« 이전계속 »
very creditors through whose instrumentality the prisoner had been detained, ceased to trouble themselves further. Persecution and human animosity could not reach beyond the grave. And all that remained of the victim was readily consigned to the more charitable intentions of the doctor.
At the eastern corner of a small church-yard, much within a quarter of a mile of the prison gates, may yet be seen a plain flat stone, whereon is simply cut the date on which he who sleeps beneath, passed away. No pompous praise, nor adulatory lines record
“Not what he was, but what he should bave been.”
Not even the initials of the dead are carved; and when last we visited the spot, the weeds and rank grass that sprung up so luxuriantly throughout the charnel house, had nearly hidden the grave from the eye, as had the memory of the departed long been erased from the recollection of those who had once eagerly grasped at the distinction of being accounted as his friends.
With a heavy heart and dejected countenance—for who can witness the last obsequies paid even to the corpse of a stranger, without emotion ?-the worthy doctor slowly retraced his steps toward his house ; nor did the remembrance of the task he had so suddenly imposed upon himself, greatly contribute to the even tenor of his mind; and the view which he at first took of the case, presented an aspect anything but exhilarating. Conscious, however, that it was utterly impracticable to undo that which was completed, he resolved to persevere in what he now considered to be his duty, as an honest man and a good Christian.
It most indisputably was far from satisfactory to reflect, that he who for so many years had eschewed the pleasures and delights of matrimony, in a great measure to avoid its natural accompaniment—the torment of children-should now, in his old age, be saddled with the charge of an infant, regarding whom he literally knew nothing. But when the doctor called to mind the privations, misery, temptations, and guilt, into which his charge might be hurried, if thrust from the protection of his roof, to be buffeted by the storms of life, it must have been a far harder heart than Dr. Glitzom's, which could have been steeled with any mercenary considerations, to thrust the little orphan from his door, to perish.
The two words which he had uttered to the parent, he regarded as a sacred promise of protection towards the child, and when after a few days, the boy would run and welcome with his winning smile, the return of his benefactor after a long day's
toil of professional labour, the old gentleman would part the fair hair from his forehead, and gaze upon his beautiful countenance with a pleasure and heartfelt satisfaction, which during his previous existence, he never had an opportunity of enjoying.
By degrees the sombre gravity of the child's manner wore away, and his gentle and affectionate disposition manifesting itself as his natural reserve departed, he insensibly gained so greatly on the heart of his benefactor, as speedily to convert the first feeling of interest into a sincere regard in his behalf.
Not a little scandal and gossip were bandied about throughout the neighbourhood, when this addition to the quiet and regular establishment of the doctor became known, and various, though unsatisfactory, were the many “undoubtedly correct” reports, which the arrival of the little stranger gave rise to
Fortunately for the peace of mind of him against whom certain old ladies fulminated their disapprobation of what they thought fit to designate unblushing immorality, Dr. Glitzom was far better occupied in the consideration of what was further to be done in the matter, than agitated with useless regrets for what had passed; and totally heedless, if indeed aware; of the crimes laid to his charge, he continued to pursue the even tenor of his way, much to the advantage of his pocket, and the trial of the constitutions of bis patients.
It has been already stated, that out of the trifling remnant of property found in the room formerly occupied by the deceased, the penurious owner of the lodging fixed her avaricious grasp upon what appeared to be a small writing desk, but which was as speedily transferred to the doctor's possession, on his guaranteeing the payment of whatever sums might have been due to her at the time of her tenant's death.
This desk had been carefully preserved by its new possessor; and on the day succeeding the funeral, he proceeded to examine its contents, under the hope of thereby obtaining some clue towards solving the mystery in which his newly-found protegé was so closely wrapped. But here again he was fated to meet disappointment. The desk contained nothing whatever in any degree calculated to compensate him for the search. There were various unfinished momorandums probably penned during the latter days of the writer, since every line breathed the bitter invectives of a crushed and desponding mind. One letter, and one only, could be found among the mass of useless papers, with which the drawers were filled; the contents, however, proved of small moment, the signature having been torn off, and even the seal removed; but the direction was undefaced, and “Frederick Garston,” might legibly be deciphered; yet to
March, 1848.-VOL. LIV.-NO. ccxv.
identify that name as the cognomen of the deceased, was impossible, as the prison books, on being referred to, contained a far different appellation for the debtor.
The enquires which the doctor caused to be made as to who Frederick Garston might have been, were wholly unvailing, for the few persons to whom the queries were addressed, were as profoundedly ignorant of what transpired out of their immediate vicinity, as the greatest deprecator of absenteeism could desire.
Disappointed with the result of his search, the desk was on the point of being closed, when the doctor discovered a diminutive parcel carefully secured with ribbon; the fastenings were instantly unbound, and a long tress of beautifully dark hair fell on the floor. Again and again was the envelope examined, but not a line, or even figure was there, more clearly to elucidate the matter. A thin gold piece of thread bound the delicate fibres together; and from that point further inquiry was completely baffled.
Carefully replacing every article exactly as it stood prior to its examination, the desk was consigned to the custody of an iron safe, where it was left to repose in company with many an invaluable prescription, and what to the owner were at least of equal utility, the pecuniary accounts which were circulated periodically among his patients.
All hope of further discovery, regarding the child's birth, seemed at an end; and like a true philosopher, the apothecary dismissed the subject from his mind, having come to the determination of doing unto the boy as he would that, under similar circumstances, others should have done unto him, and to the satisfactory conclusion, that all that is, is right.
To have omitted any of the acknowledged ceremony of the established church would, in Dr. Glitzom's eyes, have amounted to a most heinous offence; and consequentiy, having no evidence to produce, nor word to affirm, that the child had ever been christened or even baptised, he resolved that all doubt on that head should be speedily removed.
The preparations having been managed, the child was conveyed to the church, immediately without the walls of which his father slept undisturbed, and forgotten; and there, at the hands of his godfather, received the name of “Frederick Garston," that being, as the doctor explained, the only christian or sur. name he had been able to discover among the papers of his supposed parent.
Time wore on apace; and having thus introduced our hero, though somewhat with prolixity, however necessary to those who may honour his career with a perusal, we must at present leave him to the care of his kind old guardian, and the not equally
tender consideration of those persons to whom was deputed the unenviable occupation of instilling the first rudiments of knowledge into his mind.
The education which in the boy's earlier years, the generosity of his best friend procured for him, though not brilliant, was eminently useful; and while the lighter accomplishments which so essentially tend to embellish and beautify the higher grades of society, were in a great measure neglected, the seed that was sown, produced good fruit, and in whatever branch of study his attention was directed, some solid benefit was certain to result to him.
But it was not until Frederick Garston was about the age of fifteen that the doctor deemed it fit to enlighten him regarding the particulars already explained ; and if any thing could have added to the affectionate regard which the young protegé had invariably evinced towards his protector, the knowledge that, but for his kind intervention, he might at that moment have wandered from door to door an outcast and a beggar, was well calcuiated to increase it.
Happily and retiredly as his young life had passed, the knowledge that a mystery which as yet evaded all attempts to penetrate it, hung over his birth, produced a restlessness of mind and peculiar sensitiveness of feeling hitherto unnoticed by his companions.
Up to the period when the doctor considered it his duty to put the boy in possession of all he had been able to gather, regarding his birth, the child had ever been accustomed to consider his guardian as his only protector; and it having been long since intimated to him that his parents died during his infancy, the boy naturally looked upou Doctor Glitzom as some relation, and always having viewed the abode in which he dwelt as his natural horne, he was too young to encourage and indulge in feelings which, in after life, were destined to embitter many an anxious hour.
But the period had now arrived when he was to awake from the unconsciousness of his situation, to a knowledge of the painful reality; and although there was nothing in the brief tale which the doctor recounted, that could in any degree cast a blemish on his own character, yet the extreme sensitiveness of his disposition caused an involuntary sinking at the heart, when the probability of a disgraceful origin flashed across his mind.
From this time Frederick Garston's character seemed to un. dergo a complete change. From the gay, cheerful lad, who was ever the first to join in the sport of his companions, he became thoughtful and melancholy. The doubt which hung
over his origin, was perpetually the subject of his ruminations, and the death-bed scene of his father continually occupied his mind.
That he was a burden on the bounty of Dr. Glitzom, a dweller in his house by mere sufferance, was a galling reflection; and although far from nursing any sentiment bordering, even remotely, on ingratitude, his entire bearing towards his protector, gradually but almost imperceptibly, became less familiar.
Frequently during the amusements in which, together with children of his own age, he had passed many happy hours, some indistinct sarcasm or distant allusion to his parents had been uttered in a moment of irritation, by some petulant child; but unconscious of the application to himself, the peevishness of his playmates was as little regarded as understood. But now that the whole affair was laid open to his view, circumstances innumerable sprung to his recollection, which to a mind jealously awake to whatever his imagination could construe as applicable to his position, seemed progressively to change his nature.
In the hope of drawing the attention of his protege to the subject through any other channel than himself, the doctor placed in young Garston's hands the writing desk and its contents which he had some years before examined to so little purpose.
But few minutes elapsed ere the boy had gained his own chamber, bearing in his arms the only means by which he supposed it possible his family might eventually be discovered ; and his disappointment, after a long and most minute search, could but slightly exceed that which a similar investigation had formerly afforded the doctor.
The long and beautifully black tress of hair, however, speedily rivetted his attention, and as he disengaged its silken softness from the paper that enclosed it, he gazed upon the glossy treasure as the only link remaining between his unknown parent and himself.
Those who have been blessed with the care of affectionate relatives to direct and support the helplessness of their infancy, and who have ever been accustomed to meet the doating look of a mother's love, little know the wretched void in the heart of the orphan as he sees his playmates around passing to their families, and hears the oft repeated anticipations of rapture with which his school fellows contemplated a re-union with all they love, at home. To him the word “home” conveys no definite notion of delight—his highest joy is derived from a cessation of scholastic rule; and though perchance the distant relative by whom he is received as an inmate for the brief period of his sojourn, may regard him with kindness, still there is nothing