페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

pale, while the women, in their tender way, him near the family, for fear of foreign and busied about him. Then he signed to Patty malign influences. More often than anyto come to him.

thing else, the Captain spends his mornings “Go home for me,” he said, “and bring at the table in Mrs. Skimp's drawing-room, down all I want. I will never leave the court with a sheet of paper and an inkstand, makagain !"

ing innumerable blots as he corrects and They took him to a vacant room in one adds to his poems. This work, indeed, conof his own houses. They laid him in bed, stitutes the real pleasure of his life. To read and sent for a doctor. Nothing was wrong his verses aloud in the presence of a man with him-only feebleness, only a sudden who will listen without laughing, such as break-up. And from his little room, where Frank Melliship, is pure and unmixed haphe daily received his people, Mr. Eddrup piness. To get them printed is a dream was never to stir again.

which he just permits to himself. Some day, Frank went home with his friends, strangely he thinks—some yet distant day-he will agitated and moved. He had for once ob- sacrifice the hundred pounds of capital tained a glimpse of the highest life: the needed to accomplish this object. He must courage which meets everything, which pinch to make up for the loss of five pounds shrinks from no trial—the patience which a-year; but what is a little pinching in comendures to the end—the life before which parison with so great an object? all other lives appear so mean and paltry. To-day he has been reading a remark

Of the women in the room that night, all able poem, his chef-d'æuvre, on which he wept but one. Patty Silver sat with dry means to base his reputation. It is called eyes. Her heart was full of questionings “The Captain's Dream.” In this work, imiand doubts. She heard but half of what Mr. tating unconsciously the example of Dante Eddrup said; for her eyes were bent furtively and several other distinguished makers," he on Frank, and she was thinking if he loved has embodied in a vision the whole sum of her. “He loves me loves me not." Surely, his philosophy. Frank has been pretending when the Deluge came, and the whirling to listen. The good-nature which prevents flood swept down the shrieking street, Mar- him from yawning in the honest Captain's guerite, in her chamber, might have sat deaf face also obliges him to come, from time to and careless, thinking only, "He loves me time, and pay Mr. Bowker a visit, in order loves me not.”

to give him pleasure. I, who yield to no But that story which Mr. Eddrup told his man in the quality of good-nature, have ruthfriends lay buried in their hearts. They lessly cut out the whole of the Captain's never spoke of it in his lifetime. They poem, which is among the records from never speak of it now he is dead, and gone which this history is compiled, solely because to that silent Land where his honour, like it might bore my readers. I am far from the soldier's sword, has been restored to him. saying the work is not remarkable in many

ways: there is a flavour of the briny in it, a CHAPTER THE FORTY-SECOND.

smell of pickled pork, occasional whiffs of FRAN RANK sitting in Mrs. Skimp's drawing- rum, a taste of the pannikin, the breath of

room with Captain Bowker. It is in the the ocean. Nautical metaphors alone are morning, but the master mariner is smoking used-seafaring similes. We are on board his long cherry-stick pipe. Time hangs some- ship, and the wind is whistling through the what heavily upon his hands since he has had shrouds. But-but-truth compels me to nothing to do. Sometimes he takes the add that the poet's diction is commonplace, boat and goes down to the docks, where he and his thoughts not always exalted. Why do picks up old friends and spins old yarns. we not consider the varieties of the human Sometimes he pays visits to ancient haunts mind in our estimate of poetry? There are at Poplar. Sometimes he makes a morning gradations of intellect, like terraces. Instead call upon his cousin, who lives close by, to of measuring a newly-fledged poet with a please whom he has come to live at Skimp's. stupid, Procrustean bed of criticism, reFor the Captain has money-he got it in ducing all to one standard, why not make private ventures during his many voyages- an effort to classify intellectual produce, like besides the little pension which his late em- merchants classify colonial produce? I ployers have given him. It is not much; believe there are, in the single article of but it is enough to make it desirable to retain / sugar alone, about twelve gradations from

[ocr errors]

stow

treacle to crystal. Suppose we made twelve He read it over again, shaking his head grades or degrees in poetry? Our greatest slowly from side to side in admiration. poets would belong to the twelfth—the su

"" Look where ahead the black clouds rise, and see preme degree which embraces all the rest.

How changed the lines of ocean; on the lee As every poet must have some brains, if

The rocks rise threatening. Furl the mainsail, only a thimbleful, it follows that he must have a very large mass of mankind beneath All snug: here comes the tempest. Let her go.' him. Martin F. Tupper, for instance, might

“I leave out the next fifty lines, where I be numbered one, or perhaps two, on account of some gleams of scholarship. Cap

follow up the comparison of a good woman tain Bowker would no doubt belong to the Then I go on to talk of a bad woman; and

to a good ship. She weathers the storm. first grade, without any possibility of pro- I end thus:motion at all. “So, Mr. Melliship, there's all my ideas

“* All lost-the ship obeys the helm no more.
She strikes—she sinks. Her voyages are o'er !'

er!" for you. When I get more, I stick them in. As I go on living, the poem will go on grow- “Very fine," said Frank—“very fine ining-consequently, improving."

deed." “Do not your ideas change sometimes?"

“Yes, I flatter myself that there is good said Frank.

stuff there. They've compared woman to “Never. When I get an idea, Mr. Melli- all sorts of things. Look here. Here's a ship, it isn't a flash in the pan, like some bit I cut out of an old play:people's. My ideas take me first of all un

“A woman is like to-but stayawares. They generally begin, like a tooth

What a woman is like, who can say? ache, when I least expect them-perhaps

There's no living with or without one: when I feel a little buffy, in the morning; Love bites like a fly, mayhap, after an extra go of grog the night

Now an ear, now an eye, before: then one comes all of a sudden.

Buz, buz, always buzzing about one.

If she laugh, and she chat, I turn it over, and think it out. I'm rayther

Play, joke, and all that, a slow thinker; but I'm an uncommon sure And with smiles and good humour she meet me, one, and I never let it go. I don't read She's like a rich dish

Of ven'son or fish, much, except the newspaper; so that I've

That cries from the table, “Come, eat me!" got a great advantage over most poets. All But she'll plague you, and vex you, my ideas are my own. I don't steal them Distract and perplex you, and alter them. I let 'em grow. It takes

False-hearted and ranging, me a long time-perhaps months—to work

Unsettled and changing,

What then do you think she is like? an idea into shape; but when I have got

Like a sand? like a rock? hin, there he is, put into the poem neat Like a wheel? like a clock? and ship-shape, preserved for cure, like a bit Aye, a clock that is always at strike. of salt beef in a cask of wine. Woman, now

Her head's like the island folks tell on,

Which nothing but monkeys can dwell on; --you remember the beautiful passage I read

Her heart's like a lemon-so nice, to you just now about woman?"

She carves for each lover a slice. “Yes-yes-yes. Oh! don't take the In truth, she's to me

Like the wind, like the sea, trouble to read it again, Captain Bowker,"

Whose raging will hearken to no man; cried Frank, hastily.

Like a mill, “A few lines to show my meaning,” said

Like a pill, the Captain, clearing his throat. “Here we

Like a sail,

Like a whale,
Now, listen:

Like a flow'r, ««• Woman is like a ship--new painted, gay,

Like a show'r,

Like a fly, Fresh holystoned and scraped, she sails away,

Like a pie, Manned by her captain. While the weather

Like a thief, holds, The ship sails trim, the woman never scolds.

Like, in brief, The dancing waves play on the starboard bow,

She's like nothing on earth—but a woman!' Her sails fill out, her pennants gaily flow; The captain takes his thankful grog below.' “Now, you know, it's all very fine. That's

not my notion of a simile. Don't hurry That's a good line, young man. That last about from one to another to show your is a very good line.'

cleverness. Stick to one. Woman is like a

a a

are.

a

one.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ship, isn't she? Very well — there you are.

fender and your pipe in your mouth; or Work it up, as I do. There's her hold, shall it be the legs of the chair about your must be laden or in ballast: a woman with head, and the pipe smashed? Shall it be out ballast is like a cork on the water. Her fair weather or shall it be foul?' There's head is the captain's cabin-only room for more craft built for show than for use in

The captain is the man at the helm. these bad times. Don't trust any. Stick to As for the rigging, some of it's ornamental, yourself, and be happy. As for me, Mr. some of it's useful. You've got the bunting, Melliship, I'm a fixture. Nothing can disand you've got the sails. The sails is her turb me now. I'm in port. I defy the petticoats--without which, d'ye see, she can't storms. To quote myself, I singsail out of port. The bunting is her ribbons,

Laid up in dock, serene I shake my fist, because they all, ships as well as women, And fortune's storms may thunder as they list.' sail better if they're proud of themselves. And as for her masts, her boats, her keel, Those are very fine lines, Mr. Mellishipher bowsprit, and her fo'c's'le, and all the rest very forcible, strong lines indeed of it—why, bless you, if I had time, I'd run “Laid up in dock, serene I shake my fist,

And fortune's storms-" through the whole, and show you how the simile holds. Ah! it's a very delicate subject. “Please, Cap'n Bowker "-it was the redMarriage, now. People will get married. armed Mary Ann who interrupted himWhy? The Lord knows. I did myself once, “there's a lady wants to see you." and a pretty market I brought my pigs to. “I suppose it's my cousin,” growled the Ease and comfort? Quiet and tranquillity Captain." Why can't she wait for me to go for composing? Not a bit of it. Morning, and see her? It's my turn, too." noon, and night went her tongue. It was “No 'taint Mrs. Robins," said Jane, who “Jem, get this,' Jem, go there. And if I knew the Captain's belongings; "this lady didn't, squalls, I can tell you."

says

she's your wife!"-grinning all over. “Well, but you were the man at the helm," The Captain's arms dropped, and his face said Frank, with a smile.

turned an ashy white. Frank laughed at "Man at the helm! I might as well first; but the poor man's distress was so great have been in the bows, she stayed below that his sense of the ludicrous was lost in all watches. She wouldn't answer the pity. helm nohow. Never took no notice of “Found me out, has she?" he murmured. the helm. Kept her own course. Never After fifteen years—Laid up in dock, was such a craft. Neat to look at, too. serene-'No, that won't do. Mr. Melliship, Painted rosy red in the bows; full in the wait a moment. Don't go and leave me in lines, but clean cut; down about the stern; this pinch. Can't nothing be done? See always neat and tidy in the gear. But come here. After fifteen years to go back to prison ! to command her-Phew !-then you found | It's more than I looked for. Tell me what out what a deceptive, headstrong, cranky, to do. Help me to ride out the gale." difficult.vessel she was. Ah, well—it's fif- “There is nothing to be done," said teen years ago since I saw her.”

Frank. “But perhaps you had better see “Is she dead, then?”

her. Suppose she is not your wife, after all?" “Hush!” said Captain Bowker. “Don't “Stay with me. Stand by an old shipspeak so loud. If she aint dead, where is mate. Don't desert me, Mr. Melliship." she? She left me; went cruising on her own “ But I can't interfere between you and account; took in another skipper, may be. your wife. Be brave, man. You ought not Anyhow, she went. We've gone away from to be afraid of a woman.” each other. Dead? Well, she's as good as “As an ordinary rule," said Captain Bowdead. Don't you ever marry, Mr. Melliship. ker, clearing his throat, “there aint a braver You're a young man, and the temptation man going than me. Not another woman will come strong over a young man at times. in the world I'm afraid of. But this one's an Fight it. St. Paul says himself it's better exception. You didn't know my Polly. I not to marry. I heard that in church last don't care for the rest of 'em, if they were all Sunday morning. Say to yourself, 'Which to come on together. But Polly's too much shall it be? Shall it be peace and repose; | for any man.” or shall it be nagging, and pecking, and box- There was a rustling of a dress on the ing of ears? Shall it be your legs on the stairs, and Frank waited for a moment.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

A tall figure in black silk, with a thick “We're going to leave this to-day,” said veil, glided in. As Frank glanced at her, Polly. "A

week's notice. Bring the bill in somehow he thought of Market Basing and ten minutes. I'll pay it. And none of your Parkside.

extras for me.” “ Don't sheer off," murmured the Captain, You don't stay in my house another in an ecstasy of terror.

hour," said the aggrieved Mrs. Skimp. But Frank stole softly out of the room, “Cap'n Bowker, I'm ashamed of you. I and closed the door, bringing the red-armed pity you, I do. Paying attentions to my one down with him. She had followed Mrs. daughter, too." Bowker up the stairs, with intent to listen at “Eh!” said Polly. “What's that?” the keyhole. Mrs. Skimp and her daughter "I never did," said the Captain, outraged were at the bottom, with the same laudable and insulted. "They're all upon me togeobject.

ther. I never did. I'm-I'm-I'm DAMNED “Now, Mrs. Skimp," said Frank, “no if I did! Mrs. Skimp, what do you mean listening."

by saying such things? And you a married And he sat down on the bottom steps by woman yourself

, and know the misery of way of precaution.

being married. You ought to be ashamed “Oh! Jem," cried Polly, falling on his of yourself. I never looked at your daughter, unresisting neck, and kissing his grizzled even. I never look at any woman." forehead-"oh! Jem, to think I should find “You won't pay her any more attentions, you, and after so many years, and your for you shall come out of this place in quick dreadful cruel conduct. Oh! this is a sticks,” said Mrs. Bowker. “ How long will blessed day!"

it take you to pack your things up?" “How did you find me, Polly ?” asked “Well," said the unresisting seaman, fairly her husband.

over-stunned by the logic of facts, “I think, “Went to Leggatt and Browne’s-your to do it comfortable, you know, it might old firm. The clerks told me. This is a

take a couple of hours." blessed day!"

“Very well,” said the lady. “You pack “D the clerks," said the Captain. everything up-mind you don't leave no“And why didn't you go before, if you thing behind you in a place like this—and wanted to find me?"

I'll just go down to Poplar and let 'em know “Because I thought you were dead, Jem. as I've found you, and I'll be back here I've wore black ever since in mourning for before the two hours are up. This is a you. See here. They told me at Poplar blessed day!" that you was alive, and where to ask for She gave the Captain one chaste salute, you. Oh, what a joyful thing to find your shot a look of anger at Mrs. Skimp, and husband after fifteen years!”

marched out of the room. She pulled out her handkerchief, and began to weep--but not plentifully.

THE ORIGIN OF THE ALPHABET. "Well, what's to be done now?" asked the Captain.

THE subject of the alphabet and its ori“That's a pretty thing to say to your gin is one which has attracted the atwife,” she answered. “Done! What should tention of many observers; and must, inbe done? I've come to live with you." deed, at some time or other, have forced “Oh!" groaned the Captain.

itself on the consideration of nearly all “I'm not going to live in a boarding thoughtful minds. house. How much How much money have you got?”

"

What is the meaning of those six-andHe named his modest income.

twenty symbols which serve to render our “That will do. We shall have lodgings. language visible? Why have they assumed What's the name of the woman of the the forms in which we now find them, and house?”

whence have they been derived to us? "Skimp.”

These are questions which most of us must She went to the head of the staircase, and have asked, and many of us may have atcalled out

tempted to answer. “Mrs. Skimp! You Mrs. Skimp! Come Mr. John Evans, F.R.S., F.S.A., an emiup here at once."

nent authority, lately read a paper on the Frank quietly went away.

subject at the Royal Institution, and this article contains the substance of the learned recorded in Schoolcraft's “Indian Tribes." lecturer's remarks. Mr. Evans said the A census roll of 1849 gives the details of questions connected with the subject ap- thirty-four families, comprising 108 souls, pear to divide themselves under three by means of symbols for the names of famiheads:

lies—such as catfish, beaverskin, &c., with 1. As to the origin of writing, and the marks below showing the number of indimethod of its development in different parts a deceased warrior's life are often given on

viduals in each. Records of the events of of the globe; 2. As to the original alphabet from which his tombstone in much the same manner

. that in common use amongst us was de

The totem of his tribe, such as the reindeer rived; and

or the crane, is reversed to show that he is 3. As to the history and development of dead; there are marks recording his war that original alphabet.

parties and wounds, the number of enemies

he has killed, or the eagles' feathers he has The art of writing is that by which, as received for bravery. Even love and war Bacon says, “the images of men's minds songs are symbolized by a kind of pictorial remain in books for ever, exempt from the memoria technica; and the record of a night's injuries of time, because capable of per- encampment, with details of a party of sixpetual renovation.” It is that by which teen-how they had supped, and what they human knowledge has become cumulative, had for supper-has been depicted on a so that the stores acquired during one ge small scrap of birch-bark. neration are handed down to those which In Mexico, the art of pictorial representasucceed it; and is, indeed, one of the most tion had, at the time of the Conquest, been important characteristics which distinguish carried to great perfection. The bulk of civilized from savage races of men.

the pictures, however, merely represent wars, So mysterious does this power of convey migrations, famines, and scenes of domestic ing information to others, however remote, life. They were, moreover, able to record appear to savages, that they regard written dates by means of an ingeniously devised documents as possessed of powers no less cycle, and had some idea of attaching a than magical, and have been known to hide phonetic value to their symbols. Thus the them at the time of committing a misdeed name of Itz-coatl, the fourth King of Mexico, which they feared might be discovered by is found represented by a snake with knives their means.

Yet many of those in the of obsidian issuing from its back-the realower stages of civilization have some ideas son being that the word Itzli meant knives as to pictorial records.

of obsidian, and Coatl meant snake. The The cave-dwellers of the south of France, same name was also symbolized by the reat a time when the use of metals was un- presentation of a knife, a pot and water, known, and when reindeer formed one of which shows an approach to a syllabic the principal articles of food in that part of system of symbols. For the names of the the world, possessed considerable powers of objects, if given at length, would form Itzlidrawing and of sculpture. On some of Comitl-Atl, so that the pot-Comitl—would their bone instruments figures of animals appear in composition merely to have repreare engraved, which possibly may to the sented Co- At a somewhat later date, original owners have conveyed some remi- we find the words Pater Noster represented niscences of scenes they had witnessed by a flag, a stone, a prickly pear, and a when hunting. Among the Esquimaux, stone; Pantli being a flag, Tetl a stone, and such records are frequently carved on their Nochtli a prickly pear. Here, also, the weapons, and the taking of seals and the first and third symbols appear in composiharpooning of whales are often depicted. tion to have been monosyllabic, and the Captain Beechey says that he could gather Aztec version of the Latin seems to have from these representations a better insight been Pan-tetl Noch-tetl. What might have into the habits of the people than could be been the results of the development of such obtained from any signs or other intima- a system we shall never know, as it was tions.

brought to a close by intercourse with EuAmong the North American Indians, the ropeans. systein of picture-writing has been more In Peru, though some sort of hieroglyfully developed, and numerous instances are phic writing appears to have been known,

« 이전계속 »