Imatges de pÓgina

a conver

who would not understand his constitu- at the present moment,” said the general, tion, and merely tend to make matters quietly, “but I have had a sort of presenworse.”

timent that I shall not live very long.' But though the old general could and “Sir Geoffry!” interrupted Madge, with would do without calling in a physician, he a start. very soon found that the pleasant company Oh, the mere fact of death would not of his housekeeper had become an absolute alarm me.

One who for so many years necessity to him. After about ten days' has carried his life in his hand is accussolitude, in which he nearly moped him tomed to look with tolerable calmness on self to death, Sir Geoffry, according to his death’s approach; but there are one or two old custom, knocked at the housekeeper's matters which I should like to have settled door, and on being bidden to come in, en- before I die, and when my

attention tered as usual with his formal greeting strayed from your reading, I was thinking He remained but a very little time in the that I could not do better than discuss room, being slightly ill at ease, and obviously them with you." afraid that Madge might make some re- A gleam of hope flashed through Madge's ference to his prolonged absence; but before brain. Was it not possible that Sir Geoffry, leaving he expressed his wish that Mrs. of his own free will, might relieve her of Pickering should favour him with her com- the irksomeness of the task she had underpany in the evening, and that their pleasant taken ? readings might be resumed.

“ You will recollect, Mrs. Pickering,'' Accordingly, when the general had said the general, after a pause, finished his dinner, Madge repaired to the sation which took place between us some library, and found Sir Geoffry ready to re- short time ago about some-some family ceive her, the newspapers, cut and folded, matters of mine; you will recollect


tell. were in their usual place, and the book ing you of my son, of the reasons which which they had last been reading lay ready had induced me to exile him from home, to her hand. Madge took her seat and and to refuse to receive him when the other began to read aloud, but after some little day he attempted to effect a reconciliatime, glancing over at the general, she tion?” noticed that his attention was fixed upon " I remember it all, perfectly." the fire, and to her astonishment she noticed " You did not approve behaviour the traces of something like tears upon his in that matter from first to last ?” cheek.

" “ I did not agree with it,” said Madge. Madge stopped reading, and, recalled to "If I am to speak frankly to you, I will

, himself by the abrupt cessation, Sir say that your first decision, when it was Geoffry made a hasty endeavour to recover a question of Mrs. Heriot's conduct, was his composure.

arrived at when you were much younger “ Is there anything the matter,” he said, and more impulsive than you are now, and " that you stopped reading so suddenly, was the foundation of a series of errors Mrs. Pickering ?”

which you have since carried out. From "No," she replied. "I did not quite what I learn from you, your son has acted know whether it was agreeable to you. in a noble and a manly manner throughout,

"Most certainly,” he replied. “I should and instead of being ashamed, you ought not have asked you to read to me unless- to be proud of him !" Ah !” he said, with an effort, “it is useless I have thought so more than once to continue this. I was inattentive to the within the last few days, Mrs. Pickering, reading ; I was thinking of something very said Sir Geoffry, quietly. “I do not mind different. Tell me, Mrs. Pickering, for I making that confession.” know I can trust you to speak frankly to There was a pause for a few moments, me, do I seem much changed during the after which Madge said : last few days ?”

“I, too, have a confession to make in this Frankly, then, yes, Sir Geoffry. You matter." have been more than usually quiet, and “ You, Mrs. Pickering?" much less than usually interested about the “ I have a confession to make to you, affairs of the house, and what has been and your pardon to ask, for a certain going on around you. You have been very amount of deception which I have practised much preoccupied, and still are, I venture towards you." to think, a little out of health."

“ Deception !" “ I don't know that I am actually ailing Nothing more nor less. Do you know

of my



[ocr errors]



what position I held in life before I came Pickering,” said Geoffry, taking Madge's into your employ?”

hand and bending over it; “I am certain Captain Cleethorpe told me, but I have they were right and proper ones. To think almost forgotten. In the telegraph-office, that you have known George, and that he were you not?”

should have asked


to marry him. Poor · Ay, but before that?”

George! poor George !" “ I confess I have not an idea.”

The tone in which he pronounced these "I was an actress in the Wexeter last words was so soft and sad as to inspire Theatre. In that same theatre where your Madge with fresh hope. son was a scene-painter.”

“There are stranger things to come yet, " Good God! had he sunk so low as Sir Geoffry,” she said. George is in love that? Had he dragged my name so deeply with some one else now.” through the mire ?"

“How do you know that? You said you “ You need not fear for your name, had not seen him since," said the general, said Madge, with a touch of sarcasm in her quietly. voice; "he had abjured it, as he told you “From the best of all possible authohe should, and was known as Mr. Gerald rities—the lady herself,” said Madge. Hardinge. And as for his position there, “He has not fallen in love with any neither he nor those about him saw any more actresses, I hope,” said the general

. thing to be ashamed of in it. He earned “ I could overlook anything in you, Mrs. his living honestly, and by the industry Pickering: but I confess it is not from and exercise of his talent."

behind the scenes of a theatre that I “ Granted,” said Sir Geoffry, biting his should wish my daughter-in-law to be lips. “And now tell me further. Was he selected." much in your society ?"

“You run no risk of that, Sir Geoffry. “We were thrown constantly together.” | The young lady in question is my own

“ And with the result that might be sister.” expected, I suppose ? He fell in love with “What, the young lady whom I have

heard Cleethorpe and Mr. Drage speak “ He asked me to become his wife, but about, who lived for some time with you, that was impossible, as at the time I was and was so pretty and so clever ?" already married.”

Gerald-I cannot call him “You already married, and he did not anything else—took great notice of her when know it?”

she was a child; gave her drawing-lessons, “ It is not unusual in the theatrical pro- and was very kind to her." fession for ladies, although they may be “ That was for her sister's sake,” said married, to retain their maiden name. the general, shortly.

. Such was my case; moreover, as my hus- Undoubtedly; but it seems he has reband was not an actor, nor in any way newed the acquaintance in London, and connected with the company, Mr. Heriot cares for her entirely for herself. He has would have no chance of knowing that I outgrown that foolish fancy of his boy. was anything but what I professed to be.” hood, and settled down into a sober, serious

I beg your pardon," said Sir Geoffry, regard.' stifly, “I am not acquainted with the " And does-George-propose to marry etiquette observed amongst theatrical


sister ?" people.”

“ He does. In a letter which I have Exactly,” said Madge, “and that is just had from her, she explains that his why I explain it to you.

earnest wish is that they should be at "So Mír. Heriot made you an offer of once married, and emigrate to some dismarriage, which you refused ?"

tant country, where they can commence a “No," said Madge, “I did not refuse. There are circumstances in the story which “And does he mean to leave England ?" it is unnecessary that I should explain, but " So I learn from Rose. Since Gerald's which made me think it better to leave the last interview with you, he is, she says, place abruptly, and to give Mr. Heriot no quite a changed man. He seems to find it chance of seeing me again.”

impossible to get over the wrong which And did so ?”

has been done him; the treatment which he “ I did so, and from that hour to this I then received. Above all things, he feels have never set eyes upon him.”

the injustice he received at your hands in "I do not ask you for your reasons, Mrs. your suspicion that his story of having

66 The same.


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

new life.”


discovered his mother's innocence was already on terms of club familiarity with merely a fabrication, intended to do him his intended patient; partly because the good in your eyes. You bade me speak doctor had the reputation of being so much frankly, Sir Geoffry,” added Madge, look- a man of the world as to believe in nature, ing at the old general, who had fallen back rather more than in the pharmacopoeia, and into his previous attitude, and, with his inclined to ascribe to diseases a special head sunk on his breast and his hands cause and a special treatment, rather than spread out on his knees before him, was to generalise verbosely and dogmatically, glancing vacantly into the fire ; "you bade as was the case with most of his brethren. me speak frankly, and I have done so; I Doctor Chenoweth, coming out to Wheatfear to your distress and annoyance.” croft in his trap, found the general seated

" I have brought the distress and annoy- in the library, moody and preoccupied, as ance on myself, and must make the best he had been for many days before. Madge of it. Pray God it has not gone too far! at first had an idea that it would be better This self-exile that he contemplates, can it if the doctor seemed to have dropped in be averted ?"

accidentally; but on a little reflection she “ If he knew himself forgiven by you, abandoned this notion, and receiving Doctor if he only knew you acknowledged that you Chenoweth in the hall, rapidly explained the had misconstrued his intention in his last state the patient was in before he saw him. attempt to see you, I will answer for your With Sir Geoffry the doctor was closeted being able to do what you wish with some considerable time. Madge, sitting in him.'

her own room, with the door open, intent “What I wish,” said the general, in a upon seeing him before he went, heard his low voice, " is to see him once again before words of farewell : " And you will recollect, I die."

Sir Geoffry, that, above all, I enjoin upon * You must not speak in that manner, you the strictest quiet and freedom from Sir Geoffry,” said Madge, rising in her all mental disturbance. I will not hear seat and bending over his chair. “I

must for an instant of your giving your attention ask permission to insist on acting as I pro- to business matters, even of your mixing posed some days since, on calling in a yourself up with your domestic affairs. You physician."

have a prime minister fully competent to “ He could do me no good,” said the old deal with them, and in her hands you must man. “I have no illness, no pain, nothing leave them. Understand, I have assumed save a strong conviction that my death is dictator's powers, and I require them to be close at hand. And that thought would obcyed. To a military man I know I need trouble me but little if I could see George amplify no more." again."

He closed the door behind him as he " You shall see him again, and, please spoke, and the next instant was in the Heaven, live many happy years with him, passage, where he was confronted by in which all this troublous time shall be Madge. forgotten. But I tell you candidly I will “ In your room, my dear Mrs. Pickernot move in the matter, and you know you ing,” said he, answering her eager look ; cannot move without me,” she added, with “ let us go into your room, if you please. a smile, " unless you let me send for proper In matters of this sort I have learned to medical advice.”

distrust giving any opinion, or even making Let it be as you wish, my dear,” said a remark, in open passages. Now," he conthe general, “only recollect what is now tinued, when they had regained her room, the one desire of my life.” And he sank and he had motioned her to be seated, “I back in his chair and sighed wearily. am ready to speak freely. Sir Geoffry is in

Madge had no idea that within a few anything but a healthy condition; he has days he could have become so feeble and so had, if I mistake not, some serious mental prostrate.

worry, which has had its due effect upon Availing herself of the permission im- him. Am I correct in this supposition ?" plied in Sir Geoffry's last words, Madge You are. Sir Geoffry has recently had sent to Doctor Chenoweth, one of the most a great deal of anxiety, but he is anxious celebrated physicians at Springside, and that it should not be referred to." asked him to come up to Wheatcroft and “Like all other people in the same plight. See the general. Her selection was made, And yet, of course, he keeps on perpetually partly because Doctor Chenoweth was a preying upon it and hugging it to himself. member of Sir Geoffry's club, and was Now this is all very well with hypochonget it.”

driacs, a class of people with which, my “So," she said to herself, twenty midear Mrs. Pickering, we are not entirely nutes after, when the doctor's swift roans unfamiliar at Springside; but when there had borne him into Springside, and he was is any real disease it is a thing most whispering the lightest of nothings into specially to be gnarded against, and I look the deafest of ears in the Hot Wells Hotel, to you to

“so ends my plan of immediate reconciliaDo you mean to say that Sir Geoffry tion between father and son.

It is plain, is seriously ill ?” asked Madge, anxiously. from Doctor Chenoweth's opinion, that Sir

“I speak to you as a practical woman. Geoffry's strength is not sufficient for him I know that you are one by your look, your to bear the meeting, and that it must conearnestness, your very manner of moving sequently be deferred.” about. As such you are entitled to frank- When, in the course of the afternoon, ness, while the fribbles and dolls of society she commenced talking on the subject with should receive merely evasion. Sir Geoffry Sir Geoffry, and, approaching it in the Heriot's heart is seriously affected, and any most cautious manner, was about to sug: sudden emotion might be fatal to him.” gest the impossibility of summoning Gerald

Madge turning deadly white, leaned her at once to his father's side, she was surhead upon the table to steady herself, then prised to find how completely the general said, “ You speak strongly, Doctor Che-coincided with her view." noweth."

“Quite right," he said, “quite right. “I speak to you the literal, undisguised There is nothing that I am so anxious for truth. I could wrap it up in any form of as to see my boy, and to take him to my conversational sweetmeat that might please arms. But we must wait a little; I am you. I should do so, if I were addressing not strong enough to go through much most of my clientèle, but you are worthy excitement, and I've just had some news of plainer speaking, and from me you which necessitates my placing a rod in pickle

for those scoundrels who were here the “Do you consider Sir Geoffry's life in other day.” danger"

“Scoundrels! what scoundrels ?” “If any serious news were to be brought “ From the Terra del Fuegos mine, my suddenly under his notice, most un- dear. I shall yet be the means of bringing doubtedly. And I speak thus strongly them into the prisoner's dock." because, from what you have just said, he is evidently labouring under an excess of

JUST PUBLISHED, THE mental excitement."

EXTRA DOUBLE NUMBER FOR “ Doctor, in the course of your career

CHRISTMAS, 1871, you must have been the recipient of many confidences as strange and stranger than SLAVES OF THE LAMP. that which I am about to make. Sir Geoffry is eager for a reconciliation with

Now ready, price 5s.6d., bound in green cloth, his son, from whom by force of circumstances he has been separated for many

THE SIXTH VOLUME years. Is it likely that the meeting be

OF THE NEW SERIES OF tween the two would be fraught with ALL THE YEAR ROUND. danger to the general ?”

To be had of all Booksellers. “ Under present circumstances with the greatest danger! I would not answer for his life if he were called upon to undergo ALL THE YEAR ROUND, so great an excitement.'

Also Cases for Binding, are always kept on sale " Thank you, doctor," said Madge, after a moment's pause. “ It was important

The whole of the Numbers of the FIRST SERIES of that your advice should be asked. You

ALL THE YEAR ROUND, be certain that it shall be acted


Are now in print, and may be obtained at the Office : 26, Wellington-street, Strand, W.C., and of all Booksellers.


The Back Numbers of the PRESENT SERIES of


The light of Translating Articles from ALL THE YEAR ROUND is reserved by the Authors.

Published at the Ofico, 26, Wellington St Strand.

Printed by C. WITTISG, Beaufort House, Duke St.. Lincolu's Inn Fields

[blocks in formation]


with black, reeking flags, its ceiling studded THE WICKED WOODS OF

with hooks, from which no comfortable TOBEREEVIL.

flitch was seen to swing. There were two great recesses in the wall, arched and chimneyed, holding enormous grates, which

were eaten up with rust. Ovens and hotCHAPTER XII. TAE PEDLAR AT TOBEREEVIL. plates stood idly about, broken, dilapidated,

In the mean time the pedlar was trudg- stuffed with rags and dirt. In one of the ing through the woods towards the man- recesses a fire was burning on the flags, sion of To bereevil. He arrived at the back small and dwindling, fed by a few sticks door, as a pedlar should arrive, and was of wood, and some stray scraps of turf. confronted by Tibbie, who looked more Before this fire a woodcock was roasting, hideous than usual in the full blaze of the dangling from a string. A rough wooden evening sun.

stool drawn up before the fire, and a one“Go 'way out o' this!” was Tibbie's pronged fork upon the flags, showed that greeting « We don't want no visitors Tibbie had been interrupted in her superhere."

intendence of the cookery. "Sorra visitor am I,” said the pedlar, “Be smart, my man, an’ show us what gaily; " so yer conscience may be at aise, ye've got; an' ye needn't be makin' eyes ma'am.”

at the bird. It's for Simon's dinner; he “Nor stragglers nayther," said Tibbie, shot it hissel. An' Tibbie's got to dine off doggedly.

the bones.” Nor stragglers nayther,” said the ped- “ 'Deed, thin, ma'am, ye're but a delicate lar, “only havin' bronght ye a few han’ ater to be livin' in sich a hungry part," some articles of dhress, ma'am.”

said the pedlar, as he unrolled his pack. Tibbie fell back, and gazed hungrily on “But here's somethin'll give ye a relish the pedlar's bundle. She was well aware for the feast. Here's a chintz'll make ye that she stood in need of some covering. so beautiful your own friends won't know She was clothed in rags, and the rags were ye! Rale rich stuff! Flowers as big as beginning to threaten that they would no taycups ! An' all for no more nor fourlonger hold together. Something she must | pence a yard !" get, were it only a piece of sacking, against Tibbie knotted her knuckles together to the winter. And pedlars had left off coming keep down her amazement, while she to Tobereevil. Did she let this one go he glutted her eyes upon the beauties of this might never return.

bargain. It was many a day since she had * Come in, thin, will ye !" she said, dreamed of such a gown as that. At sight grufiy, “ an' show what ye have got. But of it long dead memories of past fairs and

. I warn ye not to be axin' yer high prices,, dances, and youthful frolics, and blithe for we know the worth o' money about companions, got up and jostled each other here, so we do."

through the old creature's brain. The pedlar followed her down dark un- 'Ye'll make it twopence !" said the wily wholesome passages into the kitchen. It Tibbie. was a vast underground chamber, paved “Sorra penny now undher fippence,"





« AnteriorContinua »