« PreviousContinue »
It is a dull and dreary winter's daỹ. manhood ?) but he has not spoken. The earth sleeps soundly, and on her He is wasted, and corroding care has rigid face appears no smile, to tell fed upon his spirit. Ah! he is very that dreams of spring are moving her ill, and I dare not ask how it is with with joy. The thick and heavy air him, and why he languishes - the bangs like a shroud upon her, and a tongue of the criminal is tied. We fruzen silence reigneth every where. are not alone. The coach contains The blood of life is numbed, and in another traveller, a man advanced in the vegetable, as well as in the animal, years, small in stature, blessed with a performs its functions lazily. It is a countenance that is radiant with bene. day when sunny light becomes a para volence_his grey eyes twinkle with dox-cerulean sky, a pure impossi- delight, and he is restless in his seat. bility; when criinson flowers, and Frequently the excited little man hur. laughing trees, and purling brooks, ried to the evaeh window, looked into seem intimations from a poetic child. the road with an averted face, and then hood, recollections of a splendid and returned to his place with a moistened far distant country, when summer eye, or with a beamy smile illuminathoughts bring with them shadowy ting the breadth and depth of his venerecolleetions of a fairy land, pictures rable and social visage. Sometimes he of time, and place, and circumstance, would attack his nose, and cough most that had their birth and origin in the vehemently, to make us understand immortal mind, and whose existence how cruelly he suffered from a catarrh, Was first revealed to us in sweet and and how little from the inundation of cherished books. Winter is an en- a mirth that would not be restrained ; vious churl, and it is difficult to realize and sometimes he would hum a tune, the pleasant summer time if he stand and accompany the measure with his by. Snow, à month old, lies abunt feet, to carry uff, it might be, through in clumps and patehes, embrowned many and various channels, the impewith age, hardened and coalesced by tuous stream of gladness ever running frost. Trees, whose spreading foliage from his heart. His tongue was at has sheltered many times, and shall length obliged to help in the dismission again protect, from heat and storm, of the current. the solitary wayfarer, stand defence- * Bless him, bless him!” the gratiless now themselves — dismantled fied traveller ejaculated, and onee more skeletons. And yet how preferable referring us to his nose for an explatheir natural hybernal death to the pativn of his words—" Bless the dear unwholesome life of yew trees, that boy's heart!" at intervals diversify and make more My poor, cast-down father had not hideous the melancholy road; ever previously noticed our companion. He and anon starting upon my path like svoked dijectedly at bím now as he wandering spirits doomed io carry on spoke. a changeless and eternal life in a vast " Don't mind me, don't mind me,” world of mutability.
He continued, “ I am the happiest man Nearly two years have elapsed in the creation, but I am not crazy. since the Cambridge Intelligence dis- Is that your son ? Pardon my excescharged me at Trinity Gate. The sive rudeness." Huntingdon Coach carries me slowly, “ He is, sir," said my father. but too quickly, back to Londov. Aly * Then you understand all about it, university education is completed. My and I needn't apologize. Listen to father is at my side. His cheek is me, my dear sir, for five minutes, and very pale, and bis brow wears a settled tell me if I am not the luckiest man sadness. He has sighed many times, in the world with the exception of (has he not wept too :-Have I not yourself, perhaps, I am sadly wanting watched it fall—the life-blood tear of in politeness. I married him this
morning, sir. She is a lovely crea- in-law then, you know—that has only ture."
been since nine o'clock this morning. “ Is she?" enquired my father me- "Jack,' said I, when I shook hands chanically, his thoughts being far, with him on the bridge ten minutes very far from the speaker.
after hisiadentures were signed, Jack,' “ Yes—no," replied the gentleman, said I, weare very poor, but you have « I don't mean that.
His wife is an gentle blood flowing in your veinsangel-a love-match-his old master's don't disgrace us.' Father,' said he, daughter. One of the right school, I wont, depend upon it,'and he gave sir. Are you a grandfather, may I me a grasp of the hand in return for ask? I hope it is not an improper my own, which I have felt ever since question."
whenever I talk or think about the “I am not, sir."
lad. It is tingling now-it is really, “ Nor am I, but I hope to be one ; sir-I don't romance," and now his and then my house won't hold me. joy checked his utterance, and his If it's a boy, they intend to call him handkerchief was busy with his eyes. Jeremiah-that's after me, of course. My father listened to the old man with What is the meaning of Jeremiah ?" earnestness, and his pale lip trembled.
My father confessed his ignorance, “ When the child's time was out, that's and the happy man proceeded. “ The just three years ago, his mother was dear boy is five-and-twenty this very taken ill, and, poor creature, died too day; and, as true as I sit here, he has soon. If you bad seen the boy at her never knowingly caused me one mo-- bedside for one whole month" ment's pain.
I may never see him “ How many miles is this from again. It was hard to part with him. Huntingdon?” enquired my father, Don't
interrupting him. " A good son maketh a glad fa- “ The last stone was twenty-three. ther' saith the proverb," replied my
Where did I leave off, sir ? Dear mefather in a mouroful voice.
How very warm it is!” “ Yes,” added the stranger quickly, “ And yet it freezes hard," rejoined " and a foolish son is a grief to his my father. father, and bitterness to her that bare « Do you really say so ? Ah, cold him,' that's a proverb too, although it cannot freeze a faiher's heart-can it, is not so much in my way as the other. sir? Well, his mother died, and then I'll swear your proverb's true,"—and John Claypole sent for me ; •Jerehe rubbed his hands with glee, whilst miah,' he said, (his father was second my father drooped.
cousin to my wife's uncle, 30 being • It is exactly ten years since I relations, he always called me by my bound him apprentice to John Clay. christian name,) Jeremiah, your boy pole, the brewer. You know him?" has two good qualities : he speaks the
Mr Stukely shook his head neg&truth, and has an honourable respect tively.
for ha'pence. I shall take care of “'What, not know John Claypole? bim?' And hasn't he taken care of Oh yes, you do. You have seen that him? Hasn't he given him a share fine house on the Godmanchester road. in the brewery, and a share of his That's bis. My boy will live there house, and his own daughter all to soon. He deserves it. I have no no. himself? And hasn't the dear boy tion of calling a man lucky who works taken care of his father, and made his own way up to fortune. My dear him comfortable for life? And hasn't Jack! who would have thought that his father seen him married this very he'd marry that sweet child of Clay- day, and hadn't he better make the pole's! They are, though I say it, best of his way home and die at once, the prettiest-mated birds that ever because he can never be so happy coupled. There's something to look at, again if he lives to the age of Methu. too, in Arabella-that's a curious name selah? I am so glad that you are a isn't it? — foreign, I suppose - eh? father, because you won't think me a Oh, dear me!" Now part of the little fool for the concluding words gentleman's joy oozed in perspiration were drowned in the handkerchief. . down his forehead, and he cleared it “ You bave much to be grateful for, off, and then continued, “ I was say. sir;" said my father, ready to weep ing something-oh yes, I bound him from a very different cause, to his father-in-law-not his father. are a bappy man.
“ No, sir; I am three happy men. him, and when I overtook him, seized I think you will find that to be cor- his hand. rect, if you take the average. I trust “ Father, father!" I exclaimed at I am sufficiently humble; my privi- the same moment. leges are manifold.”
“ Well, Caleb ;" he replied, disenThat my feelings during this inte- gaging his hand, and in a passionless resting scene were not of the most voice. agreeable kind may easily be supposed. "Speak to me, dear father!" I cried During my long service with my pre- out. “ Be angry with me, upbraid sent worthy employer, I have had I can never repair the cruel many opportunities of noticing the wrong that I have inflicted upon you. behaviour of culprits on particular I deserve punishment. Do not spare occasions, especially in the dock of it. I will bear it patiently, gladly, the Old Bailey, at those intensely But speak to me, for God's sake! pleasant moments when a communi. Speak harshly, reproachfully; but do cative witness enters upon an affect speak !" ing portion of the said culprit's secret • Caleb ;" answered my father, and domestic history. When, on moved by my importunity, and in a these occasions, I have seen the brazen tone of sorrow, "there are upbraidface throw off its metal, modestly ings and reproaches waiting you at avoid the public gaze, and languish home that will fall upon you with pitigradually upon the breast; the bave less violence. Bear them if you can. I, likewise, seen the tableau vivant I have no punishment to inflict. The of poor Caleb Stukely, pierced with hot iron is prepared. I can promise remorse and shame, uneasy with the you no mitigation of suffering. You weight of his own head, and eager to have sowp-you must reap; there is evaporate, in the coach that carried a retributive justice here. Goud or him from Huntingdon.
evil deeds done in the flesh, are requiThe stranger grew more pleasant ted in the flesh. Gather yourself, then, and loquacious; my father a more and summon courage for the penalty. attentive listener. To me the latter You will pay it shortly. did not address the shortest syllable. It was late at night when we reached Although sitting at his side, I was in home. The shops and houses were effect as much withdrawn from him closed. The streets of busy London as though an ocean rolled between were as tranquil as a field of slumberus. He treated me with cold neglect. ing roses. The flickering lamps made If bis new acquaintance referred to darkness visible; and a heavy coach me, and he ofteu did so to gratify the or two, at intervals, rendered silence parent's natural vanity, and to afford audible. We rang at the door of our himself an excuse for a fresh recapi. habitation, and a strange man, with a tulation of the merits of his own lantern iu his hand, opened it. darling offspring, my father returned • Who's that, Bolster ?" enquired a a short, quick answer, and avoided loud uncouth voice, emanating appardiscussion on the subject. I was in- ently from the shop. deed abandoned, and I quailed before “All right, master;" replied the the just anger of a father, which di- attendant, locking and bolting the vided us now as surely as we had door, whilst my father proceeded to been united by bis previous confiding the parlour, and I went after him. and unbounded love. Once only bad " Who are these?” I asked, surI ventured to speak since we entered prised and alarmed at the presence of the coach; and my father neither re- these unexpected visiters ; " what are plied to me por turned his face towards these men ?"
For the first, but not for the “ Our masters, Caleb; be grateful last tiine, did the thought of self- to them, and show them all civility ; destruction possess my mind without we are here on sufferance.” alarming it.
“Dear father, what can you mean? We stopped for refreshment. My Is not this our house?” father did not enter the inn, but
« Our house is a large one. As walked slowly through the lonely wide as the world itself. It is roofed street, the only one of the village in only by heaven. This is the first rewhich our coach halted. I followed proach. I told you they would come
quickly. Our house, Caleb? We conditions—but the expression of his are beggars, houseless, pennyless, countenance very dissimilar. save what they allow in charity. Master and man had seen much of They are very kind. We must not life, and you marked them with a seem proud, or these men will get us look for men of rare experience ; but turned out in revenge. Į wouldn't the wisdom and the learning that had care for myself, but what would you made Bolster merry, had rendered do? Stay here a minute; I will speak the principal sad and thoughtful. with them.” Saying these words, he The face of the former was stamped opened the parlour door which com. with a grin: that of the latter veiled municated with the shop, and joined with grief. At the feet of the tall the individuals who were sitting there. man crouched an unsightly dog, reThere were two; a small window per- markable for the mange, for leanness, mitted me to get sight of them. One and for his extraordinary resemblance was Mr Bolster---the genileman who to the gentleman who owned him. admitted us: the other, I concluded to The two worthies were sitting at a be the person whom he had honoured deal table before a roaring fire. A with the title of superior. Both of pewter pot containing porter was in them were dressed with the same the grasp of the unhappy principal, elegance and taste; and both were and a clay pipe was at his side. The endowed with that intelligent cast of table itself was ornamented with a features which generally denotes a quartern loaf, a lump of cheese, a first-rate education and an intimate pack of cards, one candle, and a cribacquaintance with things in general. bage board.
The men rose as my had evidently been to father entered the shop, and Bolster school from earliest infancy, and had greeted bim with a cordial laugh, learned all the languages. The other whilst the master eyed him with sormembers of the facial family had been row and compassion. I could not brought up with equal care, were overhear their conversation. beaming with the brightest polish, few minutes my father returned to and had kept up steadily with the rapid march of civilization and scien- “ The men will let us share their tific knowledge. They were gentle- bread and cheese,” said my father; men certainly not in danger of falling “it is too late to purchase any thing victims to their simplicity or worldly to-night, and there is nothing in the innocence. Mr Bolster decorated the house besides. You must be hungry, lower part of a very stout and ill.de- Caleb ?" fined person with corduroy shorts,
" But what are these men to us, worsted stockings, and thick half. father? What wonderful change has boots. His head was divided from the taken place in our home. Where is rest of his body by a belcher hand, my mother?" kerchief which supplied the place of My father changed colour, and a a neck-a superfluous portion of the spasm caught the muscles of his face. form divine,” with which Mr Bolster ♡ It is not my fault that you have not had never been troubled. He wore known of these matters before. I à costermonger's coat, and a yellow bave written to you many letters. I waistcoat. He had a short and bristly have sought you many times. I have head of hair ; and in the centre of a done my duty by you." low, flat, retreating, but by no means “ Indeed you have, my dearest ugly forehead, he carried a stupen- father; and I have been ungrateful dous wen; an enlargement possibly and unfilial. Believe me, I will be of the organ of benevolence or con. wiser for the future. Restore your scientiousness, if either of these sen. confidence, and trust me." timents lie hereabouts in the human The future ! the future!" repeatskull. The “ Master” was tall and ed my father, musingly, that will scraggy, lacking flesh, but framed hardly repair the past. We will have with bones of antediluvian form and some talk to.morrow, Caleb. It is a structure.
His dress was of the same short history to recite, but a weighty character as Bolster's, a thought one. We must not refuse these good fresher, perhaps, in respeet of colour men's hospitality, or they will take yet this might be a fancy suggested offence, and I tell you they may get. by the knowledge of their different us cast into the street. It does not
matter if I am thrown upon a dung- chandise were heaped upon the floor hill. What would becoine of you? without order or care; they were I must think of that ;-oh, yes, I ought marked and lotted. The large iron to think of that."
cupboard, which my father, for so “ for the love of Heaven, I beseech many years, had nightly secured with you, my dear father, to explain your double lock, and whose creaking self more fully-what power have these hinges had so often sung a lullaby to visiters over you? What right have his cashbooks and ledgers, stood open they here ?-what has happened?" and deserted. The black shelves
• Nothing, Caleb," replied my fa- were empty; an open drawer disther, who seemed alarmed at my tone played a few old banker's cheques, and agitation ; "nothing. It happens long since honoured, now crossed and every day; do not be frightened; valueless. Every other thing had many better, wealthier men than I have been carried off. The shop itself, that suffered it, and have held up their was ever so neat and clean, and such heads again, and have got rich and a pattern of a place of business, was prospered ;--there iş no disgrace in disfigured with the accumulated dust bankruptcy."
and dirt of weeks, and with the off“ Bankruptcy!” I exclaimed, my scourings of shelves, whose tops had blood curdling at the dreadful thought. not been visited or disturbed for years
“ Yes, bankruptcy !" reiterated my before. You might have searched poor father, bursting into tears, which through London and not found a place would not be suppressed; “ it is too so well equipped and qualified for true, bankrupicy-shame-dishonour the broken heart. Mr Bolster and his -ignominy! Every thing is gone; companion rose again upon our enour name is blasted—our home is trance; a slight addition had been snatched from us—the fair reputation, made to the repast—there was a second too, that has had no spot or stain for pewter pot; in other respects the table centuries, is soiled and smirched. was as before described. I sat down They might have spared me this. with my meal already in my mouthCaleb, we are beggars, but this is for my full heart was in it-and dared least of all; if there were pothing not look upon my unhappy parent for else, they might take all, and welcome. very grief and shame. I had scarcely
“ Fatber, this is very sudden; I seated myself when Mr Bulster began left you thriving, and in the midst of to grin, and to exhibit various sprightplenty."
ly contortions of his face, much more “ Yes, Caleb, and I left you inno- pleasing to himself than to me, who cent, and full of truth and promise. appeared to be the subject of them. You are right; it has been sudden. He planted his laughing eyes upon We do not, indeed, meet as we parted.” me, and when I met them withdrew This was spoken with some bitterness, them suddenly; not however before be and I was immediately silenced. was overtaken by a violent.impulse to
“ Come,” resumed my father in a indulge himself and laugh outright. milder voice, you
shall take some The struggle between this natural supper, and then go to bed; all the force, and his acquired notions of good news cannot be told at once. Remem- behaviour, caused his cheeks to swell, ber, Caleb, we have not corresponded and his features to assume the lines for months, and much may come to
and forms of a vast kaleidoscope. pass in a single hour-in a moment. Somewbat offended, I turned to his You shall know all to morsow. Do superior, whose head I encountered, not let us keep the good men waiting ; oscillating mournfully, pendulum fathey must be our friends-come now.' shion. Every movement carried with it He walked again into the shop, and a yote of censure-a volume of reproof.
– I followed him. Ill prepared as I was
' I sat uneasy and silent between the for eating, I dared not disobey him; tutelary geniuses of tragedy and coa preying sense of past undutifuluess medy, who presided over my unforrobbed me of free will. Had it been tunate parent's once prosperous dwel. left me, could I have exercised it in ling place. opposition to his wishes, when so much 'You have come from college, depended upon a cheerful compliance? haven't you?" enquired Bolster, with The shop looked wretcbed indeed; the a chuckle. “ You finished your eddiwalls were stripped, and bales of mer- cation just in time, I hope you have