her
against me for my father’s fault. Think, if you can, how my heart bleeds
at closing this letter without one word to her I love better, a thousand
times better, than my life--I am, dear Mrs. Dodd, yours sorrowfully, but
not despairing,

“ALFRED HARDIE.”


Mrs. Dodd kept this letter to herself. She could not read it quite
unmoved, and therefore she felt sure it would disturb her daughter’s
heart the more.

Alfred had now a soft but dangerous antagonist in Mrs. Dodd. All the
mother was in arms to secure her daughter’s happiness, _coute qu’il
coute!_ and the surest course seemed to be to detach her affections
from Alfred. What hope of a peaceful heart without this? and what real
happiness without peace? But, too wise and calm to interfere blindly,
she watched her daughter day and night, to find whether Love or Pride
was the stronger, and this is what she observed--

Julia never mentioned Alfred. She sought occupation eagerly: came
oftener than usual for money, saying, it was for “Luxury.” She visited
the poor more constantly, taking one of the maids with her, at Mrs.
Dodd’s request. She studied Logic with Edward. She went to bed rather
early, fatigued, it would appear, by her activity: and she gave the
clue to her own conduct one day: “Mamma,” said she, “nobody is downright
unhappy who is good.”

Mrs. Dodd noticed also a certain wildness and almost violence, with
which she threw herself into her occupations, and a worn look about the
eyes that told of a hidden conflict. On the whole Mrs. Dodd was hopeful;
for she had never imagined the cure would be speedy or easy. To see
her child on the right road was much. Only the great healer Time could
“medicine her to that sweet peace which once she owned;” and even Time
cannot give her back her childhood, thought the mother, with a sigh.

One day came an invitation to an evening party at a house where they
always wound up with dancing. Mrs. Dodd was for declining as usual for
since that night Julia had shunned parties. “Give me the sorrows of the
poor and afflicted,” was her cry; “the gaiety of the hollow world jars
me more than I can bear.” But now she caught with a sort of eagerness at
this invitation. “Accept. They shall not say I am wearing the willow.”

“My brave girl,” said Mrs. Dodd joyfully, “I would not press it; but you
are right; we owe it to ourselves to outface scandal. Still, let there
be no precipitation; we must not undertake beyond our strength.”

“Try me to-night,” said Julia; “you don’t know what I can do. I dare say
_he_ is not pining for _me._”

She was the life and soul of the party, and, indeed, so feverishly
brilliant, that Mrs. Dodd said softly to her, “Gently, love; moderate
your spirits, or they will deceive our friends as little as they do me.”

Meantime it cost Alfred Hardie a severe struggle to keep altogether
aloof from Julia. In fact, it was a state of daily self-denial, to which
he would never have committed himself, but that he was quite sure he
could gradually win his father over. At his age we are apt to count
without our antagonist.

Mr. Richard Hardie was “a long-headed man.” He knew the consequence of
giving one’s reasons: eternal discussion ending in war. He had taken
care not to give any to Mrs. Dodd, and he was as guarded and reserved
with Alfred. The young man begged to know the why and the wherefore, and
being repulsed, employed all his art to elicit them by surprise, or get
at them by inference: but all in vain. Hardie senior was impenetrable;
and inquiry, petulance, tenderness, logic, were all shattered on him as
the waves break on Ailsa Craig.

Thus began dissension, decently conducted at first, between a father
indulgent hitherto and an affectionate son.

In this unfortunate collision of two strong and kindred natures,
every advantage was at present on the father’s side: age, experience,
authority, resolution, hidden and powerful motives, to which my reader
even has no clue as yet; a purpose immutable and concealed. Add to these
a colder nature and a far colder affection; for Alfred loved his father
dearly.

At last, one day, the impetuous one lost his self-command, and said he
was a son, not a slave, and had little respect for Authority when afraid
or ashamed to appeal to Reason. Hardie senior turned on him with a
gravity and dignity no man could wear more naturally. “Alfred, have I
been an unkind father to you all these years?”

“Oh no, father, no; I have said nothing that can be so construed. And
that is the mystery to me; you are acting quite out of character.”

“Have I been one of those interfering, pragmatical fathers who cannot
let their children enjoy themselves their own way?”

“No, sir; you have never interfered, except to pay for anything I
wanted.”

“Then make the one return in your power, young man: have a little faith
in such a father, and believe that he does not interfere now but for
your good, and under a stern necessity; and that when he does interfere
for once, and say, ‘This thing shall not be,’ it shall not be--by
Heaven!”

Alfred was overpowered by the weight and solemnity of this. Sorrow,
vexation, and despondency all rushed into his heart together, and
unmanned him for a moment; he buried his face in his hands, and
something very like a sob burst from his young heart. At this Hardie
senior took up the newspaper with imperturbable coldness, and wore a
slight curl of the lip. All this was hardly genuine, for he was not
altogether unmoved; but he was a man of rare self-command, and chose to
impress on Alfred that he was no more to be broken or melted than a mere
rock.

It is always precarious to act a part; and this cynicism was rather
able than wise: Alfred looked up and watched him keenly as he read the
monetary article with tranquil interest; and then, for the first time in
his life, it flashed into the young man’s mind that his father was not
a father. “I never knew him till now,” thought he. “This man is [Greek
text].” *

     *Without bowels of affection.

Thus a gesture, so to speak, sowed the first seed of downright disunion
in Richard Hardie’s house--disunion, a fast-growing plant, when men set
it in the soil of the passions.

Alfred, unlike Julia, had no panacea. Had any lips, except perhaps hers,
told him that “to be good is to be happy here below,” he would have
replied: _“Negatur;_ contradicted by daily experience.” It never
occurred to him, therefore, to go out of himself, and sympathise with
the sordid sorrows of the poor, and their bottomless egotism in
contact with the well-to-do. He brooded on his own love, and his own
unhappiness, and his own father’s cruelty. His nights were sleepless and
his days leaden. He tried hard to read for his first class, but for once
even ambition failed: it ended in flinging books away in despair.
He wandered about dreaming and moping for some change, and bitterly
regretting his excessive delicacy, which had tied his own hands and
brought him to a stand-still. He lost his colour and what little flesh
he had to lose; for such young spirits as this are never plump. In a
word, being now strait-jacketed into feminine inactivity, while void of
feminine patience, his ardent heart was pining and fretting itself out.
He was in this condition, when one day Peterson, his Oxonian friend,
burst in on him open-mouthed with delight, and, as usual with bright
spirits of this calibre, did not even notice his friend’s sadness.
“Cupid had clapped him on the shoulder,” as Shakespeare hath it; and it
was a deal nicer than the bum-bailiff rheumatism.

“Oh, such a divine creature! Met her twice; you know her by sight; her
name is Dodd. But I don’t care; it shall be Peterson; the rose by any
other name, &c.” Then followed a rapturous description of the lady’s
person, well worth omitting. “And such a jolly girl! brightens them all
up wherever she goes; and such a dancer; did the cachouka with a little
Spanish bloke Bosanquet has got hold of, and made his black bolus eyes
twinkle like midnight cigars: danced it with castanets, and smiles, and
such a what d’ye call ‘em, my boy, you know; such a ‘go.’”

“You mean such an ‘abandon,’” groaned Alfred, turning sick at heart.

“That’s the word. Twice the spirit of Duvernay, and ten times the
beauty. But just you hear her sing, that is all; Italian, French,
German, English even.”

“Plaintive songs?”

“Oh, whatever they ask for. Make you laugh or make you cry to order;
never says no. Just smiles and sits down to the music-box. Only she
won’t sing two running: they have to stick a duffer in between. I shall
meet her again next week; will you come? Any friend of mine is welcome.
Wish me joy, old fellow; I’m a gone coon.”

This news put Alfred in a phrensy of indignation and fear. Julia dancing
the cachouka! Julia a jolly girl! Julia singing songs pathetic or merry,
whichever were asked for! The heartless one! He called to mind all he
had read in the classics, and elsewhere, about the fickleness of woman.
But this impression did not last long; he recalled Julia’s character,
and all the signs of a love tender and true she had given him. He read
her by himself, and, lover-like, laid all the blame on another. It was
all her cold-blooded mother. “Fool that I have been. I see it all now.
She appeals to my delicacy to keep away; then she goes to Julia and
says, ‘See, he deserts you at a word from his father. Be proud, be gay!
He never loved you; marry another.’ The shallow plotter forgets that
whoever she does marry I’ll kill. How many unsuspicious girls have
these double-faced mothers deluded so? They do it in half the novels,
especially in those written by women; and why? because these know the
perfidy and mendacity of their sex better than we do; they see them
nearer, and with their souls undrest. War, Mrs. Dodd! war to the death!
From this moment I am alone in the world with her. I have no friend but
Alfred Hardie: and my bitterest enemies are my cold-blooded father and
her cold-blooded mother.”

The above sentences, of course, were never uttered. But they represent
his thoughts accurately, though in a condensed form, and are, as it
were, a miniature of this young heart boiling over.

From that moment he lay in wait for her, and hovered about the house day
and night, determined to appeal to her personally, and undeceive
her, and baffle her mother’s treachery. But at this game he was soon
detected: Mrs. Dodd lived on the watch now. Julia, dressed to go out,
went to the window one afternoon to look at the weather; but retreated
somewhat hastily and sat down on the sofa.

“You flutter, darling,” said Mrs. Dodd. “Ah! he is there.”

“Yes.”

“You had better take off your things.”

“Oh, yes. I tremble at the thoughts of meeting him. Mamma, he is
changed, sadly changed. Poor, poor Alfred!” She went to her own room and
prayed for him. She informed the Omniscient that, though much greater
and better in other respects than she was, he had not Patience. She
prayed, with tears, that he might have Christian patience granted Him
from on high.

“Heart of stone! she shuns me,” said Alfred, outside. He had seen her in
her bonnet.

Mrs. Dodd waited several days to see whether this annoyance would not
die of itself: waiting was her plan in most things. Finding he was not
to be tired out, she sent Sarah out to him with a note carefully sealed.


“Mr. Alfred Hardie,--Is it generous to confine my daughter to the
house?--Yours regretfully,

“LUCY DODD.”


A line came back instantly in pencil.


“Mrs. Dodd,--Is all the generosity and all the good faith to be on one
side?--Yours in despair,

“ALFRED HARDIE.”


Mrs. Dodd coloured faintly: the reproach pricked her, but did not move
her. She sat quietly down that moment, and wrote to a friend in London,
to look out for a furnished villa in a healthy part of the suburbs, with
immediate possession. “Circumstances,” said she, “making it desirable we
should leave Barkington immediately, and for some months.”


The Bosanquets gave a large party; Mrs. and Miss Dodd were there. The
latter was playing a part in a charade to the admiration of all present,
when in came Mr. Peterson, introducing his friend, Alfred Hardie.

Julia caught the name, and turned a look of alarm on her mother, but
went on acting.

Presently she caught sight of him at some distance. He looked very pale,
and his glittering eye was fixed on her with a sort of stern wonder.

Such a glance from fiery eyes, that had always dwelt tenderly on her
till then, struck her like a weapon. She stopped short, and turned red
and pale by turns. “There, that is nonsense enough,” said she bitterly,
and went and sat by Mrs. Dodd. The gentlemen thronged round her with
compliments, and begged her to sing. She excused herself. Presently
she heard an excited voice, towards which she dared not look; it was
inquiring whether any lady could sing Aileen Aroon. With every desire
to gratify the young millionaire, nobody knew Aileen Aroon, nor had ever
heard of it.

“Oh, impossible!” cried Alfred. “Why, it is in praise of Constancy, a
virtue ladies shine in: at least, they take credit for it.”

“Mamma,” whispered Julia terrified, “get me away, or there will be a
scene. He is reckless.”

“Be calm, love,” said Mrs. Dodd, “there shall be none.” She rose and
glided up to Alfred Hardie, looked coldly in his face; then said with
external politeness and veiled contempt, “I will attempt the song, sir,
since you desire it.” She waved her hand, and he followed her sulkily to
the piano. She sung Aileen Aroon, not with her daughter’s eloquence, but
with a purity and mellowness that charmed the room: they had never heard
the genius sing it.

As spirits are said to overcome the man at whose behest they rise, so
this sweet air, and the gush of reminiscence it awakened, overpowered
him who had evoked them; Alfred put his Hand unconsciously to his
swelling heart, cast one look of anguish at Julia, and hurried away half
choked. Nobody but Julia noticed.


A fellow in a rough great-coat and tattered white hat opened the fly
door for Mrs. Dodd. As Julia followed her, he kissed her skirt unseen by
Mrs. Dodd, but her quick ears caught a heart-breaking sigh. She looked
and recognised Alfred in that disguise; the penitent fit had succeeded
to the angry one. Had Julia observed? To ascertain this without speaking
of him, Mrs. Dodd waited till they had got some little distance, then
quietly put out her hand and rested it for a moment on her daughter’s;
the girl was trembling violently “Little wretch!” came to Mrs. Dodd’s
lips, but she did not utter it. They were near home before she spoke
at all, and then she only said very kindly, “My love, you will not be
subjected again to these trials:” a remark intended quietly to cover the
last occurrence as well as Alfred’s open persecution.

They had promised to go out the very next day; but Mrs. Dodd went alone,
and made excuses for Miss Dodd. On her return she found Julia sitting
up for her, and a letter come from her friend describing a pleasant
cottage, now vacant, near Maida Vale. Mrs. Dodd handed the open letter
to Julia; she read it without comment.

“We will go up to-morrow and take it for three months. Then the Oxford
vacation will terminate.”

“Yes, mamma.”


I am now about to relate a circumstance by no means without parallels,
but almost impossible to account for; and, as nothing is more common and
contemptible than inadequate solutions, I will offer none at all: but
so it was, that Mrs. Dodd awoke in the middle of that very night in a
mysterious state of mental tremor; trouble, veiled in obscurity, seemed
to sit heavy on her bosom. So strong, though vague, was this new and
mysterious oppression, that she started up in bed and cried aloud,
“David!--Julia!--Oh, what is the matter?” The sound of her own voice
dispelled the cloud in part, but not entirely. She lay awhile, and then
finding herself quite averse to sleep, rose and went to her window,
and eyed the weather anxiously. It was a fine night; soft fleecy clouds
drifted slowly across a silver moon. The sailor’s wife was reassured on
her husband’s behalf. Her next desire was to look at Julia sleeping; she
had no particular object: it was the instinctive impulse of an anxious
mother whom something had terrified. She put on her slippers and
dressing-gown, and, lighting a candle at her night-lamp, opened her door
softly and stepped into the little corridor. But she had not taken two
steps when she was arrested by a mysterious sound.

It came from Julia’s room.

What was it?

Mrs. Dodd glided softly nearer and nearer, all her senses on the
stretch.

The sound came again. It was a muffled sob.


The stifled sound, just audible in the dead stillness of the night, went
through and through her who stood there listening aghast. Her bowels
yearned over her child, and she hurried to the door, but recollected
herself, and knocked, very gently. “Don’t be alarmed, love; it is only
me. May I come in?” She did not wait for the answer, but turned the
handle and entered. She found Julia sitting up in bed, looking wildly at
her, with cheeks flushed and wet. She sat on the bed and clasped her to
her breast in silence: but more than one warm tear ran down upon Julia’s
bare neck; the girl felt them drop, and her own gushed in a shower.

“Oh, what have I done?” she sobbed. “Am I to make you wretched too?”

Mrs. Dodd did not immediately reply. She was there to console, and her
admirable good sense told her that to do that she must be calmer than
her patient; so even while she kissed and wept over Julia, she managed
gradually to recover her composure. “Tell me, my child,” said she, “why
do you act a part with me? Why brave it out under my eye, and spend the
night secretly in tears? Are you still afraid to trust me?”

“Oh no, no; but I thought I was so strong, so proud: I undertook
miracles. I soon found my pride was a molehill and my love a mountain. I
could not hold out by day if I did not ease my breaking heart at night.
How unfortunate! I kept my head under the bed-clothes, too; but you have
such ears. I thought I would stifle my grief, or else perhaps you would
be as wretched as I am: forgive me pray forgive me!”

“On one condition,” said Mrs. Dodd, struggling with the emotion these
simple words caused her.

“Anything to be forgiven,” cried Julia, impetuously. “I’ll go to London.
I’ll go to Botany Bay. I deserve to be hanged.”

“Then, from this hour, no half-confidences between us. Dear me, you
carry in your own bosom a much harsher judge, a much less indulgent
friend, than I am. Come! trust me with your heart. Do you love him very
much? Does your happiness depend on him?”

At this point-blank question Julia put her head over Mrs. Dodd’s
shoulder, not to be seen; and, clasping her tight, murmured scarce above
a whisper, “I don’t know how much I love him. When he came in at that
party I felt his slave--his unfaithful adoring slave; if he had ordered
me to sing Aileen Aroon, I should have obeyed; if he had commanded me to
take his hand and leave the room, I think I should have obeyed. His face
is always before me as plain as life; it used to come to me bright and
loving; now it is pale, and stern, and sad. I was not so wretched till I
saw he was pining for me, and thinks me inconstant--oh, mamma, so pale!
so shrunk I so reckless! He was sorry for misbehaving that night: he
changed clothes with a beggar to kiss my dress, poor thing! poor thing!
Who ever loved as he does me! I am dying for him; I am dying.”

“There! there!” said Mrs. Dodd soothingly. “You have said enough. This
must be love. I am on your Alfred’s side from this hour.”

Julia opened her eyes, and was a good deal agitated as well as
surprised. “Pray do not raise my hopes,” she gasped. “We are parted
for ever. His father refuses. Even you seemed averse; or have I been
dreaming?”

“Me, dearest? How can I be averse to anything lawful on which I find
your heart is really set, and your happiness at stake? Of course I have
stopped the actual intercourse, under existing circumstances; but these
circumstances are not unalterable: your only obstacle is Mr. Richard
Hardie.”

“But what an obstacle!” sighed Julia. “His father! a man of iron! so
everybody says; for I have made inquiries--oh!” And she was abashed.
She resumed hastily, “And that letter, so cold, so cruel! I feel it
was written by one not open to gentle influences. He does not think
me worthy of his son so accomplished, so distinguished at the very
university where our poor Edward--has--you know----”

“Little simpleton!” said Mrs. Dodd, and kissed her tenderly; “your iron
man is the commonest clay, sordid, pliable; and your stem heroic Brutus
is a shopkeeper: he is open to the gentle influences which sway the
kindred souls of the men you and I buy our shoes, our tea, our gloves,
our fish-kettles of: and these influences I think I command, and am
prepared to use them to the utmost.”

Julia lay silent, and wondering what she could mean.

But Mrs. Dodd hesitated now: it pained and revolted her to show her
enthusiastic girl the world as it is. She said as much, and added--“I
seem to be going to aid all these people to take the bloom from my own
child’s innocence. Heaven help me!”

“Oh, never mind that,” cried Julia in her ardent way; “give me Truth
before Error, however pleasing.”

Mrs. Dodd replied only by a sigh: grand general sentiments like that
never penetrated her mind: they glided off like water from a duck’s
back. “We will begin with this mercantile Brutus, then,” said she, with
such a curl of the lip. Brutus had rejected her daughter.

“Mr. Richard Hardie was born and bred in a bank; one where no wild thyme
blows, my poor enthusiast, nor cowslips nor the nodding violet grows;
but gold and silver chink, and Things are discounted, and men grow rich,
slowly but surely, by lawful use of other people’s money. Breathed
upon by these ‘gentle influences,’ he was, from his youth, a remarkable
man--measured by Trade’s standard. At five-and-twenty divine what he
did! He saved the bank. You have read of bubbles: the Mississippi Bubble
and the South Sea Bubble. Well, in the year 1825, it was not one bubble
but a thousand; mines by the score, and in distant lands; companies
by the hundred; loans to every nation or tribe; down to Guatemala,
Patagonia, and Greece; two hundred new ships were laid on the stocks in
one year, for your dear papa told me; in short, a fever of speculation,
and the whole nation raging with it: my dear, Princes, Dukes, Duchesses,
Bishops, Poets, Lawyers, Physicians, were seen struggling with their own
footmen for a place in the Exchange: and, at last, good, steady, old Mr.
Hardie, Alfred’s grandfather, was drawn into the vortex. Now, to excuse
him and appreciate the precocious Richard, you must try and realise that
these bubbles, when they rise, are as alluring and reasonable as they
are ridiculous and incredible when one looks back on them; even soap
bubbles, you know, have rainbow hues till they burst: and, indeed, the
blind avarice of men does but resemble the blind vanity of women: look
at our grandmothers’ hoops, and our mothers’ short waists and monstrous
heads! Yet in their day what woman did not glory in these insanities?
Well then, Mr. Richard Hardie, at twenty-five, was the one to foresee
the end of all these bubbles; he came down from London and brought
his people to their senses by sober reason and ‘sound commercial
principles’--that means, I believe, ‘get other people’s money, but
do not risk your own.’ His superiority was so clear, that his father
resigned the helm to him, and, thanks to his ability, the bank weathered
the storm, while all the other ones in the town broke or suspended their
trade. Now, you know, youth is naturally ardent and speculative; but
Richard Hardie’s was colder and wiser than other people’s old age: and
that is one trait. Some years later, in the height of his prosperity--I
reveal this only for your comfort, and on your sacred promise as a
person of delicacy, never to repeat it to a soul--Richard Hardie was a
suitor for my hand.”

“Mamma!”

“Do not ejaculate, sweetest. It discomposes me. ‘Nothing is
extraordinary,’ as that good creature Dr. Sampson says. He must have
thought it would _answer,_ in one way or another, to have a gentlewoman
at the head of his table; and I was not penniless, _bien entendu._
Failing in this, he found a plain little Thing, with a gloomy temper,
and no accomplishments nor graces; but her father could settle twenty
thousand pounds. He married her directly: and that is a trait. He sold
his father’s and grandfather’s house and place of business, in spite of
all their associations, and obtained a lease of his present place from
my uncle Fountain: it seemed a more money-making situation. A trait.
He gives me no reason for rejecting my daughter. Why? because he is not
proud of his reasons: this walking Avarice has intelligence: a trait.
Now put all this together, and who more transparent than the profound
Mr. Hardie? He has declined our alliance because he takes for granted
we are poor. When I undeceive him on that head he will reopen
_negotiations_ in a letter--No. 2 of the correspondence; copied by one
of his clerks--it will be calm, plausible, flattering: in short, it will
be done like a gentleman: though he is nothing of the kind. And this
brings me to what I ought to have begun with: your dear father and
I have always lived with our income for our children’s sake; he is
bringing home the bulk of our savings this very voyage, and it amounts
to fourteen thousand pounds.”

“Oh, what an enormous sum!”

“No, dearest, it is not a fortune in itself. But it is a considerable
sum to possess, independent of one’s settlement and one’s income. It is
loose cash, to speak _a la_ Hardie; that means I can do what I choose
with it and of course I choose--to make you happy. How I shall work
on what you call Iron and I venture to call Clay must be guided by
circumstances. I think of depositing three or four thousand pounds every
month with Mr. Hardie; he is our banker, you know. He will most likely
open his eyes, and make some move before the whole sum is in his hands.
If he does not, I shall perhaps call at his bank, and draw a cheque for
fourteen thousand pounds. The wealthiest provincial banker does not keep
such a sum floating in his shop-tills. His commercial honour, the one
semi-chivalrous sentiment in his soul, would be in peril. He would
yield, and with grace: none the less readily that his house and his
bank, which have been long heavily mortgaged to our trustees, were made
virtually theirs by agreement yesterday (I set this on foot with twelve
hours of Mr. Iron’s impertinent letter), and he will say to himself,
‘She can--post me, I think these people call it--this afternoon for not
cashing her cheque, and she can turn me and my bank into the street
to-morrow:’ and then, of course, he shall see by my manner the velvet
paw is offered as well as the claw. He is pretty sure to ask himself
which will suit the _ledger_ best--this cat’s friendship and her
fourteen thousand pounds, or--an insulted mother’s enmity?” And Mrs.
Placid’s teeth made a little click just audible in the silent night.

“Oh, mamma! my heart is sick. Am I to be bought and sold like this?”

Mrs. Dodd sighed, but said calmly, “You must pay the penalty for loving
a _parvenu’s_ son. Come, Julia, no peevishness, no more romance, no more
vacillation. You have tried Pride and failed pitiably: now I insist on
your trying Love! Child, it is the bane of our sex to carry nothing
out: from that weakness I will preserve you. And, by-the-bye, we are not
going to marry Mr. Richard Hardie, but Mr. Alfred. Now, Mr. Alfred, with
all his faults and defects--”

“Mamma! what faults? what defects?”

“--Is a gentleman; thanks to Oxford, and Harrow, and nature. My darling,
pray to Heaven night and day for your dear father’s safe return; for on
him, and him alone, your happiness depends: as mine does.”

“Mamma!” cried Julia, embracing her, “what do poor girls do who have
lost their mother?”

“Look abroad and see,” was the grave reply.

Mrs. Dodd then begged her to go to sleep, like a good child, for her
health’s sake; all would be well; and with this was about to return to
her own room; but a white hand and arm darted out of the bed and caught
her. “What! Hope has come to me by night in the form of an angel, and
shall I let her go back to her own room? Never! never! never! never!
never!” And she patted the bed expressively, and with the prettiest
impatience.

“Well, let Hope take off her earrings first,” suggested Mrs. Dodd.

“No, no, come here directly, earrings and all.”

“No, thank you; or I shall have _them_ wounding you next.”

Mrs. Hope quietly removed her earrings, and the tender pair passed the
rest of the night in one another’s arms. The young girl’s tears were
dried; and hope revived, and life bloomed again: only, henceforth her
longing eyes looked out to sea for her father, homeward bound.

Next day, as they were seated together in the drawing-room, Julia came
from the window with a rush, and kneeled at Mrs. Dodd’s knees, with
bright imploring face upturned.

“He is there; and--I am to speak to him? Is that it?”

“Dear, dear, dear mamma!” was the somewhat oblique reply.

“Well, then, bring me my things.”

She was ten minutes putting them on: Julia tried to expedite her and
retarded her. She had her pace, and could not go beyond it.

Now by this time Alfred Hardie was thoroughly miserable. Unable to move
his father, shunned by Julia, sickened by what he had heard, and indeed
seen, of her gaiety and indifference to their separation, stung by
jealousy and fretted by impatience, he was drinking nearly all the
bitters of that sweet passion, Love. But as you are aware, he ascribed
Julia’s inconstancy, lightness, and cruelty all to Mrs. Dodd. He hated
her cordially, and dreaded her into the bargain; he played the sentinel
about her door all the more because she had asked him not to do it
“Always do what your enemy particularly objects to,” said he, applying
to his own case the wisdom of a Greek philosopher, one of his teachers.

So, when the gate suddenly opened, and instead of Julia, this very Mrs.
Dodd walked towards him, his feelings were anything but enviable. He
wished himself away, heartily, but was too proud to retreat. He stood
his ground. She came up to him; a charming smile broke out over her
features. “Ah! Mr. Hardie,” said she, “if you have nothing better to do,
will you give me a minute?” He assented with surprise and an ill grace.

“May I take your arm?”

He offered it with a worse.

She laid her hand lightly on it, and it shuddered at her touch. He felt
like walking with a velvet tigress.

By some instinct she divined his sentiment, and found her task more
difficult than she had thought; she took some steps in silence. At last,
as he was no dissembler, he burst out passionately, “Why are you my
enemy?”

“I am not your enemy,” said she quietly.

“Not openly, but all the more dangerous. You keep us apart, you bid her
be gay and forget me; you are a cruel, hard-hearted lady.”

“No, I am not, sir,” said Mrs. Dodd simply.

“Oh! I believe you are good and kind to all the rest of the world; but
you know you have a heart of iron for me.”

“I am my daughter’s friend, but not your enemy; it is you who are too
inexperienced to know how delicate, how difficult, my duties are. It is
only since last night I see my way clear; and, look, I come at once to
you with friendly intentions. Suppose I were as impetuous as you are? I
should, perhaps, be calling you ungrateful.”

He retorted bitterly. “Give me something to be grateful for, and you
shall see whether that baseness is in my nature.”

“I have a great mind to put you to the proof,” said she archly. “Let
us walk down this lane; then you can be as unjust to me _as you think
proper,_ without attracting public attention.”

In the lane she told him quietly she knew the nature of his father’s
objections to the alliance he had so much at heart, and they were
objections which her husband, on his return, would remove. On this he
changed his tone a little, and implored her piteously not to deceive
him.

“I will not,” said she, “upon my honour. If you are as constant as my
daughter is in her esteem for you--notwithstanding her threadbare
gaiety worn over loyal regret, and to check a parcel of idle ladies’
tongues--you have nothing to fear from me, and everything to expect.
Come, _Alfred_--may I take that liberty with you?--let us understand one
another. We only want that to be friends.”

This was hard to resist and at his age. His lip trembled, he hesitated,
but at last gave her his hand. She walked two hours with him, and laid
herself out to enlighten, soothe, and comfort his sore heart His hopes
and happiness revived under her magic, as Julia’s had. In the midst of
it all, the wise woman quietly made terms. He was not to come to the
house but on her invitation, unless indeed he had news of the _Agra_ to
communicate; but he might write once a week to her, and enclose a few
lines to Julia. On this concession he proceeded to mumble her white
wrist, and call her his best, dearest, loveliest friend; his mother.
“Oh, remember,” said he, with a relic of distrust, “you are the only
mother I can ever hope to have.”

That touched her. Hitherto, he had been to her but a thing her daughter
loved.

Her eyes filled. “My poor, warm-hearted, motherless boy,” she said,
“pray for my husband’s safe return. For on that your happiness depends,
and hers, and mine.”

So now two more bright eyes looked longingly seaward for the _Agra_
homeward bound.



CHAPTER VII

NORTH latitude 23.5, longitude east 113; the time March of this same
year; the wind southerly; the port Whampoa, in the Canton river. Ships
at anchor reared their tall masts here and there, and the broad stream
was enlivened and coloured by junks and boats of all sizes and vivid
hues, propelled on the screw principle by a great scull at the stern,
with projecting handles, for the crew to work; and at times a gorgeous
mandarin boat, with two great glaring eyes set in the bows, came flying,
rowed with forty paddles by an armed crew, whose shields hung on the
gunwale and flashed fire in the sunbeams: the mandarin, in conical and
buttoned hat, sitting on the top of his cabin calmly smoking Paradise,
_alias_ opium, while his gong boomed and his boat flew fourteen miles
an hour, and all things scuttled out of his celestial way. And there,
looking majestically down on all these water-ants, the huge _Agra,_
cynosure of so many loving eyes and loving hearts in England, lay at her
moorings; homeward bound.

Her tea not being yet on board, the ship’s hull floated high as a
castle, and to the subtle, intellectual, doll-faced, bolus-eyed people
that sculled to and fro busy as bees, though looking forked mushrooms,
she sounded like a vast musical shell: for a lusty harmony of many
mellow voices vibrated in her great cavities, and made the air ring
cheerily around her. The vocalists were the Cyclops, to judge by the
tremendous thumps that kept clean time to their sturdy tune. Yet it was
but human labour, so heavy and so knowing, that it had called in music
to help. It was the third mate and his gang completing his floor to
receive the coming tea-chests. Yesterday he had stowed his dunnage, many
hundred bundles of light flexible canes from Sumatra and Malacca; on
these he had laid tons of rough saltpetre, in 200 lb. gunny-bags: and
was now mashing it to music, bags and all. His gang of fifteen, naked
to the waist, stood in line, with huge wooden beetles called commanders,
and lifted them high and brought them down on the nitre in cadence with
true nautical power and unison, singing as follows, with a ponderous
bump on the first note in each bar.

[music notation]

And so up to fifteen, when the stave was concluded with a shrill “Spell,
oh!” and the gang relieved, streaming with perspiration. When the
saltpetre was well mashed, they rolled ton water-butts on it, till the
floor was like a billiard table. A fleet of chop boats then began to
arrive, so many per day, with the tea-chests. Mr. Grey proceeded to lay
the first tier on his saltpetre floor, and then built the chests, tier
upon tier, beginning at the sides, and leaving in the middle a lane
somewhat narrower than a tea-chest Then he applied a screw jack to the
chests on both sides, and so enlarged his central aperture, and forced
the remaining tea-chests in; and behold the enormous cargo packed as
tight as ever shopkeeper packed a box--nineteen thousand eight hundred
and six chests, sixty half chests, fifty quarter chests.

While Mr. Grey was contemplating his work with singular satisfaction, a
small boat from Canton came alongside, and Mr. Tickell, midshipman, ran
up the side, skipped on the quarterdeck, saluted it first, and then the
first mate; and gave him a line from the captain, desiring him to take
the ship down to Second Bar--for her water--at the turn of the tide.

Two hours after receipt of this order the ship swung to the ebb.
Instantly Mr. Sharpe unmoored, and the _Agra_ began her famous voyage,
with her head at right angles to her course; for the wind being foul,
all Sharpe could do was to set his topsails, driver, and jib, and keep
her in the tide way, and clear of the numerous craft, by backing or
filling as the case required; which he did with considerable dexterity,
making the sails steer the helm for the nonce: he crossed the Bar at
sunset, and brought to with the best bower anchor in five fathoms and a
half. Here they began to take in their water, and on the fifth day
the six-oared gig was ordered up to Canton for the captain. The next
afternoon he passed the ship in her, going down the river to Lin-Tin,
to board the Chinese admiral for his chop, or permission to leave China.
All night the _Agra_ showed three lights at her mizen peak for him, and
kept a sharp look out. But he did not come: he was having a very
serious talk with the Chinese admiral; at daybreak, however, the gig
was reported in sight: Sharpe told one of the midshipmen to call the
boatswain and man the side. Soon the gig ran alongside; two of the
ship’s boys jumped like monkeys over the bulwarks, lighting, one on the
main channels, the other on the midship port, and put the side ropes
assiduously in the captain’s hands; he bestowed a slight paternal smile
on them, the first the imps had ever received from an officer, and
went lightly up the sides. The moment his foot touched the deck,
the boatswain gave a frightful shrill whistle; the men at the sides
uncovered; the captain saluted the quarter-deck, and all the officers
saluted him, which he returned, and stepping for a moment to the weather
side of his deck, gave the loud command, “All hands heave anchor.” He
then directed Mr. Sharpe to get what sail he could on the ship, the wind
being now westerly, and dived into his cabin.

The boatswain piped three shrill pipes, and “All hands up anchor,” was
thrice repeated forward, followed by private admonitions, “Rouse and
bitt!” “Show a leg!” &c., and up tumbled the crew with homeward bound
written on their tanned faces.

(Pipe.) “Up all hammocks.”

In ten minutes the ninety and odd hammocks were all stowed neatly in
the netting, and covered with a snowy hammock-cloth; and the hands were
active, unbitting the cable, shipping the capstan bars, &c.

“All ready below, sir,” cried a voice.

“Man the bars,” returned Mr. Sharpe from the quarter-deck. “Play up,
fifer. Heave away.”

Out broke the merry fife, with a rhythmical tune, and tramp, tramp,
tramp went a hundred and twenty feet round and round, and, with brawny
chests pressed tight against the capstan bars, sixty fine fellows walked
the ship up to her anchor, drowning the fife at intervals with their
sturdy song, as pat to their feet as an echo:--

     Heave with a will, ye jolly boys,
     Heave around:
     We’re off from Chainee, jolly boys,
     Homeward bound.

“Short stay apeak, sir,” roars the boatswain from forward.

“Unship the bars. Way aloft. Loose sails. Let fall.”

The ship being now over her anchor, and the top-sails set, the capstan
bars were shipped again, the men all heaved with a will, the messenger
grinned, the anchor was torn out of China with a mighty heave, and then
ran up with a luff tackle and secured; the ship’s head cast to port.

“Up with the jib--man the taupsle halliards--all hands make sail.” Round
she came slow and majestically; the sails filled, and the good ship bore
away for England.

She made the Bogue forts in three or four tacks, and there she had to
come to again for another chop, China being a place as hard to get into
as Heaven, and to get out of as--Chancery. At three P.M. she was at
Macao, and hove to four miles from the land to take in her passengers.

A gun was fired from the forecastle. No boats came off. Sharpe began to
fret; for the wind, though light, had now got to the N.W., and they were
wasting it. After a while the captain came on deck, and ordered all
the carronades to be scaled. The eight heavy reports bellowed the great
ship’s impatience across the water and out pulled two boats with the
passengers. While they were coming, Dodd sent and ordered the gunner to
load the carronades with shot, and secure and apron them. The first boat
brought Colonel Kenealy, Mr. Fullalove, and a prodigious negro, who all
mounted by the side-ropes. But the whip was rigged for the next boat,
and the Honourable Mrs. Beresford and poodle hoisted on board, item her
white maid, item her black nurse, item her little boy and male Oriental
in charge thereof, the strangest compound of dignity and servility, and
of black and white, being clad in snowy cotton and japanned to the nine.

Mrs. Beresford was the wife of a member of council in India. She had
been to Macao for her boy’s health, intending to return to Calcutta:
but meantime her husband was made a director, and went home: so she was
going to join him. A tall, handsome lady, with too curved a nose.

Like most aquiline women, she was born to domineer a bit; and, for the
last ten years, Orientals clinging at her knee and Europeans flattering
at her ear had nursed this quality highs and spoiled her with all their
might. A similar process had been applied to her boy Frederick from
infancy; he was now nearly six. Arrogance and caprice shone so in both
their sallow faces, and spoke so in every gesture, that as they came
on board, Sharpe, a reader of passengers, whispered the second mate:
“Bayliss, we have shipped the devil.”

“And a cargo of his imps,” grunted Mr. Bayliss.

Mr. Fullalove was a Methodist parson--to the naked eye: grave, sober,
lean, lank-haired. But some men are hidden fires. Fullalove was one of
the extraordinary products of an extraordinary nation, the United States
of America. He was an engineer for one thing, and an inventive and
practical mechanician; held two patents of his own creating, which
yielded him a good income both at home and in Great Britain. Such
results are seldom achieved without deep study and seclusion; and,
accordingly, Joshua Fullalove, when the inventive fit was on, would be
buried deep as Archimedes for a twelvemonth, burning the midnight oil:
then, his active element predominating, the pale student would dash
into the forest or the prairie, with a rifle and an Indian, and come
out bronzed, and more or less be-panthered or be-buffaloed; thence
invariably to sea for a year or two. There, Anglo-Saxon to the backbone,
his romance had ever an eye to business; he was always after foreign
mechanical inventions--he was now importing a excellent one from
Japan--and ready to do lucrative feats of knowledge: thus he bought
a Turkish ship at the bottom of the Dardanelles for twelve hundred
dollars, raised her cargo (hardware), and sold it for six thousand
dollars; then weighed the empty ship, pumped her, repaired he; and
navigated her himself into Boston harbour, Massachusetts. On the way
he rescued, with his late drowned ship, a Swedish vessel, and received
salvage. He once fished eighty elephants’ tusks out of a craft foundered
in the Firth of Forth, to the disgust of elder Anglo-Saxons looking
on from the shore. These unusual pursuits were varied by a singular
recreation: he played at elevating the African character to European
levels. With this view he had bought Vespasian for eighteen hundred
dollars; whereof anon. America is fertile in mixtures: what do we not
owe her? Sherry cobbler, gin sling, cocktail, mint julep, brandy smash,
sudden death, eye openers. Well, one day she outdid herself, and mixed
Fullalove: Quaker, Nimrod, Archimedes, Philanthropist, decorous Red
Rover, and What Not.

The passenger boats cast loose.

“All hands make sail.”

The boatswain piped, the light-heeled topsmen sped up the rathines and
lay out the yards, while all on deck looked up as usual to see them
work. Out bellied sail after sail aloft; the ship came curtseying round
to the southward, spread her snowy pinions high and wide, and went like
a bird over the wrinkled sea--homeward bound.

It was an exhilarating start, and all faces were bright--but one. The
captain looked somewhat grave and thoughtful, and often scanned the
horizon with his glass; he gave polite but very short answers to his
friend Colonel Kenealy, who was firing nothings in his ear, and sent for
the gunner.

While that personage, a crusty old Niler called Monk, is cleaning
himself to go on the quarter-deck, peep we into captain Dodd’s troubled
mind, and into the circumstances which connect him with the heart of
this story, despite the twelve thousand miles of water between him and
the lovers at Barkington.

It had always been his pride to lay by money for his wife and children,
and, under advice of an Indian friend, he had, during the last few
years, placed considerable sums, at intervals, in a great Calcutta
house, which gave eight per cent for deposits: swelled by fresh capital
and such high interest, the hoard grew fast. When his old ship, sore
battered off the Cape, was condemned by the company’s agents at Canton,
he sailed to Calcutta, intending to return thence to England as a
passenger. But while he was at Calcutta, the greatest firm there
suspended payment carrying astonishment and dismay into a hundred
families. At such moments the press and the fireside ring for a little
while with the common-sense cry,* “Good interest means bad security.” As
for Dodd, who till then had revered all these great houses with nautical
or childlike confidence, a blind terror took the place of blind trust in
him; he felt guilty towards his children for risking their money (he had
got to believe it was theirs, not his), and vowed, if he could only get
hold of it once more, he would never trust a penny of it out of his own
hands again, except, perhaps, to the Bank of England. But should he ever
get it? It was a large sum. He went to Messrs. Anderson & Anderson, and
drew for his fourteen thousand pounds. To his dismay, but hardly to his
surprise, the clerks looked at one another, and sent the cheque into
some inner department. Dodd was kept waiting. His heart sank with him:
there was a hitch.

     *The Duke of Wellington (the iron one) is the author of this
     saying.

Meantime came a Government officer, and paid in an enormous sum in notes
and mercantile bills, principally the latter.

Presently Dodd was invited into the manager’s room.

“Leaving the country, Captain Dodd?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You had better take some of your money in bills at sight on London.”

“I would rather have notes, sir,” faltered Dodd.

“Oh, bills by Oliveira upon Baring are just as good, even without our
endorsement. However, you can have half and half. Calcutta does but
little in English bank-notes, you know.”

They gave him his money. The bills were all manifestly good. But he
recognised one of them as having just been paid in by the civilian. He
found himself somehow safe in the street clutching the cash, with one
half of his great paternal heart on fire, and the other half freezing.
He had rescued his children’s fortune, but he had seen destruction
graze it. The natural chill at being scraped by peril soon passed, the
triumphant glow remained. The next sentiment was precaution: he filled
with it to the brim; he went and bought a great broad pocket-book with
a key to it; though he was on dry land. He covered it with oiled silk
against the water; and sewed the whole thing to his flannel waistcoat,
and felt for it with his hand a hundred times a day: the fruit of his
own toil, his children’s hoard, the rescued treasure he was to have the
joy of bringing home safe to the dear partner of all his joys.

Unexpectedly he was ordered out to Canton to sail the _Agra_ to the
Cape. Then a novel and strange feeling came over him like a cloud; that
feeling was, a sense of personal danger: not that the many perils of the
deep were new to him: he had faced them this five-and-twenty years: but
till now they were little present to his imagination: they used to come,
be encountered, be gone: but now, though absent, they darkened the way.
It was the pocket-book. The material treasure, the hard cash, which had
lately set him in a glow, seemed now to load his chest and hang heavy
round the neck of his heart. Sailors are more or less superstitious, and
men are creatures of habit, even in their courage. Now David had never
gone to sea with a lot of money on him before. As he was a stout-hearted
man, these vague forebodings would, perhaps, have cleared away with
the bustle, when the _Agra_ set her studding sails off Macao, but for a
piece of positive intelligence he had picked up at Lin-Tin. The Chinese
admiral had warned him of a pirate, a daring pirate, who had been lately
cruising in these waters: first heard of south the line, but had since
taken a Russian ship at the very mouth of the Canton river, murdered
the crew in sight of land, and sold the women for slaves, or worse. Dodd
asked for particulars: was he a Ladroner, a Malay, a Bornese? In what
latitude was he to be looked for? The admiral on this examined his
memoranda: by these it appeared little was known as yet about the
miscreant, except that he never cruised long on one ground; the crew was
a mixed one: the captain was believed to be a Portuguese, and to have a
consort commanded by his brother: but this was doubtful; at all events,
the pair had never been seen at work together.


The gunner arrived and saluted the quarter-deck; the captain on this
saluted him, and beckoned him to the weather side. On this the other
officers kept religiously to leeward.

“Mr. Monk,” said Dodd, “you will clean and prepare all the small arms
directly.”

“Ay, ay, sir,” said the old Niler, with a gleam of satisfaction.

“How many of your deck-guns are serviceable?”

This simple question stirred up in one moment all the bile in the poor
old gentleman’s nature.

“My deck-guns serviceable! how the ---- _can_ they when that son of a
sea-cook your third mate has been and lashed the water butts to their
breechings, and jammed his gear in between their nozzles, till they
can’t breathe, poor things, far less bark. I wish _he_ was lashed
between the devil’s hind-hocks with a red hot cable as tight as he has
jammed my guns.

“Be so good as not to swear, Mr. Monk,” said Dodd. “At your age sir, I
look to you to set an example to the petty officers.”

“Well, I won’t swear no more, sir, d--d if I do!” He added very loudly,
and with a seeming access of ire, “And I ax your pardon, captain, and
the deck’s.”

When a man has a deep anxiety, some human midge or mosquito buzzes
at him. It is a rule. To Dodd, heavy with responsibility, and a dark
misgiving he must not communicate, came delicately, and by degrees,
and with a semigenuflexion every three steps, one like a magpie; and,
putting his hands together, as our children do to approach the Almighty,
delivered himself thus, in modulated tones, and good Hindostanee. “The
Daughter of light, in whose beams I, Ramgolam, bask, glows with an
amicable desire to see the lord commander of the ship resembling a
mountain; and to make a communication.”

Taught by sad experience how weighty are the communications the
daughters of light pour into nautical commanders at sea, Dodd hailed
Mr. Tickell, a midshipman, and sent him down to the lady’s cabin. Mr.
Tickell soon came back reddish, but grinning, to say that nothing less
than the captain would do.

Dodd sighed, and dismissed Monk with a promise to inspect the gun-deck
himself; then went down to Mrs. Beresford and found her indignant. Why
had he stopped the ship miles and miles from Macao, and given her the
trouble and annoyance of a voyage in that nasty little boat? Dodd opened
his great brown eyes, “Why, madam, it is shoal water off Macao; we dare
not come in.”

“No evasion, sir. What have I to do with your shoal water? It was
laziness, and want of consideration for a lady who has rented half your
ship.”

“Nothing of the kind, madam, I assure you.”

“Are you the person they call Gentleman Dodd?”

“Yes.”

“Then don’t contradict a lady, or I shall take the liberty to dispute
your title.”

Dodd took no notice of this, and with a patience few nautical commanders
would have shown, endeavoured to make her see that he was obliged to
give Macao shoals a wide berth, or cast away the ship. She would not see
it. When Dodd saw she wanted, not an explanation, but a grievance, he
ceased to thwart her. “I am neglecting my duties to no purpose,” said
he, and left her without ceremony. This was a fresh offence; and, as he
went out, she declared open war. And she made it too from that hour: a
war of pins and needles.

Dodd went on the gun-deck and found that the defence of the ship had,
as usual in these peaceful days, been sacrificed to the cargo. Out of
twenty eighteen-pounders she carried on that deck, he cleared three, and
that with difficulty. To clear any more he must have sacrificed either
merchandise or water: and he was not the man to do either on the mere
chance of a danger so unusual as an encounter with a pirate. He was a
merchant captain, not a warrior.

Meantime the _Agra_ had already shown him great sailing qualities:
the log was hove at sundown and gave eleven knots; so that with a good
breeze abaft, few fore-and-aft rigged pirates could overhaul her. And
this wind carried her swiftly past one nest of them, at all events:
the Ladrone isles. At nine P.M., all the lights were ordered out. Mrs.
Beresford had brought a novel on board, and refused to comply; the
master-at-arms insisted; she threatened him with the vengeance of the
Company, the premier, and the nobility and gentry of the British realm.
The master-at-arms, finding he had no chance in argument, doused the
glim--pitiable resource of a weak disputant--then basely fled the
rhetorical consequences.


The northerly breeze died out, and light variable winds baffled the
ship. It was the 6th April ere she passed the Macclesfield Bank in
latitude 16. And now they sailed for many days out of sight of land.
Dodd’s chest expanded: his main anxiety at this part of the voyage lay
in the state cabin; of all the perils of the sea, none shakes a sailor
like fire. He set a watch day and night on that spoiled child.


On the 1st May they passed the great Nantuna, and got among the Bornese
and Malay islands: at which the captain’s glass began to sweep the
horizon again, and night and day at the dizzy foretop gallant mast-head
he perched an Eye.

They crossed the line in longitude 107, with a slight breeze, but soon
fell into the Doldrums. A dead calm, and nothing to do but kill time.
Dodd had put down Neptune: that old blackguard could no longer row out
on the ship’s port side and board her on the starboard, pretending to
come from ocean’s depths; and shave the novices with a rusty hoop and
dab a soapy brush in their mouths. But champagne popped, the sexes
flirted, and the sailors span fathomless yarns, and danced rattling
hornpipes, fiddled to by the grave Fullalove. “If there is a thing
I _can_ dew, it’s fiddle,” said he. He and his friend, as he
systematically called Vespasian, taught the crew Yankee steps, and were
beloved. One honest saltatory British tar offered that Western pair
his grog for a week. Even Mrs. Beresford emerged, and walked the deck,
quenching her austere regards with a familiar smile on Colonel Kenealy,
her escort. This gallant good-natured soldier flattered her to the nine,
and, finding her sweeten with his treacle, tried to reconcile her to his
old friend Dodd. Straight she soured, and forbade the topic imperiously.

By this time the mates and midshipmen of the _Agra_ had fathomed their
captain. Mr. Tickell delivered the mind of the united midshipmen when
he proposed Dodd’s health in their mess-room, “as a navigator, a
mathematician, a seaman, a gentleman, and a brick, with three times
three.”

Dodd never spoke to his officers like a ruffian, nor yet palavered them,
but he had a very pleasant way of conveying appreciation of an officer’s
zeal, by a knowing nod with a kindly smile on the heels of it. As
for the men, they seldom came in contact with the captain of a
well-officered ship: this crew only knew him at first as a good-tempered
soul, who didn’t bother about nothing. But one day, as they lay becalmed
south of the line, a jolly foretopman came on the quarter-deck with a
fid of soup, and saluting and scraping, first to the deck, then to the
captain, asked him if he would taste that.

“Yes, my man. Smoked!”

“Like ---- and blazes, your honour, axing your pardon, and the deck’s.”

“Young gentleman,” said Dodd to Mr. Meredith, a midshipman, “be so good
as to send the cook aft.”

The cook came, and received, not an oath nor a threat but a
remonstrance, and a grim warning.

In the teeth of this he burnt the soup horribly the very next day.
The crew sent the lucky foretopman aft again. He made his scrape and
presented his fid. The captain tasted the soup, and sent Mr. Grey to bid
the boatswain’s mate pipe the hands on deck and bring the cook aft.

“Quartermaster, unsling a fire-bucket and fill it from the men’s kids:
Mr. Tickell, see the cook swallow his own mess. Bosen’s mate, take
a bight of the flying jib sheet stand over him, and start him if he
dailies with it.” With this the captain went below, and the cook,
supping at the bucket delivered himself as follows: “Well, ye lubbers,
it is first--rate. _There’s_ no burn in it. It goes down like oil. Curse
your ladylike stomachs; you ain’t fit for a ship; why don’t ye go
ashore and man a gingerbread coach and feed off French frogs and Italian
baccy-pipe stems? (Whack.) What the ---- is that for?”

_Boatswain’s mate._ “Sup more, and jaw less.”

“Well, I am supping as fast as I can. (Whack, whack.) Bloody end to ye,
what are ye about? (Whack, whack, whack.) Oh, Joe, Lord bless you, I
_can’t_ eat any more of it. (Whack.) I’ll give you my grog for a week
only to let me fling the ---- stuff over the side. (Whack, whack,
whack.) Oh, good, kind, dear Mr. Tickell, do go down to the captain for
me.” (Whack, whack.)

“Avast!” cried the captain, reappearing; and the uplifted rope fell
harmless.

“Silence, fore and aft!”

(Pipe.)

“The cook has received a light punishment this time, for spoiling the
men’s mess. My crew shall eat nothing I can’t eat myself. My care
is heavier than theirs is; but not my work, nor my danger in time of
danger. Mind that, or you’ll find I can be as severe as any master
afloat. Purser.”

“Sir.”

“Double the men’s grog: they have been cheated of their meal.”

“Ay, ay, sir.”

“And stop the cook’s and his mate’s for a week.”

“Ay, ay, sir.”

“Bosen, pipe down.”

“Shipmates, listen to me,” said the foretopman. “This old _Agra_ is a
d----d com--for--table ship.”

The oracular sentence was hailed with a ringing cheer. Still, it is
unlucky the British seaman is so enamoured of theological terms; for he
constantly misapplies them.

After lying a week like a dead log on the calm but heaving waters, came
a few light puffs in the upper air and inflated the topsails only: the
ship crawled southward, the crew whistling for wind.

At last, one afternoon, it began to rain, and after the rain came a
gale from the eastward. The watchful skipper saw it purple the water
to windward, and ordered the topsails to be reefed and the lee ports
closed. This last order seemed an excess of precaution; but Dodd was not
yet thoroughly acquainted with his ship’s qualities: and the hard cash
round his neck made him cautious. The lee ports were closed, all but
one, and that was lowered. Mr. Grey was working a problem in his cabin,
and wanted a little light and a little air, so he just drooped his port;
but, not to deviate from the spirit of his captain’s instructions, he
fastened a tackle to it; that he might have mechanical force to close it
with should the ship lie over.

Down came the gale with a whoo, and made all crack. The ship lay over
pretty much, and the sea poured in at Mr. Grey’s port. He applied his
purchase to close it. But though his tackle gave him the force of a
dozen hands, he might as well have tried to move a mountain; on the
contrary, the tremendous sea rushed in and burst the port wide open.
Grey, after a vain struggle with its might, shrieked for help; down
tumbled the nearest hands, and hauled on the tackle in vain. Destruction
was rushing on the ship, and on them first. But meantime the captain,
with a shrewd guess at the general nature of the danger he could not
see, had roared out, “Slack the main sheet.” The ship righted, and the
port came flying to, and terror-stricken men breathed hard, up to their
waists in water and floating boxes. Grey barred the unlucky port and
went aft, drenched in body, and wretched in mind, to report his own
fault. He found the captain looking grim as death. He told him, almost
crying, what he had done, and how he had miscalculated the power of the
water.

Dodd looked and saw his distress. “Let it be a lesson, sir,” said he,
sternly. “How many ships have been lost by this in fair weather, and not
a man saved to tell how the craft was fooled away?”

“Captain, bid me fling myself over the side, and I’ll do it.”

“Hummph! I’m afraid I can’t afford to lose a good officer for a fault
he--will--never--repeat”

It blew hard all night and till twelve the next day. The _Agra_ showed
her weak point: she rolled abominably. A dirty night came on. At eight
bells Mr. Grey, touched by Dodd’s clemency and brimful of zeal, reported
a light in Mrs. Beresford’s cabin. It had been put out as usual by the
master-at-arms; but the refractory one had relighted it.

“Go and take it away,” said Dodd.

Soon screams were heard from the cabin. “Oh, mercy! mercy! I will not be
drowned in the dark.”

Dodd, who had kept clear of her so long, went down and tried to reassure
her.

“Oh, the tempest! the tempest!” she cried. “AND TO BE DROWNED IN THE
DARK!”


“Tempest? It is blowing half a gale of wind; that is all.”

“Half a gale! Ah! that is the way you always talk to us ladies. Oh, pray
give me my light, and send me a clergyman.”

Dodd took pity, and let her have her light, with a midshipman to watch
it. He even made her a hypocritical promise that should there be one
grain of danger, he would lie to; but said he must not make a foul wind
of a fair one for a few lee lurches. The _Agra_ broke plenty of glass
and crockery though, with her fair wind and her lee lurches.

Wind down at noon next day, and a dead calm.

At two P. M. the weather cleared; the sun came out high in heaven’s
centre; and a balmy breeze from the west.

At six twenty-five, the grand orb set calm and red, and the sea was
gorgeous with miles and miles of great ruby dimples: it was the first
glowing smile of southern latitude. The night stole on so soft, so
clear, so balmy, all were loth to chose their eyes on it: the passengers
lingered long on deck, watching the Great Bear dip, and the Southern
Cross rise, and overhead a whole heaven of glorious stars most of us
have never seen, and never shall see in this world. No belching smoke
obscured, no plunging paddles deafened; all was musical; the soft air
sighing among the sails; the phosphorescent water bubbling from the
ship’s bows; the murmurs from little knots of men on deck subdued by the
great calm: home seemed near, all danger far; Peace ruled the sea, the
sky, the heart: the ship, making a track of white fire on the deep,
glided gently yet swiftly homeward, urged by snowy sails piled up like
alabaster towers against a violet sky, out of which looked a thousand
eyes of holy tranquil fire. So melted the sweet night away.


Now carmine streaks tinged the eastern sky at the water’s edge; and that
water blushed; now the streaks turned orange, and the waves below them
sparkled. Thence splashes of living gold flew and settled on the ship’s
white sails, the deck, and the faces; and with no more prologue, being
so near the line, up came majestically a huge, fiery, golden sun, and
set the sea flaming liquid topaz.

Instantly the look-out at the foretop-gallant-mast-head hailed the deck
below.

     “STRANGE SAIL! RIGHT AHEAD!”

The strange sail was reported to Captain Dodd, then dressing in his
cabin. He came soon after on deck and hailed the lookout: “Which way is
she standing?”

“Can’t say, sir. Can’t see her move any.”

Dodd ordered the boatswain to pipe to breakfast; and taking his deck
glass went lightly up to the fore-top-gallant-mast crosstrees. Thence,
through the light haze of a glorious morning, he espied a long low
schooner, lateen-rigged, lying close under Point Leat, a small island
about nine miles distant on the weather bow, and nearly in the _Agra’s_
course, then approaching the Straits of Gaspar, 4 latitude S.

“She is hove-to,” said Dodd very gravely.


At eight o’clock, the stranger lay about two miles to windward, and
still hove-to.

By this time all eyes were turned upon her, and half a dozen glasses.
Everybody, except the captain, delivered an opinion.

She was a Greek lying-to for water: she was a Malay coming north with
canes, and short of hands: she was a pirate watching the Straits.

The captain leaned silent and sombre with his arms on the bulwarks, and
watched the suspected craft.

Mr. Fullalove joined the group, and levelled a powerful glass, of his
own construction. His inspection was long and minute, and, while the
glass was at his eye, Sharpe asked him half in a whisper, could he make
out anything?

“Wal,” said he, “the varmint looks considerable snaky.” Then, without
removing his glass, he let drop a word at a time, as if the facts
were trickling into his telescope at the lens, and out at the sight
“One--two--four--seven, false ports.”

There was a momentary murmur among the officers all round. But British
sailors are undemonstrative: Colonel Kenealy, strolling the deck with
his cigar, saw they were watching another ship with maritime curiosity,
and making comments but he discerned no particular emotion nor anxiety
in what they said, nor in the grave low tones they said it in. Perhaps a
brother seaman would though.

The next observation that trickled out of Fullalove’s tube
was this: “I judge there are too few hands on deck, and too
many--white--eyeballs--glittering at the portholes.”

“Confound it,” muttered Bayliss, uneasily; “how can you see that?”

Fullalove replied only by quietly handing his glass to Dodd. The captain
thus appealed to, glued his eye to the tube.

“Well, sir; see the false ports, and the white eyebrows?” asked Sharpe
ironically.

“I see this is the best glass I ever looked through,” said Dodd
doggedly, without interrupting his inspection.

“I think he is a Malay pirate,” said Mr. Grey.

Sharpe took him up very quickly, and indeed angrily: “Nonsense. And if
he is, he won’t venture on a craft of this size.”

“Says the whale to the swordfish,” suggested Fullalove, with a little
guttural laugh.

The captain, with the American glass at his eye, turned half round to
the man at the wheel: “Starboard!”

“Starboard it is.”

“Steer south-south-east”

“Ay, ay, sir.” And the ship’s course was thus altered two points.

This order lowered Dodd fifty per cent. in Mr. Sharpe’s estimation.
He held his tongue as long as he could: but at last his surprise and
dissatisfaction burst out of him, “Won’t that bring him out on us!”

“Very likely, sir,” replied Dodd.

“Begging your pardon, captain, would it not be wiser to keep our course,
and show the blackguard we don’t fear him?”

“When we _do!_ Sharpe, he has made up his mind an hour ago whether to
lie still or bite; my changing my course two points won’t change his
mind, but it may make him declare it; and _I_ must know what he does
intend before I run the ship into the narrows ahead.”

“Oh, I see,” said Sharpe, half convinced.

The alteration in the _Agra’s_ course produced no movement on the part
of the mysterious schooner. She lay-to under the land still, and with
only a few hands on deck, while the _Agra_ edged away from her and
entered the Straits between Long Island and Point Leat, leaving the
schooner about two miles and a half distant to the N.W.


Ah! The stranger’s deck swarms black with men.

His sham ports fell as if by magic, his gums grinned through the gaps
like black teeth; his huge foresail rose and filled, and out he came in
chase.


The breeze was a kiss from Heaven, the sky a vaulted sapphire, the sea a
million dimples of liquid, lucid gold.



CHAPTER VIII

AMONGST the curiosities of human reasoning is this: one forms a judgment
on certain statements; they turn out incorrect, yet the judgment sound.

This occurs oftenest when, to divine what any known person will do in a
case stated, we go boldly by his character, his habits, or his interest:
for these are great forces, towards which men gravitate through various
and even contrary circumstances.

Now women, sitting at home out of detail’s way, are somewhat forced,
as well as naturally inclined, to rely on their insight into character;
and, by this broad clue, often pass through false or discoloured data to
a sound calculation.

Thus it was Mrs. Dodd applied her native sagacity to divine why Richard
Hardie declined Julia for his son’s wife, and how to make him withdraw
that dissent: and the fair diviner was much mistaken in detail but
right in her conclusion; for Richard Hardie _was_ at that moment the
unlikeliest man in Barkington to decline Julia Dodd--with Hard Cash in
five figures--for his daughter-in-law.

I am now about to make a revelation to the reader, that will
incidentally lead him to Mrs. Dodd’s conclusion, but by a different
path.

The outline she gave her daughter and my reader of Richard Hardie’s cold
and prudent youth was substantially correct; but something had occurred
since then, unknown to her, unknown to all Barkington. The centuries had
blown a respectable bubble.

About two hundred and fifty years ago, some genius, as unknown as the
inventor of the lathe, laid the first wooden tramroad, to enable a horse
to draw forty-two cwt. instead of seventeen. The coalowners soon used it
largely. In 1738, iron rails were invented; but prejudice, stronger
than that metal, kept them down, and the wooden ones in vogue, for some
thirty years. Then iron prevailed.

Meantime, a much greater invention had been creeping up to join the
metal way; I mean the locomotive power of steam, whose history is not
needed here. Enough that in 1804 took place as promising a wedding as
civilisation ever saw; for then an engine built by Trevethick, a great
genius frittered for want of pluck, drew carriages, laden with ten tons,
five miles an hour on a Welsh railway. Next stout Stephenson came on the
scene, and insisted on benefiting mankind in spite of themselves, and
of shallow legislators, _a priori_ reasoners, and a heavy _Review_
whose political motto was, “Stemus super antiquas vias;” which may be
rendered, “Better stand still on turnpikes than move on rails.”

His torments and triumph are history.

Two of his repartees seem neat: 1. To Lord Noodle, or Lord Doodle, which
was it? objecting haughtily, “And suppose a cow should get in the way
of your engine, sir?” he replied, “Why, then it would be bad--for the
coow.” The objector had overrated the obstructive power of his honoured
parent.

2. To the _a priori_ reasoners, who sat in their studies and
demonstrated with complete unanimity that uncogged wheels would revolve
on a smooth rail, but leave the carriage _in statu quo,_ he replied by
building an engine with Lord Ravensworth’s noble aid, hooking on eight
carriages, and rattling off up an incline. _“Solvitur ambulando,_” quoth
Stephenson the stout-hearted to Messrs. _A Priori._

Next a coach ran on the Stockton and Darlington rail. Next the Liverpool
and Manchester line was projected. Oh, then, what bitter opposition to
the national benefactors, and the good of man!

Awake from the tomb echoes of dead Cant.

“The revolving wheels might move the engine on a rail; but what
would that avail if they could not move them in the closet, and on a
mathematical paper? Railways would be bad for canals, bad for morals,
bad for highwaymen, bad for roadside inns: the smoke would kill the
partridges [‘Aha! thou hast touched us nearly,’ said the country
gentlemen), the travellers would go slowly to their destination, but
swift to destruction.” And the _Heavy Review,_ whose motto was _“Stemus
super_ turnpikes,” offered “to back old Father Thames against the
Woolwich railway for any sum.” And Black Will, who drove the next
heaviest ephemeral in the island, told a schoolboy, who now writes
these pages, “there’s nothing can ever be safe at twenty miles an hour,
without ‘tis a bird in the air;” and confirmed it with an oath. Briefly,
buzz! buzz! buzz!

Gray was crushed, Trevethick driven out of the country, stout Steevie
thwarted, badgered, taunted, and even insulted, and bespattered with
dirt--I might say with dung, since his opponents discharged their own
brains at him by speech and writing. At last, when, after the manner of
men, they had manured their benefactor well, they consented to reap him.
Railways prevailed, and increased, till lo and behold a Prime Minister
with a spade delving one in the valley of the Trent. The tide turned;
good working railways from city to city became an approved investment of
genuine capital, notwithstanding the frightful frauds and extortion to
which the projectors were exposed in a Parliament which, under a new
temptation, showed itself as corrupt and greedy as any nation or age can
parallel.

When this sober state of things had endured some time, there came a year
that money was loose, and a speculative fever due in the whirligig of
time. Then railways bubbled. New ones were advertised, fifty a month,
and all went to a premium. High and low scrambled for the shares,
even when the projected line was to run from the town of Nought to the
village of Nothing across a goose common. The flame spread, fanned by
prospectus and advertisement, two mines of glowing fiction, compared
with which the legitimate article is a mere tissue of understatements;
princes sat in railway tenders, and clove the air like the birds whose
effigies surmount their armorials; our stiffest Peers relaxed into
Boards; Bishops warned their clergy against avarice, and buttered Hudson
an inch thick for shares; and turned their little aprons into great
pockets; men, stainless hitherto, put down their infants, nurses
included, as independent subscribers, and bagged the coupons, _capturi
tartaros._ Nearly everything that had a name, and, by some immense
fortuity, could write it, demanded its part in the new and fathomless
source of wealth: a charwoman’s two sons were living in a garret on
fifteen shillings apiece per week; down went their excellencies’ names
for L. 37,000 worth of bubbling iron; another shareholder applied
imperiously from a house in Grosvenor Square; he had breakfasted on the
steps. Once more in Time’s whirligig gentlemen and their footmen jostled
one another on the Exchange, and a motley crew of peers and printers,
vicars and admirals, professors, cooks, costermongers, cotton-spinners,
waiters, coachmen, priests, potboys, hankers, braziers, dairymen,
mail-guards, barristers, spinsters, butchers, beggars, duchesses,
rag-merchants--in one word, of Nobs and Snobs; fought and scrambled pell
mell for the popular paper, and all to get rich in a day.*

     *For the humours of the time see the parliamentary return of
     Railway Subscribers, published 1846: Francis’s British
     Railway: Evan’s Commercial Crisis; and the pamphlets and
     journals of the day.

Richard Hardie had some money in existing railways, but he declined to
invest his hard cash upon hypotheticals. He was repeatedly solicited to
be a director, but always declined. Once he was offered a canny bribe
of a thousand pounds to let his name go on a provisional committee. He
refused with a characteristic remark: “I never buy any merchandise at a
fancy price, not even hard cash.”

Antidote to the universal mania, Barkington had this one wet blanket;
an unpopular institution; but far more salutary than a damp sheet
especially in time of Bubble.

Nearly all his customers consulted Richard Hardie, and this was the
substance of his replies: “The Bubbles of History, including the great
one of my youth, were national, as well as individual, follies. It is
not so now: the railways, that ruin their allottees and directors, will
be pure additions to the national property, and some day remove one
barrier more from commerce. The Dutch tulip frenzy went on a petty
fancy: the Railway fury goes on a great fact. Our predecessors blew mere
soap bubbles; we blow an iron bubble: but here the distinction ends.
In 1825 the country undertook immediate engagements, to fulfil which
a century’s income would not have sufficed: today a thousand railway
companies are registered, requiring a capital of six hundred million and
another thousand projected, to cost another five hundred million.
Where is the money to come from? If the world was both cultivated and
civilised (instead of neither), and this nation could be sold, with
every building, ship, quadruped, jewel, and marketable female in it,
it would not fetch the money to make these railways; yet the country
undertakes to create them in three years _with its floating capital._
Arithmetic of Bedlam! The thing cannot last a year without collapsing.”
 Richard Hardie _talked_ like this from first to last. But, when he
saw that shares invariably mounted; that even those who, for want of
interest, had to buy them at a premium, sold them at a profit; when he
saw paupers making large fortunes in a few months, by buying into every
venture and selling the next week--he itched for his share of the booty,
and determined to profit in act by the credulity of mankind, as well
as expose it in words. He made use of his large connections to purchase
shares, which he took care to part with speedily. He cleared a good deal
of money, and that made him hungrier: he went deeper and deeper into
what he called Flat-catching, till one day he stood to win thirty
thousand pounds at a _coup._

But it is dangerous to be a convert, real or false, to Bubble: the game
is to be rash at once, and turn prudent at the full tide. When Richard
Hardie was up to his chin in these time bargains, came an incident not
easy to foresee: the conductors of the _Times,_ either from patriotism
or long-sighted policy, punctured the bladder, though they were making
thousands weekly by the railway advertisements. The time was so well
chosen, and the pin applied, that it was a death-blow: shares declined
from that morning, and the inevitable panic was advanced a week or
two. The more credulous speculators held on in hopes of a revival; but
Hardie, who knew that the collapse had been merely hastened, saw the
gravity of the situation, and sold largely at a heavy loss. But he could
not sell all the bad paper he had accumulated for a temporary purpose:
the panic came too swiftly and too strong; soon there were no buyers
at any price. The biter was bit: the fox who had said, “This is a trap;
I’ll lightly come and lightly go,” was caught by the light fantastic
toe.

In this emergency he showed high qualities: vast financial ability,
great fortitude, and that sense of commercial honour which Mrs. Dodd
justly called his semi-chivalrous sentiment. He mustered all his private
resources to meet his engagements and maintain his high position. Then
commenced a long and steady struggle, conducted with a Spartan dignity
and self-command, and a countenance as close as wax. Little did any
in Barkington guess the doubts and fears, the hopes and despondencies,
which agitated and tore the heart and brain that schemed, and throbbed,
and glowed, and sickened by turns beneath that steady modulated
exterior. And so for months and months he secretly battled with
insolvency; sometimes it threatened in the distance, sometimes at hand,
but never caught him unawares: he provided for each coming danger, he
encountered each immediate attack. But not unscathed in morals. Just as
matters looked brighter, came a concentration of liabilities he could
not meet without emptying his tills, and so incurring the most frightful
danger of all. He had provided for its coming too; but a decline,
greater than he had reckoned on, in the value of his good securities,
made that provision inadequate. Then it was he committed a _faux-pas._
He was one of his own children’s trustees, and the other two signed
after him like machines. He said to himself: “My honour is my
children’s; my position is worth thousands _to them._ I have sacrificed
a fortune to preserve it; it would be madness to recoil now.” He
borrowed three thousand pounds of the trust money, and, soon after, two
thousand more: it kept him above water; but the peril, and the escape on
such terms, left him gasping inwardly.

At last, when even his granite nature was almost worn down with labour,
anxiety, and struggling all alone without a word of comfort--for
the price of one grain of sympathy would have been “Destruction”--he
shuffled off his iron burden and breathed again.

One day he spent in a sort of pleasing lethargy, like a strong swimmer
who, long and sore buffeted by the waves, has reached the shore at last.

The next day his cashier, a sharp-visaged, bald-headed old man called
Young Skinner, invited his attention rather significantly to the high
amount of certain balances compared with the cash at his (Skinner’s)
disposal.

“Indeed!” said Hardie quietly; “that must be regulated.” He added
graciously, as if conferring a great favour, “I’ll look into the books
myself, Skinner.”

He did more: he sat up all night over the books; and his heart died with
him. Bankruptcy seemed coming towards him, slow perhaps, but sure. And
meantime to live with the sword hanging over him by a hair!

Soon matters approached a crisis; several large drafts were drawn, which
would have cleaned the bank out, but that the yearly rents of a wealthy
nobleman had for some days past been flowing in. This nobleman had gone
to explore Syria and Assyria. He was a great traveller, who contrived
to live up to his income at home, but had never been able to spend a
quarter of it abroad, for want of enemies and masters--better known as
friends and servants--to help him. So Hardie was safe for some months,
unless there should be an extraordinary run on him, and that was not
likely this year; the panic had subsided, and, _nota bene,_ his credit
had never stood higher. The reason was, he had been double-faced; had
always spoken against railways: and his wise words were public, whereas
his fatal acts had been done in the dark.

But now came a change, a bitter revulsion, over this tossed mind: hope
and patience failed at last, and his virtue, being a thing of habit and
traditions rather than of the soul, wore out; nay more, this man, who
had sacrificed so nobly to commercial integrity, was filled with hate
of his idol and contempt of himself. “Idiot!” said he, “to throw away a
fortune fighting for honour--a greater bubble than that which has ruined
me--instead of breaking like a man, with a hidden purse, and starting
fair again, as sensible traders do.”

No honest man in the country that year repented of his vices so
sincerely as Richard Hardie loathed his virtue. And he did not confine
his penitence to sentiment: he began to spend his days at the bank
poring over the books, and to lay out his arithmetical genius in a
subtle process, that should enable him by degrees to withdraw a few
thousands from human eyes for his future use, despite the feeble
safeguards of the existing law. In other words, Richard Hardie,
like thousands before him, was fabricating and maturing a false
balance-sheet.

One man in his time plays many animals. Hardie at this period turned
mole. He burrowed darkling into _oes alienum._ There is often one of
these sleek miners in a bank: it is a section of human zoology the
journals have lately enlarged on, and drawn the painstaking creature
grubbing and mining away to brief opulence--and briefer penal servitude
than one could wish. I rely on my reader having read these really
able sketches of my contemporaries, and spare him minute details, that
possess scarcely a new feature, except one: in that bank was not only
a mole, but a mole-catcher; and, contrary to custom, the mole was the
master, the mole-catcher the servant. The latter had no hostile views;
far from it: he was rather attached to his master. But his attention was
roused by the youngest clerk, a boy of sixteen, being so often sent for
into the bank parlour, to copy into the books some arithmetical result,
without its process. Attention soon became suspicion; and suspicion
found many little things to feed on, till it grew to certainty. But the
outer world was none the wiser: the mole-catcher was no chatterbox; he
was a solitary man--no wife nor mistress about him; and he revered the
mole, and liked him better than anything in the world--_except money._

Thus the great banker stood, a colossus of wealth and stability to the
eye, though ready to crumble at a touch; and indeed self-doomed, for
bankruptcy was now his game.

This was a miserable man, far more miserable than his son, whose
happiness he had thwarted: his face was furrowed and his hair thinned by
a secret struggle; and of all the things that gnawed him, like the fox,
beneath his Spartan robe, none was more bitter than to have borrowed
five thousand pounds of his children and sunk it.

His wife’s father, a keen man of business, who saw there was little
affection on his side, had settled his daughter’s money on her for
life, and in case of her death, on the children upon coming of age.
The marriage of Alfred or Jane would be sure to expose him; settlements
would be proposed; lawyers engaged to peer into the trust, &c. No; they
_must_ remain single for the present, or else marry wealth.

So, when his son announced an attachment to a young lady living in a
suburban villa, it was a terrible blow, though he took it with outward
calm, as usual. But if, instead of prating about beauty, virtue, and
breeding, Alfred had told him hard cash in five figures could be settled
by the bride’s family on the young couple, he would have welcomed the
wedding with great external indifference, but a secret gush of joy; for
then he could throw himself on Alfred’s generosity, and be released from
that one corroding debt; perhaps allowed to go on drawing the interest
of the remainder.

Thus, in reality, all the interests with which this story deals
converged towards one point: the fourteen thousand pounds. Richard
Hardie’s opposition was a mere misunderstanding; and if he had been told
of the Cash, and to what purpose Mrs. Dodd destined it, and then put on
board the _Agra_ in the Straits of Gaspar, he would have calmly taken
off his coat, and help to defend the bearer of It against all assailants
as stoutly, and, to all appearance, imperturbably, as he had fought
that other bitter battle at home. For there was something heroic in this
erring man, though his rectitude depended on circumstances.



CHAPTER IX

THE way the pirate dropped the mask, showed his black teeth, and bore
up in chase, was terrible: so dilates and bounds the sudden tiger on his
unwary prey. There were stout hearts among the officers of the peaceable
_Agra_; but danger in a new form shakes the brave, and this was their
first pirate: their dismay broke out in ejaculations not loud but deep.
“Hush,” said Dodd doggedly; “the lady!”

Mrs. Beresford had just come on deck to enjoy the balmy morning.

“Sharpe,” said Dodd, in a tone that conveyed no suspicion to the
new-comer, “set the royals and flying jib.--Port!”

“Port it is,” cried the man at the helm.

“Steer due south!” And, with these words in his mouth, Dodd dived to the
gun-deck.

By this time elastic Sharpe had recovered the first shock, and the order
to crowd sail on the ship galled his pride and his manhood. He muttered
indignantly, “The white feather!” This eased his mind, and he obeyed
orders briskly as ever. While he and his hands were setting every rag
the ship could carry on that tack, the other officers having unluckily
no orders to execute, stood gloomy and helpless, with their eyes glued,
by a sort of sombre fascination, on that coming fate; and they literally
jumped and jarred when Mrs. Beresford, her heart opened by the lovely
day, broke in on their nerves with her light treble.

“What a sweet morning, gentlemen! After all, a voyage is a delightful
thing. Oh, what a splendid sea! and the very breeze is warm. Ah! and
there’s a little ship sailing along: here, Freddy, Freddy darling, leave
off beating the sailor’s legs, and come here and see this pretty ship.
What a pity it is so far off. Ah! ah! what is that dreadful noise?”

For her horrible small talk, that grated on those anxious souls like the
mockery of some infantine fiend, was cut short by ponderous blows and
tremendous smashing below. It was the captain staving in water-casks:
the water poured out at the scuppers.

“Clearing the lee guns,” said a middy, off his guard.

Colonel Kenealy pricked up his ears, drew his cigar from his mouth, and
smelt powder “What, for action?” said he briskly. “Where’s the enemy?”

Fullalove made him a signal, and they went below.

Mrs. Beresford had not heard or not appreciated the remark: she prattled
on till she made the mates and midshipmen shudder.

Realise the situation, and the strange incongruity between the senses
and the mind in these poor fellows! The day had ripened its beauty;
beneath a purple heaven shone, sparkled, and laughed a blue sea, in
whose waves the tropical sun seemed to have fused his beams; and beneath
that fair, sinless, peaceful sky, wafted by a balmy breeze over those
smiling, transparent, golden waves, a bloodthirsty Pirate bore down on
them with a crew of human tigers; and a lady babble babble babble babble
babble babble babbled in their quivering ears.

But now the captain came bustling on deck, eyed the loftier sails, saw
they were drawing well, appointed four midshipmen a staff to convey his
orders: gave Bayliss charge of the carronades, Grey of the cutlasses,
and directed Mr. Tickell to break the bad news gently to Mrs. Beresford,
and to take her below to the orlop deck; ordered the purser to serve out
beet biscuit, and grog to all hands, saying, “Men can’t work on an empty
stomach: and fighting is hard work;” then beckoned the officers to come
round him. “Gentlemen,” said he, confidentially, “in crowding sail on
this ship I had no hope of escaping that fellow on this tack, but I was,
and am, most anxious to gain the open sea, where I can square my yards
and run for it, if I see a chance. At present I shall carry on till he
comes within range: and then, to keep the Company’s canvas from being
shot to rags, I shall shorten sail; and to save ship and cargo and all
our lives, I shall fight while a plank of her swims. Better be killed in
hot blood than walk the plank in cold.”

The officers cheered faintly; the captain’s dogged resolution stirred up
theirs.

The pirate had gained another quarter of a mile and more. The ship’s
crew were hard at their beef and grog, and agreed among themselves it
was a comfortable ship. They guessed what was coming, and woe to the
ship in that hour if the captain had not won their respect. Strange
to say, there were two gentlemen in the _Agra_ to whom the pirate’s
approach was not altogether unwelcome. Colonel Kenealy and Mr. Fullalove
were rival sportsmen and rival theorists. Kenealy stood out for a
smooth bore and a four-ounce ball; Fullalove for a rifle of his own
construction. Many a doughty argument they had, and many a bragging
match; neither could convert the other. At last Fullalove hinted that by
going ashore at the Cape, and getting each behind a tree at one hundred
yards, and popping at one another, one or other would be convinced.

“Well, but,” said Kenealy, “if he is dead, he will be no wiser. Besides,
to a fellow like me, who has had the luxury of popping at his enemies,
popping at a friend is poor insipid work.”

“That is true,” said the other regretfully. “But I reckon we shall never
settle it by argument.”

Theorists are amazing; and it was plain, by the alacrity with which
these good creatures loaded the rival instruments, that to them the
pirate came not so much as a pirate as a solution. Indeed, Kenealy,
in the act of charging his piece, was heard to mutter, “Now, this is
lucky.” However, these theorists were no sooner loaded than something
occurred to make them more serious. They were sent for in haste to
Dodd’s cabin; they found him giving Sharpe a new order.

“Shorten sail to the taupsles and jib, get the colours ready on the
halyards, and then send the men aft.”

Sharpe ran out full of zeal, and tumbled over Ramgolam, who was stooping
remarkably near the keyhole. Dodd hastily bolted the cabin-door, and
looked with trembling lip and piteous earnestness in Kenealy’s face and
Fullalove’s. They were mute with surprise at a gaze so eloquent and yet
mysterious.

He manned himself, and opened his mind to them with deep emotion, yet
not without a certain simple dignity.

“Colonel,” said he, “you are an old friend; _you,_ sir, are a new one;
but I esteem you highly, and what my young gentlemen chaff you about,
you calling all men brothers, and making that poor negro love you
instead of fear you, that shows me you have a great heart. My dear
friends, I have been unlucky enough to bring my children’s fortune on
board this ship: here it is under my shirt. Fourteen thousand pounds!
This weighs me down. Oh, if they should lose it after all! Do pray give
me a hand apiece and pledge your sacred words to take it home safe to my
wife at Barkington, if you, or either of you, should see this bright sun
set to-day, and I should not.”

“Why, Dodd, old fellow,” said Kenealy cheerfully, “this is not the way
to go into action.”

“Colonel,” replied Dodd, “to save this ship and cargo, I must be
wherever the bullets are, and I will too.”

Fullalove, more sagacious than the worthy colonel, said
earnestly--“Captain Dodd, may I never see Broadway again, and never see
Heaven at the end of my time, if I fail you. There’s my hand.”

“And mine,” said Kenealy warmly.

They all three joined hands, and Dodd seemed to cling to them. “God
bless you both! God bless you! Oh, what a weight your true hands have
pulled off my heart. Good-bye, for a few minutes. The time is short.
I’ll just offer a prayer to the Almighty for wisdom, and then I’ll
come up and say a word to the men and fight the ship, according to my
lights.”

Sail was no sooner shortened and the crew ranged, than the captain came
briskly on deck, saluted, jumped on a carronade, and stood erect. He was
not the man to show the crew his forebodings.

(Pipe.) “Silence fore and aft.”

“My men, the schooner coming up on our weather quarter is a Portuguese
pirate. His character is known; he scuttles all the ships he boards,
dishonours the women, and murders the crew. We cracked on to get out of
the narrows, and now we have shortened sail to fight this blackguard,
and teach him to molest a British ship. I promise, in the Company’s
name, twenty pounds prize-money to every man before the mast if we beat
him off or out-manoeuvre him; thirty if we sink him; and forty if we tow
him astern into a friendly port. Eight guns are clear below, three on
the weather side, five on the lee; for, if he knows his business, he
will come up on the lee quarter: if he doesn’t that is no fault of
yours nor mine. The muskets are all loaded, the cutlasses ground like
razors----”

“Hurrah!”

“We have got women to defend----”

“Hurrah!”

“A good ship under our feet, the God of justice overhead, British hearts
in our bosoms, and British colours flying--run ‘em up!--over our heads.”
 (The ship’s colours flew up to the fore, and the Union Jack to the
mizen peak.) “Now, lads, I mean to fight this ship while a plank of her
(stamping on the deck) swims beneath my foot, and--what do you say?”

The reply was a fierce “hurrah!” from a hundred throats, so loud, so
deep, so full of volume, it made the ship vibrate, and rang in the
creeping-on pirate’s ears. Fierce, but cunning, he saw mischief in those
shortened sails, and that Union Jack, the terror of his tribe, rising to
a British cheer; he lowered his mainsail, and crawled up on the weather
quarter. Arrived within a cable’s length, he double-reef’ed his foresail
to reduce his rate of sailing nearly to that of the ship; and the next
moment a tongue of flame, and then a gush of smoke, issued from his lee
bow, and the ball flew screaming like a seagull over the _Agra’s_ mizen
top. He then put his helm up, and fired his other bow-chaser, and sent
the shot hissing and skipping on the water past the ship. This prologue
made the novices wince. Bayliss wanted to reply with a carronade; but
Dodd forbade him sternly, saying, “If we keep him aloof we are done
for.”

The pirate drew nearer, and fired both guns in succession, hulled the
_Agra_ amidships, and sent an eighteen-pound ball through her foresail.
Most of the faces were pale on the quarter-deck; it was very trying to
be shot at, and hit, and make no return. The next double discharge
sent one shot smash through the stern cabin window, and splintered the
bulwark with another, wounding a seaman slightly.

“LIE DOWN FORWARD!” shouted Dodd. “Bayliss, give him a shot.”

The carronade was fired with a tremendous report but no visible effect.
The pirate crept nearer, steering in and out like a snake to avoid the
carronades, and firing those two heavy guns alternately into the devoted
ship. He hulled the _Agra_ now nearly every shot.

The two available carronades replied noisily, and jumped as usual; they
sent one thirty-two pound shot clean through the schooner’s deck and
side; but that was literally all they did worth speaking of.

“Curse them!” cried Dodd; “load them with grape! they are not to be
trusted with ball. And all my eighteen-pounders dumb! The coward won’t
come alongside and give them a chance.”

At the next discharge the pirate chipped the mizen mast, and knocked a
sailor into dead pieces on the forecastle. Dodd put his helm down ere
the smoke cleared, and got three carronades to bear, heavily laden with
grape. Several pirates fell, dead or wounded, on the crowded deck, and
some holes appeared in the foresail; this one interchange was quite in
favour of the ship.

But the lesson made the enemy more cautious; he crept nearer, but
steered so adroitly, now right astern, now on the quarter, that the ship
could seldom bring more than one carronade to bear, while he raked her
fore and aft with grape and ball.

In this alarming situation, Dodd kept as many of the men below as
possible; but, for all he could do, four were killed and seven wounded.

Fullalove’s worth came too true: it was the swordfish and the whale:
it was a fight of hammer and anvil; one hit, the other made a noise.
Cautious and cruel, the pirate hung on the poor hulking creature’s
quarters and raked her at point-blank distance. He made her pass a
bitter time. And her captain! To see the splintering hull, the parting
shrouds, the shivered gear, and hear the shrieks and groans of his
wounded; and he unable to reply in kind! The sweat of agony poured down
his face. Oh, if he could but reach the open sea, and square his yards,
and make a long chase of it; perhaps fall in with aid. Wincing under
each heavy blow, he crept doggedly, patiently on towards that one
visible hope.

At last, when the ship was choved with shot, and peppered with grape,
the channel opened; in five minutes more he could put her dead before
the wind.

No! The pirate, on whose side luck had been from the first, got half
a broadside to bear at long musket-shot, killed a midshipman by Dodd’s
side, cut away two of the _Agra_‘s mizen shrouds, wounded the gaff,
and cut the jib-stay. Down fell that powerful sail into the water, and
dragged across the ship’s forefoot, stopping her way to the open sea she
panted for. The mates groaned; the crew cheered stoutly, as British tars
do in any great disaster: the pirates yelled with ferocious triumph,
like the devils they looked.

But most human events, even calamities, have two sides. The _Agra_ being
brought almost to a standstill, the pirate forged ahead against his
will, and the combat took a new and terrible form. The elephant gun
popped and the rifle cracked in the _Agra’s_ mizen top, and the man
at the pirate’s helm jumped into the air and fell dead: both Theorists
claimed him. Then the three carronades peppered him hotly; and he
hurled an iron shower back with fatal effect. Then at last the long
eighteen-pounders on the gun-deck got a word in. The old Niler was not
the man to miss a vessel alongside in a quiet sea: he sent two round
shot clean through him; the third splintered his bulwark and swept
across his deck.

“His masts--fire at his masts!” roared Dodd to Monk, through his
trumpet. He then got the jib clear, and made what sail he could without
taking all the hands from the guns.

This kept the vessels nearly alongside a few minutes, and the fight was
hot as fire. The pirate now for the first time hoisted his flag. It
was black as ink. His crew yelled as it rose: the Britons, instead of
quailing, cheered with fierce derision; the pirate’s wild crew of yellow
Malays, black chinless Papuans, and bronzed Portuguese, served their
side guns, twelve-pounders, well, and with ferocious cries. The white
Britons, drunk with battle now, naked to the waist, grimed with powder,
and spotted like leopards with blood, their and their mates’, replied
with loud undaunted cheers and a deadly hail of grape from the
quarter-deck; while the master-gunner and his mates, loading with a
rapidity the mixed races opposed could not rival, hulled the schooner
well between wind and water, and then fired chain-shot at her masts, as
ordered, and began to play the mischief with her shrouds and rigging.
Meantime, Fullalove and Kenealy, aided by Vespasian, who loaded, were
quietly butchering the pirate crew two a minute, and hoped to settle the
question they were fighting for: smooth bore _v._ rifle; but unluckily
neither fired once without killing; so “there was nothing proven.”

The pirate, bold as he was, got sick of fair fighting first. He hoisted
his mainsail and threw rapidly ahead, with a slight bearing to windward,
and dismounted a carronade and stove in the ship’s quarter-boat, by way
of a parting kick.

The men hurled a contemptuous cheer after him; they thought they had
beaten him off. But Dodd knew better. He was but retiring a little way
to make a more deadly attack than ever: he would soon wear, and cross
the _Agra’s_ defenceless bows, to rake her fore and aft at pistol-shot
distance; or grapple, and board the enfeebled ship, two hundred strong.

Dodd flew to the helm, and with his own hands put it hard a-weather, to
give the deck-guns one more chance, the last, of sinking or disabling
the Destroyer. As the ship obeyed, and a deck-gun bellowed below him, he
saw a vessel running out from Long Island, and coming swiftly up on his
lee quarter.

It was a schooner. Was she coming to his aid?

Horror! A black flag floated from her foremast head.

While Dodd’s eyes were staring almost out of his head at this deathblow
to hope, Monk fired again; and just then a pale face came close to
Dodd’s, and a solemn voice whispered in his ear: “Our ammunition is
nearly done!”

Dodd seized Sharpe’s hand convulsively, and pointed to the pirate’s
consort coming up to finish them; and said, with the calm of a brave
man’s despair, “Cutlasses! and die hard!”

At that moment the master-gunner fired his last gun. It sent a
chain-shot on board the retiring pirate, took off a Portuguese head
and spun it clean into the sea ever so far to windward, and cut the
schooner’s foremast so nearly through that it trembled and nodded, and
presently snapped with a loud crack, and came down like a broken tree,
with the yard and sail; the latter overlapping the deck and burying
itself, black flag and all, in the sea; and there, in one moment, lay
the Destroyer buffeting and wriggling--like a heron on the water with
his long wings broken--an utter cripple.

The victorious crew raised a stunning cheer.

“Silence!” roared Dodd, with his trumpet. “All hands make sail!”

He set his courses, bent a new jib, and stood out to windward close
hauled, in hopes to make a good offing, and then put his ship dead
before the wind, which was now rising to a stiff breeze. In doing this
he crossed the crippled pirate’s bows, within eighty yards; and sore
was the temptation to rake him; but his ammunition being short, and his
danger being imminent from the other pirate, he had the self-command to
resist the great temptation.

He hailed the mizen top: “Can you two hinder them from firing that gun?”

“I rather think we can,” said Fullalove; “eh, Colonel?” and he tapped
his long rifle.

The ship no sooner crossed the schooner’s bows* than a Malay ran forward
with a linstock. Pop went the colonel’s ready carbine, and the
Malay fell over dead, and the linstock flew out of his hand. A tall
Portuguese, with a movement of rage, snatched it up and darted to the
gun: the Yankee rifle cracked, but a moment too late. Bang! went the
pirate’s bow-chaser, and crashed into the _Agra’s_ side, and passed
nearly through her.

     *Being disabled, the schooner’s head had come round to
     windward, though she was drifting to leeward.

“Ye missed him! Ye missed him!” cried the rival theorist joyfully.
He was mistaken: the smoke cleared, and there was the pirate captain
leaning wounded against the mainmast with a Yankee bullet in his
shoulder, and his crew uttering yells of dismay and vengeance. They
jumped, and raged, and brandished their knives, and made horrid
gesticulations of revenge; and the white eyeballs of the Malays and
Papuans glittered fiendishly; and the wounded captain raised his sound
arm and had a signal hoisted to his consort, and she bore up in chase,
and jamming her fore lateen flat as a board, lay far nearer the wind
than the _Agra_ could, and sailed three feet to her two besides. On
this superiority being made clear, the situation of the merchant vessel,
though not so utterly desperate as before Monk fired his lucky shot,
became pitiable enough. If she ran before the wind, the fresh pirate
would cut her off: if she lay to windward, she might postpone the
inevitable and fatal collision with a foe as strong as that she had only
escaped by a rare piece of luck; but this would give the crippled
pirate time to refit and unite to destroy her. Add to this the failing
ammunition and the thinned crew!

Dodd cast his eyes all round the horizon for help.

The sea was blank.

The bright sun was hidden now; drops of rain fell, and the wind was
beginning to sing, and the sea to rise a little.

“Gentlemen,” said he, “let us kneel down and pray for wisdom, in this
sore strait.”

He and his officers kneeled on the quarter-deck. When they rose, Dodd
stood rapt about a minute: his great thoughtful eye saw no more the
enemy, the sea, nor anything external; it was turned inward. His
officers looked at him in silence.

“Sharpe,” said he at last, “there _must_ be a way out of them both with
such a breeze as this is now; if we could but see it.”

“Ay, _if,_” groaned Sharpe.

Dodd mused again.

“About ship!” said he softly, like an absent man.

“Ay, ay, sir!”

“Steer due north!” said he, still like one whose mind was elsewhere.

While the ship was coming about, he gave minute orders to the mates
and the gunner, to ensure co-operation in the delicate and dangerous
manoeuvres that were sure to be at hand.

The wind was W.N.W: lie was standing north; one pirate lay on his lee
beam stopping a leak between wind and water, and hacking the deck clear
of his broken mast and yards. The other, fresh, and thirsting for the
easy prey, came up to weather on him and hang on his quarter, pirate
fashion.

When they were distant about a cable’s length, the fresh pirate, to meet
the ship’s change of tactics, changed his own, luffed up, and gave the
ship a broadside, well aimed but not destructive, the guns being loaded
with ball.

Dodd, instead of replying immediately, put his helm hard up and ran
under the pirate’s stern, while he was jammed up in the wind, and with
his five eighteen pounders raked him fore and aft, then paying off,
gave him three carronades crammed with grape and canister. The rapid
discharge of eight guns made the ship tremble, and enveloped her in
thick smoke; loud shrieks and groans were heard from the schooner: the
smoke cleared; the pirate’s mainsail hung on deck, his jib-boom was cut
off like a carrot and the sail struggling; his foresail looked lace,
lanes of dead and wounded lay still or writhing on his deck, and his lee
scuppers ran blood into the sea. Dodd squared his yards and bore away.

The ship rushed down the wind, leaving the schooner staggered and all
abroad. But for long; the pirate wore and fired his bow chasers at the
now flying _Agra_, split one of the carronades in two, and killed a
Lascar, and made a hole in the foresail. This done, he hoisted his
mainsail again in a trice, sent his wounded below, flung his dead
overboard, to the horror of their foes, and came after the flying ship,
yawing and firing his bow chasers. The ship was silent. She had no shot
to throw away. Not only did she take these blows like a coward, but all
signs of life disappeared on her, except two men at the wheel and the
captain on the main gangway.

Dodd had ordered the crew out of the rigging, armed them with cutlasses,
and laid them flat on the forecastle. He also compelled Kenealy and
Fullalove to come down out of harm’s way, no wiser on the smooth bore
question than they went up.

The great patient ship ran environed by her foes; one destroyer right in
her course, another in her wake, following her with yells of vengeance,
and pounding away at her--but no reply.

Suddenly the yells of the pirates on both sides ceased, and there was a
moment of dead silence on the sea.

Yet nothing fresh had happened.

Yes, this had happened: the pirates to windward and the pirates to
leeward of the _Agra_ had found out, at one and the same moment, that
the merchant captain they had lashed, and bullied, and tortured was a
patient but tremendous man. It was not only to rake the fresh schooner
he had put his ship before the wind, but also by a double, daring,
masterstroke to hurl his monster ship bodily on the other. Without a
foresail she could never get out of her way. The pirate crew had stopped
the leak, and cut away and unshipped the broken foremast, and were
stepping a new one, when they saw the huge ship bearing down in full
sail. Nothing easier than to slip out of her way could they get the
foresail to draw; but the time was short, the deadly intention manifest,
the coming destruction swift.

After that solemn silence came a storm of cries and curses, as their
seamen went to work to fit the yard and raise the sail while their
fighting men seized their matchlocks and trained the guns. They were
well commanded by an heroic able villain. Astern the consort thundered;
but the _Agra’s_ response was a dead silence more awful than broadsides.

For then was seen with what majesty the enduring Anglo-Saxon fights.

One of that indomitable race on the gangway, one at the foremast, two
at the wheel, conned and steered the great ship down on a hundred
matchlocks and a grinning broadside, just as they would have conned and
steered her into a British harbour.

“Starboard!” said Dodd, in a deep calm voice, with a motion of his hand.

“Starboard it is.”

The pirate wriggled ahead a little. The man forward made a silent signal
to Dodd.

“Port!” said Dodd quietly.

“Port it is.”

But at this critical moment the pirate astern sent a mischievous shot
and knocked one of the men to atoms at the helm.

Dodd waved his hand without a word, and another man rose from the deck,
and took his place in silence, and laid his unshaking hand on the wheel
stained with that man’s warm blood whose place he took.

The high ship was now scarce sixty yards distant; _she seemed to know:_
she reared her lofty figure-head with great awful shoots into the air.

But now the panting pirates got their new foresail hoisted with a joyful
shout: it drew, the schooner gathered way, and their furious consort
close on the _Agra’s_ heels just then scourged her deck with grape.

“Port!” said Dodd calmly.

“Port it is.”

The giant prow darted at the escaping pirate. That acre of coming canvas
took the wind out of the swift schooner’s foresail; it flapped: oh, then
she was doomed! That awful moment parted the races on board her: the
Papuans and Sooloos, their black faces livid and blue with horror,
leaped yelling into the sea, or crouched and whimpered; the yellow
Malays and brown Portuguese, though blanched to one colour now, turned
on death like dying panthers, fired two cannon slap into the ship’s
bows, and snapped their muskets and matchlocks at their solitary
executioner on the ship’s gangway, and out flew their knives like
crushed wasp’s stings. CRASH! the Indiaman’s cutwater in thick smoke
beat in the schooner’s broadside: down went her masts to leeward like
fishing-rods whipping the water; there was a horrible shrieking yell;
wild forms heaped off on the _Agra_, and were hacked to pieces almost
ere they reached the deck--a surge, a chasm in the sea, filled with
an instant rush of engulphing waves, a long, awful, grating, grinding
noise, never to be forgotten in this world, all along under the ship’s
keel--and the fearful majestic monster passed on over the blank she
had made, with a pale crew standing silent and awestruck on her deck;
a cluster of wild heads and staring eyeballs bobbing like corks in her
foaming wake, sole relic of the blotted-out Destroyer: and a wounded man
staggering on the gangway, with hands uplifted and staring eyes.

Shot in two places, the head and the breast!

With a loud cry of pity and dismay, Sharpe, Fullalove, Kenealy, and
others rushed to catch him; but ere they got near, the captain of the
triumphant ship fell down on his hands and knees, his head sunk over the
gangway, and his blood ran fast and pattered in the midst of them on the
deck he had defended so bravely.



CHAPTER X

THEY got to the wounded captain and raised him: he revived a little;
and, the moment he caught sight of Mr. Sharpe, he clutched him, and
cried, “Stunsels!”

“Oh, captain,” said Sharpe, “let the ship go; it is you we are anxious
for now.”

At this Dodd lifted up his hands and beat the air impatiently, and
cried again in the thin, querulous voice of’ a wounded man, but eagerly,
“STUNSELS! STUNSELS!”

On this, Sharpe gave the command.

“Make sail. All hands set stunsels ‘low and aloft!”

While the unwounded hands swarmed into the rigging, the surgeon came aft
in all haste; but Dodd declined him till all his men should have been
looked to: meantime he had himself carried to the poop and laid on a
mattress, his bleeding head bound tight with a wet cambric handkerchief,
and his pale face turned towards the hostile schooner astern. She had
to hove to, and was picking up the survivors of her blotted-out consort.
The group on the _Agra’s_ quarter-deck watched her to see what she would
do next; flushed with immediate success, the younger officers crowed
their fears she would not be game to attack them again. Dodd’s fears ran
the other way: he said, in the weak voice to which he was now reduced,
“They are taking a wet blanket aboard; that crew of blackguards we
swamped won’t want any more of us: it all depends on the pirate captain:
if he is not drowned, then blow wind, rise sea, or there’s trouble ahead
for us.”

As soon as the schooner had picked up the last swimmer, she hoisted
foresail, mainsail, and jib with admirable rapidity, and bore down in
chase.

The _Agra_ had, meantime, got a start of more than a mile, and was now
running before a stiff breeze with studding sails alow and aloft.

In an hour the vessels ran nearly twelve miles, and the pirate had
gained half a mile.

At the end of the next hour they were out of sight of land, wind and sea
rising, and the pirate only a quarter of a mile astern.

The schooner was now rising and falling on the waves; the ship only
nodding, and firm as a rock.

“Blow wind, rise sea!” faltered Dodd.

Another half-hour passed without perceptibly altering the position of
the vessels. Then suddenly the wounded captain laid aside his glass,
after a long examination, and rose unaided to his feet in great
excitement, and found his manly voice for a moment: he shook his fist
at the now pitching schooner and roared, “Good-bye! ye Portuguese
lubber--outfought--outmanoeuvred--AND OUTSAILED!”

It was a burst of exultation rare for him; he paid for it by sinking
faint and helpless into his friend’s arms; and the surgeon, returning
soon after, insisted on his being taken to his cabin and kept quite
quiet.

As they were carrying him below, the pirate captain made the same
discovery, that the ship was gaining on him: he hauled to the wind
directly and abandoned the chase.


When the now receding pirate was nearly hull down, the sun began to set.
Mr. Tickell looked at him and said, “Hallo! old fellow, what are _you_
about? Why, it isn’t two o’clock.”

The remark was quite honest: he really feared, for a moment, that orb
was mistaken and would get himself--and others--into trouble. However,
the middy proved to be wrong, and the sun right to a minute: Time flies
fast fighting.

Mrs. Beresford came on deck with brat and poodle: Fred, a destructive
child, clapped his hands with glee at the holes in the canvas: Snap
toddled about smelling the blood of the slain, and wagging his tail by
halves, perplexed. “Well, gentlemen,” said Mrs. Beresford, “I hope you
have made noise enough over one’s head: and what a time you did take to
beat that little bit of a thing. Freddy, be quiet; you worry me; where
is your bearer? Will anybody oblige me by finding Ramgolam?”

“I will,” said Mr. Tickell hastily, and ran off for the purpose; but he
returned after some time with a long face. No Ramgolam to be found.

Fullalove referred her--with humour-twinkling eye--to Vespasian. “I have
a friend here who says he can tell you something about him.”

“Can you, my good man?” inquired the lady, turning haughtily towards the
negro.

“Iss, Missy,” said Vespasian, showing his white teeth in a broad grin,
“dis child knows where to find dat ar niggar, widout him been and
absquatulated since.”

“Then go and fetch him directly.”

Vespasian went off with an obedient start.

This annoyed Fullalove; interfered with his system: “Madam,” said he
gravely, “would you oblige me by bestowing on my friend a portion
of that courtesy with which you favour me, and which becomes you so
gracefully?”

“Certainly not,” replied Mrs. Beresford. “Mr. Fullalove, I am out of
patience with you: the idea of a sensible intelligent gentleman like you
calling that creature your friend! And you an American, where they do
nothing but whip them from morning till night. Who ever heard of
making friends with a black?--Now what is the meaning of this? I detest
practical jokes.” For the stalwart negro had returned, bringing a tall
bread-bag in his arms: he now set it up before her, remarking, “Dis yar
bag white outside, but him ‘nation black inside.” To confirm his words,
he drew off the bag, and revealed Ramgolam, his black skin powdered
with meal. The good-natured negro then blew the flour off his face, and
dusted him a bit: the spectators laughed heartily, but Ramgolam never
moved a muscle: not a morsel discomposed at what would have made an
European miserably ashamed, even in a pantomime--the Caucasian darkie
retained all his dignity while the African one dusted him; but, being
dusted, he put on his obsequiousness, stepped forward, joined his palms
together to Mrs. Beresford--like medieval knights and modern children at
their devotions--and addressed her thus:--

“Daughter of light, he who basks in your beams said to himself, ‘The
pirates are upon us, those children of blood, whom Sheitan their master
blast for ever! They will ravish the Queen of Sunshine and the ayahs,
and throw the sahibs and sailors into the sea; but, bread being the
staff of existence, these foxes of the water will not harm it, but keep
it for their lawless appetites; therefore Ramgolam, son of Chittroo, son
of Soonarayan, will put the finger of silence on the lip of discretion,
and be bread in the day of adversity: the sons of Sheitan will
peradventure return to dry land and close the eye of watchfulness; then
will I emerge like the sun from a cloud, and depart in peace.”

“Oh, very well,” said Mrs. Beresford; “then you are an abominable
egotist, that is all, and a coward: and thank Heaven Freddy and I were
defended by English and Americans, and--hem!--their friends, and not by
Hindoos.” She added charmingly, “This shows me my first words on coming
here ought to have been to offer my warmest thanks to the brave men who
have defended me and my child;” and swept them so queenly a curtesy,
that the men’s hats and caps flew off in an instant “Mr. Black,” said
she, turning with a voice of honey to Vespasian, but aiming obliquely
at Fullalove’s heart, _“would_ you oblige me by kicking that dog a
_little:_ he is always smelling what does not belong to him--why, it is
blood; oh!” and she turned pale in a moment.

Sharpe thought some excuse necessary. “You see, ma’am, we haven’t had
time to clean the decks since.”

“It is the blood of men--of the poor fellows who have defended us so
nobly,” faltered the lady, trembling visibly.

“Well, ma’am,” said Sharpe, still half apologetically, “you know a ship
can’t fight all day long without an accident or two.” He added, with
nautical simplicity and love of cleanliness, “However, the deck will be
cleaned and holy-stoned to-morrow, long before you turn out.”

Mrs. Beresford was too much overcome to explain how much deeper her
emotion was than a dislike to stained floors. She turned faint, and on
getting the better of that, went down to her cabin crying. Thence issued
a royal order that the wounded were to have wine and every luxury they
could fancy, without limit or stint--at her expense.

The next day a deep gloom reigned in the ship; the crew were ranged in
their Sunday clothes and bare-headed; a grating was rigged; Sharpe read
the burial service; and the dead, each man sewed up in his hammock with
a 32-lb. shot, glided off the grating into the sea with a sullen plunge;
while their shipmates cried so that the tears dripped on the deck.

With these regrets for the slain, too violent to last, was mingled a
gloomy fear that Death had a heavier blow in store. The surgeon’s
report of Captain Dodd was most alarming; he had become delirious about
midnight, and so continued.

Sharpe commanded the ship; and the rough sailors stepped like cats over
that part of the deck beneath which their unconscious captain lay. If
two men met on the quarter-deck, a look of anxious, but not hopeful,
inquiry was sure to pass between them.

Among the constant inquirers was Ramgolam. The grave Hindoo often
waylaid the surgeon at the captain’s door, to get the first intelligence
This marked sympathy with a hero in extremity was hardly expected from a
sage who at the first note of war’s trumpet had vanished in a meal-bag.
However, it went down to his credit. One person, however, took a dark
view of this innocent circumstance But then that hostile critic was
Vespasian, a rival in matters of tint. He exploded in one of those droll
rages darkies seem liable to: “Massa cunnel,” said he, “what for dat yar
niggar always prowling about the capn’s door? What for he ask so many
stupid questions? Dat ole fox arter no good: him heart so black as um
skin: dam ole niggar!”

Fullalove suggested slily that a person with a dark skin might have a
grateful heart: and the colonel, who dealt little in innuendo, said,
“Come, don’t you be so hard on jet, you ebony!”

“Bery well, gemmen,” replied Vespasian ceremoniously, and with seeming
acquiescence. Then, with sudden ire, “Because Goramighty made you white,
you tink you bery wise without any more trouble. Dat ar niggar am an
abominable egotisk.”

“Pray what does that mean?” inquired Kenealy innocently.

“What him mean? what him mean? Yah! yah!”

“Yes. What does it mean?”

“What him mean? Yah! What didn’t you hear Missy Besford miscall him an
abominable egotisk?”

“Yes,” said Fullalove, winking to Kenealy; “but we don’t know what it
means. Do you, sir?”

“Iss, sar. Dat ar expression he signify a darned old cuss dat says to
dis child, ‘My lord Vespasium, take benevolence on your insidious slave,
and invest me in a bread-bag,’ instead of fighting for de ladies like a
freenindependum citizen. Now you two go fast asleep; dis child lie shut
one eye and open de oder bery wide open on dat ar niggar.” And with this
mysterious threat he stalked away.

His contempt for a black skin, his ebullitions of unexpected ire, his
turgid pomposity, and love of long terms, may make the reader smile; but
they could hardly amuse his friends just then; everything that touched
upon Dodd was too serious now. The surgeon sat up with him nearly all
night: in the daytime those two friends sat for hours in his cabin,
watching sadly, and silently moistening his burning brow and his parched
lips.

At length, one afternoon, there came a crisis, which took an
unfavourable turn. Then the surgeon, speaking confidentially to these
two staunch friends, inquired if they had asked themselves what should
be done with the body? “Why I ask,” said he, “is because we are in
a very hot latitude; and if you wish to convey it to Barkington, the
measures ought to be taken in time: in fact, within an hour or two after
death.”

The poor friends were shocked and sickened by this horrible piece of
foresight. But Colonel Kenealy said, with tears, in his eyes, that his
old friend should never be buried like a kitten.

“Then you had better ask Sharpe to give me an order for a barrel of
spirits,” said the surgeon.

“Yes, yes, for two if you like. Oh, don’t die, Dodd, my poor old fellow.
How shall I ever face his wife--I remember her, the loveliest girl you
ever saw--with such a tale as this? She will think it a cruel thing I
should come out of it without a scratch, and a ten times better man to
be dead: and so it is; it is cruel, it is unjust, it is monstrous; him
to be lying there, and we muffs to be sitting croaking over him and
watching for his last breath like three cursed old ravens.” And the
stout colonel groaned aloud.

When the surgeon left them, they fell naturally upon another topic, the
pledge they had given Dodd about the L. 14,000. They ascertained it
was upon him, next his skin; but it seemed as unnecessary as it was
repugnant to remove it from his living person. They agreed, however,
that instantly on his decease they would take possession of it, note the
particulars, seal it up, and carry it to Mrs. Dodd, with such comfort
as they could hope to give her by relating the gallant act in which his
precious life was lost.

At 9 P.M. the surgeon took his place by Dodd’s bedside; and the pair,
whom one thing after another had drawn so close together, retired to
Kenealy’s cabin.

Many a merry chat they had had there, and many a gaseonade, being rival
hunters; but now they were together for physical companionship in sorrow
rather than for conversation. They smoked their cigars in moody silence,
and at midnight shook hands with a sigh and parted. That sigh meant to
say that in the morning all would be over.

They turned in; but, ere either of them was asleep, suddenly the
captain’s cabin seemed to fill with roars and shrieks of wild beasts,
that made the whole ship ring in the silent night The savage cries were
answered on deck by shouts of dismay and many pattering feet making
for the companion ladder; but the nearest persons to the cabin, and the
first to reach it, were Kenealy and Fullalove, who burst in, the
former with a drawn sword, the latter with a revolver, both in their
nightgowns; and there saw a sight that took their breath away.

The surgeon was not there; and two black men, one with a knife, and one
with his bare claws, were fighting and struggling and trampling all over
the cabin at once, and the dying man sitting up in his cot, pale, and
glaring at them.



CHAPTER XI

THE two supple dusky forms went whirling so fast, there was no grasping
them to part them. But presently the negro seized the Hindoo by the
throat; the Hindoo just pricked him in the arm with his knife, and the
next moment his own head was driven against the side of the cabin with a
stunning crack, and there he was, pinned, and wriggling, and bluish with
fright, whereas the other swart face close against his was dark-grey
with rage, and its two fireballs of eyes rolled fearfully, as none but
African eyes can roll.

Fullalove pacified him by voice and touch; he withdrew his iron grasp
with sullen and lingering reluctance, and glared like a disappointed
mastiff: The cabin was now full, and Sharpe was for putting both the
blacks in irons. No splitter of hairs was he. But Fullalove suggested
there might be a moral distinction between things that looked equally
dark to the eye.

“Well, then, speak quick, both of you,” said Sharpe, “or I’ll lay ye
both by the heels. Ye black scoundrels, what business have you in the
captain’s cabin, kicking up the devil’s delight?”

Thus threatened, Vespasian panted out his tale; he had discovered this
nigger, as he persisted in calling the Hindoo, eternally prowling about
the good captain’s door, and asking stupid questions: he had watched
him, and, on the surgeon coming out with the good news that the captain
was better, in had crawled “this yar abominable egotisk.” And he raised
a ponderous fist to point the polysyllables: with this aid the sarcasm
would doubtless have been crushing; but Fullalove hung on the sable
orator’s arm, and told him drily to try and speak without gesticulating.
“The darned old cuss,” said Vespasian, with a pathetic sigh at not
being let hit him. He resumed and told how he had followed the Hindoo
stealthily, and found him with a knife uplifted over the captain--a
tremor ran through all present--robbing him. At this a loud murmur
filled the room; a very ugly one, the sort of snarl with which dogs fly
at dogs’ throats with their teeth, and men fly at men’s throats with a
cord.

“Be quiet,” said Sharpe imperiously. “I’ll have no lynching in a vessel
I command. Now then, you, sir, how do you know he was robbing the
captain?”

“How do I know! Yah! yah! Cap’n, if you please you tell dis unskeptical
gemman whether you don’t miss a lilly book out of your bosom!”

During this extraordinary scene, Dodd had been looking from one speaker
to another in great surprise and some confusion; but at the negro’s
direct appeal, his hand went to his breast and clutched it with a feeble
but heartrending cry.

“Oh, him not gone far. Yah! yah!” and Vespasian stooped, and took up an
oilskin packet off the floor, and laid it on the bed. “Dis child seen
him in dat ar niggar’s hand, and heard him go whack on de floor.”

Dodd hurried the packet into his bosom, then turned all gratitude to
his sable friend: “Now God bless you! God bless you! Give me your honest
hand! You don’t know what you have done for me and mine.”

And, sick as he was, he wrung Vespasian’s hand with convulsive strength,
and would not part with it. Vespasian patted him soothingly all over,
and whimpered out: “Nebber you mind, cap’n! You bery good man: this
child bery fond of you a long time ago. You bery good man, outrageous
good man! dam good man! I propose your health: invalesee directly!”

While Dodd was speaking, the others were silent out of respect; but
now Sharpe broke in, and, with the national desire to hear both sides,
called on Ramgolam for his version. The Hindoo was now standing with his
arms crossed on his breast, looking all the martyr, meek and dignified.
He inquired of Sharpe, in very broken English, whether he spoke
Hindostanee.

“Not I: nor don’t act it neither,” said Sharpe.

At this confession Ramgolam looked down on him with pity and mild
contempt.

Mr. Tickell was put forward as interpreter.

_Ramgolam (in Hindostanee)._ He whom Destiny, too strong for mortals,
now oppresses with iron hand and feeds with the bread of affliction----

_Mr. Tickell (translating)._ He who by bad luck has got into trouble----

_Ramgolam._ Has long observed the virtues that embellish the commander
of this ship resembling a mountain, and desired to imitate them----

_Tickell._ Saw what a good man the captain is, and wanted to be like
him----

_Vespasian._ The darned old cuss.

_Ramgolam._ Seeing him often convey his hand to his bosom, I ascribed
his unparalleled excellence to the possession of some sovereign
talisman. (Tickell managed to translate this sentence all but the
word talisman, which he rendered--with all a translator’s
caution--“article.”) Finding him about to depart to the regions of
the blessed, where such auxiliaries are not needed, and being eager to
emulate his perfections here below, I came softly to the place where he
lay----

_Tickell._ When I saw him going to slip his cable, I wanted to be as
good a fellow as he is, so I crept alongside----

_Ramgolam._ And gently, and without force, made myself proprietor of the
amulet and inheritor of a good man’s qualities----

_Tickell._ And quietly boned the article, and the captain’s virtues. I
don’t know what the beggar means.

_Ramgolam._ Then a traitor with a dark skin, but darker soul----

_Tickell._ Then another black-hearted nigger----

_Ramgolam._ Came furiously and misappropriated the charm thus piously
obtained----

_Tickell._ Ran in and stole it from me.

_Ramgolam._ And bereft me of the excellences I was inheriting: and--

Here Sharpe interrupted the dialogue by putting the misappropriator
of other men’s virtues in irons, and the surgeon insisted on the cabin
being cleared. But Dodd would not part with the three friends yet;
he begged them to watch him, and see nobody else came to take his
children’s fortune.

“I’ll sink or swim with it; but oh! I doubt we shall have no luck while
it is aboard me. I never had a pirate alongside before, in all
these years. What is this?--here’s something in it now--something
hard--something heavy: and--why, it’s a bullet!”

On this announcement, an eager inspection took place: and, sure enough,
a bullet had passed through Dodd’s coat and waistcoat, &c., and through
the oilskin and the leather pocketbook, and just dented the “Hard Cash;”
 no more.

There was a shower of comments and congratulations.

The effect of this discovery on the sick man’s spirits was remarkable.
“I was a villain to belie it,” said he. “It is my wife’s and my
children’s, and it has saved my life for them.”

He kissed it and placed it in his bosom, and soon after sunk into a
peaceful slumber. The excitement had not the ill effect the surgeon
feared: it somewhat exhausted him, and he slept long; but on awakening,
was pronounced out of danger. To tell the truth, the tide had turned
in his favour overnight, and it was to convey the good news on deck the
surgeon had left him.


While Dodd was recovering, the _Agra_ was beating westward with light
but contrary winds, and a good month elapsed without any incident
affecting the Hard Cash, whose singular adventures I have to record. In
this dearth, please put up with a little characteristic trifle, which
did happen one moonlight night. Mr. Fullalove lay coiled below decks in
deep abstraction meditating a patent; and being in shadow and silent, he
saw Vespasian in the moonlight creeping on all fours like a guilty
thing into the bedroom of Colonel Kenealy, then fast asleep. A horrible
suspicion thrilled through Fullalove: a suspicion he waited grimly to
verify.

The transatlantic Mixture, Fullalove, was not merely an inventor, a
philanthrope, a warrior, a preacher, a hunter, a swimmer, a fiddler, a
sharp fellow, a good fellow, a Puritan, and a Bohemian; he was also a
Theorist: and his Theory, which dub we

     THE AFRICAN THEORY,

had two branches. 1. That the races of men started equal; but accident
upon accident had walked some tribes up a ladder of civilisation, and
kicked others down it, and left others, standing at the foot.

2. That the good work of centuries could be done, at a pinch, in a few
generations, by artificial condensation of the favourable circumstances.
For instance, secure this worker in Ebony 150 years’ life, and he would
sign a penal bond to produce Negroes of the fourth descent equal in mind
to the best contemporary white. “You can breed Brains,” said he, “under
any skin, as inevitably as Fat. It takes time and the right crosses; but
so does Fat--or rather it did; for Fat is an institution now.” And here
our Republican must have a slap at thrones. “Compare,” said he, “the
opportunities of these distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies with their
acts. Their seats have been high, but their minds low, I swan. They have
been breeders for ages, and known the two rudiments of the science;
have crossed and crossed for grenadiers, racehorses, poultry, and
prize-bullocks; and bred in and in for fools; but which of them has ever
aspired to breed a Newton, a Pascal, a Shakespeare, a Solon, a Raphael?
Yet all these were results to be obtained by the right crosses, as
surely as a swift horse or a circular sow. Now fancy breeding shorthorns
when you might breed long heads.” So Vespasian was to engender Young
Africa; he was to be first elevated morally and intellectually as high
as he would go, and then set to breed; his partner, of course, to be
elected by Fullalove, and educated as high as she would consent to
without an illicit connection with the Experimentalist. He would be down
on their Pickaninnies before the parents could transfer the remnant of
their own weaknesses to them, polysyllables included, and would polish
these ebony chips; and at the next cross reckoned to rear a genius, by
which time, as near as he could calculate, he the Theorist would be in
his dotage: and all the better; make a curious contrast in favour of
Young Africa.

Vespasian could not hit a barn door sitting--with a rifle! it was purely
with a view to his moral improvement mind you, that Fullalove invited
him into the mizentop to fight the pirate. The Patient came gingerly and
shivered there with fear. But five minutes elapsing, and he not killed,
that weakness gave way to a jocund recklessness; and he kept them all
gay with his quaint remarks, of which I must record but one. When they
crossed the stern of the pirate, the distance was so small that the
faces of that motley crew were plainly visible. Now, Vespasian was a
merciless critic of coloured skins. “Wal,” said he, turning up his nose
sky-high, “dis child never seen such a mixallaneous biling ‘o darkies
as this yar; why darned ef there ain’t every colour in the rainbow,
from the ace of spades, down to the fine dissolving views.” This amazing
description, coupled with his look of affront and disgust, made the
white men roar; for men fighting for their lives have a greater tendency
to laugh than one would think possible. Fullalove was proud of the
critic, and for a while lost sight of the pirate in his theory; which
also may seem strange. But your true theorist is a man apart: he can
withdraw into himself under difficulties. What said one of the breed two
thousand years ago?

    “Media inter praelia semper
     Sideribus coelique plagis Superisque vacavi.”

“Oh, the great African heart!” said Fullalove after the battle. “By my
side he fears no danger. Of all men, negroes are the most capable of
friendship; their affection is a mine: and we have only worked it with
the lash; and that is a ridiculous mining tool, I rather think.”

When Vespasian came out so strong _versus_ Ramgolam, Fullalove was
even more triumphant: for after all it is not so much the heart as the
intelligence of the negro we albiculi affect to doubt.

“Oh, the great African intellect!” said Fullalove publicly, taking the
bull by the horns.

“I know,” said Mrs. Beresford maliciously; “it is down in the maps as
the great African Desert.”

To balance his many excellences Vespasian had an infirmity. This was
an ungovernable itch for brushing whites. If he was talking with one of
that always admired, and now beloved, race, and saw a speck of dirt
on him, he would brush him unobtrusively, but effectually, in full
dialogue: he would steal behind a knot of whites and brush whoever
needed it, however little. Fullalove remonstrated, but in vain; on this
one point Instinct would not yield to Reason. He could not keep his
hands off a dusty white. He would have died of the Miller of Dee. But
the worst was he did not stop at clothes; he loathed ill-blacked shoes.
Woe to all foot-leather that did not shine; his own skin furnished a
perilous standard of comparison. He was eternally blacking boots _en
amateur._ Fullalove got in a rage at this, and insisted on his letting
his fellow-creatures’ leather alone. Vespasian pleaded hard, especially
for leave to black Colonel Kenealy. “The cunnell,” said he pathetically,
“is such a tarnation fine gentleman spoilt for want of a lilly bit of
blacking.” Fullalove replied that the colonel had got a servant whose
mission it was to black his shoes. This simply amused Vespasian. “A
servant?” said he. “Yah! yah! What is the use of white servants? They
are not biddable. Massa Fullalove, sar, Goramighty he reared all white
men to kick up a dust, white servants inspecially, and the darkies to
brush ‘em; and likewise additionally to make their boots she a lilly
bit.” He concluded with a dark hint that the colonel’s white servant’s
own shoes, though better blacked than his master’s, were anything but
mirrors, and that this child had his eye on them.


The black desperado emerged on tiptoe from Kenealy’s cabin, just as
Macbeth does from the murdered Duncan’s chamber: only with a pair of
boots in his hand instead of a pair of daggers; got into the moonlight,
and finding himself uninterrupted, assumed the whistle of innocence, and
polished them to the nine, chuckling audibly.

Fullalove watched him with an eye like a rattlesnake, but kept quiet. He
saw interference would only demoralise him worse: for it is more ignoble
to black boots clandestinely, than bravely; men ditto.

He relieved his heart with idioms. “Darn the critter, he’s fixed my
flint eternally. Now I cave. I swan to man. I may just hang up my
fiddle; for this darkie’s too hard a row to hoe.”

It was but a momentary dejection. The Mixture was _(inter alia)_ a
Theorist and an Anglo-Saxon; two indomitables. He concluded to temporise
with the Brush, and breed it out.

“I’m bound to cross the obsequious cuss with the catawamptiousest gal in
Guinea, and one that never saw a blacking bottle, not even in a dream.”
 _Majora canamus._

Being now about a hundred miles south of the Mauritius, in fine weather
with a light breeze, Dodd’s marine barometer began to fall steadily; and
by the afternoon the declension had become so remarkable, that he felt
uneasy, and, somewhat to the surprise of the crew,--for there was now
scarce a breath of air,--furled his slight sails, treble reefed his
topsails, had his top-gallant and royal yards and gaff topsail bent on
deck, got his flying jib-boom in, &c., and made the ship snug.

Kenealy asked him what was the matter?

“Barometer going down; moon at the full; and Jonah aboard,” was the
reply, uttered doggedly.

Kenealy assured him it was a beautiful evening, precursor of a fine day.
“See how red the sunset is.

    ‘Evening red and morning grey
     Are the sure signs of a fine day.’”

Dodd looked, and shook his head. The sun was red, but the wrong red: an
angry red: and, as he dipped into the wave, discharged a lurid coppery
hue that rushed in a moment like an embodied menace over the entire
heavens. The wind ceased altogether: and in the middle of an unnatural
and suspicious calm the glass went down, down, down.

The moon rose, and instantly all eyes were bent on her with suspicion;
for in this latitude the hurricanes generally come at the full moon. She
was tolerably clear, however; but a light scud sailing across her disc
showed there was wind in the upper regions.

Dodd trusted to science; barred the lee-ports, and had the dead lights
put into the stem cabin and secured: then turned in for an hour’s sleep.

Science proved a prophet. Just at seven bells, in one moment like a
thunderbolt from the sky, a heavy squall struck the ship. Under a less
careful captain her lee-ports would have been open, and she might have
gone to the bottom like a bullet.

“Let go the main sheet!” roared Sharpe hastily to a hand he had placed
there on purpose. He let go, and there was the sail flapping like
thunder, and the sheet lashing everything in the most dangerous way.
Dodd was on deck in a moment “Helm hard up! Hands shorten sail!”

(Pipe.) “All hands furl sail, ahoy!”

Up tumbled the crew, went cheerily to work, and by three bells in the
middle watch had hauled up what was left of the shivered mainsail, and
hove the ship to under close-reefed main topsail and storm stay-sails;
and so the voyage was suspended.

A heavy sea got up under a scourging wind, that rose and rose, till the
_Agra_, under the pressure of that single sail treble reefed, heeled
over so as to dip her lee channels. This went on till the waves rolled
so high, and the squalls were so bitter, that sheets of water were
actually torn off their crests and launched incessantly on deck, not
only drenching Dodd and his officers, which they did not mind, but
threatening to flood the ship.

Dodd battened down the hatches and stopped that game.

Then came a danger no skill could avert: the ship lurched so violently
now, as not merely to clip, but bury, her lower deck port-pendents: and
so a good deal of water found ingress through the windage. Then Dodd set
a gang to the pumps: for, he said, “We can hardly hope to weather
this out without shipping a sea: and I won’t have water coming in upon
water.”

And now the wind, raging and roaring like discharges of artillery,
and not like wind as known in our seas, seemed to have put out all
the lights of heaven. The sky was inky black, and quite close to their
heads: and the wind still increasing, the vessel came down to her
extreme bearings, and it was plain she would soon be on her beam ends.
Sharpe and Dodd met, and holding on by the life-lines, applied their
speaking trumpets tight to each other’s ears; and even then they had to
bawl.

“She can’t carry a rag much longer.”

“No, sir; not half an hour.”

“Can we furl that main taupsle?”

Sharpe shook his head. “The first moment we start a sheet, the sail will
whip the mast out of her.”

“You are right Well, then, I’ll cut it away.”

“Volunteers, sir?”

“Ay, twelve: no more. Send them to my cabin.”

Sharpe’s difficulty was to keep the men back, so eager were the fine
fellows to risk their lives. However, he brought twelve to the cabin,
headed by Mr. Grey, who had a right, as captain of the watch, to go with
them; on which right he insisted, in spite of Dodd’s earnest request
that he would forego it. When Dodd saw his resolution, he dropped the
friend and resumed the captain; and spoke to them through a trumpet; the
first time he had ever used one in a cabin, or seen one used.

“Mr. Grey and men, going aloft to save the mainmast by cutting the sail
away.”

“Ay, ay, sir!”

“Service of danger, great danger!”

“Hurrah!”

“But great dangers can be made smaller by working the right way. Attend!
Lay out all on the yard, and take your time from one man at the lee
yard-arm: don’t know who that will be; but one of the smartest men in
the ship. Order to _him_ is: hold his knife hand well up; rest to see!
and then in knives altogether: mind and cut from you, and below the reef
band; and then I hope to see all come down alive.”

Mr. Grey and his twelve men left the cabin: and hey! for the main top.
The men let the officer lead them as far as Jacob’s ladder, and then
hurrah for the lee yard-arm! That was where all wanted to be, and but
one could be. Grey was as anxious as the rest; but officers of his rank
seldom go aloft, and soon fall out of their catlike habits. He had done
about six ratlines, when, instead of going hand over head, he spread
his arms to seize a shroud on each side of him: by this he weakened his
leverage, and the wind just then came fiercer, caught him, and flattened
him against the rigging as tight as if Nature had caught up a mountain
for a hammer and nailed him with a cedar; he was spread-eagled. The
men accepted him at once as a new patent ratline with a fine resisting
power: they went up him, and bounded three ordinary ratlines at a go off
all his promontories, especially his shoulders and his head, receiving
his compliments in the shape of hearty curses. They gained the top and
lay out on the yard with their hair flying like streamers: and who got
the place of honour but Thompson, the jolly fore-topman who couldn’t
stand smoked pea-soup. So strong and so weak are men.

Thompson raised his knife high; there was a pause: then in went all
their knives, and away went the sail into the night of the storm, and
soon seemed a sheet of writing-paper, and more likely to hit the sky
than the sea. The men came down, picked their officer off the rigging,
had a dram in the captain’s cabin, and saw him enter their names in the
log-book for good service, and in the purser’s for extra grog on Sundays
from there to Gravesend.

The ship was relieved; and all looked well till the chronometer, their
only guide now, announced sunset: when the wind, incredible as it may
appear, increased, and one frightful squall dipped the muzzles of the
lee carronades in the water.

Then was heard the first cry of distress: an appalling sound; the wail
of brave men. And they had borne it all so bravely, so cheerfully, till
now. But now they knew something must go, or else the ship; the suspense
was awful, but very short. Crack! crash! the fore and main topmast both
gone short off by the caps; and the ship recovered slowly, hesitatingly,
tremblingly.

Relieving her from one danger, this subjected her to another and a
terrible one. The heavy spars that had fallen, unable to break loose
from the rigging, pounded the ship so savagely as to threaten to stave
in her side. Add to this that, with labouring so long and severely, some
of the ship’s seams began now to open and shut and discharge the oakum,
which is terrible to the bravest seamen. Yet neither this stout captain
nor his crew shirked any danger men had ever grappled with since men
were. Dodd ordered them to cut away the wreck to leeward; it was done:
then to windward; this, the more ticklish operation, was also done
smartly: the wreck passed under the ship’s quarter, and she drifted
clear of it They breathed again.

At eight bells in the first watch it began to thunder and lighten
furiously; but the thunder, though close, was quite inaudible in the
tremendous uproar of the wind and sea. It blew a hurricane: there were
no more squalls now; but one continuous tornado, which in its passage
through that great gaunt skeleton, the ship’s rigging and bare poles,
howled and yelled and roared so terrifically, as would have silenced
a salvo of artillery fired alongside. The overwhelming sea ran in dark
watery mountains crested with devilish fire. The inky blackness added
supernatural horror; the wrath of the Almighty seemed upon them; and His
hand to drop the black sky down on them for their funeral pall. Surely
Noah from his ark saw nothing more terrible.

What is that? Close on the lee bow: chose: the flash of a gun, another;
another; another. A ship in distress firing minute-guns in their ears;
yet no sound: human thunder silenced, as God’s thunder was silenced, by
the uproar of His greater creatures in their mad rage. The _Agra_ fired
two minute-guns to let the other poor ship know she had a companion in
her helplessness and her distress, and probably a companion in her fate.
Even this companionship added its mite of danger: for both ships were
mere playthings of the elements; they might be tossed together; and
then, what would be their fate? Two eggs clashed together in a great
boiling caldron, and all the life spilt out.

Yet did each flash shoot a ray of humanity and sympathy into the thick
black supernatural horror.

And now came calamity upon calamity. A tremendous sea broke the tiller
at the rudder-head, and not only was the ship in danger of falling off
and shipping the sea, but the rudder hammered her awfully, and bade fair
to stave in her counter, which is another word for Destruction. Thus
death came at them with two hands open at once.

These vessels always carry a spare tiller: they tried to ship it;
but the difficulty was prodigious. No light but the miserable
deck-lantern--one glowworm in Egypt supernaturally darkened--the _Agra_
never on an even keel, and heeling over like a seesaw more than a ship;
and then every time they did place the tiller, and get the strain on
with their luff tackles, the awful sea gave it a blow and knocked it
away like a hair.

At last they hit it off, or thought they had, for the ponderous thumps
of the rudder ceased entirely. However, the ship did not obey this new
tiller like the old one: her head fell off in an unlucky moment when
seven waves were rolling in one, and, on coming to the windward again,
she shipped a sea. It came in over her bow transversely; broke as high
as the mainstay, and hid and buried the whole ship before the mast;
carried away the waist bulwarks on both sides, filled the launch, and
drowned the live stock which were in it; swept four water-butts and
three men away into the sea, like corks and straws; and sent tons of
water down the forescuttle and main hatchway, which was partly opened,
not to stifle the crew, and flooded the gun-deck ankle-deep.

Dodd, who was in his cabin, sent the whole crew to the pumps, except the
men at the wheel, and prepared for the worst.

In men so brave as he was, when Hope dies Fear dies. His chief care
now was to separate the fate of those he loved from his own. He took a
bottle, inserted the fatal money in it with a few words of love to his
wife, and of direction to any stranger that should fall in with it;
secured the cork with melted sealing-wax, tied oilskin over it and
melted wax on that; applied a preparation to the glass to close the
pores; and to protect it against other accidents, and attract attention,
fastened a black painted bladder to it by a stout tarred twine, and
painted _“Agra_, lost at sea,” in white on the bladder. He had logged
each main incident of the storm with that curt business-like accuracy
which reads so cold and small a record of these great and terrible
tragedies. He now made a final entry a little more in character with the
situation:

“About eight bells in the morning watch shipped a heavy sea forward. The
rudder being now damaged, and the ship hardly manageable, brought the
log and case on check, expecting to founder shortly. Sun and moon hidden
this two days, and no observation possible; but by calculation of wind
and current, we should be about fifty miles to the southward of the
Mauritius. God’s will be done.”

He got on deck with the bottle in his pocket and the bladder peeping
out: put the log and its case down on deck, and by means of the
life-lines crawled along on his knees, and with great difficulty, to the
wheel. Finding the men could hardly hold on, and dreading another sea,
Dodd, with his own hands, lashed them to the helm.

While thus employed, he felt the ship give a slight roll, a very slight
roll to windward. His experienced eye lightened with hope, he cast his
eager glance to leeward. There it is a sailor looks for the first
spark of hope. Ay, thereaway was a little gleam of light. He patted the
helmsman on the shoulder and pointed to it; for now neither could one
man speak for the wind, nor another hear. The sailor nodded joyfully.

Presently the continuous tornado broke into squalls.

Hope grew brighter.

But, unfortunately, in one furious squall the ship broke round off, so
as to present her quarter to the sea at an unlucky moment: for it came
seven deep again, a roaring mountain, and hurled itself over her stern
and quarter. The mighty mass struck her stem frame with the weight of a
hundred thousand tons of water, and drove her forward as a boy launches
his toy-boat on a pond; and though she made so little resistance,
stove in the dead lights and the port frames, burst through the cabin
bulkheads, and washed out all the furniture, and Colonel Kenealy in his
nightgown with a table in his arms borne on water three feet deep, and
carried him under the poop awning away to the lee quarter-deck scuppers,
and flooded the lower deck. Above, it swept the quarter-deck clean of
everything except the shrieking helmsmen; washed Dodd away like a cork,
and would have carried him overboard if he had not brought up against
the mainmast and grasped it like grim death, half drowned, half stunned,
sorely bruised, and gasping like a porpoise ashore.

He held on by the mast in water and foam, panting. He rolled his
despairing eyes around; the bulwarks fore and aft were all in ruins,
with wide chasms, as between the battlements of some decayed castle; and
through the gaps he saw the sea yawning wide for him. He dare not move:
no man was safe a moment unless lashed to mast or helm. He held on,
expecting death. But presently it struck him he could see much farther
than before. He looked up: it was clearing overhead, and the uproar
abating visibly. And now the wind did not decline as after a gale:
extraordinary to the last, it blew itself out.

Sharpe came on deck, and crawled on all fours to his captain, and helped
him to a life-line. He held on by it, and gave his orders. The wind was
blown out, but the sea was as dangerous as ever. The ship began to roll
to windward. If that was not stopped, her fate was sealed. Dodd had the
main trysail set and then the fore trysail, before he would yield to go
below, though drenched, and sore, and hungry, and worn out. Those sails
steadied the ship; the sea began to go down by degrees; the celestial
part of nature was more generous: away flew every cloud, out came the
heavenly sky bluer and lovelier than ever they had seen it; the sun
flamed in its centre. Nature, after three days’ eclipse, was so lovely,
it seemed a new heavens and a new earth. If there was an infidel on
board who did not believe in God, now his soul felt Him, in spite of the
poor little head. As for Dodd, who was naturally pious, he raised his
eyes towards that lovely sky in heartfelt, though silent, gratitude
to its Maker for saving the ship and cargo and her people’s lives, not
forgetting the private treasure he was carrying home to his dear wife
and children.

With this thought, he naturally looked down, but missed the bladder that
had lately protruded from his pocket He clapped his hand to his pocket
all in a flutter. The bottle was gone. In a fever of alarm and anxiety,
but with good hopes of finding it, he searched the deck; he looked in
every cranny, behind every coil of rope the sea had not carried away.

In vain.

The sea, acting on the buoyant bladder attached, had clearly torn the
bottle out of his pocket, when it washed him against the mast. His
treasure then must have been driven much farther; and how far? Who could
tell?

It flashed on the poor man with fearful distinctness that it must either
have been picked up by somebody in the ship ere now, or else carried out
to sea.

Strict inquiry was made amongst the men.

No one had seen it

The fruit of his toil and prudence, the treasure Love, not Avarice, had
twined with his heartstrings, was gone. In its defence he had defeated
two pirates, each his superior in force; and now conquered the elements
at their maddest. And in the very moment of that great victory--It was
gone.



CHAPTER XII

IN the narrative of home events I skipped a little business, not quite
colourless, but irrelevant to the love passages then on hand. It has,
however, a connection with the curious events now converging to a point:
so, with the reader’s permission, I will place it in logical sequence,
disregarding the order of time. The day Dr. Sampson splashed among
the ducks, and one of them hid till dinner, the rest were seated at
luncheon, when two patients were announced as waiting--Mr. and Mrs.
Maxley. Sampson refused to see them, on this ground: “I will not feed
and heal.” But Mrs. Dodd interceded, and he yielded. “Well, then, show
them in here. They are better cracters than pashints.” On this, a
stout fresh-coloured woman, the picture of health, was ushered in and
curtseyed all round. “Well, what is the matter now?” inquired Sampson
rather roughly. “Be seated, Mrs. Maxley,” said Mrs. Dodd, benignly.

“I thank ye kindly, ma’am;” and she sat down. “Doctor, it is that pain.”

“Well, don’t say ‘that pain.’ Describe it. Now listen all of ye; ye’re
goen to get a clinical lecture.”

“If _you_ please, ma’am,” said the patient, “it takes me here under
my left breest, and runs right to my elbow, it do; and bitter bad ‘tis
while it do last; chokes me mostly; and I feel as I must die: and if I
was to move hand or fut, I think I _should_ die, that I do.”

“Poor woman!” said Mrs. Dodd.

“Oh, she isn’t dead yet,” cried Sampson cheerfully. “She’ll sell addled
eggs over all our tombstones; that is to say, if she minds what I bid
her. When was your last spasm?”

“No longer agone that yestereen, ma’am; and so I said to my master, ‘The
doctor he is due to-morrow, Sally up at Albion tells me; and----’”

“Whist! whist! who cares what you said to Jack, and Jill said to you?
What was the cause?”

“The cause! What, of my pain? He says, ‘What was the cause?’”

“Ay, the cause. Just obsairve, jintlemen,” said Sampson, addressing
imaginary students, “how startled they all are if a docker deviates from
profissional habits into sceince, and takes the right eend of the stick
for once b’ asking for the cause.”

“The cause was the will of God, I do suppose,” said Mrs. Maxley.

“Stuff!” shouted Sampson angrily. “Then why come to mortal me to cure
you?”

Alfred put in his oar. “He does not mean the ‘final cause;’ he means the
‘proximate cause.

“My poor dear creature, I bain’t no Latiner,” objected the patient.

Sampson fixed his eyes sternly on the slippery dame. “What I want to
know is, had you been running up-stairs? or eating fast? or drinking
fast? or grizzling over twopence? or quarrelling with your husband! Come
now, which was it?”

“Me quarrel with my man! We haven’t never been disagreeable, not once,
since we went to church a pair and came back a couple. I don’t say but
what we mayn’t have had a word or two at odd times, as married folk
will.”

“And the last time you had a word or two--y’ infairnal quibbler--was it
just before your last spasm, eh?”

“Well, it might; I am not gainsaying that: but you said quarrel, says
you. ‘Quarrel’ it were your word; and I defy all Barkton, gentle and
simple, to say as how me and my master----”

“Whisht! whisht! Now, jintlemen, ye see what the great coming
sceince--the sceince of Healing--has to contind with. The dox are all
fools, but one: and the pashints are lyres, ivery man Jack. N’ listen
me; y’ have got a disease that you can’t eradicate; but you may muzzle
it for years, and die of something quite different when your time’s up.”

“Like enough, sir. If _you_ please, ma’am, Dr. Stephenson do blame my
indigestion for it.”

“Dr. Stephenson’s an ass.”

“Dear heart, how cantankerous you be. To be sure Dr. Osmond he says no:
it’s muscular, says he.”

“Dr. Osmond’s an ijjit. List me; You mustn’t grizzle about money; you
mustn’t gobble, nor drink your beer too fast.”

“You are wrong, doctor; I never drink no beer: it costs----”

“Your catlap, then. And above all, no grizzling! Go to church whenever
you can without losing a farthing. It’s medicinal; soothes the brain,
and takes it off worldly cares. And have no words with your husband, or
he’ll outlive you; it’s his only chance of getting the last word. Care
killed a cat, a nanimal with eight lives more than a chatterbox. If
you worry or excite your brain, little Maxley, you will cook your own
goose--by a quick fire.”

“Dear heart, these be unked sayings. Won’t ye give me nothing to make me
better, sir?”

“No, I never tinker; I go to the root: you may buy a vile of chlorofm
and take a puff if you feel premonory symps: but a quiet brain is your
only real chance. Now slope, and send the male screw.”

“Anan?”

“Your husband.”

“That I will, sir. Your sarvant, doctor; your sarvant, ma’am; sarvant,
all the company.”

Mrs. Dodd hoped the poor woman had nothing very serious the matter.

“Oh, it is a mortal disease,” replied Sampson, as cool as a cucumber.
“She has got angina pictoris or brist-pang, a disorder that admirably
eximplifies the pretinsions of midicine t’ seeince.” And with this he
dashed into monologue.

Maxley’s tall gaunt form came slouching in, and traversed the floor,
pounding it with heavy nailed boots. He seated himself gravely at Mrs.
Dodd’s invitation, took a handkerchief out of his hat, wiped his face,
and surveyed the company, grand and calm. In James Maxley all was
ponderous: his head was huge, his mouth, when it fairly opened, revealed
a chasm, and thence issued a voice naturally stentorian by its volume
and native vigour; but, when the owner of this incarnate bassoon had a
mind to say something sagacious, he sank at once from his habitual roar
to a sound scarce above a whisper; a contrast mighty comical to hear,
though on paper _nil._

“Well, what is it Maxley! Rheumatism again?”

“No, that it ain’t,” bellowed Maxley defiantly.

“What then? Come, look sharp.”

“Well, then, doctor, I’ll tell you. I’m sore troubled--with--a--mouse.”

This malady, announced in the tone of a proclamation, and coming after
so much solemn preparation, amused the party considerably, although
parturient mountains had ere then produced muscipular abortions.

“A mouse!” inquired Sampson disdainfully. “Where? Up your sleeve? Don’t
come to me: go t’ a sawbones and have your arm cut off. I’ve seen ‘em
mutilate a pashint for as little.”

Maxley said it was not up his sleeve, worse luck.

On this Alfred hazarded a conjecture. “Might it not have gone down his
throat? Took his potato-trap for the pantry-door. Ha! ha!”

“Ay, I hear ye, young man, a-laughing at your own sport,” said Maxley,
winking his eye; “but ‘tain’t the biggest mouth as catches the most. You
sits yander fit to bust; but (with a roar like a lion) ye never offers
_me_ none on’t, neither sup nor bit.”

At this sudden turn of Mr. Maxley’s wit, light and playful as a tap of
the old English quarter-staff, they were a little staggered; all but
Edward, who laughed and supplied him zealously with sandwiches.

“You’re a gentleman, you are,” said Maxley, looking full at Sampson and
Alfred to point the contradistinction.

Having thus disposed of his satirists, he contemplated the sandwiches
with an inquiring and philosophic eye. “Well,” said he, after long and
thoughtful inspection, “you gentlefoiks won’t die of hard work; your
sarvants must cut the very meat to fit your mouths.” And not to fall
behind the gentry in a great and useful department of intelligence, he
made precisely one mouthful of each sandwich.

Mrs. Dodd was secretly amazed, and, taking care not to be noticed by
Maxley, said confidentially, _“Monsieur avait bien raison; le souris a
passe: par la._”

The plate cleared, and washed down with a tumbler of port, Maxley
resumed, and informed the doctor that the mouse was at this moment in
his garden eating his bulbs. “And I be come here to put an end to her,
if I’ve any luck at all.”

Sampson told him he needn’t trouble. “Nature has put an end to her as
long as her body.”

Mr. Maxley was puzzled for a moment, then opened his mouth from ear to
ear in a guffaw that made the glasses ring. His humour was perverse. He
was wit-proof and fun-proof; but at a feeble jest would sometimes roar
like a lion inflated with laughing-gas. Laughed he ever so loud and
long, he always ended abruptly and without gradation--his laugh was
a clean spadeful dug out of Merriment. He resumed his gravity and his
theme all in an instant. “White arsenic she won’t look at for I’ve tried
her; but they tell me there’s another sweetmeat come up, which they call
it striek nine.”

“Hets! let the poor beasty alone. Life’s as sweet tit as tus.”

“If _you_ was a gardener, you’d feel for the bulbs, not for the varmin,”
 remonstrated Maxley rather arrogantly.

“But bein’ a man of sceince, I feel for th’ higher organisation. Mice
are a part of Nature, as much as market-gardeners.”

“So be stoats, and adders, and doctors.”

Sampson appealed: “Jintlemen, here’s a pretty pashint: reflects on our
lairned profission, and it never cost him a guinea, for the dog never
pays.”

“Don’t let my chaff choke ye, doctor. That warn’t meant for _you_
altogether. So if you _have_ got a little bit of that ‘ere about
you----”

“I’m not a ratcatcher, my man: I don’t go with dith in my pocket, like
the surgeons that carry a lancet. And if I had Murder in both pockets,
you shouldn’t get any. Here’s a greedy dog! got a thousand pounds in the
bank, and grudges his healer a guinea, and his mouse a stand-up bite.”

“Now, who have been a telling you lies?” inquired Maxley severely.
“My missus, for a farthing. I’m not a thousand-pound man; I’m a
nine-hundred-pound man; and it’s all safe at Hardie’s.” Here he went
from his roar to his whisper, “I don’t hold with Lunnon banks; they be
like my missus’s eggs: all one outside, and the rotten ones only known
by breaking. Well (loud) I _be_ pretty close, I don’t deny it; but
(confidentially) my missus beats me. I look twice at a penny; but she
looks twice at both sides of a halfpenny before she will let him go: and
it’s her being so close have raised all this here bobbery; and so I
told her; says I, ‘Missus, if you would but leave an end of a dip, or a
paring of cheese, about your cupboard, she would hide at home; but you
hungers her so, you drives her afield right on atop o’ my roots.’ ‘Oh,’
says my missus, ‘if _I_ was to be as wasteful as _you_ be, where should
_we_ be come Christmas day? Every tub on its own bottom,’ says she; ‘man
and wife did ought to keep theirselves to theirselves, she to the house,
and I to the garden.’ ‘So be it, says I, ‘and by the same toaken, don’t
let me catch them “Ns” in my garden again, or I’ll spoil their clucking
and scratching,’ says I, ‘for I’ll twist their dalled necks: ye’ve got
a yard,’ says I, ‘and a roost, and likewise a turnpike, you and your
poultry: so bide at home the lot, and don’t come a scratching o’ me,’
and with that we had a ripput; and she took one of her pangs; and then
I behoved to knock under; and that is allus the way if ye quarrel with
woman-folk; they are sworn to get the better of ye by hook or by crook.
Now dooe give me a bit of that ere, to quiet this here, as eats me up by
the roots and sets my missus and me by the ears.”

“Justum ac tenacem propositi virum,” whispered Alfred to Edward.

Sampson told him angrily to go to a certain great personage.

“Not afore my betters,” whispered Mr. Maxley, smit with a sudden respect
for etiquette “Won’t ye, now?”

“I’ll see ye hanged first, ye miserly old assassin.”

“Then I have nothing to thank _you_ for,” roared Maxley, and made his
adieux, ignoring with marked contempt the false physician who declined
to doctor the foe of his domestic peace and crocuses.

“Quite a passage of arms,” said Edward.

“Yes,” said Mrs. Dodd, “and of bludgeons and things, rather than the
polished rapier. What expressions to fall from two highly educated
gentlemen! Slope--Potato-trap--Sawbones--Catlap--_je n’en finirais
pas._”

She then let them know that she meditated a “dictionary of jargon;” in
hopes that its bulk might strike terror into honest citizens, and excite
an anti-jargon league to save the English language, now on the verge of
dissolution.

Sampson was pleased with this threat. “Now, that is odd,” said he.
“Why, I am compilin’ a vocabulary myself. I call ‘t th’ ass-ass-ins’
dickshinary; showing how, by the use of mealy-mouthed and d’exotic
phrases, knaves can lead fools by th’ ear a vilent dith. F’r instance;
if one was to say to John Bull, ‘Now I’ll cut a great gash in your arm
and let your blood run till ye drop down senseless,’ he’d take fright
and say, ‘Call another time!’ So the profissional ass-ass-in words
it thus: ‘I’ll bleed you from a large orifice till the occurrence of
syncope.’ All right sis John: he’s bled from a lar j’orifice and dies
three days after of th’ assassin’s knife hid in a sheath o’ goose
grease. But I’ll bloe the gaff with my dictionary.”

“Meantime _there_ is another contribution to mine,” said Mrs. Dodd.

And they agreed in the gaiety of their hearts to compare their rival
Lexicons.



CHAPTER XIII


THE subsiding sea was now a liquid Paradise: its great pellucid braes
and hillocks shone with the sparkle and the hues of all the jewels in an
emperor’s crown. Imagine--after three days of inky sea, and pitchy sky,
and Death’s deep jaws snapping and barely missing--ten thousand great
slopes of emerald, aquamarine, amethyst and topaz, liquid, alive, and
dancing jocundly beneath a gorgeous sun: and you will have a faint
idea of what met the eyes and hearts of the rescued looking out of that
battered, jagged ship, upon ocean smiling back to smiling Heaven.

Yet one man felt no buoyancy, nor gush of joy. He leaned against a
fragment of the broken bulwark, confused between the sweetness of life
preserved and the bitterness of treasure lost--his wife’s and children’s
treasured treasure; benumbed at heart, and almost weary of the existence
he had battled for so stoutly. He looked so moody, and answered so
grimly and unlike himself, that they all held aloof from him; heavy
heart among so many joyful ones, he was in true solitude; the body in a
crowd, the soul alone. And he was sore as well as heavy; for of all
the lubberly acts he had ever known, the way he had lost his dear ones’
fortune seemed to him the worst.

A voice sounded in his ear: “Poor thing! she has s foundered.”

It was Fullalove scanning the horizon with his famous glass.

“Foundered? Who?” said Dodd; though he did not care much who sank, who
swam. Then he remembered the vessel, whose flashing guns had shed a
human ray on the unearthly horror of the black hurricane. He looked all
round.

Blank.

Ay, she had perished with all hands. The sea had swallowed her, and
spared him--ungrateful.

This turned his mind sharply. Suppose the _Agra_ had gone down, the
money would be lost as now, and his life into the bargain--a life dearer
to all at home than millions of gold: he prayed inwardly to Heaven for
gratitude and goodness to feel its mercy. This softened him a little;
and his heart swelled so, he wished he was a woman to cry over his
children’s loss for an hour, and then shake all off and go through his
duty somehow; for now he was paralysed, and all seemed ended. Next,
nautical superstition fastened on him. That pocket-book of his was
Jonah: it had to go or else the ship; the moment it did go, the storm
had broken as by magic.

Now Superstition is generally stronger than rational Religion, whether
they lie apart or together in one mind; and this superstitious notion
did something toward steeling the poor man. “Come,” said he to himself
“my loss has saved all these poor souls on board this ship. So be it!
Heaven’s will be done! I must bustle, or else go mad.”

He turned to and worked like a horse: and with his own hands helped
the men to rig parallel ropes--a substitute for bulwarks--till the
perspiration ran down him.

Bayliss now reported the well nearly dry, and Dodd was about to bear up
and make sail again, when one of the ship-boys, a little fellow with a
bright eye and a chin like a monkey’s, came up to him and said--

“Please, captain!” Then glared with awe at what he had done, and broke
down.

“Well, my little man?” said Dodd gently.

Thus encouraged, the boy gave a great gulp, and burst in in a brogue,
“Och your arnr, sure there’s no rudder on her at all barrin the tiller.”

“What d’ye mean?”

“Don’t murder me, your arnr, and I’ll tell ye. It’s meself looked over
the starrn just now; and I seen there was no rudder at all at all.
Mille diaoul, sis I; ye old bitch, I’ll tell his arur what y’are after,
slipping your rudder like my granny’s list shoe, I will.”

Dodd ran to the helm and looked down; the brat was right: the blows
which had so endangered the ship, had broken the rudder, and the sea had
washed away more than half of it. The sight and the reflection made him
faintish for a moment. Death passing so very close to a man sickens him
_afterwards,_ unless he has the luck to be brainless.



“What is your name, urchin?”

“Ned Murphy, sir.”

“Very well, Murphy, then you are a fine little fellow, and have wiped
all our eyes in the ship: run and send the carpenter aft.”

“Ay, ay, sir.”

The carpenter came. Like most artisans, he was clever in a groove: take
him out of that, and lo! a mule, a pig, an owl. He was not only unable
to invent, but so stiffly disinclined: a makeshift rudder was clean
out of his way; and, as his whole struggle was to get away from
every suggestion Dodd made back to groove aforesaid, the thing looked
hopeless. Then Fullalove, who had stood by grinning, offered to make
a bunkum rudder, provided the carpenter and mates were put under his
orders. “But” said he, “I must bargain they shall be disrated if they
attempt to reason.”

“That is no more than fair,” said Dodd. The Yankee inventor demanded a
spare maincap, and cut away one end of the square piece, so as to make
it fit the stem-post: through the circle of the cap he introduced a
spare mizen topmast: to this he seized a length of junk, another to
that, another to that, and so on: to the outside junk he seized a spare
maintop-gallant mast, and this conglomerate being now nearly as broad as
a rudder, he planked over all. The sea by this time was calm; he got the
machine over the stern, and had the square end of the cap bolted to the
stern-post. He had already fixed four spans of nine-inch hawser to the
sides of the makeshift, two fastened to tackles, which led into the
gunroom ports, and were housed taut--these kept the lower part of the
makeshift close to the stern post--and two, to which guys were now fixed
and led through the aftermost ports on to the quarter-deck, where luff-
tackles were attached to them, by means of which the makeshift was to be
worked as a rudder.

Some sail was now got on the ship, and she was found to steer very well.
Dodd tried her on every tack, and at last ordered Sharpe to make all
sail and head for the Cape.

This electrified the first mate. The breeze was very faint but
southerly, and the Mauritius under their lee. They could make it in a
night and there refit, and ship a new rudder. He suggested the danger of
sailing sixteen hundred miles steered by a gimcrack; and implored Dodd
to put into port.

Dodd answered with a roughness and a certain wildness never seen in him
before: “Danger, sir! There will be no more foul weather this voyage;
Jonah is overboard.” Sharpe stared an inquiry. “I tell you we shan’t
lower our topgallants once from this to the Cape: Jonah is overboard:”
 and he slapped his forehead in despair; then, stamping impatiently with
his foot, told Sharpe his duty was to obey orders, not discuss them.

“Certainly, sir,” said Sharpe sullenly, and went out of the cabin
with serious thoughts of communicating to the other mates an alarming
suspicion about Dodd, that now, for the first time, crossed his mind.
But long habit of discipline prevailed, and he made all sail on the
ship, and bore away for the Cape with a heavy heart. The sea was like
a mill-pond, but in that he saw only its well-known treachery, to lead
them on to this unparalleled act of madness: each sail he hoisted seemed
one more agent of Destruction rising at his own suicidal command.

Towards evening it became nearly dead calm. The sea heaved a little,
but was waveless, glassy, and the colour of a rose, incredibly brave and
delicate.

The look-out reported pieces of wreck to windward. As the ship was
making so little way, Dodd beat up towards them: he feared it was a
British ship that had foundered in the storm, and thought it his duty to
ascertain and carry the sad news home. In two tacks they got near
enough to see with their glasses that the fragments belonged, not to a
stranger, but to the _Agra_ herself. There was one of her waterbutts,
and a broken mast with some rigging: and as more wreck was descried
coming in at a little distance, Dodd kept the ship close to the wind
to inspect it: on drifting near, it proved to be several pieces of the
bulwark, and a mahogany table out of the cuddy This sort of flotsam
was not worth delaying the ship to pick it up; so Dodd made sail again,
steering now south-east.

He had sailed about half a mile when the look-out hailed the deck again.

“A man in the water!”

“Whereabouts?”

“A short league on the weather quarter.”

“Oh, we can’t beat to windward for _him,_” said Sharpe; “he is dead long
ago.”

“Holds his head very high for a corpse,” said the look-out.

“I’ll soon know,” cried Dodd. “Lower the gig; I’ll go myself.”

The gig was lowered, and six swift rowers pulled him to windward, while
the ship kept on her course.

It is most unusual for a captain to leave the ship at sea on such petty
errands: but Dodd half hoped the man might be alive; and he was so
unhappy; and, like his daughter, who probably derived the trait from
him, grasped instinctively at a chance of doing kindness to some poor
fellow alive or dead. That would soothe his own sore, good heart.

When they had pulled about two miles, the sun was sinking into the
horizon. “Give way, men,” said Dodd, “or we shall not be able to see
him.” The men bent to their oars and made the boat fly.

Presently the coxswain caught sight of an object bobbing on the water
abeam.

“Why, that must be it,” said he: “the lubber! to take it for a man’s
head. Why, it is nothing but a thundering old bladder, speckled white.”

“What?” cried Dodd, and fell a-trembling. “Steer for it! Give way!”

“Ay, ay, sir!”

They soon came alongside the bladder, and the coxswain grabbed it.
“Hallo! here’s something lashed to it: a bottle!”

“Give it me!” gasped Dodd in a voice choked with agitation. “Give it
me! Back to the ship! Fly! fly! Cut her off, or she’ll give us the slip
_now._”

He never spoke a word more, but sat in a stupor of joyful wonder.

They soon caught the ship; he got into his cabin, he scarce knew how:
broke the bottle to atoms, and found the indomitable Cash uninjured.
With trembling hands he restored it to its old place in his bosom, and
sewed it tighter than ever.

Until he felt it there once more, he could hardly realise a stroke of
good fortune that seemed miraculous--though, in reality, it was less
strange than the way he had lost it;* but now, laid bodily on his heart,
it set his bosom on fire. Oh, the bright eye, the bounding pulse, the
buoyant foot, the reckless joy! He slapped Sharpe on the back a little
vulgarly for him:--

“Jonah is on board again, old fellow: look out for squalls.”

     *The _Agra_, being much larger than the bottle, had drifted
     faster to leeward in the storm.

He uttered this foreboding in a tone of triumph, and with a gay elastic
recklessness, which harmonised so well with his makeshift rudder, that
Sharpe groaned aloud, and wished himself under any captain in the world
but this, and in any other ship. He looked round to make sure he was
not watched, and then tapped his forehead significantly. This somewhat
relieved him, and he did his duty smartly for a man going to the bottom
with his eyes open.

But ill luck is not to be bespoken any more than good: the _Agra’s_
seemed to have blown itself out; the wind veered to the south-west, and
breathed steadily in that quarter for ten days. The topgallant sails
were never lowered nor shifted day nor night all that time, and not a
single danger occurred between this and the Cape, except to a monkey,
which I fear I must relate, on account of its remoter consequences. One
fine afternoon, everybody was on deck amusing themselves as they could:
Mrs. Beresford, to wit, was being flattered under the Poop awning by
Kenealy. The feud between her and Dodd continued, but under a false
impression. The lady had one advantage over the gentler specimens of her
sex; she was never deterred from a kind action by want of pluck, as they
are. Pluck? Aquilina was brimful of it. When she found Dodd was wounded,
she cast her wrongs to the wind, and offered to go and nurse him. Her
message came at an unlucky moment, and by an unlucky messenger: the
surgeon said hastily, “I can’t have him bothered.” The stupid servant
reported, “He can’t be worried;” and Mrs. Beresford, thinking Dodd had
a hand in this answer, was bitterly mortified; and with some reason. She
would have forgiven him, though, if he had died; but, as he lived,
she thought she had a right to detest him, and did; and showed her
sentiments like a lady, by never speaking to him, nor looking at him,
but ignoring him with frigid magnificence on his own quarter-deck.

Now, among the crew of this ship was a favourite goat, good-tempered,
affectionate, and playful; but a single vice counterbalanced all his
virtues: he took a drop. A year or two ago some light-hearted tempter
taught him to sip grog; he took to it kindly, and was now arrived at
such a pitch that at grog-time he used to butt his way in among the
sailors, and get close to the canteen; and, by arrangement, an allowance
was always served out to him. On imbibing it, he passed with quadrupedal
rapidity through three stages, the absurd, the choleric, the sleepy; and
was never his own goat again until he awoke from the latter. Now Master
Fred Beresford encountered him in the second stage of inebriety, and,
being a rough playfellow, tapped his nose with a battledore. Instantly
Billy butted at him; mischievous Fred screamed and jumped on the
bulwarks. Pot-angry Billy went at him there; whereupon the young
gentleman, with all eldrich screech, and a comparative estimate of
perils that smacked of inexperience, fled into the sea, at the very
moment when his anxious mother was rushing to save him. She uttered
a scream of agony, and would actually have followed him, but was held
back, uttering shriek after shriek, that pierced every heart within
hearing.

But Dodd saw the boy go overboard, and vaulted over the bulwark near the
helm, roared in the very air, “Heave the ship to!” and went splash
into the water about ten yards from the place. He was soon followed by
Vespasian, and a boat was lowered as quickly as possible. Dodd caught
sight of a broad straw hat on the top of a wave, swam lustily to it, and
found Freddy inside: it was tied under his chin, and would have floated
Goliath. Dodd turned to the ship, saw the poor mother with white face
and arms outstretched as if she would fly at them, and held the urchin
up high to her with a joyful “hurrah.” The ship seemed alive and to
hurrah in return with giant voice: the boat soon picked them up, and
Dodd came up the side with Freddy in his arms, and placed him in his
mother’s with honest pride and deep parental sympathy.

Guess how she scolded and caressed her child all in a breath, and sobbed
over him! For this no human pen has ever told, nor ever will. All I can
just manage to convey is that, after she had all but eaten the little
torment, she suddenly dropped him, and made a great maternal rush at
Dodd. She flung her arms round him, and kissed him eagerly, almost
fiercely: then, carried away wild by mighty Nature, she patted him
all over in the strangest way, and kissed his waistcoat, his arms, his
hands, and rained tears of joy and gratitude on them.

Dodd was quite overpowered. “No! no!” said he. “Don’t now, pray, don’t!
There! there! I know, my dear, I know; I’m a father.” And he was very
near whimpering himself; but recovered the man and the commander, and
said, soothingly, “There! there!” and he handed her tenderly down to her
cabin.

All this time he had actually forgotten the packet. But now a horrible
fear came on him. He hurried to his own cabin and examined it. A
little salt water had oozed through the bullet-hole and discoloured the
leather; but that was all.

He breathed again.

“Thank Heaven I forgot all about it!” said he: “it would have made a cur
of me.”

Lady Beresford’s petty irritation against Dodd melted at once--before
so great a thing: she longed to make friends with him; but for once felt
timid. It struck her now all of a sudden that she had been misbehaving.
However, she caught Dodd alone on the deck, and said to him softly, “I
want so to end our quarrel.”

“Our quarrel, madam!” said he; “why, I know of none: oh, about the light
eh? Well, you see the master of a ship is obliged to be a tyrant in some
things.”

“I make no complaint,” said the lady hastily, and hung her head. “All I
ask you is to forgive one who has behaved like a fool, without even the
excuse of being one; and--will you give me your hand, sir?”

“Ay, and with all my heart,” said Dodd warmly, enclosing the soft little
hand in his honest grasp.

And with no more ado these two highflyers ended one of those little
misunderstandings petty spirits nurse into a feud.


The ship being in port at the Cape, and two hundred hammers tapping at
her, Dodd went ashore in search of Captain Robarts, and made the _Agra_
over to him in the friendliest way, adding warmly that he had found
every reason to be satisfied with the officers and the crew. To his
surprise, Captain Robarts received all this ungraciously. “You ought
to have remained on board, sir, and made me over the command on the
quarter-deck.” Dodd replied politely that it would have been more
formal. “Suppose I return immediately, and man the side for you: and
then you board her, say, in half-an-hour?”

“I shall come when I like,” replied Robarts crustily.

“And when will you like to come?” inquired Dodd, with imperturbable
good-humour.

“Now, this moment: and I’ll trouble you to come along with me.”

“Certainly, sir.”

They got a boat and went out to the ship: on coming alongside, Dodd
thought to meet his wishes by going first and receiving him. But the
jealous, cross-grained fellow, shoved roughly before him and led the way
up the ship’s side. Sharpe and the rest saluted him: he did not return
the salute, but said hoarsely, “Turn the hands up to muster.”

When they were all aft, he noticed one or two with their caps on. “Hats
off and be ---- to you!” cried he. “Do you know where you are? Do you
know who you are looking at? If not, I’ll show you. I’m here to restore
discipline to this ship: so mind how you run athwart my hawse: don’t you
play with the bull, my men; or you’ll find his horns ---- sharp. Pipe
down! Now, you, sir, bring me the log-book.”

He ran his eye over it, and closed it contemptuously: “Pirates, and
hurricanes! _I_ never fell in with pirates nor hurricanes: I have heard
of a breeze, and a gale, but I never knew a seaman worth his salt say
‘hurricane.’ Get another log-book, Mr. Sharpe; put down that it begins
this day at noon; and enter that Captain Robarts came on deck, found the
ship in a miserable condition, took the command, mustered the officers
and men, and stopped the ship’s company’s grog for a week for receiving
him with hats on.”

Even Sharpe, that walking Obedience, was taken aback. “Stop--the ship’s
company’s--grog--for a week, sir?”

“Yes, sir, for a week; and if you fling my orders back in my face
instead of clapping on sail to execute them, I’ll have you towed ashore
on a grating. Your name is Sharpe; well my name is Dammedsharpe, and so
you’ll find.”

In short, the new captain came down on the ship like a blight.

He was especially hard on Dodd: nothing that commander had done was
right, nor, had he done the contrary, would that have been right: he was
disgracefully behind time; and he ought to have put in to the Isle of
France, which would have retarded him: his rope bulwarks were lubberly:
his rudder a disgrace to navigation: he, Robarts, was not so green as to
believe that any master had really sailed sixteen hundred miles with it,
and if he had, more shame for him. Briefly, a marine criticaster.

All this was spoken _at_ Dodd--a thing no male does unless he is an
awful snob--and grieved him, it was so unjust. He withdrew wounded
to the little cabin he was entitled to as a passenger, and hugged his
treasure for comfort. He patted the pocket-book, and said to it, “Never
_you_ mind! The greater Tartar he is, the less likely to sink you or run
you on a lee shore.”

With all his love of discipline, Robarts was not so fond of the ship as
Dodd.

While his repairs were going on he was generally ashore, and by this
means missed a visit. Commodore Collier, one of the smartest sailors
afloat, espied the Yankee makeshift from the quarter-deck of his vessel,
the _Salamanca,_ fifty guns. In ten minutes he was under the _Agra’s_
stern inspecting it; then came on board, and was received in form by
Sharpe and the other officers. “Are you the master of this ship, sir?”
 he asked.

“No, commodore. I am the first mate: the captain is ashore.”

“I am sorry for it. I want to talk about his rudder.”

“Oh, _he_ had nothing to do with that,” replied Sharpe, eagerly: “that
was our dear old captain: he is on board. Young gentleman! ask Captain
Dodd to oblige me by coming on deck! Hy! and Mr. Fullalove too.”

“Young gentleman?” inquired Collier. “What the devil officer is that?”

“That is a name we give the middies; I don’t know why.”

“Nor I neither; ha! ha!”

Dodd and Fullalove came on deck, and Commodore Collier bestowed the
highest compliments on the “makeshift.” Dodd begged him to transfer them
to the real inventor, and introduced Fullalove.

“Ay,” said Collier, “I know you Yankees are very handy. I lost my
rudder at sea once, and had to ship a makeshift; but it was a cursed
complicated thing, not a patch upon yours, Mr. Fullalove. Yours is
ingenious and _simple._ Ship has been in action, I see: pray how was
that, if I may be so bold?”

“Pirates, commodore,” said Sharpe. “We fell in with a brace of
Portuguese devils, lateen-rigged, and carrying ten guns apiece, in the
Straits of Gaspar: fought ‘em from noon till sundown, riddled one, and
ran down the other, and sunk her in a moment. That was all your doing,
Captain: so don’t try to shift it on other people; for we won’t stand
it.”

“If he denies it, I won’t believe him,” said Collier, “for he has got it
in his eye. Gentlemen, will you do me the honour to dine with me to-day
on board the flag-ship?”

Dodd and Fullalove accepted. Sharpe declined, with regret, on the score
of duty. And as the cocked hat went down the side, after saluting
him politely, he could not help thinking to himself what a difference
between a real captain, who had something to be proud of, and his own
unlicked cub of a skipper with the manners of a pilot-boat. He told
Robarts the next day: Robarts said nothing, but his face seemed to turn
greenish, and it embittered his hatred of Dodd the inoffensive.

It is droll, and sad, but true, that Christendom is full of men in
a hurry to hate. And a fruitful cause is jealousy. The schoolmen, or
rather certain of the schoolmen--for nothing is much shallower than
to speak of all those disputants as one school--defined woman, “a
featherless biped vehemently addicted to jealousy.” Whether she is more
featherless than the male can be decided at a trifling expense of time,
money, and reason: you have but to go to court. But as for envy and
jealousy, I think it is pure, unobservant, antique Cant which has fixed
them on the female character distinctively. As a molehill to a mountain
is women’s jealousy to men’s. Agatha may have a host of virtues and
graces, and yet her female acquaintance will not hate her, provided she
has the moderation to abstain from being downright pretty. She may sing
like an angel, paint like an angel, talk, write, nurse the sick, all
like an angel, and not rouse the devil in her fair sisters, so long as
she does not dress like an angel. But the minds of men being much larger
than women’s, yet very little greater, they hang jealousy on a thousand
pegs. Where there was no peg, I have seen them do with a pin.

Captain Robarts took a pin, ran it into his own heart, and hung that
sordid passion on it.

He would get rid of all the Doddites before he sailed. He insulted Mr.
Tickell, so that he left the service and entered a mercantile house
ashore: he made several of the best men desert, and the ship went to
sea short of hands. This threw heavier work on the crew, and led to many
punishments and a steady current of abuse. Sharpe became a mere
machine, always obeying, never speaking: Grey was put under arrest for
remonstrating against ungentlemanly language; and Bayliss, being at
bottom of the same breed as Robarts, fell into his humour, and helped
hector the petty officers and men. The crew, depressed and irritated,
went through their duties pully-hauly-wise. There was no song under the
forecastle in the first watch, and often no grog on the mess table at
one bell. Dodd never came on the quarter-deck without being reminded he
was only a passenger, and the ship was now under naval discipline.
_“I_ was reared in the royal navy, sir,” would Robarts say, “second
lieutenant aboard the _Atalanta:_ that is the school, sir, that is the
only school that breeds seamen.” Dodd bore scores of similar taunts as
a Newfoundland puts up with a terrier in office: he seldom replied, and,
when he did, in a few quiet dignified words that gave no handle.

Robarts, who bore the name of a lucky captain, had fair weather all the
way to St. Helena.

The guard-ship at this island was the _Salamanca._ She had left the
Cape a week before the _Agra._ Captain Robarts, with his characteristic
good-breeding, went to anchor in-shore of Her Majesty’s ship: the wind
failed at a critical moment, and a foul became inevitable. Collier was
on his quarter-deck, and saw what would happen long before Robarts did;
he gave the needful orders, and it was beautiful to see how in half
a minute the frigate’s guns were run in, her ports lowered, her yards
toppled on end, and a spring carried out and hauled on.

The _Agra_ struck abreast her own forechains on the _Salamanca’s_
quarter.

(Pipe.) “Boarders away. Tomahawks! cut everything that holds!” was heard
from the frigate’s quarter-deck. Rush came a boarding party on to the
merchant ship and hacked away without mercy all her lower rigging that
held on to the frigate, signal halyards and all; others boomed her
off with capstan bars, &c., and in two minutes the ships were clear. A
lieutenant and boat’s crew came for Robarts, and ordered him on board
the _Salamanca,_ and, to make sure of his coming, took him back with
them. He found Commodore Collier standing stiff as a ramrod on his
quarter-deck. “Are you the master of the _Agra?_” (His quick eye had
recognised her in a moment.)

“I am, sir.”

“Then she was commanded by a seaman, and is now commanded by a lubber.
Don’t apply for your papers this week; for you won’t get them. Good
morning. Take him away.”

They returned Robarts to his ship, and a suppressed grin on a score of
faces showed him the clear commanding tones of the commodore had
reached his own deck. He soothed himself by stopping the men’s grog and
mast-heading three midshipmen that same afternoon.

The night before he weighed anchor this disciplinarian was drinking very
late in a low public-house. There was not much moon, and the officer
in charge of the ship did not see the gig coming till it was nearly
alongside: then all was done in a flurry.

“Hy! man the side! Lanterns there! Jump, you boys, or you’ll catch
pepper.”

The boys did jump, and little Murphy, not knowing the surgeon had
ordered the ports to be drooped, bounded over the bulwarks like an
antelope, lighted on the midship port, which stood at this angle /, and
glanced off into the ocean, lantern foremost: he made his little hole
in the water within a yard of’ Captain Robarts. That Dignity, though
splashed, took no notice of so small an incident as a gone ship-boy: and
if Murphy had been wise and stayed with Nep. all had been well. But the
poor urchin inadvertently came up again, and without the lantern. One of
the gig’s crew grabbed him by the hair, and prolonged his existence by
an inconsiderate impulse.

“Where is the other lantern?” was Robarts’ first word on reaching the
deck: as if he didn’t know.

“Gone overboard, sir, with the boy Murphy.”

“Stand forward, you, sir,” growled Robarts.

Murphy stood forward, dripping and shivering with cold and fear.

“What d’ye mean by going overboard with the ship’s lantern?”

“Och, your arnr, sure some unasy divil drooped the port; and the lantern
and me we had no foothold at all at all, and the lantern went into the
say, bad luck to ut; and I went afther to try and save ut--for your
arnr.”

“Belay all that!” said Robarts; “do you think you can blarney me,
you young monkey? Here, Bosen’s mate, take a rope’s-end and start
him!--Again!--Warm him well!--That’s right.”

As soon as the poor child’s shrieks subsided into sobs, the
disciplinarian gave him Explanation for Ointment: “I can’t have the
Company’s stores expended this way.”

The force of discipline could no farther go than to flog zeal for
falling overboard: so, to avoid anticlimax in that port, Robarts weighed
anchor at daybreak; and there was a southwesterly breeze waiting for
this favourite of fortune, and carried him past the Azores. Off Ushant
it was westerly, and veered to the nor’-west just before they sighted
the Land’s End: never was such a charming passage from the Cape. The
sailor who had the luck to sight Old England first nailed his
starboard shoe to the mainmast for contributions; and all hearts beat
joyfully--none more than David Dodd’s. His eye devoured the beloved
shore: he hugged the treasure his own ill luck had jeopardised--but
Robarts had sailed it safe into British waters--and forgave the man his
ill manners for his good luck.

Robarts steered in for the Lizard; but, when abreast the Point, kept
well out again, and opened the Channel and looked out for a pilot

One was soon seen working out towards him, and the _Agra_ brought
to. The pilot descended from his lugger into his little boat, rowed
alongside, and came on deck; a rough, tanned sailor, clad in flushing,
and in build and manner might have passed for Robarts’ twin brother.

“Now then, you, sir, what will you take this ship up to the Downs for?”

“Thirty pounds.”

Roberts told him roughly he would not get thirty pounds out of’ _him._

“Thyse and no higher, my Bo,” answered the pilot sturdily: he had been
splicing the main brace, and would have answered an admiral.

Robarts swore at him lustily: Pilot discharged a volley in return
with admirable promptitude. Robarts retorted, the other rough
customer rejoined, and soon all Billingsgate thundered on the _Agra’s_
quarter-deck. Finding, to his infinite disgust, his visitor as great a
blackguard as himself, and not to be outsworn, Robarts ordered him to
quit the ship on pain of being man-handled over the side.

“Oh, that’s it, is it?” growled the other: “here’s fill and be off
then.” He prudently bottled the rest of his rage till he got safe into
his boat, then shook his fist at the _Agra_, and cursed her captain
sky-high. “You see the fair wind, but you don’t see the Channel fret
a-coming, ye greedy gander. Downs! You’ll never see them: you have saved
your ---- money, and lost your ---- ship, ye ---- lubber.”

Robarts hurled back a sugar-plum or two of the same and then ordered
Bayliss to clap on all sail, and keep a mid-channel course through the
night.

At four bells in the middle watch, Sharpe, in charge of the ship, tapped
at Robarts’ door. “Blowing hard, sir, and the weather getting thickish.”

“Wind fair still?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then call me if it blows any harder,” grunted Robarts.

In two hours more, tap, tap, came Bayliss, in charge. “If we don’t take
sail in, they’ll take themselves out.”

“Furl to-gallen’sels, and call me if it gets any worse.”

In another hour Bayliss was at him again. “Blowing a gale, sir, and a
Channel fog on.”

“Reef taupsles, and call me if it gets any worse.”

At daybreak Dodd was on deck, and found the ship flying through a fog
so thick that her forecastle was quite invisible from the poop, and even
her foremast loomed indistinct and looked distant. “You’ll be foul of
something or other, Sharpe,” said he.

“What is that to you?” inquired a loud rough voice behind him. “I don’t
allow passengers to handle my ship.”

“Then do pray handle her yourself; captain! Is this weather to go
tearing happy-go-lucky up the Channel?”

“I mean to sail her without your advice, sir; and, being a seaman, I
shall get all I can out of a fair wind.”

“That is right Captain Robarts, if you had but the British Channel all
to yourself.”

“Perhaps you will leave me my deck all to myself.”

“I should be delighted: but my anxiety will not let me.” With this Dodd
retired a few steps, and kept a keen look-out.


At noon a lusty voice cried “Land on the weather beam!”

All eyes were turned that way and saw nothing.

Land in sight was reported to Captain Robarts.

Now that worthy was in reality getting secretly anxious: so he ran on
deck crying, “Who saw it?”

“Captain Dodd, sir.”

“Ugh! Nobody else?”

Dodd came forward, and, with a respectful air, told him that, being on
the look-out, he had seen the coast of the Isle of Wight in a momentary
lift of the haze.

“Isle of Fiddlestick!” was the polite reply; “Isle of Wight is eighty
miles astern by now.”

Dodd answered firmly that he was well acquainted with every outline in
the Channel, and that the land he had seen was St. Katherine’s Point

Robarts deigned no reply, but had the log heaved: it showed the vessel
to be running twelve knots an hour. He then went to his cabin and
consulted his chart; and, having worked his problem, came hastily on
deck, and went from rashness to wonderful caution. “Turn the hands out,
and heave the ship to!”

The manoeuvre was executed gradually and ably, and scarce a bucketful of
water shipped. “Furl taupsles and set the main trysail! There, Mr. Dodd,
so much for you and your Isle of Wight. The land you saw was Dungeness,
and _you_ would have run on into the North Sea, I’ll be bound.”

When a man, habitually calm, turns anxious, he becomes more irritable;
and the mixture of timidity and rashness he saw in Robarts made Dodd
very anxious.

He replied angrily, “At all events, I should not make a foul wind out
of a fair one by heaving to; and if I did, I would heave to on the right
tack.”

At this sudden facer--one, too, from a patient man--Robarts staggered a
moment. He recovered, and with an oath ordered Dodd to go below, or he
would have him chucked into the hold.

“Come, don’t be an ass, Robarts,” said Dodd contemptuously.

Then, lowering his voice to a whisper, “Don’t you know the men only want
such an order as that to chuck you into the sea?”

Robarts trembled. “Oh, if you mean to head a mutiny----”

“Heaven forbid, sir! But I won’t leave the deck in dirty weather like
this till the captain knows where he is.”

Towards sunset it got clearer, and they drifted past a revenue cutter,
who was lying to with her head to the northward. She hoisted no end of
signals, but they understood none of them, and her captain gesticulated
wildly on her deck.

“What is that Fantoccio dancing at?” inquired Captain Robarts brutally.

“To see a first-class ship drift to leeward in a narrow sea with a fair
wind,” said Dodd bitterly.

At night it blew hard, and the sea ran high and irregular. The ship
began to be uneasy, and Robarts very properly ordered the top-gallant
and royal yards to be sent down on deck. Dodd would have had them down
twelve hours ago. The mate gave the order: no one moved. The mate went
forward angry. He came back pale. The men refused to go aloft: they
would not risk their lives for Captain Robarts.

The officers all assembled and went forward: they promised and
threatened; but all in vain. The crew stood sullen together, as if to
back one another, and put forward a spokesman to say that “there was
not one of them the captain hadn’t started, and stopped his grog a dozen
times: he had made the ship hell to them; and now her masts and yards
and hull might go there along with her skipper, for them.”

Robarts received this tidings in sullen silence. “Don’t tell that Dodd,
whatever you do,” said he. “They will come round now they have had their
growl: they are too near home to shy away their pay.”

Robarts had not sufficient insight into character to know that Dodd
would instantly have sided with him against a mutiny.

But at this juncture the ex-captain of the _Agra_ was down in the cabin
with his fellow-passengers, preparing a general remonstrance: he had a
chart before him, and a pair of compasses in his hand.

“St. Katherine’s Point lay about eight miles to windward at noon; and we
have been drifting south and east this twelve hours, through lying to on
the starboard tack; and besides, the ship has been conned as slovenly
as she is sailed. I’ve seen her allowed to break off a dozen times, and
gather more leeway. Ah! here is Captain Robarts. Captain, you saw the
rate we passed the revenue cutter. That vessel was nearly stationary; so
what we passed her at was our own rate of drifting, and our least rate.
Putting all this together, we can’t be many miles from the French coast,
and, unless we look sharp and beat to windward, I pronounce the ship in
danger.”

A horselaugh greeted this conclusion.

“We are nearer Yarmouth sands than France, I promise you, and nothing
under our lee nearer than Rotterdam.”

A loud cry from the deck above, “A LIGHT ON THE LEE BOW!”

“There!” cried Robarts with an oath: “foul of _her_ next! through me
listening to your nonsense.” He ran upon deck, and shouted through his
trumpet, “All hands wear ship!”

The crew, who had heard the previous cry, obeyed orders in the presence
of an immediate danger; and perhaps their growl had really relieved
their ill-humour. Robarts with delight saw them come tumbling up, and
gave his orders lustily: “Brail up the trysel! up with the helm! in with
the weather main brace! square the after yards!”

The ship’s bow turned from the wind, and, as soon as she got way on her,
Robarts ran below again, and entered the cabin triumphant.

“That is all right: and now, Captain Dodd, a word with you. You will
either retire at once to your cabin, or will cease to breed disaffection
in my crew, and groundless alarm in my passengers, by instilling your
own childish, ignorant fears. The ship has been underlogged a hundred
miles, sir; and but for my caution in lying to for clear weather we
should be groping among the Fern Isl----”

CRASH!

An unheard-of shock threw the speaker and all the rest in a mass on
the floor, smashed every lamp, put out every light; and, with a fierce
grating noise, the ship was hard and fast on the French coast, with her
stern to the sea.

One awful moment of silence; then, amidst shrieks of agony, the sea
struck her like a rolling rock, solid to crush, liquid to drown, and
the comb of a wave smashed the cabin windows and rushed in among them as
they floundered on the floor, and wetted and chilled them to the marrow.
A voice in the dark cried, “O God! we are dead men.”



CHAPTER XIV

“ON deck for your lives!” cried Dodd, forgetting in that awful moment he
was not the captain; and drove them all up, Robarts included, and caught
hold of Mrs. Beresford and Freddy at their cabin door and half carried
them with him. Just as they got on deck the third wave, a high one,
struck the ship and lifted her bodily up, canted her round, and dashed
her down again some yards to leeward, throwing them down on the hard and
streaming deck.

At this tremendous shock the ship seemed a live thing, shrieking and
wailing, as well as quivering with the blow.

But one voice dissented loudly from the general dismay. “All right men,”
 cried Dodd, firm and trumpet-like. “She is broadside on now. Captain
Robarts, look alive, sir; speak to the men! don’t go to sleep!”

Robarts was in a lethargy of fear. At this appeal he started into a
fury of ephemeral courage. “Stick to the ship,” he yelled; “there is no
danger if you stick to the ship,” and with this snatched a life-buoy,
and hurled himself into the sea.

Dodd caught up the trumpet that fell from his hand and roared, “I
command this ship. Officers come round me! Men to your quarters! Come,
bear a hand here and fire a gun. That will show us where we are, and let
the Frenchmen know.”

The carronade was fired, and its momentary flash revealed that the ship
was ashore in a little bay; the land abeam was low and some eighty yards
off; but there was something black and rugged nearer the ship’s stern.

Their situation was awful. To windward huge black waves rose like
tremendous ruins, and came rolling, fringed with devouring fire; and
each wave as it charged them, curled up to an incredible height and
dashed down on the doomed ship--solid to crush, liquid to drown--with a
ponderous stroke that made the poor souls stagger, and sent a sheet of
water so clean over her that part fell to leeward, and only part came
down on deck, foretaste of a watery death; and each of these fearful
blows drove the groaning, trembling vessel farther on the sand, bumping
her along as if she had been but a skiff.

Now it was men showed their inner selves.

Seeing Death so near on one hand, and a chance of escape on the other,
seven men proved unable to resist the two great passions of Fear and
Hope on a scale so gigantic and side by side. Bayliss, a midshipman, and
five sailors stole the only available boat and lowered her.

She was swamped in a moment

Many of the crew got to the rum, and stupefied themselves to their
destruction.

Others rallied round their old captain, and recovered their native
courage at the brave and hopeful bearing he wore over a heart full of
anguish. He worked like a horse, encouraging, commanding, doing; he
loaded a carronade with a pound of powder and a coil of rope, with an
iron bar attached to a cable, and shot the rope and bar ashore.

A gun was now fired from the guard-house, whose light Robarts had taken
for a ship. But no light being shown any nearer on the coast, and the
ship expected every minute to go to pieces, Dodd asked if any one would
try to swim ashore with a line made fast to a hawser on board.

A sailor offered to go if any other man would risk his life along with
him. Instantly Fullalove stripped, and Vespasian next.

“Two is enough on such a desperate errand,” said Dodd with a groan.

But now emulation was up, and neither Briton, Yankee, nor negro would
give way. A line was made fast to the sailor’s waist, and he was lowered
to leeward; his venturesome rivals followed. The sea swallowed those
three heroes like crumbs, and small was the hope of life for them.

The three heroes being first-rate swimmers and divers, and going with
the tide, soon neared the shore on the ship’s lee quarter; but a sight
of it was enough: to attempt to land on that rock with such a sea on
was to get their skulls smashed like eggshells in a moment. They had to
coast it, looking out for a soft place.

They found one, and tried to land; but so irresistible was the suction
of the retiring wave, that, whenever they got foot on the sand, and
tried to run, they were wrenched out to sea again, and pounded black and
blue and breathless by the curling breaker they met coming in.

After a score of vain efforts, the negro, throwing himself on his back,
went in with a high wave, and, on touching the sand, turned, dug all
his ten claws into it clenched his teeth, and scrambled like a cat at
a wall. Having more power in his toes than the Europeans, and luckily
getting one hand on a firm stone, his prodigious strength just enabled
him to stick first while the wave went back; and then, seizing the
moment, he tore himself ashore, but bleeding and bruised all over, and
with a tooth actually broken by clenching in the convulsive struggle.

He found some natives dancing about in violent agitation with a rope,
but afraid to go in and help him; and no wonder, not being seagulls. By
the light of their lanterns, he saw Fullalove washing in and out like
a log. He seized one end of the rope, and dashed in and grabbed his
friend, and they were hauled ashore together, both breathless, and
Fullalove speechless.

The negro looked round for the sailor, but could not see him. Soon,
however, there was a cry from some more natives about fifty yards off
and laterns held up; away he dashed with the rope just in time to see
Jack make a last gallant attempt to land. It ended in his being flung up
like a straw into the air on the very crest of a wave fifteen feet high,
and out to sea with his arms whirling, and a death shriek which was
echoed by every woman within hearing.

In dashed Vespasian with the rope, and gripped the drowning man’s long
hair with his teeth: then jerked the rope, and they were both pulled
ashore with infinite difficulty. The good-natured Frenchmen gave them
all three lots of _vivats_ and brandy and pats on the back, and carried
the line for them to a flagstaff on the rocks nearer the stern of the
ship.


The ship began to show the first signs of breaking up: hammered to death
by the sea, she discharged the oakum from her opening seams, and her
decks began to gape and grin fore and aft. Corpses of drunken sailors
drowned between decks now floated up amidships, and washed and rolled
about among the survivors’ feet These, seeing no hope, went about making
up all quarrels, and shaking hands in token of a Christian end. One or
two came to Dodd with their hands out.

“Avast ye lubbers!” said he angrily; “do you think I have time for
nonsense? Foksel ahoy! axes, and cut the weather shrouds!”

It was done; the foremast went by the board directly, and fell to
leeward: a few blows of the axe from Dodd’s own hand sent the mainmast
after it.

The _Agra_ rose a streak; and the next wave carried her a little farther
on shore.

And now the man in charge of the hawser reported with joy that there was
a strain on it.

This gave those on board a hope of life. Dodd bustled and had the hawser
carefully payed out by two men, while he himself secured the other end
in the mizen top: he had left that mast standing on purpose.

There was no fog here; but great heavy black clouds flying about with
amazing swiftness extinguished the moon at intervals: at others she
glimmered through a dull mist in which she was veiled, and gave the poor
souls on the _Agra_ a dim peep of the frail and narrow bridge they must
pass to live. A thing like a black snake went down from the mizen-top,
bellying towards the yawning sea, and soon lost to sight: it was seen
rising again among some lanterns on the rock ashore: but what became
of it in the middle? The darkness seemed to cut it in two; the sea to
swallow it. Yet, to get from a ship going to pieces under them, the
sailors precipitated themselves eagerly on that black thread bellying
to the sea and flickering in the wind. They went down it, one after
another, and anxious eyes straining after them saw them no more: but
this was seen, that scarce one in three emerged into the lights ashore.

Then Dodd got an axe, and stood in the top, and threatened to brain the
first man who attempted to go on the rope.

“We must make it taut first,” said he; “bear a hand here with a tackle.”

Even while this was being done, the other rope, whose end he had fired
ashore, was seen moving to windward. The natives, it seems, had found
it, half buried in sand.

Dodd unlashed the end from the bulwarks and carried it into the top, and
made it fast: and soon there were two black snakes dipping shrorewards
and waving in the air side by side.

The sailors scrambled for a place, and some of them were lost by their
own rashness. Kenealy waited coolly, and went by himself.

Finally, Dodd was left in the ship with Mr. Sharpe and the women, and
little Murphy, and Ramgolam, whom Robarts had liberated to show his
contempt of Dodd.

He now advised Mrs. Beresford to be lashed to Sharpe and himself, and
venture the passage; but she screamed and clung to him, and said, “I
dare not! oh I dare not!”

“Then I must lash you to a spar,” said he, “for she can’t last much
longer.” He ordered Sharpe ashore. Sharpe shook hands with him, and went
on the rope with tears in his eyes.

Dodd went hard to work, lashed Mrs. Beresford to a piece of broken
water-butt: filled Fred’s pockets with corks and sewed them up (you
never caught Dodd without a needle; only, unlike the women’s, it was
always kept threaded). Mrs. Beresford threw her arms round his neck and
kissed him wildly: a way women have in mortal peril: it is but their
homage to courage. “All right!” said Dodd, interpreting it as appeal to
his protection, and affecting cheerfulness: “we’ll get ashore together
on the poop awning, or somehow; never you fear. I’d give a thousand
pounds to know where high water is.”

At this moment, with a report like a cannon, the lower decks burst fore
and aft: another still louder, and the _Agra’s_ back broke. She parted
amidships with a fearful yawn, and the waves went toppling and curling
clean through her.

At this appalling sound and sight, the few creatures left on the poop
cowered screaming and clinging at Dodd’s knees, and fought for a bit of
him.

Yes, as a flood brings incongruous animals together on some little
isle in brotherhood of fear--creatures who never met before without one
eating the other; and there they cuddle--so the thief Ramgolam clung
to the man he had tried to rob; the Hindoo Ayan and the English maid
hustled their mistress, the haughty Mrs. Beresford, and were hustled
by her, for a bit of this human pillar; and little Murphy and Fred
Beresford wriggled in at him where they could: and the poor goat crept
into the quivering mass trembling like an aspen, and not a butt left
either in his head or his heart. Dodd stood in the middle of these
tremblers, a rock of manhood: and when he was silent and they heard
only the voice of the waves, they despaired; and whenever he spoke,
they started at the astounding calmness of his voice and words, and life
sounded possible.

“Come,” said he, “this won’t do any longer. All hands into the
mizen-top!”

He helped them all up, and stood on the ratlines himself: and, if you
will believe me, the poor goat wailed like a child below. He found in
that new terror and anguish a voice goat was never heard to speak in
before. But they had to leave him on deck: no help for it. Dodd advised
Mrs. Beresford once more to attempt the rope: she declined. “I dare not!
I dare not!” she cried, but she begged Dodd hard to go on it and save
himself.

It was a strong temptation: he clutched the treasure in his bosom, and
one sob burst from the strong man.

That sob was but the tax paid by Nature; for pride, humanity, and
manhood stood staunch in spite of it. “No, no, I can’t,” said he “I
mustn’t. Don’t tempt me to leave you in this plight, and be a cur! Live
or die, I must be the last man on her. Here’s something coming out to
us, the Lord in Heaven be praised!”

A bright light was seen moving down the black line that held them to the
shore; it descended slowly within a foot of the billows, and lighting
them up showed their fearful proximity to the rope in mid-passage: they
had washed off many a poor fellow at that part.

“Look at that! Thank Heaven you did not try it!” said Dodd to Mrs.
Beresford.

At tins moment a higher wave than usual swallowed up the light: there
was a loud cry of dismay from the shore, and a wail of despair from the
ship.

No! not lost after all! The light emerged, and mounted, and mounted
towards the ship.

It came near, and showed the black shiny body of Vespasian, with very
little on but a handkerchief and a lantern--the former round his waist,
and the latter lashed to his back: he arrived with a “Yah! yah!” and
showed his white teeth in a grin.

Mrs. Beresford clutched his shoulder, and whimpered, “Oh, Mr. Black!”

“Iss, Missy, dis child bring good news. Cap’n! Massah Fullalove send
you his congratulations, and the compliments of the season; and take the
liberty to observe the tide am turn in twenty minutes.”

The good news thus quaintly announced caused an outburst of joy from
Dodd, and, sailor-like, he insisted on all hands joining in a cheer. The
shore re-echoed it directly. And this encouraged the forlorn band
still more; to hear other hearts beating for them so near. Even
the intervening waves could not quite annul the sustaining power of
sympathy.

At this moment came the first faint streaks of welcome dawn, and
revealed their situation more fully.

The vessel lay on the edge of a sandbank. She was clean in two, the
stern lying somewhat higher than the stem. The sea rolled through her
amidships six feet broad, frightful to look at, and made a clean breach
over her forward, all except the bowsprit to the end of which the poor
sailors were now discovered to be clinging. The afterpart of the poop
was out of water, and in a corner of it the goat crouched like a
rabbit: four dead bodies washed about beneath the party trembling in
the mizen-top, and one had got jammed in the wheel, face uppermost and
glared up at them, gazing terror-stricken down.

No sign of the tide turning yet, and much reason to fear it would turn
too late for them and the poor fellows shivering on the bowsprit.

These fears were well founded.

A huge sea rolled in, and turned the forepart of the vessel half over,
buried the bowsprit, and washed the men off into the breakers.

Mrs. Beresford sank down, and prayed, holding Vespasian by the knee.

Fortunately, as in that vessel wrecked long syne on Melita, “the hind
part of the ship stuck fast and remained immovable.”

But for how long?

Each wave now struck the ship’s weather quarter with a sound like a
cannon fired in a church, and sent the water clear into the mizen-top.
It hit them like strokes of a whip. They were drenched to the skin,
chilled to the bone, and frozen to the heart with fear. They made
acquaintance that hour with Death. Ay, Death itself has no bitterness
that forlorn cluster did not feel: only the insensibility that ends that
bitterness was wanting.

Now the sea, you must know, was literally strewed with things out of the
_Agra_; masts, rigging, furniture, tea-chests, bundles of canes, chairs,
tables; but of all this jetsam, Dodd’s eye had been for some little time
fixed on one object: a live sailor drifting ashore on a great wooden
case. It struck him after a while that the man made very little way,
and at last seemed to go up and down in one place. By-and-bye he saw him
nearer and nearer, and recognised him. It was one of the three washed
off the bowsprit.

He cried joyfully, “The tide has turned! here’s Thompson coming out to
sea.”

Then there ensued a dialogue, incredible to landsmen, between these two
sailors, the captain of the ship and the captain of the foretop, one
perched on a stationary fragment of that vessel, the other drifting on a
pianoforte, and both bawling at one another across the jaws of death.

“Thompson ahoy!”

“Hal-lo!”

“Whither bound?”

“Going out with the tide, and be d----d to me.”

“What, can’t ye swim?”

“Like a brass figure-head. It’s all over with poor Jack, sir.”

“All over! Don’t tell me! Look out now as you drift under our stern, and
we’ll lower you the four-inch hawser.”

“Lord bless you, sir, do, pray!” cried Thompson, losing his recklessness
with the chance of life.

By this time the shore was black with people, and a boat was brought
down to the beach, but to attempt to launch it was to be sucked out to
sea.

At present all eyes were fixed on Thompson drifting to destruction.

Dodd cut the four-inch hawser, and Vespasian, on deck, lowered it with
a line, so that Thompson presently drifted right athwart it. “All right,
sir!” said he, grasping it, and, amidst thundering acclamations, was
drawn to land full of salt water and all but insensible. The piano
landed at Dunkirk three weeks later.

In the bustle of this good and smart action the tide retired
perceptibly.

By-and-bye the sea struck lower and with less weight.

At 9 P. M. Dodd took his little party down on deck again, being now the
safest place; for the mast might go.

It was a sad scene: the deck was now dry, and the dead bodies lay quiet
around them with glassy eyes; and, grotesquely horrible, the long hair
of two or three was stiff and crystallised with the saltpetre in the
ship.

Mrs. Beresford clung to Vespasian: she held his bare black shoulder with
one white and jewelled hand, and his wrist with the other, tight. “Oh,
Mr. Black,” said she, “how brave you are! It is incredible. Why, you
came back! I must feel a brave man with both my hands or I shall die.
Your skin is nice and soft, too. I shall never outlive this dreadful
day.”

And now that the water was too low to wash them off the hawser, several
of the ship’s company came back to the ship to help the women down.

By noon the _Agra’s_ deck was thirty feet from the sand. The rescued
ones wanted to break their legs and necks, but Dodd would not permit
even that. He superintended the whole manoeuvre, and lowered, first the
dead, then the living, not omitting the poor goat, who was motionless
and limp with fright.

When they were all safe on the sand, Dodd stood alone upon the poop a
minute, cheered by all the sailors, French and English, ashore, then
slid down a rope and rejoined his companions.

To their infinite surprise, the undaunted one was found to be
snivelling.

“Oh, dear! what is the matter?” said Mrs. Beresford tenderly.

“The poor _Agra_, ma’am! She was such a beautiful sea-boat: and just
look at her now! Never sail again: never! never! She was a little crank
in beating, I can’t deny it; but how she did fly with the wind abaft.
She sank a pirate in the straits, and weathered a hurricane off the
Mauritius; and after all for a lubber to go and lay her bones ashore in
a fair wind: poor dear beauty!”

He maundered thus, and kept turning back to look at the wreck, till he
happened to lay his hand on his breast He stopped in the middle of his
ridiculous lament wore a look of self-reproach, and cast his eyes upward
in heartfelt gratitude.

The companions of so many adventures dispersed.

A hospitable mayoress entertained Mrs. Beresford and suite; and she took
to her bed, for she fell seriously ill as soon as ever she could do it
with impunity.

Colonel Kenealy went off to Paris: “I’ll gain that, any way, by being
wrecked,” said he.

If there be a lover of quadrupeds here, let him know that Billy’s
weakness proved his strength. Being brandied by a good-natured French
sailor, he winked his eye; being brandied greatly, he staggered up and
butted his benefactor like a man.

Fullalove had dry clothes and a blazing fire ready for Dodd at a little
rude auberge. He sat over it and dried a few bank-notes he had loose
about him, and examined his greater treasure, his children’s. The
pocket-book was much stained, but no harm whatever done to the contents.

In the midst of this employment the shadow of an enormous head was
projected right upon his treasure.

Turning with a start, he saw a face at the window: one of those vile
mugs which are found to perfection amongst the _canaille_ of the French
nation--bloated, blear-eyed, grizzly, and wild-beast like. The ugly
thing, on being confronted, passed slowly out of the sun, and Dodd
thought no more of it.

The owner of this sinister visage was Andre Thibout, of whom it might be
said, like face like life; for he was one of those ill-omened creatures
who feed upon the misfortunes of their kind, and stand on shore in foul
weather hoping the worst, instead of praying for the best: briefly, a
wrecker. He and his comrade, Jacques Moinard, had heard the _Agra’s_ gun
fired, and came down to batten on the wreck: but ho! at the turn of
the tide, there were gensdarmes and soldiers lining the beach, and the
Bayonet interposed between Theft and Misfortune. So now the desperate
pair were prowling about like hungry, baffled wolves, curses on their
lips and rage at their hearts.


Dodd was extremely anxious to get to Barkington before the news of the
wreck; for otherwise he knew his wife and children would suffer a year’s
agony in a single day. The only chance he saw was to get to Boulogne in
time to catch the _Nancy_ sailing packet; for it was her day. But then
Boulogne was eight leagues distant, and there was no public conveyance
going. Fullalove, entering heartily into his feelings, was gone to look
for horses to hire, aided by the British Consul. The black hero was
upstairs clearing out with a pin two holes that had fallen into decay
for want of use. These holes were in his ears.

And now, worn out by anxiety and hard work, Dodd began to nod in his
chair by the fire.

He had not been long asleep when the hideous face of Thibout reappeared
at the window and watched him. Presently a low whistle was uttered
outside, and soon the two ruffians entered the room, and, finding the
landlady there as well as Dodd, called for a little glass apiece of
absinthe. While drinking it, they cast furtive glances towards Dodd, and
waited till she should go about her business, and leave them alone with
him.

But the good woman surmised their looks, and knowing the character of
the men, poured out a cup of coffee from a great metal reservoir by the
fire, and waked Dodd without ceremony: “Voici votre cafe, Monsieur!”
 making believe he had ordered it.

“Merci, Madame!” replied he, for his wife had taught him a little
French.

“One may sleep _mal a propos,_” muttered the woman in his ear. “My man
is at the fair, and there are people here who are not worth any great
things.”

Dodd rubbed his eyes and saw those two foul faces at the end of the
kitchen: for such it was, though called _salle a manger._ “Humph!” said
he; and instinctively buttoned his coat.

At that Thibout touched Moinard’s knee under the table.

Fullalove came in soon after to say he had got two horses, and they
would be here in a quarter of an hour.

“Well, but Vespasian? how is he to go?” inquired Dodd.

“Oh, we’ll send him on ahead, and then ride and tie.”

“No, no,” said Dodd, “I’ll go ahead. That will shake me up. I think I
should tumble off a horse; I’m so dead sleepy.”

Accordingly he started to walk on the road to Boulogne.


He had not been gone three minutes when Moinard sauntered out.

Moinard had not been gone two minutes when Thibout strolled out.

Moinard kept Dodd in sight and Thibout kept Moinard.


The horses were brought soon after, but unfortunately the pair did not
start immediately, though, had they known it, every moment was precious.
They wasted time in argument. Vespasian had come down with a diamond
ring in one ear, and a ruby in the other. Fullalove saw this retrograde
step, and said grimly, “Have you washed but half your face, or is this a
return to savagery?”

Vespasian wore an air of offended dignity. “No, sar; these yar
decorations come off a lady ob i cibilisation: Missy Beresford donated
‘em me. Says she, ‘Massah Black’--yah! yah! She always nick-nominates
dis child Massa Black--‘while I was praying Goramighty for self and
pickaninny, I seen you out of one corner of my eye admirationing my
rings; den just you take ‘em,’ says dat ar aristocracy: ‘for I don’t
admirationise ‘em none: I’ve been shipwrecked.’ So I took ‘em wid
incredible condescension; and dat ar beautiful lady says to me, ‘Oh, get
along wid your nonsense about coloured skins! I have inspectionated your
conduct, Massa Black, and likewise your performances on the slack rope,’
says she, ‘in time of shipwreck: and darn me,’ says she, ‘but you are a
man, you are.’ ‘No, Missy,’ says I superciliously, ‘dis child am not a
man, if you please, but a coloured gemman.’” He added, he had put them
in his ears because the biggest would not go on his little finger.

Fullalove groaned. “And of course, the next thing, you’ll ring
your snout like a pig or a Patagonian. There, come along, ye
darn’d--Anomaly.”

He was going to say “Cuss,” but remembering his pupil’s late heroic
conduct, softened it down to Anomaly.

But Vespasian always measured the force of words by their length or
obscurity. “Anomaly” cut him to the heart: he rode off in moody silence
and dejection, asking himself sorrowfully what he had done that such a
mountain of vituperation should fall on him. “Anomaly!!”

They cantered along in silence; for Fullalove was digesting this new
trait in his pupil, and asking himself could he train it out, or must he
cross it out. Just outside the town they met Captain Robarts walking in;
he had landed three miles off down the coast. “Hallo!” said Fullalove.

“I suppose you thought I was drowned?” said Robarts spitefully; “but you
see I’m alive still.”

Fullalove replied, “Well, captain, that is only one mistake more you’ve
made, I reckon.”

About two English miles from the town they came to a long straight slope
up and down, where they could see a league before them; and there they
caught sight of David Dodd’s tall figure mounting the opposite rise.

Behind him at some little distance were two men going the same way, but
on the grass by the roadside, whereas David was on the middle of the
road.

“He walks well for Jacky Tar,” said Fullalove.

“Iss, sar,” said Vespasian sulkily; “but dis ‘Analogy’ tink he not walk
so fast as those two behind him, cos they catch him up.”

Now Vespasian had hardly uttered these words when a thing occurred,
so sudden and alarming, that the speaker’s eyes protruded, and he was
dumfounded a moment; the next a loud cry burst from both him and his
companion at once, and they lashed their horses to the gallop and went
tearing down the hill in a fury of rage and apprehension.


Mr. Fullalove was right, I think: a sailor is seldom a smart walker; but
Dodd was a cricketer, you know, as well. He swung along at a good
pace and in high spirits. He had lost nothing but a few clothes, and a
quadrant, and a chronometer; it was a cheap wreck to him, and a joyful
one: for peril past is present delight. He had saved his life, and what
he valued more, his children’s money. Never was that dear companion of
his perils so precious to him as now. One might almost fancy that, by
some strange sympathy, he felt the immediate happiness of his daughter
depended on it. Many in my day believe that human minds can thus
communicate, overleaping material distances. Not knowing, I can’t say.
However, no such solution is really needed here. All the members of
a united and loving family feel together and work together--without
specific concert--though hemispheres lie between: it is one of the
beautiful traits of true family affection. Now the Dodds, father,
mother, sister, brother, were more one in heart and love than any other
family I ever saw: woe to them if they had not.

David, then, walked towards Boulogne that afternoon a happy man. Already
he tasted by anticipation the warm caresses of his wife and children,
and saw himself seated at the hearth, with those beloved ones clustering
close round him. How would he tell them Its adventures--Its dangers from
pirates--Its loss at sea--Its recovery--Its wreck--Its coming ashore dry
as a bone; and conclude by taking It out of his bosom and dropping It in
his wife’s lap with “Cheer, boys, cheer!”

Trudging on in this delightful reverie, his ear detected a pitpat at
some distance behind him: he looked round with very slight curiosity
and saw two men coming up. Even in that hasty glance he recognised the
foulface of Andre Tiribout, a face not to be forgotten in a day. I don’t
know how it was, but he saw in a moment that face was after him to rob
him, and he naturally enough concluded It was their object.

And he was without a weapon, and they were doubtless armed. Indeed,
Thibout was swinging a heavy cudgel.

Poor Dodd’s mind went into a whirl and his body into a cold sweat. In
such moments men live a year. To gain a little time he walked swiftly
on, pretending not to have noticed them: but oh! his eyes roved wildly
to each side of the road for a chance of escape. He saw none. To his
right was a precipitous rock; to his left a profound ravine with a
torrent below, and the sides scantily clothed with fir-trees and bushes:
he was, in fact, near the top of a long rising ground called _“La
Mauvaise Cote,_” on account of a murder committed there two hundred
years ago.

Presently he heard the men close behind him. At the same moment he saw
at the side of the ravine a flint stone about the size of two fists:
he made but three swift strides, snatched it up, and turned to meet the
robbers, drawing himself up high, and showing fight in every inch.

The men were upon him. His change of attitude was so sudden and fiery
that they recoiled a step. But it was only for a moment: they had gone
too far to retreat; they divided, and Thibout attacked him on his left
with uplifted cudgel, and Moinard on his right with a long glittering
knife. The latter, to guard his head from the stone, whipped off his hat
and held it before his head: but Dodd was what is called “left handed:”
 “ambidexter” would be nearer the mark (he carved and wrote with his
right hand, heaved weights and flung cricket-balls with his left).
He stepped forward, flung the stone in Thibout’s face with perfect
precision, and that bitter impetus a good thrower lends at the moment
of delivery, and almost at the same moment shot out his right hand and
caught Moinard by the throat. Sharper and fiercer collision was never
seen than of these three.

Thibout’s face crashed; his blood squirted all round the stone, and
eight yards off lay that assailant on his back.

Moinard was more fortunate: he got two inches of his knife into Dodd’s
left shoulder, at the very moment Dodd caught him in his right-hand
vice. And now one vengeful hand of iron grasped him felly by the throat;
another seized his knife arm and twisted it back like a child’s. He
kicked and struggled furiously, but in half a minute the mighty English
arm and iron fingers held the limp body of Jacques Moinard with its
knees knocking, temples bursting, throat relaxed, eyes protruding, and
livid tongue lolling down to his chin. A few seconds more, and, with the
same stalwart arm that kept his relaxed and sinking body from falling,
Dodd gave him one fierce whirl round to the edge of the road, then put a
foot to his middle, and spurned his carcase with amazing force and fury
down the precipice. Crunch! crunch! it plunged from tree to tree, from
bush to bush, and at last rolled into a thick bramble, and there stuck
in the form of a crescent But Dodd had no sooner sent him headlong by
that mighty effort, than his own sight darkened, his head swam, and,
after staggering a little way, he sank down in a state bordering on
insensibility. Meantime Fullalove and Vespasian were galloping down the
opposite hill to his rescue.

Unfortunately, Andre Thibout was not dead, nor even mortally wounded. He
was struck on the nose and mouth; that nose was flat for the rest of his
life, and half of his front teeth were battered out of their sockets,
but he fell, not from the brain being stunned, but the body driven to
earth by the mere physical force of so momentous a blow, knocked down
like a ninepin. He now sat up bewildered, and found himself in a pool of
blood, his own. He had little sensation of pain, but he put his hand to
his face, and found scarce a trace of his features, and his hand came
away gory. He groaned.

Rising to his feet, he saw Dodd sitting at some distance; his first
impulse was to fly from so terrible an antagonist, but, as he made for
the ravine, he observed that Dodd was in a helpless condition, wounded
perhaps by Moinard. And where was Moinard?

Nothing visible of him but his knife: that lay glittering in the road.

Thibout with anxious eye turned towards Dodd, kneeled to pick it up,
and in the act a drop of his own blood fell on the dust beside it. He
snarled like a wounded tiger, spat out half-a-dozen teeth, and crept on
tiptoe to his safe revenge.

Awake from your lethargy or you are a dead man!

No! Thibout got to him unperceived, and the knife glittered over his
head.

At this moment the air seemed to fill with clattering hoofs and voices,
and a pistol-shot rang. Dodd heard and started, and so saw his peril.
He put up his left hand to parry the blow, but feebly. Luckily for him
Thibout’s eyes were now turned another way, and glaring with stupid
terror out of his mutilated visage: a gigantic mounted fiend, with black
face and white gleaming, rolling eyes was coming at him like the wind,
uttering horrid howls. Thibout launched himself at the precipice with
a shriek of dismay, and went rolling after his comrade; but ere he had
gone ten yards he fell across a young larch-tree and hung balanced. Up
came the foaming horses: Fullalove dismounted hastily and fired three
deliberate shots down at Thibout from his revolver. He rolled off, and
never stopped again till he splashed into the torrent, and lay there
staining it with blood from his battered face and perforated shoulder.

Vespasian jumped off, and with glistening eyes administered some good
brandy to Dodd. He, unconscious of his wound, a slight one, relieved
their anxiety by assuring them somewhat faintly he was not hurt, but
that, ever since that “tap on the head” he got in the Straits of Gaspar,
any angry excitement told on him, made his head swim, and his temples
seem to swell from the inside.

“I should have come off second-best but for you, my dear friends. Shake
hands over it, do! O, Lord bless you! Lord bless you both. As for you,
Vespasian, I do think you are my guardian angel. Why, this is the second
time you’ve saved my life. No, it isn’t: for it’s the third.”

“Now you git along, Massa Cap’n,” said Vespasian. “You berry good man,
ridicalous good man; and dis child ar’nt no gardening angel at all;
he ar a darned Anatomy” (with such a look of offended dignity at
Fullalove).

After examining the field of battle and comparing notes, they mounted
Dodd on Vespasian’s horse, and walked quietly till Dodd’s head got
better; and then they cantered on three abreast, Vespasian in the middle
with one sinewy hand on each horse’s mane; and such was his muscular
power, that he often relieved his feet by lifting himself clean into
the air, and the rest of the time his toe but touched the ground, and he
sailed like an ostrich and grinned and chattered like a monkey.

Sad to relate, neither Thibout nor Moinard was ended. The guillotine
stood on its rights. Meantime, what was left of them crawled back to the
town stiff and sore, and supped together--Moinard on liquids only--and
vowed revenge on all wrecked people.

The three reached Boulogne in time for the _Nancy,_ and put Dodd on
board: the pair decided to go to the Yankee Paradise--Paris.

They parted with regret and tenderly, like old tried friends; and
Vespasian told Dodd, with tears in his eyes, that though he was in point
of fact only a darned Anemo, he felt like a coloured gemman at parting
from his dear old Captain.

The master of the _Nancy_ knew Dodd well, and gave him a nice cot to
sleep in. He tumbled in with a bad headache and quite worn out, and
never woke for fifteen hours.

And when he did wake, he was safe at Barkington.

He and It landed on the quay. He made for home.

On the way he passed Hardie’s bank, a firm synonymous in his mind with
the Bank of England.

A thrill of joy went through him. Now it _was_ safe. When he first sewed
It on in China, It seemed secure nowhere except on his own person.
But since then, the manifold perils by sea and land It had encountered
through being on him, had caused a strong reaction in his mind on
that point. He longed to see It safe out of his own hands and in good
custody.

He made for Hardie’s door with a joyful rush, waved his cap over his
head in triumph, and entered the bank with It.

Ah!



CHAPTER XV

CHRONOLOGY.--The Hard Cash sailed from Canton months before the boat
race at Henley recorded in Chapter I., but it landed in Barkington a
fortnight after the last home event I recorded in its true series.

Now this fortnight, as it happens, was fruitful of incidents, and must
be dealt with at once. After that, “Love” and “Cash,” the converging
branches of this story, will flow together in one stream.


Alfred Hardie kept faith with Mrs. Dodd, and, by an effort she
appreciated, forbore to express his love for Julia except by the pen. He
took in Lloyd’s shipping news, and got it down by rail, in hopes there
would be something about the _Agra;_ then he could call at Albion Villa.
Mrs. Dodd had given him that loophole: meantime he kept moping for an
invitation, which never came.

Julia was now comparatively happy, and so indeed was Alfred; but
then the male of our species likes to be superlatively happy, not
comparatively; and that Mrs. Dodd forgot or perhaps had not observed.

One day Sampson was at Albion Villa, and Alfred knew it. Now, though
it was a point of honour with poor Alfred not to hang about after Julia
until her father’s return, he had a perfect right to lay in wait for
Sampson and hear something about her; and he was so deep in love that
even a word at second-hand from her lips was a drop of dew to his heart.

So he strolled up towards the villa. He had nearly reached it, when
a woman ran past him making the most extraordinary sounds: I can only
describe it as screaming under her breath. Though he only saw her back,
he recognised Mrs. Maxley. One back differeth from another, whatever
you may have been told to the contrary in novels and plays. He called
to her: she took no notice, and darted wildly through the gate of Albion
Villa. Alfred’s curiosity was excited, and he ventured to put his head
over the gate. But Mrs. Maxley had disappeared.

Alfred had half a mind to go in and inquire if anything was the matter:
it would be a good excuse.

While he hesitated, the dining-room window was thrown violently up, and
Sampson looked out. “Hy! Hardie! my good fellow! for Heaven’s sake a
fly, and a fast one!”

It was plain something very serious had occurred: so Alfred flew towards
the nearest fly-stand. On the way, he fell in with a chance fly drawn up
at a public-house; he jumped on the box and drove rapidly towards Albion
Villa. Sampson was hobbling to meet him--he had sprained his ankle or
would not have asked for a conveyance--to save time he got up beside
Alfred, and told him to drive hard to Little Friar Street. On the way he
explained hurriedly: Mrs. Maxley had burst in on him at Albion Villa to
say her husband was dying in torment: and indeed the symptoms she
gave were alarming, and, if correct, looked very like lockjaw. But her
description had been cut short by a severe attack, which choked her and
turned her speechless and motionless, and white to the very lips.

“‘Oho,’ sis I, ‘brist-pang!’ And at such a time, ye know. But these
women are as unseasonable as they are unreasonable. Now, angina pictoris
or brist-pang is not curable through the lungs, nor the stomick, nor the
liver, nor the stays, nor the saucepan, as the bunglintinkerindox of the
schools pretind, but only through that mighty mainspring the Brain; and
instid of going meandering to the Brain round by the stomick, and so
giving the wumman lots o’ time to die first, which is the scholastic
practice, I wint at the Brain direct, took a puff o’ chlorofm put m’ arm
round her neck, laid her back in a chair--she didn’t struggle, for, when
this disorrder grips ye, ye cant move hand nor foot--and had my lady
into the land of Nod in half a minute; thin off t’ her husband; so
here’s th’ Healer between two stools--spare the whipcord, spoil the
knacker!--it would be a good joke if I was to lose both pashints for
want of a little unbeequity, wouldn’t it--Lash the lazy vagabin!--Not
that I care: what interest have I in their lives? they never pay: but ye
see custom’s second nature; an d’Ive formed a vile habit; I’ve got to
be a Healer among the killers: an d’a Triton among--the millers. Here we
are at last, Hiven be praised.” And he hopped into the house faster than
most people can run on a good errand. Alfred flung the reins to a cad
and followed him.

The room was nearly full of terrified neighbours: Sampson shouldered
them all roughly out of his way, and there, on a bed, lay Maxley’s gaunt
figure in agony.

His body was drawn up by the middle into an arch, and nothing touched
the bed but the head and the heels; the toes were turned back in the
most extraordinary contortion, and the teeth set by the rigour of the
convulsion, and in the man’s white face and fixed eyes were the horror
and anxiety, that so often show themselves when the body feels itself in
the grip of Death.

Mr. Osmond the surgeon was there; he had applied a succession of hot
cloths to the pit of the stomach, and was trying to get laudanum down
the throat, but the clenched teeth were impassable.

He now looked up and said politely, “Ah! Dr. Sampson, I am glad to
see you here. The seizure is of a cataleptic nature, I apprehend. The
treatment hitherto has been hot epithems to the abdomen, and----”

Here Sampson, who had examined the patient keenly, and paid no
more attention to Osmond than to a fly buzzing, interrupted him as
unceremoniously--

“Poisoned,” said he philosophically.

“Poisoned!!” screamed the people.

“Poisoned!” cried Mr. Osmond, in whose little list of stereotyped
maladies poisoned had no place. “Is there any one you have reason to
suspect?”

“I don’t suspect, nor conject, sir: I know. The man is poisoned, the
substance strychnine. Now stand out of the way you gaping gabies, and
let me work. Hy, young Oxford! you are a man: get behind and hold both
his arms for your life! That’s you!”

He whipped off his coat laid hold of Osmond’s epithems, chucked them
across the room, saying, “You may just as well squirt rose-water at a
house on fire;” drenched his handkerchief with chloroform, sprang upon
the patient like a mountain cat and chloroformed him with all his might.

Attacked so skilfully and resolutely, Maxley resisted little for so
strong a man; but the potent poison within fought virulently: as a
proof, the chloroform had to be renewed three times before it could
produce any effect. At last the patient yielded to the fumes and became
insensible.

Then the arched body subsided and the rigid muscles relaxed and turned
supple. Sampson kneaded the man like dough by way of comment.

“It is really very extraordinary,” said Osmond.

“Mai--dearr--sirr, nothing’s extraornary t’ a man that knows the reason
of iverything.”

He then inquired if any one in the room had noticed at what intervals of
time the pains came on.

“I am sorry to say it is continuous,” said Osmond.

“Mai--dearr--sirr, nothing on airth is continuous: iverything has
paroxysms and remissions--from a toothache t’ a cancer.”

He repeated his query in various forms, till at last a little girl
squeaked out, “If--_you_---please, sir, the throes do come about every
ten minutes, for I was a looking at the clock; I carries father his
dinner at twelve.”

“If you please, ma’am, there’s half a guinea for you for not being such
an’ ijjit as the rest of the world, especially the Dockers.” And he
jerked her half a sovereign.

A stupor fell on the assembly. They awoke from it to examine the coin,
and see if it was real, or only yellow air.

Maxley came to and gave a sigh of relief. When he had been insensible,
yet out of pain, nearly eight minutes by the clock, Sampson chloroformed
him again. “I’ll puzzle ye, my friend strych,” said he. “How will ye get
your perriodical paroxysms when the man is insensible? The Dox say y’
act direct on the spinal marrow. Well, there’s the spinal marrow where
you found it just now. Act on it again, my lad! I give ye leave--if ye
can. Ye can’t; bekase ye must pass through the Brain to get there: and
I occupy the Brain with a swifter ajint than y’ are, and mean to keep y’
out of it till your power to kill evaporates, being a vigitable.”

With this his spirits mounted, and he indulged in a harmless and
favourite fiction: he feigned the company were all males and medical
students, Osmond included, and he the lecturer. “Now, jintlemen,” said
he, “obsairve the great Therey of the Perriodeecity and Remitteney
of all disease, in conjunckshin with its practice. All diseases have
paroxysms and remissions, which occur at intervals; sometimes it’s a
year, sometimes a day, an hour, ten minutes; but whatever th’ interval,
they are true to it: they keep time. Only when the disease is retirin,
the remissions become longer, the paroxysms return at a greater
interval, and just the revairse when the pashint is to die. This,
jintlemen, is man’s life from the womb to the grave: the throes that
precede his birth are remittent like ivery thing else, but come at
diminished intervals when he has really made up his mind to be born (his
first mistake, sirs, but not his last); and the paroxysms of his mortal
disease come at shorter intervals when he is really goon off the hooks:
but still chronometrically; just as watches keep time whether they go
fast or slow. Now, jintlemen, isn’t this a beautiful Therey?”

“Oh, mercy! Oh, good people help me! Oh, Jesus Christ have pity on me!”
 And the sufferer’s body was bent like a bow, and his eyes filled with
horror, and his toes pointed at his chin.

The Doctor hurled himself on the foe. “Come,” said he, “smell to this,
lad! That’s right! He is better already, jintlemen, or he couldn’t howl,
ye know. Deevil a howl in um before I gave um puff chlorofm. Ah! would
ye? would ye?”

“Oh! oh! oh! oh! ugh!----ah!”

The Doctor got off the insensible body, and resumed his lecture calmly,
like one who has disposed of some childish interruption. “And now to
th’ application of the Therey: If the poison can reduce the tin minutes’
interval to five minutes, this pashint will die; and if I can get the
tin minutes up t’ half hour, this pashint will live. Any way, jintlemen,
we won’t detain y’ unreasonably: the case shall be at an end by one
o’clock.”

On hearing this considerate stipulation, up went three women’s aprons to
their eyes.

“Alack! poor James Maxley! he is at his last hour: it be just gone
twelve, and a dies at one.”

Sampson turned on the weepers. “Who says that, y’ ijjits? I said the
case would end at one: a case ends when the pashint gets well or dies.”

“Oh, that is good news for poor Susan Maxley; her man is to be well by
one o’clock, Doctor says.”

Sampson groaned, and gave in. He was strong, but not strong enough to
make the populance suspend an opinion.

Yet, methinks it might be done: by chloroforming them.

The spasms came at longer intervals and less violent, and Maxley got so
fond of the essence of Insensibility, that he asked to have some in his
own hand to apply at the first warning of the horrible pains.

Sampson said, “Any fool can complete the cure;” and, by way of practical
comment, left him in Mr. Osmond’s charge; but with an understanding that
the treatment should not be varied; that no laudanum should be given;
but, in due course, a stiff tumbler of brandy and water, or two. “If
he gets drunk, all the better; a little intoxication weakens the body’s
memory of the pain it has endured, and so expedites the cure. Now off we
go to th’ other.”

“The body’s memory!” said Mr. Osmond to himself: “what on earth does the
quack mean?”

The driver _de jure_ of the fly was not quite drunk enough to lose his
horse and vehicle without missing them. He was on the look out for the
robber, and as Alfred came round the corner full pelt, darted at the
reins with a husky remonstrance, and Alfred cut into him with the whip:
an angry explanation--a guinea--and behold the driver sitting behind
complacent and nodding.

Arrived at Albion Villa, Alfred asked Sampson submissively if he might
come in and see the wife cured.

“Why, of course,” said Sampson, not knowing the delicate position.

“Then ask me in before Mrs. Dodd,” murmured Alfred coaxingly.

“Oo, ay,” said the Doctor knowingly: “I see.”

Mrs. Maxley was in the dining-room: she had got well of herself, but
was crying bitterly, and the ladies would not let her go home yet; they
feared the worst and that some one would blurt it out to her.

To this anxious trio entered Sampson radiant. “There, it’s all right.
Come, little Maxley, ye needn’t cry; he has got lots more mischief to do
in the world yet; but, O wumman, it is lucky you came to me and not to
any of the tinkering dox. No more cat and dog for you and him but for
the Chronothairmal Therey. And you may bless my puppy’s four bones too:
he ran and stole a fly like a man, and drove hilter-skilter. Now, if I
had got to your house two minutes later, your Jamie would have lairned
the great secret ere this.” He threw up the window. “Haw you! come away
and receive the applause due from beauty t’ ajeelity.”

Alfred came in timidly, and was received with perfect benignity and
self-possession by Mrs. Dodd, but Julia’s face was dyed with blushes,
and her eyes sparkled the eloquent praise she was ashamed to speak
before them all. But such a face as her scarce needed the help of a
voice at such a time. And indeed both the lovers’ faces were a pretty
sight and a study. How they stole loving glances, but tried to keep
within bounds, and not steal more than three per minute! and how
unconscious they endeavoured to look the intervening seconds! and what
windows were the demure complacent visages they thought they were
making shutters of! Innocent love has at least this advantage over
melodramatic, that it can extract exquisite sweetness out of so small
a thing. These sweethearts were not alone, could not open their hearts,
must not even gaze too long; yet to be in the same room even on such
terms was a taste of Heaven.

“But, dear heart!” said Mrs. Maxley, “ye don’t tell me what he ailed.
Ma’am, if you had seen him you would have said he was taken for death.”

“Pray what _is_ the complaint?” inquired Mrs. Dodd.

“Oh, didn’t I tell ye? Poisoned.”

This intelligence was conveyed with true scientific calmness, and
received with feminine ejaculations of horror. Mrs. Maxley was indignant
into the bargain: “Don’t ye go giving my house an ill name! We keeps no
poison.”

Sampson fixed his eyes sternly on her: “Wumman, ye know better: ye keep
strychnine, for th’ use and delectation of your domestic animal.”

“Strychnine! I never heard tell of it. Is that Latin for arsenic?”

“Now isn’t this lamentable? Why, arsenic is a mital; strychnine a
vigitable. N’hist me! Your man was here seeking strychnine to poison
his mouse; a harmless, domistic, necessary mouse. I told him mice were a
part of Nature as much as Maxleys, and life as sweet tit as tim: but he
was dif to scientific and chrisehin preceps; so I told him to go to the
Deevil: ‘I will,’ sis he, and went t’ a docker. The two assassins have
poisoned the poor beastie between ‘em; and thin, been the greatest miser
in the world, except one, he will have roasted his victim, and ate her
on the sly, imprignated with strychnine. ‘I’ll steal a march on t’other
miser,’ sis he; and that’s you: t’ his brain flew the strychnine: his
brain sint it to his spinal marrow: and we found my lorrd bent like a
bow, and his jaw locked, and nearer knowin the great secret than any man
in England will be this year to live: and sairves the assassinating old
vagabin right.”

“Heaven forgive you, Doctor,” said Mrs. Maxley, half mechanically.

“For curin a murrderer? Not likely.”

Mrs. Maxley, who had shown signs of singular uneasiness during Sampson’s
explanation, now rose, and said in a very peculiar tone she must go home
directly.

Mrs. Dodd seemed to enter into her feelings, and made her go in the fly,
taking care to pay the fare and the driver out of her own purse. As
the woman got into the fly, Sampson gave her a piece of friendly and
practical advice. “Nixt time he has a mind to breakfast on strychnine,
you tell me; and I’ll put a pinch of arsenic in the salt-cellar, and
cure him safe as the bank. But this time he’d have been did and stiff
long before such a slow ajint as arsenic could get a hold on um.”


They sat down to luncheon, but neither Alfred nor Julia fed much, except
upon sweet stolen looks; and soon the active Sampson jumped up, and
invited Alfred to go round his patients. Alfred could not decline, but
made his adieux with regret so tender and undisguised, that Julia’s
sweet eyes filled, and her soft hand instinctively pressed his at
parting to console him. She blushed at herself afterwards, but at the
time she was thinking only of him.

Maxley and his wife came up in the evening with a fee. They had put
their heads together, and proffered one guinea. “Man and wife be one
flesh, you know, Doctor,” said the rustic miser.

Sampson, whose natural choler was constantly checked by his humour,
declined this profuse proposal. “Here’s vanity!” said he. “Now do you
really think your two lives are worth a guinea? Why, it’s 252 pence!
1008 farthings!”

The pair affected disappointment--vilely.

At all events, he must accept this basket of gudgeons Maxley had brought
along. Being poisoned was quite out of Maxley’s daily routine, and had
so unsettled him, that he had got up, and gone fishing--to the amazement
of the parish.

Sampson inspected the basket. “Why, they are only fish,” said he;
_“I was in hopes they were pashints._” He accepted the gudgeons, and
inquired how Maxley got poisoned. It came out that Mrs. Maxley, seeing
her husband set apart a portion of his Welsh rabbit, had “grizzled,” and
asked what that was for; and being told “for the mouse,” and to “mind
her own business,” had grizzled still more, and furtively conveyed a
portion back into the pan for her master’s own use. She had been
quaking dismally all the afternoon at what she had done, but finding
Maxley--hard but just--did not attack her for an involuntary fault, she
now brazened it out, and said, “Men didn’t ought to have poison in the
house unbeknown to their wives. Jem had got no more than he worked
for,” &c. But, like a woman, she vowed vengeance on the mouse: whereupon
Maxley threatened her with the marital correction of neck-twisting if
she laid a finger on it.

“My eyes be open now to what a poor creature do feel as dies poisoned.
Let her a be: there’s room in our place for her and we.”

Next day he met Alfred, and thanked him with warmth, almost with
emotion. “There ain’t many in Barkington as ever done me a good turn,
Master Alfred; you be one on ‘em: you comes after the Captain in my book
now.”

Alfred suggested that his claims were humble compared with Sampson’s.

“No, no,” said Maxley, going down to his whisper, and looking, monstrous
wise: “Doctor didn’t go out of his business for me: you did.”

The sage miser’s gratitude had not time to die a natural death before
circumstances occurred to test it. On the morning of that eventful day
which concluded my last chapter, he received a letter from Canada. His
wife was out with eggs; so he caught little Rose Sutton, that had more
than once spelled an epistle for him; and she read it out in a loud
and reckless whine: “‘At -- noon -- this -- very -- daie -- Muster
--Hardie’s a-g-e-n-t, aguent -- d-i-s dis, h-o-n -- honour_ed_
--dis-honour_ed_--a--bill; and sayed.’” Here she made a full stop. Then
on to the next verse.

“‘There -- were no -- more -- asses.’”

“Mercy on us! but it can’t be asses, wench: drive your spe-ad into’t
again.”

“‘A-s-s-e-t-s. Assets.’”

“Ah! Go an! go an!”

“‘Now -- Fatther -- if -- you -- leave -- a s-h-i-l-l-i-n-g, shilling
--at --Hardie’s -- after -- this -- b-l-a-m-e, ble-am -- your -- self
--not-- me -- for -- this -- is -- the -- waie -- the r-o-g-u-e-s,
rogews -- all-- bre-ak -- they -- go -- at -- a-- d-i-s-t-a-n-c-e,
distance --first-- and -- then -- at -- h-o-m-e, whuoame. -- Dear --
fatther’ --Lawk o’ daisy, what ails you, Daddy Maxley? You be as white
as a Sunday smock. Be you poisoned again, if _you_ please?”

“Worse than that--worse!” groaned Maxhey, trembling all over.
“Hush!--hold your tongue! Give me that letter! Don’t you never
tell nobody nothing of what you have been a reading to me, and
I’ll--I’ll--It’s only Jem’s fun: he is allus running his rigs--that’s a
good wench now, and I’ll give ye a halfpenny.”

“La, Daddy,” said the child, opening her eyes, “I never heeds what I
_re-ads:_ I be wrapped up in the spelling. Dear heart, what a sight of
long words folks puts in a letter, more than ever drops out of their
mouths; which their fingers be longer than their tongues, I do suppose.”

Maxley hailed thus information characteristically. “Then we’ll say no
more about the halfpenny.”

At this, Rose raised a lamentable cry, and pearly tears gushed forth.

“There, there!” said Maxley, deprecatingly; “here’s two apples for ye;
ye can’t get them for less: and a halfpenny or a haporth is all one
to you, but it is a great odds to me. And apples they rot; halfpence
don’t.”

It was now nine o’clock. The bank did not open till ten; but Maxley went
and hung about the door, to be the first applicant.

As he stood there trembling with fear lest the bank should not open at
all, he thought hard, and the result was a double resolution: he would
have his money out to the last shilling; and, this done, would button up
his pockets and padlock his tongue. It was not his business to take care
of his neighbours; nor to blow the Hardies, if they paid him his money
on demand. “So not a word to my missus, nor yet to the town-crier,” said
he.

Ten o’clock struck, and the bank shutters remained up. Five minutes
more, and the watcher was in agony. Three minutes more, and up came
a boy of sixteen whistling, and took down the shutters with an
indifference that amazed him. “Bless your handsome face!” said Maxley
with a sigh of relief.

He now summoned up all his firmness, and, having recourse to an art
in which these shrewd rustics are supreme, made his face quite
inexpressive, and so walked into the bank the every-day Maxley
externally, but within a volcano ready to burst if there should be the
slightest hesitation to pay him his money.

“Good morning, Mr. Maxley,” said young Skinner.

“Good morning, sir.”

“What can we do for you?”

“Oh, I’ll wait my turn, sir.”

“Well, it is your turn now, if you like.”

“How much have you got of mine, if you please, sir?”

“Your balance? I’ll see. Nine hundred and four pounds.”

“Well, sir, then, if _you_ please, I’ll draa _that._”

(“It has come!” thought Skinner.) “What, going to desert us?” he
stammered.

“No,” said the other, trembling inwardly, but not moving a facial
muscle: “it is only for a day or two, sir.”

“Ah! I see, going to make a purchase. By-the-bye, I believe Mr. Hardie
means to offer you some grounds he is buying outside the town: will that
suit your book?”

“I dare say it will, sir.”

“Then perhaps you will wait till our governor comes in?”

“I have no objection.”

“He won’t be long. Fine weather for the gardens, Mr. Maxley.”

“Moderate, sir. I’ll take my money if you please. Counting it out, that
will help pass the time till Muster Hardie comes. You han’t made away
with it?”

“What d’ye mean, sir?”

“Hardies bain’t turned thieves, be they?”

“Are you mad or intoxicated, Mr. Maxley?”

‘Neither, sir; but I wants my own, and I wool have it too: so count out
on this here counter, or I’ll cry the town round that there door.”

“Henry, score James Maxley’s name off the books,” said Skinner with cool
dignity. But when he had said this, he was at his wits’ end: there were
not nine hundred pounds of hard cash in the bank, nor anything like it.



CHAPTER XVI

SKINNER--called “young” because he had once had a father on the
premises--was the mole-catcher. The feelings with which he had now for
some months watched his master grubbing were curiously mingled. There
was the grim sense of superiority every successful detective feels as he
sees the watched one working away unconscious of the eye that is on him;
but this was more than balanced by a long habit of obsequious reverence.
When A. has been looking up to B. for thirty years, he cannot look
down on him all of a sudden, merely because he catches him falsifying
accounts. Why, Man is a cooking animal: bankrupt Man especially.

And then Richard Hardie overpowered Skinner’s senses: he was Dignity in
person: he was six feet two, and always wore a black surtout buttoned
high, and a hat with a brim a little broader than his neighbours’, yet
not broad enough to be eccentric or slang. He moved down the street
touching his hat--while other hats were lifted high to him--a walking
volume of cash. And when he took off this ebon crown and sat in the bank
parlour, he gained in appearance more than he lost; for then his whole
head was seen, long, calm, majestic: that senatorial front and furrowed
face overawed all comers. Even the little sharp-faced clerk would stand
and peep at it, utterly puzzled between what he knew and what he eyed:
nor could he look at that head and face without excusing them. What a
lot of money they must have sunk before they came down to fabricating a
balance-sheet!

And by-and-bye custom somewhat blunted his sense of the dishonesty, and
he began to criticise the thing arithmetically instead of morally. That
view once admitted, he was charmed with the ability and subtlety of
his dignified sharper; and so the mole-catcher began gradually, but
effectually, to be corrupted by the mole. He who watches a dishonest
process and does not stop it, is half way towards conniving: who
connives, is half way towards abetting.

The next thing was, Skinner felt mortified at his master not trusting
him. Did he think old Bob Skinner’s son would blow on Hardie after all
these years?

This rankled a little, and set him to console himself by admiring his
own cleverness in penetrating this great distrustful man. Now of all
sentiments, Vanity is the most restless and the surest to peep out.
Skinner was no sooner inflated than his demure obsequious manner
underwent a certain change: slight and occasional only; but Hardie was
a subtle man, and the perilous path he was treading made him wonderfully
watchful, suspicious, and sagacious. He said to himself, “What has come
to Skinner? I must know.” So he quietly watched his watcher; and soon
satisfied himself he suspected something amiss. From that hour Skinner
was a doomed clerk.


It was two o’clock: Hardie had just arrived, and sat in the parlour,
Cato-like, and cooking.

Skinner was in high spirits: it was owing to his presence of mind
the bank had not been broken some hours ago by Maxley. So now, while
concluding his work, he was enjoying by anticipation his employer’s
gratitude. “He can’t hold aloof after this,” said Skinner; “he must
honour me with his confidence. And I will deserve it. I do deserve it.”

A grave, calm, passionless voice invited him into the parlour.

He descended from his desk and went in, swelling with demure
complacency.

He found Mr. Hardie seated garbling his accounts with surpassing
dignity. The great man handed him an envelope, and cooked majestic on. A
wave of that imperial hand, and Skinner had mingled with the past.

For know that the envelope contained three things: a cheque for a
month’s wages; a character; and a dismissal, very polite and equally
peremptory.

Skinner stood paralysed: the complacency died out of his face, and
rueful wonder came instead. It was some time before he could utter a
word: at last he faltered, “Turn me away, sir? turn away Noah Skinner?
Your father would never have said such a word to _my_ father.” Skinner
uttered this his first remonstrance in a voice trembling with awe, but
gathered courage when he found he had done it, yet lived.

Mr. Hardie evaded his expostulation by a very simple means: he made no
reply, but continued his work, dignified as Brutus, inexorable as Fate,
cool as Cucumber.

Skinner’s anger began to rise, he watched Mr. Hardie in silence, and
said to himself, “Curse you! you were born without a heart!”

He waited, however, for some sign of relenting, and, hoping for it the
water came into his own eyes. But Hardie was impassive as ice.

Then the little clerk, mortified to the core as well as wounded, ground
his teeth and drew a little nearer to this incarnate Arithmetic, and
said with an excess of obsequiousness, “Will you condescend to give me a
reason for turning me away all in a moment after five-and-thirty years’
faithful services?”

“Men of business do not deal in reasons,” was the cool reply: “it is
enough for you that I give you an excellent character, and that we part
good friends.”

“That we do not,” replied Skinner sharply: “if we stay together we are
friends; but we part enemies, if we do part.”

“As you please, Mr. Skinner. I will detain you no longer.”

And Mr. Hardie waved him away so grandly that he started and almost ran
to the door. When he felt the handle, it acted like a prop to his heart.
He stood firm, and rage supplied the place of steady courage. He clung
to the door, and whispered at his master--such a whisper: so loud, so
cutting, so full of meaning and malice; it was like a serpent hissing at
a man.

“But I’ll give _you_ a reason, a good reason, why you had better not
insult me so cruel: and what is more, I’ll give you two: and one is that
but for me the bank must have closed this day at ten o’clock--ay, you
may stare; it was I saved it, not you--and the other is that, if you
make an enemy of me, you are done for. I know too much to be made an
enemy of, sir--a great deal too much.”

At this Mr. Hardie raised his head from his book and eyed his crouching
venomous assailant full in the face, majestically, as one can fancy a
lion rearing his ponderous head, and looking lazily and steadily at a
snake that has just hissed in a corner. Each word of Skinner’s was a
barbed icicle to him, yet not a muscle of his close countenance betrayed
his inward suffering.

One thing, however, even he could not master: his blood; it retired from
that stoical cheek to the chilled and foreboding heart; and the sudden
pallor of the resolute face told Skinner his shafts had gone home.
“Come, sir,” said he, affecting to mingle good fellowship with his
defiance, “why bundle me off these premises, when you will be bundled
off them yourself before the week is out?”

“You insolent scoundrel! Humph! Explain, Mr. Skinner.”

“Ah! what, have I warmed your marble up a bit? Yes, I’ll explain. The
bank is rotten, and can’t last forty-eight hours.”

“Oh, indeed! blighted in a day--by the dismissal of Mr. Noah Skinner. Do
not repeat that after you have been turned into the streets, or you will
be indicted: at present we are confidential. Anything more before you
quit the rotten bank?”

“Yes, sir, plenty. I’ll tell you your own history, past, present, and to
come. The road to riches is hard and rugged to the likes of me, but your
good father made it smooth and easy to you, sir. You had only to take
the money of a lot of fools that fancy they can’t keep it themselves;
invest it in Consols and Exchequer bills, live on half the profits, put
by the rest, and roll in wealth. But this was too slow and too sure
for you: you must be Rothschild in a day; so you went into blind
speculation, and flung old Mr. Hardie’s savings into a well. And now for
the last eight months you have been doctoring the ledger”--Hardie winced
just perceptibly--“You have put down our gains in white, our losses in
black, and so you keep feeding your pocket-book and empty our tills;
the pear will soon be ripe, and then you will let it drop, and into
the Bankruptcy Court we go. But, what you forget, fraudulent bankruptcy
isn’t the turnpike way of trade: it is a broad road, but a crooked one:
skirts the prison wall, sir, and sights the herring-pond.”

An agony went across Mr. Hardie’s great face, and seemed to furrow as it
ran.

“Not but what you are all right, sir,” resumed his little cat-like
tormentor, letting him go a little way, to nail him again by-and-bye:
“You have cooked the books in time: and Cocker was a fool to you. ‘Twill
be all down in black and white. Great sacrifices: no reserve: creditors
take everything; dividend fourpence in the pound, furniture of house
and bank, Mrs. Hardie’s portrait, and down to the coalscuttle. Bankrupt
saves nothing but his honour, and--the six thousand pounds or so he
has stitched into his old great-coat: hands his new one to the official
assignees, like an honest man.”

Hardie uttered something between a growl and a moan.

“Now comes the per contra: poor little despised Noah Skinner has kept
genuine books while you have been preparing false ones. I took the real
figures home every afternoon on loose leaves, and bound ‘em: and
very curious they will read in court alongside of yours. I did it for
amusement o’ nights: I’m so solitary, and so fond of figures. I must try
and turn them to profit; for I’m out of place now in my old age. Dearee
me! how curious that you should go and pick out me of all men to turn
into the street--like a dog--like a dog--like a dog.”

Hardie turned his head away; and in that moment of humiliation and
abject fear, drank all the bitterness of moral death.

His manhood urged him to defy Skinner and return to the straight path,
cost what it might. But how could he? His own books were all falsified.
He could place a true _total_ before his creditors by simply adding the
contents of his secret hoard to the assets of the Bank; but with this
true arithmetical result he could not square his books, except by
conjectural and fabricated details, which would be detected, and send
him to prison; for who would believe he was lying in figures only to get
back to the truth? No, he had entangled himself in his own fraud, and
was at the mercy of his servant. He took his line. “Skinner, it was your
interest to leave me whilst the bank stood; then you would have got a
place directly; but since you take umbrage at my dismissing you for your
own good, I must punish you--by keeping you.”

“I am quite ready to stay and serve you, sir,” replied Skinner hastily
“and as for my angry words, think no more of them! It went to my heart
to be turned away at the very time you need me most.”

(“Hypocritical rogue!” thought Hardie.) “That is true, Skinner,” said
he; “I do indeed need a faithful and sympathising servant, to advise,
support, and aid me. Ask yourself whether any man in England needs a
confidant more than I. It was bitter at first to be discovered even by
you: but now I am glad you know all; for I see I have undervalued your
ability as well as your zeal.”

Thus Mr. Hardie bowed his pride to flatter Skinner, and soon saw by the
little fellow’s heightened colour that this was the way to make him a
clerk of wax.

The banker and his clerk were reconciled. Then the latter was invited to
commit himself by carrying on the culinary process in his own hand. He
trembled a little, but complied, and so became an accomplice. On this
his master took him into his confidence, and told him everything it was
impossible to hide from him.

“And now, sir,” said Skinner, “let me tell you what I did for you this
morning. Then perhaps you won’t wonder at my being so peppery. Maxley
_suspects:_ he came here and drew out every shilling. I was all in a
perspiration what to do. But I put a good face on, and----”

Skinner then confided to his principal how he had evaded Maxley and
saved the Bank; and the stratagem seemed so incredible and droll, that
they both laughed over it long and loud. And in fact it turned out a
first-rate practical jest: cost two lives.

While they were laughing, the young clerk looked in and said, “Captain
Dodd, to speak with you, sir!”

“Captain Dodd!!!” And all Mr. Hardie’s forced merriment died away, and
his face betrayed his vexation for once. “Did you go and tell him I was
here?”

“Yes, sir: I had no orders; and he said you would be sure to see _him._”

“Unfortunate! Well, you may show him in when I ring your bell.”

The youngster being gone, Mr. Hardie explained to his new ally in a few
hurried words the danger that threatened him from Miss Julia Dodd. “And
now,” said he, “the women have sent her father to soften his. I shall
be told his girl will die if she can’t have my boy, &c. As if I care who
lives or dies.”

On this Skinner got up all in a hurry and offered to go into the office.

“On no account,” said Mr. Hardie sharply. “I shall make my business with
you the excuse for cutting this love-nonsense mighty short. Take your
book to the desk, and seem buried in it.”

He then touched the bell, and both confederates fell into an attitude:
never were a pair so bent over their little accounts--lies, like
themselves.

Instead of the heart-broken father their comedy awaited, in came the
gallant sailor with a brown cheek reddened by triumph and excitement and
almost shouted in a genial jocund voice, “How d’ye do sir? It is a long
time since I came across your hawse.” And with this he held out his hand
cordially. Hardie gave his mechanically, and remained on his guard, but
somewhat puzzled. Dodd shook his cold hand heartily. “Well, sir, here
I am, just come ashore, and visiting you before my very wife; what d’ye
think of that?”

“I am highly honoured, sir,” said Hardie: then, rather stiffly and
incredulously, “and to what may I owe this extraordinary preference?
Will you be good enough to state the purport of this visit--briefly--as
Mr. Skinner and I are much occupied?”

“The purport? Why, what does one come to a banker about? I have got a
lot of money I want to get rid of.”

Hardie stared, but was as much on his guard as ever; only more and more
puzzled.

Then David winked at him with simple cunning, took out his knife, undid
his shirt, and began to cut the threads which bound the Cash to his
flannel.

At this Skinner wheeled round on his stool to look, and both he and Mr.
Hardie inspected the unusual pantomime with demure curiosity.

Dodd next removed the oilskin cover, and showed the pocket-book, brought
it down with a triumphant smack on the hollow of his hand, and, in the
pride of his heart, the joy of his bosom and the fever of his blood--for
there were two red spots on his cheek all the time--told the cold
pair Its adventures in a few glowing words: the Calcutta firm--the two
pirates--the hurricane--the wreck--the land-sharks--he had saved it
from. “And here It is, safe in spite of them all. But I won’t carry It
on me any more: it is unlucky; so you must be so good as to take charge
of It for me, sir.”

“Very well, Captain Dodd. You wish it placed to Mrs. Dodd’s account, I
suppose?”

“No! no! I have nothing to do with that: this is between you and me.”

“As you please.”

“Ye see it is a good lump, sir.”

“Oh, indeed!” said Hardie a little sneeringly.

“I call it a thundering lot o’ money. But I suppose it is not much to
a rich banker like you.” Then he lowered his voice, and said with a
certain awe: “It’s--fourteen--thousand pounds.”

“Fourteen thousand pounds!!!” cried Hardie. Then with sudden and
consummate coolness, “Why, certainly an established bank like this deals
with more considerable deposits than that. Skinner, why don’t you give
the Captain a chair?”

“No! no!” said Dodd. “I’ll heave-to till I get this off my mind, but I
won’t anchor anywhere but at home.” He then opened the pocket-book and
spread the contents out before Mr. Hardie, who ran over the notes and
bills, and said the amount was L. 14,010, 12s. 6d.

Dodd asked for a receipt.

“Why, it is not usual when there is an account.”

Dodd’s countenance fell: “Oh, I should not like to part with it unless I
had a receipt.”

“You mistake me,” said Hardie with a smile. “An entry in your banker’s
book is a receipt. However, you can have one in another form.” He then
unlocked a desk, took out a banker’s receipt; and told Skinner to
fill it in. This done, he seemed to be absorbed in some more important
matter.

Skinner counted the notes and left them with Mr. Hardie; the bills he
took to his desk to note them on the back of the receipt. Whilst he was
writing this with his usual slowness and precision, poor Dodd’s heart
overflowed. “It is my children’s fortune, ye see: I don’t look on
a sixpence of it as mine: that it is what made me so particular. It
belongs to my little Julia, bless her:--she is a rosebud if ever there
was one; and oh! such a heart; and so fond of her poor father; but not
fonder than he is of her--and to my dear boy Edward; he is the honestest
young chap you ever saw: what he says, you may swear to with your eyes
shut. But how could they miss either good looks or good hearts, and
_her_ children? the best wife and the best mother in England. She has
been a true consort to me this many a year, and I to her, in deep
water and shoal, let the wind blow high or low. Here is a Simple Simon
vaunting his own flesh and blood! No wonder that little gentleman there
is grinning at me. Well, grin away, lad! perhaps you haven’t got any
children. But you have, sir: and you know how it is with us fathers;
our hearts are so full of the little darlings, out it must come. You can
understand how joyful I feel at saving their fortune from land-sharks
and sea-sharks, and landing it safe in an honest man’s hands like you
and your father before you.”

Skinner handed him the receipt.

He cast his eye over it. “All right, little gentleman. Now my heart is
relieved of such a weight: I feel to have just cleared out a cargo of
bricks. Good-bye: shake hands. I wish you were as happy as I am. I wish
all the world was happy. God bless you! God bless you both!”

And with this burst he was out of the room and making ardently for
Albion Villa.


The banker and his clerk turned round on their seats and eyed one
another a long time in silence and amazement. Was this thing a dream?
their faces seemed to ask. Then Mr. Hardie rested his senatorial head
on his hand and pondered deeply. Skinner too reflected on this strange
freak of Fortune: and the result was that he burst in on his principal’s
reverie with a joyful shout: “The bank is saved! Hardie’s is good for
another hundred years.”

The banker started, for Skinner’s voice sounded like a pistol-shot in
his ear, so high strung was he with thought.

“Hush! hush!” he said, and pondered again in silence. At last he turned
to Skinner. “You think our course is plain? I tell you it is so dark and
complicated it would puzzle Solomon to know what is best to be done.”

“Save the bank, sir, whatever you do.”

“How can I save the bank with a few thousand pounds, which I must refund
when called on? You look keenly into what is under your eye, Skinner,
but you cannot see a yard beyond your nose. Let me think.”

After a while he took a sheet of paper, and jotted down “the materials,”
 as he called them, and read them out to his accomplice:--


“1. A bank too far gone to be redeemed. If I throw this money into it, I
shall ruin Captain Dodd, and do myself no good, but only my creditors.

“2. Miss Julia Dodd, virtual proprietor of this L. 14,000, or of the
greater part, if I choose. The child that marries first usually jockeys
the other.

“3. Alfred Hardie, my son, and my creditor, deep in love with No. 2,
and at present somewhat alienated from me by my thwarting a silly love
affair; which bids fair to improve into a sound negotiation.

“4. The L. 14,000 paid to me personally after banking hours, and not
entered on the banking books, nor known but to you and me.

“Now suppose I treat this advance as a personal trust? The bank breaks:
the money disappears. Consternation of the Dodds, who, until enlightened
by the public settlement, will think it has gone into the well.

“In that interval I talk Alfred over, and promise to produce the
L.14,000 intact, with my paternal blessing on him and Miss Dodd, provided
he will release me from my debt to him, and give me a life interest in
half the money settled on him by my wife’s father, to my most unjust and
insolent exclusion. Their passion will soon bring the young people to
reason, and then they will soon melt the old ones.”

Skinner was struck with this masterly little sketch. But he detected one
fatal flaw: “You don’t say what is to become of me.”

“Oh, I haven’t thought of that yet.”

“But do think of it, sir, that I may have the pleasure of co-operating.
It would never do for you and me to be pulling two ways, you know.”

“I will not forget you,” said Hardie, wincing under the chain this
little wretch held him with, and had jerked him by way of reminder.

“But surely, Skinner, you agree with me it would be a sin and a shame to
rob this honest captain of his money--for my creditors--curse them! Ah!
you are not a father. How quickly he found that out! Well, I am, and he
touched me to the quick. I love my little Jane as dearly as he loves his
Julia, every bit: and I feel for _him._ And then he put me in mind of
my own father, poor man. That seems strange, doesn’t it? a sailor and a
banker. Ah! it was because they were both honest men. Yes, it was like
a wholesome flower coming into a close room, and then out again and
heaving a whiff behind was that sailor. He left the savour of Probity
and Simplicity behind, though he took the things themselves away again.
Why, why couldn’t he leave us what is more wanted here than even his
money? His integrity: the pearl of price, that my father, whom I used to
sneer at, carried to his grave; and died simple, but wise; honest,
but rich--rich in money, in credit, in honour, and eternal hopes. Oh,
Skinner! Skinner! I wish I had never been born.”

Skinner was surprised: he was not aware that intelligent men who sin
are subject to fits of remorse. Nay, more, he was frightened; for the
emotion of this iron man, so hard to move, was overpowering when it
came: it did not soften, it convulsed him.

“Don’t talk so, sir,” said the little clerk. “Keep up your heart! Have a
drop of something.”

“You are right,” said Mr. Hardie gloomily; “it is idle to talk: we are
all the slaves of circumstances.”

With this, he unlocked a safe that stood against the wall, chucked the
L. 14,000 in, and shammed the iron door sharply; and, as it closed upon
the Cash with a clang, the parlour door burst open as if by concert, and
David Dodd stood on the threshold, looking terrible. His ruddy colour
was all gone, and he seemed black and white with anger and anxiety; and
out of this blanched yet lowering face his eyes glowed like coals, and
roved keenly to and fro between the banker and the clerk.

A thunder-cloud of a man.



CHAPTER XVII

JAMES MAXLEY came out of the bank that morning with nine hundred and
four pounds buttoned up tight in the pocket of his leather breeches, a
joyful man; and so to his work, and home at one o’clock to dinner.

At 2 P.M. he was thoughtful; uneasy at 3; wretched at 3.30. He was
gardener as well as capitalist, and Mr. Hardie owed him 30s. for work.
Such is human nature in general, and Maxley’s in particular, that the L.
900 in pocket seemed small, and the 30s. in jeopardy large.

“I can’t afford to go with the creditors,” argued Maxley: “Dividend
on 30s.! Why, that will be about thirty pence: the change for a hard*
half-crown.”

     *_i.e._ a half-crown in one piece.

He stuck his spade in the soil and made for his debtor’s house. As he
came up the street, Dodd shot out of the bank radiant, and was about
to pass him without notice, full of his wife and children; but Maxley
stopped him with a right cordial welcome, and told him he had given them
all a fright this time.

“What, is it over the town already that my ship has been wrecked?” And
Dodd looked annoyed.

“Wrecked? No; but you have been due this two months, ye know. Wrecked?
Why, Captain, you haven’t ever been wrecked?” And he looked him all over
as if he expected to see “WRECKED” branded on him by the elements.

“Ay, James, wrecked on the French coast, and lost my chronometer, and a
tip-top sextant. But what of that? I saved _It._ I have just landed It
in the Bank. Good-bye; I must sheer off: I long to be home.”

“Stay a bit, Captain,” said Maxley. “I am not quite easy in my mind.
I saw you come out of Hardie’s. I thought in course you had been in to
draa: but you says different. Now what was it you did leave behind you
at that there shop, if _you_ please: not money?”

“Not money? Only L. 14,000. How the man stares! Why, it’s not mine,
James; it’s my children’s: there, good-bye;” and he was actually off
this time. But Maxley stretched his long limbs, and caught him in two
strides, and griped his shoulder without ceremony. “Be you mad?” said he
sternly.

“No, but I begin to think you are.”

“That is to be seen,” said Maxley gravely. “Before I lets you go, you
must tell me whether you be jesting, or whether you have really been so
simple as to drop fourteen--thousand--pounds at Hardie’s?” No judge upon
the bench, nor bishop in his stall, could be more impressive than this
gardener was, when he subdued the vast volume of his voice to a low
grave utterance of this sort.

Dodd began to be uneasy. “Why, good heavens, there is nothing wrong with
the old Barkington Bank?”

“Nothing wrong?” roared Maxley: then whispered’: “Holt! I was laad once
for slander, and cost me thirty pounds: nearly killed my missus it did.”

“Man!” cried Dodd, “for my children’s sake tell me if you know anything
amiss. After all, I’m like a stranger here; more than two years away at
a time.”

“I’ll tell you all I know,” whispered Maxley, “‘tis the least I can do.
What (roaring) do--you--think--I’ve forgotten you saving my poor boy out
o’ that scrape, and getting him a good place in Canada, and--why, he’d
have been put in prison but for you, and that would ha’ broken my heart
and his mother’s--and----” The stout voice began to quaver.

“Oh, bother all that now,” said Dodd impatiently. “The bank! you have
grounded me on thorns.”

“Well, I’ll tell ye: but you must promise faithful not to go and say I
told ye, or you’ll get me laad again: and I likes to laa _them,_ not for
_they_ to laa me.”

“I promise, I promise.”

“Well then, I got a letter to-day from my boy, him as you was so good
to, and here ‘tis in my breeches-pocket.--Laws! how things do come round
sure_ly:_ why, lookee here now; if so be _you_ hadn’t been a good friend
to _he, he_ wouldn’t be where he is; and if so be _he_ warn’t where _he_
is, _he_ couldn’t have writ _me_ this here, and then where should _you_
and _I_ be?”

“Belay your jaw and show me this letter,” cried David, trembling all
over.

“That I wool,” said Maxley, diving a hand into his pocket. “Hush! lookee
yander now; if there ain’t Master Alfred a-watching of us two out of
his window: and he have got an eye like a hawk, _he_ have. Step in the
passage, Captain, and I’ll show it to you.”

He drew him aside into the passage, and gave him the letter. Dodd ran
his eye over it hastily, uttered a cry like a wounded lion, dropped it,
gave a slight stagger, and rushed away.

Maxley picked up his letter and watched Dodd into the bank again and
reflected on his work. His heart was warmed at having made a return to
the good captain.

His head suggested that he was on the road which leads to libel.

But he had picked up at the assizes a smattering of the law of evidence;
so he coolly tore the letter in pieces. “There now,” said he to himself,
“if Hardies do laa me for publishing of this here letter, why they pours
their water into a sieve. Ugh!” And with this exclamation he started,
and then put his heavy boot on part of the letter, and ground it
furtively into the mud; for a light hand had settled on his shoulder,
and a keen young face was close to his.

It was Alfred Hardie, who had stolen on him like a cat. “I’m laad,”
 thought Maxley.

“Maxley, old fellow,” said Alfred, in a voice as coaxing as a woman’s,
“are you in a good humour?”

“Well, Master, Halfred, sight of you mostly puts me in one, especially
after that there strychnine job.”

“Then tell me,” whispered Alfred, his eyes sparkling and his face
beaming, “who was that you were talking to just now? Was it?--wasn’t
it?--who was it?”



CHAPTER XVIII

WHILE Dodd stood lowering in the doorway, he was nevertheless making a
great effort to control his agitation.

At last he said in a stern but low voice, in which, however, a quick ear
might detect a tremor of agitation: “I have changed my mind, sir: I want
my money back.”

At this, though David’s face had prepared him, Mr. Hardie’s heart
sank: but there was no help for it. He said faintly, “Certainly. May
I ask----?” and there he stopped; for it was hardly prudent to ask
anything.

“No matter,” replied Dodd, his agitation rising even at this slight
delay. “Come! my money! I must and will have it.”

Hardie drew himself up majestically. “Captain Dodd, this is a strange
way of demanding what nobody here disputes.”

“Well, I beg your pardon,” said Dodd, a little awed by his dignity and
fairness, “but I can’t help it.”

The quick, supple banker saw the slight advantage he had gained, and
his mind went into a whirl. What should he do? It was death to part with
this money and gain nothing by it. Sooner tell Dodd of the love affair,
and open a treaty on this basis: he clung to this money like limpet to
its rock; and so intense and rapid were his thoughts and schemes how to
retain it a little longer, that David’s apologies buzzed in his ear like
the drone of a beetle.

The latter went on to say, “You see, sir, it’s my children’s fortune, my
boy Edward’s, and my little Julia’s: and so many have been trying to get
it from me, that my blood boils up in a moment about it now.--My poor
head!--You don’t seem to understand what I am saying! There then, I am a
sailor; I can’t go beating and tacking like you landsmen, with the wind
dead astern. The long and the short is, I don’t feel It safe here: don’t
feel It safe anywhere, except in my wife’s lap. So no more words: here’s
your receipt; give me my money.”

“Certainly, Captain Dodd. Call to-morrow morning at the bank, and
it will be paid on demand in the regular way: the bank opens at ten
o’clock.”

“No, no; I can’t wait. I should be dead of anxiety before then. Why not
pay it me here and now? You took it here.”

“We receive deposits till four o’clock, but we do not disburse after
three. This is the system of all banks.”

“That is all nonsense: if you are open to receive money, you are open to
pay it.”

“My dear sir, if you were not entirely ignorant of business, you would
be aware that these things are not done in this way. Money received is
passed to account, and the cashier is the only person who can honour
your draft on it. But, stop; if the cashier is in the bank, we may
manage it for you yet. Skinner, run and see whether he has left: and if
not, send him to me directly.” The cashier took his cue and ran out.

David was silent.

The cashier speedily returned, saying, with a disappointed air, “The
cashier has been gone this quarter of an hour.”

David maintained an ominous silence.

“That is unfortunate,” remarked Hardie. “But, after all, it is only till
to-morrow morning. Still I regret this circumstance, sir; and I feel
that all these precautions we are obliged to take must seem unreasonable
to you. But experience dictates this severe routine, and, were we to
deviate from it, our friends’ money would not be so safe in our hands as
it always has been at present.”

David eyed him sternly, but let him run on. When he had concluded
his flowing periods, David said quietly, “So you can’t give me my own
because your cashier has carried it away?”

Hardie smiled. “No, no; but because he has locked it up and carried away
the key.”

“It is not in this room, then?”

“No.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive.”

“What, not in that safe of yours, there?”

“Certainly not,” said Hardie stoutly.

“Open the safe: the keys are in it.”

“Open the safe? What for?”

“To show me It is not in the right-hand partition of that safe; there:
there.” And David pointed at the very place where it was.

The dignified Mr. Hardie felt ready to sink with shame: a kind of
shudder passed through him, and he was about to comply, heart-sick;
but then wounded pride and the rage of disappointment stung him, and he
turned in defiance. “You are impertinent, sir, and I shall not reward
your curiosity and your insolence by showing you the contents of my
safe.”

“My money! my money!” cried David fiercely: “no more words, for I shan’t
listen to them: I know you now for what you are--a thief! I saw you
put it into that safe: a liar is always a thief. You want to steal my
children’s money: I’ll have your life first. My money! ye pirate! or I’ll
strangle you.” And he advanced upon him purple with rage, and shot out
his long threatening arm and brown fingers working in the air. “D’ye
know what I did to a French land-shark that tried to rob me of It? I
throttled him with these fingers till his eyes and his tongue
started out of him. He came for my children’s money, and I killed him
so--so--so--as I’ll kill you, you thief! you liar! you scoundrel!”

His face black and convulsed with rage, and his outstretched fingers
working convulsively, and hungering for a rogue’s throat, made the
resolute Hardie quake. He whipped out of the furious man’s way, and got
to the safe, pale and trembling. “Hush! no violence!” he gasped: “I’ll
give you your money this moment you ruffian.”

While he unlocked the safe with trembling hands, Dodd stood like a
man petrified, his arm and fingers stretched out and threatening; and
Skinner saw him pull at his necktie furiously, like one choking.

Hardie got the notes and bills all in a hurry, and held them out to
Dodd.

In which act, to his consternation and surprise and indignation, he
received a back-handed blow on the eye that dazzled him for an instant;
and there was David with his arms struggling wildly and his fists
clenched, his face purple, and his eyes distorted so that little was
seen but the whites the next moment his teeth gnashed loudly together,
and he fell headlong on the floor with a concussion so momentous that
the windows rattled and the room shook violently; the dust rose in a
cloud.

A loud ejaculation burst from Hardie and Skinner,

And then there was an awful silence.



CHAPTER XIX

WHEN David fell senseless on the floor, Mr. Hardie was somewhat confused
by the back-handed blow from his convulsed and whirling arm. But Skinner
ran to him, held up his head, and whipped off his neckcloth.

Then Hardie turned to seize the bell and ring for assistance; but
Skinner shook his head and said it was useless: this was no faint: old
Betty could not help him.

“It is a bad day’s work, sir,” said he, trembling: “he is a dead man.”

“Dead? Heaven forbid!”

“Apoplexy!” whispered Skinner.

“Run for a doctor then: lose no time: don’t let us have his blood on our
hands! Dead?”

And he repeated the word this time in a very different tone, a tone too
strange and significant to escape Skinner’s quick ear. However, he laid
David’s head gently down and rose from his knees to obey.

What did he see now, but Mr. Hardie, with his back turned, putting
the notes and bills softly into the safe again out of sight. He saw,
comprehended, and took his own course with equal rapidity.

“Come, run!” cried Mr. Hardie; “I’ll take care of him; every moment is
precious.”

(“Wants to get rid of me!” thought Skinner.) “No, sir,” said he, “be
ruled by me: let us take him to his friends: he won’t live; and we shall
get all the blame if we doctor him.”

Already egotism had whispered Hardie, “How lucky if he should die!”
 and now a still guiltier thought flashed through him: he did not try to
conquer it; he only trembled at himself for entertaining it.

“At least: give him air!” said he in a quavering voice, consenting to a
crime, yet compromising with his conscience, feebly.

He threw the window, open with great zeal--with prodigious zeal; for,
he wanted to deceive himself as well as Skinner. With equal parade he
helped carry Dodd to the window; it opened, on the ground: this done,
the self-deceivers put their heads together, and soon managed matters so
that two porters, known to Skinner, were introduced into the garden,
and informed that a gentleman had fallen down in a fit, and they were to
take him home to his friends, and not talk about it: there might be an
inquest, and that was so disagreeable to a gentleman like Mr. Hardie.
The men agreed at once for a sovereign apiece. It was all done in a
great hurry and agitation, and while Skinner accompanied the men to see
that they did not blab, Mr. Hardie went into the garden to breathe and
think. But he could do neither.

He must have a look at It.

He stole back, opened the safe, and examined the notes and bills.

He fingered them.

They seemed to grow to his finger.

He lusted after them.

He said to himself, “The matter has gone too far to stop; I _must_ go
on borrowing this money of the Dodds, and make it the basis of a large
fortune: it will be best for all parties in the end.”

He put It into his pocket-book; that pocket-book into his breast-pocket;
and passed by his private door into the house, and to his dressing-room.

Ten minutes later he left the house with a little black bag in his band.



CHAPTER XX

“WHAT will ye give me, and I’ll tell ye?” said Maxley to Alfred Hardie.

“Five pounds.”

“That is too much.”

“Five shillings, then.”

“That is too little. Lookee here; your garden owes me thirty shillings
for work: suppose you pays me, and that will save me from going to your
Dad for it.”

Alfred consented readily, and paid the money. Then Maxley told him it
was Captain Dodd he had been talking with.

“I thought so! I thought so!” cried Alfred joyfully, “but I was afraid
to believe it: it was too delightful. Maxley, you’re a trump you don’t
know what anxiety you have relieved me of. Some fool has gone and
reported the _Agia_ wrecked; look here!” and he showed him his Lloyd’s.
“Luckily it has only just come, so I haven’t been miserable long.”

“Well, to be sure, news flies fast now-a-days. He have been wrecked for
that matter.” He then surprised Alfred by telling him all he had just
learned from Dodd; and was going to let out about the L. 4,000, when he
recollected this was the banker’s son, and while he was talking to him,
it suddenly struck Maxley that this young gentleman would come down
in the world should the bank break, and then the Dodds, he concluded,
judging others by himself, would be apt to turn their backs on him. Now
he liked Alfred, and was disposed to do him a good turn, when he could
without hurting James Maxley. “Mr. Alfred,” said he, “I know the world
better than you do: you be ruled by me, or you’ll rue it. You put on
your Sunday coat this minute, and off like a shot to Albyn Villee;
you’ll get there before the Captain; he have got a little business to
do first; that is neither here nor there: besides, you are young and
lissom. You be the first to tell Missus Dodd the good news; and, when
the Captain comes, there sits you aside Miss Julee: and don’t you be shy
and shamefaced, take him when his heart is warm, and tell him why you
are there: ‘I love her dear,’ says you. He be only a sailor and they
never has no sense nor prudence; he is a’most sure to take you by the
hand, at such a time: and once you get his word, he’ll stand good, to
his own hurt. He’s one of that sort, bless his silly old heart.”

A good deal of this was unintelligible to Alfred, but the advice seemed
good--advice generally does when it squares with our own wishes. He
thanked Maxley, left him, made a hasty toilet, and ran to Albion Villa.

Sarah opened the door to him in tears.

The news of the wreck had come to Albion Villa just half an hour ago,
and in that half hour they had tasted more misery than hitherto their
peaceful lot had brought them in years. Mrs. Dodd was praying and crying
in her room; Julia had put on her bonnet, and was descending in deep
distress and agitation, to go down to the quay and learn more if
possible.

Alfred saw her on the stairs, and at sight of her pale, agitated face
flew to her.

She held out both hands piteously to him: “O Alfred!”

“Good news!” he panted. “He is alive--Maxley has seen him--I have seen
him--he will be here directly--my own love, dry your eyes--calm your
fears--he is safe--he is well: hurrah! hurrah!”

The girl’s pale face flushed red with hope, then pale again with
emotion, then rosy red with transcendent joy. “Oh, bless you! bless
you!” she murmured, in her sweet gurgle so full of heart: then took his
head passionately with both her hands, as if she was going to kiss him:
uttered a little inarticulate cry of love and gratitude over him, then
turned and flew up the stairs, crying “Mamma! mamma!” and burst into
her mother’s room. When two such Impetuosities meet as Alfred and Julia,
expect quick work.

What happened in Mrs. Dodd’s room may be imagined: and soon both ladies
came hastily out to Alfred, and he found himself in the drawing-room
seated between them, and holding a hand of each, and playing the man
delightfully, soothing and assuring them. Julia believed him at a word,
and beamed with unmixed delight and anticipation of the joyful meeting.
Mrs. Dodd cost him more trouble: her soft hand trembled still in his,
and she put question upon question. But when he told her he with his own
eyes had seen Captain Dodd talking to Maxley, and gathered from Maxley
he had been shipwrecked on the coast of France, and lost his chronometer
and his sextant, these details commanded credit. Bells were rung: the
Captain’s dressing-room ordered to be got ready; the cook put on her
mettle, and Alfred invited to stay and dine with the long-expected one:
and the house of mourning became the house of joy.

“And then it was he who brought the good news,” whispered Julia to her
mother, “and that is so sweet.”

“Yes, dear,” said Mrs. Dodd, “he will make even me love him. The L.
14,000! I hope that was not lost in the wreck.”

“Oh, mamma! who cares when his own dear, sweet, precious life has been
in danger, and is mercifully preserved? Why does he not come? I shall
scold him for keeping us waiting. You know I am not a bit afraid of him,
though he is papa. Indeed, I am ashamed to say I govern him with a rod
of--no matter what. Do, do, do let us all three put on our bonnets, and
run and meet him. I want him so to love somebody the very first day.”

Mrs. Dodd said, “Well, wait a few minutes, and then, if he is not here,
you two shall go. I dare hardly trust myself to meet my darling husband
in the open street.”

Julia ran to Alfred: “If he does not come in ten minutes, you and I may
go and meet him.”

“You are an angel,” murmured Alfred.

“You are another,” said Julia haughtily. “Oh, dear, I can’t sit down,
and I don’t want flattery: I want papa. A waltz! a waltz! then one can
go mad with joy without startling propriety. I can’t answer for the
consequences if I don’t let off a little, little happiness.”

“That I will,” said Mrs. Dodd; “for I am as happy as you, and happier.”
 She played a waltz.

Julia’s eyes were a challenge: Alfred started up and took her ready
hand, and soon the gay young things were whirling round, the happiest
pair in England.

But in the middle of the joyous whirl, Julia’s quick ear, on the watch
all the time, heard the gate swing to: she glided like an eel from
Alfred’s arm and ran to the window. Arrived there, she made three swift
vertical bounds like a girl with a skipping rope, only her hands were
clapping in the air at the same time; then down the stairs, screaming,
“His chest his chest! he is coming, coming, come!”

Alfred ran after her.

Mrs. Dodd, unable to race with such antelopes, slipped quietly out into
the little balcony.

Julia had seen two men carrying a trestle with a tarpauling over it, and
a third walking beside. Dodd’s heavy sea-chest had been more than once
carried home this way. She met the men at the door, and overpowered them
with questions:--

“Is it his clothes? Then he wasn’t so much wrecked after all. Is he with
you? Is he coming directly? Why don’t you tell me?”

The porters at first wore the stolid impassive faces of their tribe;
but when this bright young creature questioned them, brimming over with
ardour and joy, their countenances fell and they hung their heads.

The little sharp-faced man, who was walking beside the others stepped
forward to reply to Julia.

He was interrupted by a terrible scream from the balcony.

Mrs. Dodd was leaning wildly over it, with dilating eyes and quivering
hand, that pointed down to the other side of the trestle: “Julia!!
Julia!!”

Julia ran round, and stood petrified, her pale lips apart, and all her
innocent joy frozen in a moment.

The tarpauling was scanty there, and a man’s hand and part of his arm
dangled helpless out.

The hand was blanched, and wore a well-known ring.



CHAPTER XXI


IN the terror and confusion no questions were then asked: Alfred got to
David’s head, and told Skinner to take his feet; Mrs. Dodd helped, and
they carried him up and laid him on her bed. The servant girls cried and
wailed, and were of little use: Mrs. Dodd hurried them off for medical
aid, and she and Julia, though pale as ghosts, and trembling in every
limb, were tearless and almost silent, and did all for the best. They
undid a shirt button that confined his throat: they set his head high,
and tried their poor little eau-de-Cologne and feminine remedies; and
each of them held an insensible hand in both hers, clasping it piteously
and trying to hold him tight, so that Death should not take him away
from them.

“My son, where is my son?” sighed Mrs. Dodd.

Alfred threw his arm round her neck: “You have one son here: what shall
I do?”

The next minute he was running to the telegraph office for her.

At the gate he found Skinner hanging about, and asked him hurriedly how
the calamity had happened. Skinner said Captain Dodd had fallen down
senseless in the street, and he had passed soon after, recognised him,
and brought him home: “I have paid the men, sir; I wouldn’t let them ask
the ladies at such a time.”

“Oh, thank you! thank you, Skinner! I will repay you; it is me you have
obliged.” And Alfred ran off with the words in his mouth.

Skinner looked after him and muttered: “I forgot _him._ It is a nice
mess. Wish I was out of it.” And he went back, hanging his head, to
Alfred’s father.

Mr. Osmond met him. Skinner turned and saw him enter the villa.


Mr. Osmond came softly into the room, examined Dodd’s eye, felt his
pulse, and said he must be bled at once.

Mrs. Dodd was averse to this. “Oh, let us try everything else first,”
 said she. But Osmond told her there was no other remedy: “All the
functions we rely on in the exhibition of medicines are suspended.”

Dr. Short now drove up, and was ushered in.

Mrs. Dodd asked him imploringly whether it was necessary to bleed. But
Dr. Short knew his business too well to be entrapped into an independent
opinion where a surgeon had been before him. He drew Mr. Osmond apart,
and inquired what he had recommended: this ascertained, he turned to
Mrs. Dodd and said, “I advise venesection or cupping.”

“Oh, Dr. Short, pray have pity and order something less terrible. Dr.
Sampson is so averse to bleeding.”

“Sampson? Sampson? never heard of him.”

“It is the chronothermal man,” said Osmond.

“Oh, ah! but this is too serious a case to be quacked. Coma with
stertor, and a full, bounding pulse, indicates liberal bloodletting. I
would try venesection; then cup, if necessary, or leech the temple. I
need not say, sir, calomel must complete the cure. The case is simple,
and, at present, surgical: I leave it in competent hands.” And he
retired, leaving the inferior practitioner well pleased with him and
with himself; no insignificant part of a physicians art.

When he was gone, Mr. Osmond told Mrs. Dodd that however crotchety Dr.
Sampson might be, he was an able man, and had very properly resisted the
indiscriminate use of the lancet: the profession owed him much. “But in
apoplexy the leech and the lancet are still our sheet-anchor.”

Mrs. Dodd utter a faint shriek: “Apoplexy! Oh, David! Oh, my darling,
have you come home for this?”

Osmond assured her apoplexy was not necessarily fatal; provided the
cerebral blood-vessels were relieved in time by depletion.

The fixed eye and terrible stertorous breathing on the one hand, and the
promise of relief on the other, overpowered Mrs. Dodd’s reluctance. She
sent Julia out of the room on a pretext, and then consented with tears
to David’s being bled. But she would not yield to leave the room. No;
this tender woman nerved herself to see her husband’s blood flow, sooner
than risk his being bled too much by the hard hand of custom. Let the
peevish fools, who make their own troubles in love, compare their slight
and merited pangs with this: she was his true lover and his wife, yet
there she stood with eye horror-stricken yet unflinching, and saw the
stab of the little lancet, and felt it deeper than she would a javelin
through her own body, and watched the blood run that was dearer to her
than her own.

At the first prick of the lancet David shivered, and, as the blood
escaped, his eye unfixed, and the pupils contracted and dilated, and
once he sighed. “Good sign that!” said Osmond.

“Oh, that is enough, sir,” said Mrs. Dodd: “we shall faint if you take
any more.”

Osmond closed the vein, observing that a local bleeding would do the
rest. When he had staunched the blood, Mrs. Dodd sank half fainting in
her chair. By some marvellous sympathy it was she who had been bled,
and whose vein was now closed. Osmond sprinkled water on her face; she
thanked him, and said sweetly, “You see I could not have lost any more.”

When it was over she came to tell Julia; she found her sitting on the
stairs crying and pale as marble. She suspected. And there was Alfred
hanging over her, and in agony at her grief: out came his love for her
in words and accents unmistakable, and this in Osmond’s hearing and the
maid’s.

“Oh, hush! hush!” cried poor Mrs. Dodd, and her face was seen to burn
through her tears.

And this was the happy, quiet, little villa of my opening chapters.

Ah! Richard Hardie! Richard Hardie!


The patient was cupped on the nape of the neck by Mr. Osmond, and, on
the glasses drawing, showed signs of consciousness, and the breathing
was relieved. These favourable symptoms were neither diminished nor
increased by the subsequent application of the cupping needles.

“We have turned the corner.” said Mr. Osmond cheerfully.

Rap! rap! rap! came a telegraphic message from Dr. Sampson, and was
brought up to the sick-room.

“Out visiting patients when yours came. In apoplexy with a red face and
stertorous breathing, put the feet in mustard bath and dash much cold
water on the head from above. On revival give emetic: cure with sulphate
of quinine. In apoplexy with a white face, treat as for a simple faint:
here emetic dangerous. In neither apoplexy bleed. Coming down by train.”

This message added to Mrs. Dodd’s alarm; the whole treatment varied
so far from what had been done. She faltered her misgivings. Osmond
reassured her. “Not bleed in apoplexy!” said he superciliously; “why, it
is the universal practice. Judge for yourself. You see the improvement.”

Mrs. Dodd admitted it.

“Then as to the cold water,” said Osmond, “I would hardly advise so
rough a remedy. And he is going on so well. But you can send for ice;
and meantime give me a good-sized stocking.”

He cut and fitted it adroitly to the patient’s head, then drenched it
with eau-de-Cologne, and soon the head began to steam.

By-and-bye, David muttered a few incoherent words, and the anxious
watchers thanked God aloud for them.

At length Mr. Osmond took leave with a cheerful countenance, and left
them all grateful to him, and with a high opinion of his judgment and
skill, especially Julia. She said Dr. Sampson was very amusing to talk
to, but she should be sorry to trust to that rash, reckless, boisterous
man in time of danger.


About two in the morning a fly drove rapidly up to the villa, and
Sampson got out.

He found David pale and muttering, and his wife and children hanging
over him in deep distress.

He shook hands with them in silence, and eyed the patient keenly. He
took the nightcap off, removed the pillows, lowered his head, and said
quietly, “This is the cold fit come on: we must not shut our eyes on
the pashint. Why, what is this? he has been cupped!” And Sampson changed
colour and his countenance fell.

Mrs. Dodd saw and began to tremble. “I could not hear from you; and
Dr. Short and Mr. Osmond felt quite sure: and he seems better. Oh, Dr.
Sampson, why were you not here? We have bled him as well. Oh, don’t,
don’t, don’t say it was wrong! He would have died; they said so. Oh,
David! David! your wife has killed you.” And she knelt and kissed his
hand and implored his pardon, insensible.

Julia clung sobbing to her mother, in a vain attempt to comfort her.

Sampson groaned.

“No, no,” said he: “don’t go on so, my poor soul; you did all for the
best; and now we must make the best of what is done. Hartshorn! brandy!
and caution! For those two assassins have tied my hands.”

While applying these timid remedies, he inquired if the cause was known.
They told him they knew nothing; but that David had been wrecked on the
coast of France, and had fallen down senseless in the street: a clerk of
Mr. Hardie’s had recognised him, and brought him home: so Alfred said.

“Then the cause is mintil,” said Sampson, “unless he got a blow on the
hid in bein’ wrecked.”’

He then examined David’s head carefully, and found a long scar.

“But this is not it,” said he; “this is old.”

Mrs. Dodd clasped her hands, and assured him it was new to her: her
David had no scar there when he left her last.

Pursuing his examination, Sampson found an open wound in his left
shoulder.

He showed it them; and they were all as pale as the patient in a moment.
He then asked to see his coat, and soon discovered a corresponding
puncture in it, which he examined long and narrowly.

“It is a stab--with a one-edged knife.”

There was a simultaneous cry of horror.

“Don’t alarm yourselves for that,” said Sampson; “it is nothing: a mere
flesh-wound. It is the vein-wound that alarms me. This school knows
nothing about the paroxysms and remissions of disease. They have bled
and cupped him for a _passing fit._ It has passed into the cold stage,
but no quicker than it would have done without stealing a drop of blood.
To-morrow, by disease’s nature, he will have another hot fit in spite of
their bleeding. Then those ijjits would leech his temples; and on that
paroxysm remitting by the nature of the disease, would fancy their
leeches had cured it.”

The words were the old words, but the tone and manner was so different:
no shouting, no anger: all was spoken low and gently, and with a sort of
sad and weary and worn-out air.

He ordered a kettle of hot water and a quantity of mustard, and made
his preparations for the hot fit, as he called it, maintaining the
intermittent and febrile character of all disease.


The patient rambled a good deal, but quite incoherently, and knew
nobody.

But about eight o’clock in the morning he was quite quiet and apparently
sleeping: so Mrs. Dodd stole out of the room to order some coffee for
Sampson and Edward. They were nodding, worn out with watching.

Julia, whose high-strung nature could dispense with sleep on such an
occasion, was on her knees praying for her father.

Suddenly there came from the bed, like a thunder-clap, two words uttered
loud and furiously--

“HARDIE! VILLAIN!”

Up started the drowsy watchers, and rubbed their eyes. They had heard
the sound, but not the sense.

Julia rose from her knees bewildered and aghast: she had caught the
strange words distinctly--words that were to haunt her night and day.

They were followed immediately by a loud groan, and the stertorous
breathing recommenced, and the face was no longer pale, but flushed and
turgid. On this Sampson hurried Julia from the room, and, with Edward’s
help, placed David on a stool in the bath, and getting on a chair,
discharged half a bucket of cold water on his head: the patient gasped:
another, and David shuddered, stared wildly, and put his hand to his
head; a third, and he staggered to his feet.

At this moment Mrs. Dodd coming hastily into the room, he looked
steadily at her, and said, “Lucy!”

She ran to throw her arms round him, but Sampson interfered. “Gently!
gently!” said he; “we must have no violent emotions.”

“Oh, no! I will be prudent.” And she stood quiet with her arms still
extended, and cried for joy.

They got David to bed again, anti Sampson told Mrs. Dodd there was no
danger now from the malady, but only from the remedies.

And in fact David fell into a state of weakness and exhaustion, and kept
muttering unintelligibly.

Dr. Short called in the morning, and was invited to consult with Dr.
Sampson. He declined. “Dr. Sampson is a notorious quack: no physician of
any eminence will meet him in consultation.”

“I regret that resolution,” said Mrs. Dodd quietly, “as it will deprive
me of the advantage of your skill.”

Dr. Short bowed stifly. “I shall be at your service, madam, when that
empiric has given the patient up.” And he drove away.

Osmond, finding Sampson installed, took the politic line; he contrived
to glide by fine gradations into the empiric’s opinions, without
recanting his own, which were diametrically opposed.

Sampson, before he shot back to town, asked him to provide a good
reliable nurse.

He sent a young woman of iron. She received Sampson’s instructions, and
assumed the command of the sick-room, and was jealous of Mrs. Dodd
and Julia, looked on them as mere rival nurses, amateurs, who, if not
snubbed, might ruin the professionals. She seemed to have forgotten in
the hospitals all about the family affections and their power of turning
invalids themselves into nurses.

The second night she got the patient all to herself for four hours, from
eleven till two.

The ladies having consented to this arrangement its order to recruit
themselves for the work they were not so mad as to intrust wholly to a
hireling, nurse’s feathers smoothed themselves perceptibly.

At twelve the patient was muttering and murmuring incessantly about
wrecks, and money, and things: of which vain babble nurse showed her
professional contempt by nodding.

At 12.30 she slept

At 1.20 she snored very loud, and woke instantly at the sound.

She took the thief out of the candle, and went like a good sentinel to
look at her charge.

He was not there.

She rubbed her eyes, and held the candle over the place where he ought
to be--where, in fact, he must be; for he was far too weak to move.

She tore the bedclothes down: she beat and patted the clothes with her
left hand, and the candle began to shake violently in her right.

The bed was empty.


Mrs. Dodd was half asleep when a hurried tap came to her door: she
started up in a moment and great dread fell on her; was David sinking?

“Ma’am! Ma’am! Is he here?”

“He! Who?” cried Mrs. Dodd, bewildered.

“Why, _him!_ He can’t be far off”

In a moment Mrs. Dodd had opened the door, and her tongue and the
nurse’s seemed to dash together, so fast came the agitated words from
each in turn; and crying, “Call my son! Alarm the house!” Mrs. Dodd
darted into the sickroom. She was out again in a moment, and up in the
attics rousing the maids, while the nurse thundered at Edward’s door
and Julia’s, and rang every bell she could get at. The inmates were soon
alarmed, and flinging on their clothes: meantime Mrs. Dodd and the nurse
scoured the house and searched every nook in it down to the very cellar:
they found no David.

But they found something.

The street door ajar.


It was a dark drizzly night.

Edward took one road, Mrs. Dodd and Elizabeth another.

They were no sooner gone, than Julia drew the nurse into a room apart
and asked her eagerly if her father had said nothing.

“Said nothing, Miss? Why he was a-talking all the night incessant.”

“Did he say anything particular? think now.”

“No, Miss: he went on as they all do just before a change. I never minds
‘em; I hear so much of it.”

“Oh, nurse! nurse! have pity on me; try and recollect.”

“Well, Miss, to oblige you then; it was mostly fights this time--and
wrecks--and villains--and bankers--and sharks.”

“Bankers??!” asked Julia eagerly.

“Yes, Miss, and villains, they come once or twice, but most of the time
it was sharks, and ships, and money, and--hotch-potch I call it the way
they talk. Bless your heart, they know no better: everything they ever
saw, or read, or heard tell of--it all comes out higgledy-piggledy just
before they goes off. We that makes it a business never takes no notice
of what they says, Miss, and never repeats it out of one sick house into
another, that you _may_ rely on.”

Julia scarcely heard this: her hands were tight to her brow as if to aid
her to think with all her force.

The result was, she told Sarah to put on her bonnet and rushed upstairs.

She was not gone three minutes, but in that short interval the nurse’s
tongue and Sarah’s clashed together swiftly and incessantly.

Julia heard them. She came down with a long cloak on, whipped the hood
over her head, beckoned Sarah quickly, and darted out. Sarah followed
instinctively, but ere they had gone many yards from the house, said,
“Oh, Miss, nurse thinks you had much better not go.”

“Nurse thinks! Nurse thinks! What does she know of me and my griefs?”

“Why, Miss, she is a very experienced woman, and she says--Oh, dear! oh,
dear! And such a dark cold night for you to be out!”

“Nurse? Nurse? What did she say?”

“Oh, I haven’t the heart to tell you: if you would but come back home
with me! She says as much as that poor master’s troubles will be over
long before we can get to him.” And with this Sarah burst out sobbing.

“Come quicker,” cried Julia despairingly. But after a while she said,
“Tell me; only don’t stop me.”

“Miss, she says she nursed Mr. Campbell, the young curate that died last
harvest-time but one, you know; and he lay just like master, and
she expecting a change every hour: and oh, Miss, she met him coming
down-stairs in his nightgown: and he said, ‘Nurse, I am all right now,’
says he, and died momently in her arms at the stair-foot. And she nursed
an old farmer that lay as weak as master, and just when they looked for
him to go, lo! and behold him dressed and out digging potatoes, and fell
down dead before they could get hands on him mostly: and nurse have
a friend, that have seen more than she have, which she is older than
nurse, and says a body’s life is all one as a rushlight, flares up
strong momently just before it goes out altogether. Dear heart! where
ever are we going to in the middle of the night?”

“Don’t you see? To the quay.”

“Oh, don’t go there, Miss, whatever! I can’t abide the sight of the
water when a body’s in trouble.” Here a drunken man confronted them,
and asked then if they wanted a beau; and on their slipping past him
in silence, followed them, and offered repeatedly to treat them. Julia
moaned and hurried faster. “Oh, Miss,” said Sarah, “what could you
expect, coming out at this time of night? I’m sure the breath is all out
of me, you do tear along so.”

“Tear? we are crawling. Ah! Sarah, you are not his daughter. There,
follow me! I cannot go so slow.” And she set off to run.

Presently she passed a group of women standing talking at a corner of
the street, and windows were open with nightcapped heads framed in them.

She stopped a moment to catch the words; they were talking about a
ghost which was said to have just passed down the street, and discussing
whether it was a real ghost or a trick to frighten people.

Julia uttered a low cry and redoubled her speed, and was soon at
Mr. Richard Hardie’s door; but the street was deserted, and she was
bewildered, and began to think she had been too hasty in her conjecture.
A chill came over her impetuosity. The dark, drizzly, silent night, the
tall masts, the smell of the river--how strange it all seemed: and she
to be there alone at such an hour!

Presently she heard voices somewhere near. She crossed over to a passage
that seemed to lead towards them; and then she heard the voices plainly,
and among them one that did not mingle with the others, for it was the
voice she loved. She started back and stood irresolute. Would he be
displeased with her?

Feet came trampling slowly along the passage.

His voice came with them.

She drew back and looked round for Sarah.

While she stood fluttering, the footsteps came close, and there emerged
from the passage into the full light of the gas-lamp Alfred and two
policemen carrying a silent senseless figure in a night-gown, with a
great-coat thrown over part of him.

It was her father, mute and ghastly.


The policemen still tell of that strange meeting under the gaslight by
Hardie’s Bank; and how the young lady flung her arms round her father’s
head, and took him for death, and kissed his pale cheeks, and moaned
over him; and how the young gentleman raised her against her will, and
sobbed over her; and how they, though policemen, cried like children.
And to them I must refer the reader: I have not the skill to convey the
situation.


They got more policemen to help, and carried him to Albion Villa.

On the way something cold and mysterious seemed to have come between
Julia and Alfred. They walked apart in gloomy silence, broken only by
foreboding sighs.

I pass over the tempest of emotions under which that sad burden entered
Albion Villa, and hurry to the next marked event.

Next day the patient had lost his extreme pallor, and wore a certain
uniform sallow hue; and at noon, just before Sampson’s return, he opened
his eyes wide, and fixed them on Mrs. Dodd and Julia, who were now his
nurses. They hailed this with delight, and held their breath to hear him
speak to them the first sweet words of reviving life and love.

But soon, to their surprise and grief, they found he did not know them.
They spoke to him, each in turn, and told him piteously who they were,
and implored him with tears to know them and speak to them. But no; he
fixed a stony gaze on them that made them shudder, and their beloved
voices passed over him like an idle wind.

Sampson, when he came, found the ladies weeping by the bedside.

They greeted him with affection, Julia especially: the boisterous
controversialist had come out a gentle, zealous artist in presence of a
real danger.

Dr. Sampson knew nothing of what had happened in his absence. He stepped
to the bedside cheerfully, and the ladies’ eyes were bent keenly on his
face in silence.

He had no sooner cast eyes on David than his countenance fell, and his
hard but expressive features filled with concern.

That was enough for Mrs. Dodd. “And he does not know me,” she cried: “he
does not know my voice. _His_ voice would call me back from the grave
itself. He is dying. He will never speak to me again. Oh, my poor orphan
girl!”

“No! no!” said Samson, “you are quite mistaken: he will not die.
But----”

His tongue said no more. His grave and sombre face spoke volumes.



CHAPTER XXII

To return to the bank. Skinner came back from the Dodds’ that miserable
afternoon in a state of genuine agitation and regret. He was human, and
therefore mixed, and their desolation had shocked him.

The footman told him Mr. Hardie was not at home; gone to London, he
believed. Skinner walked away dejected. What did this mean? Had he left
the country?

He smiled at his fears, and felt positive Mr. Hardie had misled the
servants, and was quietly waiting for him in the bank parlour.

It was now dusk: he went round to that little dark nook of the garden
the parlour window opened on, and tapped: there was no reply; the room
looked empty. He tried the sash: it yielded. Mr. Hardie had been too
occupied with embezzling another’s property to take common precautions
in defence of his own; never in his life before had he neglected to
fasten the iron shutters with his own hand, and to-day he had left the
very window unfastened. This augured ill. “He is off: he has done me
along with the rest,” thought Skinner. He stepped into the room, found a
lucifer-box, shut the shutters, lighted a candle, and went peering
about amongst the banker’s papers, to see if he could find a clue to
his intentions; and, as he pottered and peered, he quaked as well: a
detector by dishonest means feels thief-like, and is what he feels. He
made some little discoveries that guided him in his own conduct; he
felt more and more sure his employer would outwit him if he could, and
resolved it should be diamond cut diamond.

The church clock struck one.

He started at the hour, crept out and closed the window softly, then
away by the garden gate.

A light was still burning in Alfred’s room, and at this Skinner had
another touch of compunction. “There is one won’t sleep this night along
of our work,” thought he.

At three next afternoon Mr. Hardie reappeared.

He had gone up to town to change the form of the deposit:--He took
care to think of it as a deposit still, the act of deposit having been
complete, the withdrawal incomplete, and by no fault of his, for he had
offered it back; but Fate and Accident had interposed. He had converted
the notes into gold direct, and the bills into gold through notes; this
was like going into the river to hide his trail. Next process: he turned
his gold into L. 500 notes, and came flying home with them.

His return was greeted by Skinner with a sigh of relief. Hardie heard
it, interpreted it aright, and sent for him into the parlour, and there
told him with a great affectation of frankness what he had done, then
asked significantly if there was any news at Albion Villa.

Skinnier in reply told Mr. Hardie of the distress he had witnessed up
at Albion Villa: “And, sir,” said he, lowering his voice, “Mr. Alfred
helped carry the body upstairs. It is a nice mess altogether, sir, when
you come to think.”

“Ah! all the better,” was the cool reply: “he will be useful to let us
know what we want; he will tell Jane, and Jane me. You don’t think he
will live, do you?”

“Live! no: and then who will know the money is here?”

“Who should know? Did not he say he had just landed, and been
shipwrecked? Shipwrecked men do not bring fourteen thousand pounds
ashore.” The speaker’s eyes sparkled: Skinner watched him demurely.
“Skinner,” said he solemnly, “I believe my daughter Jane is right,
and that Providence really interferes sometimes in the affairs of this
world. You know how I have struggled to save my family from disgrace and
poverty: those struggles have failed in a great degree: but Heaven has
seen them, and saved this money from the sea, and dropped it into my
very hands to retrieve my fortunes with. I must be grateful: spend a
portion of it in charity, and rear a noble fortune on the rest. Confound
it all!”

And his crestfallen countenance showed some ugly misgiving had flashed
on him quite suddenly.

“What sir? what?” asked Skinner eagerly.

“The receipt!”



CHAPTER XXIII

“THE receipt? Oh, is that all? _You_ have got that,” said Skinner very
coolly.

“What makes you think so?” inquired the other keenly. He instantly
suspected Skinner of having it.

“Why, sir, I saw it in his hand.”

“Then it has got to Albion Villa, and we are ruined.”

“No, no, sir; you won’t hear me: I am sure I saw it fall out of his hand
when he was taken ill; and I think, but I won’t be sure, he fell on it.
Anyway, there was nothing in his hands when I delivered him at Albion
Villa; so it must be here. I daresay you have thrown it into a drawer or
somewhere, promiscuously.”

“No, no, Skinner,” said Mr. Hardie, with increasing alarm: “it is
useless for us to deceive ourselves. I was not three minutes in the
room, and thought of nothing but getting to town and cashing the bills.”

He rang the bell sharply, and on Betty coming in, asked her what she had
done with that paper that was on the floor.

“Took it up and put it on the table, sir. This was it, I think.” And she
had her finger upon a paper.

“No! no!” said Mr. Hardie. “The one I mean was much smaller than that.”

“What” said she, with that astonishing memory for trifles people have
who never read, “was it a little crumpled up paper lying by the basket?”

“Yes! yes! that sounds like it.”

“Oh, I put that _into_ the basket.”

Mr. Hardie’s eye fell directly on the basket, but it was empty. She
caught his glance, and told him she had emptied it in the dust-hole as
usual. Mr. Hardie uttered an angry exclamation. Betty, an old servant
of his wife’s, resented it with due dignity by tossing her head as she
retired.

“There is no help for it,” said Mr. Hardie bitterly; “we must go and
grub in the dust-hole now.”

“Why, sir, your name is not on it, after all.”

“What does that matter? A man is bound by the act of his agent; besides,
it is my form, and my initials on the back. Come, let us put a good face
on the thing.” And he led the way to the kitchen, and got up a little
laugh, and asked the scullery-maid if she could show Mr. Skinner and him
the dust-hole. She stared, but obeyed, and the pair followed her, making
merry.

The dust-hole was empty.

The girl explained: “It is the dustman’s day: he came at eleven o’clock
in the morning and carried all the dust away: and grumbled at the paper
and the bones, he did. So I told him beggars musn’t be choosers: just
like his impudence! when he gets it for nothing, and sells it for a mint
outside the town.” The unwonted visitors left her in dead silence almost
before she had finished her sentence.

Mr. Hardie sat down in his parlour thoroughly discomposed; Skinner
watched him furtively.

At last the former broke out: “This is the devil’s doing: the devil in
person. No intelligence nor ability can resist such luck. I almost wish
we had never meddled with it: we shall never feel safe, never be safe.”

Skinner made light of the matter, treated the receipt as thrown into the
sea. “Why, sir,” said he, “by this time it will have found its way to
that monstrous heap of ashes on the London Road; and who will ever look
for it there, or notice it if they find it?” Hardie shook his head:
“That monstrous heap is all sold every year to the farmers. That
receipt, worth L. 14,000 to me, will be strewed on the soil for
manure; then some farmer’s man, or some farmer’s boy that goes to the
Sunday-school, will read it, see Captain Dodd’s name, and bring it to
Albion Villa, in hopes of a sixpence: a sixpence! Heaven help the man
who does a doubtful act and leaves damnatory evidence on paper kicking
about the world.”

From that hour the cash Hardie carried in his bosom, without a right to
it, began to blister.

He thought of telling the dustman he had lost a paper, and setting him
to examine the mountain of ashes on the London Road; but here caution
stepped in: how could he describe the paper without awakening curiosity
and defeating his own end? He gave that up. It was better to let the
sleeping dog lie.

Finally, he resolved to buy security in a world where after all one has
to buy everything: so he employed an adroit agent, and quietly purchased
that mountain, the refuse of all Barkington. But he felt so ill-used, he
paid for it in his own notes: by this means the treaty reverted to the
primitive form of barter*--ashes for rags.

     * Or exchange of commodities without the aid of money: see
     Homer, and Welsh Villages, _passim._

This transaction he concealed from his confederate.

When he had completed it he was not yet secure; for another day had
passed and Captain Dodd alive still. Men often recover from apoplexy,
especially when they survive the first twenty-four hours. Should he
live, he would not now come into any friendly arrangement with the man
who had so nearly caused his death. So then good-bye to the matrimonial
combination Hardie had at first relied on to patch his debt to Alfred
and his broken fortunes. Then as to keeping the money and defying
Dodd, that would be very difficult and dangerous. Mercantile bills
are traceable things, and criminal prosecutions awkward ones. He found
himself in a situation he could not see his way through by any mental
effort; there were so many objections to every course, and so many to
its opposite. “He walked among fires,” as the Latins say. But the more
he pondered on the course to be taken should Dodd live, the plainer did
this dilemma stare him in the fade: either he must refund or fly the
country with another man’s money, and leave behind him the name of a
thief. Parental love and the remains of self-respect writhed at this
thought; and with these combined a sentiment less genuine, but by no
means feeble: the love of reputation. So it was with a reluctant and
sick heart he went to the shipping office, and peered at the posters to
see when the next ship sailed for the United States. Still, he did go.

Intent on his own schemes, and expecting every day to be struck in
front, he did not observe that a man in a rusty velveteen coat followed
him, and observed this act, and indeed all his visible acts.

Another perplexity was, when he should break? There were objections to
doing it immediately, and objections to putting it off.

With all this the man was in a ferment: by day he sat waiting and
fearing, by night he lay sleepless and thinking; and, though his stoical
countenance retained its composure, the furrows deepened in it, and the
iron nerves began to twitch at times, from strain of mind and want of
sleep, and that rack, suspense. Not a night that he did not awaken a
dozen times from his brief dozes with a start, and a dread of exposure
by some mysterious, unforeseen means.

It is remarkable how truths sometimes flash on men at night in hours of
nervous excitement; it was in one of these nightly reveries David Dodd’s
pocket-book flashed back upon Mr. Hardie. He saw it before his eyes
quite plain, and on the inside of the leather cover a slip of paper
pasted, and written on in pencil or pale ink, he could not recall which.

What was that writing? It might be the numbers of the notes, the
description of the bills. Why had he not taken it out of the dying man’s
pocket? “Fool! fool!” he groaned, “to do anything by halves.”

Another night he got a far severer shock. Lying in his bed dozing and
muttering as usual, he was suddenly startled out of that uneasy slumber
by three tremendous knocks at the street door.

He sprang out of bed, and in his confusion made sure the officers of
justice were come for him: he began to huddle on his clothes with a
vague notion of flight.

He had got on his trousers and slippers, and was looking under his
pillow for the fatal Cash, when he heard himself called loudly and
repeatedly by name; but this time the sound came from the garden into
which his bedroom looked. He opened it very softly, in trepidation and
wonder, which were speedily doubled by what met his eyes; for there,
right in front of his window, stood an unearthly figure, corresponding
in every particular to that notion of a ghost in which we are reared,
and which, when our nerves are healthy, we can ridicule as it deserves;
but somehow it is never cleaned out of our imagination so thoroughly as
it is out of our judgment.

The figure was white as a sheet and seemed supernaturally tall; and it
cried out in a voice like a wounded lion’s, “You villain! you Hardie!
give me back my money: my fourteen thousand pounds. Give me my
children’s money, or may your children die before your eyes: give me my
darlings’ money, or may the eternal curse of God light on you and yours,
you scoundrel!”

And the figure kneeled on the grass, and repeated the terrible
imprecation almost in the same words, with such energy that Hardie
shrank back, and, resolute as he was, cowered, with superstitious awe.

But this sentiment soon gave way to vulgar fears; the man would alarm
the town. And in fact Mr. Hardie, in the midst of his agitation, was
dimly conscious of hearing a window open softly not very far from him.
But it was a dark night. He put his head out in great agitation, and
whispered, “Hush! hush! I’ll bring it you down directly.”

Internally cursing his hard fate, he got the fatal Cash, put on his
coat, hunted for the key of the bank parlour, and, having found it,
went softly down the stairs, unlocked the door, and went to open the
shutters.

At this moment his ear caught a murmur, a low buzzing of voices in the
garden.

He naturally thought that Captain Dodd was exposing him to some of the
townspeople. He was puzzled what to do, and, like a cautious man as he
was, remained passive but on the watch.

Presently the voices were quiet, and he heard footsteps come very slowly
towards the window at which he stood, and then make for the little gate.
On this he slipped into the kitchen, which faced the street and got to a
window there, and listened. His only idea was to catch their intentions
if possible, and meet them accordingly. He dared not open the window;
for about him on the pavement he saw a female figure half standing, half
crouching: but soon that figure rushed wildly out of his sight to meet
the footsteps, and then he ventured to open the window, and listening,
heard cries of despair, and a young heart-broken voice say her father
was dead.

“Ah!! that is all right,” muttered Hardie.

Still, even this profound egotist was not yet so hardened but that he
felt one chill of horror at himself for the thought--a passing chill.

He listened and listened, and by-and-bye he heard the slow feet
recommence their journey, amidst sobs and sights; and those sorrowful
feet, and the sobs and sighs of his causing, got fainter, and fainter,
retreated, and left him in quiet possession of the L. 14,000 he had
brought down to give it up: two minutes ago it was not worth as many
pence to him.

He drew a long breath of relief. “It is mine; I am to keep it. It is the
will of Heaven.”

Poor Heaven!

He went to his bed again, and by a resolute effort composed himself and
determined to sheep. And in fact he was just dropping off, when suddenly
he started wide awake again: for it recurred to him vividly that a
window in his house had opened while David was cursing him and demanding
his children’s money.

Whose window?

Half-a-dozen people and more slept on that side of the house.

Whose window could it be?

He walked among fires.



CHAPTER XXIV

NOT many days after this a crowd of persons stood in front of the old
bank, looking half stupefied at the shutters, and at a piece of paper
pasted on them announcing a suspension, only for a months or so, and
laying the blame on certain correspondents not specified.

So great was the confidence inspired by the old bank, that many said
it would come round, it must come round in a month: but other of Mr.
Hardie’s unfortunate clients recognised in the above a mere formula to
let them down by degrees: they had seen many statements as hopeful end
in a dividend of sixpence in the pound.

Before the day closed, the scene at the bank door was heart-rending:
respectable persons, reduced to pauperism in that day, kept arriving
and telling their fellow-sufferers their little all was with Hardie, and
nothing before them but the workhouse or the almshouse: ruined mothers
came and held up their ruined children for the banker to see; and
the doors were hammered at, and the house as well as the bank was
beleaguered by a weeping, wailing, despairing crowd.

But like an idle wave beating on a rock, all this human misery dashed
itself in vain against the banker’s brick walls and shutters, hard to
them as his very heart.

The next day they mobbed Alfred and hissed him at the back-door. Jane
was too ashamed and too frightened to stir out. Mr. Hardie sat calmly
putting the finishing strokes to his fabricated balance-sheet.

Some innocent and excited victims went to the mayor for redress; to the
aldermen, the magistrates--in vain.

Towards afternoon the banker’s cool contempt for his benefactors, whose
lives he had darkened, received a temporary check. A heavy stone was
flung at the bank shutters: this ferocious blow made him start and the
place rattle: it was the signal for a shower; and presently tink, tink,
went the windows of the house, and in came the stones, starring the
mirrors, upsetting the chairs, denting the papered walls, chipping the
mantelpieces, shivering the bell glasses and statuettes, and strewing
the room with dirty pebbles, and painted fragments, and glittering ruin.

Hardie winced: this was the sort of appeal to touch him. But soon he
recovered his _sang froid._ “Thank you,” said he, “I’m much obliged to
you; now I’m in the right and you are in the wrong.” And he put himself
under protection of the police; and fee’d them so royally that they
were zealous on his behalf and rough and dictatorial even with those
who thronged the place only to moan and lament and hold up their ruined
children. “You _must_ move on, you Misery,” said the police. And
they were right: Misery gains nothing by stopping the way; nothing by
bemoaning itself.

But if the banker, naturally egotistical, and now entirely wrapped in
his own plans, and fears, and well-earned torments, was deaf to the
anguish of his clients, there were others in his house who felt it
keenly and deeply. Alfred and Jane were heart-broken: they sat hand in
hand in a little room, drawn closer by misfortune, and heard the groans
at their door; and the tears of pity ran down their own cheeks hot with
shame; and Alfred wrote on the fly-leaf of his “Ethics” a vow to pay
every shilling his father owed these poor people--before he died. It was
like him, and like his happy age, at which the just and the generous can
command, in imagination, the means to do kindred deeds.

Soon he found, to his horror, that he had seen but a small percentage of
the distress his father had caused; the greater griefs, as usual, stayed
at home. Behind the gadding woes lay a terrible number of silent, decent
ruined homes and broken hearts, and mixed sorrows so unmerited, so
complicated, so piteous, and so cruel, that he was ready to tear his
hair, to know them and not be able to relieve them instantly.

Of that mere sample I give a mere sample: divine the bulk then; and
revolve a page of human history often turned by the people, but too
little studied by statisticians and legislators.

Mr. Esgar, a respectable merchant, had heavy engagements, to meet which
his money lay at the old bank. Living at a distance, he did not hear the
news till near dinner-time, and he had promised to take his daughters
to a ball that night. He did so; left them there; went home, packed up
their clothes and valuables, and next day levanted with them to America,
taking all the money he could scrape together in London, and so he
passed his ruin on to others. Esgar was one of those who wear their
honesty long but loose: it was his first disloyal act in business.
“Dishonesty made me dishonest,” was his excuse. _Valeat quantum._

John Shaw, a steady footman, had saved and saved, from twenty-one years
old to thirty-eight, for “Footman’s Paradise,” a public-house. He was
now engaged to a comely barmaid, who sympathised with him therein, and
he had just concluded a bargain for the “Rose and Crown” in the suburbs.
Unluckily--for him--the money had not been paid over. The blow fell: he
lost his all; not his money only, but his wasted life. He could not be
twenty-one again; so he hanged himself within forty-eight hours, and was
buried by the parish, grumbling a little, pitying none.

James and Peter Gilpin, William Scott, and Joel Paton, were poor
fishermen and Anglo-Saxon heroes--that is, heroes with an eye to the
main chance; they risked their lives at sea to save a ship and get
salvage; failing there, they risked their lives all the same, like fine
fellows as they were, to save the crew. They succeeded, but ruined
their old boat. A subscription was raised, and prospered so, that
a boat-builder built them a new one on tick, price L. 85; and the
publicans said, “Drink, boys, drink; the subscription will cover all; it
is up to L. 120 already.” The subscription money was swallowed with the
rest, and the Anglo-Saxon heroes hauled to prison.

Doctor Phillips, aged seventy-four, warned by growing infirmities, had
sold a tidy practice, with house, furniture, and good-will, for a fair
price, and put it in the bank, awaiting some investment. The money
was gone now, and the poor old doctor, with a wife and daughter and a
crutch, was at once a pauper and an exile: for he had sold under the
usual condition, not to practise within so many miles of his successor.
He went to that successor, and begged permission to be his assistant at
a small, small salary. “I want a younger man,” was the reply. Then he
went round to his old patients, and begged a few half-guineas to get him
a horse and chaise and keep him over the first month in his new place.
They pitied him, but most of them were sufferers too by Hardie, and all
they gave him did but buy a donkey and cart; and with that he and his
went slowly and sadly to a village ten miles distant from the place
where all his life had been spent in comfort and good credit. The poor
old gentleman often looked back from his cart at the church spires of
Barkington.

    “From seventeen till now, almost fourscore,
     There lived he, but now lived there no more.
     At seventeen many their fortunes seek;
     But at fourscore it is too old a week.”

Arrived at his village, he had to sell his donkey and trust to his
crutch. And so Infirmity crept about begging leave to cure Disease--with
what success may be inferred from this: Miss Phillips, a lady-like girl
of eighteen, was taken up by Farmer Giles before Squire Langton for
stealing turnips out of a field: the farmer was hard, and his losses in
Hardie’s Bank had made him bitter hard; so the poor girl’s excuse, that
she could not let her father starve, had no effect on him: to jail she
should go.*

     *I find, however, that Squire Langton resolutely refused to
     commit Miss Phillips. The real reason, I suspect, was, that
     he had a respect for the Gospel, and not much for the law,
     except those invaluable clauses which restrain poaching. The
     reason he gave was: “Turnips be hanged! If she hadn’t eaten
     them, the fly would.” However, he found means to muzzle
     Giles, and sent the old doctor two couple of rabbits.

Took to the national vice, and went to the national dogs, Thomas Fisher,
a saving tinman, and a bachelor: so I expect no pity for him.

To the same goal, by the same road, dragging their families, went the
Rev. Henry Scudamore, a curate; Philip Hall, a linen-draper; Neil Pratt,
a shoemaker; Simon Harris, a greengrocer; and a few more; but the above
were all prudent, laborious men, who took a friendly glass, but seldom
exceeded, until Hardie’s bankruptcy drove them to the devil of drink for
comfort.

Turned professional thief, Joseph Locke, working locksmith, who had just
saved money enough to buy a shop and good-will, and now lost it every
penny.

Turned atheist, and burnt the family Bible before his weeping wife
and terrified children and gaping servant-girl, Mr. Williams, a
Sunday-school teacher, known hitherto only as a mild, respectable man, a
teetotaler, and a good parent and husband. He did not take to drinking;
but he did to cursing, and forbade his own flesh and blood ever to enter
a church again. This man became an outcast, shunned by all.

Three elderly sisters, the Misses Lunley, well born and bred, lived
together on their funds, which, small singly, united made a decent
competence. Two of them had refused marriage in early life for fear the
third should fall into less tender hands than theirs. For Miss Blanche
Lunley was a cripple: disorder of the spine had robbed her, in youth’s
very bloom, of the power not only to dance, as you girls do, but to walk
or even stand upright, leaving her two active little hands, and a heart
as nearly angelic as we are likely to see here on earth.

She lay all day long on a little iron bedstead at the window of their
back-parlour, that looked on a sunny little lawn, working eagerly for
the poor; teaching the poor, young and old, to read, chiefly those of
her own sex; hearing the sorrows of the poor, composing the quarrels of
the poor, relieving their genuine necessities with a little money and
much ingenuity and labour.

Some poor woman, in a moment of inspiration, called Miss Blanche “The
sunshine of the poor.” The word was instantly caught up in the parish,
and had now this many years gently displaced “Lunley,” and settled on
her here below, and its echo gone before her up to Heaven.

The poor “sunshine of the poor” was happy: life was sweet to her. To
know whether this is so, it is useless to inquire of the backbone or the
limbs: look at the face! She lay at her window in the kindred sunshine,
and in a world of sturdy, able, agile cursers, grumblers, and yawners,
her face, pale its ashes, wore the eternal sunshine of a happy, holy
smile.

But there came one to her bedside and told her the bank was broken, and
all the money gone she and her sisters had lent Mr. Hardie.

The saint clasped her hands and said, “Oh, my poor people! What will
become of them?” And the tears ran down her pale and now sorrowful
cheeks.

At this time she did not know the full extent of their losses. But they
had given Mr. Hardie a power of attorney to draw out all their consols.
That remorseless man had abused the discretion this gave him, and
beggared them--they were his personal friends, too--to swell his secret
hoard.

When “the sunshine of the poor” heard this, and knew that she was now
the poorest of the poor, she clasped her hands and cried, “Oh, my poor
sisters! my poor sisters!” and she could work no more for sighing.

The next morning found “the sunshine of the poor” extinct in her little
bed: ay, died of grief with no grain of egotism in it; gone straight to
heaven without one angry word against Richard Hardie or any other.

Old Betty had a horror of the workhouse. To save her old age from it she
had deposited her wages in the bank for the last twenty years, and also
a little legacy from Mr. Hardie’s father. She now went about the house
of her master and debtor, declaring she was sure he would not rob _her,_
and, if he did, she would never go into the poorhouse. “I’ll go out on
the common and die there. Nobody will miss _me._”


The next instance led to consequences upon consequences: and that is my
excuse for telling it the reader somewhat more fully than Alfred heard
it.

Mrs. Maxley one night found something rough at her feet in bed. “What on
earth is this?” said she.

“Never you mind,” said Maxley: “say it’s my breeches; what then?”

“Why, what on earth does the man put his breeches to bed for?”

“That is my business,” roared Maxley, and whispered drily, “‘tain’t for
you to wear ‘em, howsever.”

This little spar led to his telling her he had drawn out all their
money, but, when she asked the reason, he snubbed her again indirectly,
recommending her to sleep.

The fact is, the small-clothes were full of bank-notes; and Maxley
always followed them into bed now, for fear of robbers.

The bank broke on a Tuesday: Maxley dug on impassive; and when curious
people came about him to ask whether he was a loser, he used
to inquire very gravely, and dwelling on every syllable,
“Do--you--see--anything--green--in this ere eye.”

Friday was club day; the clubsmen met at the “Greyhound” and talked over
their losses. Maxley sat smoking complacently; and when his turn came to
groan, he said drily: “I draad all mine a week afore. (Exclamations.) I
had a hinkling: my boy Jack he wrote to me from Canada as how Hardie’s
was rotten out there; now these here bankers they be like an oak tree;
they do go at the limbs first and then at the heart.”

The club was wroth. “What, you went and made yourself safe and never
gave any of us a chance? Was that neighbourly? was that--clubbable?”

To a hailstorm of similar reproaches, Maxley made but one reply,
“‘Twarn’t _my_ business to take care o’ _you._” He added, however, a
little sulkily, “I was laad for slander once: scalded dog fears lue-warm
water.”

“Oh,” said one, “I don’t believe him. He puts a good face on it but his
nine hundred is gone along with ourn.”

“‘Taiu’t gone far, then.” With this he put his hand in his pocket, and,
after some delay, pulled out a nice new crisp note and held it up. “What
is that? I ask the company.”

“Looks like a ten-pun note, James.”

“Welt the bulk ‘grees with the sample; I knows where to find eightscore
and nine to match this here.”

The note was handed round: and on inspection each countenance in turn
wore a malicious smile; till at last Maxley, surrounded by grinning
faces, felt uneasy.

“What be ‘e all grinning at like a litter o’ Chessy cats? Warn’t ye ugly
enough without showing of your rotten teeth?”

“Haw! Haw!”

“Better say ‘tain’t money at all, but only a wench’s curl paper:” and
he got up and snatched it fiercely out of the last inspector’s hand. “Ye
can’t run your rigs on me,” said he. “What an if I can’t read words,
I can figures; and I spelt the ten out on every one of them, afore I’d
take it.”

A loud and general laugh greeted this boast.

Then Maxley snatched up his hat in great wrath and some anxiety, and
went out followed by a peal.

In five minutes he was at home; and tossed the note into his wife’s lap.
She was knitting by a farthing dip. “Dame,” said he, controlling all
appearance of anxiety, “what d’ye call that?”

She took up the note and held it close to the candle.

“Why, Jem, it is a ten-pound note, one of Hardie’s--_as was._”

“Then what were those fools laughing at?” And he told her all that had
happened.

Mrs. Maxley dropped her knitting and stood up trembling. “Why, you told
me you had got our money all safe out!”

“Well, and so I have, ye foolish woman; and he drew the whole packet out
of his pocket and flung them fiercely on the table. Mrs. Maxley ran her
finger and eye over them, and uttered a scream of anger and despair.

“These! these be all Hardie’s notes,” she cried; “and what vally be
Hardie’s notes when Hardie’s be broke?”

Maxley staggered as if he had been shot.

The woman’s eyes flashed fury at him. “This is your work, ye born idiot:
‘mind your own business,’ says you: you _must_ despise your wedded wife,
that has more brains in her finger than you have in all your great long
useless carease: you _must_ have your secrets: one day poison, another
day beggary: you have ruined me, you have murdered me: get out of my
sight! for if I find a knife I’ll put it in you, I will.” And in her
ungovernable passion, she actually ran to the dresser for a knife: at
which Maxley caught up a chair and lifted it furiously, above his head
to fling at her.

Luckily the man had more self-command than the woman; he dashed the
chair furiously on the floor, and ran out of the house.

He wandered about half stupid, and presently his feet took him
mechanically round to his garden. He pottered about among his plants,
looking at them, inspecting them closely, and scarce seeing them.
However, he covered up one or two, and muttered, “I think there will be
a frost to-night: I think there will be a frost” Then his legs seemed to
give way. He sat down and thought of his wedding-day: he began to talk
to himself out loud, as some people do in trouble. “Bless her comely
face,” said he, “and to think I had my arm lifted to strike her, after
wearing her so low, and finding her good stuff upon the whole. Well,
thank my stars I didn’t We must make the best on’t: money’s gone; but
here’s the garden and our hands still; and ‘tain’t as if we were single
to gnaw our hearts alone: wedded life cuts grief a two. Let’s make it up
and begin again. Sixty come Martinmas, and Susan forty-eight: and I be
a’most weary of turning moulds.”

He went round to his front door.

There was a crowd round it; a buzzing crowd with all their faces turned
towards his door.

He came at their backs, and asked peevishly what was to do now. Some of
the women shrieked at his voice. The crowd turned about; and a score of
faces peered at him: some filled with curiosity, some with pity.

“Lord help us!” said the poor man, “is there any more trouble a foot
to-day? Stand aside, please, and let me know.”

“No! no!” cried a woman, “don’t let him.”

“Not let me go into my own house, young woman?” said Maxley with
dignity: “be these your manners?”

“Oh, James: I meant you no ill. Poor man!”

“Poor soul!” said another.

“Stand aloof!” said a strange man. “Who has as good a right to be there
as he have?”

A lane was made directly, and Maxley rushed down between two rows of
peering faces, with his knees knocking together, and burst into his own
house. A scream from the women inside as he entered, and a deep groan
from the strong man bereaved of his mate, told the tragedy. Poor Susan
Maxley was gone.

She had died of breast-pang within a minute of his leaving her; and the
last words of two faithful spouses were words of anger.


All these things, and many more less tragic, but very deplorable, came
to Alfred Hardie’s knowledge, and galled and afflicted him deeply. And
several of these revelations heaped discredit high upon Richard Hardie,
till the young man, born with a keen sense of justice, and bred amongst
honourable minds, began to shudder at his own father.

Herein he was alone; Jane, with the affectionate blindness of her sex,
could throw her arms round her father’s neck, and pity him for his
losses--by his own dishonesty--and pity him most when some victim of
his unprincipled conduct died or despaired. “Poor papa will feel this so
deeply,” was her only comment on such occasions.

Alfred was not sorry she could take this view, and left her unmolested
to confound black with white, and wrong with right, at affection’s
dictates; but his own trained understanding was not to be duped
in matters of plain morality. And so, unable to cure the wrongs he
deplored, unable to put his conscience into his pocket like Richard
Hardie, or into his heart like Jane, he wandered alone, or sat brooding
and dejected: and the attentive reader, if I am so fortunate as to
possess one, will not be surprised to learn that he was troubled, too,
with dark mysterious surmises he half dreaded, yet felt it his duty to
fathom. These and Mrs. Dodd’s loss by the bank combined to keep him
out of Albion Villa. He often called to ask after Captain Dodd, but was
ashamed to enter the house.

Now Richard Hardie’s anxiety to know whether David was to die or live
had not declined, but rather increased. If the latter, he was now
resolved to fly to the United States with his booty, and cheat his
alienated son along with the rest: he had come by degrees down to this.
It was on Alfred he had counted to keep him informed of David’s state;
but, on his putting a smooth inquiry, the young man’s face flushed with
shame, or anger, or something, and he gave a very short, sharp, and
obscure reply. In reality, he did not know much, nor did Sarah, his
informant; for of late the servants had never been allowed to enter
David’s room.

Mr. Hardie, after this rebuff, never asked Alfred again; but having
heard Sampson’s name mentioned as Dodd’s medical attendant, wrote and
asked him to come and dine next time he should visit Barkington.

“You will find me a fallen man,” said he; “to-morrow we resign our house
and premises and furniture to the assignees, and go to live at a little
furnished cottage not very far from your friends the Dodds. It is called
‘Musgrove Cottage.’ There, where we have so little to offer besides a
welcome, none but true friends will come near us; indeed, there are very
few I should venture to ask for such a proof of fidelity to your broken
friend,

“R. H.”


The good-hearted Sampson sent a cordial reply, and came to dinner at
Musgrove Cottage.


Now all Hardie wanted of him in reality was to know about David; so when
Jane had retired and the decanter circulated, he began to pump him
by his vanity. “I understand,” said he, “you have wrought one of your
surprising cures in this neighbourhood. Albion Villa!”

Sampson shook his head sorrowfully: Mr. Hardie’s eyes sparkled. Alfred
watched him keenly and bitterly.

“How can I work a great cure after these ass-ass-ins Short and Osmond?
Look, see! the man had been wounded in the hid, and lost blood: thin
stabbed in the shoulder, and lost more blood.”--Both the Hardies uttered
an ejaculation of unfeigned surprise.--“So, instid of recruiting the
buddy thus exhausted of the great liquid material of all repair, the
profissional ass-ass-in came and exhausted him worse: stabbed him while
he slept; stabbed him unconscious, stabbed him in a vein: and stole
more blood from him. Wasn’t that enough? No! the routine of
profissional ass-ass-ination had but begun; nixt they stabbed him with
cupping-needles, and so stole more of his life-blood. And they were goen
from their stabs to their bites, goen to leech his temples, and so hand
him over to the sixton.”

“But you came in and saved him,” cried Alfred.

“I saved his life,” said Sampson sorrowfully; “but life is not the only
good thing a man may be robbed of by those who steal his life-blood, and
so impoverish and water the contints of the vessels of the brain.”

“Doctor Sampson,” said Alfred, “what do you mean by these mysterious
words? You alarm me.”

“What, don’t you know? Haven’t they told you?”

“No, I have not had the courage to enter the house since the bank----”
 he stopped in confusion.

“Ay, I understand,” said Sampson: “however, it can’t be hidden now:--

“He is a maniac.”


Sampson made this awful announcement soberly and sorrowfully.

Alfred groaned aloud, and even his father experienced a momentary
remorse; but so steady had been the progress of Corruption, that he felt
almost unmixed joy the next instant; and his keen-witted son surprised
the latter sentiment in his face, and shuddered with disgust.

Sampson went on to say that he believed the poor man had gone
flourishing a razor; and Mrs. Dodd had said, “Yes, kill me, David: kill
the mother of your children,” and never moved: which feminine, or in
other words irrational, behaviour had somehow disarmed him. But it would
not happen again: his sister had come; a sensible, resolute woman. She
had signed the order, and Osmond and he the certificates, and he was
gone to a private asylum. “Talking of that,” said Sampson, rising
suddenly, “I must go and give them a word of comfort; for they are just
breaking their hearts at parting with him, poor things. I’ll be back in
an hour.”

On his departure, Jane returned and made the tea in the dining-room:
they lived like that now.

Mr. Hardie took it from his favourite’s lithe white hand, and smiled
on her: he should not have to go to a foreign land after all: who would
believe a madman if he should rave about his thousands? He sipped
his tea luxuriously, and presently delivered himself thus, with bland
self-satisfaction:--

“My dear Alfred, some time ago you wished to marry a young lady without
fortune. You thought that I had a large one; and you expected me to
supply all deficiencies. You did not overrate my parental feeling, but
you did my means. I would have done this for you, and with pleasure,
but for my own coming misfortunes. As it was, I said ‘No,’ and when you
demanded, somewhat peremptorily, my reasons, I said ‘Trust me.’ Well,
you see I was right: such a marriage would have been your utter ruin.
However, I conclude, after what Dr. Sampson has told us, you have
resigned it on other grounds. Jane, my dear, Captain Dodd, I am sorry to
say, is afflicted. He has gone mad.”

“Gone mad?! Oh, how shocking! What will become of his poor children?”
 She thought of Edward first.

“We have just heard it from Sampson. And I presume, Alfred, you are not
so far gone as to insist on propagating insanity by a marriage with his
daughter.”

At this conclusion, which struck her obliquely, though aimed at Alfred,
Jane sighed gently, and her dream of earthly happiness seemed to melt
away.

But Alfred ground his teeth, and replied with great bitterness and
emotion: “I think, sir, you are the last man who ought to congratulate
yourself on the affliction that has fallen on that unhappy family I
aspire to enter, all the more that now they have calamities for me to
share----”

“More fool you,” put in Mr. Hardie calmly.

“--For I much fear you are one of the causes of that calamity.”

Mr. Hardie assumed a puzzled air. “I don’t see how that can be: do you,
Jenny? Sampson told us the causes: a wound on the head, a wound in the
arm, bleeding, cupping, &c.”

“There may be other causes Dr. Sampson has not been told of--yet”

“Possibly. I really don’t know what you allude to.”

The son fixed his eyes on the father, and leaned across the table to
him, till their faces nearly met.

“The fourteen thousand pounds, sir.”



CHAPTER XXV

MR. HARDIE was taken by surprise for once, and had not a word to say,
but looked in his son’s face, mute and gasping as a fish.

During this painful silence his children eyed him inquiringly, but not
with the same result; for one face is often read differently by two
persons. To Jane, whose intelligence had no aids, he seemed unaffectedly
puzzled; but Alfred discerned beneath his wonder the terror of detection
rising, and then thrust back by the strong will: that stoical face shut
again like an iron door, but not quickly enough: the right words, the
“open sesame,” had been spoken, and one unguarded look had confirmed
Alfred’s vague suspicions of foul play. He turned his own face away: he
was alienated by the occurrences of the last few months, but Nature and
tender reminiscences still held him by some fibres of the heart--in a
moment of natural indignation he had applied the touchstone, but its
success grieved him. He could not bear to go on exposing his father; so
he left the room with a deep sigh, in which pity mingled with shame and
regret. He wandered out into the silent night, and soon was leaning
on the gate of Albion Villa, gazing wistfully at the windows, and sore
perplexed and nobly wretched.

As he was going out, Mr. Hardie raised his eyebrows with a look of
disinterested wonder and curiosity; and touched his forehead to Jane, as
much as to say, “Is he disordered in his mind?”

As soon as they were alone, he asked her coolly what Alfred meant. She
said she had no idea. Then he examined her keenly about this fourteen
thousand pounds, and found, to his relief, Alfred had never even
mentioned it to her.

And now Richard Hardie, like his son, wanted to be alone, and think over
this new peril that had risen in the bosom of his own family, and, for
once, the company of his favourite child was irksome: he made an excuse
and strolled out in his turn into the silent night. It was calm and
clear: the thousand holy eyes, under which men prefer to do their
crimes--except when they are in too great a hurry to wait--looked down
and seemed to wonder anything can be so silly as to sin; and beneath
their pure gaze the man of the world pondered with all his soul. He
tormented himself with conjectures: through what channel did Alfred
suspect him? Through the Dodds? Were they aware of their loss? Had the
pocket-book spoken? If so, why had not Mrs. Dodd or her son attacked
him? But then perhaps Alfred was their agent: they wished to try a
friendly remonstrance through a mutual friend before proceeding to
extremities; this accorded with Mrs. Dodd’s character as he remembered
her.

The solution was reasonable; but he was relieved of it by recollecting
what Alfred had said, that he had not entered the house since the bank
broke.

On this he began to hope Alfred’s might be a mere suspicion he could not
establish by any proof; and at all events, he would lock it in his own
breast like a good son: his never having given a hint even to his sister
favoured this supposition.

Thus meditating, Mr. Hardie found himself at the gate of Albion Villa.

Yet he had strolled out with no particular intention of going there.
Had his mind, apprehensive of danger from that quarter, driven his body
thither?

He took a look at the house, and the first thing he saw was a young lady
leaning over the balcony, and murmuring softly to a male figure below,
whose outline Mr. Hardie could hardly discern, for it stood in the
shadow. Mr. Hardie was delighted.

“Aha, Miss Juliet,” said he, “if Alfred does not visit you, some one
else does. You have soon supplied your peevish lover’s place.” He then
withdrew softly from the gate, not to disturb the intrigue, and watched
a few yards off; determined to see who Julia’s nightly visitor was, and
give Alfred surprise for surprise.

He had not long to wait: the man came away directly, and walked, head
erect, past Mr. Hardie, and glanced full in his face, but did not
vouchsafe him a word. It was Alfred himself.

Mr. Hardie was profoundly alarmed and indignant. “The young traitor!
Never enter the house? no; but he comes and tells her everything
directly under her window on the sly; and, when he is caught--defies me
to my face.” And now he suspected female cunning and malice in the way
that thunderbolt had been quietly prepared for him and launched,
without warning, in his very daughter’s presence, and the result just
communicated to Julia Dodd.

In a very gloomy mood he followed his son, and heard his firm though
elastic tread on the frosty ground, and saw how loftily he carried his
head; and from that moment feared, and very, very nearly hated him.

The next day he feigned sick and sent for Osmond. That worthy prescribed
a pill and a draught, the former laxative, the latter astringent. This
ceremony performed, Mr. Hardie gossipped with him; and, after a detour
or two, glided to his real anxiety. “Sampson tells me you know more
about Captain Dodd’s case than he does: he is not very clear as to the
cause of the poor man’s going mad.”

“The cause? Why, apoplexy.”

“Yes, but I mean what caused the apoplexy?”

Mr. Osmond replied that apoplexy was often idiopathic.* Captain Dodd,
as he understood, had fallen down in the street in a sudden fit: “but as
for the mania, that is to be attributed to an insufficient evacuation of
blood while under the apoplectic coma.”

     * “Arising of itself.” A term rather hastily applied to
     disorders the coming signs of which have not been detected
     by the medical attendant.

The birth of Topsy was idiopathic--in that learned lady’s opinion.----

“Not bled enough! Why, Sampson says it is because he was bled too much.”

Osmond was amused at this, and repeated that the mania came of not being
bled enough.

The discussion was turned into an unexpected quarter by the entrance of
Jane Hardie, who came timidly in and said, “Oh, Mr. Osmond, I cannot let
you go without telling you how anxious I am about Alfred. He is so thin,
and pale, and depressed.”

“Nonsense, Jane,” said Mr. Hardie; “have we not all cause to be dejected
in this house?” But she persisted gently that there was more in it than
that; and his headaches were worse, and she could not be easy any longer
without advice.

“Ah! those headaches,” said Mr. Osmond, “they always made me uneasy. To
tell the truth, Miss Hardie, I have noticed a remarkable change in him,
but I did not like to excite apprehensions. And so he mopes, does he?
seeks solitude, and is taciturn, and dejected?”

“Yes. But I do not mind that so much as his turning so pale and thin.”

“Oh, it is all part of one malady.”

“Then you know what is the matter?”

 “I think I do; and yours is a wise and timely anxiety. Your brother’s is
a very delicate case of hyperaesthetic character; and I should like to
have the advice of a profound physician. Let me see, Dr. Wycherley will
be with me to-morrow: may I bring him over as a friend?”

This proposal did not at all suit Mr. Hardie. He put his own
construction on Alfred’s pallor and dejection, and was uneasy at the
idea of his being cross-questioned by a couple of doctors:

“No, no,” said he; “Taff has fancies enough already. I cannot have you
gentlemen coming here to fill his head with many more.”

“Oh, he has fancies, has he?” said Osmond keenly. “My dear sir, we shall
not say one word to _him:_ that might irritate him: but I should like
_you_ to hear a truly learned opinion.”

Jane looked so imploringly that Mr. Hardie yielded a reluctant assent,
on those terms.

So the next day, by appointment, Mr. Osmond introduced his friend
Dr. Wycherley: bland and bald with a fine bead, and a face naturally
intelligent, but crossed every now and then by gleams of vacancy; a
man of large reading, and of tact to make it subserve his interests.
A voluminous writer on certain medical subjects, he had so saturated
himself with circumlocution, that it distilled from his very tongue: he
talked like an Article, a Quarterly one; and so gained two advantages:
1st, he rarely irritated a fellow-creature; for if he began a sentence
hot, what with its length, and what with its windiness, he ended it
cool: item, stabs by polysyllables are pricks by sponges. 2ndly, this
foible earned him the admiration of fools; and that is as invaluable as
they are innumerable.

Yet was there in the mother-tongue he despised one gem of a word he
vastly admired: like most Quarterly writers. That charming word, the pet
of the polysyllabic, was “OF.”

 He opened the matter in a subdued and sympathising tone well calculated
to win a loving father, such as Richard Hardie--was not.

“My good friend here informs me, sir, you are so fortunate as to possess
a son of distinguished abilities, and who is at present labouring
under some of those precursory indications of incipient disease of the
cerebro-psychical organs, of which I have been, I may say, somewhat
successful in diagnosing the symptoms. Unless I have been misinformed,
he has, for a considerable time, experienced persistent headache of
a kephalalgic or true cerebral type, and has now advanced to the
succeeding stage of taciturnity and depression, not* unaccompanied with
isolation, and probably constipation: but as yet without hallucination,
though possibly, and, as my experience of the great majority of these
cases would induce me to say, probably he is not** undisturbed by one or
more of those latent, and, at first, trifling aberrations, either of the
intelligence or the senses, which in their preliminary stages escape the
observation of all but the expert nosologist.”

     *Anglice, “accompanied.”

     **Anglice, “disturbed.”

“There, you see,” said Osmond, “Dr. Wycherley agrees with me: yet I
assure you I have only detailed the symptoms, and not the conclusion I
had formed from them.”

Jane inquired timidly what that conclusion was.

“Miss Hardie, we think it one of those obscure tendencies which are very
curable if taken in time----” Dr. Wycherley ended the sentence: “But no
longer remediable if the fleeting opportunity is allowed to escape, and
diseased action to pass into diseased organisation.”

Jane looked awestruck at their solemnity; but Mr. Hardie, who was taking
advice against the grain, turned satirical. “Gentleman,” said he, “be
pleased to begin by moderating your own obscurity; and then perhaps I
shall see better how to cure my son’s disorder. What the deuce are you
driving at?”

The two doctors looked at one another inquiringly, and so settled how to
proceed. Dr. Wycherley explained to Mr. Hardie that there was a sort of
general unreasonable and superstitious feeling abroad, a kind of terror
of the complaint with which his son was threatened; _“and which,_
instead of the most remediable of disorders, is looked at as the
most incurable of maladies:” it was on this account he had learned to
approach the subject with singular caution, and even with a timidity
which was kinder in appearance than in reality; that he must admit.

“Well, you may speak out, as far as I am concerned,” said Mr. Hardie,
with consummate indifference.

“Oh, yes!” said Jane, in a fever of anxiety; “pray conceal nothing from
us.”

“Well, then, sir, I have not as yet had the advantage of examining your
son personally, but, from the diagnostics, I have no doubt whatever
he is labouring under the first fore-shadowings of cerebro-psychical
perturbation. To speak plainly, the symptoms are characteristic of the
initiatory stage of the germination of a morbid state of the phenomena
of intelligence.”

His unprofessional hearers only stared.

“In one word, then,” said Dr. Wycherley, waxing impatient at their
abominable obtuseness, “it is the premonitory stage of the precursory
condition of an organic affection of the brain.”

“Oh!” said Mr. Hardie, “the brain!* I see; the boy is going mad.”

     * What a blessing there are a few English words left in all
     our dialects.

The doctors stared in their turn at the prodigious coolness of a tender
parent. “Not exactly,” said Dr. Wycherley; “I am habitually averse to
exaggeration of symptoms. Your son’s suggest to me ‘the Incubation of
Insanity,’ nothing more.”

Jane uttered an exclamation of horror; the doctor soothed her with an
assurance that there was no cause for alarm. “Incipient aberration”
 was of easy cure: the mischief lay in delay. “Miss Hardie,” said he
paternally, “during a long and busy professional career, it has been
my painful province to witness the deplorable consequences of the
non-recognition, by friends and relatives, of the precedent symptoms of
those organic affections of the brain, the relief of which was within
the reach of well-known therapeutic agents if exhibited seasonably.”

He went on to deplore the blind prejudice of unprofessional persons, who
choose to fancy that other diseases creep, but Insanity pounces, on a
man; which he expressed thus neatly: “that other deviations from organic
conditions of health are the subject of clearly defined though
delicate gradations, but that the worst and most climacteric forms of
cerebro-psychical disorder are suddenly developed affections presenting
no evidence of any antecedent cephalic organic change, and unaccompanied
by a premonitory stage, or by incipient symptoms.”

This chimera he proceeded to confute by experience: he had repeatedly
been called in to cases of mania described as sudden, and almost
invariably found the patient had been cranky for years; which he
condensed thus: “His conduct and behaviour for many years previously to
any symptom of mental aberration being noticed, had been characterised
by actions quite irreconcilable with the supposition of the existence of
perfect sanity of intellect.”

He instanced a parson, whom he had lately attended, and found him as
constipated and as convinced he was John the Baptist engaged to the
Princess Mary as could be. “But,” continued the learned doctor, “upon
investigation of this afflicted ecclesiastic’s antecedent history,
I discovered that, for years before this, he had exhibited conduct
incompatible with the hypothesis of a mind whose equilibrium had been
undisturbed. He had caused a number of valuable trees to be cut down on
his estate, without being able to offer a sane justification for such
an outrageous proceeding; and had actually disposed of a quantity of his
patrimonial acres, _‘and which’_ clearly he never would have parted with
had he been in anything resembling a condition of sanity.”

“Did he sell the land and timber below the market price?” inquired Mr.
Hardie, perking up, and exhibiting his first symptoms of interest in the
discussion.

“On that head, sir, my informant, his heir-at-law, gave me no
information: nor did I enter into that class of detail. You naturally
look at morbid phenomena in a commercial spirit, but we regard them
medically--and all this time most assiduously visiting the sick of his
parish and preaching admirable serious.”

The next instance he gave was of a stockbroker suffering under general
paralysis and a rooted idea that all the _specie_ in the Bank of England
was his, and ministers in league with foreign governments to keep him
out of it. “Him,” said the doctor, “I discovered to have been for
years guilty of conduct entirely incompatible with the hypothesis
of undisordered mental functions. He had accused his domestics
of peculation, and had initiated legal proceedings with a view of
prosecuting in a court of law one of his oldest friends.”

“Whence you infer that, if my son has not for years been doing cranky
acts, he is not likely to be deranged at present.”

This adroit twist of the argument rather surprised Dr. Wycherley.
However, he was at no loss for a reply. “It is not Insanity, but the
Incubation of Insanity, which is suspected in your intelligent son’s
case: and the best course will be for me to enumerate in general terms
the several symptoms of ‘the Incubation of Insanity:’” he concluded with
some severity. “After that, sir, I shall cease to intrude what I fear is
an unwelcome conviction.”

The parent, whose levity and cold reception of good tidings he had thus
mildly, yet with due dignity, rebuked, was a man of the world, and liked
to make friends, not enemies: so he took the hint, and made a very civil
speech, assuring Dr. Wycherley that, if he ventured to differ from
him, he was none the less obliged by the kind interest he took in a
comparative stranger: and would be very glad to hear all about the
“Incubation of Insanity.”

Dr. Wycherley bowed slightly and complied:

“One diagnostic preliminary sign of abnormal cerebral action is
Kephalalgia, or true cerebral headache; I mean persistent headache
not accompanied by a furred tongue, or other indicia significant of
abdominal or renal disorder as its origin.”

Jane sighed. “He has sad headaches.”

“The succeeding symptom is a morbid affection of sleep. Either the
patient suffers from Insomnia, or else from Hypersomnia, which we
subdivide into sopor, carus, and lethargus; or thirdly from Kakosomnia,
or a propensity to mere dozing, and to all the morbid phenomena of
dreams.”

“Papa,” said Jane, “poor Alfred sleeps very badly: I hear him walking at
all hours of the night.”

“I thought as much,” said Dr. Wycherley; “Insomnia is the commonest
feature. To resume; the insidious advance of morbid thought is next
marked by high spirits, or else by low spirits; generally the latter.
The patient begins by moping, then shows great lassitude and ennui, then
becomes abstracted, moody, and occupied with a solitary idea.”

Jane clasped her hands and the tears stood in her eyes; so well did this
description tally with poor Alfred’s case.

“And at this period,” continued Dr. Wycherley, “my experience leads me
to believe that some latent delusion is generally germinating in the
mind, though often concealed with consummate craft by the patient: the
open development of this delusion is the next stage, and, with this last
morbid phenomenon, Incubation ceases and Insanity begins. Sometimes,
however, the illusion is physical rather than psychical, of the sense
rather than of the intelligence. It commences at night: the incubator
begins by seeing nocturnal visions, often of a photopsic* character, or
hearing nocturnal sounds, neither of which have any material existence,
being conveyed to his optic or auricular nerves not from without, but
from within, by the agency of a disordered brain. These the reason,
hitherto unimpaired, combats at first, especially when they are
nocturnal only; but being reproduced, and becoming diurnal, the judgment
succumbs under the morbid impression produced so repeatedly. These are
the ordinary antecedent symptoms characteristic of the incubation of
insanity; to which are frequently added somatic exaltation, or, in
popular language, physical excitability--a disposition to knit the
brows--great activity of the mental faculties--or else a well-marked
decline of the powers of the understanding--an exaggeration of the
normal conditions of thought--or a reversal of the mental habits and
sentiments, such as a sudden aversion to some person hitherto beloved,
or some study long relished and pursued.”

     * Luminous.

Jane asked leave to note these all down in her note-book.

Mr. Hardie assented adroitly; for he was thinking whether he could
not sift some grain out of all this chaff. Should Alfred blab his
suspicions, here were two gentlemen who would at all events help him to
throw ridicule on them.

Dr. Wycherley having politely aided Jane Hardie to note down the
“preliminary process of the Incubation of disorders of the Intellect,”
 resumed: “Now, sir, your son appears to be in a very inchoate stage of
the malady: he has cerebral Kephalalgia and Insomnia----”

“And, oh, doctor,” said Jane, “he knits his brows often and has given up
his studies; won’t go back to Oxford this term.”

“Exactly; and seeks isolation, and is a prey to morbid distraction and
reverie: but has no palpable illusions, has he?”

“Not that I know of,” said Mr. Hardie.

“Well, but,” objected Jane, “did not he say something to you very
curious the other night about Captain Dodd and fourteen thousand
pounds?”

Mr. Hardie’s blood ran cold. “No,” he stammered, “not that I remember.”

“Oh, yes, he did, papa: you have forgotten it: but at the time you were
quite puzzled what he could meant: and you did _so._” She put her finger
to her forehead, and the doctors interchanged a meaning glance.

“I believe you are right, Jenny,” said Mr. Hardie, taking the cue so
unexpectedly offered him: “he did say some nonsense I could not make
head nor tail of; but we all have our crotchets. There, run away, like
a good girl, and let me explain all this to our good friends here: and
mind, not a word about it to Alfred.”

When she was gone, he said, “Gentlemen, my son is over head and ears in
love; that is all.”

“Ay, Erotic monomania is a very ordinary phase of insanity,” said Dr.
Wycherley.

“His unreasonable passion for a girl he knows he can never marry makes
him somewhat crotchety and cranky: that, and over-study, may have
unhinged his mind a little. Suppose I send him abroad? My good brother
will find the means; or we could advance it him, I and the other
trustees; he comes into ten thousand pounds in a month or two.”

The doctors exchanged a meaning look. They then dissuaded him earnestly
from the idea of Continental travel.

“Coelum non animam mutant qui trans mare currunt,” said Wycherley, and
Osmond explained that Alfred would brood abroad as well as at home, if
he went alone; and Dr. Wycherley summed up thus: “The most advisable
course is to give him the benefit of the personal superintendence of
some skilful physician possessed of means and appliances of every sort
for soothing and restraining the specific malady.”

Mr. Hardie did not at first see the exact purport of this oleaginous
periphrasis. Presently he caught a glimpse; but said he thought
confinement was hardly the thing to drive away melancholy.

“Not in all respects,” replied Dr. Wycherley; “but, on the other hand,
a little gentle restraint is the safest way of effecting a disruption of
the fatal associations that have engendered and tend to perpetuate the
disorder. Besides, the medicinal appliances are invaluable, including,
as they do, the nocturnal and diurnal attendance of a Psycho-physical
physician, who knows the Psychosomatic relation of body and mind, and
can apply physical remedies, of the effect of which on the physical
instrument of intelligence, the grey matter of the brain, we have seen
so many examples.”

The good doctor then feelingly deplored the inhumanity of parents and
guardians in declining to subject their incubators to opportune and
salutary restraint under the more than parental care of a Psychosomatic
physician. On this head he got quite warm, and inveighed against the
abominable _cruelty_ of the thing. “It is contrary,” said he, “to every
principle of justice and humanity, that a fellow-creature, deranged
perhaps only on one point, should, for the want of the early attention
of those whose duty it is to watch over him, linger out his existence
separated from all who are dear to him, and condemned without any crime
to be a prisoner for life.”

Mr. Hardie was puzzled by this sentence, in which the speaker’s usual
method was reversed, and the thought was bigger than the words.

“Oh,” said he at last, “I see. We ought to incarcerate our children to
keep them from being incarcerated.”

“That is one way of putting it with a vengence,” said Mr. Osmond
staring. “No; what my good friend means----”

“Is this; where the patient is possessor of an income of such a
character as to enable his friends to show a sincere affection by
anticipating the consequences of neglected morbid phenomena of
the brain, there a lamentable want of humanity is exhibited by the
persistent refusal to the patient, on the part of his relatives, of
the incalculable advantage of the authoritative advice of a competent
physician accompanied with the safeguards and preventives of----”

But ere the mellifluous pleonast had done oiling his paradox with fresh
polysyllables, to make it slip into the banker’s narrow understanding,
he met with a curious interruption. Jane Hardie fluttered in to say a
man was at the door accusing himself of being deranged.

“How often this sort of coincidence occurs,” said Osmond
philosophically.

“Do not refuse him, dear papa; it is not for money: he only wants you to
give him an order to go into a lunatic asylum.”

_“Now, there is a sensible man,_” said Dr. Wycherley.

“Well, but,” objected Mr. Hardie, “if he is a sensible man, why does he
want to go to an asylum?”

“Oh, they are all sensible at times,” observed Mr. Osmond.

_“Singularly so,_” said Dr. Wycherley, warmly. And he showed a desire
to examine this paragon, who had the sense to know he was out of his
senses.

“It would be but kind of you, sir,” said Jane; “poor, poor man!” She
added, he did not like to come in, and would they mind just going out to
him?

“Oh no, not in the least: especially as you seem interested in him.”

And they all three rose and went out together, and found the petitioner
at the front door. Who should it be but James Maxley!

His beard was unshaven, his face haggard, and everything about him
showed a man broken in spirit as well as fortune: even his voice
had lost half its vigour, and, whenever he had uttered a consecutive
sentence or two, his head dropped on his breast pitiably: indeed, this
sometimes occurred in the middle of a sentence, and then the rest of it
died on his lips.

Mr. Richard Hardie was not prepared to encounter one of his unhappy
creditors thus publicly, and, to shorten the annoyance, would have
dismissed him roughly: but he dared not; for Maxley was no longer alone
nor unfriended. When Jane left him to intercede for him, a young man
joined him, and was now comforting him with kind words, and trying to
get him to smoke a cigar; and this good-hearted young gentleman was
the banker’s son in the flesh, and his opposite in spirit, Mr. Alfred
Hardie.

Finding these two in contact, the Doctors interchanged demurest glances.

Mr. Hardie asked Maxley sullenly what he wanted of them.

“Well, sir,” said Maxley despondingly, “I have been to all the other
magistrates in the borough; for what with losing my money, and what with
losing my missus, I think I bain’t quite right in my head; I do see such
curious things, enough to make a body’s skin creep at times.” And down
went his head on his chest.

“Well?” said Mr. Hardie, peevishly: “go on: you went to the magistrates,
and what then?”

Maxley looked up, and seemed to recover the thread: “Why they said ‘no,’
they couldn’t send me to the ‘sylum, not from home: I must be a pauper
first. So then my neighbours they said I had better come to you.” And
down went his head again.

“Well, but,” said Mr. Hardie, “you cannot expect me to go against the
other magistrates.”

“Why not, sir? You have had a hatful o’ money of me: the other gentlemen
han’t had a farthing. They owes me no service, but you does: nine
hundred pounds’ worth, if ye come to that.”

There was no malice in this; it was a plain broken-hearted man’s notion
of give and take; but it was a home-thrust all the same; and Mr. Hardie
was visibly discountenanced, and Alfred more so.

Mr. Osmond, to relieve a situation so painful, asked Maxley rather
hastily what were the curious things he saw.

Maxley shuddered. “The unreasonablest beasts, sir, you ever saw or heard
tell on: mostly snakes and dragons. Can’t stoop my head to do no work
for them, sir. Bless your heart, if I was to leave you gentlemen now,
and go and dig for five minutes in my garden, they would come about me
as thick as slugs on cabbage. Why ‘twas but yester’en I tried to hoe
a bit, and up come the fearfullest great fiery sarpint: scared me so I
heaved my hoe and laid on un’ properly: presently I seemed to come out
of a sort of a kind of a red mist into the clear: and there laid my poor
missus’s favourite hen; I had been and killed her for a sarpint!” He
sighed, then, after a moment’s pause, lowered his voice to a whisper:
“Now suppose I was to go and take some poor Christian for one of these
gre-at bloody dragons I do see at odd times, I might do him a mischief,
you know, and not mean him no harm neither. Oh, dooee take and have me
locked up, gentlemen, dooee now: tellee I ain’t fit to be about, my poor
head is so mazed.”

“Well, well,” said Mr. Hardie, “I’ll give you an order for the Union.”

“What, make a pauper of me?”

“I cannot help it,” said the magistrate: “it is the routine; and it was
settled at a meeting of the bench last month that we must adhere to
the rule as strictly as possible; the asylum is so full: and you know,
Maxley, it is not as if you were dangerous.”

“That I be, sir: I don’t know what I’m a looking at or a doing. Would
I ha’ gone and killed my poor Susan’s hen if I hadn’t a been beside
myself? and she in her grave, poor dear: no, not for untold gold: and I
be fond of that too--used to be, however: but now I don’t seem to care
for money nor nothing else.” And his head dropped.

“Look here, Maxley, old fellow,” said Alfred sarcastically, “you must go
to the workhouse, and stay there till you hoe a pauper; take him for
a crocodile and kill him; then you will get into an asylum whether the
Barkington magistrates like it or not: that is the _routine,_ I believe;
and as reasonable as most routine.”

Dr. Wycherley admired Alfred for this, and whispered Mr. Osmond, “How
subtly they reason.”

Mr. Hardie did not deign to answer his son, who indeed had spoken at
him, and not to him.

As for poor Maxley, he was in sad and sober earnest, and could not
relish nor even take in Alfred’s irony. He lifted his head and looked
Mr. Hardie in the face.

“You be a hard man,” said he, trembling with emotion. “You robbed me and
my missus of our all; you ha’ broke her heart, and turned my head, and
if I was to come and kill _you,_ ‘twould only be clearing scores. ‘Stead
of that, I comes to you like a lamb, and says give me your name on a
bit of paper, and put me out of harm’s way. ‘No,’ says you, ‘go to the
workhouse!’ Be _you_ in the workhouse--you that owes me nine hundred
pounds and my dead missus?” With this he went into a rage, took a
packet out of his pocket, and flung L. 900 of Mr. Hardie’s paper at Mr.
Hardie’s head before any one could stop him.

But Alfred saw his game, stepped forward, and caught it with one hand,
and with the dexterity of a wicket-keeper, within a foot of his father’s
nose. “How’s that, Umpire?” said he: then, a little sternly, “Don’t do
that again, Mr. Maxley, or I shall have to give you a hiding--to keep up
appearances.” He then put the notes in his pocket, and said quietly, _“I_
shall give you your money for these before the year ends.”

“You won’t be quite so mad as that, I hope,” remonstrated his father.
But he made no reply: they very seldom answered one another now.

“Oh,” said Dr. Wycherley, inspecting him like a human curiosity, “nullum
magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae.”

“Nec parvum sine mixtura stultitiae,” retorted Alfred in a moment and
met his offensive gaze with a point-blank look of supercilious disdain.

Then having shut him up, he turned to Osmond: “Come,” said he,
“prescribe for this poor fellow, who asks for a hospital, so Routine
gives him a workhouse. Come, you know there is no limit to your skill
and good nature: you cured Spot of the worms, cure poor old Maxley of
his snakes: oblige me.”

“That I will, Mr. Alfred,” said Osmond heartily: and wrote a
prescription on a leaf of his memorandum-book, remarking that though a
simple purgative, it had made short work of a great many serpents and
dragons, and not a few spectres and hobgoblins into the bargain.

The young gentleman thanked him graciously, and said kindly to Maxley,
“Get that made up--here’s a guinea--and I’ll send somebody to see how
you are to-morrow.”

The poor man took the guinea, and the prescription, and his head drooped
again, and he slouched away.

Dr. Wycherley remarked significantly that his conduct was worth
imitating by _all persons similarly situated:_ and concluded oracularly:
“Prophylaxis is preferable to therapeusis.”

“Or, as _Porson_ would say, ‘Prevention is better than cure.’”

With this parting blow the Oxonian suddenly sauntered away, unconscious,
it seemed, of the existence of his companions.

“I never saw a plainer case of Incubation,” remarked Dr. Wycherley with
vast benevolence of manner.

“Maxley’s?”

“Oh, no; that is parochial. It is your profoundly interesting son I
alluded to. Did you notice his supercilious departure? _And his morbid
celerity of repartee?_”

Mr. Hardie replied with some little hesitation, “Yes; and, excuse me, I
thought he had rather the best of the battle with you.”

“Indubitably so,” replied Dr. Wycherley: “they always do: at least such
is my experience. If ever I break a lance of wit with an incubator! I
calculate with confidence on being unhorsed with abnormal rapidity,
and rare, indeed, are the instances in which my anticipations are
not promptly and fully realised. By a similar rule of progression the
incubator is seldom a match for the confirmed maniac, either in the
light play of sarcasm, the coruscations of wit or the severer encounters
of dialectical ratiocination.”

“Dear, dear, dear! Then how is one to know a genius from a madman?”
 inquired Jane.

_“By sending for a psychological physician._”

“If I understand the doctor right, the two things are not opposed,”
 remarked Mr. Hardie.

Dr. Wycherley assented, and made a remarkable statement in confirmation:
“One half of the aggregate of the genius of the country is at present
under restraint; fortunately for the community; and still more
fortunately for itself.”

He then put on his gloves, and, with much kindness but solemnity, warned
Mr. Hardie not to neglect his son’s case, nor to suppose that matters
could go on like this without “disintegrating or disorganising the grey
matter of the brain. I admit” said he, “that in some recorded cases of
insanity the brain on dissection has revealed no signs of structural
or functional derangement, and, that, on the other hand, considerable
encephalic disorganisation has been shown to have existed in other cases
without aberration or impairment of the reason: but such phenomena are
to be considered as pathological curiosities, with which the empiric
would fain endeavour to disturb the sound general conclusions of
science. The only safe mode of reasoning on matters so delicate
and profound is _a priori:_ and, as it may safely be assumed as a
self-evident proposition, that disturbed intelligence bears the same
relation to the brain as disordered respiration does to the lungs, it
is not logical, reasoning _a priori,_ to assume the possibility that the
studious or other mental habits of a Kephalalgic, and gifted youth,
can be reversed, and erotic monomania germinate, with all the morbid
phenomena of isolation, dejection of the spirits, and abnormal
exaltation of the powers of wit and ratiocination, without some
considerable impairment, derangement, disturbance, or modification, of
the psychical, motorial, and sensorial functions of the great cerebral
ganglion. But it would be equally absurd to presuppose that these
several functions can be disarranged for months, without more or less
disorganisation of the medullary, or even of the cineritious, matter
of the encephialon. _Therefore_--dissection of your talented son would
doubtless reveal at this moment either steatonatous or atheromatous
deposits in the cerebral blood-vessels, or an encysted abscess, probably
of no very recent origin, or, at the least, considerable inspissation,
and opacity, of the membranes of the encephalon, or more or less pulpy
disorganisation of one or other of the hemispheres of the brain: _good_
morning!!”

“Good morning, sir: and a thousand thanks for your friemidly interest in
my unhappy boy.”

The Psycho-cerebrals “took their departure” (Psycho-cerebral for “went
away”), and left Jane Hardie brimful of anxiety. Alfred was not there to
dispose of the tirade in two words “Petitio principii,” and so smoke on;
and, not being an university woman, she could not keep her eye on the
original assumption while following the series of inferences the learned
doctor built so neatly, story by story, on the foundation _of_ the
quicksand _of_ a loose conjecture.*

     * So novices sitting at a conjuror see him take a wedding-
     ring, and put it in a little box before a lady; then cross
     the theatre with another little box, and put that before
     another lady: “Hey! presto! pass!” in box 2 is discovered a
     wedding-ring, which is instantly _assumed_ to be _the_ ring:
     on this the green minds are fixed, and with this is sham
     business done: Box 1, containing the real ring all the time,
     is overlooked: and the confederate, in livery or not, does
     what he likes with it; imprisons it in an orange--for the
     good of its health.

So poor Argan, when Fleurant enumerates the consequences of his omitting
a single--dose shall I say?--is terrified by the threatened disorders,
which succeed to each other logically enough: all the absurdity being in
the first link of the chain; and from that his mind is diverted.----

“Now not a word of this to Alfred,” said Mr. Hardie. “I shall propose
him a little foreign tour, to amuse his mind.”

“Yes, but papa, if some serious change is really going on inside his
poor head.”

Mr. Hardie smiled sarcastically. “Don’t you see that if the mind can
wound the brain, the mind can cure it?” Then, after a while, he said
parentally, “My child, I must give you a lesson: men of the world use
enthusiasts--like those two I have just been drawing out--for their
tools; we don’t let them make tools of us. Osmond, you know, is jackal
to an asylum in London; Dr. Wycherley, I have heard, keeps two or three
such establishments by himself or his agents: blinded by self-interest
and that of their clique--what an egotistical world it is, to be
sure!--they would confine a melancholy youth in a gloomy house, among
afflicted persons, and give him nothing to do but brood; and so turn
the scale against his reason. But I have my children’s interest at heart
more than my own: I shall send him abroad, and so amuse his mind
with fresh objects, break off sad associations, and restore him to a
brilliant career. I count on you to second me in my little scheme for
his good.”

“That I will, papa.”

“Somehow, I don’t know why, he is coolish to me.”

“He does not understand you as I do, my own papa.”

“But he is affectionate with you, I think.”

“Oh yes, more than ever: trouble has drawn us closer. Papa, in the midst
of our sorrow, how much we have to be thankful for to the Giver of all
good things!”

“Yes, little angel: and you must improve Heaven’s goodness by working on
your brother’s affection, and persuading him to this continental tour.”

Thus appealed to, Jane promised warmly: and the man of the world,
finding he had a blind and willing instrument in the one creature he
loved, kissed her on the forehead, and told her to run away, for here
was Mr. Skinner, who no doubt wanted to speak on business.

Skinner, who had in fact been holding respectfully aloof for some time,
came forward on Jane’s retiring, and in a very obsequious tone requested
a private interview. Mr. Hardie led the way into the little dining-room.

They were no sooner alone than Skinner left off fawning, very abruptly;
and put on a rugged resolute manner that was new to him: “I am come for
my commission,” said he sturdily.

Mr. Hardie looked an inquiry.

“Oh, you don’t know what I mean, of course,” said the little clerk
almost brutally: “I’ve waited, and waited, to see if you would have the
decency, and the gratitude, and the honesty, to offer me a trifle out of
It; but I see I might wait till dooms-day before you would ever think of
thinking of anybody but yourself. So now shell out without more words or
I’ll blow the gaff” The little wretch raised his voice louder and louder
at every sentence.

“Hush! hush! Skinner,” said Mr. Hardie anxiously, “you are under some
delusion. When did ever I decline to recognise your services? I always
intended to make you a present, a handsome present.”

“Then why didn’t ye _do_ it without being forced? Come, sir, you can’t
draw the wool over Noah Skinner’s eyes. I have had you watched, and you
are looking towards the U. S., and that is too big a country for me to
hunt you in. I’m not to be trifled with: I’m not to be palavered: give
me a thousand pounds of It this moment or I’ll blow the whole concern
and you along with it.”

“A thousand pounds!”

“Now look at that!” shrieked Skinner. “Serves me right for not saying
seven thousand. What right have you to a shilling of it more than I
have? If I had the luck to be a burglar’s pal instead of a banker’s, I
should have half. Give it me this moment, or I’ll go to Albion Villa and
have you took up for a thief; as you are.”

“But I haven’t got it on me.”

“That’s a lie: you carry it where _he_ did; close to your heart: I can
see it bulge: there, Job was a patient man, but his patience went at
last.” With this he ran to the window and threw it open.

Hardie entreated him to be calm. “I’ll give it you, Skinner,” said he,
“and with pleasure, if you will give me some security that you will not
turn round, as soon as you have got it, and be my enemy.”

“Enemy of a gent that pays me a thousand pounds? Nonsense! Why should
I? We are in the same boat: behave like a man, and you know you have
nothing to fear from me: but I will--not--go halves in a theft for
nothing: would _you?_ Come, how is it to be, peace or war? Will you be
content with thirteen thousand pounds that don’t belong to you, not
a shilling of it, or will you go to jail a felon, and lose it every
penny?”

Mr. Hardie groaned aloud, but there was no help for it. Skinner was on
sale: and _must_ be bought.

He took out two notes for five hundred pounds each, and laid them on the
table, after taking their numbers.

Skinner’s eyes glistened: “Thank you, sir,” said he. He put them in his
pocket. Then he said quietly, “Now you have taken the numbers, sir; so
I’ll trouble you for a line to make me safe against the criminal law.
You are a deep one; you might say I robbed you.”

“That is a very unworthy suspicion, Skinner, and a childish one.”

“Oh, it is diamond cut diamond. A single line, sir, just to say that in
return for his faithful services, you have given Noah Skinner two notes
for L. 500, Nos. 1084 and 85.”

“With all my heart--on your giving me a receipt for them.”

It was Skinner’s turn to hesitate. After reflecting, however, on all the
possible consequences, he saw nothing to fear; so he consented.

The business completed, a magic change took place in the little clerk.
“Now we are friends again, sir: and I’ll give you a piece of advice.
Mind your eye with Mr. Alfred: he is down on us.”

“What do you mean?” inquired Mr. Hardie with ill-disguised anxiety.

“I’ll tell you, sir. He met me this morning: and says he to me,
‘Skinner, old boy, I want to speak a word to you.’ He puts his hands
on my shoulder, and turns me round, and says he all at one time,
‘The fourteen thousand pounds!’ You might have knocked me down with a
feather. And he looked me through like a gimlet mind ye. ‘Come now,’
says he, ‘you see I know all; make a clean breast of it.’ So then I
saw he didn’t know _all,_ and I brazened up a bit: told him I hadn’t a
notion what he meant. ‘Oh yes, I did,’ he said, ‘Captain Dodd’s fourteen
thousand pounds! It had passed through my hands.’ Then I began to funk
again at his knowing that: perhaps he only guessed it after all: but at
the time I thought he knew it; I was flustered, ye see. But I said,
‘I’d look at the books; but I didn’t think his deposit was anything like
that.’ ‘You little equivocating humbug,’ says he: ‘and which was better,
to tell the truths at once and let Captain Dodd, who never did me any
harm, have his own, or to hear it told me in the felon’s dock?’ Those
were his words, sir: and they made my blood run cold; and if he had gone
on at me like that, I should have split, I know I should: but he just
said, ‘There, your face has given your tongue the lie: you haven’t
brains enough to play the rogue.’ Oh, and another thing--he said he
wouldn’t talk to the sparrow-hawk any more, when there was the kite hard
by: so by that I guess your turn is coming, sir; so mind your eye. And
then he turned his back on me with a look as if I was so much dirt. But
I didn’t mind that; I was glad to be shut of him at any price.”

This intelligence discomposed Mr. Hardie terribly; it did away with all
hope that Alfred meant to keep his suspicions to himself. “Why did you
not tell me this before?” said he reproachfully.

Skinner’s sharp visage seemed to sharpen as he replied, “Because I
wanted a thousand pounds first.”

“Curse your low cunning!”

Skinner laughed. “Good-bye, sir: take care of yourself and I’ll take
care of mine. I’m afraid of Mr. Alfred and the stone jug, so I’m off to
London, and there I’ll un-Skinner myself into Mr. Something or other,
and make my thousand pounds breed ten.” And he whipped out, leaving his
master filled with rage and dismay.

“Outwitted even by this little wretch!”

He was now accountable for fourteen thousand pounds, and had only
thirteen thousand left, if forced to reimburse; so that it was quite on
the cards for him to lose a thousand pounds by robbing his neighbour
and risking his own immortal jewel. This galled him to the quick; and
altogether his equable temper began to give way; it had already survived
half the iron of his nerves. He walked up and down the parlour chafing
like an irritated lion. In which state of his mind the one enemy he now
feared and hated walked quietly into the room, and begged for a little
serious conversation with him.

“It is like your effrontery,” said Mr. Hardie: “I wonder you are not
ashamed to look your father in the face.”

“Having wronged nobody I can look anybody in the face,” replied Alfred,
looking him in the face point-blank.

At this swift rejoinder, Mr. Hardie felt like a too confident swordsman,
who, attacking in a passion suddenly receives a prick that shows him his
antagonist is not one to be trifled with. He was on his guard directly,
and said coldly, “You have been belying me to my very clerk.”

“No, sir: you are mistaken; I have never mentioned your name to your
clerk.”

Mr. Hardie reflected on what Skinner had told him, and found he had
made another false move. He tried again: “Nor to the Dodds?” with an
incredulous sneer.

“Nor to the Dodds,” replied Alfred calmly.

“What, not to Miss Julia Dodd?”

“No, sir, I have seen her but once, since--I discovered about the
fourteen thousand pounds.”

“What fourteen thousand pounds?” inquired Mr. Hardie innocently.

“What fourteen thousand pounds!” repeated the young man disdainfully.
Then suddenly turning on his father, with red brow and flashing eyes:
“The fourteen thousand pounds Captain Dodd brought home from India:
the fourteen thousand pounds I heard him claim of you with curses:
ay, miserable son, and miserable man, that I am, I heard my own father
called a villain; and what did my father reply? Did you hurl the words
back into your accuser’s throat? No: you whispered, ‘Hush! hush! I’ll
bring it you down.’ Oh, what a hell Shame is!”

Mr. Hardie turned pale, and almost sick: with these words of Alfred’s
fled all hope of ever deceiving him.

“There, there,” said the young man, lowering his voice from rage to
profound sorrow: “I don’t come here to quarrel with my father, nor to
insult him, God knows: and I entreat you for both our sakes not to try
my temper too hard by these childish attempts to blind me: and, sir,
pray dismiss from your mind the notion that I have disclosed to any
living soul my knowledge of this horrible secret: on the contrary, I
have kept it gnawing my heart and almost maddening me at times. For my
own personal satisfaction I have applied a test both to you and Skinner;
but that is all I have done: I have not told dear Julia, nor any of her
family; and now, if you will only listen to me, and do what I entreat
you to do, she shall never know; oh, never.”

“Oho!” thought Mr. Hardie, “he comes with a proposal: I’ll hear it,
anyway.”

He then took a line well known to artful men: he encouraged Alfred to
show his hand; maintaining a complete reserve as to his own; “You say
you did not communicate your illusion about this fourteen thousand
pounds to Julia Dodd that night: May I ask then (without indiscretion)
what did pass between you two?”

“I will tell you, sir. She saw me standing there, and asked me in her
own soft angel voice if I was unhappy. I told her I must be a poor
creature if I could be happy. Then she asked me, with some hesitation I
thought, why I was unhappy. I said, because I could not see the path of
honour and duty clear: that at least was the purport. Then she told me
that in all difficulties she had found the best way was to pray to God
to guide her; and she begged me to lay my care before Him and ask His
counsel. And then I thanked her; and bade her good-night, and she me;
and that was all that passed between us two unhappy lovers, whom you
have made miserable; and even cool to one another; but not hostile to
you. And you played the spy on us, sir; and misunderstood us, as spies
generally do. Ah, sir! a few months ago you would not have condescended
to that.”

Mr. Hardie coloured, but did not reply. He had passed from the irritable
into the quietly vindictive stage.

Alfred then deprecated further discussion of what was past, and said
abruptly, “I have an offer to make you: in a very short time I shall
have ten thousand pounds; I will not resign my whole fortune; that would
be unjust to myself, and my wife; and I loathe and despise Injustice in
all its forms, however romantic or plausible. But, if you will give the
Dodds their L. 14,000, I will share my little fortune equally with you:
and thank you, and bless you. Consider, sir, with your abilities and
experience five thousand pounds may yet be the nucleus of a fortune; a
fortune built on an honourable foundation. I know you will thrive
with my five thousand pounds ten times more than with their fourteen
thousand; and enjoy the blessing of blessings, a clear conscience.”

Now this offer was no sooner made than Mr. Hardie shut his face, and
went to mental arithmetic, like one doing a sum behind a thick door. He
would have taken ten thousand: but five thousand did not much tempt him:
besides, would it be five thousand clear? He already owed Alfred two
thousand five hundred. It flashed through him that a young man who
loathed and despised Injustice--even to himself--would not consent to be
diddled by him out of one sum while making him a present of another:
and then there was Skinner’s thousand to be reimbursed. He therefore
declined in these terms:

“This offer shows me you are sincere in these strange notions you have
taken up. I am sorry for it: it looks like insanity. These nocturnal
illusions, these imaginary sights and sounds, come of brooding on a
single idea, and often usher in a calamity one trembles to think of. You
have made me a proposal: I make you one: take a couple of hundred pounds
(I’ll get it from your trustees) and travel the Continent for four
months; enlarge and amuse your mind with the contemplation of nature and
manners and customs; and if that does not clear this phantom L. 14,000
out of your head, I am much mistaken.”

Alfred replied that foreign travel was his dream: but he could not leave
Barkington while there was an act of justice to be done.

“Then do me justice, boy,” said Mr. Hardie, with wonderful dignity, all
things considered. “Instead of brooding on your one fantastical idea,
and shutting out all rational evidence to the contrary, take the trouble
to look through my books: and they will reveal to you a fortune, not of
fourteen thousand, but of eighty thousand pounds, honourably sacrificed
in the vain struggle to fulfil my engagements: who, do you think, will
believe, against such evidence, the preposterous tale you have concocted
against your poor father? Already the tide is turning, and all who have
seen the accounts of the Bank pity me; they will pity me still more if
ever they hear my own flesh and blood insults me in the moment of my
fall; sees me ruined by my honesty and living in a hovel, yet comes into
that poor but honest abode, and stabs me to the heart by accusing me of
stealing fourteen thousand pounds: a sum that would have saved me, if I
could only have laid my hands on it.”

He hid his face, to conceal its incongruous expression: and heaved a
deep sigh.

Alfred turned his head away and groaned.

After a while he rose from his seat and went to the door; but seemed
reluctant to go: he cast a longing, lingering look on his father, and
said beseechingly: “Oh think! you are not my flesh and blood more than
I am yours; is all the love to be on my side? Have I no influence even
when right is on my side?” Then he suddenly turned and threw himself
impetuously on his knees: “Your father was the soul of honour; your
son loathed fraud and injustice from his cradle; you stand between two
generations of Hardies, and belong to neither; do but reflect one moment
how bright a thing honour is, how short and uncertain a thing life is,
how sure a thing retribution is, in this world or the next: it is your
guardian angel that kneels before you now, and not your son: oh, for
Christ’s sake, for my mother’s sake, listen to my last appeal. You don’t
know me: I cannot compound with injustice. Pity me, pity her I love,
pity yourself!”

“You young viper!” cried the father, stung with remorse, but not touched
with penitence. “Get away, you amorous young hypocrite; get out of my
house, get out of my sight, or I shall spurn you and curse you at my
feet.”

“Enough!” said Alfred, rising and turning suddenly calm as a statue:
“let us be gentlemen, if you please, even though we must be enemies.
Good-bye, my father that _was._”

And he walked gently out of the room, and, as he passed the window Mr.
Hardie heard his great heart sob.

He wiped his forehead with his handkerchief. “A hard tussle,” thought
he, “and with my own unnatural, ungrateful flesh and blood, but I have
won it: he hasn’t told the Dodds; he never will; and, if he did, who
would believe him, or them?”

At dinner there was no Alfred; but after dinner a note to Jane informing
her he had taken lodgings in the town, and requesting her to send his
books and clothes in the evening. Jane handed the note to her father:
and sighed deeply. Watching his face as he read it, she saw him turn
rather pale, and look more furrowed than ever.

“Papa!” said she, “what _does_ it all mean!”

“I am thinking.”

Then, after a long pause, he ground his teeth and said, “It means--War:
War between my own son and me.”



CHAPTER XXVI

LONG before this open rupture Jane Hardie had asked her father
sorrowfully, whether she was to discontinue her intimacy with the
Dodds: she thought of course he would say “Yes;” and it cost her a hard
struggle between inclination and filial duty to raise the question. But
Mr. Hardie was anxious her friendship with that family should continue;
it furnished a channel of news, and in case of detection might be useful
to avert or soften hostilities; so he answered rather sharply, “On no
account: the Dodds are an estimable family: pray be as friendly
with them as ever you can.” Jane coloured with pleasure at this most
unexpected reply; but her wakeful conscience reminded her, this answer
was given in ignorance of her attachment to Edward Dodd, and urged
her to confession. But at that Nature recoiled: Edward had not openly
declared his love to her; so modest pride, as well as modest shame,
combined with female cowardice to hold back the avowal.

So then Miss Tender Conscience tormented herself; and recorded the
struggle in her diary; but briefly, and in terms vague and typical; not
a word about “a young man”--or “crossed in love”--but one obscure and
hasty slap at the carnal affections, and a good deal about “the saints
in prison,” and “the battle of Armageddon.”

Yet, to do her justice, laxity of expression did not act upon her
conduct and warp that as it does most mystical speakers.

To obey her father to the letter, she maintained a friendly
correspondence with Julia Dodd, exchanging letters daily; but, not to
disobey him in the spirit, she ceased to visit Albion Villa. Thus she
avoided Edward, and extracted from the situation the utmost self-denial,
and the least possible amount of “carnal pleasure,” as she naively
denominated an interchange of worldly affection, however distant and
respectful.

One day she happened to mention her diary, and say it was a present
comfort to her, and instructive to review. Julia, catching at every
straw of consolation, said she would keep one too, and asked a sight
of Jane’s for a model. “No, dear friend,” said Jane: “a diary should be
one’s self on paper.”

This was fortunate: it precluded that servile imitation, in which her
sex excels even mine; and consequently the two records reflect two good
girls, instead of one in two skins; and may be trusted to conduct this
narrative forward, and relieve its monotony a little: only, of course,
the reader must not expect to see the plot of a story carried minutely
out in two crude compositions written with an object so distinct: he
must watch for glimpses and make the most of indications. Nor is this an
excessive demand upon his intelligence; for, if he cannot do this with
a book, how will he do it in real life, where male and female characters
reveal their true selves by glimpses only, and the gravest and most
dramatic events give the diviner so few and faint signs of their coming?


     _Extracts from Julia Dodd’s Diary._

_“Dec. 5th._--It is all over; they have taken papa away to an asylum:
and the house is like a grave, but for our outbursts of sorrow. Just
before he went away the medal came--oh no, I cannot. Poor, poor mamma!

“8 P. M. In the midst of our affliction Heaven sent us a ray of comfort:
the kindest letter from a lady, a perfect stranger. It came yesterday;
but now I have got it to copy: oh, bless it; and the good, kind writer.”


“‘DEAR MADAM,--I scarcely know whether to hope or to fear that your good
husband may have mentioned my name to you: however, he is just the
man to pass over both my misbehaviour and his own gallantry; so I beg
permission to introduce myself. I and my little boy were passengers by
the _Agra;_ I was spoiled by a long residence in India, and gave your
husband sore trouble by resisting discipline, refusing to put out my
light at nine o’clock, and in short by being an unreasonable woman, or
rather a spoiled child. Well, all my little attempts at a feud failed;
Captain Dodd did his duty, and kept his temper provokingly; the only
revenge he took was a noble one; he jumped into the sea after my darling
Freddy, and saved him from a watery grave, and his mother from madness
or death; yet he was himself hardly recovered from a wound he had
received in defending us all against pirates. Need I say more to one who
is herself a mother? You will know how our little misunderstanding ended
after that. As soon as we were friends I made him talk of his family;
yourself, Edward, Julia, I seem to know you all.

“‘When the ruffian, who succeeded our good captain, had wrecked poor us,
and then deserted us, your husband resumed the command, and saved Freddy
and me once more by his courage, his wonderful coolness, and his
skill. Since then the mouse has been at work for the lion: I despair of
conveying any pleasure by it to a character so elevated as Captain Dodd;
his reward must be his own conscience; but we poor little women like
external shows, do we not? and so I thought a medal of the Humane
Society might give some pleasure to you and Miss Dodd. Never did medal
nor order repose on a nobler heart. The case was so strong, and so well
supported, that the society did not hesitate: and you will receive it
very soon after this.

“‘You will be surprised, dear madam, at all this from a stranger to
yourself, and will perhaps set it down to a wish to intrude on your
acquaintance. Well, then, dear madam, you will not be far wrong.
I _should_ like much to know one, whose character I already seem
acquainted with; and to convey personally my gratitude and admiration of
your husband: I could pour it out more freely to you, you know, than to
him.--I am, dear Madam, Yours very faithfully,

“‘LOUISA BERESFORD.’”


“And the medal came about an hour before the fly to take him away. His
dear name was on it and his brave courageous acts.

“Oh, shall I ever be old enough and hard enough to speak of this without
stopping to cry?

“We fastened it round his dear neck with a ribbon. Mamma would put
it inside his clothes for fear the silver should tempt some wretch; I
should never have thought of that: is there a creature so base? And we
told the men how he had gained it (they were servants of the asylum),
and we showed them how brave and good he was, and would be again if they
would be kind to him and cure him. And mamma bribed them with money to
use him kindly: I thought they would be offended and refuse it: but they
took it, and their faces showed she was wiser than I am. _He_ keeps away
from us too. It is nearly a fortnight now.”

_“Dec. 7th._--Aunt Eve left to-day. Mamma kept her room and could not
speak to her; cannot forgive her interfering between papa and her. It
does seem strange that any one but mamma should be able to send papa out
of the house, and to such a place; but it is the law: and Edward, who
is all good sense, says it was necessary. He says mamma is unjust; grief
makes her unreasonable. I don’t know who is in the right: and I don’t
much care; but I know I am sorry for Aunt Eve, and very, very sorry for
mamma.”

_“Dec. 8th._--I am an egotist: found myself out this morning; and it is
a good thing to keep a diary. It* was overpowered at first by grief for
mamma: but now the house is sad and quiet I am always thinking of _him;_
and that is egotism.

     * Egotism. The abstract quality evolved from the concrete
     term egotist by feminine art, without the aid of grammar.

“Why _does_ he stay away so? I almost wish I could think it was coldness
or diminished affection; for I fear something worse; something to make
_him_ wretched. Those dreadful words papa spoke before he was afflicted!
words I will never put on paper; but they ring in my ears still; they
appal me: and then found at their very door! Ah! and I knew I _should_
find him near that house. And now _he_ keeps away.”

_“Dec. 9th._--All day trying to comfort mamma. She made a great effort
and wrote to Mrs. Beresford.”


     POOR MAMMA’S LETTER


“DEAR MADAM,--Your kind and valued letter reached us in deep affliction;
and I am little able to reply to you as you deserve. My poor husband is
very ill; so ill that he no longer remembers the past, neither the brave
acts that have won him your esteem, nor even the face of his loving and
unhappy wife, who now thanks you with many tears for your sweet letter.
Heart-broken as my children and I are, we yet derive some consolation
from it. We have tied the medal round his neck, madam, and thank you far
more than we can find words to express.

“In conclusion, I pray Heaven that, in your bitterest hour, you may
find the consolation you have administered to us: no, no, I pray you
may never, never stand in such need of comfort--I am dear madam, yours
gratefully and sincerely,

“LUCY DODD.”


_“Dec. 10th, Sunday._--At St. Anne’s in the morning. Tried hard to apply
the sermon. He spoke of griefs, but _so_ coldly; surely he never felt
one; _he_ was not there. Mem.: always pray against wandering thoughts on
entering church.”

_“Dec. 11th._--A diary is a dreadful thing. Everything must go down now,
and, amongst the rest that the poor are selfish. I could not interest
one of mine in mamma’s sorrows; no, they must run back to their own
little sordid troubles, about money and things. I was so provoked with
Mrs. Jackson (she owes mamma so much) that I left her hastily; and that
was Impatience. I had a mind to go back to her; but would not; and that
was Pride. Where is my Christianity?

“A kind letter from Jane Hardie. But no word of _him._”

_“Dec. 12th._--To-day Edward told me plump I must not go on taking
things out of the house for the poor: mamma gave me the reason. ‘We are
poor ourselves, thanks to----’ And then she stopped. Does she suspect?
How can she? She did hear not those two dreadful words of papa’s? They
are like two arrows in my heart. And so we are poor: she says we have
scarcely anything to live upon after paying the two hundred and fifty
pounds a year for papa.”

_“Dec. 13th._--A comforting letter from Jane. She sends me Hebrews xii.
11, and says, ‘Let us take a part of the Bible, and read two chapters
prayerfully at the same hour of the day: will ten o’clock in the morning
suit you? and, if so, will you choose where to begin?’ I will, sweet
friend, I will; and then, though some cruel mystery keeps us apart, our
souls will be together over the sacred page, as I hope they will one day
be together in heaven; yours will, at any rate. Wrote back, yes, and
a thousand thanks, and should like to begin with the Psalms; they are
sorrowful, and so are we. And I must pray not to think too much of
_him._

“If everything is to be put down one does, I cried long and bitterly to
find I had written that I must pray to God against _him._”

_“Dec. 14th._--It is plain he never means to come again. Mamma says
nothing, but that is out of pity for me: I have not read her dear face
all these years for nothing. She is beginning to think him unworthy,
when she thinks of him at all.”

“There is a mystery; a dreadful mystery; may he not be as mystified, too,
and perhaps tortured like me with doubts and suspicions? They say he is
pale and dejected. Poor thing!

“But then, oh why not come to me and say so? Shall I write to him? No, I
will cut my hand off sooner.”

_“Dec. 16th._--A blessed letter from Jane. She says, ‘Letter writing on
ordinary subjects is a sad waste of time and very unpardonable among His
people.’ And so it is; and my weak hope, daily disappointed, that there
may be something in her letter, only shows how inferior I am to my
beloved friend. She says, ‘I should like to fix another hour for us two
to meet at the Throne together: will five o’clock suit you? We dine at
six; but I am never more than half an hour dressing.’

“The friendship of this saint, and her bright example, is what Heaven
sends me in infinite mercy and goodness to sooth my aching heart a
little: for _him_ I shall never see again.

“I have seen him this very evening.”

“It was a beautiful night: I went to look at--the world to come I
call it--for I believe the redeemed are to inhabit those very stars
hereafter, and visit them all in turn--and this world I now find is a
world of sorrow and disappointment--so I went on the balcony to look at
a better one: and oh it seemed so holy, so calm, so pure, that heavenly
world I gazed and stretched my hands towards it for ever so little of
its holiness and purity; and, that moment I heard a sigh. I looked,
and there stood a gentleman just outside our gate, and it was _him._ I
nearly screamed, and my heart beat so. He did not see me: for I had come
out softly, and his poor head was down, down upon his breast; and he
used to carry it so high, a little, little, while ago--too high some
said; but not I. I looked, and my misgivings melted away, it flashed
on me as if one of those stars had written it with its own light in my
heart--‘There stands Grief; not Guilt.’ And before I knew what I was
about I had whispered ‘Alfred!’ The poor boy started and ran towards me:
but stopped short and sighed again. My heart yearned; but it was not for
me to make advances to him, after his unkindness: so I spoke to him as
coldly as ever I could, and I said, ‘You are unhappy.’

“He looked up to me, and then I saw even by that light that he
is enduring a bitter, bitter struggle: _so_ pale, _so_ worn, _so_
dragged!--Now how many times have I cried, this last month? more than in
all the rest of my life a great deal.--‘Unhappy!’ he said; ‘I must be
a contemptible thing if I was not unhappy.’ And then he asked me should
not I despise him if he was happy. I did not answer that: but I asked
him why he was unhappy. And when I had, I was half frightened; for he
never evades a question the least bit.

“He held his head higher still, and said, ‘I am unhappy because I cannot
see the path of honour.’

“Then I babbled something, I forget what: then he went on like this--ah,
I never forget what _he_ says--he said Cicero says ‘AEquitas ipsa lucet
per se; something significat* something else:’ and he repeated it slowly
for me--he knows I know a little Latin; and told me that was as much as
to say ‘Justice is so clear a thing, that whoever hesitates must be on
the road of wrong. And yet,’ he said bitterly, ‘_I_ hesitate and doubt,
in a matter of right and wrong, like an Academic philosopher weighing
and balancing mere speculative straws.’ Those were his very words. ‘And
so,’ said he, ‘I am miserable; deserving to be miserable.’

     *Dubitatio cogitationem significat injuriae.

“Then I ventured to remind him that he, and I, and all Christian souls,
had a resource not known to heathen philosophers, however able. And I
said, ‘Dear Alfred, when I am in doubt and difficulty, I go and pray to
Him to guide me aright: have you done so?’ No, that had never occurred
to him: but he would, if I made a point of it; and at any rate he could
not go on in this way. I should soon see him again, and, once his mind
was made up, no shrinking from mere consequences, he promised me. Then
we bade one another good night and he went off holding his head as
proudly as he used: and poor silly me fluttered, and nearly hysterical,
as soon as I quite lost sight of him.”

_“Dec. 17th._--At church in the morning: a good sermon. Notes and
analysis. In the evening Jane’s clergyman preached. She came. Going out
I asked her a question about what we had heard; but she did not answer
me. At parting she told me she made it a rule not to speak coming from
church, not even about the sermon. This seemed austere to poor me. But
of course she is right. Oh, that I was like her.”

_“Dec. 18th._--Edward is coming out. This boy, that one has taught all
the French, all the dancing, and nearly all the Latin he knows, turns
out to be one’s superior, infinitely: I mean in practical good sense.
Mamma had taken her pearls to the jeweller and borrowed two hundred
pounds. He found this out and objected. She told him a part of it was
required to keep him at Oxford. ‘Oh indeed,’ said he: and we thought of
course there was an end: but next morning he was off before breakfast
and the day after he returned from Oxford with his caution money, forty
pounds, and gave it mamma; she had forgotten all about it. And he had
taken his name off the college books and left the university for ever.
The poor, gentle tears of mortification ran down his mother’s cheeks,
and I hung round her neck, and scolded him like a vixen--as I am. We
might have spared tears and fury both, for he is neither to be melted
nor irritated by poor little us. He kissed us and coaxed us like a
superior being, and set to work in his quiet, sober, ponderous way, and
proved us a couple of fools to our entire satisfaction, and that without
an unkind word! for he is as gentle as a lamb, and as strong as ten
thousand elephants. He took the money back and brought the pearls
home again, and he has written ‘SOYEZ DE VOTRE SIECLE’ in great large
letters, and has pasted it on all our three bed-room doors, inside. And
he has been all these years quietly cutting up the _Morning Advertiser,_
and arranging the slips with wonderful skill and method. He calls it
‘digesting the _Tiser!’_ and you can’t ask for any _modern_ information,
great or small, but he’ll find you something about it in this digest.
Such a folio! It takes a man to open and shut it. And he means to be
a sort of little papa in this house, and mamma means to let him. And
indeed it is so sweet to be commanded; besides, it saves thinking for
oneself, and that is such a worry.”

_“Dec. 19th._--Yes, they have settled it: we are to leave here, and live
in lodgings to save servants. How we are to exist even so, mamma cannot
see; but Edward can: he says we two have got popular talents, and _he
knows the markets_ (what does that mean, I wonder), and the world in
general. I asked him wherever he picked it up, his knowledge: he said,
‘In the _‘Tiser.’_ I asked him would he leave the place where _she_
lives. He looked sad, but said, ‘Yes: for the good of us all.’ So he is
better than I am; but who is not? I wasted an imploring look on him; but
not on mamma: she looked back to me, and then said sadly, ‘Wait a few
days, Edward, for--_my_ sake.’ That meant for poor credulous Julia’s,
who still believes in him. My sweet mother!”

_“Dec. 21st._--Told Mamma to-day I would go for a governess, to help
her, since we are all ruined. She kissed me and trembled; but she did
not say ‘No;’ so it will come to that. He will be sorry. When I do go,
I think I shall find courage to send him a line: just to say I am sure
_he_ is not to blame for withdrawing. Indeed how could I ever marry a
man whose father I have heard my father call----” (the pen was drawn
through the rest).

_“Dec. 22nd._--A miserable day: low spirited and hysterical. We are
really going away. Edward has begun to make packing-cases: I stood over
him and sighed, and asked him questions: he said he was going to take
unfurnished rooms in London, send up what furniture is absolutely
necessary, and sell the rest by auction, with the lease of our
dear, dear house, where we were all so happy once. So, what with his
‘knowledge of the markets, and the world,’ and his sense, and his strong
will, we have only to submit. And then he is so kind, too: ‘Don’t cry,
little girl,’ he said. ‘Not but what I could turn on the waters myself
if there was anything to be gained by it. _Shall_ I cry, Ju,’ said he,
‘or shall I whistle? I think I’ll whistle.’ And he whistled a tune right
through while he worked with a heart as sick as my own, perhaps. Poor
Edward!”

_“Dec. 23rd._--My Christian friend has her griefs, too. But then _she_
puts them to profit: she says today, ‘We are both tasting the same
flesh-crucifying but soul-profiting experience.’ Her every word is
a rebuke to me: torn at this solemn season of the year with earthly
passions. Went down after reading her letter, and played and sang the
_Gloria in Excelsis_ of Pergolesi, with all my soul. So then I repeated
it, and burst out crying in the middle. Oh shame! shame!”

_“Dec. 24th._--Edward started for London at five in the morning to take
a place for us. The servants were next told, and received warning;
the one we had the poorest opinion of, she is such a flirt, cried, and
begged mamma to let her share our fallen fortunes, and said she could
cook a little and would do her best. I kissed her violently, and quite
forgot I was a young lady till she herself reminded me; and she looked
frightened at mamma. But mamma only smiled through her tears and said,
‘Think of it quietly, Sarah, before you commit yourself.’”


“I am now sitting in my old room, cold as a stone: for I have packed up
some things: so the first step is actually taken. Oh, if I but knew
that he was happy! Then I could endure anything. But how can I think
so? Well, I will go, and never tell a soul what I suspect, and he cannot
tell, even if he knows: for it is his father. Jane, too, avoids all
mention of her own father and brother more than is natural. Oh, if I
could only be a child again!

“Regrets are vain; I will cease even to record them; these diaries feed
one’s selfishness, and the unfortunate passion, that will make me a bad
daughter and an ungrateful soldier of Him who was born as to-morrow: to
your knees, false Christian! to your knees!”


“I am calmer now; and feel resigned to the will of Heaven; or benumbed;
or something. I will pack this box and then go down and comfort my
mother; and visit my poor people, perhaps for the last time: ah me!

“A knock at the street door! his knock! I know every echo of his hand,
and his foot. Where is my composure now? I flutter like a bird. I will
not go down. He will think I love him so.

“At least I will wait till he has nearly gone.

“Elizabeth has come to say I am wanted in the drawing-room.

“So I _must_ go down whether I like or no.

“Bedtime. Oh that I had the pen of a writer to record the scene I have
witnessed, worthily. When I came in, I found mamma and him both seated
in dead silence. He rose and looked at me and I at him: and years seemed
to have rolled over his face since last I saw it. I was obliged to turn
my head away; I curtseyed to him distantly, and may Heaven forgive me
for that: and we sat down, and presently turned round and all looked
at one another like the ghosts of the happy creatures we once were
altogether.

“Then Alfred began, not in his old imperative voice, but scarce above
a whisper; and oh the words such as none but himself in the wide world
would have spoken--I love him better than ever; I pity him; I adore him;
he is a scholar; he is a chevalier; he is the soul of honour; he is the
most unfortunate and proudest gentleman beneath the sun; oh, my darling!
my darling!!

“He said, ‘Mrs. Dodd, and you Miss Dodd, whom I loved before I lost the
right to ask you to be mine, and whom I shall love to the last hour of
my miserable existence, I am come to explain my own conduct to you,
and to do you an act of simple justice, too long delayed. To begin with
myself, you must know that my understanding is of the Academic School: I
incline to weigh proofs before I make up my mind. But then I differ
from that school in this, that I cannot think myself to an eternal
standstill; (such an expression! but what does that matter, it was
_his;)_ I am a man of action: in Hamlet’s place I should have either
turned my ghost into ridicule, or my uncle into a ghost; so I kept away
from you while in doubt, but now I doubt no longer. I take my line:
ladies, you have been swindled out of a large sum of money.

“My blood ran cold at these words. Surely nothing on earth but a man
could say this right out like that.

“Mamma and I looked at one another; and what did I see in her face,
for the first time? Why that she had her suspicions too, and had been
keeping them from me. Pitying angel!

“He went on: ‘Captain Dodd brought home several thousand pounds?’

“Mamma said ‘Yes.’ And I think she was going to say how much, but he
stopped her and made her write the amount in an envelope, while he took
another and wrote in it with his pencil. He took both envelopes to me,
and asked me to read them out in turn: I did, and mamma’s said fourteen
thousand pounds: and his said fourteen thousand pounds. Mamma looked
such a look at me.

“Then he turned to me: ‘Miss Dodd, do you remember that night you and
I met at Richard Hardie’s door? Well, scarce five minutes before that,
your father was standing on our lawn and called to the man, who was my
father, in a loud voice--it rings in my ears now--“Hardie, Villain! give
me back my money, my fourteen thousand pounds! give me my children’s
money, or may your children die before your eyes.” Ah, you wince to hear
me whisper these dreadful words: what if you had been where I was and
heard them spoken, and in a terrible voice; the voice of Despair; the
voice of Truth! Soon a window opened cautiously, and a voice whispered,
“Hush! I’ll bring it you down.” And _this_ voice was the voice of fear,
of dishonesty, and of Richard Hardie.’

“He turned deadly white when he said this, and I cried to mamma, ‘Oh,
stop him! stop him!’ And she said, ‘Alfred, think what you are saying.
Why do you tell us what we had better never know?’ He answered directly.

“‘Because it is the truth: and because I loathe injustice. Some time
afterwards I taxed Mr. Richard Hardie with this fourteen thousand
pounds: and his face betrayed him. I taxed his clerk, Skinner: and
Skinner’s face betrayed him: and he fled the town that very night.

“My mother looked much distressed and said, ‘To what end do you raise
this pitiable subject? Your father is a bankrupt, and we but suffer with
the rest.’

“‘No, no,’ said he, ‘I have looked through the bankrupt’s books, and
there is no mention of the sum. And then who brought Captain Dodd here?
Skinner? and Skinner is his detected confederate. It is clear to me poor
Captain Dodd trusted that sum to _us_ before he had the fit; beyond this
all is conjecture.’

“Mamma looked at me again, and said, ‘What am I to do; or say?’

‘I screamed, ‘Do nothing, say nothing: oh pray, pray make him hold his
tongue, and let the vile money go. It is not _his_ fault.’

“‘Do?’ said the obstinate creature: ‘why tell Edward, and let him employ
a sharp attorney: you have a supple antagonist and a daring one. Need I
say I have tried persuasion, and even bribes: but he defies me. Set an
attorney on him, or the police. Fiat Justitia, ruat coelum.’ I put both
hands out to him and burst out ‘Oh, Alfred, why did you tell? A son
expose his own father? For shame; for shame! I have suspected it all
long ago: but _I_ would never have told.’

“He started a little; but said, ‘Miss Dodd, you were very generous to
me: but that is not exactly a reason why I should be a cur to you; and
an accomplice in a theft by which you suffer. I have no pretensions to
religion like my sister: so I can’t afford to tamper with plain right
and wrong. What, look calmly on and see one man defraud another? I can’t
do it. See _you_ defrauded? you, Mrs. Dodd, for whom I profess affection
and friendship? You, Miss Dodd, for whom I profess love and constancy?
Stand and see you swindled into poverty? Of what do you think I am made?
My stomach rises against it, my blood boils against it, my flesh creeps
at it, my soul loathes it:’ then after this great burst he seemed to
turn _so_ feeble: ‘Oh,’ said he, faltering, ‘I know what I have done;
I have signed the death warrant of our love, dear to me as life. But I
can’t help it. Oh, Julia, Julia, my lost love, you can never look on me
again; you must not love a man you cannot marry. Cheat Hardie’s wretched
son. But what could I do? Fate offers me but the miserable choice of
desolation or cowardly rascality. I choose desolation and I mean to
stand by my choice like a man. So good-bye, ladies.’

“The poor proud creature rose from his seat, and bowed stiffly and
haughtily to us both, and was going away without another word, and I do
believe for ever. But his soul had been too great for his body; his
poor lips turned pale and he staggered; and would have fallen, but mamma
screamed to me, and she he loves so dearly, and abandons so cruelly,
woke from a stupor of despair, and flew and caught him fainting in these
arms.”



CHAPTER XXVII

“WE laid the poor proud creature on the sofa, and bathed his face with
eau de Cologne. He spoke directly, and said that was nice, and ‘His
head! his head!’ And I don’t think he was ever quite insensible, but he
did not know what was going on, for presently he opened his eyes wide,
and stared at us so, and then closed them with, oh such a sigh; it
swelled my heart almost to bursting. And to think I could say nothing:
but mamma soothed him and insisted on his keeping quiet; for he wanted
to run away from us. She was never so good to him before: she said, ‘My
dear child, you have my pity and my esteem; alas! that at your age you
should be tried like this. How few in this sorry world would have acted
like you: I should have sided with my own flesh and blood, for one.’

“‘What, right or wrong?’ he asked.

“‘Yes,’ said she, ‘right or wrong.’ Then she turned to me: ‘Julia, shall
all the generosity be on his side?’

“I kissed her and clung to her, but dared not speak; but I was mad
enough to hope, I scarcely know what, till she said in the same kind,
sorrowful voice, ‘I agree with you; you can never be my son; nor Julia’s
husband. But as for that money, it revolts me to proceed to extremes
against one, who after all is your father, my poor, poor, chivalrous
boy.’ But she would decide nothing without Edward; he had taken his
father’s place in this house. So then I gave all up, for Edward is made
of iron. Alfred was clearer sighted than I, and never had a hope: he put
his arm round mamma and kissed her, and she kissed him: and he kissed my
hand, and crept away, and I heard his step on the stair, and on the road
ever so far, and life seemed ended for me when I heard it no more.

“Edward has come home. Mamma told him all: he listened gravely: I hung
upon his hips; and at last the oracle spoke; and said ‘This is a nice
muddle.’

“More we could not get from him; he must sleep on it. O suspense! you
torture! He had seen a place he thinks will suit us: it is a bad
omen his saying that so soon after. As I went to bed I could not help
whispering, ‘If he and I are parted, so will you and Jane.’ The
cruel boy answered me  _out loud,_ ‘Thank you, little girl: that is a
temptation; and you have put me on my guard.’

“Oh, how hard it is to understand a _man!_ they _are_ so impracticable
with their justice and things. I came away with my cheeks burning, and
my heart like a stone; to bed, but not to sleep. My poor, poor unhappy,
noble Alfred!”

_“Dec. 27th._--Mamma and Edward have discussed it: they say nothing to
me. Can they have written to him? I go about my duties like a ghost; and
pray for submission to the Divine will.”

_“Dec. 28th_--To-day as I was reading by main force to Mrs. Eagleton’s
sick girl, came Sarah all in a hurry with, I was wanted, Miss. But I
_would_ finish my chapter, and O how hard the devil tried to make
me gabble it; so I clenched my teeth at him, and read it as if I was
spelling it; and then _didn’t_ I fly?

_“He_ was there; and they all sat waiting for me. I was hot and cold all
at the same time, and he rose and bowed to me, and I curtseyed to him,
and sat down and took my work, and didn’t know one bit what I was doing.

“And our new oracle, Edward, laid down the law like anything. ‘Look
here, Hardie,’ said he, ‘if anybody but you had told us about this
fourteen thousand pounds, I should have set the police on your governor
before now. But it seems to me a shabby thing to attack a father on the
son’s information, especially when it’s out of love for one of us he has
denounced his own flesh and blood.’”

“‘No, no,’ said Alfred eagerly, ‘out of love of justice.’”

“‘Ah, you think so, my fine fellow, but you would not have done it for a
stranger,’ said Edward. Then he went on: ‘Of all blunders, the worst is
to fall between two stools. Look here, mamma: we decide, for the son’s
sake, not to attack the father: after that it would be very inconsistent
to turn the cold shoulder to the son. Another thing, who suffers most
by this fraud? Why the man that marries Julia.’ Alfred burst out
impetuously, ‘Oh, prove that to me, and let me be that sufferer.’ Edward
turned calmly to mamma: ‘If the fourteen thousand pounds was in our
hands, what should you do with it?’

“The dear thing said she should settle at least ten thousand of it on
Me, and marry Me to this poor motherless boy, ‘whom I have learned to
love myself,’ said she.

“‘There,’ said Edward, ‘you see it is you who lose by your governor’s--I
won’t say what--if you marry my sister.’

“Alfred took his hand, and said, ‘God bless you for telling me this.’

“Then Edward turned to mamma and me; and said, ‘This poor fellow has
left his father’s house because he wronged us: then this house ought to
open its arms to him: that is only justice. But now to be just to our
side; I have been to Mr. Crawford, the lawyer, and I find this Hardie
junior has ten thousand pounds of his own. That ought to be settled on
Julia, to make up for what she loses by Hardie senior’s--I won’t say
what.’

“‘If anybody settles any of their trash on _me,_ I’ll beat them, and
throw it in the fire,’ said I; ‘and I hated money.’

“The oracle asked me directly did I hate clothes and food, and charity
to the poor, and cleanliness, and decency? Then I didn’t hate money,
‘for none of these things can exist without money, you little romantic
humbug; you shut up!’

“Mamma rebuked him for his expressions, but approved his sentiments. But
I did not care for his sentiments: for _he_ smiled on me, and said, ‘We
two are of one mind; we shall transfer our fortune to Captain Dodd, whom
my father has robbed. Julia will consent to share my honest poverty.’

“‘Well, we will talk about that,’ said Edward pompously.

“‘Talk about it without me, then,’ I cried, and got up, and marched
out indignant: only it was partly my low cunning to hide my face that
I could not keep the rapture out of. And, as soon as I had retired with
cold dignity, off I skipped into the garden to let my face loose, and I
think they sent him after me; for I heard his quick step behind me; so I
ran away from him as hard as I could; so of course he soon caught me; in
the shrubbery where he first asked me to be his; and he kissed both my
hands again and again like wildfire, as he is, and he said, ‘You are
right, dearest; let them talk of their trash while I tell you how I
adore you; poverty with you will be the soul’s wealth; even misfortune,
by your side, would hardly be misfortune: let all the world go, and let
you and I be one, and live together; and die together; for now I see
I could not have lived without you, nor without your love.’ And I
whispered something on his shoulder--no matter what; what signifies the
cackle of a goose? And we mingled our happy tears, and our hearts, and
our souls. Ah, Love is a sweet a dreadful passion: what we two have gone
through for one another in a few months! He dined with us, and Edward
and he sat a long, long time talking; I dare say it was only about their
odious money; still I envied Edward having him so long. But at last
he came up, and devoured me with his lovely grey eyes, and I sang him
Aileen Aroon, and he whispered things in my ear, oh, such sweet sweet,
idiotic, darling things; I will not part with even the shadow of one of
them by putting it on paper, only I am the blessedest creature in all
the world; and I only hope to goodness it is not very wicked to be so
happy as I am.”

_“Dec. 31st._--It is all settled. Alfred returns to Oxford to make up
for lost time; the time spent in construing me instead of Greek: and at
the end of term he is to come of age and marry--somebody. Marriage! what
a word to put down! it makes me tingle; it thrills me; it frightens me
deliciously: no, not deliciously; anything but: for suppose, being both
of us fiery, and they all say one of them ought to be cold blooded for
a pair to be happy, I should make him a downright bad wife. Why then I
hope I shall die in a year or two out of my darling’s way, and let him
have a good one instead. I’d come back from the grave and tear her to
pieces.

_“Jan. 4th._--Found a saint in a garret over a stable. Took her my
luncheon clandestinely; that is lady-like for ‘under my apron:’ and
was detected and expostulated by Ned. He took me into his studio--it is
carpeted with shavings--and showed me the _‘Tiser_ digest, an enormous
book he has made of newspaper cuttings all in apple-pie order; and out
of this authority he proved vice and poverty abound most wherever there
are most charities. Oh, ‘and the poor’ a set of intoxicated sneaks,
and me a Demoralising Influence. It is all very fine: but why are there
saints in garrets, and half-starved? That rouses all my evil passions,
and I cannot bear it; it _is_ no use.

_“Jan. 6th._--Once a gay day; but now a sad one. Mamma gone to see poor
papa, where he is. Alfred found me sorrowful, and rested my forehead on
his shoulder; that soothed me, while it lasted. I think I should like
to grow there. Mem! to burn this diary; and never let a creature see a
syllable.

“As soon as he was gone, prayed earnestly on my knees not to make
an idol of him. For it is our poor idols that are destroyed for our
weakness. Which really I cannot quite see the justice of.”

_“Jan. 8th._--Jane does not approve my proposal that we should praise
now and then at the same hour instead of always praying. The dear girl
sends me her unconverted diary ‘to show me she is “a brand.”’ I have
read most of it. But really it seems to me she was always goodish: only
she went to parties, and read novels, and enjoyed society.

“There, I have finished it. Oh dear, how like her _un_converted diary is
to my _con_verted one!”

_“Jan. 14th._--A sorrowful day: he and I parted, after a fortnight of
the tenderest affection, and that mutual respect without which neither
of us, I think, could love long. I had resolved to be very brave; but we
were alone, and his bright face looked so sad; the change in it took
me by surprise, and my resolution failed; I clung to him. If gentlemen
could interpret, as we can, he would never have left me. It is better
as it is. He kissed my tears away as fast as they came: it was the first
time he had ever kissed more than my hand; so I shall have that to think
of, and his dear promised letters: but it made me cry more at the time,
of course. Some day, when we have been married years and years, I shall
tell him not to go and pay a lady for every tear; if he wants her to
leave off.

“The whole place so gloomy and vacant now.”

_“Jan. 20th._--Poverty stares us in the face. Edward says we could make
a modest living in London; and nobody be the wiser: but here we are
known, and _‘must_ be ladies and gentlemen, and fools,’ he says. He has
now made me seriously promise not to give money and things out of the
house to the poor: it is robbing my mother and him. Ah, now I see
it _is_ nonsense to despise money: here I come home sad from my poor
people; and I used to return warm all over. And the poor old souls do
not enjoy my sermons half so much as when I gave them nice things to eat
along with them.

“The dear boy, that I always loved dearly, but _admire_ and love now
that he has turned an intolerable tyrant and he used to be Wax, has put
down two maids out of our three, and brings our dinner up himself in a
jacket, then puts on his coat and sits down with us, and we sigh at him
and he grins and derides us; he does not care one straw for Pomp. And
mamma and I have to dress one another now. And I like it.”

_“Jan. 30th._--He says we may now, by great economy, subsist honestly
till my wedding-day; but then mamma and he must _‘absquatulate.’_ Oh,
what stout hearts men have. They can jest at sorrow even when, in spite
of their great thick skins, they feel it. Ah, the real poor are happy:
they marry, and need not leave the parish where their mother lives.”

_“Feb. 4th._--A kind and most delicate letter from Jane. She says,
‘Papa and I are much grieved at Captain Dodd’s affliction, and deeply
concerned at your loss by the Bank. Papa has asked Uncle Thomas for two
hundred pounds, and I entreat you to oblige me by receiving it at my
hands and applying it according to the dictates of your own affectionate
heart.”

“Actually our Viceroy will not let me take it: he says he will not
accept a crumb from the man who owes us a loaf.”

_“Feb. 8th._--Jane mortified, and no wonder. If she knew how very poor
we are, she would be surprised as well. I have implored her not to take
it to heart, for that all will be explained one day, and she will see we
_could_ not.

“His dear letters! I feed on them. We have no secrets, no two minds. He
is to be a first class and then a private tutor. Our money is to go to
mamma: it is he and I that are to work our fingers to the bone (I am so
happy!), and never let them be driven by injustice from their home. But
all this is a great secret. The Viceroy will be defeated, only I let him
talk till Alfred is here to back me. No; it is _not_ just the rightful
owner of fourteen thousand pounds should be poor.

“How shallow female education is: I was always led to suppose modesty is
the highest virtue. No such thing! Justice is the queen of the virtues:
_He_ is justice incarnate.”

_“March 10th._--On reperusing this diary, it is demoralising; very: it
feeds self. Of all the detestable compositions: Me, Me, Me, from one
end to another: for when it is not about myself, it is about Alfred,
and that it is my he-Me though not my she-one. So now to turn over a new
leaf: from this day I shall record only the things that happen in this
house and what my betters say to _me,_ not what I say; and the texts;
and outline of the sermons; and Jane’s Christian admonitions.”


Before a resolve so virtuous all impure spirits retire, taking off their
hats, and bowing down to the very ground, but apprehending Small Beer.



CHAPTER XXVIII

     _Extracts from Jane Hardie’s Diary._

_“March 3rd._--In my district again, the first time since my illness,
from which I am indeed but half recovered. Spoke faithfully to Mrs. B.
about her infidel husband: told her not to try and talk to him, but
to talk to God about him. Gave her my tract ‘A quiet heart.’ Came home
tired. Prayed to be used to sharpen the sickles of other reapers.”

_“March 4th._--At St. Philip’s to hear the Bishop. In the midst of an
excellent sermon on Gen. i. 2, he came out with the waters of baptism,
to my horror: he disclaimed the extravagant views some of them take,
then hankered after what he denied, and then partly unsaid _that_ too.
While the poor man was trimming his sails, I slunk behind a pillar in
the corner of my pew, and fell on my knees, and prayed (a) against the
stream of poison flowing on the congregation. Oh, I felt like Jeremiah
in his dungeon.”

“In the evening papa forbade me to go to church again: said the wind was
too cold: I kissed him, and went up to my room and put my head between
the pillows not to hear the bells. Prayed for poor (b) Alfred.”

_“March 5th._--Sadly disappointed in J. D. I did hope he was embittering
the world to her by degrees. But for some time past she writes in
ill-concealed spirits.

“Another friend, after seeking rest in the world, is now seeking it in
ritualism. May both be drawn from their rotten reeds to the cross

    ‘And oh this moral may my heart retain,
     All hopes of happiness on earth are vain.’”

_“March 6th._--The cat is out of the bag. She is corresponding with
Alfred: indeed she makes no secret of it. Wrote her a (c) faithful
letter. Received a short reply, saying I had made her unhappy, and
begging me to suspend my judgment till she could undeceive me without
giving me too much pain. What mystery is this?”

“_March 7th._--Alfred announces his unalterable determination to marry
Julia. I read the letter to papa directly. He was silent for a long
time: and then said: ‘All the worse for both of them.’ It was all I
could do to suppress a thrill of carnal complacency at the thought this
might in time pave the way to another union. Even to think of that now
is a sin. 1 Cor. vii. 20-4, plainly shows that whatever position (d)
of life we are placed in, there it is our duty to abide. A child, for
instance, is placed in subjection to her parents; and must not leave
them without their consent.”

_“March 8th._--Sent two cups of cold water to two fellow-pilgrims of
mine on the way to Jerusalem, viz: to E. H., Rom. viii. 1; to Mrs. M.,
Philipp. ii. 27.

“Prayed for increase of humility. I am so afraid my great success in His
vineyard has seduced me into feeling as if there was a spring of living
water in myself, instead of every drop being derived from the true
fountain.”

_“March 9th._--Dr. Wycherley closeted two hours with papa--papa had sent
for him, I find. What is it makes me think that man is no true friend to
Alfred in his advice? I don’t like these roundabout speakers: the lively
oracles are not roundabout.”

_“March 10th._--My beloved friend and fellow-labourer, Charlotte D----,
ruptured a blood-vessel (x) at three P. M., and was conveyed in the
chariots of angels to the heavenly banqueting-house, to go no more out.
May I be found watching.”

_“March 11th._--Dreadfully starved with these afternoon sermons. If they
go on like this, I really must stay at home, and feed upon the word.”

_“March 12th._--Alfred has written to his trustees, and announced his
coming marriage, and told them he is going to settle all his money
upon the Dodds. Papa quite agitated by this news: it did not come from
Alfred; one of the trustees wrote to papa. Oh, the blessing of Heaven
will never rest on this unnatural marriage. Wrote a faithful letter to
Alfred while papa was writing to our trustee.”

_“March 13th._--My book on Solomon’s Song now ready for publication. But
it is so difficult now-a-days to find a publisher for such a subject.
The rage is for sentimental sermons, or else for fiction (f) under a
thin disguise of religious biography.”

_“March 14th._--Mr. Plummer, of whose zeal and unction I had heard so
much, was in the town and heard of me, and came to see me by appointment
just after luncheon. _Such_ a sweet meeting. He came in and took my
hand, and in that posture prayed that the Holy Spirit might be with us
to make our conversation profitable to us, and redound to His glory.
Poor man, his wife leads him a cat and dog life, I hear, with her
jealousy. We had a _sweet_ talk; he admires Canticles almost as much as
I do (z): and has promised to take my book and get it cast on the Lord
(g) for me.”

_“March 15th._--To _please,_ one must not be faithful. (h) Miss L.,
after losing all her relations, and at thirty years of age, is to be
married next week. She came to me and gushed out about the blessing of
having at last one earthly friend to whom she could confide everything.
On this I felt it my duty to remind her she might lose him by death,
and then what a blank; and I was going on to detach her from the arm of
flesh, when she burst out crying, and left me abruptly; couldn’t bear
the truth, poor woman.

“In the afternoon met _him_ and bowed, and longed to speak, but thought
it my duty not to: cried bitterly on reaching home.”

_“March l7th._--Transcribed all the (i) texts on Solomon’s Song. It
seems to be the way He (j) has marked out for me to serve him.”

_“March 19th._--Received this letter from Alfred:


‘DEAR JANE,--I send you a dozen kisses and a piece of advice; learn
more; teach less: study more; preach less: and don’t be in such a
hurry to judge and condemn your intellectual and moral superiors, on
insufficient information.--Your affectionate brother,

ALFRED.’

“A poor return for me loving his soul as my own. I do but advise him the
self-denial I myself pursue. Woe be to him if he rejects it.”

_“March 20th._--A perverse reply from J. D. I had proposed we should
plead for our parents at the Throne. She says she fears that might seem
like assuming the office of the mediator: and besides her mother
is nearer Heaven than she is. What blindness! I don’t know a more
thoroughly unhealthy mind than poor Mrs. (k) Dodd’s. I am learning to
pray walking. Got this idea from Mr. Plummer. How closely he walks! his
mind so _exactly_ suits mine.”

_“March 22nd._--Alfred returned. Went to meet him at the station. How
bright and handsome he looked! He kissed me so affectionately; and was
as kind and loving as could be: I, poor unfaithful wretch, went hanging
(m) on his arm, and had not the heart to dash his carnal happiness just
then.

“He is gone _there._”

_“March 24th._--Stole into Alfred’s lodging when he was out; and, after
prayer, pinned Deuteronomy xxvii. 16, Proverbs xiii. 1, and xv. 5, and
Mark vii. 10, upon his bed-curtains.”

_“March 25th._--Alfred has been in my room, and nailed Matthew vii. 1,
Mark x. 7, and Ezek. xviii. 20, on my wall. He found my diary, and has
read it, not to profit by, alas! but to scoff.”

[Specimen of Alfred’s comments. _N.B._ Fraternal criticism:

A. Nolo Episcopari.

B. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good.

D. The old trick; picking one text, straining it; and ignoring six. So
then nobody who is not born married, must get married.

E. Recipe. To know people’s real estimate of themselves, study their
language of self-depreciation. If, even when they undertake to lower
themselves, they cannot help insinuating self-praise, be sure their
humility is a puddle, their vanity is a well. This sentence is typical
of the whole Diary or rather Iary; it sounds Publican, smells Pharisee.

X. How potent a thing is language in the hand of a master: Here is
sudden death made humorous by a few incongruous phrases neatly disposed.

F. Excuse me; there is still a little market for the Liquefaction of
Holy Writ, and the perversion of Holy Writ; two deathless arts, which
meet in your comment on the song you ascribe to Solomon.

Z. More than Mrs. Plummer does, apparently.

G. Apotheosis of the British public. How very like profaneness some
people’s piety is!

C. H. Faith, with this school, means anything the opposite of Charity.

I. You are morally truthful: but intellectually mendacious. The texts on
Solomon’s Song! You know very well there is not one. No grave writer
in all Scripture has ever deigned to cite, or notice, that coarse
composition; puellarum deliciae.

J. Modest periphrasis for “I like it.” Motto for this Diary; “Ego, et
Deus meus.”

K. In other words, a good, old-fashioned, sober, humble Christian, to
whom the daring familiarities of your school seem blasphemies.

M. Here I recognise my sister; somewhat spoiled by a detestable sect;
but lovable by nature (which she is for ever abusing); and therefore
always amiable, when off her guard.

_“March 28th._--Mr. Crawford the attorney called and told papa his son
had instructed him to examine the trust-deed, and to draw his marriage
settlement. Papa treated him with the greatest civility, and brought him
the deed. He wanted to take it away to copy; but papa said he had better
send a clerk here. Poor papa hid his distress from this gentleman,
though not from me; and gave him a glass of wine.

“Then Mr. Crawford chatted, and let out Alfred had asked him to advance
a hundred pounds for the wedding presents, &c. Papa said he might do so
with perfect safety.

“But the moment he was gone, his whole manner changed. He walked about
in terrible anger and agitation: and then sat down and wrote letters;
one was to uncle Thomas; and one to a Mr. Wycherley; I believe a brother
of the doctor’s. I never knew him so long writing two letters before.

“Heard a noise in the road, and it was Mr. Maxley, and the boys after
him hooting; they have found out his infirmity: what a savage animal is
man, till grace changes him! The poor soul had a stick, and now and then
turned and struck at them but his tormentors were too nimble. I drew
papa to the window, and showed him, and reminded him of the poor man’s
request. He answered impatiently what was that to him? ‘We have a worse
case nearer hand. Charity begins at home.’ I ventured to say yes, but it
did not begin _and_ end at home.”

_“March 31st._--Mr. Osmond here to-day; and over my work I heard papa
tell him Alfred is blackening his character in the town with some
impossible story about fourteen thousand pounds. Mr. Osmond very kind
and sympathising; set it all down to illusion; assured papa there was
neither malice nor insincerity in it. ‘But what the better am I for
that?’ said poor papa; ‘if I am slandered, I am slandered.’ And they
went out together.

“Papa seems to feel this engagement more than all his troubles, and,
knowing by sad experience it is useless to expostulate with Alfred, I
wrote a long and faithful letter to Julia just before luncheon,
putting it to her as a Christian whether she could reconcile it to
her profession to set a son against his father, and marry him in open
defiance.

“She replied, 3 P. M., that her mother approved the marriage, and she
owed no obedience, nor affection either, to _my_ parent.

“3.30. Sent back a line rebuking her for this quibble.

“At 5 received a note from Mrs. Dodd proposing that the correspondence
between myself and her daughter should cease _for the present._

“5.30. Retorted with an amendment that it should cease _for ever._ No
reply. Such are worldlings! Remonstrance only galls them. And so in one
afternoon’s correspondence ends one more of my Christian friendships
with persons of my own sex. This is the eighth to which a carnal
attachment has been speedily fatal.

“In the evening Alfred came in looking very red, and asked me whether it
was not self-reliant and uncharitable of me to condemn so many estimable
persons, all better acquainted with the circumstances than I am. I
replied with the fifth commandment. He bit his lip and said, ‘We had
better not meet again, until you have found out which is worthiest of
honour, your father or your brother.’ And with this he left abruptly;
and something tells me I shall not see him again. My faithfulness has
wounded him to the quick. Alas! Prayed for him and cried myself to
sleep.”

_“April 4th._ Met _him_ disguised as a common workman, and carrying
a sack full of things. I was so shocked I could not maintain my
resolution: I said, ‘Oh, Mr. Edward, what are you doing?’ He blushed a
little, but told me he was going to sell some candlesticks and things of
his making: and he should get a better price in that dress; all traders
looked on a _gentleman_ as a thing made to be pillaged. Then he told me
he was going to turn them into a bonnet and a wreath; and his beautiful
brown eyes sparkled with affection. What egotistical creatures _they_
must be! I was quite overcome, and said, Oh why did he refuse our offer?
Did he hate me so very much that he would not even take his due from my
hand? ‘No,’ he said, ‘nobody in our house is so unjust to you as to hate
you; my sister honours you, and is very sorry you think ill of her: and,
as for me, I love you; you know how I love you.’ I hid my face in my
hands; and sobbed out, ‘Oh, you must not; you must not; my poor father
has one disobedient child already.’ He said softly, ‘Don’t cry, dear
one; have a little patience; perhaps the clouds will clear: and,
meantime, why think so ill of us? Consider, we are four in number, of
different dispositious, yet all of one mind about Julia marrying Alfred.
May we not be right; may we not know something we love you too well to
tell you?’ His words and his rich manly voice were so soothing; I gave
him just one hand while I still hid my burning face with the other; he
kissed the hand I yielded him, and left me abruptly.

“If Alfred should be right! I am staggered now; he puts it so much more
convincingly.”

_“April 5th._ A letter from Alfred, announcing his wedding by special
license for the 11th.

“Made no reply. What _could_ I say?

“Papa, on my reading it out left his very breakfast half finished, and
packed up his bag and rushed up to London. I caught a side view of his
face; and I am miserable. Such a new, such a terrible expression! a vile
expression! Heaven forgive me, it seemed the look of one who meditated a
_crime._”



CHAPTER XXIX

THE spirit of dissension in Musgrove Cottage penetrated to the very
kitchen. Old Betty sided with Alfred, and combated in her place the
creed of the parlour: “Why, according to Miss, the young sparrows are
bound never to fly out of the nest; or else have the Bible flung at
‘em. She do go on about God’s will: seems to me ‘tis His will the
world should be peopled by body and beast--which they are both His
creatures--and, by the same toaken, if they don’t marry they does
wus. Certainly whilst a young man bides at home, it behoves him to be
dutiful; but that ain’t to say he _is_ to bide at home for ever. Master
Alfred’s time is come to leave we, and be master in a house of his own,
as his father done before him, which he forgets that now; he is grown
to man’s estate, and got his mother’s money, and no more bound to our
master than I be.” She said, too, that “parting blights more quarrels
than it breeds:” and she constantly invited Peggy to speak up, and
gainsay her. But Peggy was a young woman with white eyelashes, and given
to looking down, and not to speaking up: she was always watching Mr.
Hardie in company, like a cat cream; and hovering about him when alone.
Betty went so far as to accuse her of colloguing with him against
Alfred, and of “setting her cap at master,” which accusation elicited no
direct reply, but stinging innuendoes hours after.

Now, if one looks into the thing, the elements of discord had attacked
Albion Villa quite as powerfully as Musgrove Cottage; but had hitherto
failed signally: the mutual affection of the Dodds was so complete, and
no unprincipled person among them to split the good.

And, now that the wedding drew near, there was but one joyful heart
within the walls, though the others were too kind and unselfish to throw
cold water. Mrs. Dodd’s own wedding had ended in a piteous separation,
and now to part with her darling child and launch her on the uncertain
waves of matrimony! She heaved many a sigh when alone: but as there
were no bounds to her maternal love, so there were no exceptions to her
politeness: over her aching heart she forced on a wedding face, subdued,
but hopeful, for her daughter, as she would for any other young lady
about to be married beneath her roof.

It wanted but six days, when one morning after breakfast the bereaved
wife, and mother about to be deserted, addressed her son and Viceroy
thus: “Edward, we _must_ borrow fifty pounds.”

“Fifty pounds! what for? who wants that?”

“Why, _I_ want it,” said Mrs. Dodd stoutly.

“Oh, if _you_ want it--what to do, please?”

“Why, to buy her wedding clothes, dear.”

“I thought what her ‘I’ would come to,” said Julia reproachfully.

Edward shook his head, and said, “He who goes a borrowing goes a
sorrowing.’

“But she is not a he,” objected Mrs. Dodd with the subtlety of a
schoolman: “and who ever heard of a young lady being married without
some things to be married _in?_”

“Well, I’ve heard Nudity is not the cheese on public occasions: but why
not go dressed like a lady as she always does, only with white gloves;
and be married without any bother and nonsense.”

“You talk like a boy,” said Mrs. Dodd. “I could not bear it. My poor
child!” and she cast a look of tenderest pity on the proposed victim.
“Well, suppose we make the poor child the judge,” suggested Edward. He
then put it to Julia whether, under the circumstances, she would wish
them to run in debt, buying her finery to wear for a day. “It was not
fair to ask _her,_” said Mrs. Dodd with a sigh.

Julia blushed and hesitated, and said she would be candid; and then
stopped.

“Ugh!” ejaculated Edward. “This is a bad beginning. Girl’s candour! Now
for a masterpiece of duplicity.”

Julia inquired how he dared; and Mrs. Dodd said warmly that Julia was
not like other people, she could be candid; had actually done it,
more than once, within her recollection. The young lady justified the
exception as follows: “If I was going to be married to myself, or to
some gentleman I did not care for, I would not spend a shilling. But I
am going to marry _him;_ and so--oh, Edward, think of them saying, ‘What
has he married? a dowdy: why she hadn’t new things on to go to church
with him: no bonnet, no wreath, no new white dress!’ To mortify him the
very first day of our----” The sentence remained unfinished, but two
lovely eyes filled to the very brim without running over, and completed
the sense, and did the Viceroy’s business, though a brother. “Why you
dear little goose,” said he: “of course, I don’t mean that. I have as
good as got the things we must buy; and those are a new bonnet----”

“Ah!”

“A wreath of orange blossoms----”

“Oh you good boy!”

“Four pair of gloves: two white--one is safe to break--two dark; very
dark: invisible green, or visible black; last the honeymoon. All the
rest you must find in the house.”

“What, fit her out with a parcel of old things? so cruel, so
unreasonable, dear Edward?”

“Old things! Why, where is all your gorgeous attire from Oriental
climes? I see the splendiferous articles arrive, and then they vanish
for ever.”

“Now, shawls and Indian muslins! pray what use are they to a bride?”

“Why, what looks nicer than a white muslin dress?”

“Married in muslin? The very idea makes me shiver.”

“Well, clap her on another petticoat.”

“How can you be so childish? Muslin is not the _the thing._”

“No more is running in debt.”

He then suggested that a white shawl or two should be cut into a bridal
dress. At this both ladies’ fair throats opened on him with ridicule:
cut fifty guinea shawls into ten-pound dresses; that was male economy!
was it? Total, a wedding was a wedding: new things always _had_ had to
be bought for a wedding, and always would _in secula seculorum._

“New things? Yes,” said the pertinacious wretch; “but they need not be
new-bought things. You ladies go and confound the world’s eyes with
your own in the drollest way: If Gorgeous Attire has lain long in your
drawers, you fancy the world will detect on its glossy surface how long
you had it, and gloated over it, and made it stale to your eye, before
you could bring your mind to wear it. That is your delusion, that and
the itch for going out shopping; oh, I’m down on you. Mamma dear, you
open that gigantic wardrobe of yours; and I’ll oil my hair, white-wash
my mug (a little moan from Mrs. D.) and do the counterjumping business
to the life; hand the things down to you, unrol ‘em, grin, charge you
100 per cent over value, note them down in a penny memorandum-book, sing
out ‘Caesh! Caesh!’ &c. &c.: and so we shall get all Julia wants, and
go through the ritual of shopping without the substantial disgrace of
running in debt.”

Mrs. Dodd smiled admiringly, as ladies generally do at the sauciness of
a young male; but proposed an amendment. She would open her wardrobe,
and look out all the contents for Edward’s inspection; and, if the mere
sight of them did not convince him they were inappropriate to a bride,
why then she would coincide with his views, and resign her own.

“All right!” said he. “That will take a jolly time, I know; so I’ll go
to my governor first for the bonnet and wreath.”

Mrs. Dodd drew in at this last slang word; she had heard young gentlemen
apply it to their fathers. Edward, she felt sure, would not so sully
that sacred relation; still the word was obnoxious for its past
offences; and she froze at it: “I have not the honour to know who the
personage is you so describe,” said she formally. Edward replied very
carelessly that it was an upholsterer at the north end of the town.

“Ah, a tradesman you patronise.”

“Humph! Well, yes, that is the word, mamma, haw! haw! I have been making
the bloke a lot of oak candlesticks, and human heads with
sparkling eyes, for walking-sticks, &c. And now I’ll go and draw
my--protege’s--blunt.” The lady’s hands were uplifted towards pitying
Heaven with one impulse. The young workman grinned: “Soyons de notre
siecle,” said he, and departed whistling in the tenor clef. He had the
mellowest whistle.

After a few minutes well spent in deploring the fall of her Oxonian, and
gently denouncing his motto, and his century, its ways, and above all
its words, Mrs. Dodd took Julia to her bedroom, and unlocked drawers and
doors in her wardrobe; and straightway Sarah, who was hurriedly flogging
the chairs with a duster, relaxed, and began to work on a cheval-glass
as slowly as if she was drawing Nelson’s lions at a thousand pounds
the tail. Mrs. Dodd opened a drawer and took out three pieces of worked
Indian muslin, a little discoloured by hoarding: “There, that must be
bleached and make you some wrappers for the honeymoon, if the weather
is at all fine; and petticoats to match;” next an envelope consisting of
two foolscap sheets tacked: this, carefully undone upon the bed revealed
a Brussels lace flounce and a veil: “It was my own,” said Mrs. Dodd
softly. “I saved it for you; see here is your name written on it
seventeen years ago. I thought ‘this dear little toddler will have wings
some day, and then she will leave me.’ But now I am almost afraid to
let you wear it; it might bring you misfortune: suppose after years of
wedded love you should be bereaved of----” Mrs. Dodd choked, and Julia’s
arms were round her neck in a moment.

“I’ll risk it,” cried she impetuously. “If it but makes me as beloved as
you are, I’ll wear it, come weal come woe! And then I shall feel it over
me at the altar like my guardian angel’s wings, my own sweet, darling
mamma. Oh what an idiot, what a wretch I am, to leave you at all.”

This unfortunate, unexpected burst, interrupted business sadly. Mrs.
Dodd sank down directly on the bed and wept; Julia cried over her, and
Sarah plumped herself down in a chair and blubbered. But wedding flowers
are generally well watered in the private apartments.

Patient Mrs. Dodd soon recovered herself: “This is childish of me. When
I think that there are mothers who see their children go from the house
corpses, not brides, I ought to be ashamed of myself. Come! a l’oeuvre.
Ah, here is something.” And she produced a white China crape shawl. “Oh,
how sweet,” said Julia; “why have you never worn it?”

“Dear me, child, what use would things be to those I love, if I went and
_wore_ them?”

The next article she laid her hand on was a roll of white poplin, and
drew an exclamation from Mrs. Dodd herself: “If I had not forgotten
this, and it is the very thing. Your dear papa bought me this in London,
and I remonstrated with him well for buying me such a delicate thing,
only once wear. I kissed it and put it away, and forgot it. They _say_
if you keep a thing seven years. It _is_ just seven years since he gave
it to me. Really, the dear boy is a witch: this is your wedding dress,
my precious precious.” She unrolled a few yards on the bed to show it;
and asked the gloating Sarah with a great appearance of consideration
whether they were not detaining her from her occupations?

“Oh no, mum. This glass have got so dull; I’m just polishing of it a
bit. I shan’t be a minute now, mum.”

From silver tissue paper, Mrs. Dodd evolved a dress (unmade) of white
crape embroidered in true lover’s-knots of violet silk, and ears of
wheat in gold. Then there was a scream at the glass, and Sarah seen in
it with ten claws in the air very wide apart: she had slily turned the
mirror and was devouring the reflexion of the finery, and this last
Indian fabric overpowered her. Her exclamation was instantly followed by
much polishing; but Mrs. Dodd replied to it after the manner of her sex:
“Well it _is_ lovely,” said she to Julia: “but where is the one with
beetle wings? Oh here.”

“Real beetles’ wings, mamma?” inquired Julia.

“Yes, love.”

“So they are, and how wicked! and what a lovely green! I will never wear
them: they are prismatic: now, if ever I am to be a Christian, I had
better begin: everything _has_ a beginning. Oh vanity of women, you
stick at nothing. A thousand innocent lives stolen to make one dress!”
 And she put one hand before her eyes, and with the other ordered the
dress back into the wardrobe with genuine agitation.

“My dear, what expressions! And you need not wear it; indeed neither of
them is fit for that purpose. But you _must_ have a pretty thing or two
about you. I have hoarded these a good many years; now it is your turn
to have them by you. And let me see; you want a travelling cloak: but
the dear boy will not let us; so choose a warm shawl.”

A rich but modest one was soon found, and Julia tried it on, arching
her supple neck, and looking down over her shoulder to see the effect
behind, in which attitude oh for an immortal brush to paint her, or
anything half as bright, supple, graceful, and every inch a woman.
At this moment Mrs. Dodd threw a lovely blue Indian shawl on the bed,
galvanising Sarah so that up went her hands again, and the door opened
softly and a handsome head in a paper cap peeped on the scene, inquiring
with mock timidity “May ‘The British Workman’ come in?”

He was invited warmly; Julia whipped his cap off, and tore it in two,
reddening, and Mrs. Dodd, intending to compliment his foresight, showed
him the bed laden with the treasures they had disinterred from vanity’s
mahogany tomb.

“Well, mother,” said he, “you were right, and I was wrong: they are
inappropriate enough, the whole lot.”

The ladies looked at one another, and Sarah permitted herself a species
of snort.

“Do we want Sarah?” he asked quietly. She retired bridling.

“Inappropriate?” exclaimed Mrs. Dodd. “There is nothing here unfit for a
bride’s trousseau.”

“Good Heavens! Would you trick her out like a Princess?”

“We must. We are too poor to dress her like a lady.”

“Cinderella; at your service,” observed Julia complacently, and
pirouetted before him in her new shawl.

Ideas rejected peremptorily at the time often rankle, and bear fruit
by-and-bye. Mrs. Dodd took up the blue shawl, and said she would make
Julia a peignoir of it; and the border, being narrowish, would do for
the bottom. “That was a good notion, of yours, darling,” said she,
bestowing a sweet smile on Edward. He grunted. Then she took out a
bundle of lace: “Oh, for pity’s sake, no more,” cried the “British
Workman.”

“Now, dearest, you have interfered once in feminine affairs, and we
submitted. But, if you say another word, I will trim her poplin with
Honiton two feet deep.”

“Quarter! quarter!” cried Edward. “I’m dumb; grant me but this;
have nothing made up for her out of the house: you know there is no
dressmaker in Barkington can cut like you: and then that will put some
limit to our inconsistency.” Mrs. Dodd agreed; but she must have a woman
in to sew.

Edward grunted at this, and said: “I wish I could turn you these gowns
with my lathe; what a deal of time and bother it would save. However, if
you want any stuffing, come to me; I’ll lend you lots of shavings;
make the silk rustle. Oh, here is my governor’s contribution.” And he
produced L. 7, 10s.

“Now, look there,” said Julia sorrowfully, “it is money. And I thought
you were going to bring me the very bonnet yourself. Then I should have
valued it.”

“Oh yes,” replied the young gentleman ironically; “can I choose a bonnet
to satisfy such swells as you and mamma? I’ll tell you what I’ll do;
I’ll go with you and look as wise as Solomon, all the time you are
choosing it.”

“A capital plan,” said Julia.

Edward then shook his fist at the finery: and retired to work again for
his governor: “Flowers,” he observed, “are indispensable, at a wedding
breakfast; I hear too it is considered the right cheese to add something
in the shape of grub.” Exit whistling in the tenor clef; and keeping
their hearts up, like a man.

So now there were two workshops in Albion Villa. Ned’s study, as he
called it, and the drawing-room. In the former shavings flew, and
settled at their ease, and the whirr of the lathe slept not; the latter
was all patterns, tapes, hooks and eyes, whalebone, cuttings of muslin,
poplin and paper; clouds of lining-muslin, snakes of piping; skeins,
shreds; and the floor literally sown with pins, escaped from the fingers
of the fair, those taper fingers so typical of the minds of their
owners: or they have softness, suppleness, nimbleness, adroitness, and
“a plentiful lack” of tenacity.

The days passed in hard work, and the evenings in wooing, never sweeter
than when it has been so earned: and at last came the wedding eve.
Dr. Sampson, who was to give the bride away, arrived just before
dinner-time: the party, including Alfred, sat down to a charming little
dinner; they ate beetles’ wings, and drank Indian muslin fifteen years
in the wood. For the lathe and the chisel proved insufficient, and
Julia having really denied herself, as an aspirant to Christianity,
that assassin’s robe, Mrs. Dodd sold it under the rose to a fat old
dowager--for whom nothing was too fine--and so kept up appearances.

Julia and Alfred were profoundly happy at bottom; yet their union was
attended with too many drawbacks for boisterous gaiety, and Alfred, up
to this time, had shown a seriousness and sobriety of bliss, that won
Mrs. Dodd’s gratitude: it was the demeanour of a delicate mind; it
became his own position, at odds with his own flesh and blood for
Julia’s sake; it became him as the son-in-law of a poor woman so lately
bereaved of her husband, and reduced to poverty by one bearing the name
of Hardie.

But now Dr. Sampson introduced a gayer element. He had seen a great deal
of Life; _i.e.,_ of death and trouble. This had not hardened him, but,
encountering a sturdy, valiant, self-protecting nature, had made him
terribly tough and elastic; it was now his way never to go forward or
backward a single step after sorrow. He seldom mentioned a dead friend
or relation; and, if others forced the dreary topic on him, they could
never hold him to it; he was away directly to something pleasant or
useful, like a grasshopper skipping off a grave into the green grass. He
had felt keenly about David while there was anything to be done: but now
his poor friend was in a madhouse, thanks to the lancet: and there was
an end of _him._ Thinking about him would do him no good. The present
only is irresistible; past and future ills the mind can bar out by a
resolute effort. The bride will very likely die of her first child! Well
then, forget that just now. Her father is in an asylum! Well then, don’t
remember him at the wrong time: there sit female beauty and virtue ready
to wed manly wit and comeliness, seated opposite; see their sweet stolen
glances; a few hours only between them and wedded rapture: and I’m
here to give the lovely virgin away: fill the bumper high! _dum vivimus
vivamus._ In this glorious spirit he rattled on, and soon drew the young
people out, and silvery peals of laughter rang round the genial board.

This jarred on Mrs. Dodd. She bore it in silence some time; but with
the grief it revived and sharpened by contrast, and the polite effort to
hide her distress, found herself becoming hysterical: then she made the
usual signal to Julia, and beat an early retreat. She left Julia in the
drawing-room, and went and locked herself in her own room. “Oh, how can
they be so cruel as to laugh and giggle in my David’s house!” She wept
sadly, and for the first time felt herself quite lonely in the world:
for what companionship between the gay and the sad hearted? Poor thing,
she lived to reproach herself even with this, the nearest approach she
ever made to selfishness.

Ere long she crept into Julia’s room and humbly busied herself packing
her trunks for the wedding tour. The tears fell fast on her white hands.

She would not have been left alone a minute if Julia’s mind had not
been occupied just then with an affectionate and amiable anxiety: she
earnestly desired to reconcile her Alfred and his sister before the
wedding; and she sat in the drawing-room thinking whether it could be
done, and how.

At last she sat down blushing, and wrote a little note, and rang the
bell for Sarah, and sent it courageously into the dining-room.

Sarah very prudently listened at the keyhole before entering, for she
said to herself, “If they are talking free, I shan’t go in till it’s
over.”

The persons so generously suspected were discussing a parchment Alfred
had produced, and wanted signed: “You are our trustee, my boy,” said he
to Edward: “so just write your name here, and mine comes here, and the
witness’s there: the Doctor and Sarah will do. Send for a pen.”

“Let’s read it first, please.”

“Read it! What for?”

“Catch me signing a paper without reading it, my boy.”

“What, can’t you trust me?” inquired Alfred, hurt.

“Oh yes. And can’t you trust me?”

“There’s a question: why I have appointed you my Trusty in the Deed; he,
he.”

“Well then trust me without my signing, and I’ll trust you without
reading.”

Sampson laughed at this retort, and Alfred reddened; he did not want
the Deed read. But while he hesitated, Sarah came in with Julia’s note,
asking him to come to her for a minute. This sweet summons made him
indifferent to prosaic things. “Well, read away,” said he: “one comfort,
you will be no wiser.”

“What, is it in Latin?” asked Edward with a wry face.

“No such luck. Deeds used to be in Latin; but Latin could not be made
obscure enough. So now Dark Deeds are written in an unknown tongue
called ‘Lawyerish,’ where the sense is ‘as one grain of wheat in two
bushels of chaff,’ pick it out if you can.

“Whatever man has done man may do,” said Dr. Sampson stoutly. “You have
rid it, and yet understood it: so why mayn’t we, ye monster o’ conceit?”

“Read it?” said Alfred. “I never read it: would not read it for a great
deal of money. The moment I saw what a senseless rigmarole it was, I
flung it down and insisted on the battological author furnishing me
with an English translation. He complied: the crib occupies just
twenty lines; the original three folio pages, as you see. That crib,
gentlemen,” added he severely, “is now in my waistcoat pocket; and you
shall never see it--for your impudence. No, seat yourself by that
pool of parchment (sedet eternumque sedebit, &c.) and fish for Lawyer
Crawford’s ideas, rari nantes in gurgite vasto.” And with this he flew
up-stairs on the wings of love. Julia met him in the middle of the room
all in a flutter: “It is to ask you a favour. I am unhappy--about one
thing.”

She then leaned one hand softly on his shoulder, and curving her lovely
supple neck looked round into his face and watched it as she preferred
her petition: “It is about Jane and you. I cannot bear to part you
two in this way: only think six days you have not spoken, and I am the
cause.”

“Not the only cause, love.”

“I don’t know, darling. But it is very cruel. I have got my dear mother
and Edward; you have nobody--but Me. Alfred,” said she with gentle
impetuosity, “now is your time; your papa is away.”

“Oh, is he?” said Alfred carelessly.

“Yes. Sarah says Betty says he is gone to Uncle Thomas. So I know you
won’t refuse me, my own Alfred: it is to go to your sister this minute
and make it up.”

“What, and leave you?” objected Alfred ruefully.

“No, no; you are with the gentlemen, you know: you are not here, _in
reality,_ till tea. Make them an excuse: say the truth; say it is Me;
and come back to me with good news.”

He consented on these terms.

Then she armed him with advice: “You go to make peace; it is our last
chance; now remember, you must be very generous, very sweet-tempered.
Guard against your impetuosity. Do take warning by me; see how impetuous
I am. And then, you know, after all, she is only a lady, and a great
creature like you ought not to be ruffled by anything so small as a
lady’s tongue: the idea! And, dearest, don’t go trusting to your logic,
but _do_ descend to the arts of persuasion, because they are far more
convincing somehow: please try them.”

“Yes. Enumerate them.”

“Why, kissing and coaxing, and--don’t ask _me._”

“Will you bestow a specimen of those arts on me if I succeed?”

“Try me,” said she: and looked him earnestly in the face; but
lowered her long lashes slowly and shyly, as she realised to what her
Impetuosity was pledging itself.

Alfred got his hat and ran to Musgrove Cottage.


A man stepped out of the shadow of a hedge opposite Albion Villa, and
followed him, keeping in shadow as much as possible.

The door of Musgrove Cottage was opened to him by old Betty with a
joyful start! “Mr. Alfred, I _de_clare! Come in; there’s only me and
Miss. Master is in Yorkshire, and that there crocodile, Peggy, she is
turned away--for sauce--and a good riddance of bad rubbish: Miss is in
the parlour.”

She ushered him triumphantly in. Jane was seated reading: she dropped
her book, and ran and kissed him with a cry of joy. So warm a reception
surprised him agreeably, and simplified his task. He told her he was
come to try and make it up with her before the wedding: “We lose your
presence, dear Jenny,” said he, “and that is a great grief to us,
valuing you as we do: don’t refuse us your good wishes to-morrow.”

“Dearest Alfred,” said she, “can you think it? I pray for you day and
night. And I have begun to blame myself for being so sure you were in
the wrong and poor papa faultless. What you sent me half in jest, I take
in earnest ‘Judge not that ye be not judged.’”

“Why, Jenny,” said Alfred, “how red your eyes are.”

At this observation the young saint laid her head on her brother’s
shoulder and had a good cry like any other girl. When she recovered a
little she told him, yes, she had been very unhappy: that he had always
been a dear good brother to her, and the only one she had; and that it
cut her to the heart not to be at his wedding; it seemed so unkind.

Alfred set her on his knee--she had more soul than body--and kissed her
and comforted her: and, in this happy revival of natural affection,
his heart opened, he was off his guard, and told her all: gave her the
several proofs their father had got the L. 14,000. Jane, arrested by
the skill and logical clearness with which he marshalled the proofs,
listened in silence; and presently a keen shudder ran through her frame,
and reminded him he was setting a daughter against her father.

“There,” said he, “I always said I would never tell you, and now I’ve
done it. Well, at least you will see with what consideration, and
unheard-of leniency, the Dodds for our sake are treating Mr. Richard
Hardie. Just compare their conduct to him with his to them. And which is
most to his advantage? that I should marry Julia, and give Mrs. Dodd the
life interest in my ten thousand pounds, to balance his dishonesty, or
for him to be indicted as a thief? Ned Dodd told us plainly he
would have set the police on him, had any other but his son been the
informant.”

“Did _he_ say that? Oh, Alfred, this is a miserable world.”

“I can’t see that: it is the jolliest world in the world: everything is
bright and lovely, and everybody is happy except a few sick people, and
a few peevish ones that run to meet trouble. To-morrow I marry my sweet
Julia; Richard Hardie will find we two don’t molest him, nor trouble our
heads about him. He will get used to us; and one fine day we shall say
to him, ‘Now, we know all about the L. 14,000: just leave it by will
to dear Jenny, and let my friend Dodd marry her, and you can enjoy it
unmolested for your lifetime.’ He will consent: and you will marry Ned,
and then you’ll find the world has been wickedly slandered by dishonest
men and dismal dogs.”

In this strain he continued till he made her blush a good deal and smile
a little; a sad smile.

But at last she said, “If I was sure all this is true, I think I should
go--with a heavy heart--to your wedding. If I don’t, the best part of me
will be there, my prayers, and my warm, warm wishes for you both. Kiss
her for me, and tell her so; and that I hope we shall meet round His
throne soon, if we cannot meet at His altar to-morrow.”

Brother and sister then kissed one another affectionately; and
Alfred ran back like the wind to Albion Cottage. Julia was not in the
drawing-room, and some coolish tea was. After waiting half an hour he
got impatient, and sent Sarah to say he had a message for her. Sarah
went upstairs to Mrs. Dodd’s room, and was instantly absorbed. After
waiting again for a long time, Alfred persuaded Edward to try his luck.
Edward went up to Mrs. Dodd’s room, and was absorbed.

The wedding dress was being solemnly tried on. A clean linen sheet was
on the floor, and the bride stood on it, receiving the last touches of
the milliner’s art. With this and her white poplin and lace veil she
seemed framed in white, and her cheeks bloomed so, and her eyes
beamed, with excitement and innocent vanity, that altogether she was
supernaturally lovely.

Once enter the room enchanted by this snow-chad rose, and--_Vestigia
nulla retrorsum._

However, Edward escaped at last and told Alfred what was on foot, and
drew a picture of the Bride with white above and white below.

“Oh, let me see her,” implored the lover.

Edward must ask mamma about that. He did, and mamma said “Certainly not;
the last person in the world that shall see her in her wedding dress.”
 But she should come down to him in half an hour. It seemed a very long
half-hour. However, by way of compensation, he was alone when she did
come. “Good news?” she asked eagerly.

“Capital: we are the best of friends. Why she is half inclined to
_come._”

“Then--oh how good you are: oh, how I love you.”

And she flung a tender arm round his neck, like a young goddess making
love; and her sweet face came so near his, he had only to stoop a
little, and their lips met in a long blissful kiss.

That kiss was an era in her life. Innocence itself, she had put up her
delicious lips to her lover in pure, though earnest affection; but the
male fire with which his met them, made her blush as well as thrill,
and she drew back a little, ashamed and half scared, and nestled on his
shoulder, hiding a face that grew redder and redder.

He bent his graceful head, and murmured down to her, “Are you afraid of
me, sweetest?”

“Oh no, no! Yes, a little. I don’t know. I was afraid I had made too
free with my Treasure; you don’t quite belong to me yet, you know.”

“Oh yes, I do; and, what is more, you belong to me. Don’t you, sweet
rebel?”

“Ah, that I do, heart and soul, my own, own, own.”

A few more soft delicious murmurs, and then Julia was summoned to more
rites of vanity, and the lovers parted with tender reluctance for those
few hours.

Alfred went home to his lodgings. He had not been there above ten
minutes, when he came out hastily, and walked quickly to the “White
Lion,” the principal inn in Barkington. He went into the stable-yard,
and said a few words to the ostler: then returned to his lodgings.

The man followed him at a distance from Albion Terrace; watched him
home; dogged him to the “White Lion;” and, by-and-bye, entered the yard
and offered the ostler a glass of ale at the tap.


At Albion Villa they were working on Julia’s dresses till past midnight:
and then Mrs. Dodd insisted on her going to bed. She obeyed; but when
the house was all quiet, came stealing out to her mother, and begged to
sleep with her: the sad mother strained her in a tearful embrace: and so
they passed the night; clinging to one another more as the parting drew
near.

Edward arranged the wedding breakfast for after the ceremony; and sent
the ladies up a cup of coffee, and a bit of toast apiece. They could
hardly find appetite even for this; or indeed time; there was so much
still to do.

At ten o’clock Julia was still in the height of dressing, delayed by
_contretemps_ upon _contretemps._ Sarah and her sister did her hair up
too loose, and, being a glorious mass, it threatened all to come down
and, meantime, a hair-pin quietly but persistently bored her cream-white
poll.

“Oh, run for mamma!” she cried.

Mamma came half dressed, had the hair all down again, and did it up
with adroit and loving hand, and put on the orange wreath, kissed her
admiringly, and retired to her own toilet; and the girls began to lace
the bride’s body.

Bump came Edward’s foot against the door, making them all shriek.

“Now I don’t want to hurry you; but Dr. Sampson is come.” The handmaids,
flustered, tried to go faster; and, when the work was done, Julia took
her little handglass and inspected her back: “Oh,” she screamed, “I am
crooked. There, go for mamma!”

Mamma soon came, and the poor bride held out imploring hands, “I’m all
awry; I’m as crooked as a ram’s horn.”

“La, miss,” said Sarah, “it’s only behind; nobody will notice it.”

“How can they help it? Mamma! _am_ I deformed?”

Mrs. Dodd smiled superior and bade her be calm: “It is the lacing, dear.
No, Sarah, it is no use your _pulling_ it; all the pulling in the world
will not straighten it. I thought so: you have missed the second top
hole.”

Julia’s little foot began to beat a tattoo on the floor: “There is not
a soul in the house but you can do the simplest thing. Eyes and no eyes!
Fingers and no fingers! I never did.”

“Hush, love, we all do our best.”

“Oh, I am sure of that; poor things.”

_“Nobody_ can lace you if you fidget about love,” objected Mrs. Dodd.

(Bump)! “Now I don’t want to hurry any man’s cattle: but the bridesmaids
are come.”

“Oh dear, I shall never be ready in time,” said Julia; and the tattoo
recommenced.

“Plenty of time, love,” said Mrs. Dodd, quietly lacing: “not half-past
ten yet. Sarah, go and see if the bridegroom has arrived.”

Sarah returned with the reassuring tidings that the bridegroom had not
yet arrived; though the carriages had.

“Oh, thank Heaven, _he_ is not come,” said Julia. “If I keep him waiting
to-day, he might say--‘Oho!’”

Under dread of a comment so significant she was ready at last, and said
majestically he might come now whenever he liked.

Meantime, down stairs an uneasiness of the opposite kind was growing.
Ten minutes past the appointed time, and the bridegroom not there.
So while Julia, now full dressed, and easy in her mind, was directing
Sarah’s sister to lay out her plain travelling dress, bonnet and gloves
on the bed, Mrs. Dodd was summoned downstairs. She came down with
Julia’s white gloves in her hand, and a needle and thread, the button
sewed on by trade’s fair hand having flown at the first strain. Edward
met her on the stairs: “What had we better do, mother?” said he, _sotto
voce:_ “there must be some mistake. Can you remember? Wasn’t he to call
for me on the way to the church?”

“I really do not know,” said Mrs. Dodd. “Is he at the church, do you
think?”

“No, no, either he was to call for me here, or I for him. I’ll go to the
church, though: it is only a step.”

He ran off, and in a little more than five minutes came into the
drawing-room.

“No, he is not there. I must go to his lodgings. Confound him, he has
got reading Aristotle, I suppose.”

This passed before the whole party, Julia excepted.

Sampson looked at his watch, and said he could conduct the ladies to
the church while Edward went for Alfred. “Division of labour,” said he
gallantly, “and mine the delightful half.”

Mrs. Dodd demurred to the plan. She was for waiting quietly in one
place.

“Well, but” said Edward, “we may overdo that; here it is a quarter-past
eleven, and you know they can’t be married after twelve. No, I really
think you had better all go with the doctor. I dare say we shall be
there as soon as you will.”

This was agreed on after some discussion. Edward, however, to provide
against all contingencies, begged Sampson not to wait for him should
Alfred reach the church by some other road: “I’m only groomsman,
you know,” said he. He ran off at a racing pace. The bride was
then summoned, admired, and handed into one carriage with her two
bridesmaids, Miss Bosanquet and Miss Darton. Sampson and Mrs. Dodd went
in the other; and by half-past eleven they were all safe in the church.

A good many people, high and low, were about the door and in the pews,
waiting to see the beautiful Miss Dodd married to the son of a personage
once so popular as Mr. Hardie: it had even transpired that Mr. Hardie
disapproved the match. They had been waiting a long time, and were
beginning to wonder what was the matter, when, at last the bride’s party
walked up the aisle with a bright April sun shining on them through the
broad old windows. The bride’s rare beauty, and stag-like carriage of
her head, imperial in its loveliness and orange wreath, drew a hum of
admiration.

The party stood a minute or two at the east end of the church, and then
the clergyman came out and invited them into the vestry.

Their reappearance was eagerly expected; in silence at first, but
presently in loud and multitudinous whispers.

At this moment a young lady, with almost perfect features and sylph-like
figure, modestly dressed in dove-coloured silk, but with a new chip
bonnet and white gloves, entered a pew near the west door, and said a
little prayer; then proceeded up the aisle, and exchanged a word with
the clerk, then into the vestry.

“Cheep! cheep! cheep!” went fifty female tongues, and the arrival of the
bridegroom’s sister became public news.

The bride welcomed her in the vestry with a sweet guttural of surprise
and delight, and they kissed one another like little tigers.

“Oh, my darling Jane, how kind of you! have I got you back to make my
happiness complete?”

Now none of her own party had thought it wise to tell Julia there was
any hitch: but Miss Hardie blurted out naturally enough, “But where’s
Alfred?”

“I don’t know, dear,” said Julia innocently. “Are not he and Edward
in another part of the church? I thought we were waiting till twelve
o’clock, perhaps. Mamma dear, you know everything; I suppose this is all
right?”

Then, looking round at her friends’ faces, she saw in a moment that
it was all wrong. Sampson’s, in particular, was burning with manly
indignation, and even her mother’s discomposed, and trying to smile.

When the innocent saw this, she suspected her beloved was treating her
cavalierly, and her poor little mouth began to work, and she had much
ado not to whimper.

Mrs. Dodd, to encourage her, told her not to be put out: it had been
arranged all along that Edward should go for him: “Unfortunately we
had an impression it was the other way: but now Edward is gone to his
lodgings.”

“No, mamma,” said Julia; “Alfred was to call for Edward; because our
house was on the way.”

“Are you sure, my child?” asked Mrs. Dodd very gravely.

“Oh yes, mamma,” said Julia, beginning to tremble; “at a quarter before
eleven: I heard them settle it.”

The matter was terribly serious now; indeed, it began to look hopeless.
Weather overclouded: rain-drops falling; and hard upon twelve o’clock.

They all looked at one another in despair.

Suddenly there was a loud, long buzzing heard outside, and the house of
God turned into a gossiping fair. “Talk of money changers,” said Satan
that day, “give _me_ the exchangers of small talk.”

“Thank Heaven they are come,” said Mrs. Dodd. But, having thus relieved
her mind, she drew herself up and prepared a freezing reception for the
defaulter.

A whisper reached their excited ears: “It is young Mr. Dodd” and next
moment Edward came into the vestry--alone: the sight of him was enough;
his brow wet with perspiration, his face black and white with bitter
wrath.

“Come home, _my_ people,” he said sternly: “there will be no wedding
here to-day!”

The bridesmaids cackled questions at him; he turned his back on them.

Mrs. Dodd knew her son’s face too well to waste inquiries. “Give me my
child!” she cried, in such a burst of mother’s anguish long restrained,
that even the insult to the bride was forgotten for one moment, till
she was seen tottering into her mother’s arms and cringing and trying to
hide bodily in her: “Oh, throw a shawl over me,” she moaned; “hide all
this.”

Well, they all did what they could. Jane hung round her neck and sobbed,
and said, “I’ve a sister now, and no brother.” The bridesmaids cried.
The young curate ran and got the fly to the vestry-door: “Get into it,”
 he said, “and you will at least escape the curious crowd.”

“God bless you, Mr. Hurd,” said Edward, half choked. He hurried the
insulted bride and her mother in; Julia huddled and shrank into a corner
under Mrs. Dodd’s shawl: Mrs. Dodd had all the blinds down in a moment;
and they went home as from a funeral.

Ay, and a funeral it was; for the sweetest girl in England buried her
hopes, her laugh, her May of youth, in that church that day.

When she got to Albion Villa, she cast a wild look all around for fear
she should be seen in her wedding clothes, and darted moaning into the
house.

Sarah met her in the hall, smirking; and saying, “Wish you j----”

The poor bride screamed fearfully at the mocking words, and cut the
conventional phrase in two as with a razor; then fled to her own room
and tore off her wreath, her veil, her pearls, and had already strewed
the room, when Mrs. Dodd, with a foot quickened by affection, burst in
and caught her half fainting, and laid her weary as old age, and cold as
a stone, upon her mother’s bosom, and rocked her as in the days of happy
childhood never to return, and bedewed the pale face with her own tears.

Sampson took the bridesmaids each to her residence, on purpose to leave
Edward free. He came home, washed his face, and, sick at heart, but more
master of himself, knocked timidly at Julia’s door.

“Come in, _my son,_” said a broken voice.

He crept in, and saw a sorry sight. The travelling dress and bonnet were
waiting still on the bed; the bridal wreath and veil lay on the floor;
and so did half the necklace, and the rest of the pearls all about the
floor; and Julia, with all her hair loose and hanging below her waist,
lay faintly quivering in her mother’s arms.

Edward stood and looked, and groaned.

Mrs. Dodd whispered to him over Julia: “Not a tear! not a tear!”

“Dead, or false?” moaned the girl: “dead, or false? Oh that I could
believe he was false; no, no, he is dead, dead.”

Mrs. Dodd whispered again over her girl.

“Tell her something: give us tears--the world for one tear!”

“What shall I say?” gasped Edward.

“Tell her the truth, and trust to God, whose child she is.” Edward knelt
on the floor and took her hand--

“My poor little Ju,” he said, in a voice broken with pity and emotion,
“would you rather have him dead, or false to you?”

“‘Why false, a thousand times. It’s Edward. Bless your sweet face, my
own, own brother; tell me he is false, and not come to deadly harm.”

“You shall judge for yourself,” he groaned. “I went to his lodgings. He
had left the town. The woman told me a letter came for him last night.
A letter in--a female hand. The scoundrel came in from us; got this
letter; packed up his things directly; paid his lodging; and went off in
a two-horse fly at eight o’clock in the morning.”



CHAPTER XXX

AT these plain proofs of Alfred’s infidelity, Julia’s sweet throat began
to swell hysterically, and then her bosom to heave and pant: and,
after a piteous struggle, came a passion of sobs and tears so wild, so
heart-broken, that Edward blamed himself bitterly for telling her.

But Mrs. Dodd sobbed “No, no, I would rather have her so; only leave her
with me now: bless you, darling: leave us quickly.”

She rocked and nursed her deserted child hours and hours: and so the
miserable day crawled to its close.

Downstairs the house looked strange and gloomy: she, who had brightened
it all, was darkened herself. The wedding breakfast and flowers remained
in bitter mockery. Sarah cleared half the table, and Sampson and Edward
dined in moody silence.

Presently Sampson’s eye fell upon the Deed: it lay on a small table with
a pen beside it, to sign on their return from church.

Sampson got hold of it and dived in the verbiage. He came up again
with a discovery. In spite of its feebleness, verbosity, obscurity, and
idiotic way of expressing itself, the Deed managed to convey to David
and Mrs. Dodd a life interest in nine thousand five hundred pounds, with
reversion to Julia and the children of the projected marriage. Sampson
and Edward put their heads over this, and it puzzled them, “Why, man,”
 said Sampson, “if the puppy had signed this last night, he would be a
beggar now.”

“Ay,” said Edward, “but after all he did not sign it.”

“Nay, but that was your fault, not his: the lad was keen to sign.”

“That is true; and perhaps if we had pinned him to this, last night, he
would not have dared insult my sister to-day.”

Sampson changed the subject by inquiring suddenly which way he was gone.

“Curse him, I don’t know; and don’t care. Go where he will I shall meet
him again some day; and then--Edward spoke almost in a whisper, but a
certain grind of his white teeth and flashing of his lion eyes made the
incomplete sentence very expressive.

“What ninnies you young men are,” said the Doctor; “even you, that I dub
‘my fathom o’ good sense:’ just finish your denner and come with me.”

“No, Doctor; I’m off my feed for once: if you had been upstairs and seen
my poor sister! Hang the grub; it turns my stomach.” And he shoved his
plate away, and leaned over the back of his chair.

Sampson made him drink a glass of wine, and then they got up from the
half-finished meal and went hurriedly to Alfred’s lodgings, the Doctor,
though sixty, rushing along with all the fire and buoyancy of early
youth. They found the landlady surrounded by gossips curious as
themselves, and longing to chatter, but no materials. The one new fact
they elicited was that the vehicle was a White Lion fly, for she knew
the young man by the cast in his eye. “Come away,” shouted the Doctor
unceremoniously, and in two minutes they were in the yard of the White
Lion.

Sampson called the ostler: out came a hard-featured man, with a strong
squint. Sampson concluded this was his man, and said roughly: “Where did
you drive young Hardie this morning?”

He seemed rather taken aback by this abrupt question; but reflected and
slapped his thigh: “Why, that is the party from Mill Street.”

“Yes.”

“Druv him to Silverton station, sir: and wasn’t long about it,
either--gent was in a hurry.”

“What train did he go by?”

“Well, I don’t know, sir; I left him at the station.”

“Well, then, where did he take his ticket for? Where did he tell the
porter he was going? Think now, and I’ll give y’ a sovereign.”

The ostler scratched his head, and seemed at first inclined to guess for
the sovereign, but at last said: “I should only be robbing you gents.
Ye see, he paid the fly then and there, and gave me a crown: and I druv
away directly.”

On this they gave him a shilling and left him. But on leaving the yard
Edward said: “Doctor, I don’t like that fellow’s looks: let us try
the landlord.” They went into the bar and made similar inquiries. The
landlord was out, the mistress knew nothing about it, but took a book
out of a drawer, and turned over the leaves. She read out an entry to
this effect--

“Pair horse fly to Silverton: take up in Mill Street at eight o’clock.
Is that it, sir?” Sampson assented; but Edward told her the ostler said
it was Silverton station.

“No: it is Silverton in the book, sir. Well, you see it is all one to
us; the station is further than the town, but we charge seven miles
whichever ‘tis.”

Bradshaw, inspected then and there, sought in vain to conceal that four
trains reach Silverton from different points between 8.50 and 9.25 A. M.

The friends retired with this scanty information. Alfred could hardly
have gone to London; for there was a train up from Barkington itself at
8.30. But he might have gone to almost any other part of the island, or
out of it for that matter. Sampson fell into a brown study.

After a long silence, which Edward was too sad to break, he said
thoughtfully: “Bring sceince to bear on this hotch-potch. Facks are
never really opposed to facks; they onnly seem to be: and the true
solution is the one which riconciles all the facks: for instance, the
chronothairmal Therey riconciles all th’ undisputed facks in midicine.
So now sairch for a solution to riconcile the Deed with the puppy
levanting.”

Edward searched, but could find none; and said so.

“Can’t you?” said Sampson; “then I’ll give you a couple. Say he is
touched in the upper story for one.”

“What do you mean? Mad?”

“Oh: there are degrees of Phrinzy. Here is th’ inconsistency of conduct
that marks a disturbance of the reason: and, to tell the truth, I once
knew a young fellow that played this very prank at a wedding, and the
nixt thing we hard, my lorrd was in Bedlam.”

Edward shook his head: “It is the villain’s heart, not his brain.”

Sampson then offered another solution, in which he owned he had more
confidence--

“He has been courting some other wumman first: she declined, or made
believe; but, when she found he had the spirit to go and marry an
innocent girl, then the jade wrote to him and yielded. It’s a married
one, likely. I’ve known women go further for hatred of a wumman than
they would for love of a man and here was a temptation! to snap a lover
off th’ altar, and insult a rival, all at one blow. He meant to marry:
he meant to sign that deed: ay and at his age, even if he had signed
it, he would have gone off at passion’s call, and beggared himself.
What enrages me is that we didn’t let him sign it, and so nail the young
rascal’s money.”

“Curse his money,” said Edward, “and him too. Wait till I can lay my
hand on him: I’ll break every bone in his skin.”

“And I’ll help you.”

In the morning, Mrs. Dodd left Julia for a few minutes expressly to
ask Sampson’s advice. After Alfred’s conduct she was free, and fully
determined, to defend herself and family against spoliation by any means
in her power: so she now showed the doctor David’s letter about the
L. 14,000; and the empty pocket-book; and put together the disjointed
evidence of Julia, Alfred, and circumstances, in one neat and luminous
statement. Sampson was greatly struck with the revelation: he jumped
off his chair and marched about excited: said truth was stranger than
fiction, and this was a manifest swindle: then he surprised Mrs. Dodd
in her turn by assuming that old Hardie was at the bottom of yesterday’s
business. Neither Edward nor his mother could see that, and said so: his
reply was characteristic: “Of course you can’t; you are Anglosaxins; th’
Anglosaxins are good at drawing distinctions: but they can’t gineralise.
I’m a Celt, and gineralise--as a duck swims. I discovered th’ unity
of all disease: it would be odd if I could not trace the maniform
iniquities you suffer to their one source.”

“But what is the connecting link?” asked Mrs. Dodd, still incredulous.

“Why, Richard Hardie’s interest.”

“Well, but the letter?” objected Edward.

“There goes th’ Anglosaxin again,” remonstrated Sampson: “puzzling his
head over petty details; and they are perhaps mere blinds thrown out by
the enemy. Put this and that together: Hardie senior always averse to
this marriage; Hardie senior wanting to keep L. 14,000 of yours: if
his son, who knows of the fraud, became your mother’s son, the swinidle
would be hourly in danger (no connection? y’ unhappy Anglosaxins; why
the two things are interwoven). And so young Hardie is got out of the
way: old Hardie’s doing, or I’m a Dutchman.”

This reasoning still appeared forced and fanciful to Edward but it began
to make some little impression on Mrs. Dodd, and encouraged her to own
that her poor daughter suspected foul play.

“Well, that is possible, too: whativer tempted man has done, tempted man
will do: but more likely he has bribed Jezebel to write and catch the
goose by the heart. Gintlennen, I’m a bit of a physiognomist: look at
old Hardie’s lines; his cords, I might say: and deeper every time I see
him. Sirs, there’s an awful weight on that man’s mind. Looksee! I’ll
just send a small trifle of a detective down to watch his game, and pump
his people: and, as soon as it is safe, we’ll seize the old bird, and,
once he is trapped the young one will reappear like magic: th’ old one
will disgorge; we’ll just compound the felony--been an old friend--and
recover the cash.”

A fine sketch; but Edward thought it desperately wild, and Mrs. Dodd
preferred employing a respectable attorney to try and obtain justice in
the regular way. Sampson laughed at her; what was the use of attacking
in the regular way an irregular genius like old Hardie? “Attorneys are
too humdrum for such a job,” said he; “they start with a civil letter
putting a rogue on his guard; they proceed t’ a writ and then he digs a
hole in another county and buries the booty; or sails t’ Australia with
it. N’list’me; I’m an old friend, and an insane lover of justice--I say
insane, because my passion is not returned, or the jade wouldn’t keep
out of my way so all these years--you leave all this to me.”

“Stop a minute,” said Edward; “you must not go compromising us: and we
have no money to pay for luxuries like detectives.”

“I won’t compromise any one of you: and my detective shan’t cost y’ a
penny.”

“Ah, my dear friend,” said Mrs. Dodd, “the fact is, you do not know all
the difficulties that beset us. Tell him, Edward. Well, then, let _me._
The poor boy is attached to this gentleman’s daughter, whom you propose
to treat like a felon: and he is too good a son and too good a friend
for me to--what, what, shall I do?”

Edward coloured up to the eyes. “Who told you that, mother?” said he.
“Well, yes, I do love her, and I’m not ashamed of it. Doctor,” said
the poor fellow after a while, “I see now I am not quite the person to
advise my mother in this matter. I consent to leave it in your hands.”

And in pursuance of this resolution, he retired to his study.

“There’s a damnable combination,” said Sampson drily. “Truth is
sairtainly more wonderful than feckshin. Here’s my fathom o’ good sense
in love with a wax doll, and her brother jilting his sister, and her
father pillaging his mother. It _beats_ hotch-potch.”

Mrs. Dodd denied the wax doll: but owned Miss Hardie was open to vast
objections: “An inestimable young lady; but so odd; she is one of these
uneasy-minded Christians that have sprung up: a religious egotist, and
_malade imaginaire,_ eternally feeling her own spiritual pulse----”

“I know the disorrder,” cried Sampson eagerly: “the pashints have a hot
fit (and then they are saints): followed in due course by the cold fit
(and then they are the worst of sinners): and so on in endless rotation:
and, if they could only realise my great discovery, the perriodicity of
all disease, and time their sintiments, they would find the hot fit and
the cold return chronometrically, at intervals as rigular as the
tide’s ebb and flow; and the soul has nothing to do with either febrile
symptom. Why Religion, apart from intermittent Fever of the Brain, is
just the caumest, peaceablest, sedatest thing in all the world.”

“Ah, you are too deep for me, my good friend. All I know is that she
is one of this new school, whom I take the liberty to call ‘THE FIDGETY
CHRISTIANS.’ They cannot let their poor souls alone a minute; and they
pester one day and night with the millennium; as if we shall not all
be dead long before that. But the worst is, they apply the language of
earthly passion to the Saviour of mankind, and make one’s flesh creep
at their blasphemies; so coarse, so familiar: like that rude multitude
which thronged and pressed Him when on earth. But, after all, she
came to the church, and took my Julia’s part; so that shows she has
_principle;_ and do pray spare me her feelings in any step you take
against that dishonourable person her father. I must go back to his
victim, my poor, poor child--I dare not leave her long. Oh, Doctor, such
a night! and, if she dozes for a minute, it is to wake with a scream and
tell me she sees him dead: sometimes he is drowned; sometimes stained
with blood, but always dead.”



This evening Mr. Hardie came along in a fly with his luggage on the box,
returning to Musgrove Cottage as from Yorkshire: in passing Albion Villa
he cast it a look of vindictive triumph. He got home and nodded by the
fire in his character of a man wearied by a long journey. Jane made him
some tea, and told him how Alfred had disappeared on his wedding-day.

“The young scamp,” said he; he added, coolly, “It is no business
of mine. I had no hand in making the match, thank Heaven.” In the
conversation that ensued, he said he had always been averse to the
marriage; but not so irreconcilably as to approve this open breach of
faith with a respectable young lady. “This will recoil upon our name,
you know, at this critical time,” said he.

Then Jane mustered courage to confess that she had gone to the wedding
herself: “Dear papa,” said she, “it was made clear to me that the
Dodds are acting in what they consider a most friendly way to you. They
think--I cannot tell you what they think. But, if mistaken, they are
sincere: and so, after prayer, and you not being here for me to consult,
I did go to the church. Forgive me, papa: I have but one brother; and
she is my dear friend.”

Mr. Hardie’s countenance fell at this announcement, and he looked almost
diabolical. But on second thoughts he cleared up wonderfully: “I will be
frank with you, Jenny: if the wedding had come off; I should have been
deeply hurt at your supporting that little monster of ingratitude. He
not only marries against his father’s will (that is done every day), but
slanders and maligns him publicy in his hour of poverty and distress.
But now that he has broken faith and insulted Miss Dodd as well as me,
I declare I am glad you were there, Jenny. It will separate us from his
abominable conduct. But what does he say for himself? What reason does
he give?”

“Oh, it is all mystery as yet.”

“Well, but he must have sent some explanation to the Dodds.”

“He may have: I don’t know. I have not ventured to intrude on my poor
insulted friend. Papa, I hear her distress is fearful; they fear for her
reason. Oh, if harm comes to her, God will assuredly punish him whose
heartlessness and treachery has brought her to it. Mark my words,” she
continued with great emotion, “this cruel act will not go unpunished
even in this world.”

“There, there, change the subject,” said Mr. Hardie peevishly. “What
have I to do with his pranks? He has disowned me for his father, and I
disown him for my son.”

The next day Peggy Black called, and asked to see master. Old Betty,
after the first surprise, looked at her from head to foot, and foot to
head, as if measuring her for a suit of disdain; and told her she might
carry her own message; then flounced into the kitchen, and left her to
shut the street door, which she did. She went and dropped her curtsey at
the parlour door, and in a miminy piminy voice said she was come to make
her submission, and would he forgive her, and give her another trial?
Her penitence, after one or two convulsive efforts, ended in a very fair
flow of tears.

Mr. Hardie shrugged his shoulders, and asked Jane if the girl had ever
been saucy to her.

“Oh no, papa: indeed I have no fault to find with poor Peggy.”

“Well, then, go to your work, and try and not offend Betty; remember she
is older than you.”

Peggy went for her box and bandbox, and reinstated herself quietly, and
all old Betty’s endeavours to irritate her only elicited a calm cunning
smile, with a depression of her downy eyelashes.

     _Albion Villa._

Next morning Edward Dodd was woke out of a sound sleep at about four
o’clock, by a hand upon his shoulder: he looked up, and rubbed his
eyes; it was Julia standing by his bedside, dressed, and in her bonnet.
“Edward,” she said in a hurried whisper, “there is foul play: I cannot
sleep, I cannot be idle. He has been decoyed away, and perhaps murdered.
Oh, pray get up and go to the police office or somewhere with me.”

“Very well; but wait till morning.”

“No; now; now--now--now. I shall never go out of doors in the daytime
again. Wait? I’m going crazy with wait, wait, wait, wait, waiting.”

Her hand was like fire on him, and her eyes supernaturally bright.

“There,” said Edward with a groan, “go downstairs, and I will be with
you directly.”

He came down: they went out together: her little burning hand pinched
his tight, and her swift foot seemed scarcely to touch the ground; she
kept him at his full stride till they got to the central police station.
There, at the very thought of facing men, the fiery innocent suddenly
shrank together, and covered her blushing face with her hot hands. She
sent him in alone. He found an intelligent superintendent, who entered
into the case with all the coolness of an old official hand.

Edward came out to his sister, and as he hurried her home, told her what
had passed: “The superintendent asked to see the letter; I told him
he had taken it with him: that was a pity, he said. Then he made me
describe Alfred to a nicety: and the description will go up to London
this morning, and all over Barkington, and the neighbourhood, and the
county.”

She stopped to kiss him, then went on again with her head down, and
neither spoke till they were nearly home: then Edward told her “the
superintendent felt quite sure that the villain was not dead; nor in
danger of it.”

“Oh, bless him! bless him! for saying so.”

“And that he will turn up in London before very long; not in this
neighbourhood. He says he must have known the writer of the letter, and
his taking his luggage with him shows he has gone off deliberately. My
poor little Ju, now do try and look at it as he does, and everybody else
does; try and see it as you would if you were a bystander.”

She laid her soft hand on his shoulder as if to support herself floating
in her sea of doubt: “I do see I am a poor credulous girl; but how can
my Alfred be false to me? Am I to doubt the Bible? Am I to doubt the
sun? Is nothing true in heaven or earth? Oh, if I could only have died
as I was dressing for church--died while he seemed true! He _is_ true;
the wicked creature has cast some spell on him: he has gone in a moment
of delirium; he will regret what he has done, perhaps regrets it now. I
am ungrateful to you, Edward, and to the good policeman, for saying he
is not dead. What more do I require? He is dead to me. Edward, let us
leave this place. We _were_ going: let us go to-day; this very day; oh,
take me, and hide me where no one that knows me can ever see me again.”
 A flood of tears came to her relief: and she went along sobbing and
kissing her brother’s hand every now and then.

But, as they drew near the gate of Albion Villa, twilight began to usher
in the dawn. Julia shuddered at even that faint light, and fled like a
guilty thing, and hid herself sobbing in her own bedroom.


Mr. Richard Hardie slept better now than he had done for some time past,
and therefore woke more refreshed and in better spirits. He knew an
honest family was miserable a few doors off; but he did not care. He got
up and shaved with a mind at ease. One morning, when he had removed the
lather from one half his face, he happened to look out of window, and
saw on the wall opposite--a placard: a large placard to this effect:

     “ONE HUNDRED GUINEAS REWARD!

Whereas, on the 11th instant Mr. Alfred Hardie disappeared mysteriously
from his lodgings in 15 Mill Street, under circumstances suggesting a
suspicion of foul play, know all men that the above reward will be paid
to any person or persons who shall first inform the undersigned where
the said Alfred Hardie is to be found, and what person or persons, if
any, have been concerned in his disappearance.

“ALEXANDER SAMPSON, 39 Pope Street, Napoleon Square London.”



CHAPTER XXXI

THE note Alfred Hardie received, on the 10th of April, was from Peggy
Black. The letters were well formed, for she had been educated at the
national school: but the style was not upon a par.


“MR. ALFRED, SIR,--Margaret Black sends her respects, and if you want to
know the truth about the money, I can tell you all, and where it is at
this present time. Sir, I am now in situation at Silverton Grove House,
about a furlong from the station; and if you will be so good to call
there and ask for Margaret, I will tell you where it is, which I mean
the L. 14,000; for it is a sin the young lady should be beguiled of her
own. Only you must please come this evening, or else to-morrow before
ten o’clock, by reason my mistress and me we are going up to London that
day early, and she talk of taking me abroad along with her.--I remain,
Sir, yours respectfully to command,

“MARGARET BLACK.

“If you please, sir, not to show this letter on no account.”


Alfred read this twice over, and felt a contemptuous repugnance towards
the writer, a cashiered servant, who offered to tell the truth out of
spite, having easily resisted every worthy motive. Indeed, I think
he would have perhaps dismissed the subject into the fire, but for a
strange circumstance that had occurred to him this very afternoon; but I
had no opportunity to relate it till now. Well, just as he was going to
dress for dinner, he received a visit from Dr. Wycherley, a gentleman
he scarcely knew by name. Dr. Wycherley inquired after his kephalalgia:
Alfred stared and told him it was much the same; troubled him
occasionally.

“And your insomnia.”

“I don’t know the word: have you any authority for it?”

Dr. Wycherley smiled with a sort of benevolent superiority that galled
his patient, and proceeded to inquire after his nightly visions and
voices. But at this Alfred looked grave as well as surprised and vexed.
He was on his guard now, and asked himself seriously what was the
meaning of all this, and could his father have been so mad as to talk
over his own shame with this stranger: he made no reply whatever.

Dr. Wycherley’s curiosity was not of a very ardent kind: for he was one
of those who first form an opinion, and then collect the materials of
one: and a very little fact goes a long way with such minds. So, when he
got no answer about the nocturnal visions and voices, he glided calmly
on to another matter. “By-the-bye, that L. 14,000!”

Alfred started, and then eyed him keenly: “What L. 14,000?”

“The fabulous sum you labour under the impression of your father having
been guilty of clandestinely appropriating.”

This was too much for Alfred’s patience. “I don’t know who you are,
sir,” said he; “I never exchanged but three words in my life with you;
and do you suppose I will talk to a stranger on family matters of so
delicate a kind as this? I begin to think you have intruded yourself on
me simply to gratify an impertinent curiosity.”

“The hypothesis is at variance with my established character,” replied
the oleaginous one. “Do me the justice to believe in the necessity of
this investigation, and that it is one of a most friendly character.”

“Then I decline the double nuisance: your curiosity and your friendship!
Take them both out of my room, sir, or I shall turn them both out by one
pair of shoulders.”

“You shall smart for this,” said the doctor, driven to plain English
by anger, that great solvent of circumlocution with which Nature has
mercifully supplied us. He made to the door, opened it, and said in
considerable excitement to some one outside, “Excited!--Very!”

Now Dr. Pleonast had no sooner been converted to the vernacular, and
disappeared, than another stranger entered the room. He had evidently
been lurking in the passage: it was a man of smallish stature,
singularly gaunt, angular, and haggard, but dressed in a spruce suit
of black, tight, new, and glossy. In short, he looked like Romeo’s
apothecary gone to Stultz with the money. He fluttered in with pale
cheek and apprehensive body, saying hurriedly, “Now, my _dear_ sir, _be_
calm: _pray_ be calm. I have come down all the way from London to see
you, and I am _sure_ you won’t make me lose my journey; will you now?”

“And pray who asked you to come all the way from London, sir?”

“A person to whom your health is very dear.”

“Oh indeed; so I have secret friends, have I? Well, you may tell my
secret, underhand, _friends,_ I never was better in my life.”

“I am truly glad to hear it,” said the little man: “let me introduce
myself, as Dr. Wycherley forgot to do it.” And he handed Alfred a card,
on which his name and profession were written.

“Well, Mr. Speers,” said Alfred, “I have only a moment to give you, for
I must dress for dinner. What do you want?”

“I come, sir, in hopes of convincing your friends you are not so very
ill; not incurable. Why your eye is steady, your complexion good: a
little high with the excitement of this conversation; but, if we can
only get over this little delusion, all will be well.”

“What little delusion?”

“About the L. 14,000, you know.”

“What L. 14,000? I have not mentioned L. 14,000 to you, have I?”

“No, sir: you seem to shun it like poison; that is the worst of it. You
talk about it to others fast enough: but to Dr. Wycherley and myself,
who could cure you of it, you would hide all about it, if you could.”

At this Alfred rose and put his hands in his pockets and looked down
grimly on his inquisitor. “Mr. Speers,” said he, “you had better go.
There is no credit to be gained by throwing so small an apothecary as
you out of that window; and _you_ won’t find it pleasant either; for, if
you provoke me to it, I shall not stand upon ceremony: I shan’t open the
window first, as I should for Dr. What’s his confounded name.”

At these suggestive words, spoken with suppressed ire and flashing eyes,
Speers scuttled to the door crabwise, holding the young lion in check
conventionally--to wit, with an eye as valiant as a sheep’s; and a
joyful apothecary was he when he found himself safe outside the house
and beside Dr. Wycherley, who was waiting for him.

Alfred soon cooled, and began to laugh at his own anger and the
unbounded impudence of his visitors: but, on the other hand, it struck
him as a grave circumstance that so able a man as his father should stir
muddy water; should go and talk to these strangers about the money he
had misappropriated. He puzzled himself all the time he was dressing:
and, not to trouble the reader with all the conjectures that passed
through his mind, he concluded at last, that Mr. Hardie must feel very
strong, very sure there was no evidence against him but his son’s, or he
would not take the eighth commandment by the horns like this.

“Injustice carries it with a high hand,” thought Alfred, with a sigh.
He was not the youth to imitate his father’s shamelessness: so he locked
this last incident in his own breast; did not even mention it to Julia.

But now, on reading Peggy’s note, his warlike instincts awoke, and,
though he despised his correspondent and her motives, he could not let
such a chance pass of defeating brazen injustice. It was unfortunate and
awkward to have to go to Silverton on his wedding morning; but, after
all, there was plenty of time. He packed up his things at once for
the wedding tour, and in the morning took them with him in the fly to
Silverton: his plan was to come back direct to Albion Villa: so he went
to Silverton Grove full dressed, all ready for the wedding.

As it happened he overtook his friend Peterson just outside the town,
called to him gaily, and invited him to church and breakfast.

To his surprise the young gentleman replied sullenly that he should
certainly not come.

“Not come, old fellow?” said Alfred, hurt.

“You have a good cheek to ask me,” retorted the other.

This led to an explanation. Peterson’s complaint was that he had told
Alfred he was in love with Julia, and Alfred had gone directly and
fallen in love with her just to cut him out.

“What are you talking about?” said Alfred. “So this is the reason you
have kept away from me of late: why, I was engaged to her at the very
time; only my father was keeping us apart.”

“Then why didn’t you say so?”

“Because my love is not of the prattling sort.”

“Oh, nonsense; I don’t believe a word of it.”

“You don’t believe my word! Did you ever know me tell a lie? At that
rate think what you please, sir: drive on, Strabo.”

And so ended that little friendship.

On the road our ardent youth arranged in his head a noble scheme. He
would bring Peggy Black home with him, compensating her liberally for
the place she would thereby lose: would confront her privately with his
father, and convince him it was his interest to restore the Dodds their
money with a good grace, take the L. 5000 he had already offered, and
countenance the wedding by letting Jane be present at it. It was hard to
do all this in the time, but well worth trying for, and not impossible.
A two-horse fly is not a slow conveyance, and he offered the man a
guinea to drive fast; so that it was not nine o’clock when they reached
Silverton Grove House, a place Alfred had never heard of. This,
however, I may observe, was no wonder: for it had not borne that name a
twelve-month.

It was a large square mansion of red brick, with stone facings and
corners, and with balustrades that hid the garret windows. It stood in
its own grounds, and the entrance was through handsome iron gates, one
of which was wide open to admit people on foot or horseback. The flyman
got down and tried to open the other, but could not manage it. “There,
don’t waste time,” said Alfred impatiently, “let me out.”

He found a notice under the bell, “Ring and enter.” He rang accordingly,
and at the clang the hall-door opened, as if he had pulled a porter
along with the bell; and a grey-haired servant out of livery stood on
the steps to receive him. Alfred hurried across the plat, which was
trimmed as neatly as a college green, and asked the servant if he could
see Margaret Black.

“Margaret Black?” said the man doubtfully: “I’ll inquire, sir. Please to
follow me.”

They entered a handsome hall, with antlers and armour: from this a
double staircase led up to a landing with folding doors in the centre
of it; one of these doors was wide open like the iron gate outside. The
servant showed Alfred up the left-hand staircase, through the open door,
into a spacious drawing-room, handsomely though not gaily furnished and
decorated, but a little darkened by Venetian blinds.

The old servant walked gravely on and on, till Alfred began to think
he would butt the wall; but he put his hand out and opened a door that
might very well escape a stranger’s notice; for it was covered with
looking-glass, and matched another narrow mirror in shape and size.
This door led into a very long room, as plain and even sordid as the
drawing-room was inviting: the unpapered walls were a cold drab, and
wanted washing; there was a thick cobweb up in one corner, and from
the ceiling hung the tail of another, which the housemaid’s broom had
scotched not killed: that side of the room they entered by was all
books. The servant said, “Stay here a moment, sir, and I’ll send her
to you.” With this he retired into the drawing-room, closing the door
softly after him: once closed it became invisible; it fitted like wax,
and left nothing to be seen but books; not even a knob. It shut to with
that gentle but clean click which a spring bolt, however polished and
oiled and gently closed, will emit. Altogether it was enough to give
some people a turn. But Alfred’s nerves were not to be affected by
trifles; he put his hands in his pockets and walked up and down the
room, quietly enough at first, but by-and-bye uneasily. “Confound her
for wasting my time,” thought he; “why doesn’t she come?”

Then, as he had learned to pick up the fragments of time, and hated
dawdling, he went to take a book from the shelves.

He found it was a piece of iron, admirably painted: it chilled his hand
with its unexpected coldness: and all the books on and about the door
were iron and chilly.

“Well,” thought he, “this is the first dummy ever took me in. What a
fool the man must be! Why he could have bought books with ideas in them
for the price of these impostors.”

Still Peggy did not come. So he went to a door opposite, and at right
angles to the farthest window, meaning to open it and inquire after her:
lo and behold he found this was a knob without a door. There had been a
door but it was blocked up. The only available door on that side had a
keyhole, but no latch, nor handle.

Alfred was a prisoner.

He no sooner found this out than he began to hammer on the door with his
fists, and call out.

This had a good effect, for he heard a woman’s dress come rustling: a
key was inserted, and the door opened. But, instead of Peggy, it was a
tall well-formed woman of thirty, with dark grey eyes, and straightish
eyebrows massive and black as jet. She was dressed quietly but like a
lady. Mrs. Archbold, for that was her name, cast on Alfred one of those
swift, all-devouring glances, with which her sex contrive to take in the
features, character, and dress of a person from head to foot, and smiled
most graciously on him, revealing a fine white set of teeth. She begged
him to take a seat; and sat down herself. She had left the door ajar.

“I came to see Margaret Black,” said Alfred.

“Margaret Black? There is no such person here,” was the quiet reply.

“What! has she gone away so early as this?”

Mrs. Archbold smiled, and said soothingly, “Are you sure she ever
existed; except in your imagination?”

Alfred laughed at this, and showed her Peggy’s letter. She ran her eye
over it, and returned it him with a smile of a different kind, half
pitying, half cynical. But presently resuming her former manner, “I
remember now,” said she in dulcet tones: “the anxiety you are labouring
under is about a large sum of money, is it not?”

“What, can you give me any information about it?” said he, surprised.

“I think we can render you great _service_ in the matter, infinite
service, Mr. Hardie,” was the reply, in a voice of very honey.

Alfred was amazed at this. “You say you don’t know Peggy! And yet you
seem to know me. I never saw you in my life before, madam; what on earth
is the meaning of all this?”

“Calm yourself,” said Mrs. Archbold, laying a white and finely moulded
hand upon his arm, “there is no wonder nor mystery in the matter: _you
were expected._”

The colour rushed into Alfred’s face, and he started to his feet; some
vague instinct told him to be gone from this place.

The lady fixed her eyes on him, put her hand to a gold chain that was
round her neck, and drew out of her white bosom, not a locket, nor a
key, but an ivory whistle. Keeping her eye steadily fixed on Alfred, she
breathed softly into the whistle. Then two men stepped quietly in at the
door; one was a short, stout snob, with great red whiskers, the other
a wiry gentleman with iron-grey hair. The latter spoke to Alfred,
and began to coax him. If Mrs. Archbold was honey, this personage was
treacle. “Be calm, my dear young gentleman; don’t agitate yourself. You
have been sent here for your good; and that you may be cured, and so
restored to society and to your anxious and affectionate friends.”

“What are you talking about? what do you mean?” cried Alfred; “are you
mad?”

“No, _we_ are not,” said the short snob, with a coarse laugh.

“Have done with this fooling, then,” said Alfred sharply; “the person I
came to see is not here; good morning.”

The short man instantly stepped to the door, and put his back to it.
The other said calmly, “No, Mr. Hardie, you cannot leave the house at
present.”

“Can’t I? Why not, pray?” said Alfred, drawing his breath hard: and his
eyes began to glitter dangerously.

“We are responsible for your safety: we have force at hand if necessary;
pray do not compel us to summon it.”

“Why, where am I?” said Alfred, panting now; “is this a prison?”

“No, no,” said Mrs. Archbold soothingly: “it is a place where you will
be cured of your headaches and your delusions, and subjected to no
unnecessary pain nor restraint.”

“Oh, bother,” said the short snob brutally. “Why make two bites of a
cherry? You are in my asylum, young gentleman, and a devilish lucky
thing for you.”

At this fatal word, “asylum,” Alfred uttered a cry of horror and
despair, and his eyes roved wildly round the room in search of escape.
But the windows of the room, though outside the house they seemed to
come as low as those of the drawing-room, were partly bricked-up within,
and made just too high to be reached without a chair. And his captors
read that wild glance directly, and the doctor whipped one chair away,
while Mrs. Archbold, with more tact, sat quietly down on the other. They
all three blew their whistles shrilly.

Alfred uttered an oath and rushed at the door; but heard heavy feet
running on stone passages towards the whistles, and felt he had no
chance out that way: his dilating eye fell upon the handle of the old
defunct door: he made a high leap, came down with his left foot on its
knob of brass, and, though of course he could not stand on it, contrived
to spring from it slap at the window--Mrs. Archbold screamed--he broke
the glass with his shoulder, and tore and kicked the woodwork, and
squeezed through on to a stone ledge outside, and stood there bleeding
and panting, just as half a dozen keepers burst into the room at his
back. He was more than twenty feet from the ground: to leap down was
death or mutilation: he saw the flyman driving away. He yelled to him,
“Hy! hy! stop! stop!” The flyman stopped and looked round. But soon as
he saw who it was, he just grinned: Alfred could see his hideous grin;
and there was the rattle of chairs being brought to the window, and
men were mounting softly to secure him. A coarse hand stole towards
his ankle; he took a swift step and sprang desperately on to the next
ledge--it was an old manor house, and these ledges were nearly a foot
broad--from this one he bounded to the next, and then to a third, the
last but one on this side of the building. The corner ledge was but
half the size, and offered no safe footing: but close to it he saw
the outside leaves of a tree. That tree, then, must grow close to the
corner; could he but get round to it he might yet reach the ground
whole. Urged by that terror of a madhouse which is natural to a sane
man, and in England is fed by occasional disclosures, and the general
suspicion they excite, he leaped on to a piece of stone no bigger than
one’s hat, and then whirled himself round into the tree, all eyes to see
and claws to grasp.

It was a weeping ash: he could get hold of nothing but soft yielding
slivers, that went through his fingers, and so down with him like a
bulrush, and souse he went with his hands full of green leaves over head
and ears into the water of an enormous iron tank that fed the baths.

The heavy plunge, the sudden cold water, the instant darkness, were
appalling: yet, like the fox among the hounds, the gallant young
gentleman did not lose heart nor give tongue. He came up gurgling and
gasping, and swimming for his life in manly silence: he swam round and
round the edge of the huge tank, trying in vain to get a hold upon its
cold rusty walls. He heard whistles and voices about: they came faint to
him where he was, but he knew they could not be very far off.

Life is sweet. It flashed across him how, a few years before, a
university man of great promise had perished miserably in a tank on some
Swiss mountain--a tank placed for the comfort of travellers. He lifted
his eyes to Heaven in despair, and gave one great sob.

Then he turned upon his back and floated: but he was obliged to paddle
with his hands a little to keep up.

A window opened a few feet above him, and a face peered out between the
bars.

Then he gave all up for lost, and looked to hear a voice denounce him;
but no: the livid face and staring eyes at the window took no notice of
him: it was a maniac, whose eyes, bereft of reason, conveyed no images
to the sentient brain. Only by some half vegetable instinct this
darkened man was turning towards the morning sun, and staring it full in
the face. Alfred saw the rays strike and sparkle on those glassy orbs,
and fire them; yet they never so much as winked. He was appalled yet
fascinated by this weird sight: could not take his eyes off it, and
shuddered at it in the very water. With such creatures as that he must
be confined, or die miserably like a mouse in a basin of water.

He hesitated between two horrors.

Presently his foot struck something, and he found it was a large pipe
that entered the tank to the distance of about a foot This pipe was not
more than three feet under water, and Alfred soon contrived to get upon
it, and rest his fingers upon the iron edge of the tank. The position
was painful: yet so he determined to remain till night: and then, if
possible, steal away. Every faculty of mind and body was strung up to
defend himself against the wretches who had entrapped him.

He had not been long in this position, when voices approached, and next
the shadow of a ladder moved across the wall towards him. The keepers
were going to search his pitiable hiding-place. They knew, what he did
not, that there was no outlet from the premises: so now, having
hunted every other corner and cranny, they came by what is called the
exhaustive process of reasoning to this tank; and when they got near it,
something in the appearance of the tree caught the gardener’s quick eye.
Alfred quaking heard him say, “Look here! He is not far from this.”

Another voice said, “Then the Lord have mercy on him; why there’s seven
foot of water; I measured it last night.”

At this Alfred was conscious of a movement and a murmur, that proved
humanity was not extinct; and the ladder was fixed close to the tank,
and feet came hastily up it.

Alfred despaired.

But, as usual with spirits so quickwitted and resolute, it was but for a
moment. “One man in his time plays many animals;” he caught at the words
he had heard, and played the game the jackal desperate plays in India,
the fox in England, the elephant in Ceylon: he feigned death; filled his
mouth with water, floated on his back paddling imperceptibly, and half
closed his eyes.

He was rewarded by a loud shout of dismay just above his head, and very
soon another ladder was placed on the other side, and with ropes
and hands he was drawn out and carried down the ladder: he took this
opportunity to discharge the water from his mouth, on which a coarse
voice said, “Look there! _His_ troubles are at an end.”

However, they laid him on the grass, and sent for the doctor; then took
off his coat, and one of them began to feel his heart to see whether
there was any pulsation left: he found it thumping. “Look out,” he cried
in some alarm; “he’s shamming Abraham.”

But, before the words were well uttered, Alfred, who was a practised
gymnast, bounded off the ground without touching it with his hands, and
fled like a deer towards the front of the house: for he remembered the
open iron gate. The attendants followed shouting, and whistle answered
whistle all over the grounds. Alfred got safe to the iron gate: alas!
it had been closed at the first whistle twenty minutes ago. He turned in
rage and desperation, and the head-keeper, a powerful man, was rushing
incautiously upon him. Alfred instantly steadied himself, and with his
long arm caught the man in full career a left-handed blow like the
kick of a pony, that laid his cheek open and knocked him stupid and
staggering. He followed it up like lightning with his right, and,
throwing his whole weight into this second blow, sent the staggering man
to grass; slipped past another, and skirting the south side of the
house got to the tank again well in advance of his pursuers, seized the
ladder, carried it to the garden wall, and was actually half way up it,
and saw the open country and liberty, when the ladder was dragged away
and he fell heavily to the ground, and a keeper threw himself bodily on
him. Alfred half expected this, and drawing up his foot in time, dashed
it furiously in the coming face, actually knocking the man backwards.
Another kneeled on his chest: Alfred caught him by the throat so felly
that he lost all power, and they rolled over and over together, and
Alfred got clear and ran for it again, and got on the middle of the
lawn, and hallooed to the house:--“Hy! hy! Are there any more sane men
imprisoned there? Come out, and fight for your lives!” Instantly the
open windows were filled with white faces, some grinning, some exulting,
all greatly excited; and a hideous uproar shook the whole place--for the
poor souls were all sane in their own opinion--and the whole force of
attendants, two of them bleeding profusely from his blows, made a
cordon and approached him. But he was too cunning to wait to be fairly
surrounded; he made his rush at an under-keeper, feinted at his head,
caught him a heavy blow in the pit of the stomach, doubled him up in
a moment, and off again, leaving the man on his knees vomiting and
groaning. Several mild maniacs ran out in vast agitation, and, to curry
favour, offered to help catch him. Vast was their zeal. But when it came
to the point, they only danced wildly about and cried, “Stop him! for
God’s sake stop him! he’s ill, dreadfully ill; poor wretch! knock out
his brains!” And, whenever he came near them, away they ran whining like
kicked curs.

Mrs. Archbold, looking out at a window, advised them all to let him
alone, and she would come out and persuade him. But they would not be
advised: they chased him about the lawn; but so swift of foot was he,
and so long in the reach, that no one of them could stop him, nor
indeed come near him, without getting a facer that came like a flash of
lightning.

At last, however, they got so well round him, he saw his chance was
gone: he took off his hat to Mrs. Archbold at the window, and said
quietly, “I surrender to _you,_ madam.”

At these words they rushed on him rashly. On this he planted two blows
right and left, swift as a cat attacked by dogs; administered two
fearful black eyes, and instantly folded his arms, saying haughtily, “It
was to the lady I yielded, not to you fellows.”

They seized him, shook their fists in his face, cursed him, and pinned
him. He was quite passive: they handcuffed him, and drove him before
them, shoving him every now and then roughly by the shoulders. He made
no resistance, spoke no word. They took him to the strong-room, and
manacled his ankles together with an iron hobble, and then strapped them
to the bed-posts, and fastened his body down by broad bands of ticking
with leathern straps at the ends: and so left him more helpless than a
swaddled infant. The hurry and excitement of defence were over, and a
cold stupor of misery came down and sat like lead on him. He lay mute as
death in his gloomy cell, a tomb within a living tomb. And, as he lay,
deeper horror grew and grew in his dilating eyes: gusts of rage swept
over him, shook him, and passed: then gusts of despairing tenderness;
all came and went, but his bonds. What would his Julia think? If he
could only let her know! At this thought he called, he shouted, he
begged for a messenger; there was no reply. The cry of a dangerous
lunatic from the strong-room was less heeded here than a bark from any
dog-kennel in Christendom. “This is my father’s doing,” he said. “Curse
him! Curse him Curse him!” and his brain seemed on fire, his temples
throbbed: he vowed to God to be revenged on his father.

Then he writhed at his own meanness in coming to visit a servant and his
folly in being caught by so shallow an artifice. He groaned aloud. The
clock in the hall struck ten. There was just time to get back if they
would lend him a conveyance. He shouted, he screamed, he prayed. He
offered terms humbly, piteously; he would forgive his father, forgive
them all, he would say no more about the money, would do anything,
consent to anything, if they would only let him keep faith with his
Julia: they had better consent, and not provoke his vengeance. “Have
mercy on me!” he cried. “Don’t make me insult her I love. They will all
be waiting for me. It is my wedding-day; you can’t have known it is my
wedding-day; fiends, monsters, I tell you it is my wedding-day. Oh, pray
send the lady to me; she can’t be all stone, and my misery might melt
a stone.” He listened for an answer, he prayed for an answer. There was
none. Once in a mad-house, the sanest man is mad, however interested
and barefaced the motive of the relative who has brought two of the most
venal class upon the earth to sign away his wits behind his back. And
once hobbled and strapped, he is a _dangerous_ maniac, for just so many
days, weeks, or years, as the hobbles, handcuffs, and jacket happen to
be left upon him by inhumanity, economy, or simple carelessness. Poor
Alfred’s cries and prayers were heard, but no more noticed than the
night howl of a wolf on some distant mountain. All was sullen silence,
but the grating tongue of the clock, which told the victim of a
legislature’s shallowness and a father’s avarice--that Time, deaf to his
woe, as were the walls, the men, the women, and the cutting bands, was
stealing away with iron finger his last chance of meeting his beloved at
the altar.

He closed his eyes, and saw her lovelier than ever, dressed all in
white, waiting for him with sweet concern in that peerless face. “Julia!
Julia!” he cried, with a loud heart-broken cry. The half-hour struck. At
that he struggled, he writhed, he bounded: he made the very room shake,
and lacerated his flesh; but that was all. No answer. No motion. No
help. No hope.

The perspiration rolled down his steaming body. The tears burst from
his young eyes and ran down his cheeks. He sobbed, and sobbing almost
choked, so tight were his linen bands upon his bursting bosom.

He lay still exhausted.

The clock ticked harshly on: the rest was silence. With this miserable
exception: ever and anon the victim’s jammed body shuddered so terribly
it shook and rattled the iron bedstead, and told of the storm within,
the agony of the racked and all foreboding soul.

For then rolled over that young head hours of mortal anguish that no
tongue of man can utter, nor pen can shadow. Chained sane amongst the
mad; on his wedding-day; expecting with tied hands the sinister acts of
the soul-murderers who had the power to make their lie a truth! We can
paint the body writhing vainly against its unjust bonds; but who can
paint the loathing, agonised soul in a mental situation so ghastly? For
my part I feel it in my heart of hearts; but am impotent to convey it to
others; impotent, impotent.

Pray think of it for yourselves, men and women, if you have not _sworn_
never to think over a novel. Think of it for your own sakes: Alfred’s
turn to-day, it may be yours to-morrow.



CHAPTER XXXII

AT two o’clock an attendant stole on tiptoe to the strong-room, unlocked
the door, and peeped cautiously in. Seeing the dangerous maniac quiet,
he entered with a plate of lukewarm beef and potatoes, and told him
bluntly to eat. The crushed one said he could not eat. “You must,” said
the man. “Eat!” said Alfred; “of what do you think I am made! Pray put
it down and listen to me. I’ll give you a hundred pounds to let me out
of this place; two hundred; three.”

A coarse laugh greeted this proposal. “You might as well have made it a
thousand when you was about it.”

“So I will,” said Alfred eagerly, “and thank you on my knees besides.
Ah, I see you don’t believe I have money. I give you my honour I have
ten thousand pounds: it was settled on me by my grandfather, and I came
of age last week.”

“Oh, that’s like enough,” said the man carelessly. “Well, you _are_
green. Do you think them as sent you here will let you spend your money?
No, your money is theirs now.”

And he sat down with the plate on his knee and began to cut the meat in
small pieces; while his careless words entered Alfred’s heart, and gave
him such a glimpse of sinister motives and dark acts to come as set him
shuddering.

“Come none o’ that,” said the man, suspecting this shudder. He thought
it was the prologue to some desperate act; for all a chained madman does
is read upon this plan: his terror passes for rage, his very sobs for
snarls.

“Oh, be honest with me,” said Alfred imploringly; “do you think it is to
steal my money the wretch has stolen my liberty?”

“What wretch?”

“My father.”

“I know nothing about it,” said the man sullenly, “in course there’s
mostly money behind, when young gents like you come to be took care of.
But you musn’t go thinking of that, or you’ll excite yourself again.
Come you eat your vittles like a Christian, and no more about it.”

“Leave it, that is a good fellow; and then I’ll try and eat a little
by-and-bye. But my grief is great--oh Julia! Julia! what shall I do? And
I am not used to eat at this time. Will you, my good fellow?”

“Well, I will, now you behave like a gentleman,” said the man.

Then Alfred coaxed him to take off the handcuffs. He refused, but ended
by doing it; and so left him.

Four more leaden hours rolled by, and then this same attendant (his
name was Brown) brought him a cup of tea. It was welcome to his parched
throat; he drank it, and ate a mouthful of the meat to please the man,
and even asked for some more tea.

At eight four keepers came into his room, undressed him, compelled him
to make his toilette, &c., before them, which put him to shame--being
a gentleman--almost as much as it would a woman. They then hobbled him,
and fastened his ankles to the bed, and put his hands into muffles, but
did not confine his body; because they had lost a lucrative lodger only
a month ago, throttled at night in a strait-waistcoat.

Alfred lay in this plight, and compared with anguish unspeakable his
joyful anticipations of this night with the strange and cruel reality.
“My wedding night! my wedding night!” he cried aloud, and burst into a
passion of grief.

By-and-bye he consoled himself a little with the hope that he could not
long be incarcerated as a madman, being sane; and his good wit told him
his only chance was calmness. He would go to sleep and recover composure
to bear his wrongs with dignity, and quietly baffle his enemies.

Just as he was dropping off’ he felt something crawl over his face.
Instinctively he made a violent motion to put his hands up. Both hands
were confined; he could not move them. He bounded, he flung, he writhed.
His little persecutors were quiet a moment, but the next they began
again. In vain he rolled and writhed, and shuddered with loathing
inexpressible. They crawled, they smelt, they bit.

Many a poor soul these little wretches had distracted with the very
sleeplessness the madhouse professed to cure, not create, in conjunction
with the opiates, the confinement and the gloom of Silverton House, they
had driven many a feeble mind across the line that divides the weak and
nervous from the unsound.

When he found there was no help, Alfred clenched his teeth and bore
it:--“Bite on, ye little wretches,” he said “bite on, and divert my mind
from deeper stings than yours--if you can.”

And they did; a little.

Thus passed the night in mental agony, and bodily irritation and
disgust. At daybreak the feasters on his flesh retired, and utterly worn
out and exhausted, he sank into a deep sleep.

At half-past seven the head keeper and three more came in, and made him
dress before them. They handcuffed him, and took him down to breakfast
in the noisy ward; set him down on a little bench by the wall like a
naughty boy, and ordered a dangerous maniac to feed him.

The dangerous maniac obeyed, and went and sat beside Alfred with a basin
of thick gruel and a great wooden spoon. He shovelled the gruel down
his charge’s throat mighty superciliously from the very first; and
presently, falling into some favourite and absorbing train of thought,
he fixed his eye on vacancy, and handed the spoonfuls over his left
shoulder with such rapidity and recklessness that it was more like
sowing than feeding. Alfred cried out “Quarter! I can’t eat so fast as
that, old fellow.”

Something in his tone struck the maniac; he looked at Alfred full,
Alfred looked at him in return, and smiled kindly but sadly.

“Hallo!” cried the maniac.

“What’s up now?” said a keeper fiercely.

“Why this man is sane. As sane as I am.”

At this there was a horse laugh.

“Saner,” persisted the maniac; “for I am a little queer at times, you
know.”

“And no mistake, Jemmy. Now what makes you think he is sane?”

“Looked me full in the face, and smiled at me.”

“Oh, that is your test, is it?”

“Yes, it is. You try it on any of those mad beggars there and see if
they can stand it.”

“Who invented gunpowder?” said one of the insulted persons, looking as
sly and malicious as a magpie going to steal.

Jemmy exploded directly: “I did, ye rascal, ye liar, ye rogue, ye
Baconian!” and going higher, and higher in this strain, was very soon
handcuffed with Alfred’s handcuffs, and seated on Alfred’s bench and
tied to two rings in the wall. On this his martial ardour went down to
zero: “Here is treatment, sir,” said he piteously to Alfred. “I see
you are a gentleman; now look at this. All spite and jealousy because
I invented that invaluable substance, which has done so much to prolong
human life and alleviate human misery.”

Alfred was now ordered to feed Jemmy; which he did: so quickly were
their parts inverted.

Directly after breakfast Alfred demanded to see the proprietor of the
asylum.

Answer: Doesn’t live here.

The Doctor then.

Oh, he has not come.

This monstrosity irritated Alfred: “Well, then,” said he, “whoever it is
that rules this den of thieves, when those two are out of it.”

“I rule in Mr. Baker’s absence,” said the head keeper, “and I’ll teach
you manners, you young blackguard. Handcuff him.”

In five minutes Alfred was handcuffed and flung into a padded room.

“Stay there till you know how to speak to your betters,” said the head
keeper.

Alfred walked up and down grinding his teeth with rage for five long
hours.

Just before dinner Brown came and took him into a parlour, where Mrs.
Archbold was seated writing. Brown retired. The lady finished what
she was doing, and kept Alfred standing like a schoolboy going to be
lectured. At last she said, “I have sent for you to give you a piece of
advice: it is to try and make friends with the attendants.”

“Me make friends with the scoundrels! I thirst for their lives. Oh,
madam, I fear I shall kill somebody here.”

“Foolish boy; they are too strong for you. Your worst enemies could
wish nothing worse for you than that you should provoke them.” In saying
these words she was so much more kind and womanly that Alfred conceived
hopes, and burst out, “Oh, madam, you are human then; you seem to pity
me; pray give me pen and paper, and let me write to my friends to get me
out of this terrible place; do not refuse me.”

Mrs. Archbold resumed her distant manner without apparent effort: she
said nothing, but she placed writing materials before him. She then left
the room, and locked him in.

He wrote a few hasty ardent words to Julia, telling her how he had been
entrapped, but not a word about his sufferings--he was too generous to
give her needless pain--and a line to Edward, imploring him to come at
once with a lawyer and an honest physician, and liberate him.

Mrs. Archbold returned soon after, and he asked her if she would lend
him sealing-wax: “I dare not trust to an envelope in such a place as
this,” said he. She lent him sealing-wax.

“But how am I to post it?” said he.

“Easily: there is a box in the house; I will show you.”

She took him and showed him the box: he put his letters into it, and
in the ardour of his gratitude kissed her hand. She winced a little and
said, “Mind, this is not by my advice; I would never tell my friends I
had been in a madhouse; oh, never. I would be calm, make friends with
the servants--they are the real masters--and never let a creature know
where I had been.”

“Oh, you don’t know my Julia,” said Alfred; “she will never desert me,
never think the worse of me because I have been entrapped illegally into
a madhouse.”

“Illegally, Mr. Hardie! you deceive yourself; Mr. Baker told me the
order was signed by a relation, and the certificates by first-rate
lunacy doctors.”

“What on earth has that to do with it, madam, when I am as sane as you
are?”

“It has everything to do with it. Mr. Baker could be punished for
confining a madman in this house without an order and two certificates;
but he couldn’t for confining a sane person under an order and two
certificates.”

Alfred could not believe this, but she convinced him that it was so.

Then he began to fear he should be imprisoned for years: he turned pale,
and looked at her so piteously, that to soothe him she told him sane
people were never kept in asylums now; they only used to be.

“How can they?” said she. “The London asylums are visited four times a
year by the commissioners, and the country asylums six times, twice
by the commissioners, and four times by the justices. _We_ shall be
inspected this week or next; and then you can speak to the justices:
mind and be calm; say it is a mistake; offer testimony; and ask either
to be discharged at once or to have a commission of lunacy sit on you.
Ten to one your friends will not face public proceedings: but you must
begin at the foundation, by making the servants friendly--and by--being
calm.” She then fixed her large grey eyes on him and said, “Now if I let
you dine with me and the first-class patients, will you pledge me your
honour to ‘be calm,’ and not attempt to escape?” Alfred hesitated at
that. Her eye dissected his character all the time. “I promise,” said
he at last with a deep sigh. “May I sit by you? There is something so
repugnant in the very idea of mad people.”

“Try and remember it is their misfortune, not their crime,” said Mrs.
Archbold, just like a matronly sister admonishing a brother from school.

She then whistled in a whisper for Brown, who was lurking about unseen
all the time. He emerged and walked about with Alfred, and by-and-bye,
looking down from a corridor, they saw Mrs. Archbold driving the
second-class women before her to dinner like a flock of animals.
Whenever one stopped to look at anything, or try and gossip, the
philanthropic Archbold went at her just like a shepherd’s dog at a
refractory sheep, caught her by the shoulders, and drove her squeaking
headlong.

At dinner Alfred was so fortunate as to sit opposite a gentleman, who
nodded and grinned at him all dinner with a horrible leer. He could not,
however, enjoy this to the full for a little distraction at his elbow:
his right hand neighbour kept forking pieces out of his plate and
substituting others from his own. There was even a tendency to gristle
in the latter. Alfred remonstrated gently at first; the gentleman
forbore a minute, then recommenced. Alfred laid a hand very quietly
on his wrist and put it back. Mrs. Archbold’s quick eye surprised this
gesture: “What is the matter there?” said she.

“Oh, nothing serious, madam,” replied Alfred; “only this gentleman does
me the honour to prefer the contents of my plate to his own.”

“Mr. Cooper!” said the Archbold sternly.

Cooper, the head keeper, pounced on the offender, seized him roughly
by the collar, dragged him from the table, knocking his chair down,
and bundled him out of the room with ignominy and fracas, in spite of a
remonstrance from Alfred, “Oh, don’t be so rough with the poor man.”

Then the novice laid down his knife and fork, and ate no more. “I am
grieved at my own ill-nature in complaining of such a trifle,” said he
when all was quiet.

The company stared considerably at this remark: it seemed to them a most
morbid perversion of sensibility; for the deranged, thin-skinned beyond
conception in their own persons, and alive to the shadow of the shade of
a wrong, are stoically indifferent to the woes of others.

Though Alfred was quiet as a lamb all day, the attendants returned him
to the padded room at night, because he had been there last night. But
they only fastened one ankle to the bed-post: so he encountered his
Lilliputians on tolerably fair terms--numbers excepted: they swarmed.
Unable to sleep, he put out his hand and groped for his clothes. But
they were outside the door, according to rule.


Day broke at last: and he took his breakfast quietly with the
first-class patients. It consisted of cool tea in small basins instead
of cups, and table-spoons instead of tea-spoons; and thick slices
of stale bread thinly buttered. A few patients had gruel or porridge
instead of tea. After breakfast Alfred sat in the first-class patients’
room and counted the minutes and the hours till Edward should come.
After dinner he counted the hours till tea-time. Nobody came; and he
went to bed in such grief and disappointment as some men live to eighty
without ever knowing.

But when two o’clock came next day, and no Edward, and no reply, then
the distress of his soul deepened. He implored Mrs. Archbold to tell him
what was the cause. She shook her head and said gravely, it was but too
common; a man’s nearest and dearest were very apt to hold aloof from him
the moment he was put into an asylum.

Here an old lady put in her word. “Ah, sir, you must not hope to hear
from anybody in this place. Why, I have been two years writing and
writing, and can’t get a line from my own daughter. To be sure she is
a fine lady now: but it was her poor neglected mother that pinched and
pinched to give her a good education, and that is how she caught a good
husband. But it’s my belief the post in our hall isn’t a real post: but
only a box; and I think it is contrived so as the letters fall down a
pipe into that Baker’s hands, and so then when the postman comes----”
 The Archbold bent her bushy brows on this chatty personage. “Be quiet,
Mrs. Dent; you are talking nonsense, and exciting yourself: you know you
are not to speak on that topic. Take care.”

The poor old woman was shut up like a knife; for the Archbold had a
way of addressing her own sex that crushed them. The change was almost
comically sudden to the mellow tones in which she addressed Alfred the
very next moment, on the very same subject: “Mr. Baker, I believe, sees
the letters: and, where our poor patients (with a glance at Dent) write
in such a way as to wound and perhaps terrify those who are in reality
their best friends, they are not always sent. But I conclude _your_
letters have gone. If you feel you can be calm, why not ask Mr. Baker?
He is in the house now; for a wonder.”

Alfred promised to be calm; and she got him an interview with Mr. Baker.

He was a full-blown pawnbroker of Silverton town, whom the legislature,
with that keen knowledge of human nature which marks the British senate,
permitted, and still permits, to speculate in Insanity, stipulating,
however, that the upper servant of all in his asylum should be a doctor;
but omitting to provide against the instant dismissal of the said doctor
should he go and rob his employer of a lodger--by curing a patient.

As you are not the British legislature, I need not tell you that to
this pawnbroker insanity mattered nothing, nor sanity: his trade lay in
catching, and keeping, and stinting, as many lodgers, sane or insane, as
he could hold.

There are certain formulae in these quiet retreats, which naturally
impose upon greenhorns such as Alfred certainly was, and some visiting
justices and lunacy commissioners would seem to be. Baker had been a
lodging-house keeper for certified people many years, and knew all the
formulae: some call them dodges: but these must surely be vulgar minds.
Baker worked “the see-saw formula.”

“Letters, young gentleman?” said he: “they are not in my department
They go into the surgery, and are passed by the doctor, except those he
examines and orders to be detained.”

Alfred demanded the doctor.

“He is gone,” was the reply. (Formula.)

Alfred found it as hard to be calm as some people find it easy to say
that word over the wrongs _of others._

The next day, but not till the afternoon, he caught the doctor: “My
letters! Surely, sir, you have not been so cruel as to intercept them?”

“I intercept no letters,” said the doctor, as if scandalised at the very
idea. “I see who writes them, and hand them to Mr. Baker, with now and
then a remark. If any are detained, the responsibility rests with him.”

“He says it rests with you.”

“You must have misunderstood him.”

“Not at all, sir. One thing is clear; my letters have been stolen either
by him or you; and I will know which.”

The doctor parried with a formula.

“You are _excited,_ Mr. Hardie. Be calm, sir, be calm: or you will be
here all the longer.”

All Alfred obtained by this interview was a powerful opiate. The
head-keeper brought it him in bed. He declined to take it. The man
whistled, and the room filled with keepers.

“Now,” said Cooper, “down with it, or you’ll have to be drenched with
this cowhorn.”

“You had better take it, sir,” said Brown; “the doctor has ordered it
you.”

“The doctor? Well, let me see the doctor about it.”

“He is gone.”

“He never ordered it me,” said Alfred. Then fixing his eyes sternly on
Cooper, “You miscreants, you want to poison me. No, I will not take it.
Murder! murder!”

Then ensued a struggle, on which I draw a veil: but numbers won the day,
with the help of handcuffs and a cowhorn.

Brown went and told Mrs. Archbold, and what Alfred had said.

“Don’t be alarmed,” said that strong-minded lady: “it is only one of the
old fool’s composing draughts. It will spoil the poor boy’s sleep for
one night, that is all. Go to him the first thing in the morning.”

About midnight Alfred was seized with a violent headache and fever:
towards morning he was light-headed, and Brown found him loud and
incoherent: only he returned often to an expression Mr. Brown had never
heard before--

“Justifiable parricide. Justifiable parricide. Justifiable patricide.”

Most people dislike new phrases. Brown ran to consult Mrs. Archbold
about this one. After the delay inseparable from her sex, she came in a
morning wrapper; and they found Alfred leaning over the bed and bleeding
violently at the nose. They were a good deal alarmed, and tried to stop
it: but Alfred was quite sensible now, and told them it was doing him
good.

“I can manage to see now,” he said; “a little while ago I was blind with
the poison.”

They unstrapped his ankle and made him comfortable, and Mrs. Archbold
sent Brown for a cup of strong coffee and a glass of brandy. He tossed
them off; and soon after fell into a deep sleep that lasted till
tea-time. This sleep the poor doctor ascribed to the sedative effect
of his opiate. It _was_ the natural exhaustion consequent on the morbid
excitement caused by his cursed opiate.

“Brown,” said Mrs. Archbold, “if Dr. Bailey prescribes again, let me
know. He shan’t square _this_ patient with his certificates, whilst I am
here.”

This was a shrewd, but uncharitable, speech of hers. Dr. Bailey was not
such a villain as that.

He was a less depraved, and more dangerous animal: he was a fool.

The farrago he had administered would have done an excited maniac no
good, of course, but no great harm. It was dangerous to a sane man: and
Alfred to the naked eye was a sane man. But then Bailey had no naked eye
left: he had been twenty years an M. D. The certificates of Wycherley
and Speers were the green spectacles he wore--very green ones--whenever
he looked at Alfred Hardie.

Perhaps in time he will forget those certificates, and, on his
spectacles dropping off, he will see Alfred is sane. If he does, he will
publish him as one of his most remarkable _cures._

Meanwhile the whole treatment of this ill-starred young gentleman
gravitated towards insanity. The inner mind was exasperated by barefaced
injustice and oppression; above all, by his letters being stopped; for
that convinced him both Baker and Bailey, with their see-saw evasions,
knew he was sane, and dreaded a visit from honest, understanding men:
and the mind’s external organ, the brain, which an asylum professes to
soothe, was steadily undermined by artificial sleeplessness. A man can’t
sleep in irons till he is used to them and, when Alfred was relieved
of these, his sleep was still driven away by biting insects and barking
dogs, two opiates provided in many of these placid Retreats, with a view
to the permanence rather than the comfort of the lodgers.

On the eighth day Alfred succeeded at last in an object he had steadily
pursued for some time: he caught the two see-saw humbugs together.

“Now,” said he, _“you_ say _he_ intercepts my letters; and _he_ says it
is _you_ who do it. Which is the truth?”

They were staggered, and he followed up his advantage: “Look me in the
face, gentlemen,” said he. “Can you pretend you do not know I am sane?
Ah, you turn your heads away. You can only tell this bare-faced lie
behind my back. Do you believe in God, and in a judgment to come? Then,
if you cannot release me, at least don’t be such scoundrels as to stop
my letters, and so swindle me out of a fair trial, an open, public
trial.”

The doctor parried with a formula. “Publicity would be the greatest
misfortune could befall you. Pray be calm.”

Now, an asylum is a place not entirely exempt from prejudices: and one
of them is, that any sort of appeal to God Almighty is a sign or else
forerunner of maniacal excitement.

These philosophers forget that by stopping letters, evading public
trials, and, in a word, cutting off all appeals to human justice, they
compel the patient to turn his despairing eyes, and lift his despairing
voice to Him, whose eye alone can ever really penetrate these dark
abodes.

However, the patient who appealed to God above a whisper in Silverton
Grove House used to get soothed directly. And the tranquillising
influences employed were morphia, croton oil, or a blister.

The keeper came to Alfred in his room. “Doctor has ordered a blister.”

“What for? Send for him directly.”

“He is gone.”

This way of ordering torture, and then coolly going, irritated Alfred
beyond endurance. Though he knew he should soon be powerless, he showed
fight; made his mark as usual on a couple of his zealous attendants;
but not having room to work in was soon overpowered, hobbled, and
handcuffed: then they cut off his hair, and put a large blister on the
top of his head.


The obstinate brute declined to go mad. They began to respect him
for this tenacity of purpose: a decent bedroom was allotted him; his
portmanteau and bag were brought him, and he was let walk every day on
the lawn with a keeper; only there were no ladders left about, and the
trap-door was locked, _i.e._ the iron gate.

On one of these occasions he heard the gatekeeper whistle three times
consecutively; his attendant followed suit, and hurried Alfred into the
house, which soon rang with treble signals.

“What is it?” inquired Alfred.

“The visiting justices are in sight: go into your room, please.”

“Yes, I’ll go,” said Alfred, affecting cheerful compliance, and the man
ran off.

The whole house was in a furious bustle. All the hobbles, and chains,
and instruments of restraint were hastily collected and bundled out
of sight, and clean sheets were being put on many a filthy bed whose
occupant had never slept in sheets since he came there, when two
justices arrived and were shown into the drawing-room.

During the few minutes they were detained there by Mrs. Archbold,
who was mistress of her whole business, quite a new face was put on
everything and everybody; ancient cobwebs fell; soap and water explored
unwonted territories: the harshest attendants began practising pleasant
looks and kind words on the patients, to get into the way of it, so that
it might not come too abrupt and startle the patients visibly under the
visitors’ eyes: something like actors working up a factitious sentiment
at the wing for the public display, or like a racehorse’s preliminary
canter. Alfred’s heart beat with joy inexpressible. He had only to keep
calm, and this was his last day at Silverton Grove. The first thing he
did was to make a careful toilet.

The stinginess of relations, and the greed of madhouse proprietors,
make many a patient look ten times madder than he is, by means of dress.
Clothes wear out in an asylum, and are not always taken off, though
Agriculture has long and justly claimed them for her own. And when it
is no longer possible to refuse the Reverend Mad Tom or Mrs. Crazy Jane
some new raiment, then consanguineous munificence does not go to Pool
or Elise, but oftener to paternal or maternal wardrobes, and even to the
ancestral chest, the old oak one, singing:

“Poor things, they are out of the world: what need for them to be in the
fashion!” (Formula.)

This arrangement keeps the bump of self-esteem down, especially in
women, and so co-operates with many other little arrangements to
perpetuate the lodger.

Silverton Grove in particular was supplied with the grotesque in dress
from an inexhaustible source. Whenever money was sent Baker to buy a
patient a suit, he went from his lunacy shop to his pawnbroker’s, dived
headlong into unredeemed pledges, dressed his patient as gentlemen are
dressed to reside in cherry-trees; and pocketed five hundred per cent.
on the double transaction. Now Alfred had already observed that many of
the patients looked madder than they were--thanks to short trousers and
petticoats, holey gloves, ear-cutting shirt-collars, frilled bosoms,
shoes made for and declined by the very infantry: coats short in the
waist and long in the sleeves, coalscuttle bonnets, and grand-maternal
caps. So he made his toilet with care, and put his best hat on to hide
his shaven crown. He then kept his door ajar, and waited for a chance of
speaking to the justices. One soon came: a portly old gentleman, with a
rubicund face and honest eye, walked slowly along the corridor, looking
as wise as he could, cringed on by Cooper and Dr. Bailey; the latter
had arrived post haste, and Baker had been sent for. Alfred came out,
touched his hat respectfully, and begged a private interview with
the magistrate. The old gentleman bowed politely, for Alfred’s dress,
address, and countenance, left no suspicion of insanity possible in an
unprejudiced mind.

But the doctor whispered in his ear, “Take care, sir. Dangerous!”

Now this is one of the most effective of the formulae in a private
asylum. How can an inexperienced stranger know for certain that such
a statement is a falsehood? And even the just do not love justice--_to
others_--quite so well as they love their own skins. So Squire Tollett
very naturally declined a private interview with Alfred; and even drew
back a step, and felt uneasy at being so near him. Alfred implored him
not to be imposed upon. “An honest man does not whisper,” said he. “Do
not let him poison your mind against me; on my honour, I am as sane as
you are, and he knows it. Pray, pray use your own eyes and ears, sir,
and give yourself a chance of discovering the truth in this stronghold
of lies.”

“Don’t excite yourself, Mr. Hardie,” put in the doctor parentally.
(Formula.)

“Don’t you interrupt me, doctor; I am as calm as you are. Calmer; for,
see, you are pale at this moment; that is with fear that your wickedness
in detaining a sane man here is going to be exposed. Oh, sir,” said he,
turning to the justice, “fear no violence from me, not even angry words;
my misery is too deep for irritation, or excitement. I am an Oxford
man, sir, a prize man, an Ireland scholar. But, unfortunately for me,
my mother left me ten thousand pounds, and a heart. I love a lady whose
name I will not pollute by mentioning it in this den of thieves. My
father is the well-known banker, bankrupt, and cheat, of Barkington. He
has wasted his own money, and now covets his neighbour’s and his son’s.
He had me entrapped here on my wedding-day, to get hold of my money, and
rob me of her I love. I appeal to you, sir, to discharge me, or, if you
have not so much confidence in your own judgment as to do that, then I
demand a commission of lunacy, and a public inquiry.”

Dr. Bailey said, “That would be a most undesirable exposure, both to
yourself and your friends.” (Formula.)

“It is only the guilty who fear the light, sir,” was the prompt reply.

Mr. Tollett said he thought the patient had a legal right to a
commission of lunacy if there was property, and he took note of the
application. He then asked Alfred if he had any complaint to make of the
food, the beds, or the attendants.

“Sir,” said Alfred, “I leave those complaints to the insane ones: with
me the gigantic wrong drives out the petty worries. I cannot feel my
stings for my deep wound.”

“Oh, then, you admit you are not treated _unkindly_ here?”

“I admit nothing of the kind, sir. I merely decline to encumber your
memory with petty injuries, when you are good enough to inquire into a
monstrous one.”

“Now that is very sensible and considerate,” said Mr. Tollett. “I will
see you, sir, again before we leave.”

With this promise Alfred was obliged to be content. He retired
respectfully, and the justice said, “He seems as sane as I am.” The
doctor smiled. The justice observed it, and not aware that this smile
was a formula, as much so as a prizefighter’s or a ballet-dancer’s,
began to doubt a little: He reflected a moment, then asked who had
signed the certificates.

“Dr. Wycherley for one.”

“Dr. Wycherley? that is a great authority.”

“One of the greatest in the country, sir.”

“Oh, then one would think he must be more or less deranged.”

“Dangerously so at times. But in his lucid intervals you never saw a
more quiet gentlemanly creature.” (Formula.)

“How sad!”

“Very. He is my most interesting patient (formula), though terribly
violent at times. Would you like to see the medical journal about him?”

“Yes; by-and-bye.”

The inspection then continued: the inspector admired the clean sheets
that covered the beds, all of them dirty, some filthy: and asked
the more reasonable patients to speak freely and say if they had any
complaint to make. This question being, with the usual sagacity of
public inspectors, put in the presence of Cooper and the doctor, who
stuck to Tollett like wax, the mad people all declared they were very
kindly treated. The reason they were so unanimous was this: they knew by
experience that, if they told the truth, the justices could not at
once remedy their discomforts, whereas the keepers, the very moment the
justices left the house, would knock them down, beat them, shake them,
strait-jacket them, and starve them: and the doctor, less merciful,
would doctor them. So they shook in their shoes, and vowed they were
very comfortable in Silverton Grove.

Thus, in later days, certain Commissioners of Lunacy inspecting Accomb
House, extracted nothing from Mrs. Turner, but that she was happy and
comfortable under the benignant sway of Metcalf the mild--there present.
It was only by a miracle the public learned the truth, and miracles are
rare.

Meantime, Alfred had a misgiving. The plausible doctor had now Squire
Tollett’s ear, and Tollett was old, and something about him reminded the
Oxonian of a trait his friend Horace had detected in old age:

    “Vel quod res omnes timide gelide que ministrat.
     Dilator, spe longus, iners,” &c.

He knew there was another justice in the house, but he knew also he
should not be allowed to get speech with him, if by cunning or force it
could be prevented. He kept his door ajar. Presently Nurse Hannah came
bustling along with an apronful of things, and let herself into a vacant
room hard by. This Hannah was a young woman with a pretty and rather
babyish face, diversified by a thick biceps muscle in her arm that
a blacksmith need not have blushed for. And I suspect it was this
masculine charm, and not her feminine features, that had won her the
confidence of Baker and Co., and the respect of his female patients:
big or little, excited or not excited, there was not one of them this
bicipital baby-face could not pin by the wrists, and twist her helpless
into a strong-room, or handcuff her unaided in a moment; and she did it,
too, on slight provocation. Nurse Hannah seldom came into Alfred’s part
of the house; but when she did meet him, she generally gave him a kind
look in passing; and he had resolved to speak to her, and try if he
could touch her conscience, or move her pity. He saw what she was at,
but was too politic to detect her openly and irritate her. He drew back
a step, and said softly, “Nurse Hannah! Are you there?”

“Yes, I am here,” said she sharply, and came out of the room hastily,
and shut it. “What do you want, sir?”

Alfred clasped his hands together. “If you are a woman, have pity on
me.”

She was taken by surprise. “What can I do?” said she in some agitation.
“I am only a servant.”

“At least tell me where I can find the Visiting Justice, before the
keepers stop me.”

“Hush! Speak lower,” said Hannah. “You _have_ complained to one, haven’t
you?”

“Yes, but he seems a feeble old fogy. Where is the other? Oh, pray tell
me?”

“I mustn’t: I mustn’t In the noisy ward. There, run.”

And run he did.

Alfred was lucky enough to get safe into the noisy ward without being
intercepted. And then he encountered a sunburnt gentleman, under thirty,
in a riding-coat, with a hunting-whip in his hand: it was Mr. Vane, a
Tory squire and large landholder in the county.

Now, as Alfred entered at one door, Baker himself came in at the other,
and they nearly met at Vane. But Alfred saluted him first, and begged
respectfully for an interview.

“Certainly, sir,” said Mr. Vane.

“Take care, sir; he is dangerous,” whispered Baker. Instantly Mr. Vane’s
countenance changed. But this time Alfred overheard the formula, and
said quietly: “Don’t believe him, sir. I am not dangerous; I am as sane
as any man in England. Pray examine me, and judge for yourself.”

“Ah, that is his delusion,” said Baker. “Come, Mr. Hardie, I allow you
great liberties, but you abuse them. You really must not monopolise his
Worship with your fancies. Consider, sir, you are not the only patient
he has to examine.”

Alfred’s heart sank: he turned a look of silent agony on Mr. Vane.

Mr. Vane, either touched by that look, or irritated by Baker’s
pragmatical interference, or perhaps both, looked that person coolly
in the face, and said sternly: “Be silent, sir; and let _the gentleman_
speak to me.”



CHAPTER XXXIII

ALFRED thus encouraged told his story with forced calmness, and without
a word too much. Indeed, so clear and telling was the narrative, and
the logic so close, that incoherent patients one or two stole up
and listened with wonder and a certain dreamy complacency; the bulk,
however, held aloof apathetic: inextricably wrapped in fictitious
Autobiography.

His story told, Alfred offered the Dodds in evidence that the fourteen
thousand pounds was no illusion, and referred to his sister and several
friends as witnesses to his sanity, and said the letters he wrote were
all stopped in the asylum: and why? That no honest man or woman might
know where he was.

He ended by convincing Mr. Vane he was a sane and injured man, and his
father a dark designing person.

Mr. Vane asked him whether he had any other revelations to make. Alfred
replied, “Not on my own account, but for the sake of those afflicted
persons who are here for life. Well, the beds want repaving; the vermin
thinning; the instruments of torture want abolishing, instead of hiding
for an hour or two when you happen to come: what do the patients gain
by that? The madmen dare not complain to you, sir, because the last
time one did complain to the justices (it was Mr. Petworth), they had no
sooner passed through the iron gate, than Cooper made an example of
him; felled him with his fist, and walked up and down him on his knees,
crying, ‘I’ll teach you to complain to the justices.’ But one or two
gentlemanly madmen, who soon found out that I am not one of _them,_ have
complained to _me_ that the attendants wash them too much like Hansom
cabs, strip them naked, and mop them on the flag-stones, then fling on
their clothes without drying them. They say, too, that the meat is tough
and often putrid, the bread stale, the butter rancid, the vegetables
stinted, since they can’t be adulterated. And as for sleep, it is hardly
known; for the beds are so short your feet stick out; insects, without a
name to ears polite, but highly odoriferous and profoundly carnivorous,
bite you all night; and dogs howl eternally outside; and, when exhausted
nature defies even these enemies of rest, then the doctor, who seems to
be in the pay of Insanity, claps you on a blister by brute force, and so
drives away sleep, Insanity’s cure, or hocuses you by brute force as he
did me, and so steals your sleep, and tries to steal your reason, with
his opium, henbane, morphia, and other tremendous brain-stealers. With
such a potion, sir, administered by violence, he gave me in one night
a bursting fever, headache, loss of sight, and bleeding at the nose; as
Mrs. Archbold will tell you. Oh, look into these things, sir, in pity
to those whom Heaven has afflicted: to me they are but strokes with
a feather. I am a sane man torn from love and happiness, and confined
among the mad; discomfort is nothing to me; comfort is nothing; you can
do nothing for me but restore me to my dignity as a man, my liberty as
a Briton, and the rights as a citizen I have been swindled out of by a
fraudulent bankrupt and his tools, two venal doctors, who never saw
me but for one five minutes, but came to me ready bribed at a guinea
apiece, and so signed away my wits behind my back.”

“Now, Mr. Baker,” said Vane, “what do you say to all this?”

Baker smiled with admirable composure, and replied with crafty
moderation, “He is a gentleman, and believes every word he says; but it
is all his delusions. Why, to begin, sir, his father has nothing to do
with putting him in here; nothing on earth. (Alfred started; then
smiled incredulous.) And, in the next place, there are no instruments
of restraint here, but two pair of handcuffs and two strait jackets, and
these never hardly used; we trust to the padded rooms, you know. And,
sir,” said he, getting warm, which instantly affected his pronunciations
“if there’s a hinsect in the ouse, I’ll heat im.”

Delusion is a big word, especially in a mad-house; it overpowers a
visitor’s understanding. Mr. Vane was staggered. Alfred, whose eager
eyes were never off his face, saw this with dismay, and feeling that,
if he failed in the simpler matter, he should be sure to fail in
establishing his sanity, he said with inward anxiety, though with
outward calmness, “Suppose we test these delusions?”

“With all my heart,” said Vane.

Baker’s countenance fell.

“Begin with the instruments of restraint. Find me them.”

Baker’s countenance brightened up; he had no fear of their being found.

“I will,” said Alfred: “please to follow me.”

Baker grinned with anticipated triumph.

Alfred led the way to a bedroom near his own; and asked Mr. Baker to
unlock it. Baker had not the key; no more had Cooper. The latter was
sent for it; he returned, saying the key was mislaid.

“That I expected,” said Alfred. “Send for the kitchen poker, sir: I’ll
soon unlock it.”

“Fetch the kitchen poker,” said Vane.

“Good gracious! sir,” said Cooper; “he only wants that to knock all our
brains out. You have no idea of his strength and ferocity.”

“Well lied, Cooper,” said Alfred ironically.

“Fetch _me_ the poker,” said Vane.

Cooper went for it, and came back with the key instead.

The door was opened, and they all entered. Alfred looked under the bed.
The rest stood round it.

There was nothing to be seen but a year’s dust

Alfred was dumb-foundered, and a cold perspiration began to gather on
his brow. He saw at once a false move would be fatal to him.

“Well, sir,” said Vane grimly. “Where are they?”

Alfred caught sight of a small cupboard; he searched it; it was empty.
Baker and Cooper grinned at his delusion quietly, but so that Vane might
see that formula. Alfred returned to the bed and shook it. Cooper and
Baker left off grinning; Alfred’s quick eye caught this, and he shook
the bed violently, furiously.

“Ah!” said Mr. Vane, “I hear a chink.”

“It is an iron bedstead and old,” suggested Baker.

Alfred tore off the bed-clothes, and then the mattress. Below the latter
was a framework, and below the framework a receptacle about six inches
deep, five feet long, and three broad, filled with chains, iron
belts, wrist-locks, muffles, and screw-locked hobbles, &c.; a regular
Inquisition.

If Baker had descended from the Kemble family, instead of rising from
nothing, he could not have acted better. “Good Heavens!” cried he,
“where do these come from? They must have been left here by the last
proprietor.”

Vane replied only by a look of contempt, and ordered Cooper to go and
ask Mr. Tollett to come to him.

Alfred improved the interval. “Sir,” said he, “all my delusions, fairly
tested, will turn out like this.”

“They _shall_ be tested, sir; I give you my word.”

Mr. Tollett came, and the two justices commenced a genuine
scrutiny--their first. They went now upon the true method, in which all
these dark places ought to be inspected. They did not believe a word;
they suspected everything; they examined patients apart, detected
cruelty, filth and vermin under philanthropic phrases and clean linen;
and the upshot was they reprimanded Baker and the attendants severely,
and told him his licence should never be renewed, unless at their
next visit the whole asylum was reformed. They ordered all the iron
body-belts, chains, leg-locks, wrist-locks, and muffs, to be put into
Mr. Tollett’s carriage, and concluded a long inspection by inquiring
into Alfred’s sanity: at this inquiry they did not allow Baker to be
even present, but only Dr. Bailey.

First they read the order; and found it really was not Alfred’s father
who had put him into the asylum. Then they read the certificates,
especially Wycherley’s. It accused Alfred of headache, insomnia,
nightly visions, a rooted delusion (pecuniary), a sudden aversion to
an affectionate father; and at the doctor’s last visit, a wild look
(formula), great excitement, and threats of violence without any
provocation to justify them. This overpowered the worthy squires’
understandings to begin. But they proceeded to examine the three books
an asylum has to keep by law: the visitor’s book, the case book, and
the medical journal. All these were kept with the utmost looseness in
Silverton House as indeed they are in the very best of these places.
However, by combining the scanty notices in the several books, they
arrived at this total:

“Admitted April 11. Had a very wild look, and was much excited.
Attempted suicide by throwing himself into a tank. Attacked the keepers
for rescuing him, with prodigious strength and violence. Refused food.”

And some days after came an entry with his initials instead of his
name, which was contrary to law. “A. H. Much excited. Threats. Ordered
composing draught.”

And a day or two after: “A. H. Excited. Blasphemous. Ordered blister.”

The first entry, however, was enough. The doctor had but seen real
facts through his green spectacles, and lo! “suicide,” “homicide,” and
“refusal of food,” three cardinal points of true mania.

Mr. Vane asked Dr. Bailey whether he was better since he came.

“Oh, infinitely better,” said Dr. Bailey. “We hope to cure him in a
month or two.”

They then sent for Mrs. Archbold, and had a long talk with her,
recommending Alfred to her especial care: and, having acted on his
judgment and information in the teeth of those who called him insane,
turned tail at a doctor’s certificate; distrusted their eyesight at an
unsworn affidavit.

Alfred was packing up his things to go away; bright as a lark. Mrs.
Archbold came to him, and told him she had orders to give him every
comfort; and the justices hoped to liberate him at their next visit.

The poor wretch turned pale. “At their next visit!” he cried, “What, not
to-day? When is their next visit?”

Mrs. Archbold hesitated: but at last she said, “Why you know; I told
you; they come four times every year.”

The disappointment was too bitter. The contemptible result of all his
patience, self-command, and success, was too heart-breaking. He groaned
aloud. “And you can come with a smile and tell me that; you cruel
woman.” Then he broke down altogether and burst out crying. “You were
born without a heart,” he sobbed.

Mrs. Archbold quivered at that. “I wish I had been,” said she, in a
strange, soft, moving voice; then, casting an eloquent look of reproach
on him, she went away in visible agitation, and left him sobbing. Once
out of his sight she rushed into another room, and there, taking no more
notice of a gentle madwoman, its occupant, than of the bed or the table,
she sank into a chair, and, throwing her head back with womanly abandon,
hid her hand upon her bosom that heaved tempestuously.

And soon the tears trickled out of her imperious eyes, and ran
unrestrained.

The mind of Edith Archbold corresponded with her powerful frame, and
bushy brows. Inside this woman all was vigour: strong passions, strong
good sense to check or hide them; strong will to carry them out. And
between these mental forces a powerful struggle was raging. She was
almost impenetrable to mere personal beauty, and inclined to despise
early youth in the other sex; and six months spent with Alfred in a
quiet country house would probably have left her reasonably indifferent
to him. But the first day she saw him in Silverton House he broke
through her guard, and pierced at once to her depths; first he terrified
her by darting through the window to escape: and terror is a passion.
So is pity; and never in her life had she overflowed with it as when she
saw him drawn out of the tank and laid on the grass. If, after all, he
was as sane as he looked, that brave high-spirited young creature, who
preferred death to the touch of coarse confining hands!

No sooner had he filled her with dismay and pity, than he bounded from
the ground before her eyes and fled. She screamed, and hoped he would
escape; she could not help it. Next she saw him fighting alone against
seven or eight, and with unheard-of prowess almost beating them. She sat
at the window panting, with clenched teeth and hands, and wished him to
beat, and admired him, wondered at him. He yielded, but not to them: to
her. All the compliments she had ever received were tame compared with
this one. It thrilled her vanity. He was like the men she had read of,
and never seen: the young knights of chivalry. She glowed all over at
him, and detecting herself in time was frightened. Her strong good sense
warned her to beware of this youth, who was nine years her junior, yet
had stirred her to all her depths in an hour; and not to see him nor
think of him too much. Accordingly she kept clear of him altogether at
first. Pity soon put an end to that; and she protected and advised him,
but with a cold and lofty demeanour put on express. What with her kind
acts and her cold manner he did not know what to make of her; and often
turned puzzled earnest eyes upon her, as much as to say, Are you really
my friend or not? Once she forgot herself and smiled so tenderly in
answer to these imploring eyes, that his hopes rose very high indeed. He
flattered himself she would let him out of the asylum before long. That
was all Julia’s true lover thought of.

A feeling hidden, and not suppressed, often grows fast in a vigorous
nature. Mrs. Archbold’s fancy for Alfred was subjected to this dangerous
treatment; and it smouldered, and smouldered, till from a _penchant_ it
warmed to a fancy, from a fancy to a passion. But _penchant,_ fancy,
or passion, she hid it with such cunning and resolution, that neither
Alfred nor even those of her own sex saw it; nor did a creature
even suspect it, except Nurse Hannah; but her eyes were sharpened by
jealousy, for that muscular young virgin was beginning to sigh for him
herself, with a gentle timidity that contrasted prettily with her biceps
muscle and prowess against her own sex.

Mrs. Archbold had more passion than tenderness, but what woman is not
to be surprised and softened? When her young favourite, the greatest
fighter she had ever seen, broke down at the end of his gallant effort
and began to cry like a girl, her bowels of compassion yearned within
her, and she longed to cry with him. She only saved herself from some
imprudence by flight, and had her cry alone. After a flow of tears, such
a woman is invincible; she treated Alfred at tea-time with remarkable
coldness and reserve. This piece of acting led to unlooked-for
consequences: it emboldened Cooper, who was raging against Alfred for
telling the justices, but had forborne from violence for fear of getting
the house into a fresh scrape. He now went to the doctor, and asked
for a powerful drastic. Bailey gave him two pills, or rather boluses,
containing croton oil--_inter alia;_ for Bailey was one of the
_farraginous_ fools of the unscientific science. Armed with this weapon
of destruction, Cooper entered Alfred’s bedroom at night, and ordered
him to take them: he refused. Cooper whistled, and four attendants came.
Alfred knew he should soon be powerless. He lost no time, sprang at
Cooper, and with his long arm landed a blow that knocked him against the
wall, and in this position, where his body could not give, struck him
again with his whole soul, and cut his cheek right open. The next minute
he was pinned, handcuffed, and in a straitjacket, after crippling one
assailant with a kick on the knee.

Cooper, half stunned, and bleeding like a pig, recovered himself now,
and burned for revenge. He uttered a frightful oath, and jumped on
Alfred as he lay bound and powerless, and gave him a lesson he never
forgot.

Every art has its secrets: the attendants in such madhouses as this
have been for years possessed of one they are too modest to reveal to
justices, commissioners, or the public; the art of breaking a man’s
ribs, or breast-bone, or both, without bruising him externally. The
convicts at Toulon arrive at a similar result by another branch of the
art: they stuff the skin of a conger eel with powdered stone; then give
the obnoxious person a sly crack with it; and a rib backbone is broken
with no contusion to mark the external violence used. But Mr. Cooper and
his fellows do their work with the knee-joint: it is round, and leaves
no bruise. They subdue the patient by walking up and down him on their
knees. If they don’t jump on him, as well as promenade him, the man’s
spirit is often the only thing broken; if they do, the man is apt to be
broken bodily as well as mentally. Thus died Mr. Sizer in 1854, and two
others quite recently. And how many more God only knows: we can’t count
the stones at the bottom of a dark well.

Cooper then sprang furiously on Alfred, and went kneeling up and
down him. Cooper was a heavy man, and his weight crushed and hurt the
victim’s legs; but that was a trifle: as often as he kneeled on Alfred’s
chest, the crushed one’s whole framework seemed giving way, and he could
scarcely breathe. But Brown drew Cooper back by the collar, saying,
“D’ye want to kill him?” And at this moment Mrs. Archbold, who was on
the watch, came in with Hannah and another nurse, and the three women at
a word from their leader pinned Cooper simultaneously, and, taking
him at a disadvantage, handcuffed him in a moment with a strength,
sharpness, skill, and determination not to be found in women out of a
madhouse--luckily for the newspaper husbands.

The other keepers looked astounded at this masterstroke; but, as
no servant had ever affronted Mrs. Archbold without being dismissed
directly, they took their cue and said, “We advised him, ma’am, but he
would not listen to us.”

“Cooper,” said Mrs. Archbold as soon as she recovered her breath, “you
are not fit for your place. To-morrow you go, or I go.”

Cooper, cowed in a moment by the handcuffs, began to whine and say that
it was all Alfred’s fault.

But Mrs. Archbold was now carried away by two passions instead of one,
and they were together too much for prudence. She took a handful of
glossy locks out of her bosom and shook them in Cooper’s face.

“You monster!” said she; “you should go, for _that,_ if you were my own
brother.”

The two young nurses assented loudly, and turned and cackled at Cooper
for cutting off such lovely hair.

He shrugged his shoulders at them, and said sulkily to Mrs. Archbold,
“Oh, I didn’t know. Of course, if you have fallen in love with him, my
cake is burnt. ‘Tisn’t the first lunatic you have taken a fancy to.”

At this brutal speech, all the more intolerable for not being quite
false, Mrs. Archbold turned ashy pale, and looked round for a weapon to
strike him dead; but found none so handy and so deadly as her tongue.

“It’s not the first you have tried to MURDER,” said she. “I know all
about that death in Calton Retreat: you kept it dark before the coroner;
but it is not too late, I’ll open the world’s eyes. I was only going to
dismiss you, sir: but you have insulted me. I’ll hang you in reply.”

Cooper turned very pale and was silent; his tongue clove to the roof of
his mouth.

But a feeble, unexpected voice issued from the bed and murmured
cheerfully, though with some difficulty, a single word--

“Justice!”

At an expression so out of place they all started with surprise.

Alfred went on: “You are putting the saddle on the wrong horse. The
fault lies with those villains Baker and Bailey. Cooper is only a
servant, you know, and obeys orders.”

“What business had the wretch to cut your hair off?” said Mrs. Archbold,
turning on Alfred with flashing eyes. Her blood once up, she was ready
to quarrel even with him for taking part against himself.

“Because he was ordered to put on a blister, and hair must come off
before a blister can go on,” replied Alfred soberly.

“That is no excuse for him beating you and trying to break your front
teeth.”

She didn’t mind so much about his side ribs.

“No,” replied Alfred. “But I hit him first: look at the bloke’s face.
Dear Mrs. Archbold, you are my best friend in this horrid place, and you
have beautiful eyes; and, talk of teeth, look at yours! But you haven’t
much sense of justice, forgive me for saying so. Put the proposition
into signs; there is nothing like that for clearing away prejudice. B.
and C. have a scrimmage: B begins it, C. gets the worst of it; in comes
A. and turns away--C. Is that justice? It is me you ought to turn away;
and I wish to Heaven you would: dear Mrs. Archbold, do pray turn me
away, and keep the other blackguard.”

At this extraordinary and, if I may be allowed the expression, Alfredian
speech, the men first stared, and then laughed; the women smiled, and
then were nearer crying than laughing.

And so it was, that justice handcuffed, straitjacketed, blistered, and
impartial, sent from its bed of torture a beam through Cooper’s tough
hide to his inner heart. He hung his head and stepped towards Alfred:
“You’re what I call a man,” he said. “I don’t care a curse whether I
stay or go, after what she has said to me. But, come what may, you’re a
gentleman, and one as can put hisself in a poor man’s place. Why, sir, I
wasn’t always so rough; but I have been twenty years at it; and mad folk
they’d wear the patience out of Jove, and the milk of human kindness
out of saints and opossums. However, if I was to stay here all my life,
instead of going to-morrow, I’d never lift hand to trouble you again,
for you taking my part again yourself like that.”

“I’ll put that to the test,” said Mrs. Archbold sharply. “Stay--on your
probation. Hannah!”

And Baby-face biceps at a look took off his handcuffs; which she had
been prominent in putting on.

This extraordinary scene ended in the men being dismissed, and the women
remaining and going to work after their kind.

“The bed is too short for one thing,” said Hannah. “Look at his poor
feet sticking out and cold as a stone: just feel of them, Jane.”

“No, no; murder!” cried Alfred; “that tickles.”

Hannah ran for a chair, Jane for another pillow. Mrs. Archbold took off
his handcuffs, and, passing her hand softly and caressingly over his
head, lamented the loss of his poor hair. Amongst them they relieved
him of his straitjacket, set up his head, covered his feet, and he
slept like a top for want of drastics and opiates, and in spite of some
brilliant charges by the Lilliputian cavalry.

After this the attendants never molested Alfred again; nor did the
doctor; for Mrs. Archbold got his boluses, and sent them up to a famous
analysing chemist in London, and told him she had; and said, “I’ll thank
you not to prescribe at random for _that_ patient any more.” He took the
lady’s prescription, coming as it did in a voice quietly grim, and with
a momentary but wicked glance shot from under her black brows.

Alfred was all the more miserable at his confinement: his melancholy
deepened now there was no fighting to excite him. A handsome bright
young face clouded with sadness is very pitiable, and I need not say
that both the women who had fallen in love with him had their eyes,
or at least the tails of their eyes, for ever on his face. The result
varied with the characters of the watchers. That young face, ever sad,
made Mrs. Archbold sigh, and long to make him happy under her wing. How
it wrought on the purer and more womanly Hannah will be revealed by the
incident I have to relate. Alfred was sitting on a bench in the corridor
bowed down by grief, and the Archbold lurking in a room hard by,
feasting her eyes on him through an aperture in the door caused by the
inspection plate being under repair--when an erotic maniac was driven
past. She had obtained access--with marvellous cunning--to the men’s
side; but was now coming back with a flea in her ear, and faster than
she went; being handcuffed and propelled by Baby-face biceps. On passing
the disconsolate Alfred the latter eyed him coyly, gave her stray sheep
a coarse push--as one pushes a _thing_--and laid a timid hand, gentle as
falling down, upon the rougher sex. Contrast sudden and funny.

“Don’t be so sad, sir,” she murmured, cooing like the gentlest of doves.
“I can’t bear to see you look like that.”

Alfred looked up, and met her full with his mournful honest eyes. “Ah,
Hannah, how can I be anything but sad, imprisoned here, sane amongst the
mad?”

“Well, and so am I, sir; so is Mrs. Archbold herself.”

“Ay, but you have not been entrapped, imprisoned on your wedding-day. I
cannot even get a word sent to my Julia, my wife that ought to be. Only
think of the affront they have made me put on her I love better, ten
times better, than myself. Why, she must have been waiting for me;
humiliated perhaps by my absence. What will she think of me? The rogues
will tell her a thousand lies: she is very high spirited, Hannah,
impetuous like myself, only so gentle and so good. Oh, my angel, my
angel; I shall lose you for ever.”

Hannah clasped her hands, with tears in her eyes: “No, no,” she cried;
“it is a burning shame to part true lovers like you and her. Hush! speak
low. Brown told me you are as well as he is.”

“God bless him for it, then.”

“You have got money, they say; try it on with Brown.”

“I will. Oh you darling. What is the matter?”

For Baby-face was beginning to whimper.

“Oh, nothing, sir; only you are so glad to go; and we shall be sorry to
part with you: but you won’t care for that--oh! oh! oh!”

“What, do you think I shall forget you and your kindness? Never: I’ll
square accounts with friends and foes; not one shall be forgotten.”

“Don’t offer me any of your money,” sobbed Hannah, “for I wouldn’t touch
it. Good-bye,” said she: “I shan’t have as much as a kiss for it I’ll be
bound: good-bye,” said she again, and never moved.

“Oh, won’t you, though,” cried Alfred gaily. “What is that? and that?
and that? Now, what on earth are you crying about? Dry your tears, you
dear good-hearted girl: no, I’ll dry them for you.”

He took out a white handkerchief and dried her cheeks gently for her,
and gave her a parting kiss. But the Archbold’s patience was exhausted:
a door opened nearly opposite, and there she stood yellow with jealousy
and sombre as night with her ebon brows. At sight of this lowering
figure Hannah uttered a squawk, and fled with cheeks red as fire.
Alfred, not aware of Mrs. Archbold’s smouldering passion, and little
dreaming that jealous anguish and rage stood incarnate before him, burst
out laughing like a mischievous boy! On this she swept upon him, and
took him by both shoulders, and awed him with her lowering brows close
to his. “You ungrateful wretch,” she said violently, and panted.

His colour rose. “Ungrateful? That I am not madam. Why do you call me
so?”

“You are--you are. What have I done to you that you run from me to the
very servants? However, she shall be packed off this very night, and you
to thank for it.”

This was the way to wound the generous youth. “Now it is you that are
ungenerous,” he said. “What harm has the poor girl done? She had a
virtuous movement and pitied me for the heartless fraud I suffer by;
that is all. Pray, do you never pity me?”

“Was it this virtuous movement set her kissing you?” said the Archbold,
clenching her teeth as if the word stung her, like the sight.

“She didn’t, now,” said Alfred; “it was I kissed her.”

“And yet you pretend to love your Julia so truly?”

“This is no place for that sacred name, madam. But be sure I have no
secrets from her, and kiss nobody she would not kiss herself.”

“She must be a very accommodating young lady.”

At this insult Alfred rose pale with anger, and was about to defy his
monitor mortally; but the quick-witted woman saw and disarmed him. In
one moment, before ever he could speak, she was a transformed creature,
a penitent; she put her hands together supplicatingly, and murmured--

“I didn’t mean it; I respect _her;_ and your love for her; forgive me,
Alfred: I am so unhappy, oh forgive me.”

And behold she held his hand between her soft, burning palms, and her
proud head sank languidly on his shoulder, and the inevitable tears ran
gently.

Morals apart, it was glorious love-making.

“Bother the woman,” thought Alfred.

“Promise me not to do it again,” she murmured, “and the girl shall
stay.”

“Oh, lord, yes, I promise; though I can’t see what it matters to you.”

“Not much, cruel boy, alas! but it matters to her; for----” She kissed
Alfred’s hand gently, and rose to her feet and moved away; but at
the second step turned her head sudden as a bird and finished her
sentence--“if you kiss her before me, I shall kill her before you.”

Here was a fresh complication! The men had left off blistering,
torturing, and bullying him; but his guardian angels, the women, were
turning up their sleeves to pull caps over him, and plenty of the random
scratches would fall on him. If anything could have made him pine more
to be out of the horrid place, this voluptuous prospect would. He hunted
everywhere for Brown. But he was away the day with a patient. At
night he lay awake for a long time, thinking how he should open the
negotiation. He shrank from it. He felt a delicacy about bribing
Beelzebub’s servant to betray him.

As Hannah had originated the idea, he thought he might very well ask her
to do the dirty work of bribing Brown, and he would pay her for it; only
in money, not kisses. With this resolution he sank to sleep, and his
spirit broke prison: he stood with Julia before the altar, and the
priest made them one. Then the church and the company and daylight
disappeared, and her own sweet low moving voice came thrilling, “My own,
own, own,” she murmured. “I love you ten times more for all you have
endured for me;” and with this her sweet lips settled on his like the
dew.

Impartial sleep flies at the steps of the scaffold and the gate of
Elysium: so Alfred awoke at the above; but doubted whether he was quite
awake; for two velvet lips seemed to be still touching his. He stirred,
and somebody was gone like the wind, with a rustle of flying petticoats,
and his door shut in a moment. It closed with a catch-lock; this
dastardly vision had opened it with her key, and left it open to make
good her retreat if he should awake. Alfred sat up in bed indignant, and
somewhat fluttered. “Confound her impudence,” said he. But there was
no help for it; he grinned and bore it, as he had the blisters, and
boluses, &c., rolled the clothes round his shoulders, and off to the
sleep of the just again. Not so the passionate hypocrite, who, maddened
by a paroxysm of jealousy, had taken this cowardly advantage of a
prisoner. She had sucked fresh poison from those honest lips, and filled
her veins with molten fire. She tossed and turned the livelong night in
a high fever of passion, nor were the cold chills wanting of shame and
fear at what she had done.

In the morning, Alfred remembered this substantial vision, and
determined to find out which of those two it was. “I shall know by her
looks,” said he; “she won’t be able to meet my eye.” Well, the first
he saw was Mrs. Archbold. She met his eye full with a mild and pensive
dignity. “Come, it is not you,” thought Alfred. Presently he fell
in with Hannah. She wore a serene, infantine face, the picture of
unobtrusive modesty. Alfred was dumbfoundered. “It’s not this one,
either,” said he. “But then, it must. Confound her impudence for looking
so modest.” However, he did not speak to her; he was looking out for
a face that interested him far more: the weather-beaten countenance of
Giles Brown. He saw him once or twice, but could not get him alone till
the afternoon. He invited him into his room: and when he got him there,
lost no time. “Just look me in the face, Brown,” said he quietly. Brown
looked him in the face.

“Now, sir, am I mad or sane?”

Brown turned his head away. Alfred laughed. “No, no, none of your
tricks, old fellow: look me in the face while you answer.”

The man coloured. “I can’t look a gentleman like you in the face, and
tell him he is mad.”

“I should think not. Well, now; what shall I give you to help me
escape?”

“Hush! don’t mention that, sir; it’s as much as my place is worth even
to listen to you.”

“Well! then I must give you as much as your place is worth. Please to
calculate that, and name the figure.”

“My place! I wouldn’t lose it for a hundred pounds.”

“Exactly. Then I’ll give you a hundred guineas.”

“And how am I to get my money, sir?”

“The first time you are out, come to Albion Villa, in Barkington, and
I’ll have it all ready for you.”

“And suppose you were to say, ‘No: you didn’t ought ever to have been
confined’?”

“I must trouble you to look in my face again, Mr. Brown. Now, do you see
treason, bad faith, avarice, ingratitude, rascality in it?”

“Not a grain of ‘em,” said Brown, with an accent of conviction. “Well,
now, I’ll tell you the truth; I can read a gent by this time: and I’m no
more afeared for the money than if I had it in my hand. But ye see, my
stomach won’t let me do it.”

This was a sad disappointment; so sudden, too. “Your stomach?” said
Alfred ruefully. “‘What do you mean?”

“Ay, my stomach. Wouldn’t _your_ stomach rise against serving a man that
had done you the worst turn one man can do another--been and robbed you
of your sweetheart?”

Alfred stared with amazement.

Brown continued, and now with some emotion: “Hannah Blake and I were
very good friends till you came, and I was thinking of asking her to
name the day; but now she won’t look at me. ‘Don’t come teasing me,’
says she, ‘I am meat for your master.’ It’s you that have turned the
girl’s head, sir.”

“Bother the women!” said Alfred cordially. “Oh, what plagues they are!
And how unjust _you_ are, to spite me for the fault of another. Can I
help the fools from spooning upon me?” He reflected a moment then burst
out: “Brown, you are a duffer, a regular duffer. What, don’t you see
your game is to get me out of the place? If you do, in forty-eight hours
I shall be married to my Julia, and that dumpling-faced girl will be
cured. But if you keep me here, by Gee, sir, I’ll make hot love to your
Hannah, boiling hot, hotter than ever was--out of the isles of Greece.
Oh do help me out, and I’ll give you the hundred pounds, and I’ll give
Hannah another hundred pounds, on condition she marries you: and, if she
won’t marry you, she shan’t have a farthing, only a good hiding.”

Brown was overpowered by his maniac’s logic. “You have a head,” said he;
“there’s my hand; I’ll go in, if I die for it.”

They now put their heads together over the means. Brown’s plan was to
wait, and wait, for an opportunity. Alfred’s was to make one this very
night.

“But how can I?” said Brown. “I shan’t have the key of your room. I am
not on watch in your part to-night.”

“Borrow Hannah’s.”

“Hannah’s? She has got no key of the male patients rooms.”

“Oh yes, she has; of mine, at all events.”

“What makes you think that, sir?” said Brown suspiciously.

Alfred didn’t know what to say: he could not tell him why he felt sure
she had a key.

“Just go quietly and ask her for it” said he: “don’t tell her I sent
you, now.”

Brown obeyed, and returned in half-an-hour with the key of the vacant
bedroom, where the hobbles and chains were hidden on the arrival of the
justices.

She tells me this is the only key she has of any room in this corridor.
“But dear heart,” said Brown, “how quicksighted the women are. She said,
says she, ‘If it is to bring sorrowful true lovers together again,
Giles, or the like of that I’ll try and get the key you want off Mrs.
Archbold’s bunch, though I get the sack for it,’ says she. ‘I know she
heaves them in the parlour at night’ says Hannah. She is a trump, you
must allow.”

Alfred coloured up. He suspected he had been unjust.

“She is a good, kind, single-hearted girl,” said he; “and neither of you
shall find me ungrateful.”

It was evident by the alacrity Brown now showed, that he had got his
orders from Hannah.

It was agreed that Alfred should be down at night in his clothes, ready
to seize the right moment; that Hannah should get the key, and watch the
coast clear, and let him out into the corridor; and Brown get him down
by a back stairs, and out on the lawn, There he would find a ladder
close by the wall, and his own arms and legs must do the rest.

And now Alfred was a changed creature: his eye sparkled; he walked on
air, and already sniffed the air of liberty.

After tea Brown brought in some newspapers, and made Alfred a signal,
previously agreed on, that the ladder was under the east wall. He went
to bed early, put on his tweed shooting-jacket and trousers, and lay
listening to the clock with beating heart.

At first, feet passed to and fro from time to time. These became less
frequent as the night wore on.

Presently a light foot passed, stopped at the door, and made a sharp
scratch on it with some metal instrument.

It was the key. The time was not ripe to use it, but good Hannah had
taken this way to let him know she had got it.

This little scratch outside his door, oh it made his heart leap and
thrill. One great difficulty was overcome. He waited, and waited, but
with glowing, hopeful heart; and at last a foot came swiftly, the key
turned, and Hannah opened the door. She had a bull’s-eye lantern.

“Take your shoes in your hand,” she whispered, “and follow me.”

He followed her. She led him in and out, to the door of the public room
belonging to the second-class patients. Then she drew her whistle, and
breathed very softly. Brown answered as softly from the other end. He
was waiting at the opposite door.

“All right,” said she; “the dangerous part is over.” She put a key into
the door, and said very softly, “Good-bye.”

“God bless you, Hannah,” said Alfred, with deep emotion. “God in heaven
bless you for this!”

“He will, He does,” said the single-hearted girl, and put her other hand
to her breast with a great gulp. She opened the door slowly. “Good-bye,
dear. I shall never see you again.”

And so these two parted; for Hannah could not bear the sight of Giles
at that moment. He was welcome to Alfred, though, most welcome, and
conducted him by devious ways to the kitchen, lantern in hand.

He opened the kitchen door softly, and saw two burly strangers seated
at the table, eating with all their souls, and Mrs. Archbold standing
before the fire, but looking towards him: for she had heard his
footsteps ever so far off.

The men looked up, and saw Alfred. They rose to their feet, and said,
“This will be the gentleman, madam?”

“Yes,” said Mrs. Archbold.

“Your servant, sir,” said the man very civilly. “If you are ready we
are.”



CHAPTER XXXIV

SAMPSON’S placard was on Barkington walls, and inside the asylum Alfred
was softening hearts and buying consciences, as related; so, in fact, he
had two strings to his bow.

But mark how strangely things turn; these two strings got entangled. His
father, alarmed by the placard, had called at the pawnbroker’s shop, and
told him he must move Alfred directly to a London asylum. Baker raised
objections; Mr. Hardie crushed them with his purse, _i.e.,_ with his
son’s and victim’s sweetheart’s father’s money. So then, as Baker after
all could not resist the project, but only postpone it for a day or two,
he preferred to take a handsome present, and cooperate. He even connived
at Mr. Hardie’s signing the requisite name to the new order. This the
giddy world calls forgery; but, in these calm retreats, far from the
public’s inquisitive eye, it goes for nothing. Why, Mrs. Archbold had
signed Baker’s name and Dr. Bailey’s more than a hundred several times
to orders, statements, and certificates; depriving Englishmen of their
liberty and their property with a gesture of her taper fingers;
and venting the conventional terms, “Aberration,” “Exaltation,”
 “Depression,” “Debility,” “Paralysis,” “Excitable,” “Abnormal,” as
boldly and blindly as any male starling in the flock.

On the very night, then, of Alfred’s projected escape, two keepers came
down from Dr. Wycherley’s asylum to Silverton station: Baker met them
and drove them to Silverton House in his dog-cart. They were to take
Alfred up by the night train; and, when he came into the kitchen with
Brown, they suspected nothing, nor did Baker or Cooper, who presently
emerged from the back kitchen. Brown saw, and recovered his wits
partially. “Shall I go for his portmanteau, sir?” stammered he, making
a shrewd and fortunate guess at what was up. Baker assented; and soon
after went out to get the horse harnessed. On this Mrs. Archbold, pale,
sorrowful, and silent hitherto, beckoned Alfred into the back kitchen,
and there gave him his watch and his loose money. “I took care of them
for you,” said she; “for the like have often been stolen in this place.
Put the money in your shoes; it may be useful to you.”

He thanked her somewhat sullenly; for his disappointment was so deep and
bitter that small kindnesses almost irritated him.

She sighed. “It is cruel to be angry with _me,_” she said: “I am not the
cause of this; it is a heavier blow to me than to you. Sooner or
later you will be free--and then you will not waste a thought on me, I
fear--but I must remain in this odious prison without your eyes and your
smile to lighten me, yet unable to forget you. Oh, Alfred, for mercy’s
sake, whisper me one kind word at parting; give me one kind look to
remember and dote upon.”

She put out both hands as eloquently as she spoke, and overpowered his
prudence so far that he took her offered hands--they were as cold now as
they were burning hot the last time--and pressed them, and said--

“I shall be grateful to you while I live.”

The passionate woman snatched her hands away. “Gratitude is too cold for
me,” she cried; “I scorn even yours. Love me or hate me.”

He made no reply. And so they parted.

“Will you pledge your honour to make no attempt at escape on the road?”
 asked the pawnbroker on his return.

“I’ll see you d----d first,” replied the prisoner.

On this he was handcuffed, and helped into the dog-cart.

They went up to town by the midnight train; but, to Alfred’s
astonishment and delight did not take a carriage to themselves.

However, station after station was passed, and nobody came into their
carriage. At last they stopped at a larger station, and a good many
people were on the platform: Alfred took this opportunity and appealed
in gentle but moving terms to the first good and intelligent face he
saw. “Sir,” said he, “I implore your assistance.”

The gentleman turned courteously to him. The keepers, to Alfred’s
surprise, did not interrupt.

“I am the victim of a conspiracy, sir; they pretend I am mad: and are
taking me by force to a madhouse, a living tomb.”

“You certainly don’t appear to be mad,” said the gentleman.

The head keeper instantly showed him the order and a copy of the
certificates.

“Don’t look at _them,_ sir,” cried Alfred; “they are signed by men who
were bribed to sign them. For pity’s sake, sir, judge for yourself. Test
my memory, my judgment, by any question you please. Use your own good
sense; don’t let those venal rogues judge for you.”

The gentleman turned cold directly.

“I could not take on me to interfere,” said he. The unsworn affidavits
had overpowered his senses. He retired with a frigid inclination. Alfred
wrung his handcuffed hands, and the connecting chain rattled.

The men never complained: his conduct was natural; and they knew their
strength. At the next station he tested a snob’s humanity instead of a
gentleman’s. He had heard they were more tender-hearted. The answer was
a broad grin, repeated at intervals.

Being called mad was pretty much the same thing as being mad to a mind
of this class: and Alfred had admitted he was called mad.

At the next station he implored a silvery-haired old gentleman. Old age,
he had heard, has known griefs, and learned pity.

The keeper showed the certificates.

“Ah!” said Senex; “poor young man. Now don’t agitate yourself. It is
all for your good. Pray go quietly. Very painful, very painful.” And
he hobbled away as fast as he could. It is by shirking the painful some
live to be silvery old.

Next he tried a policeman. Bobby listened to him erect as a dart.

The certificates were shown him.

He eyed them and said sharply, “All right.” Nor could Alfred’s
entreaties and appeals to common sense attract a word or even a look
from him. Alfred cried “Help! murder! If you are Englishmen, if you are
Christians, help me.”

This soon drew a crowd round him, listening to his fiery tale of wrong,
and crying “Shame, shame! Let him go.” The keepers touched their heads,
winked, and got out and showed the certificates; the crowd melted away
like wax before those two suns of evidence (unsworn). The train moved
on.

It was appalling. How could he ever get free? Between his mind and that
of his fellows there lay a spiritual barrier more impassible than the
walls of fortified cities.

Yet, at the very next station, with characteristic tenacity of purpose,
he tried again; for he saw a woman standing near, a buxom country woman
of forty. Then he remembered that the Naked Eye was not yet an extinct
institution among her sex. He told her his tale, and implored her to use
her own eyes. She seemed struck, and did eye him far more closely
than the men had: and told the keepers they ought to be ashamed of
themselves; he was no madman, for she had seen madmen. They showed her
the certificates.

“Oh, I am no scholar!” said she contemptuously; “ye can’t write my two
eyes out of my head.”

The keeper whipped off Alfred’s cap and showed his shaven crown.

“La! so he is,” said she, lowering her tone; “dear heart, what a pity.
And such a pretty young gentleman.” And after that all he could say only
drew the dew of patient pity to her eyes.

The train went on, and left her standing there, a statue of negative
clemency. Alfred lost heart. He felt how impotent he was. “I shall
die in a madhouse,” he said. He shivered in a corner, hating man, and
doubting God.

They reached Dr. Wycherley’s early in the morning. Alfred was shown into
a nice clean bedroom, and asked whether he would like to bathe or sleep.
“Oh, a bath,” he said; and was allowed to bathe himself. He had not been
long in the water when Dr. Wycherley’s medical assistant tapped at the
door, and then entered without further ceremony--a young gentleman with
a longish down on his chin, which, initiated early in the secrets
of physiology, he was too knowing to shave off and so go to meet his
trouble. He came in looking like a machine, with a note-book in his
hand, and stood by the bath side dictating notes to himself and jotting
them down.

“Six contusions: two on the thorax, one on the abdomen, two on the
thighs, one near the patella; turn, please.” Alfred turned in the water.
“A slight dorsal abrasion; also of the wrists; a severe excoriation of
the ankle. Leg-lock, eh?”

“Yes.”

“Iron leg-lock. Head shaved. Large blister. Good! Any other injuries
external or internal under old system?”

“Yes, sir, confined as a madman though sane, as _you,_ I am sure, have
the sense to see.”

“Oh, never mind that; we are all sane here--except the governor and I.”

He whipped out, and entered the condition of the new patient’s body with
jealous minuteness in the case-book. As for his mind, he made no inquiry
into that: indeed he was little qualified for researches of the kind.

At breakfast Alfred sat with a number of mad ladies and gentlemen, who
by firmness, kindness, and routine, had been led into excellent habits:
the linen was clean and the food good. He made an excellent meal,
and set about escaping: with this view he explored the place. Nobody
interfered with him; but plenty of eyes watched him. The house was on
the non-restraint system. He soon found this system was as bad for
him as it was good for the insane. Non-restraint implied a great many
attendants, and constant vigilance. Moreover, the doors were strong, the
windows opened only eight inches, and that from the top: their framework
was iron, painted like wood, &c. It was next to impossible to get
into the yard at night: and then it looked quite impossible to get any
further, for the house was encompassed by high walls.

He resigned all hope of escape without connivance. He sounded a keeper;
the man fired at the first word. “Come, none of that, sir; you should
know better than tempt a poor man.”

Alfred coloured to the eyes and sighed deeply. To have honour thrown
in his face, and made the reason for not aiding him to baffle a
dishonourable conspiracy! But he took the reproof so sweetly, the
man was touched, and by-and-bye, seeing him deeply dejected, said
good-naturedly, “Don’t be down on your luck, sir. If you are really
better, which you don’t look to have much the matter now, why not write
to the Commissioners and ask to be let out?”

“Because my letters will be intercepted.”

“Ay, to your friends; but not to the Commissioners of Lunacy. Not in
this house, any way.”

“God bless you!” cried Alfred impetuously. “You are my benefactor; you
are an honest fellow; give me your hand.”

“Well, why not? Only you mustn’t excite yourself. Take it easy.”
 (Formula.)

“Oh, no cant among friends!” said Alfred: “wouldn’t you be excited at
the hope of getting out of prison?”

“Well, I don’t know but I might. Bound I am as sick of it as you are.”

Alfred got paper and sketched the letter on which so much depended.
It took him six hours. He tore up two; he cooled down the third, and
condensed it severely: by this means, after much thought, he produced
a close and telling composition. He also weeded it of every trait and
every term he had observed in mad people’s talk, or the letters they
had shown him. So there was no incoherency, no heat, no prolixity, no
“spies,” no “conspiracy,” no italics. A simple, honest, earnest story,
with bitter truth stamped on every line; a sober, strong appeal from a
sore heart but hard head to the arbiters of his fate.

To the best of my belief no madman, however slightly touched, or however
cunning, ever wrote a letter so gentle yet strong, so earnest yet calm,
so short yet full, and withal so lucid and cleanly jointed as this was.
And I am no contemptible judge; for I have accumulated during the last
few years a large collection of letters from persons deranged in
various degrees, and studied them minutely, more minutely than most
Psychologicals study anything but Pounds, Shillings, and Verbiage.

The letter went, and he hoped but scarcely expected an answer by return
of post. It did not come. He said to his heart, “Be still;” and waited.
Another day went by; and another: he gnawed his heart and waited: he
pined, and waited on. The Secret Tribunal, which was all a shallow
legislature had left him, “took it easy.” Secret Tribunals always do.

But, while the victim-suitor longed and pined and languished for one
sound from the voice of Justice and Humanity, and while the Secret
Tribunal, not being in prison itself all this time, “took it easy,”
 events occurred at Barkington that bade fair to throw open the prison
doors and bring father and son, bride and bridegroom, together again
under one roof.

But at what a price.



CHAPTER XXXV

AT sight of Sampson’s placard Mr. Hardie was seized with a tremor that
suspended the razor in mid air: he opened the window, and glared at the
doctor’s notice.

At this moment he himself was a picture: not unlike those half cleaned
portraits the picture restorers hang out as specimens of their art.

“Insolent interfering fool,” he muttered, and began to walk the room in
agitation. After a while he made a strong effort, shaved the other half,
and dressed slowly, thinking hard all the time. The result was, he went
out before breakfast (which he had not done for years), and visited Mr.
Baker--for what purpose has been already shown.

On his return, Jane was waiting breakfast. The first word to him was:
“Papa, have you seen?”

“What, the Reward!” said he indifferently. “Yes, I noticed it at our
door as I came home.”

Jane said it was a very improper and most indelicate interference in
their affairs, and went on to say with heightened colour: “I have just
told Peggy to take it down.

“Not for the world!” cried Mr. Hardie, losing all his calmness real or
feigned; and he rang the bell hastily. On Peggy’s appearing, he said
anxiously, “I do not wish that Notice interfered with.”

“I shouldn’t think of touching it without your order, sir,” said she
quietly, and shot him a feline glance from under her pale lashes.

Jane coloured, and looked a little mortified: but on Peggy’s retiring,
Mr. Hardie explained that, whether judicious or not, it was a friendly
act of Dr. Sampson’s; and to pull down his notice would look like siding
with the boy against those he had injured: “Besides,” said he, “why
should you and I burk inquiry? Ill as he has used me, I am his father,
and not altogether without anxiety. Suppose those doctors should be
right about him, you know?”

Jane had for some time been longing to call at Albion Villa and
sympathise with her friend; and now curiosity was superadded: she burned
to know whether the Dodds knew of or approved this placard. She asked
her father whether he thought she could go there with propriety. “Why
not?” said he cheerfully, and with assumed carelessness.

In reality it was essential to him that Jane should visit the Dodds.
Surrounded by pitfalls, threatened with a new and mysterious assailant
in the eccentric, but keen and resolute Sampson, this artful man, who
had now become a very Machiavel--constant danger and deceit had so
sharpened and deepened his great natural abilities--was preparing
amongst other defences a shield; and that shield was a sieve; and that
sieve was his daughter. In fact, ever since his return, he had acted
and spoken at the Dodds through Jane, but with a masterly appearance of
simplicity and mere confidential intercourse. At least I think this is
the true clue to all his recent remarks.

Jane, a truthful, unsuspicious girl, was all the fitter instrument
of the cunning monster. She went and called at Albion Villa, and was
received by Edward, Mrs. Dodd being upstairs with Julia, and in five
minutes she had told him what her father, she owned, had said to her
in confidence. “But,” said she, “the reason I repeat these things is to
make peace, and that you may not fancy there is any one in our house so
cruel, so unchristian, as to approve Alfred’s perfidy. Oh, and papa said
candidly he disliked the match, but then he disliked this way of ending
it far more.”

Mrs. Dodd came down in due course, and kissed her; but told her Julia
could not see even her at present. “I think, dear,” said she, “in a day
or two she will see you; but no one else: and for her sake we shall now
hurry our departure from this place, where she was once so happy.”

Mrs. Dodd did not like to begin about Alfred; but Jane had no such
scruples; she inveighed warmly against his conduct, and ere she left
the house, had quite done away with the faint suspicion Sampson had
engendered, and brought both Mrs. Dodd and Edward back to their original
opinion that the elder Hardie had nothing on earth to do with the
perfidy of the younger.

Just before dinner a gentleman called on Edward, and proved to be a
policeman in plain clothes. He had been sent from the office to sound
the ostler at the “White Lion,” and, if necessary, to threaten him. The
police knew, though nobody else in Barkington did, that this ostler had
been in what rogues call trouble, twice, and, as the police can starve
a man of the kind by blowing on him, and can reward him by keeping dark,
he knows better than withhold information from them.

However, on looking for this ostler, he had left his place that very
morning; had decamped with mysterious suddenness.

Here was a puzzle.

Had the man gone without noticing the reward? Had somebody outbid the
reward? Or was it a strange coincidence, and did he after all know
nothing?

The police thought it was no coincidence, and he did know something; so
they had telegraphed to the London office to mark him down.

Edward thanked his visitor; but, on his retiring, told his mother he
could make neither head nor tail of it; and she only said, “We seem
surrounded by mystery.”

Meantime, unknown to these bewildered ones, Greek was meeting Greek only
a few yards off.

Mr. Hardie was being undermined by a man of his own calibre, one too
cautious to communicate with the Dodds, or any one else, till his work
looked ripe.

The game began thus: a decent mechanic, who lodged hard by, lounging
with his pipe near the gate of Musgrove Cottage, offered to converse
with old Betty. She gave him a rough answer; but with a touch of
ineradicable vanity must ask Peggy if she wanted a sweetheart, because
there was a hungry one at the gate: “Why: he wanted to begin on an old
woman like me.” Peggy inquired what he had said to her.

“Oh, he begun where most of them ends--if they get so far at all: axed
me was I comfortable here; if not, he knew a young man wanted a nice
tidy body to keep house for him.”

Peggy pricked up her ears; and, in less than a quarter of an hour, went
for a box of lucifers in a new bonnet and clean collar. She tripped past
the able mechanic very accidentally, and he bestowed an admiring smile
on her, but said nothing--only smoked. However, on her return, he
contrived to detain her, and paid her a good many compliments, which she
took laughingly and with no great appearance of believing them. However,
there is no going by that: compliments sink: and within forty-eight
hours the able mechanic had become a hot wooer of Peggy Black, always on
the look-out for her day and night, and telling her all about the lump
of money he had saved, and how he could double his income, if he had but
a counter, and tidy wife behind it. Peggy gossiped in turn, and let out
amongst the rest that she had been turned off once, just for answering
a little sharply; and now it was the other way; her master was a trifle
too civil at times.

“Who could help it?” said the able mechanic rapturously; and offered a
pressing civility, which Peggy fought off.

“Not so free, young man,” said she. “Kissing is the prologue to sin.”

“How do you know that?” inquired the able mechanic, with the sly humour
of his class.

“It is a saying,” replied Peggy demurely.

At last, one night, Mr. Green the detective, for he it was, put his arm
round his new sweetheart’s waist, and approached the subject nearest his
heart. He told her he had just found out there was money enough to be
made in one day to set them up for life in a nice little shop; and she
could help in it.

After this inviting preamble, he crept towards the L. 14,000 by artful
questions; and soon elicited that there had been high words between
Master and Mr. Alfred about that very sum: she had listened at the
door and heard. Taking care to combine close courtship with cunning
interrogatories, he was soon enabled to write to Dr. Sampson, and say
that a servant of Mr. Hardie’s was down on him, and reported that he
carried a large pocket-book in his breast-pocket by day; and she had
found the dent of it under his pillow at night--a stroke of observation
very creditable in an unprofessional female: on this he had made it
his business to meet Mr. Hardie in broad day, and sure enough the
pocket-book was always there. He added, that the said Hardie’s face wore
an expression which he had seen more than once when respectable parties
went in for felony: and altogether thought they might now take out a
warrant and proceed in the regular way.

Sampson received this news with great satisfaction: but was crippled by
the interwoven relations of the parties.

To arrest Mr. Hardie on a warrant would entail a prosecution for felony,
and separate Jane and Edward for ever.

He telegraphed Green to meet him at the station; and reached Barkington
at eight that very evening. Green and he proceeded to Albion Villa,
and there they held a long and earnest consultation with Edward; and at
last, on certain conditions, Mr. Green and Edward consented to act on
Sampson’s plan. Green, by this time, knew all Mr. Hardie’s out-of-door
habits; and assured them that at ten o’clock he would walk up and down
the road for at least half an hour, the night being dry. It wanted about
a quarter to ten, when Mrs. Dodd came down, and proposed supper to the
travellers. Sampson declined it for the present; and said they had
work to do at eleven. Then, making the others a signal not to disclose
anything at present he drew her aside and asked after Julia.

Mrs. Dodd sighed--“She goes from one thing to another, but always
returns to one idea; that he is a victim, not a traitor.”

“Well, tell her in one hour the money shall be in the house.”

“The money! What does she care?”

“Well, say we shall know all about Alfred by eleven o’clock.”

“My dear friend, be prudent,” said Mrs. Dodd. “I feel alarmed: you were
speaking almost in a whisper when I came in.”

“Y’ are very obsairvant: but dawnt be uneasy; we are three to one. Just
go and comfort Miss Julee with my message.”

“Ah, that I will,” she said.

She was no sooner gone than they all stole out into the night, and a
pitch dark night it was; but Green had a powerful dark lantern to use if
necessary.

They waited, Green at the gate of Musgrove Cottage, the other two a
little way up the road.

Ten o’clock struck. Some minutes passed without the expected signal from
Green; and Edward and Sampson began to shiver. For it was very cold and
dark, and in the next place they were honest men going to take the law
into their own hands and the law sometimes calls that breaking the law.
“Confound him!” muttered Sampson; “if he does not soon come I shall run
away. It is bitterly cold.”

Presently footsteps were heard approaching; but no signal: it proved to
be only a fellow in a smock-frock rolling home from the public-house.

Just as his footsteps died away a low hoot like a plaintive owl was
heard, and they knew their game was afoot.

Presently, tramp, tramp, came the slow and stately march of him they had
hunted down.

He came very slowly, like one lost in meditation: and these amateur
policemen’s hearts beat louder and louder, as he drew nearer and nearer.

At last in the blackness of the night a shadowy outline was visible;
another tramp or two, it was upon them.

Now the cautious Mr. Green had stipulated that the pocketbook should
first be felt for, and, if not there, the matter should go no farther.
So Edward made a stumble and fell against Mr. Hardie and felt his left
breast: the pocket-book was there:--“Yes,” he whispered: and Mr. Hardie,
in the act of remonstrating at his clumsiness, was pinned behind, and
his arms strapped with wonderful rapidity and dexterity. Then first he
seemed to awake to his hunger, and uttered a stentorian cry of terror,
that rang through the night and made two of his three captors tremble.

“Cut that” said Green sternly, “or you’ll get into trouble.”

Mr. Hardie lowered his voice directly: “Do not kill me, do not hurt me,”
 he murmured; “I am but a poor man now. Take my little money; it is in my
waistcoat pocket; but spare my life. You see I don’t resist.”

“Come, stash your gab, my lad,” said Green contemptuously, addressing
him just as he would any other of the birds he was accustomed to
capture. “It’s not your stiff that is wanted, but Captain Dodd’s.”

“Captain Dodd’s?” cried the prisoner with a wonderful assumption of
innocence.

“Ay, the pocket-book,” said Green; “here, this! this!” He tapped on
the pocket-book, and instantly the prisoner uttered a cry of agony, and
sprang into the road with an agility no one would have thought possible
but Edward and Green soon caught him, and, the Doctor joining, they held
him, and Green tore his coat open.

The pocket-book was not there. He tore open his waistcoat; it was not in
the waistcoat: but it was sewed to his very shirt on the outside.

Green wrenched it away, and bidding the other two go behind the prisoner
and look over his shoulder, unseen themselves, slipped the shade of his
lantern.

Mr. Hardie had now ceased to struggle and to exclaim; he stood sullen,
mute, desperate; while an agitated face peered eagerly over each of his
shoulders at the open pocket-book in Green’s hands, on which the lantern
now poured a narrow but vivid stream of light.



CHAPTER XXXVI

THERE was not a moment to lose, so Green emptied the pocketbook into
his hat, and sifted the contents in a turn of the hand, announcing each
discovery in a whisper to his excited and peering associates.

“A lot of receipts.”

“Of no use to any one but me,” said the prisoner earnestly.

“Two miniatures; gold rims, pinchbeck backs.”

“They are portraits of my children when young: Heaven forgive me, I
could not give them up to my creditors: surely, surely, you will not rob
me of them.”

“Stash your gab,” said Mr. Green roughly. “Here’s a guinea, Queen Anne’s
reign.”

“It belonged to my great-grandfather: take it, but you will let me
redeem it; I will give L. 5 for it poor as I am: you can leave it on my
door-step, and I’ll leave the L. 5.”

“Stow your gab. Letters; papers covered with figures. Stay, what is
this? a lot of memoranda.”

“They are of the most private and delicate character. Pray do not expose
my family misfortunes.” And Mr. Hardie, who of late had been gathering
composure, showed some signs of agitation; the two figures glaring over
his shoulder shared it, and his remonstrance only made Green examine
the papers keenly: they might contain some clue to the missing money.
It proved a miscellaneous record: the price of Stocks at various days;
notes of the official assignee’s remarks in going over the books, &c.
At last, however, Green’s quick eye fell upon a fainter entry in pencil;
figures: 1, 4; yes, actually L. 14,000. “All right,” he said: and took
the paper close to the lantern, and began to spell it out--

“‘This day Alfred told me to my face I had L. 14,000 of Captain Dodd’s.
We had an angry discussion. What can he mean? Drs. Wycherley and Osmond,
this same day, afflicted me with hints that he is deranged, or partly. I
saw no signs of it before. Wrote to my brother entreating him to give me
L. 200 to replace the sum which I really have wronged this respectable
and now most afflicted family of. I had better withdraw----’” Here Mr.
Hardie interrupted him with sorrowful dignity: “These are mere family
matters; if you are a man, respect them.”

Green went reading on like Fate: “‘Better withdraw my opposition to
the marriage, or else it seems my own flesh and blood will go about the
place blackening my reputation.’”

Mr. Hardie stamped on the ground. “I tell you, on my honour as a
gentleman, there’s no money there but my grandfather’s guinea. My money
is all in my waistcoat pocket, where you _will not_ look.”

A flutter of uneasiness seemed to come over the detective: he darkened
his lantern, and replaced the pocket-book hurriedly in the prisoner’s
breast, felt him all over in a minute, and to keep up the farce, robbed
him.

“Only eight yellow boys,” said he contemptuously to his mates. He then
shipped the money back into Hardie’s coat-pocket, and conducted him to
his own gate, tied him to it by the waist, and ordered him not to give
the alarm for ten minutes on pain of death.

“I consent,” said Mr. Hardie, “and thank you for abstaining from
violence.”

“All right, my tulip,” said Mr. Green cheerfully, and drew his
companions quietly away. But the next moment he began to run, and making
a sudden turn, dived into a street then into a passage, and so winded
and doubled till he got to a small public-house: he used some flash
word, and they were shown a private room. “Wait here an hour for me,”
 he whispered; “I must see who liberates him, and whether he is really
as innocent as he reads, or we have been countermined by the devil’s own
tutor.”

The unexpected turn the evidence had taken--evidence of their own
choosing, too--cleared Mr. Hardie with the unprofessionals. Edward
embraced this conclusion as a matter of course, and urged the character
of that gentleman’s solitary traducer: Alfred was a traitor, and
therefore why not a slanderer?

Even Sampson, on the whole, inclined to a similar conclusion.

At this crisis of the discussion a red-haired pedlar, with very large
whiskers and the remains of a black eye, put his head in, and asked
whether Tom Green was there. “No,” said the Doctor stoutly, not desiring
company of this stamp. “Don’t know the lad.”

The pedlar laughed: “There is not many that do know him at all hours;
however, he _is_ here, sir.” And he whipped off the red hair, and wiped
off the black eye, and ho, Green _ipse._ He received their compliments
on his Protean powers, and told them he had been just a minute too late.
Mr. Hardie was gone, and so he had lost the chance of seeing who came
to help him, and of hearing the first words that passed between the two.
This, he said, was a very great pity; for it would have shown him in
one moment whether certain suspicions of his were correct. Pressed as to
what these suspicions were, he begged to be excused saying any more for
the present. The Doctor, however, would not let him off so, but insisted
on his candid opinion.

“Well, sir,” said Green, “I never was more puzzled in my life, owing to
not being near hand when he was untied. It looks all square, however.
There’s one little thing that don’t fit somehow.”

They both asked in a breath what that was.

“The sovs. were all marked.”

They asked how he knew; and had he got them in his pocket to show?

Green uttered a low chuckling laugh: “What, me fake the beans, now I
live on this side of the hedge? Never knew a cove mix his liquors that
way but it hurt his health soon or late. No, I took them out of one
pocket and felt of them as I slipped them into the other. Ye see, gents,
to do any good on my lay, a man must train his senses as well as his
mind: he must have a hare’s ear, and a hawk’s eye, a bloodhound’s nose,
and a lady’s hand with steel fingers and a silk skin. Now look at that
bunch of fives,” continued the master; and laid a hand white and soft as
a duchess’s on the table: “it can put the bracelets on a giant, or find
a sharper’s nail-mark on the back of the knave of clubs. The beans were
marked. Which it is a small thing, but it don’t fit the rest. Here’s an
unsuspicious gent took by surprise, in moonlight meditation fancy free,
and all his little private family matters found in his innocent bosom,
quite promiscuous; but his beans marked. That don’t dovetail nohow.
Gents, did ever you hear of the man that went to the bottom of the
bottomless pit to ease his mind? Well, he was the head of my family. I
must go to the bottom whether there’s one or not. And just now I see but
one way.”

“And what is that?” inquired both his companions in some alarm.

“Oh, I mustn’t threaten it,” said Green, “or I shall never have the
stomach to do it. But dear me, this boozing ken is a very unfit place
for you,--you are champagne-gents, not dog’s nose ones. Now you part and
make tracks for home, one on foot and one in a fly. You won’t see me,
nor hear of me again, till I’ve something fresh.”

And so the confederates parted, and Sampson and Edward met at Albion
Villa; and Edward told his mother what they had done, and his conviction
that Mr. Hardie was innocent, and Alfred a slanderer as well as a
traitor: “And indeed,” said he, “if we had but stopped to reflect,
we should have seen how unlikely the money was not to be lost in the
_Agra._ Why, the _‘Tiser_ says she went to pieces almost directly she
struck. What we ought to have done was, not to listen to Alfred Hardie
like fools, but write to Lloyd’s like people in their senses. I’ll do it
this minute, and find out the surviving officers of the ship: they will
be able to give us information on that head.” Mrs. Dodd approved; and
said she would write to her kind correspondent Mrs. Beresford, and she
did sit down to her desk at once. As for Sampson, he returned to
town next morning, not quite convinced, but thoroughly staggered; and
determined for once to resign his own judgment, and abide the result of
Mrs. Dodd’s correspondence and Mr. Green’s sagacity. All he insisted on
was, that his placard about Alfred should be continued: he left money
for this, and Edward, against the grain, consented to see it done. But
placards are no monopoly: in the afternoon only a section of Sampson’s
was visible in most parts of the town by reason of a poster to this
effect pasted half over it:--

     “FIFTY GUINEAS REWARD.

“Whereas, yesterday evening at ten o’clock Richard Hardie, Esq., of
Musgrove Cottage, Barkington, was assaulted at his own door by three
ruffians, who rifled his pockets, and read his private memoranda, and
committed other acts of violence, the shock of which has laid him on
a bed of sickness, the above reward shall be paid to any person, or
persons, who will give such information as shall lead to the detection
of all or any one of the miscreants concerned in this outrage.

“The above reward will be paid by Mr. Thomas Hardie of Clare Court,
Yorkshire.”


On this the impartial police came to Mr. Hardie’s and made inquiries. He
received them in bed, and told them particulars: and they gathered from
Peggy that she had heard a cry of distress, and opened the kitchen door,
and that Betty and she had ventured out together, and found poor master
tied to the gate with an old cord: this she produced, and the police
inspected and took it away with them.

At sight of that Notice, Edward felt cold and then hot and realised the
false and perilous position into which he had been betrayed: “So much
for being wiser than the law,” he said: “what are we now but three
footpads?” This, and the insult his sister had received made the place
poison to him; and hastened their departure by a day or two. The very
next day (Thursday) an _affiche_ on the walls of Albion Villa announced
that Mr. Chippenham, auctioneer, would sell, next Wednesday, on the
premises, the greater part of the furniture, plate, china, glass,
Oriental inlaid boxes and screens, with several superb India shawls,
scarfs, and dresses; also a twenty-one years’ lease of the villa,
seventeen to run.

Edward took unfurnished apartments in London, near Russell Square: a
locality in which, as he learned from the _‘Tiser,_ the rooms were
large and cheap. He packed just so much furniture as was essential; no
knick-knacks. It was to go by rail on Monday; Mrs. Dodd and Julia were
to follow on Tuesday: Edward to stay at Barkington and look after the
sale.

Meantime their secret ally, Mr. Green, was preparing his threatened
_coup._ The more he reflected the more he suspected that he had been
outwitted by Peggy Black. She had led him on, and the pocket-book had
been planted for him. If so, why Peggy was a genius, and in his own
line; and he would marry her, and so kill two birds with one stone: make
a Detective of her (there was a sad lack of female detectives); and,
once his wife, she would split on her master, and he should defeat that
old soldier at last, and get a handsome slice of the L. 14,000.

He manoeuvred thus: first, he went back to London for a day or two to
do other jobs, and to let this matter cool; then he returned, and wrote
from a town near Barkington to Peggy Black, telling her he had been
sent away suddenly on a job, but his heart had remained behind with
his Peggy: would she meet him at the gate at nine that evening? he
had something very particular to say to her. As to the nature of the
business, the enclosed would give her a hint. She might name her own
day, and the sooner the better.

The enclosed was a wedding-ring.

At nine this extraordinary pair of lovers met at the gate; but Peggy
seemed hardly at her ease; said her master would be coming out and
catching her; perhaps they had better walk up the road a bit. “With
all my heart,” said Green; but he could not help a little sneer:
“Your master?” said he: “why he is your servant, as I am. What, is he
jealous?”

“I don’t know what you mean, young man,” said Peggy.

“I’ll tell you when we are married.”

“La, that is a long time to wait for my answer: why we ain’t asked in
church yet.”

“There’s no need of that; I can afford a special licence.”

“Lawk a daisy: why you be a gentleman, then.”

“No, but I can keep my wife like a lady.”

“You sounds very tempting,” murmured Peggy, throwing her skirt over her
head--for a drizzle was beginning--and walking slower and slower.

Then he made hot love to her, and pressed her hard to name the day.

She coquetted with the question till they came near the mouth of a dark
lane, called Lovers’ Walk; then, as he insisted on an answer, she hung
her head bashfully, and coughed a little cough. At which preconcerted
signal a huge policeman sprang out of the lane and collared Mr. Green.

On this Peggy, who was all Lie from head to heel, uttered a little
scream of dismay and surprise.

Mr. Green laughed.

“Well, you _are_ a downy one,” said he. “I’ll marry you all the more for
thus.”

The detective put his hands suddenly inside the policeman’s, caught him
by the bosom with his right hand by way of fulcrum; and with his left by
the chin, which he forced violently back, and gave him a slight Cornish
trip at the same moment; down went the policeman on the back of his head
a fearful crack. Green then caught the astonished Peggy round the neck,
kissed her lips violently, and fled like the wind; removed all traces of
his personal identity, and up to London by the train in the character
of a young swell, with a self-fitting eyeglass and a long moustache the
colour of his tender mistress’s eyebrow: tow.

From town he wrote to her, made her a formal offer of marriage; and gave
her an address to write to “should she at any time think more kindly of
him and of his sincere affection.”

I suppose he specified sincere because it was no longer sincere: he
hurled the offer into Musgrove Cottage by way of an apple of discord--at
least so I infer from the memorandum, with which he retired at present
from the cash hunt.

“Mr. Hardie has the stiff, I think: but, if so, it is planted
somewhere--doesn’t carry it about him; my Peggy is his mistress: nothing
to be done till they split.”


Victorious so far, Mr. Hardie had still one pressing anxiety: Dr.
Sampson’s placard: this had been renewed, and stared him everywhere in
the face. Every copy of it he encountered made him shiver. If he had
been a man of impulse, he would have torn it down wherever he saw it;
but he knew that would not do. However, learning from Jane, who had it
from old Betty, who had it from Sarah, that Mrs. and Miss Dodd would
leave for London the day before the sale, and Edward the day after it,
he thought he might venture in the busy intermediate time to take some
liberties with it. This he did with excellent tact and judgment. Peggy
and a billsticker were seen in conference, and, soon after, the huge
bills of a travelling circus were pasted right over both the rival
advertisements in which the name of Hardie figured. The consequence was,
Edward raised no objection: he was full of the sale for one thing; but
I suspect he was content to see his own false move pasted over on such
easy terms.


One morning Peggy brought in the letters, and Jane saw one in Alfred’s
handwriting. She snatched it up, and cried “Papa, from Alfred!” And she
left off making the tea, while her father opened it with comparative
composure.

This coolness, however, did not outlast the perusal: “The young
ruffian!” said he; “would you believe it Jenny, he accuses me of being
the cause of his last business.”

“Let me see, papa.”

He held her out the letter; but hesitated and drew it back. “My dear,
it would give you pain to see your poor father treated so. Here’s a
specimen: ‘What could they expect but that the son of a sharper would
prove a traitor? You stole her money; I her affections, of which I am
unworthy.’ Now what do you think of that?”

“Unhappy Alfred!” said Jane. “No, papa, I would not read it, if you are
insulted in it. But where is he?”

“The letter is dated Paris. See!” And he showed her the date. “But he
says here he is coming back to London directly; and he orders me in the
most peremptory way to be ready with my accounts, and pay him over
his fortune. Well, he is alive, at all events: really my good, kind,
interfering, pragmatical friend Sampson, with his placards, made me feel
uneasy, more uneasy than I would own to you, Jenny.”

“Unhappy Alfred!” cried Jane, with the tears in her eyes; “and poor
papa!”

“Oh, never mind me,” said Mr. Hardie; “now that I know no harm has come
to him, I really don’t care a straw: I have got one child that loves me,
and that I love.”

“Ah yes, dear, dear papa, and that will always love you, and never,
never disobey you in small things or great.” She rose from the table and
sealed this with a pious kiss; and, when she sat down with a pink flush
on her delicate cheek, his hard eye melted and dwelt on her with beaming
tenderness. His heart yearned over her, and a pang went through it: to
think that he must deceive even her, the one sweet soul that loved him!

It was a passing remorse: the successful plotter soon predominated, and
it was with unmixed satisfaction he saw her put on her bonnet directly
after breakfast and hurry off to Albion Villa to play the part of his
unconscious sieve.

He himself strolled in the opposite direction, not to seem to be
watching her.

He was in good spirits: felt like a general, who, after repulsing many
desperate attacks successfully, orders an advance, and sees the tide
of battle roll away from his bayonets. His very body seemed elastic,
indomitable; he walked lustily out into the country, sniffed the
perfumed hedges, and relished life. To be sure he could not walk away
from all traces of his misdeeds; he fell in with objects that to
an ordinary sinner might have spoiled the walk, and even marred the
spring-time. He found his creditor Maxley with grizzly beard and
bloodshot eyes, belabouring a milestone; and two small boys quizzing
him, and pelting him with mud: and soon after he met his creditor,
old Dr. Phillips, in a cart, coming back to Barkington to end his days
there, at the almshouse. But to our triumphant Bankrupt and Machiavel
these things were literally nothing: he paced complacently on, and cared
no more for either of those his wrecks than the smiling sea itself seems
to care for the dead ships and men it washed ashore a week ago.

He came home before luncheon for his gossip with Jane; but she had not
returned. All the better; her budget would be the larger.

To while the time he got his file of the _Times,_ and amused himself
noting down the fluctuations in Peruvian bonds.

While thus employed he heard a loud knock at his door, and soon after
Peggy’s voice and a man’s in swift collision. Hasty feet came along
the passage, the parlour door opened, and a young man rushed in pale as
ashes, and stared at him; he was breathless, and his lips moved, but no
sound came.

It was Edward Dodd.

Mr. Hardie rose like a tower and manned himself to repulse this fresh
assault.

The strange visitor gasped out, “You are wanted at our house.”



CHAPTER XXXVII

JANE HARDIE had found Albion Villa in the miserable state that precedes
an auction: the house raw, its contents higgledy-piggledy. The stair
carpets, and drawing-room carpets, were up, and in rolls in the
dining-room; the bulk of the furniture was there too; the auction was to
be in that room. The hall was clogged with great packages, and littered
with small, all awaiting the railway carts; and Edward, dusty and
deliquescent, was cording, strapping, and nailing them at the gallop, in
his shirt sleeves.

Jane’s heart sank at the visible signs of his departure. She sighed;
and then, partly to divert his attention, told him hastily there was a
letter from Alfred. On this he ran upstairs and told Mrs. Dodd; and she
came downstairs, and after a conversation took Jane up softly to her
friend’s room.

They opened the door gently, and Jane saw the grief she was come to
console--or to embitter.

Such a change! instead of the bright, elastic, impetuous young beauty,
there sat a pale, languid girl, with “weary of the world” written on
every part of her eloquent body; her right hand dangled by her side, and
on the ground beneath it lay a piece of work she had been attempting;
but it had escaped from those listless fingers: her left arm was
stretched at full length on the table with an unspeakable abandon, and
her brow laid wearily on it above the elbow. So lies the wounded bird,
so droops the broken lily.

She did not move for Jane’s light foot. She often sat thus, a drooping
statue, and let the people come and go unheeded.

Jane’s heart yearned for her. She came softly and laid a little hand
lightly on her shoulder, and true to her creed that we must look upward
for consolation, said in her ear, and in solemn silvery tones, “Our
light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more
exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

Julia turned at this and flung her arms round Jane’s neck, and panted
heavily.

Jane kissed her, and with tears in her eyes, proceeded to pour out, from
a memory richly stored with Scripture, those blessed words it is full
of, words that in our hours of ease or biblical criticism pass over
the mind like some drowsy chime but in the bitter day of anguish and
bereavement, when the body is racked, the soul darkened, shine out like
stars to the mariner; seem then first to swell to their real size and
meaning, and come to writhing mortals like pitying seraphim, divinity on
their faces and healing on their wings.

Julia sighed heavily: “Ah,” she said, “these are sweet words. But I am
not ripe for them. You show me the true path of happiness: but I don’t
_want_ to be happy; it’s  _him_ I want to be happy. If the angels came
for me and took me to heaven this moment, I should be miserable there,
if I thought _he_ was in eternal torment. Ay, I should be as miserable
there as I am here. Oh, Jane, when God means to comfort me, He will show
me _he_ is alive; till then words are wasted on me, even Bible words.”

“Tell her your news, my dear,” said Mrs. Dodd quietly. She was one of
those who take human nature as it is, and make the best of it.

“Julia dear,” said Jane, “your fears are extravagant; indeed: Alfred is
alive, we know.”

Julia trembled, but said nothing.

“He has written to-day.”

“Ah! To you?”

“No, to papa.”

“I don’t believe it. Why to him?”

“But I saw the letter, dear; I had it my hand.”

“Did you read it?” asked Julia, trembling now like an aspen, and
fluttering like a bird.

“No, but I read the address, and the date inside, and I saw the
handwriting; and I was offered the letter, but papa told me it was full
of abuse of him, so I declined* to read it; however, I will get it for
_you._”

     * This was one of those involuntary inaccuracies which creep
     into mortal statements.

Mrs. Dodd thanked her warmly; but asked her if she could not in the
meantime give some idea of the contents.

“Oh yes, Mrs. Dodd: papa read me out a great deal of it. He was in
Paris, but just starting for London: and he demanded his money and his
accounts. You know papa is one of his trustees.”

“Well, but,” said Mrs. Dodd, “there was nothing--nothing about----?”

“Oh yes, there was,” said Jane, “only I--well then, for dear Julia’s
sake--the letter said, ‘What wonder the son of a sharper should prove a
traitor? _You_ have stolen her money and _I_ her affections, and’--oh, I
can’t, I can’t.” And Jane Hardie began to cry.

Mrs. Dodd embraced her like a mother, and entered into her filial
feelings: Mrs. Dodd had never seen her so weak, and, therefore, never
thought her so amiable. Thus occupied they did not at first observe how
these tidings were changing Julia.

But presently looking up, they saw her standing at her full height on
fire with wrath and insulted pride.

“Ah, you have brought me comfort,” she cried. “Mamma, I shall hate
and scorn this man some day, as much as I hate and scorn myself now for
every tear I have shed for him.”

They tried to calm her, but in vain; a new gust of passion possessed the
ardent young creature and would have vent. She reddened from bosom
to brow, and the scalding tears ran down her flaming cheeks, and she
repeated between her clenched teeth, “My veins are not filled with
skim-milk, I can tell you: you have seen how I can love, you shall see
how I can hate.” And with this she went haughtily out of the room, not
to expose the passion which overpowered her.

Mrs. Dodd took advantage of her absence to thank Jane for her kindness,
and told her she had also received some letters by this morning’s post,
and thought it would be neither kind on her part nor just to conceal
their purport from her. She then read her a letter from Mrs. Beresford,
and another from Mr. Grey, in answer to queries about the L. 14,000.

Sharpe, I may as well observe, was at sea; Bayliss drowned.

Mrs. Beresford knew nothing about the matter.

Mr. Grey was positive Captain Dodd, when in command, had several
thousand pounds in his cabin; Mrs. Beresford’s Indian servant had been
detected trying to steal it, and put in irons: believed the lady had not
been told the cause--out of delicacy! and Captain Roberts had liberated
him. As to whether the money had escaped the wreck--if on Captain Dodd’s
person, it might have been saved; but if not, it was certainly lost: for
Captain Dodd to his knowledge had run on deck from the passenger’s cabin
the moment the ship struck, and had remained there till she went to
pieces; and everything was washed out of her.

“Our own opinion,” said Mrs. Dodd, “I mean Edward’s and mine, is now,
that the money was lost in the ship; and you can tell your papa so if
you like.”

Jane thanked her, and said she thought so too: and what a sad thing it
was.

Soon after this Julia returned, pale and calm as a statue, and sat down
humbly beside Jane. “Oh, pray with me,” she said: “pray that I may not
hate, for to hate is to be wicked; and pray that I may not love, for to
love is to be miserable.”

Mrs. Dodd retired, with her usual tact and self-denial.

Then Jane Hardie, being alone with her friend, and full of sorrow,
sympathy, and faith, found words of eloquence almost divine to raise
her.

With these pious consolations Julia’s pride and self-respect now
co-operated. Relieved of her great terror, she felt her insult to her
fingers’ ends: “I’ll never degrade myself so far as to pine for another
lady’s lover,” she said. “I’ll resume my duties in another sphere, and
try to face the world by degrees. I am not quite alone in it; I have my
mother still--and my Redeemer.”

Some tears forced their way at these brave, gentle words. Jane gave her
time.

Then she said: “Begin by putting on your bonnet, and visiting with me.
Come with one who is herself thwarted in the carnal affections; come
with her and see how sick some are, and we two in health; how racked
with pain some are, and we two at ease; how hungry some, and we have
abundance; and, above all, in what spiritual deserts some lie, while we
walk in the Gospel light.”

“Oh that I had the strength,” said Julia; “I’ll try.”

She put on her bonnet, and went down with her friend; but at the street
door the strange feeling of shame overpowered her; she blushed and
trembled, and begged to substitute the garden for the road. Jane
consented, and said everything must have a beginning.

The fresh air, the bursting buds, and all the face of nature, did Julia
good, and she felt it. “You little angel,” said she, with something of
her old impetuosity, “you have saved me. I was making myself worse by
shutting myself up in that one miserable room.”

They walked hand in hand for a good half hour, and then Jane said she
must go; papa would miss her. Julia was sorry to part with her, and
almost without thinking, accompanied her through the house to the front
gate; and that was another point gained. “I never was so sorry to
part with you, love,” said she. “When will you come again? We leave
to-morrow. I am selfish to detain you; but it seems as if my guardian
angel was leaving me.”

Jane smiled. “I must go,” said she, “but I’ll leave better angels than
I am behind me. I leave you this: ‘Humble yourself under the mighty
hand of God!’ When it seems most harsh, then it is most loving. Pray for
faith to say with me, ‘Lead us by a way that we know not.’”

They kissed one another, and Julia stood at the gate and looked lovingly
after her, with the tears standing thick in her own violet eyes.

Now Maxley was coming down the road, all grizzly and bloodshot, baited
by the boys, who had gradually swelled in number as he drew nearer the
town.

Jane was shocked at their heathenish cruelty, and went off the path to
remonstrate with them.

On this, Maxley fell upon her, and began beating her about the head and
shoulders with his heavy stick.

The miserable boys uttered yells of dismay, but did nothing.

Julia uttered a violent scream, but flew to her friend’s aid, and
crying, “Oh you wretch! you wretch!” actually caught the man by the
throat and shook him violently. He took his hand off Jane Hardie, who
instantly sank moaning on the ground, and he cowered like a cur at the
voice and the purple gleaming eyes of the excited girl.

The air filled with cries, and Edward ran out of the house to see what
was the matter; but on the spot nobody was game enough to come between
the furious man and the fiery girl. The consequence was, her impetuous
courage began to flag and her eye to waver; the demented man found
this out by some half animal instinct, and instantly caught her by the
shoulder and whirled her down on her knees; then raised his staff high
to destroy her.

She screamed, and was just putting up her hands, womanlike, not to see
her death as well as feel it, when something dark came past her like a
rushing wind--a blow, that sounded exactly like that of a paving ram,
caught Maxley on the jaw: and there was Edward Dodd blowing like a
grampus with rage, and Maxley on his back in the road. But men under
cerebral excitement are not easily stunned, and know no pain: he bounded
off the ground, and came at Edward like a Spanish bull. Edward slipped
aside, and caught him another ponderous blow that sent him staggering,
and his bludgeon flew out of his hand, and Edward caught it. Lo! the
maniac flew at him again more fiercely than ever; but the young Hercules
had seen Jane bleeding on the ground: he dealt her assailant in full
career such a murderous stroke with the bludgeon, that the people, who
were running from all quarters, shrieked with dismay--not for Jane, but
for Maxley; and well they might; that awful stroke laid him senseless,
motionless and mute, in a pool of his own blood.

“Don’t kill him, sir; don’t kill the man,” was the cry.

“Why not?” said Edward sternly. He then kneeled over his sweetheart and
lifted her in his arms like a child. Her bonnet was all broken, her eyes
were turned upwards and set, and a little blood trickled down her cheek;
and that cheek seemed streaked white and red.

He was terrified, agonised; yet he gasped out, “You are safe, dear;
don’t be frightened.”

She knew the voice.

“Oh, Edward!” she said piteously and tenderly, and then moaned a little
on his broad bosom. He carried her into the house out of the crowd.

Poor old doctor Phillips, coming in to end his days in the almshouse,
had seen it all: he got out of his cart and hobbled up. He had been in
the army, and had both experience and skill. He got her bonnet off, and
at sight of her head looked very grave.

In a minute a bed was laid in the drawing-room, and all the windows and
doors open: and Edward, trembling now in every limb, ran to Musgrove
Cottage, while Mrs. Dodd and Julia loosened the poor girl’s dress, and
bathed her wounds with tepid water (the doctor would not allow cold),
and put wine carefully to her lips with a teaspoon.

“Wanted at your house, pray what for?” said Mr. Hardie superciliously.

“Oh, sir,” said Edward, “such a calamity. Pray come directly. A ruffian
has struck her, has hurt her terribly, terribly.”

“Her! Who?” asked Mr. Hardie, beginning to be uneasy.

“Who! why Jane, your daughter, man; and there you sit chattering,
instead of coming at once.”

Mr. Hardie rose hurriedly and put on his hat, and accompanied him, half
confused.

Soon Edward’s mute agitation communicated itself to him, and he went
striding and trembling by his side.

The crowd had gone with insensible Maxley to the hospital, but the
traces of the terrible combat were there. Where Maxley fell the last
time, a bullock seemed to have been slaughtered at the least.

The miserable father came on this, and gave a great scream like a woman,
and staggered back white as a sheet.

Edward laid his hand on him, for he seemed scarce able to stand.

“No, no, no,” he cried, comprehending the mistake at last; “that is not
hers--Heaven forbid! That is the madman’s who did it; I knocked him down
with his own cudgel.”

“God bless you! you’ve killed him, I hope.”

“Oh, sir, be more merciful, and then perhaps He will be merciful to us,
and not take this angel from us.”

“No! no! you are right; good young man. I little thought I had such a
friend in your house.”

“Don’t deceive yourself, sir,” said Edward; “it’s not you I care for:”
 then, with a great cry of anguish, _“I love her._”

At this blunt declaration, so new and so offensive to him, Mr. Hardie
winced, and stopped bewildered.

But they were at the gate, and Edward hurried him on. At the house door
he drew back once more; for he felt a shiver of repugnance at entering
this hateful house, of whose happiness he was the destroyer.

But enter it he must; it was his fate.

The wife of the poor Captain he had driven mad met him in the passage,
her motherly eyes full of tears for him, and both hands held out to him
like a pitying angel. “Oh, Mr. Hardie,” she said in a broken voice, and
took him, and led him, wonder-struck, stupefied, shivering with dark
fears, to the room where his crushed daughter lay.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

MR. HARDIE found his daughter lying ashy pale on a little bed in the
drawing-room of Albion Villa. She was now scarce conscious. The old
doctor sat at her head looking very grave; and Julia kneeled over her
beloved friend, pale as herself; with hands clasped convulsively, and
great eyes of terror and grief.

That vivid young face, full of foreboding and woe, struck Mr. Hardie the
moment he entered, and froze his very heart. The strong man quivered and
sank slowly like a felled tree by the bedside; and his face and the poor
girl’s, whose earthly happiness he had coldly destroyed, nearly met over
his crushed daughter.

“Jane, my child,” he gasped; “my poor little Jane!”

“Oh let me sleep,” she moaned feebly.

“Darling, it’s your own papa,” said Julia softly.

“Poor papa!” said she, turning rather to Julia than to him. “Let me
sleep.”

She was in a half lethargic state.

Mr. Hardie asked the doctor in an agitated whisper if he might move her
home. The doctor shook his head: “Not by my advice; her pulse is scarce
perceptible. We must not move her nor excite her, nor yet let her sink
into lethargy. She is in great danger, very great.”

At these terrible words Mr. Hardie groaned: and they all began to speak
below the breath.

“Edward,” murmured Mrs. Dodd hurriedly, “run and put off the auction:
put it off altogether; then go to the railway; nothing must come here to
make a noise, and get straw put down directly. Do that first, dear.”

“You are kinder to me than I deserve,” muttered Mr. Hardie humbly, quite
cowed by the blow that had fallen on him. The words agitated Mrs. Dodd
with many thoughts, but she whispered as calmly as she could, “Let us
think of nothing now but this precious life.”

Mr. Hardie begged to see the extent of the injury.

Mrs. Dodd dissuaded him, but he persisted. Then the doctor showed her
poor head.

At that the father uttered a scream and sat quivering. Julia buried
her face in the bed-clothes directly, and sobbed vehemently. It passed
faintly across the benumbed and shuddering father, “How she loves my
child; they all love her,” but the thought made little impression at the
time; the mind was too full of terror and woe. The doctor now asked for
brandy in a whisper. Mrs. Dodd left the room with stealthy foot, and
brought it. He asked for a quill. Julia went with swift, stealthy foot,
and brought it. With adroit and tender hands they aided the doctor,
and trickled stimulants down her throat. Then sat like statues of grief
about the bed; only every now and then eye sought eye, and endeavoured
to read what the other thought. Was there hope? Was there none? And
by-and-bye, so roving is the mind, especially when the body is still,
these statues began to thrill with thoughts of the past as well as the
absorbing present.

Ay, here were met a strange party; a stranger, for its size, methinks,
never yet met on earth, to mingle their hearts together in one grief.

Just think! Of him who sat there with his face hidden in his hands, and
his frame shuddering, all the others were the victims.

Yet the lady, whose husband he had robbed and driven mad, pitied and
sympathised with him, and he saw it; the lady, whom he had insulted at
the altar and blighted her young heart and life, pitied and sympathised
with him; the poor old doctor pitied and sympathised, and was more like
an anxious father than a physician.

Even Jane was one of his victims; for she fell by the hand of a man he
had dishonestly ruined and driven out of his senses.

Thinking of all he had done, and this the end of it, he was at once
crushed and melted.

He saw with awe that a mightier hand than man’s was upon him; it had
tossed him and his daughter into the house and the arms of the injured
Dodds, in defiance of all human calculation; and he felt himself a straw
in that hand: so he was, and the great globe itself. Oh, if Jane should
die! the one creature he loved, the one creature, bereaved of whom he
could get no joy even from riches.

What would he not give to recall the past, since all his schemes had but
ended in this. Thus stricken by terror of the divine wrath, and touched
by the goodness and kindness of those he had cruelly wronged, all the
man was broken with remorse. Then he vowed to undo his own work as far
as possible: he would do anything, everything, if Heaven would spare him
his child.

Now it did so happen that these resolves, earnest and sincere but
somewhat vague, were soon put to the test; and, as often occurs, what he
was called on to do first was that which he would rather have done last.
Thus it was: about five o’clock in the afternoon Jane Hardie opened her
eyes and looked about her.

It was a moment of intense anxiety. They all made signals, but held
their breath. She smiled at sight of Mr. Hardie, and said, “Papa! dear
papa!”

There was great joy: silent on the part of Mrs. Dodd and Julia; but Mr.
Hardie, who saw in this a good omen, Heaven recognising his penitence,
burst out: “She knows me; she speaks; she will live. How good God is!
Yes, my darling child, it is your own father. You will be brave and get
well, for my sake.”

Jane did not seem to pay much heed to these words: she looked straight
before her like one occupied with her own thought, and said distinctly
and solemnly, “Papa--send for Alfred.”


It fell on all three like a clap of thunder, those gentle but decided
tones, those simple natural words.

Julia’s eyes flashed into her mother’s, and then sought the ground
directly.

There was a dead silence.


Mr. Hardie was the one to speak “Why for him, dear? Those who love you
best are all here.”

“For Heaven’s sake, don’t thwart her, sir,” said the doctor, in alarm.
“This is no time to refuse her anything in your power. Sometimes the
very expectation of a beloved person coming keeps them alive; stimulates
the powers.”

Mr. Hardie was sore perplexed. He recoiled from the sudden exposure
that might take place, if Alfred without any preparation or previous
conciliatory measures were allowed to burst in upon them. And while his
mind was whirling within him in doubt and perplexity, Jane spoke again;
but no longer calmly and connectedly; she was beginning to wander.
Presently in her wandering she spoke of Edward; called him dear Edward.
Mrs. Dodd rose hastily, and her first impulse was to ask both gentlemen
to retire: so instinctively does a good woman protect her own sex
against the other. But, reflecting that this was the father, she made
an excuse and retired herself instead, followed by Julia. The doctor
divined, and went to the window. The father sat by the bed, and soon
gathered his daughter loved Edward Dodd.

The time was gone by when this would have greatly pained him.

He sighed like one overmatched by fate; but said, “You shall have him,
my darling; he is a good young man, he shall be your husband, you
shall be happy. Only live for my sake, for all our sakes.” She paid no
attention and wandered on a little; but her mind gradually cleared, and
by-and-bye she asked quietly for a glass of water. Mr. Hardie gave it
her. She sipped, and he took it from her. She looked at him close, and
said distinctly, “Have you sent for Alfred?”

“No, love, not yet.”

“Not yet? There is no time to lose,” she said gravely.

Mr. Hardie trembled. Then, being alone with her, the miserable man
unable to say no, unwilling to say yes, tried to persuade her not to ask
for Alfred. “My dear,” he whispered, “I will not refuse you: but I have
a secret to confide to you. Will you keep it?”

“Yes, papa, faithfully.”

“Poor Alfred is not himself. He has delusions: he is partly insane. My
brother Thomas has thought it best for us all to put him under gentle
restraint for a time. It would retard his cure to have him down here and
subject him to excitement.”

“Papa,” said Jane, “are you deceiving me, or are you imposed upon?
Alfred insane! It is a falsehood. He came to me the night before the
wedding that was to be. Oh, my brother, my darling brother, how dare
they say you are insane! That letter you showed me then was a falsehood?
Oh, papa!”

“I feared to frighten you,” said Mr. Hardie, and hung his head.

“I see it all,” she cried “those wicked men with their dark words have
imposed on you. Bring him to me that I may reconcile you all, and end
all this misery ere I go hence and be no more seen.”

“Oh, my child, don’t talk so,” cried Mr. Hardie, trembling. “Think of
your poor father.”

“I do,” she cried, “I do. Oh, papa, I lie here between two worlds, and
see them both so clear. Trust to me: and, if you love me----”

“If I love you, Jane? Better than all the world twice told.”

“Then don’t refuse me this one favour: the last, perhaps, I shall ever
ask you. I want my brother here before it is too late. Tell him he must
come to his little sister, who loves him dearly, and--is dying.

“Oh no! no! no!” cried the agonised father, casting everything to the
winds. “I will. He shall be here in twelve hours. Only promise me to
bear up. Have a strong will; have courage. You shall have Alfred, you
shall have anything you like on earth, anything that money can get you.
What am I saying? I have no money; it is all gone. But I have a father’s
heart. Madam, Mrs. Dodd!” She came directly.

“Can you give me paper? No, I won’t trust to a letter. I’ll send off a
special messenger this moment. It is for my son, madam. He will be here
to-morrow morning. God knows how it will all end. But how can I refuse
my dying child? Oh, madam, you are good, kind, forgiving; keep my poor
girl alive for me: keep telling her Alfred is coming; she cares more for
him than for her poor heart-broken father.”

And the miserable man rushed out, leaving Mrs. Dodd in tears for him.

He was no sooner gone than Julia came in; and clasped her mother,
and trembled on her bosom. Then Mrs. Dodd knew she had overheard Mr.
Hardie’s last words.

Jane Hardie, too, though much exhausted by the scene with her father,
put out her hand to Julia, and took hers, and said feebly, but with a
sweet smile, “He is coming, love; all shall be well.” Then to herself as
it were, and looking up with a gentle rapture in her pale face--

“Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of
God.”

On this thought she seemed to feed with innocent joy; but for a long
time was too weak to speak again.

Mr. Hardie, rushing from the house, found Edward at work outside; he was
crying undisguisedly, and with his coat off, working harder at spreading
the straw than both the two men together he had got to help him. Mr.
Hardie took his hand and wrung it, but could not speak.

In half an hour a trusty agent he had often employed was at the station
waiting for the up train, nearly due.

He came back to Albion Villa. Julia met him on the stairs with her
fingers to her lips. “She is sleeping; the doctor has hopes. Oh, sir,
let us all pray for her day and night.”

Mr. Hardie blessed her; it seemed the face of an angel, so earnest, so
lovely, so pious. He went home: and at the door of his own house Peggy
met him with anxious looks. He told her what he had done.

“Good Heavens!” said she; “have you forgotten? He says he will kill you
the first day he gets out. You told me so yourself.”

“Yes, Baker said so. I can’t help it. I don’t care what becomes of me; I
care only for my child. Leave me, Peggy; there, go, go.”

He was no sooner alone than he fell upon his knees, and offered the
Great Author of life and death--a bargain. “O God,” he cried, “I own my
sins, and I repent them. Spare but my child, who never sinned against
Thee, and I will undo all I have done amiss in Thy sight. I will refund
that money on which Thy curse lies. I will throw myself on their mercy.
I will set my son free. I will live on a pittance. I will part with
Peggy. I will serve Mammon no more. I will attend Thine ordinances. I
will live soberly, honestly, and godly all the remainder of my days;
only do Thou spare my child. She is Thy servant, and does Thy work on
earth, and there is nothing on earth I love but her.”


And now the whistle sounded, the train moved, and his messenger was
flying fast to London, with a note to Dr. Wycherley:

“DEAR SIR,--My poor daughter lies dangerously wounded, and perhaps at
the point of death. She cries for her brother. He must come down to us
instantly with the bearer of this. Send one of your people with him if
you like. But it is not necessary. I enclose a blank cheque, signed,
which please fill at your discretion.--I am, with thanks, yours in deep
distress,

“RICHARD HARDIE”



CHAPTER XXXIX

DR. SHORT arrived, approved Dr. Phillips’s treatment, and said the case
was severe but not hopeless, and he would call again. A bed was prepared
in the house for Mr. Hardie: but neither he nor any of the Dodds closed
an eye that sorrowful night.

About midnight, after a short slumber, the sufferer became uneasy, and
begged to be left with Julia. Julia was sent for, and found her a good
deal excited. She inquired more than once if they were quite alone, and
then asked for paper and a pencil. She wrote a few lines, and made
Julia put them in a cover and seal them. “Now, dear friend,” she said,
“promise me not to open this, nor even to let your mother; it is not for
your happiness that what I have written should be seen by her or you;
no, no, much better not. Come; dear friend, pledge me your honour.”
 Julia pledged her honour.

Then Jane wrote on the cover, “From a dying sister.” Julia saw that; and
wept sore.

Jane comforted her. “Do not weep for me, love: I am content to go, or
stay. This is not my doing; so I know it must be for the best. He is
leading me by a way that I know not. Oh, my beloved friend, how sweet
it is to lie in His hands, and know no will but His. Ay, I thank Him for
crossing my will, and leading me to Himself by His own good way, and not
by poor blind, foolish mine.”

In this spirit of full resignation she abode constant, and consoled her
weeping friends from time to time, whenever she was quite herself.

About daybreak, being alone with her father, she shed a few tears at his
lonely condition. “I fear you will miss me,” said she. “Take my advice,
dear; be reconciled with Alfred at once, and let Julia be your daughter,
since I am leaving you. She is all humility and heart. Dying, I prize
her and her affection more highly; I seem to see characters clearer, all
things clearer, than I did before my summons came.”

The miserable father tried to be playful and scold her: “You must not
talk nor think of death,” he said. “Your bridal-day is to come first;
I know all; Edward Dodd has told me he loves you. He is a fine noble
fellow; you shall marry him: I wish it. Now, for his sake, summon all
your resolution, and make up your mind to live. Why, at your age,
it needs but to say, ‘I will live, I will, I will;’ and when all the
prospect is so smiling, when love awaits you at the altar, and on every
side! If you could leave your poor doting father, do not leave your
lover: and here he is with his mother crying for you. Let me comfort
him; let me tell him you will live for his sake and mine.”

Even this could not disturb the dying Christian. “Dear Edward,” she
said; “it is sweet to know he loves me. Ah, well, he is young; he must
live without me till I become but a tender memory of his youth. And oh,
I pray for him that he may cherish the words I have spoken to him for
his soul’s good far longer than he can remember these features that are
hastening to decay.”

At ten in the morning Mr. Hardie’s messenger returned without Alfred,
and with a note from Dr. Wycherley to this effect, that, the order for
Alfred’s admission into his asylum being signed by Mr. Thomas Hardie,
he could not send him out even for a day except on Thomas Hardie’s
authority; it would be a violation of the law. Under the circumstances,
however, he thought he might venture to receive that order by telegraph.
If, then, Mr. Hardie would telegraph Thomas Hardie in Yorkshire to
telegraph him (Wycherley), Alfred should be sent with two keepers
wherever Mr. T. Hardie should so direct.

Now Mr. Hardie had already repented of sending for Alfred at all.
So, instead of telegraphing Yorkshire, he remained passive, and said
sullenly to Mrs. Dodd, “Alfred can’t come, it seems.”

Thus Routine kept the brother from his dying sister.

They told Jane, with aching hearts, there was reason to fear Alfred
could not arrive that day.

She only gave a meaning look at Julia, about the paper; and then she
said with a little sigh, “God’s will be done.”

This was the last disappointment Heaven allowed Earth to inflict on her;
and the shield of Faith turned its edge.

One hour of pain, another of delirium, and now the clouds that darken
this mortal life seemed to part and pass, and Heaven to open full upon
her. She spoke of her coming change no longer with resignation; it was
with rapture. “Oh!” she cried, “to think that from this very day I
shall never sin again, shall never again offend Him by unholy temper, by
un-Christ-like behaviour!”

The strong and healthy wept and groaned aloud; but she they sorrowed for
was all celestial bliss. In her lifetime she had her ups and downs of
religious fervour; was not without feverish heats, and cold misgivings
and depression; but all these fled at that dread hour when the wicked
are a prey to dark misgivings, or escape into apathy. This timid girl
that would have screamed at a scratch, met the King of Terrors with
smiles and triumph. For her the grave was Jordan, and death was but the
iron gate of life everlasting. _Mors janua vitae._ Yet once or twice she
took herself to task: but only to show she knew what the All-Pure had
forgiven her. “I often was wanting in humility,” she said; “I almost
think that if I were to be sent back again into this world of sin and
sorrow I am leaving behind, I should grow a little in humility; for I
know the ripe Christian is like the ripe corn, holds his head lower than
when he was green; and the grave it seems to be ripening me. But what
does it matter? since He who died for me is content to take me as I am.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus, oh, come quickly! Relieve Thy servant from the
burden of the flesh, and of the sins and foibles that cling to it and
keep her these many years from Thee.”

This prayer was granted; the body failed more and more; she could not
swallow even a drop of wine; she could not even praise her Redeemer;
that is to say, she could not speak. Yet she lay and triumphed.
With hands put together in prayer, and eyes full of praise and joy
unspeakable, she climbed fast to God. While she so mounted in the
spirit, her breath came at intervals unusually long, and all were sent
for to see Death conquer the body and be conquered by the soul.

At last, after an unnaturally long interval, she drew a breath like a
sigh. They waited for another; waited, waited in vain.

She had calmly ceased to live.


The old doctor laid down her hand reverently, and said “She is with us
no more.” Then with many tears, “Oh, may we all meet where she is now,
and may I go to her the first.”


Richard Hardie was led from the room in a stupor.


Immediately after death all the disfiguring effect of pain retired, and
the happy soul seemed to have stamped its own celestial rapture on the
countenance at the moment of leaving it; a rapture so wonderful, so
divine, so more than mortal calm, irradiated the dead face. The good
Christians she left behind her looked on and feared to weep, lest they
should offend Him, who had taken her to Himself, and set a visible seal
upon the house of clay that had held her. “Oh, mamma,” cried Julia with
fervour, “look! look! Can we, dare we, wish that angel back to this
world of misery and sin?” And it was some hours before she cooled, and
began to hang on Edward’s neck and weep his loss and hers, as weep we
mortals must, though the angels of Heaven are rejoicing.


Thus died in the flower of her youth, and by what we call a violent
death, the one child Richard Hardie loved; member of a religious party
whose diction now and then offends one to the soul: but the root of
the matter is in them; allowance made for those passions, foibles, and
infirmities of the flesh, even you and I are not entirely free from,
they live fearing God, and die loving Him.


There was an inquest next day, followed in due course by a public trial
of James Maxley. But these are matters which, though rather curious and
interesting, must be omitted, or touched hereafter and briefly.

The effect of Jane’s death on Richard Hardie was deplorable. He saw
the hand of Heaven; but did not bow to it: so it filled him with rage,
rebellion, and despair. He got his daughter away and hid himself in the
room with her; scarce stirring out by night or day. He spoke to no one;
he shunned the Dodds: he hated them. He said it was through visiting
their house she had met her death, and at their door. He would not let
himself see it was he who had sent her there with his lie. He loathed
Alfred, calling him the cause of all.

He asked nobody to the funeral: and, when Edward begged permission to
come, he gave a snarl like a wild beast and went raging from him. But
Edward would go: and at the graveside pitying Heaven relieved the young
fellow’s choking heart with tears. But no such dew came to that parched
old man, who stood on its other side like the withered Archangel, his
eyes gloomy and wild, his white cheek ploughed deep with care and
crime and anguish, his lofty figure bowed by his long warfare, his
soul burning and sickening by turns, with hatred and rebellion, with
desolation and despair.

He went home and made his will; for he felt life hang on him like lead,
and that any moment he might kill himself to be rid of it. Strange to
say, he left a sum of money to Edward Dodd. A moment before, he didn’t
know he was going to do it: a moment after, he was half surprised he had
done it, and minded to undo it; but would not take the trouble. He went
up to London, and dashed into speculation as some in their despair take
to drink. For this man had but two passions; avarice, and his love for
his daughter. Bereaved of her, he must either die, or live for gain. He
sought the very cave of Mammon; he plunged into the Stock Exchange.


When Mr. Hardie said, “Alfred can’t come, it seems,” Mrs. Dodd
misunderstood him, naturally enough. She thought the heartless young man
had sent some excuse: had chosen to let his sister die neglected rather
than face Julia: “As if she would leave her own room while _he_ was in
my house,” said Mrs. Dodd, with sovereign contempt. From this moment
she conceived a horror of the young man. Edward shared it fully, and the
pair always spoke of him under the title of “the Wretch:” this was when
Julia was not by. In her presence he was never mentioned. By this means
she would in time forget him, or else see him as they saw him.

And as, after all, they knew little to Mr. Hardie’s disadvantage, except
what had come out of “the Wretch’s” mouth, and as moreover their hearts
were softened towards the father by his bereavement, and their sight of
his misery, and also by his grateful words, they quite acquitted him of
having robbed them, and felt sure the fourteen thousand pounds was at
the bottom of the sea.

They were a little surprised that Mr. Hardie never spoke nor wrote to
them again; but being high-minded and sweet tempered, they set it down
to all-absorbing grief, and would not feel sore about it.

And now they must leave the little villa where they had been so happy
and so unhappy.

The scanty furniture went first; Mrs. Dodd followed, and arranged it
in their apartments. Julia would stay behind to comfort Edward,
inconsolable herself. The auction came off. Most of the things went for
cruelly little money compared to their value: and with the balance the
sad young pair came up to London, and were clasped in their mother’s
arms. The tears were in her tender eyes. “It is a poor place to receive
my treasures,” she said: Edward looked round astonished: “It was a poor
place,” said he, “but you have made a little palace of it, somehow or
another.”

“My children’s love can alone do that,” replied Mrs. Dodd, kissing them
both again.

Next day they consulted together how they were to live. Edward wished to
try and get his father into a public asylum; then his mother would have
a balance to live upon out of her income. But Mrs. Dodd rejected this
proposal with astonishment. In vain Edward cited the _‘Tiser_ that
public asylums are patterns of comfort, and cure twice as many patients
as the private ones do. She was deaf alike to the _‘Tiser_ and to
statistics. “Do not argue me out of my common sense,” said she. “My
husband, your father, in a public asylum, where anybody can go and stare
at my darling!”

She then informed them she had written to her Aunt Bazalgette and her
Uncle Fountain, and invited them to contribute something towards David’s
maintenance.

Edward was almost angry at this. “Fancy asking favours of _them,_” said
he.

“Oh, I must not sacrifice my family to false pride,” said Mrs. Dodd;
“besides they are entitled to know.”

While waiting for their answers, a word about the parties and their
niece.

Our Mrs. Dodd, born Lucy Fountain, was left at nineteen to the care
of two guardians: 1, her Uncle Fountain, an old bachelor, who loved
comfort, pedigree, and his own way; 2, her Aunt Bazalgette, who loved
flirting, dressing, and her own way; both charming people, when they got
their own way; verjuice, when they didn’t: and, to conclude, egotists
deep as ocean. From guardians they grew match-makers and rivals by
proxy: uncle schemed to graft Lucy on to a stick called Talboys, that
came in with the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, known in pedigrees
as “the Norman Conquest.” Aunt, wife of a merchant of no Descent,
except from a high stool, devoted her to Richard Hardie. An unlooked-for
obstacle encountered both: Lucy was not amorous. She loved these two
egotists and their quadrupeds; but there she stopped dead short. They
persisted; and, while they pulled her to and fro and ruffled her
native calm, David Dodd, first mate of the Something or other East
Indiaman--brown cheek, honest speech, heart of gold--fell deep in love
and worshipped her at a distance. His timidity and social insignificance
made him harmless; so egotist Fountain had him in to dessert to spin
yarns; egotist Bazalgette invited him to her house to flirt with. At
this latter place he found Hardie and Talboys both courting Lucy; this
drove him mad, and in his fury he popped. Lucy declined him _secundum
artem:_ he went away blessing her, with a manly sob or two. Lucy cried
a little and took a feminine spite against his rivals, who remained to
pester her. Now Talboys, spurred by uncle, had often all but popped;
only some let, hindrance, or just impediment had still interposed: once
her pony kept prancing at each effort he made towards Hymen; they do say
the subtle virgin kept probing the brute with a hair pin, and made him
caracole and spill the treacle as fast as it came her way. However,
now Talboys elected to pop by sea. It was the element his ancestors had
invaded fair England by; and on its tranquil bosom a lover is safe from
prancing steeds, and the myriad anti-pops of _terra firma._ Miss Lucy
consented to the water excursion demurely, designing to bring her sickly
wooer to the point and so get rid of him for ever and ever. Plot and
counter-plot were baffled by the elements: there came an anti-pop out
of the south-west called a gale. Talboys boated so skilfully that he and
his intended would have been united without ceremony by Father Nep, at
the bottom of the British Channel, but for David Dodd, who was hovering
near in jealous anguish and a cutter. He saved them both, but in the
doing of it missed his ship, and professional ruin faced him. Then
good-hearted Lucy was miserable, and appealed to Mr. Bazalgette, and he
managed somehow to get David made captain of the _Rajah._ The poor girl
thought she had squared the account with David; but he refused the ship
unless she would go halves, and while her egotists bullied and vexed
her, he wrought so upon her pity, and teased her so, that to get rid
of his importunity she married him. In time she learned to love him ten
times better than if she had begun all flames. Uncle and aunt cut
her tolerably dead for some years. Uncle came round the first; some
antiquarian showed him that Dodd was a much more ancient family
than Talboys. “Why, sir, they were lords of sixteen manors under the
Heptarchy, and hold some of them to this day.” Mrs. Bazalgette, too, had
long corresponded with her periodically, and on friendly terms.


The answers came on the same day, curiously enough. Uncle Fountain,
ruined by railway speculation, was living on an allowance from
creditors; but his house was at their service, if they liked to live
with him--and board themselves.

Mrs. Bazalgette’s was the letter of a smooth woman, who has hoarded
imperishable spite. She reminded her niece after all these years, that
her marriage with David was an act of disobedience and ingratitude. She
then enumerated her own heavy expenses, all but the L. 400 a year she
spent in bedizening her carcass, and finally, amidst a multitude of
petty insults, she offered to relieve Mrs. Dodd of--Julia. Now Poetry
has reconciled us to an asp in a basket of figs; but here was a scorpion
in a bundle of nettles. Poor Mrs. Dodd could not speak after reading
it. She handed it to Edward, and laid her white forehead wearily in her
hand. Edward put the letter in an envelope and sent it back with a line
in his own hand declining all further correspondence with the writer.

“Now then, ladies,” said he, “don’t you be cast down. Let this be a
warning to us, never to ask favours of anybody. Let us look the thing in
the face; we must work or starve: and all the better for us. Hard work
suits heavy hearts. Come, have you any plan?”

“To be sure we have,” said Julia eagerly. “I mean to go for a governess,
and then I shall cost mamma nothing, and besides I can send her the
money the people give me.”

“A pretty plan!” said Edward sadly; “what! we three part company? Don’t
you feel lonely enough without that? I do then. How can we bear our
burdens at all, if we are not to be all together to cheer one another
along the weary road? What! are we to break up? Is it not enough to be
bereaved?”

He could say no more for the emotion his own words caused him; thinking
of Jane, he broke down altogether, and ran out of the room.

However, he came back in an hour with his eyes red, but his heart
indomitable; determined to play a man’s part for all their sakes. “You
ladies,” said he, with something of his old genial way, that sounded
so strange to one looking at his red eyes, and inspired a desire to hug
him, “are full of talent, but empty of invention. The moment you are
ruined or that sort of thing, it is, _go_ for a governess, _go_ for a
companion, _go_ here, _go_ there, in search of what? Independence? No;
dependence. Besides all this _going_ is bosh. Families are strong if
they stick together, and if they go to pieces they are weak. I learned
one bit of sense out of that mass of folly they call antiquity; and that
was the story of the old bloke with his twelve sons, and fagot to match.
‘Break ‘em apart,’ he said, and each son broke his stick as easy as
shelling peas. ‘Now break the twelve all tied together:’ devil a bit
could the duffers break it then. Now we are not twelve, we are but
three: easy to break one or two of us apart, but not the lot together.
No; nothing but death shall break this fagot, for nothing less shall
part us three.”

He stood like a colossus, and held out his hand to them; they clung
round his neck in a moment, as if to illustrate his words; clung tight,
and blessed him for standing so firm and forbidding them to part.

Mrs. Dodd sighed, after the first burst of enthusiastic affection, and
said: “If he would only go a step further and tell us what to do in
company.”

“Ay, there it is,” said Julia. “Begin with me. What can I do?”

“Why, paint.”

“What, to sell? Oh dear, my daubs are not good enough for that.”

“Stuff! Nothing is too bad to _sell._”

“I really think you might,” said Mrs. Dodd, “and I will help you.”

“No, no, mamma, I want you for something better than the fine arts.
You must go in one of the great grooves: Female vanity: you must be a
dressmaker; you are a genius at it.”

“My mamma a dressmaker,” cried Julia; “oh Edward, how can you. How dare
you. Poor, poor mamma!”

“Do not be so impetuous, dear. I think he is right: yes, it is all I am
fit for. If ever there was a Heaven-born dressmaker, it’s me.”

“As for myself,” said Edward, “I shall look out for some business in
which physical strength goes further than intellectual attainments.
Luckily there are plenty such. Breaking stones is one. But I shall try a
few others first.”

It is easy to settle on a business, hard to get a footing in one. Edward
convinced that the dressmaking was their best card, searched that mine
of various knowledge, the _‘Tiser,_ for an opening: but none came. At
last one of those great miscellaneous houses in the City advertised
for a lady to cut cloaks. He proposed to his mother to go with him. She
shrank from encountering strangers. No, she would go to a fashionable
dressmaker she had employed some years, and ask her advice. Perhaps
Madame Blanch would find her something to do. “I have more faith in the
_‘Tiser,_” said Edward, clinging to his idol.

Mrs. Dodd found Madame Blanch occupied in trying to suit one of those
heart-breaking idiots, to whom dress is the one great thing, and all
things else, sin included, the little ones. She had tried on a scarf
three times; and it discontented her when on, and spoilt all else when
off. Mrs. Dodd saw, and said obligingly, “Perhaps were I to put it on,
you could better judge.” Mrs. Dodd, you must know, had an admirable art
of putting on a shawl or scarf. With apparent _nonchalance_ she settled
the scarf on her shapely shoulders so happily that the fish bit, and the
scarf went into its carriage; forty guineas, or so. Madame cast a rapid
but ardent glance of gratitude Dodd-wards. The customer began to go, and
after fidgeting to the door and back for twenty minutes actually went
somehow. Then madame turned round, and said, “I’m sure, ma’am, I am much
obliged to you; you sold me the scarf: and it is a pity we couldn’t put
her on your bust and shoulders, ma’am, then perhaps a scarf might please
her. What can I do for you, ma’am?”

Mrs. Dodd blushed, and with subdued agitation told Madame Blanch that
this time she was come not to purchase but to ask a favour. Misfortune
was heavy on her; and, though not penniless, she was so reduced by her
husband’s illness and the loss of L. 14,000 by shipwreck, that she must
employ what little talents she had to support her family.

The woman explored her from head to foot to find the change of fortune
in some corner of her raiment: but her customer was as well, though
plainly dressed as ever, and still looked an easy-going duchess.

“Could Madame Blanch find her employment in her own line? What talent I
have,” said Mrs. Dodd humbly, “lies in that way. I could not cut as
well as yourself, of course; but I think I can as well as some of your
people.”

“That I’ll be bound you can,” said Madame Blanch drily. “But dear, dear,
to think of your having come down so. Have a glass of wine to cheer you
a bit; do now, that is a good soul.”

“Oh no, madam. I thank you; but wine cannot cheer me: a little bit of
good news to take back to my anxious children, that would cheer me,
madam. _Will_ you be so good?”

The dressmaker coloured and hesitated; she felt the fascination of
Dignity donning Humility, and speaking Music: but she resisted. “It
won’t do, at least here. I shouldn’t be mistress in my own place. I
couldn’t drive you like I am forced to do the rest; and, then, I should
be sure to favour you, being a real lady, which is my taste, and you
always will be, rich or poor; and then all my ladies would be on the
bile with jealousy.”

“Ah, madam,” sighed Mrs. Dodd, “you treat me like a child; you give me
sweetmeats, and refuse me food for my family.”

“No, no,” said the woman hastily, “I don’t say I mightn’t send you out
some work to do at home.”

“Oh, thank you, madam.” _N.B._ The dressmaker had dropped the Madam, so
the lady used it now at every word.

“Now stop a bit,” said Madame Blanch. “I know a firm that’s in want.
Theirs is easy work by mine, and they cut up a piece of stuff every two
or three days.” She then wrote on one of her own cards, Messrs. Cross,
Fitchett, Copland, and Tylee, 11, 12, 13, and 14, Primrose Lane, City.
“Say, I recommend you. To tell the truth, an old hand of my own was to
come here this very morning about it, but she hasn’t kept her time; so
this will learn her business doesn’t stand still for lie-a-beds to catch
it.”

Mrs. Dodd put the card in her bosom and pressed the hand extended to her
by Madame Zaire Blanch; whose name was Sally White, spinster. She went
back to her children and showed them the card, and sank gracefully into
a chair, exhausted as much by the agitation of asking favours as by
the walk. “Cross, Fitchett, Copland? Why they were in the _‘Tiser_
yesterday,” said Edward: “look at this; a day lost by being wiser than
the _‘Tiser._”

“I’ll waste no more then,” said Mrs. Dodd, rising quietly from the
chair. They begged her to rest herself first. No, she would not. “I saw
this lost by half an hour,” said she. “Succeed or fail, I will have no
remissness to reproach myself with.” And she glided off in her quiet
way, to encounter Cross, Fitchett, Copland and Tylee, in the lane where
a primrose was caught growing--six hundred years ago. She declined
Edward’s company rather peremptorily. “Stay and comfort your sister,”
 said she. But that was a blind; the truth was, she could not bear her
children to mingle in what she was doing. No, her ambition was to ply
the scissors and thimble vigorously, and so enable them to be ladies and
gentlemen at large. She being gone, Julia made a parcel of water-colour
drawings, and sallied forth all on fire to sell them. But, while she was
dressing, Edward started on a cruise in search of employment. He failed
entirely. They met in the evening, Mrs. Dodd resigned, Edward dogged,
Julia rather excited. “Now, let us tell our adventures,” she said. “As
for me, shop after shop declined my poor sketches. They all wanted
something about as good, only a little different: nobody complained
of the grand fault, and that is, their utter badness. At last, one old
gentleman examined them, and oh! he was so fat; there, round. And he
twisted his mouth so” (imitating him) “and squinted into them so. Then
I was full of hope; and said to myself; ‘Dear mamma and Edward!’ And
so, when he ended by saying, ‘No,’ like all the rest, I burst out crying
like a goose.

“My poor girl,” cried Mrs. Dodd, with tears in her own eyes, “why expose
yourself to these cruel rebuffs?”

“Oh, don’t waste your pity, mamma; those great babyish tears were a
happy thought of mine. He bought two directly to pacify me; and there’s
the money. Thirty shillings!” And she laid it proudly on the table.

“The old cheat,” said Edward; “they were worth two guineas apiece, I
know.”

“Not they; or why would not anybody else give twopence for them?”

“Because pictures are a drug.”

He added that even talent was not saleable unless it got into the Great
Grooves; and then looked at Mrs. Dodd, she replied that unfortunately
those Grooves were not always accessible. The City firm had received her
stiffly, and inquired for whom she had worked. “Children, my heart
fell at that question. I was obliged to own myself an amateur and beg a
trial. However, I gave Madame Blanch’s card: but Mr.--I don’t know which
partner it was--said he was not acquainted with her: then he looked a
little embarrassed, I thought, and said the Firm did not care to send
its stuff to ladies not in the business. I might cut it to waste, or--he
said no more; but I do really think he meant I might purloin it.”

“Why wasn’t I there to look him into the earth? Oh, mamma, that you
should be subjected to all this!”

“Be quiet, child; I had only to put on my armour; and do you know what
my armour is? Thinking of my children. So I put on my armour, and said
quietly, we were not so poor but we could pay for a piece of cloth
should I be so unfortunate as to spoil it; and I offered in plain terms
to deposit the price as security. But he turned as stiff at that as his
yard measure; ‘that was not Cross and Co.’s way of doing business,’ he
said. But it is unreasonable to be dejected at a repulse or two; and I
am not out of spirits; not much:” with this her gentle mouth smiled; and
her patient eyes were moist.

The next day, just after breakfast, was announced a gentleman from
the City. He made his bow and produced a parcel, which proved to be a
pattern cloak. “Order, ladies,” said he briskly, “from Cross, Fitchett,
and Co., Primrose Lane. Porter outside with the piece. You can come in,
sir.” Porter entered with a bale. “Please sign this, ma’am.” Mrs. Dodd
signed a receipt for the stuff, with an undertaking to deliver it in
cloaks, at 11 Primrose Lane, in such a time. Porter retreated. The other
said, “Our Mr. Fitchett wishes you to observe this fall in the pattern.
It is new.”

“I will, sir. Am I to trouble you with any money--by way of deposit,
sir?”

“No orders about it, ma’am. Ladies, your most obedient. Good morning,
sir.”

And he was away.

All this seemed like a click or two of City clock-work: followed by
rural silence. Yet in that minute Commerce had walked in upon genteel
poverty, and left honest labour and modest income behind her.

Great was the thankfulness, strange and new the excitement. Edward was
employed to set up a very long deal table for his mother to work on,
Julia to go and buy tailors’ scissors. Calculations were made how to cut
the stuff to advantage, and in due course the heavy scissors were heard
snick, snick, snicking all day long.


Julia painted zealously, and Edward, without saying a word to them,
walked twenty miles a day hunting for a guinea a week; and finding it
not. Not but what employment was often bobbed before his eyes: but there
was no grasping it. At last he heard of a place peculiarly suited to
him; a packing foreman’s in a warehouse at Southwark; he went there, and
was referred to Mr. A.’s private house. Mr. A. was in the country for
a day. Try Mr. B. Mr. B. was dining with the Lord Mayor. Returning
belated, he fell in with a fire; and, sad to say, life was in jeopardy:
a little old man had run out at the first alarm, when there was no
danger, and, as soon as the fire was hot, had run in again for his
stockings, or some such treasure. Fire does put out some people’s
reason; clean. While he was rummaging madly, the staircase caught,
and the smoke cut off his second exit, and drove him up to a little
staircase window at the side of the house. Here he stood, hose in hand,
scorching behind and screeching in front. A ladder had been brought: but
it was a yard short: and the poor old man danced on the window-ledge and
dare not come down to a gallant fireman who stood ready to receive him
at great personal peril. In the midst of shrieks and cries and shouts of
encouragement, Edward, a practised gymnast, saw a chance. He ran up the
ladder like a cat, begged the fireman to clasp it tight; then got on his
shoulders and managed to grasp the window-sill. He could always draw
his own weight up by his hands: so he soon had his knee on the sill,
and presently stood erect. He then put his left arm inside the window,
collared the old fellow with his right, and, half persuasion, half
force, actually lowered him to the ladder with one Herculean arm amidst
a roar that made the Borough ring. Such a strain could not long be
endured; but the fireman speedily relieved him by seizing the old
fellow’s feet and directing them on to the ladder, and so, propping him
by the waist, went down before him, and landed him safe. Edward waited
till they were down: then begged them to hold the ladder tight below;
he hung from the ledge, got his eye well on the ladder below him, let
himself quietly drop, and caught hold of it with hands of iron, and
twisting round, came down the ladder on the inside hand over head
without using his feet, a favourite gymnastic exercise of his learnt
at the Modern Athens. He was warmly received by the crowd and by the
firemen. “You should be one of us, sir,” said a fine young fellow who
had cheered him and advised him all through. “I wish to Heaven I was,”
 said Edward. The other thought he was joking, but laughed and said,
“Then you should talk to our head man after the business; there is a
vacancy, you know.”

Edward saw the fire out, and rode home on the engine. There he applied
to the head man for the vacancy.

“You are a stranger to me, sir,” said the head man. “And I am sure it is
no place for you; you are a gentleman.”

“Well; is there anything ungentlemanly in saving people’s lives and
property?”

“Hear! hear!” said a comic fireman.

The compliment began to tell, though. Others put in their word. “Why,
Mr. Baldwin, if a gentleman ain’t ashamed of us, why should we be
ashamed of him?”

“Where will ye get a better?” asked another; and added, “He is no
stranger; we’ve seen him work.”

“Stop a bit,” said the comic fireman: “what does the dog say? Just call
him, sir, if you please; his name is Charlie.”

Edward called the fire-dog kindly; he came and fawned on him; then
gravely snuffed him all round, and retired wagging his tail gently, as
much as to say, “I was rather taken by surprise at first, but, on the
whole, I see no reason to recall my judgment.”

“It is all right,” said the firemen in chorus; and one that had not
yet spoken to Edward now whispered him mysteriously, “Ye see that there
dog--he knows more than we do.”

After the dog, a biped oracle at head-quarters was communicated with,
and late that very night Edward was actually enrolled a fireman; and
went home warmer at heart than he had been for some time. They were all
in bed; and when he came down in