페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

complete that when commenced few men, even with the indomitable perseverance of these remarkable brothers, could have hoped to see completed. It is called •' Chambers's Educational Course." This series of some fifty or sixty school-books begins with a three-halfpenny infant primer, reaches the classics through a whole library of grammars, dictionaries, and class-books, for teaching some of the foreign living languages and every department of English, including most of the sciences, and ends with cheap editions of several Latin authors, and a popular Encyclopaedia, in ten thick volumes. To supplement what their Journal could not supply to the reading public, the brothers Chambers also wrote, with not much assistance, and published, "Information for the People," "Papers for the People," a series of Miscellaneous Tracts, besides several cheap editions of the best bygone authors. Literary honors fell thickly upon Robert Chambers. He became a member of many scientific Societies, and enjoyed the rare distinction of being nominated into the Athenxum Club by its Committee of Management. The last years of his life were passed at St. Andrews; where the Senatus Academicus of the University conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Laws. Memorials of Robert Chambers would hardly be complete without mention of "Vestiges of the Natural History of Crea

tion," published more than a quarter of a century ago, to prove that the Divine Governor of this world conducts its passing affairs by a fixed rule, termed Natural Law: this book communicated a sharp shock to the nerves of the orthodox. Its real author may never certainly be known, unless some evidence confirming that which already exists be left among Mr. Chambers's paper's: it has been ascribed to Mrs. Robert Chambers. The controversy which "The Vestiges" engendered was most envenomed in the North; and when, in 1848, Mr. Robert Chambers was selected to be Lord Provost of Edinburgh, he thought it better to withdraw, in the face of a storm raised against him as the supposed author. His brother William, however, afterwards filled the office, with so much satisfaction to his fellow citizens, that he was re-elected after serving the prescribed term of three years. Included within a widely-spread reading public, Mr. Robert Chambers has left behind him quite a public of mourning personal friends. His genial manners and unlimited hospitality brought to his house, not only troops of local friends, but during his long residence in Edinburgh almost every distinguished visitor to that city. Even his own immediate successors would count for a small community. He passes away the patriarch of nine children and thirty grandchildren. Not one of these but can recall some affectionate memorial of his general kindness of word or deed.

Macmillan's Magazine.

PATTY.

CHAPTER XXV.

Continued.

Roger scarcely knew how nearly he had hit the mark; he did not guess at all that the poor deceitful woman was more natural with him than she had been since she was a child. She questioned him again as to how he passed his time, and he told her.

"I know a trifle about money matters, ma'am, but not enough ; bless ye, not half enough to guide such money as Watty's. I go to an old friend every day, and I'm learnin' to be a good man of business." Miss Coppock stared.

"Dear me !" she said. ■ "I should have

thought now you'd have preferred leisure after being busy all your life." Roger gave her another searcning glance. "You're a deal too sensible to think that, ma'am, if you give it a second thought. Them as had to earn their daily bread is just the folk which finds daily leisure a burden. I spoke to you of a friend just now; I'll name no names, and then no one can be hurt. Him and me was lads at the same school, Miss Coppock. I stayed down in the parish, he went up to town, and I heard no more on him; but he was nearly the first man I met when I corned up to London. He's got a fine thriving business here all his own, and yet he works as hard at it as he did when he began life

as a porter. If our money's managed his way, it 'ull double and treble itself." Roger had drunk a little ale in honor of Miss Coppock, and this, with the long silence he had been living in since Patty's departure, had helped his tongue to an unusual flow of speech; but he checked himself, and glanced over his shoulder hastily. It was a great risk to speak of the money at all. Miss Coppock looked and wondered; and twenty-four hours after, when she found herself at last on her way to Patty, she wondered still.

"Whatever will the girl do with that old father?" she thought. "She may dress him up in gentlemen's clothes, but when he begins to talk, be must be found out."

If Miss Coppock had passed her life in London, she would have known better; she would have learned that, with some folks, far worse ignorance than Roger's can be gilded so as to pass current. She was a good sailor, and the journey was a real enjoyment; it took her back years of life. She was sorry when it ended, sorry when she reached Paris, and when the cab which conveyed her from the railway stopped at a white-fronted, green-blinded house in a quiet street; a French maid opened the door, and showed the way obsequiously to the visitor of "Mees Latimer." Here for the present we must leave her. CHAPTER XXVI. MRS. FAGG'S OPINIONS.

Paul did not go back to Ashton till late in the afternoon. He had a good notion of locality, and so after refreshing himself and his horse at a wretched little inn,where the bread was mouldy and the ale sour, he managed to see a good deal of country before he at last found himself at the farther end of Ashton from "The Bladebone."

He had studied to avoid Carving's Wood Lane. Patty was nothing to him now, only a humiliating memory; but his mind was at peace about Nuna, and he did not want to risk the chance of the strange disturbance he had experienced that morning as he rode through the lane.

"After all, I'm no wiser than other fools," he thought; "does not all history, whether of life or fiction, tell the same tale? Love never was, never can be a comfortable or easy sensation; it must always be full of doubt and worry." Yes, Paul Whitmore, doubt whether we are loved, fear that we are unworthy of the love we hope for—doubt, it may even be when we love really and fondly, as to whether our feelings are true or only selfdeceit; for this doubt will come from the most real part of love, its humility, its unbelief in its own power of loving: but not a doubt which brings the shadow, however faint, of another between ourselves and the woman we love; not a doubt as to the prudence and wisdom with which we have acted. No, Paul, these are not the torments of true ardent love, of the blind passion which yet never strays aside from the direct line of its flight.

He felt impatient to see Nuna again—• not the feverish intoxication of impatience which had doubled each minute that kept him away from Patty; there was more method and reason in his present mood, and yet he was impatient. He wanted to make matters straight, to be quite sure of Nuna, and to speak to Mr. Beaufort.

"I suppose I ought to have talked to the old gentleman before I said anything to Nuna. but then I never do as I ought; besides, I can keep a wife, so there's nothing to be said against my making it out with her first."

Mrs. Fagg had softened towards her lodger when she found that the Rector had taken him into such favor as to lend him his own horse; a favor which he owed far more to Mr. Bright's asking than his own, for Paul was bad at asking favors. Mrs. Fagg brought in his dinner, and waited upon him herself. But he was very silent; he had no questions to ask till she gave him one piece of information, and that startled him into talk.

"The Rector and Miss Nuna are going away to-morrow, sir; but you knew that, perhaps."

"Where are they going to?" Paul looked, as he felt, thoroughly vexed. Nuna had said nothing to him of this; he hated matters to go against his wishes, and he had planned out to-morrow after a fashion of his own.

"To Beanlands, sir; they always go there once a year, but only for a couple of days or so; it's Lord Lorton's place, Miss Nuna's grandpapa. Her mamma was Lady Mary Wynne, as you may have heard, sir."

No, he had not heard. This was worse and worse; he grew savage. He with,

his democratic notions, and his horror of "uppish" people, merely because they were "uppish"—for in his heart Paul valued breeding highly—that he should have given his love to the granddaughter of a lord! It was impossible that Mr. Beaufort could listen to his suit.

"Do you know when they are to return?"

"Well, sir, we are to send a fly up to the station the second day after to-morrow. I believe they are coming then." Paul gave a sort of grunt, but his landlady approved his dissatisfaction : it showed that he valued the Rector's company. She went into the kitchen to tell Dennis and found that worthy gravely instructing Bobby in the art of smoking his pipe.

"Mercy me, Dennis, how can you? The child 'till be no better than a gun barrel or an engine funnel, all his dear little insides choked up with that filthy smoke. Bobby, did you never hear what happened to the little boy as smoked a pipe against his mother's wishes?"

Bobby's blue eyes looked like small cheese plates, he opened them so.

"The pipe stuck,"—Mrs. Fagg spoke with awful solemnity,—" stuck all day, and all night too, in the very self-same corner of that little boy's mouth, and by next morning it wasn't the little boy Bobby, as was fat and rosy and round, it was the pipe that had sucked the little boy into itself; there was nothing to be seen of him but the soles of his boots." Bobby's lower lip had dropped with the progress of the story, and at this tragical point he burst into such a prolonged howl that his mother caught him up in her arms, and tried to comfort him with kisses.

"There, there, Bobby, don't be such a silly, don't; run and ask Sally if there's not a bit of ginger-cake in the tin." Bobby went off with alacrity, though he still sobbed at the dreadful doom of the smoking boy; but Dennis felt himself aggrieved.

"I call that folly now; you know such a thing couldn't have happened, Kitty, then why tell the little chap it could? It's like them foolish fairy stories Miss Nuna gived to Bob, making bears and such talk. Why the next thing 'ud have been, if I hadn't burnt the book, we should have had Bob flinging himself between the two next dogs he sees fighting, a-talking to 'em as if they was Christians."

"Bless you, Bob's not such a fool. But look you here, Dennis, I've a better opinion of our lodger than I had, and I don't object to his being here since he's took up with the Rectory. Mr. Beaufort may be a fidget and fanciful, but he's a real gentleman, and no one can get anything but good from his company. Mr. Whitmore was quite put out when he heard they were gone."

"Did you hear Miss Matthews were coming back?" said Dennis, with a look of great wisdom in his flat, complacent face.

"No, and I do hope she'll stay away; Miss Nuna's looked herself again ever since Miss Matthews went."

"She's coming, as sure as a gun. When I took the horse round just now, cook told me so herself." Mrs. Fagg could not restrain a slight elevation of the eyebrows at her husband's appetite for gossip. "Cook says Miss have been fretting about it, but master's more comfortable with Miss Matthews than without her."

"In-deed!" Mrs. Fagg laid a prodigious stress on the first syllable, and then she stopped, her breath coming in a series of short pants, as if indignation were too much for her. "Now I tell you what, Dennis; you know as well as most, that I don't give myself to talking of my neighbors, but if that Miss Matthews comes back to The Rectory, she don't leave it till she's married the Rector,—that's what she'll do." Mrs. Fagg moved her head with a sort of sagacious wave, as if she wished to indicate that Miss Matthews' designs had been made known to her by special revelation. Dennis had gone on smoking quietly; he took the pipe from his mouth, puffed out a long cloud of smoke, and then gave a little laugh behind his hand.

"Well, Kitty, and why not? The Rector's not much older than me." Mrs. Fagg made an effort to suppress her feelings, but there was a strong flavor of contempt in the look she gave her husband.

"I'm not thinking of the Rector; if he chooses to make an old fool of himself, he'll only follow suit with most men as has been more lucky than usual in their wives. Bless 'em, poor simpletons, they can't let well alone; just as if it 'ud be common justice for one man to have such luck twice over."

"Well, then," Dennis felt rather nervous;

he laid down the law to his wife, and would not have acknowledged her superior wits even to himself, but he had a secret awe of them, an awe which made him always endeavor to elicit her opinion before he delivered his own—" then if you're not thinking of the Rector, Kitty, who is it you are thinking of? Miss Matthews? I rather thought myself the change would have suited her."

"Miss Matthews!" Mrs. Fagg's voice had got into an unusually shrill key. "She, indeed! Why, she's the very last person to be thought of at all; a poor sort of nobody, worming and twisting herself in like a cork-screw, till she's got such a firm hold of the Rector that it's my belief she'll do as she likes with him. Talk of foxes! if ever there was a white fox standing upon two legs in a lavender gown, it's Miss Matthews!"

"Come, come, Kitty, I'm sure she spoke you very pleasant that day she coined here."

"Did she, now? There's iron that'll look black when it's at red heat yet, and there's folks as can make believe looks which is a lie as to what's inside 'em. Miss Matthews 'ud smile through anything if she thought it 'ud serve herpurpose. She's one you can't take on her own showing, Dennis, she wants a dictionary to make her out, and I rather take it Miss Nuna's sad face is her dictionary."

"Prejudice, prejudice, my dear!" said Dennis. He never gave in openly; that would have undermined the dignity on which he prided himself. "You see," he emphasized each word with his forefinger, "you women must always have an object to sharpen your wits on; it's the same with you all; it used to be poor little Patty, and now it's going to be Miss Matthews. Well, s/ie's no beauty;" and Dennis went on smoking. Mrs. Fagg had been right on one point; Miss Matthews was so eager to obey the Rector's summons, that she arrived at Ashton next day, very soon after Mr. Beaufort and Nuna had departed. She did not seem disappointed at finding the house empty; on the contrary, she told cook that she considered it very desirable she should be there to receive Miss Nuna on her return. Cook felt restive; but there was something so collected and self-possessed about her master's cousin, that the old servant was powerless to resist the mandates issued from time to time, as Miss Matthews set vigorously to work to tidy up the house. The change she effected was wonderful. The study was cleared of all superfluous litter, the books were taken down and dusted, and the shelves given up to Jane to be thoroughly cleansed; stray volumes lying about in heaps, taken down for reference from time to time, and left just where they had been used, were carefully replaced in the sets to which they belonged; manuscript of all kinds was carefully collected and tied in bundles, for Miss Matthews did not exercise the delightful right of private judgment in the way of destruction assumed by some female tidiers, although, perhaps, she had a great contempt for "useless scribble."

The room looked much larger, much lighter, too, by the time she had finished her labors. There was an exasperating primness about it; the table was cleared of all but the inkstand, and every chair stood back against the wall. In Nuna's bedroom Miss Matthews was less merciful; everything that "harbored" dust was odious in her sight, and long-treasured birds' nests and trophies of bulrushes and grass blossoms, and other remembrances which Nuna loved to bring from her favorite haunts, were unsparingly condemned. Miss Matthews would have liked to fling some of the dirty old casts away, and to burn many of the drawings, too, simply because they " harbored" dust, but Jane's look of surprise, and her indignant "Why, Miss Nuna did all them herself," restrained Miss Matthews for the present. Elizabeth abhorred the word art and its accessories; it was useless, and it always brought litter of some kind, and litter was her bete noire. In one of Dickens's Christmas stories, there is a captain whose only travelling encumbrance is a comb. Miss Matthews travelled with plenty of boxes— she considered it a mark of distinction so to do; but she strongly resembled the captain in her dislike to personal accessories. Paul heard of her arrival, and he met her once in the village. He was puzzled at Nuna's dislike to her cousin. He took the reading of Miss Matthews which her face offered him. He thought she seemed a quiet, ordinary sort of woman, rather sweet-looking than otherwise. He wished she had spoken to him. Ashton was so intensely dull in this leafless season, and he was determined not to go near Gray's Farm again. His fancy for Nuna was growing faster in this separation than it would have grown if she and her father had stayed at the Rectory; and when the evening came at last on which they were expected to return, Paul found himself almost without his will on the road to the station, impatient to catch the first glimpse of her loving eyes. CHAPTER XXVII. NUNA'S LOVE.

Nuna had always looked forward with dread to the visit at Lord Lorton's. Till now Mary had been the favorite with her grandfather, and Nuna had been left at home when her father and sister went to Beanlands; but this year there had been no escape, and she had shrunk from the dreary prospect of two days of solemn, ceremonious dulness. And yet she was so glad to escape from Ashton—so afraid of trusting herself again with Paul—that it was at last a relief when she found herself safe on her way. She was not sure how much was real, how much the work of her own imagination, in that last interview. In a new scene she hoped to be able to take a calmer, more dispassionate view of her own feelings—as if calm was likely to come again in her contemplation of Paul. Nuna knew that she loved, but she had no power of estimating the strength and depth of the passion which Paul had set free from its hiding-place; she only knew it in the shrinking with which she dreaded another meeting, a dread that grew to terror when she felt how she longed for his presence. She could not believe in Paul's love; it was only a sudden interest, she thought, aroused by the love she had herself betrayed by her impulsive, unguarded confidence in him.

"It is not love at all,"—this was how the poor girl tortured herself on the first night of her visit to Beanlands,—" only pity for my desolate state. And then he may go on and mistake pity for love; no, he shall not do this when I go back to Ashton; I will die before I see him alone again. If he were to ask me that question again, my face would tell the truth, even if I kept silence. And what would be the end? Her answer did not come as Paul's answer had come to the self-same question. Nuna had no hope of becoming Mr. Whitmore's wife; but it seemed more than ever impossible to get through life all alone, now that she had tasted even for an instant the exquisite bliss of believing that he loved her; it w'ould have been better never to have seen him.

"No," said Nuna fervently, "life has only been life to me since I saw him ; and if he changes when I go back to Ashton—if I find that he has repented his sudden words and gone away for ever—there will always be the memory of his presence at the Rectory. I can always picture him there, and that will keep my life from being lonely."

A keen, quick anguish succeeded her words, and she hid her face on her pillow and wept the passionate, scalding tears that true love is apt to produce. For there was no sand in Nuna's heart, no mere impressionable substance over which the waters of forgetfulness, the tide of change, could flow, effacing these agonies of first love—so effacing them as to leave a smooth surface again, a surface that might seem to the unpractised eye fresh and untried. There may be, doubtless,—judging by what one sees in life,— there are different kinds of love ; but such women as Nuna, women in whom love is innate rather than inspired, only love once, and then their whole being yields itself up for ever, is fused for ever into the nature which has subjugated theirs. Nuna's love might be better likened to one of the inscriptions on Eastern rocks; Paul's image lay graven indelibly on her heart, no human power could ever erase it. Her father noticed her silence, but he fancied she was timid. Her grandfather had the gout, and was fractious—so fractious that Nuna earnestly hoped her father would never suffer from the disease, in spite of Lord Lorton's assurance that gout was quite a thing to have. She must have betrayed her democratic tendencies at some of these stereotyped remarks, for his lordship told her father that Nuna was a very pretty, graceful creature, but that she "wanted ballast." Mr. Beaufort communicated this remark when they were at last on their way back to Ashton.

"What is ballast?" said Nuna, laughing.

« 이전계속 »