Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

to you to"

get 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,

so ends my plan of immediate reconcilia“Do 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 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 OP 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,

CONDUCTED BY CHARLES DICKENS, may be certain that it shall be acted

Are now in print, and may be obtained at the Office : upon."

26, Wellington-street, Strand, W.C., and of all Booksellers.

JUST PUBLISHED, THE

ENTITLED

The Back Numbers of the PRESENT SERIES of

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

Published at the Omce, 26, Wellington St Strand.

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

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[graphic]

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 BY THE AUTHOR OF "HESTER'S HISTORY."

chimneyed, holding enormous grates, which

were eaten up with rust. Ovens and hotCHAPTER XII. THE PEDLAR AT TOBEREEVIL.

plates stood idly about, broken, dilapidated, In the mean time the pedlar was trudg- staffed 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' brought 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’il 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 bi 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 grufily, “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,"

[ocr errors]

164

[ocr errors]

said the pedlar, beginning with dignity to “Wid the poker, or the hind leg o' a roll up the stuff. “When a lady doesn't chair," went on Tibbie. “There's no lack know a bargain when she sees it, why it's in axin' for a sight o' Simon's money." part of my profession to tache her at a little “But I want to show him mine," said inconvanience."

the pedlar. "Fourpence, ye said !"

“Is it laughin' at him ýe are ?”. Fippence,” said the pedlar.

“Sorra laugh in the matther. If so be "Oh, musha, musha, but ye're miserly he has anythin' to sell, old coats, or gownds, an' hard! An' 'twas fourpence ye tould or curtains; or jewellery, why it's mysel' me at the first.'

will give the best price for the goods." “ If ye say another word I'll make it

“Sit down, thin, good man, an' wait a sixpence," said the pedlar.

bit, for that's a quare different tune ye're Tibbie groaned and rocked herself, with whistlin' now. He's out gleanin?, but he'll her eyes upon the chintz. The material be in for his dinner by'n bye.” before her was worth eighteenpence a yard.

“Gleanin'?” asked the pedlar. Tibbie knew it well. It was strong and “Pickin' what he can get," returned soft, and warm and silky; printed in good Tibbie. “Sticks for the fire, an' wisps o' colours, and of the most brilliant design. hay; wool out o' the hedges', an' odd Why the ordinary pedlar would not give praties an' turnips out o' the rigs." her a calico at the price! But to part with The pedlar stared. " It amuses the so many fivepences cut Tibbie to the heart. ould sowl, I suppose,” he said. And the thought of walking about To- “Oh, ay!” said Tibbie, with a whine, bereevil, amidst the cobwebs and mildew," an' helps to keep the roof over his head, dressed out in all this finery, was like to the crature !" make her crazy between horror and de- There was silence upon this, during light. And in the mean time, while she which the black-beetles came a journey deliberated, the coveted stuff retreated, across the kitchen flags, and walked playyard after yard, into the pedlar's pack. fully over the pedlar's boots; while Tibbie

“I'll be biddin' a good evenin' to ye,” went on with her cooking, making the said the pedlar, shouldering his bundle. woodcock spin giddily from its string as “Stop! stop!” shrieked Tibbie, and she she basted it before the fire.

She was conhuddled herself away across the kitchen. sidering whether the pedlar would buy the She seized the poker, so that the pedlar rags and bones which she had been storing thought at first that she was going to lay in the cellar for the past ten years. it about his head. But she only poked it By-and-bye a sound was heard from up the chimney, bringing down a shower of above, and Tibbie left off torturing the soot, and a grimy little bag which chinked woodcock, and placed him on a dish. A as it fell among the ashes.

slice of bread and a glass of water were “Wan, two, three, four !" said Tibbie, added on a tray, and then the miser's counting out her money. “Oh, my curse dinner was carried up-stairs. on you for a villain, would ye take it from “Ye may wait, my man,” said Tibbie,

coming back.

And when the tray had The pedlar put the money in his pocket, come down again, she ushered the pedlar Tibbie glaring at him strangely the while, into the presence of her master. as if she had given him poison, and he had He was sitting, all alive with expectaswallowed it. The pedlar cut off the cloth, tion, in the dreary state of his dilapidated folded it neatly, and placed it in a roll dining-room, a little leaner, more wrinkled, in Tibbie's arms, where she gripped it and more surly and fretful-looking than on the pinched it, so that had it been a living day when he had scared Miss Martha out thing it certainly would have been of his presence. In a corner of the room strangled.

lay a small heap of the spoils which he had “Now, thin!" said the pedlar, “would gleaned off the country since the morning. you be lettin' the masther know that I am “Take them away, Tibbie, take them here?"

away,

T,” he said, waving his hand towards 6. The masther?”

the meagre pile, "and be careful about “ Misther Finiston hissel'."

picking up the straws. They have cost “Ah, thin, young man, ye come a long me a hard day's work, good woman; and piece out o’yer way to get yer head see that you do not lose the fruits of your broke."

master's toil. You perceive, young man, “ Anan?" said the pedlar.

we will have no waste here, and I am glad

me?"

to learn that you are one of those who face had used to smile. Bacchus had had count nothing too old or decayed to be his lower limbs completely shivered away, of use. I am told that you are anxious to and seemed to soar out of an intrusive do a little business with me, and that being bush of ivy. As the miser crept feebly up So, we will proceed up-stairs.”

the staircase the scarlet midsummer sunset The miser's nose was long, thin, and had assaulted all the colours in the winalmost transparent, and as he spoke he sat dow, flinging fire to right and left, and sharpening the end of it-as it seemed to streaming triumphantly through the rents the looker-on-with a many-coloured rag, in the glass. The black nymphs were all which had once been a pocket-handker- burning as they clung round their pillars, chief.

each like an Indian widow upon her pyre. The pedlar stood, hat in hand, a little in From left and right of this landing anthe shadow thrown by the strong red sun. other staircase led, one to each wing of the set and the heavy oaken framework of the house. Simon turned to the left, and window. His attitude was respectful, but brought the pedlar along galleries and there was a strange look of loathing mixed down passages, and up more stairs, till with fear in his eyes, which now fixed he reached a low-roofed lobby, where tall themselves, as if fascinated, on the face of black presses were stationed like goblins the miser, and now roved about the room. in the mouldy twilight. To the locks of

" You will see a great house,” said the these he fitted one after another of his miser, while he shuffled across the hall, rusty keys, seeking for valuables which the looking nervously over his shoulder, as pedlar was to buy of him. And meantime the keys jingled in his hand, “a dilapi. the pedlar had leisure to observe how the dated house, which the owner has no roof was broken in above the spot where means of repairing What it costs me, they stood, and how the walls and the ceil. young man, to keep the holes in the win- ing, and the presses and the floor, were all dows stopped, so as to shut out the wind, stained with rain-marks, as if the rain had and prevent the roof flying off on a stormy poured in there many winters through. night-why, it makes me what I am,” he “You perceive that we have got an said, flapping his patched garment osten- enemy here,” said the miser, with a dreary tatiously. It makes me what I am." laugh. “But it will be a long time yet

The first Finiston of Tobereevil, the man before he makes his way down to the lower who liad brought the blight upon his race, rooms. We have damp down-stairs, plenty had had in his princely days à grand idea of damp, but never a pouring stream like about the planning of a dwelling. The this. It will suit me well to get rid of staircase was wide enough for eight men this property before next winter comes to ascend its black steps abreast. Inky round." faces of demons and satyrs grinned from The property was dragged out, and among vine-leaves in the carvings of the proved to be some faded garments, stained balustrades. Black marble nymphs twined with rain, and eaten up with mildew. their arms and their hair round pillars on They were shrunk and discoloured ; past the landing, and lost themselves amid all recognition of shape or hue. The mice foliage and shadows. Formerly,' all the had dined off them at many a hungry sinister effect of this blackness had been pinch, and the moths had made pasture carried off by the ruddy velvet hangings of them for years. That one fine lady of which had glowed between the arches, and Tobereevil, while sweeping her satin skirts the deeply-stained windows which had down the sumptuous staircase below, and loaded every ray of sunlight with a special counting herself the first of a

race of fush of colour. Flora and Bacchus had queens, had little thought that her faded crowned themselves in the splendours of finery would be thus preserved in the family, the illuminated glass, making the inner and bargained over by her descendants, air warm with the reflection of their after she and her expectations had long frolics.

Their wreathed attendants had melted into the churchyard mould. Yet chased each other laughingly under the there it lay, exposed in its ghastly uncleanlower arches of the side - lights. Now ness; and this pedlar was to purchase it, and Flora's azure robe still fluttered against take it forth into the world. the sun, and her feet still twinkled among The pedlar stood in a recess between clouds and roses. But her fair round two of the presses, and close to his head there throat had become a spike of ragged glass, was a tiny window. Through this loopand the sky looked in rudely where her hole he could see far over the country.

He could see a large portion of the estate with the money which Tibbie had paid of Tobereevil, a few hovels, a few sickly him for her dress. And in wrangling over wreaths of smoke, vast rich tracts of un- the contents of the bundle they had ample cultivated land, melancholy fallows, and occupation for the rest of the evening. the strong, brilliant woods. The whole

CHAPTER XIII. TROUBLED IN HER MIND. was a picture of neglected land, rich in beauty and glowing with promise, but It was a moment of some excitement to with the shadow of the curse distinct May when she climbed into the great traupon its face amidst all the splendours of velling-carriage of the Archbolds, and was the midsummer sunset. The pedlar gazed taken from the gate of Monasterlea. Miss long, as if he had forgotten his bargain, Martha inspected her departure with pride. and that lively sauciness which was his “I have done my best to turn her out business expression did not find its way like a gentlewoman,” thought that kindly through the bitterness on his face.

spinster, "and, let them have whom they “You will understand that I expect a may, they can never see a sweeter face good price for these articles," said the at their board. Ah, deary me! why does miser's voice, recalling him to business. Paul not come home while she is looking “They are rich and fine, and of most costly like that?” materials. They will bear cleaning, dye- And Miss Martha returned to her lonely ing, remodelling, patching—ah! there is parlour to follow out the train of this idea, no end to the benefits which their owner with her knitting in her lap, her spectacles will find in them.”

on her nose, and her mouth at a reflective The pedlar turned round, and saw the angle. She had been busy as a bee for the figure of the old man bending and moving past few days, but now the delicate laces as he shook out, straightened, folded, and were all cleared and pressed, the fair muslin flaunted his gaudy and unseemly rags, gowns were all folded, the little knots and and turning from the dreary landscape, rosettes of gay ribbons were all stitched in and meeting this more dismal and ludi- their places, the excitement of trunk-packcrous picture, a look of horror and disgust ing had come to an end, and the humdrum burned gradually in the pedlar's gaze.

knitting had returned to its place between “Name your price, and don't keep me Miss Martha's fingers. Her child was in suspense,” said the miser, irritably, and gone, but though Monasterlea might be suddenly raised his greedy eyes, and peered sleepier and lonelier than ever, Miss Martha into the pedlar's face. Then, as if he could was neither sleepy nor lonely. She was hear no more, and with a glance of terror, accustomed to live out a great deal of life the pedlar raised both his arms hurriedly, within her twenty-four hours, and she and pushed the miser from him, swiftly and could live it out as well in her silent parlour, strongly, but with nothing violent in his over a silent occupation, as though she had touch; turned from him without a word, been haranguing a multitude, or ploughing and fled along the lobby, past the goblin the rustiest fallow on Mr. Finiston's estate. presses, and down the staircase, and to left It was a gift that she had got in the order and to right, mistaking his way, and find- of charity, this unflagging vitality, which ing it again, escaping at last out of the would not be unoccupied. It had lit a door, and away into the woods of Tobe- comfortable hearth in this ruin surroundreevil.

ing her, it managed her farm, made a "Stop thief! stop thief!" shrieked pride of her meadow-grass, drew beauty Simon, pattering after him a little way, and fatness from her garden and dairy, and then coming back to see that nothing had made a pleasant proverb of her house-keepbeen taken, then following again with his ing. When constrained to be quiet she cry, unconvinced, " Stop thie-ief !” And could employ her energy in planning good Tibbie at last caught the sound in her dun- things for other people. There were many geon underground, and came running and within her reach who were worthy of a stumbling up-stairs. But when the two thought, and very many more who were old creatures met, panting and vocifera- in need of it. And when all those were ting in the hall, they were obliged to de- reckoned there was not found one who was clare to each other that the pedlar had not infinitely the better when the fruit of vanished, and that he was the devil, a such remembrance was dropped, ripe and gipsy, or a thief at the least.

unexpected, into his lap. Was there thirst, Yet after this they found his pack lying or hunger, or nakedness, or repining hiding untouched in the dining-room, together itself in anguish in the holes of the land?

« AnteriorContinua »